Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Awakening by Christy Dorrity, An Interview and an Ebook Giveaway


Yesterday, Christy Dorrity released her debut album, Awakening. So, of course, I asked myself, "That's good and all, but what's in it for me?"

Well, first I get to give away an eBook copy of Awakening. How cool is that? So, I get the God-like powers of choosing a winner. BUAHAHAHAAHA!!!

Just kidding, I'll let Excel hold those powers. To enter, just comment below with the name of your favorite form of dance. No cheating by copying somebody else's answer. I want YOUR favorite dance. Don't think I'll know. *stern look*

The winner will get a copy of the book in eBook format. I'll stalk you until I get your email address, and then the author will contact you. I'll close the contest and announce a winner Thursday night when the comments slow down.

If you need inspiration, here is one of my favorite Youtube videos, the evolution of dance:


I also got to interview Christy after I read the book. So here goes:

JD: Welcome to my blog. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Christy Dorrity: Hi James! Thanks for having me. Well, my name is Christy. I’m a stay-at-home mom to five amazing kids. I love to spend time with them and my best friend, and husband, Devon. In my ‘spare’ time, I love to write, and Irish dance.

My debut novel, AWAKENING, has just released and I am so excited to share it with the world!

JD: What inspired you to write Awakening?

CD: I began Irish dancing about eleven years ago and I was fascinated by the Irish culture, music, and mythology. When I began writing part time a few years later, it felt natural to write about something I am so passionate about.

There was a little girl in the class I taught at church whose name was similar to what is now my main character’s name. I thought, ‘McKayla McCleery. I could write a story about an Irish dancer with that name.’

JD: There is a large focus on Celtic mythology, do you have Celtic roots?

CD: I have no Irish roots, all of my Celtic roots come from Scotland. My husband’s family comes from the O’ Dochartaigh clan in Ireland.

JD: There is also a focus on dancing, both ballet and Celtic dancing. You write like you know what is involved in these dances. Do you have a dance background?

CD: Yes, I’ve been dancing as long as I could walk. When I was four years old I begged my mom to put me in ballet. I danced all through school and into college.

When I was an adult, my husband bought us tickets to see Riverdance and I was hooked. I found lessons and now, eleven years later, my thirteen-year-old son and I have recently advanced to the championship level in our competitive Irish dance training.

JD: I really liked this magic system. How did you put it together?

CD: I love the quote, ‘Music is the language of the heart’, and I wanted to extend this to dance. I didn’t want the magic system to be too heavy-handed, instead I focused on the reality that we all have gifts that when used to help others can be magical. For instance, have you ever been affected by a movie, or a dance performance, or a vocal performance that touched you emotionally?

In AWAKENING, the characters have gifts that can be found in our lives, but are magically enhanced. For instance, McKayla can instill that emotion in others through her dance. In book two you will see more of the magic come out through motion, song, and the senses.

JD: This appears to be written as a series. Any idea when the next book will be released? How much of it is already written?

CD: I have two more books planned in The Geis series, and ideas for other books or series in the same world. Book two is in the outline stage right now and the ideas are fast and flowing!

In book two, which I plan to have out in 2014, we will follow Zoey to Tír na nÓg, where she will rescue her sister McKayla, who has been missing for four years, from those who would use McKayla’s gift for evil.

Book Description

About the Book

. . . because some Celtic stories won’t be contained in myth.

A little magic has always run in sixteen-year-old McKayla McCleery's family—at least that’s what she’s been told. McKayla’s eccentric Aunt Avril travels the world as a psychic for the FBI, and her mother can make amazing delicacies out of the most basic of ingredients. But McKayla doesn't think for a second that the magic is real—it’s just good storytelling. Besides, McKayla doesn’t need magic. She recently moved to beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, and already she has a best friend, a solo in her upcoming ballet recital—and the gorgeous guy in her physics class keeps looking her way.

When an unexpected fascination with Irish dance leads McKayla to seek instruction from the mute, crippled janitor at her high school, she learns that her family is not the only one with unexplained abilities. After Aunt Avril comes to Star Valley in pursuit of a supernatural killer, people begin disappearing, and the lives of those McKayla holds most dear are threatened.

When the janitor reveals that an ancient curse, known as a geis, has awakened deadly powers that defy explanation, McKayla is forced to come to terms with what is real and what is fantasy. A thrilling debut novel based in Celtic mythology, Awakening is a gripping young adult fantasy rife with magic, romance, and mystery.

Awakening (The Geis, #1)

Praise for Awakening

"AWAKENING is a wonder and a delight. Christy Dorrity is a talent to watch."
~David Farland, New York Times bestselling author of Nightingale

"I thoroughly enjoyed AWAKENING, a captivating and unique debut novel that creatively integrates Irish dance."
~ CHRIS NAISH, Riverdance member and Creative Director of Fusion Fighters Irish dancers.
About the Author

Christy Dorrity lives in the mountains with her husband, five children, and a cocker spaniel. She grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming, and is the author of The Geis series for young adults, and The Book Blogger’s Cookbooks. Christy is a champion Irish dancer and when she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen.

Purchase Awakening by Christy Dorrity:

Purchase Kindle Book Purchase Nook Book 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Appreciating Change

Story Time

When I was getting my degree in business, I learned of a science experiment that I’m sure is fictitious. I’ve heard variations on the story, but this is how I remember it:

Take five monkeys and put them in a cage. There is food and living necessities, but there is also a ladder that leads to a basket of fruit at the top of the cage. After the monkeys settle into the cage they are going to notice the fruit and attempt to climb up to it. When they do, spray that monkey with cold water from a hose AND spray the other four monkeys. Do this every time a monkey makes a mad dash for the fruit. Soon, all five monkeys learn that everybody pays the price of getting cold, wet, and uncomfortable any time another monkey tried to use the ladder.

