Friday, June 5, 2009

Thriller explores possibility of living with worst fears come true

by Jennie McGhan
What is your worst fear? How would you deal with it if you were forced to face that fear both in your nightmares and in reality?
Exposure by Brandilyn Collins explores such a sce-nario and is bound to keep its readers bracing them-selves at the turn of each page.
A thriller, this book is one of many suspense novels written by Collins. Each novel is what has been termed “seatbelt suspense,” because of her ability to take her readers on a veritable thrill ride as the characters are faced with the horrors of crime.
The main character in Ex-posure, Kaycee Raye is faced with unexplainable fears coming to life. A syn-dicated columnist, who writes about her fears, she begins having frightening experiences. She believed she had been conquering many of the things she was afraid of, including visiting the dentist.
Now, images of a dead man mysteriously appear on a camera, her computer, in her dreams and in a photo-graph left in her car.
The nine-year-old daugh-ter of Kaycee’s deceased best friend also mysteriously disappears.
She is challenged to stand strong against what some in her small town believe are hallucinations or paranoia. She must try to forget the images and focus on finding her friend’s daughter.
The feeling of being watched never fades through Kaycee’s search, but she won’t let the authorities or her fears stop her from look-ing for the young girl.
She delays telling local law enforcement officers about the images, wanting them to focus on the search for the little girl. Besides, it is difficult to prove the images even exist.
Officer Mark Burnett, however, begins to believe in Kaycee and the things she has been seeing. He wants to help her.
Exposure also takes its readers through a series of events occurring elsewhere.
Martin, Lorraine and four-year-old Tammy Giordano are caught up in crimes tied to the mob.
Lorraine and Tammy don’t know of Martin’s in-volvement in the robbery of the bank where he works. Lorraine also doesn’t know what is hidden inside a rental unit at the storage facility she manages.
After Martin’s murder, Lorraine is faced with some tough decisions. She and Tammy were, after all, inside the family’s apartment when he was shot to death.
She must keep herself and young Tammy safe from the murderer…but, how?
Although I was able to guess how Kaycee’s cir-cumstances were tied to those of the Giordano family, I found myself riveted to the book and depriving myself of much needed sleep. I didn’t want to put the book down and was held captive, wanting to discover how each chapter played out.
Collins has a way of weaving stories together that compel her readers to explore their own lives, as well as venturing into her frightful scenarios.
She divides her time be-tween the Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho area and the California Bay area. She has also re-cently released a new young adult series with her daugh-ter Amberly.
Exposure is a novel any suspense and mystery enthusiast can enjoy. If you have a thirst for a great thriller, be sure to purchase this novel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Can I get some answers?

by Jennie McGhan
I have shared one situation when the computer I was using at work became an object of my ire, but in all the years I have owned a computer I have never been so disgusted with them…until lately.
I never have really been a fan of PCs because they are susceptible to viruses, even with the latest in virus pro-tection. Hackers always seem to be one step ahead of the protection available.
Then there is the added frustration of constant warnings and such. I have been able to avoid the latest operating system for PCs, eliminating some of those headaches.
Alas, our family has always had a PC because of the software preferences and because of the reputation of a particular computer com-pany.
That computer company and my family had a great relationship for the past 10 years, but now I am disheartened and extremely disappointed.
We contracted a well-known virus, WinSpyware Protection 2009. Sounds as though this product is a Windows product designed to protect the computer, right? WRONG!!!
Every time this little window has popped up on our computer with the name of WinSpyware Protection, we have had problems. We never wanted this “program.” It just magically appeared. It would warn us of another “problem” and solicit funds for a full “repair” of said problem.
Sorry, we didn’t want you and we don’t want to give you our money. YOU are a problem.
We could do a quick restore and eliminate the issues attributed to this supposedly “helpful” tool.
About two weeks ago, this quick fix no longer worked and our sound card driver seemed to “vanish” without a trace of locating or restoring it electronically.
Time to call Dell. My husband did just that and spent hours on the phone with tech support. During the course of the numerous hours, the technician made several suggestions for helping us with our computing needs.
The technician was able to look at the insides of our PC from his remote location. He could see we use maybe one-quarter of our computer’s memory. A majority of that used space consisted of music and photos. He suggested, “A four gigabyte external hard drive would be a good way to back up your files.”
My husband, not knowing this was the tech’s sneaky and unethical way of gaining a sale, said it would be good, but he would need to consider it in the future.
This happened throughout the conversation with other “suggestions.” Not a single price, with the exception of a software warranty at the cost of $139, was ever men-tioned.
My husband was not giving informed consent to the purchase of anything other than that one warranty, which is now saving us a little added agony, but I will get to that later.
I ended up doing a complete restore to get our computer functioning again. We believed all was once again well in our world.
Approximately four days later, packages begin arriving. My husband thinks because he mentioned the “suggestion” of a new external hard drive that I some-how purchased the new one terabyte (yes, I know this is a lot of memory) external hard drive and the added memory cards for our com-puter.
No. I tossed my hands up in the air and told him I had absolutely no idea why Dell would be sending these items.
Thinking we needed them, and after the issues we had before restoring the computer, we installed these new items. We both questioned how much the items would cost us, but agreed the purchase would be worth it if we were to prevent future issues.
Ha! The story gets better because the next day a gaming card and new anti-virus software arrive. The question as to how much money Dell was going to grab from our wallets without our knowing consent became VERY loud in my mind.
I called them. Turned out the total price of everything that darned technician sunk us for was more than $800. That is about three-quarters of what the computer was worth when first purchased just more than a year ago.
NOT ACCEPTABLE!!! I spoke with a total of 11 different individuals from the computer company over the course of more than two hours and had to call them back three different times because we were “disconnected.” There was only one truly understanding throughout the entire ordeal. He in fact informed me the external hard drive was in excess of what we needed…so much so that 10 households could back up their personal computers on it.
The issue was not completely resolved because I still have to access my email to return the two items that initiated the call.
This presents another problem.
It seems that somewhere during all this the computer was in need of a new hard drive and motherboard. I don’t know what came first…the proverbial chicken or the egg.
I only know that internet access was suddenly non-existent as of the day after the marathon phone call.
My internet service provider (ISP) was very helpful and walked me through di-agnostics of the problem (at no cost). They were able to conclude it was not my ser-vice, but something within the computer.
“I am sorry, but you will have to contact Dell again,” the technician said with sympathy in her voice.
Frustrated, but ready to conquer my displeasure in hopes of having Dell redeem itself, I did so.
They talked me through one more diagnostic step and concluded the hard drive and motherboard needed to be replaced. UGH!!!!
I can handle this. They set up shipment of these items to a local technician. He called this past Wednesday and visited our home to re-place the computer hardware.
Aha! Breathe a sigh of relief. WRONG!!! No internet connection.
Called my ISP, ran through diagnostics and am informed that the motherboard replacement must not have occurred since the tech only took approximately 10 minutes with my computer. And, the true problem with the computer must be the Ethernet card.
Dell called for a follow-up that evening and I shared this bit of info. They now have to ship the motherboard to a technician, who may not be the same one who visited me. That technician will then need to replace the motherboard in front of either my husband or myself.
To say I am a little upset with Dell, is an understatement. We will still need to pay them approximately $300.
I can only say computers can be a nightmare. Dealing with Dell technicians is even worse.
What did I get out of the experience? Document EVERYTHING discussed. Make sure to ask more questions, especially if the person is making a “suggestion.” If something arrives at your home and nobody knows why, call the company right away.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Historical novel sheds light on changing times