At this point, you can take the hose out of the equation.

After this, take one of the monkeys and replace him/her with a fresh new monkey (let’s just assume all the monkeys are male). Within minutes of scanning his new home, he’s going to see the fruit and start climbing the ladder, wondering how he was fortunate enough to be the first to notice the delicious looking fruit.

Do you spray the monkey? Nope! The other four monkeys will attack the new one, until it also learns to keep his distance from the ladder.

Now replace another one of the original monkeys with a new monkey, and you’ll find that the same thing happens. The new monkey starts to climb the ladder and the other monkeys attack, including the one that had never even been sprayed with cold water. Interestingly, he’s the most enthusiastic of the bunch, grateful to no longer be on the receiving end of these beatings.

One by one, replace the other three monkeys until you have five monkeys that have never been sprayed, yet refuse to go for the fruit in fear they’ll all pay the price.

The story goes that while the fifth newcomer is getting monkeysmacked around, one of the monkeys turn to another and says, “Hey, why do we beat up anybody who tries to climb the ladder?”

The second monkey just says, “I dunno. It’s just the way we’ve always done it around here.”

Then my instructor deadpanned, “And that, my students, is how corporate culture gets established.”


My professor encouraged us to look at everything we do and question, “Hey, why do we do this?” If the answer is the same as the monkey’s, “Beats me, that’s how it’s always been done,” then you could be sitting on an excellent opportunity for change.

I worked for a company where you had to hand in your timecards two days before the end of the workweek. This obviously caused problems, because illness and other unforeseeable events often necessitated changing it after the fact. When a newcomer asked why we did this, especially since they didn’t start processing the timecards until THREE days after we turned them in, it turned out it was a holdover from a former employee who demanded it in case a surprise ended up in HER schedule. The process was changed and it saved time because it negated the need to adjust it later.

I know, it’s so simple, but don’t laugh too much. We all do weird things just because it is the way everyone’s always done it.

Take typing for example. Why do 99% of us type on the QWERTY keyboard? After all, it was actually designed to slow down typing speed. I’ve got a friend who questioned this and decided to learn the Dvorak keyboard. His typing speed went from 80 words per minute to 120! If you spend most of your day typing, imaging your productivity level if you could do it all 50% faster.

Speaking of keyboards, here’s a post a couple of years ago where I learned I was using the spacebar wrong for decades. Never questioning, only assuming that everybody did it this way.

And there are traditions we continue because most people don't question them.

We make resolutions every January 1st. What, you can’t decide to improve your life in the middle of September? Go ahead. Try it. You aren’t breaking any laws. Making life changes are more effective when you get prompted and motivated instead of waiting after Christmas and settling on, “Oh, I could lose a few pounds. Let’s join a gym at the most expensive time to do it!”

How often should you change your oil? If you said either 3,000 or 5,000 miles, you are most likely wrong. Have you looked at your owner’s manual? New cars can go multitudes of that without an oil change. Last time I changed my oil, my dealership said, “See ya’ in 10,000 miles.” That’s one maintenance that costs me a third of my time and money now.

A year ago, I asked somebody why she commuted to work a certain way. “I don’t know, I’ve been
going this route for nearly 8 years.” I encouraged her to try another route because a few new roads have opened up since she got her job. Ever since, she saves five minutes of driving each direction. That’s ten minutes of her life she gets back every time she goes to work. That’s nearly 2,500 minutes saved every year. And since she changes her oil every 3,000 miles, she can now go another week or so between oil changes.

Can anybody make a suitable argument for learning cursive, especially in this day of (albeit QWERTY) keyboards and printers? In college, most of my professors wouldn’t accept homework in cursive. Imagine if we spent that class time learning something else instead. I’d be surprised if somebody actually said that learning cursive is more important than getting a little bit further in math, science, and reading comprehension. Have you seen kids with their status updates on social media sites? I’d love to see a few more spelling lessons!

Did you have a best man at your wedding? Did you know that it’s a tradition where the groom had his strongest muscleman by his side to enforce the marriage if the bride got cold feet?

We shake hands as a way to show we aren’t carrying a sword, yet people are more likely to die from
the germs that are spread than a surprise beheading. I envy the oriental customs of bowing. I’m starting to fist-bump people more often now, I guess that’s better than a handshake from a germ perspective. Right? Well, baby steps.

And don’t get me started on daylights saving time.

What Should I Do About It?

We all do some weird things without questioning it.

Well, question it!

Think outside the box. You might learn something new if there is a valid reason a process should remain unchanged. Most likely, you’ll find a way to improve a process. Talk to others about it. Some of my best group brainstorming experiences started with, “Hey, why…..?”

Do this at work, at home, and in any organization you are a part of and you’ll start making your life easier, save money, and find extra nuggets of time to do the things you enjoy.

Unrelated note: If you’re ever thrown into a cage with some rough-looking characters, a ladder, and a basket of fruit at the top, I’d probably start asking a few questions.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Relaunch Coming Soon

If you visited yesterday, you got a sneak peek at how I'm re-branding this blog. I reverted back this morning, but you might catch me testing some changes beforehand. I'm getting excited, and I hope you are too.

Stay tuned, I hope to relaunch it soon-I'm just getting some details squared away before I nail down a date. There will be prizes and fun posts everybody can enjoy and appreciate. Did I mention prizes? If I can figure out how to email food, I'll do that as well!