Reading books that are historical is generally something I typically don’t enjoy. I often find it hard to absorb the data and I am a woman who would rather keep myself planted in today’s world…a world to which I can relate.
I must make an exception for Love Finds You in Last Chance California. This book, set in 1877, kept my interest and helped me learn a little about the past at the same time.
The setting is Last Chance, Calif., a town no longer in existence. It was once a thriving gold mining town in Placer County. But, like many other towns of its kind, it faded into the archives.
Author Miralee Ferrell traveled to the former location of the town and weaves her story with great facts intermixed with fictional characters.
Her antagonist, Alexia Travers, is a woman whom many of today’s women can relate. She was a little modern for her time in that she insisted on wearing “trousers” and was independent by nature.
Her father suddenly passes, leaving his horse ranch to the young, but spirited Alexia. As she sets out to handle the affairs of operating a ranch, she discovers her father left her with a few surprises. He mortgaged the ranch in hopes of improving its stock, made arrangements for new horses to arrive and took with him the only known location for a gold find on the property.
Alexia’s father also summoned assistance from wrangler Justin Phillips, who fails to disclose the details of his arrangement. Shortly after Justin’s arrival things at the ranch begin to go awry. Fences are cut, horses are missing and ranch hands leave. Phillips, a widower, and his young son slowly earn the trust of the townspeople and of Alexia.
Alexia struggles with the disdain of the women of Last Chance and two young men are vying for her affections in spite of her polite rejections. One of the two men, intentions are less than honorable and I wanted to smack him. Alexia bothered me in this way. She is intelligent, but seemed obtuse when it came to the eager ways of her neighbor.
I also struggled with the fact that there did not seem to be a sense of urgency to finding the ranch’s missing horses. I was always under the impression that people who lived in the era of the “Wild West” would seek out thieves with a sense of fevered justice or vengeance. Alexia’s livelihood and future are dependent on the horses and the situation was not met with the level of importance I would expect.
The multitude of mysteries she is faced with, however, kept my interest and the historical picture painted through Ferrell’s writing provided me with a better understanding of the time. I appreciated the detail that went into the book and would highly recommend it.
Love Finds You in Last Chance California was released last month and can be found on The publisher, Summerside Press, is a new publishing house and the “Love Finds You…” books are a new line of fiction being released. Summerside Press has plans for one novel per state to provide readers with a perspective on the unique characteristics of our nation’s history and people.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I's been nearly a year

Sorry anyone who checks in on me, but life has been busy beyond my imagination and when I have had the time to do anything for myself...well, I just wanted to veg with a good book!
There have been few changes in my life. Although, there have been challenges throughout the past year. There have been blessings, too.
My husband's schedule changed three (or was it four) times this year and the family juggled schedules to work around it.
My oldest son had a good swim season this past summer, making it to a few events in the Mid-Valley Swim Championships. He received a couple medals at championships and looks forward to next season.
Just a few weeks ago, his football team competed for the 11-year-old championship title and came up short by one point (25-26).

He was happy to have had the opportunity and the team was presented trophies last Sunday.

My daughter is missing a front tooth. She likes to show off the hole left from that tooth and realizes soon there won't be a hole there.
She is doing well in second grade and her teachers have been enthusiastic regarding her academic abilities. I know my little girl is smart and capable of doing so well, but other times I wonder if I have too much faith in her abilities. I will cheer her on regardless. And, I have been told she will be tested for the "gifted learners" program at the end of the school year if she remains in the top 5 percent of her class.

My youngest started kindergarten and he is meeting the challenges before him. He is doing very well for a child whom I felt school would be difficult. He is what the experts refer to as a "kinetic" learner. His learning style is much different from his siblings and I worried. But, he is doing real well and the teachers love him...another fear I had because his temperment is not as easy-going as the other two. I have been told he is a charmer and a hugger at school. :) That is certainly encouraging.
As for my career, it continues to keep me going all the time. I have become so familiar with many community members and feel as though I actually have made progress. I have lived here more than 10 years and only the last two have made me feel a part of the community. I celebrate my second year as a reporter on Monday!
I know my editor has "plans" for me. He wants to have a sit-down over a soda or latte one day when we are both heading out of the office at the same time. But, I don't know what exactly those plans entail. I only know he said they are "long-term." So, once I know...well, we shall see what God has laid in my editor's mind.
God has helped me through some difficult situations this past year in addition to everything else. The biggest challenges have come from the fact that my oldest is now a pre-teen and the rolling of the eyes has come with that. He has challenged me with his attitude and his words. He has also said things at school that caused some concern. There are words that just ARE NOT ALLOWED on school grounds in this day and age, no matter how badly you have been bullied. Therefore, we are in the midst of getting him "professional" help as required by law.
I only hope that all of my dear friends out there are doing well and feeling blessed. I HAVE missed my time sharing the ups and downs on a regular basis. I have missed the helpful words of wisdom and the prayers. I have NOT forgotten you.
And congratulations for all those with joyous celebrations, such as my dear friend Dusty!

God Bless ALWAYS!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Each day is my new beginning

We are quickly approaching the new year and I grimace. I don’t like the questions regarding New Year’s resolutions.
I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I tend to believe each day is another day to resolve to make myself better…not just that one day of the year that marks the new year’s beginning.
Because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I believe in making today a better day.
I resolve each morning to show more compassion toward others, be more patient with my family and do what is right when confronted with decisions placed before me.
I don’t make grandiose resolutions to lose weight or anything of that nature because I believe in changing myself from the inside out.
I don’t believe in making what I think of as empty promises, either. If I promise something, I believe in doing my best to keep that promise no matter how I feel about it when the time comes to do so.
I am not saying I am some saint. Lord knows I can only try to be a better person. I can pray for help. But, in the end, I know I can’t be a better person each and every day because I am human. I make mistakes. I get cranky. I become impatient. I have bad days.
But, I can try. I can hope.
That is what New Year’s Day means to me. It means we can hope. We can hope to have a better year than the last. We can hope that those around us are touched with our love, kindness and good will. We can hope that God will help us to become who He wants us to be.
Ultimately, we don’t know what circumstances will come our way with each new year. We only hope that those circumstances will be happy ones and we will be made stronger for experiencing the not-so-happy circumstances.
The same can be said of each new day. So, I suggest we resolve to make the best of each day given to us…not just each year.

His Christmas wish…to hear ‘Yes!’

Monday morning, James Esqueda made a grand proposal to his girlfriend, Alma Miranda.
Wanting to do something unique, Esqueda painted several large signs with a marriage proposal, and placed them directly across the street from the apartments on South Hill Road that Miranda manages.
“I love her. She is a great influence on me and I wanted to do something special,” Esqueda explained.
The signs are clearly visible from both the apartments and the road. Several people called Miranda to alert her that she needed to look outside.
Esqueda said she called him to informally accept his proposal, but the formal answer was provided at a family Christmas Eve gathering at a dinner on Monday night.
He said he is a single father of three boys and she is a single mother of four children and he felt the union of the two families would “…make my world complete.”
The idea of painting the signs wasn’t the first time Esqueda decided to make such a gesture. He said he also decorated a very large cardboard sign for Miranda on her birthday.
“I just want everybody to know I love her with all my heart,” stated Esqueda, stating Miranda means everything to him.
As to when the couple will “tie the knot,” plans have yet to be made. But, Esqueda guarantees he will certainly be the happiest man around when he marries Miranda.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I've been carded

Christina Berry CARDED me!


1. Each player starts with 5 gifts that they would want for Christmas.
2. People who are "CARDED" need to write their own Blog about their 5 things & post these rules.
3. At the end of your Blog, you need to choose 5 people to get "CARDED" and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a COMMENT telling them they're "CARDED", and to read your Blog.

My Materialistic Gift/Wish List:

1. A visit from my mom, since she has not been here for nearly 5 years and I was just at her home in the Summer of '06. She only lives six hours away, but it is an expensive trip for my family and we always feel unwelcome thanks to her "boyfriend."

2. A new laptop...would be nice to have a computer we can "hide" from the kids. This one now has sticky keys because one of them snuck a beverage into the computer room.

3. More books...I can never have enough.

4. Time to work on my WIP...It is slow going and I never seem to have enough time to work on it.

5. A nice, relaxing evening with my where he doesn't talk about work and actually enjoys just being with ME. Seems we don't have enough time together and what time we do have is often riddled with our three lovely children constantly coming in and out of the room.

My Spiritual Gift/Wish List:

1. More patience...especially with my husband and youngest child.

2. I find some peaceful time.

3. Wisdom in dealing with my oldest child as he faces adolescence.

4. That I will hear God when He speaks to me.

5. That I will remember God's love for me when I am feeling unloved.

The people I have carded: