Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Captioning as I Get Older - Should I Keep Paying Those Fees to Maintain Those Certifications?

Captioning Weather for WVTM, Birmingham

Many years ago I let my certifications lapse when I went back to get my college degree. Life changed and I ended up having to go back into court reporting. I didn’t need the certifications to get hired but I did need the certifications to participate in the External Degree Program through the NCRA (or whatever the current name is) at the University of Alabama. I retook the tests for the certifications and went on and received my B.A. degree from the University of Alabama in interdisciplinary sciences five years later. I was able to deduct the costs of getting my college degree as part of my business expenses because I received C.E. credits for the classes. When you consider I traveled to Israel, Italy, England, Australia and New Zealand as part of my college degree, I took tons of money off my income taxes, so I have never been one to complain about the costs of C.E. credits or membership. It’s paid for itself.

However, I do think things continue to slide in the wrong direction. Pay per hour is less than I earned for the first show I captioned with no experience. A few years ago I got worried when the bottom fell out and went back and got my Masters degree in Creative Writing. I started writing books and continue writing, hoping to someday to make a living from it. While that hasn’t happened yet, without the flexibility that captioning offers, I would not have been able to do that. Not only that, but I was able to adopt two children from Asia as a single mom and homeschool them—because captioning paid well (especially back then) and gave me flexible hours working at home. 

Captioning also gave me skills for writing I wouldn’t otherwise have. And to maintain those certifications, I have done online classes that will help me with writing—Microsoft Word, Photoelements, and a copyediting course. The money I spent on the courses wasn’t that expensive, I think around $80 each, and I did them from home. I also deducted them for tax purposes.

I don’t think the NCRA is unreasonable in what they ask. It’s pushed me to take courses I probably wouldn’t have taken but from which I benefitted. Those certifications look good after my name on email, and it means I’ve met a certain standard that people in the industry recognize.  Will I continue to pay the yearly fees and maintain my certifications? I just turned 60 (ouch) and I am asking myself that question. Probably till I’m 65 or until I start selling tons of books. Remember, I let my certifications lapse once and I told myself I would never do that again.

I sure wish I could earn what I earned a few years ago, but those days are gone unless I want to work A LOT of hours. But it’s still better than anything else I’m qualified to do—yet. It’s hard to start over in an entirely new career at my age, but it does allow me to pursue my passion—writing books—that a typical day job would not afford. 

When I’m not sure what to do, I usually stay the course until a door opens so wide, I know not to shut it. And as far as I’m concerned, that means staying certified and paying those dues (which I just paid). Seems like they went up this year. AGAIN.

FREE on Amazon Kindle

When you look at the alternatives, captioning is still a good field. It’s just not as good as it once was. But then, rarely does anything stay the same. Except taxes and death.

Want a free book for your Kindle? Download “Seventh Dimension - The Door” from Amazon.

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Awesome Review by J. Steve Miller of Seventh Dimension - The Castle, Book 3

on December 22, 2015

Book 3
Book 4 will be available in Spring 2016
Children grow up hearing and reading Bible stories, but when they become teens, the stories probably lose some of their luster. Sure, there’s always a new insight or a fresh way to apply a familiar passage. But you no longer read the parable of the prodigal son and wonder how the story will end. As a result, we lose a bit of the wonder of it all, failing to grasp what it would have been like to hear it in the first century, as a bystander enraptured by the Teacher’s story.

Enter the power of the historical novel that dares to allow their characters to mingle with Jesus’ followers and see Him in person. Somehow, it gives us an angle that breathes new life into old, familiar stories. At least, that’s what The Castle did for me.

The author certainly made it easy for me to care about her characters and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next (being a sci-fi kind of guy, I loved the bending of space-time element). But beneath the fast-paced action/adventure was the psychological struggle of worldviews in conflict. A young Jewish man encounters Yeshua, but struggles to believe, particularly in light of the holocaust. It’s as if Yeshua was in some sense a precursor, or an earlier form of an individual holocaust.

But whatever readers take away, I think they’ll remember it for more than just an action/adventure with likable characters. Somehow it affected me more deeply. Perhaps it will touch your heart as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Five Star Review of Seventh Dimension - The Castle from Top Fifty Reviewer on Amazon

TOP 50 REVIEWERon December 17, 2015

"The Castle" is the third in the "Seventh Dimension" series of young adult fantasy written by Lorilyn Roberts. The protagonist is a young man named Daniel, who is Jewish, and who was born in the late twentieth century, but who is stuck in the "seventh dimension," where time is illusory and time travel is possible. "The Castle" takes place mostly during the time of the earthly ministry of Yeshua (Jesus), in particular from shortly before his crucifixion until shortly after his resurrection. However, Daniel also on occasion finds himself flashing back to the time of the Holocaust, which he has also experienced in the course of his time travels.

While living during the time of Yeshua's earthly ministry, Daniel encounters many of the characters spoken of in the Gospels and the Book of Acts and interacts with them. However, the one who most fascinates him is the miracle-working rabbi, Yeshua. As a Jew from the turn of the twenty-first century, Daniel has been told that Yeshua is not the Messiah, but that the Messiah is yet to come. However, as he witnesses the ministry and teaching of Jesus, and finally sees the resurrected Christ, he becomes convinced that Yeshua is indeed who he claims to be.

2015 Literary Classics Award Winner - Gold in YA faith-based fiction. 

Daniel is more than a passive observer of all these things. He is also wanted by the Roman authorities for a crime he did not commit. His own life is often in danger, and this subplot is woven into the story of Daniel's encounter with Yeshua.

This is a fast-moving, gripping book. It is thoroughly grounded in the scriptural account of the events of Jesus' life. Because of this it is especially appropriate as a way of bringing young adults into a better understanding of who the Messiah is and what he has done in bringing his people to salvation through his death on the cross.

Award-Winning Finalist: Religious category 2015 USA Best Book Awards.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Angels, Roaches and a Christmas Child

I never thought roach droppings would become one of my favorite Christmas stories. But stories have a way of writing themselves on our hearts.

Each year my sister Paige invites all of us to her house. We sit around the dining room table where odd knickknacks are transformed into lovely Christmas decorations. Paige is an artist, and it’s a good thing for my daughters. Most of my art projects never go as planned. I always miss an important step and my results are memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

Last year all the cousins created angels to hang on our Christmas trees. The ornaments were dressed in white lace, had feathery wings, and a red rose dotted the front collar. Instead of halos, the kids crowned the angels with macaroni noodles.

Joy, my youngest daughter, proudly hung her angel on our tree. Christmas came and went. January rolled around, and I packed the ornaments away in our attic for another year.

Last week I climbed up into the attic to pull out the Christmas decorations. Joy set up the tree and I opened up the first container. When I unlatched it, dozens of roach droppings littered the bottom of the box. A few tumbled out onto the living room floor. Several ornaments had brown pellets clinging to them. I was quite repulsed, only slightly less than I would have been if live ones had scampered out.

I fetched the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed up all the droppings. Visions popped in my head of hundreds of roaches crawling over my beautiful ornaments. How many roaches would it take to make that much crap? I cringed. Living in Florida has its dark side.

Then Joy cried out, “Mommy, my angel has no hair.”

“What happen to her hair?”

“I think the roaches ate it,” Joy said.

We broke out laughing. The roaches had spent the summer feasting on the macaroni hair of my daughter’s angel. 

As I think back to my fondest Christmas memories, many of them are also quite eclectic. There was the Christmas in downtown New York when we got trapped inside a car on fire. The electric windows were stuck and my grandfather smashed the driver’s side window with a suitcase. Mother pulled me out through shards of broken glass. Sirens blared and emergency lights flickered in the cold night air. We never did get to see the lighting of the tree but spent the evening in a fancy hotel.

Later Mother told me a Hollywood director was there for a children’s beauty pageant and had pleaded with her to let him take me to Hollywood. Sometimes I wonder if I missed my chance to be the next Hayley Mills (who I was often compared to when I was young). 

My most vivid memory from that snowy winter was Christmas Eve when I heard Santa’s reindeer pounding on the rooftop of the apartment building. It was a loud swishing sound followed by gallops. I didn’t believe in Santa Claus until that night. I lay in my warm bed imagining what Santa and his reindeer looked like. I wanted to jump up and peek out the window, but I was afraid if I saw them, he wouldn’t leave me presents.

The next morning I ran to the window and looked below. To my surprise, there were large sleigh marks in the snow. I stared out the window for a long time.

I’ve thought about that more this Christmas because of a strange conversation over Thanksgiving dinner. I asked my brother’s wife if their children still believed in Santa Claus. I shared my experience at my grandparents’ apartment when I was young, but mentioned only the part about the sleigh tracks in the snow.

Mother said, “I saw them, too, and heard Santa land on the roof.”

“You did?” I asked surprised. “I also heard the reindeer hoofs pounding on the roof. The swishing sound woke me up,” I added.

Silence followed as we thought about the strange coincidence. Sometimes I wonder if God allows fanciful moments to bring comfort to children. Maybe that’s what I needed at that time—to have something to believe in. 

Many years later I was in Vietnam on Christmas Eve to adopt Joy. Christmas music wafted through the streets of Hanoi. The beautiful lyrics filled the nighttime air.  I rejoiced, so far from home, realizing nothing can silence what God proclaims from the mountaintops—or loud speakers hoisted on poles in a communist country.

Joy in Hanoi when I adopted her Christmas 1999

God’s love reaches to the ends of the earth—in Nepal and China and Haiti; in Israel, where shepherds tend their flocks on the same hill that angels proclaimed glory to the newborn King. If we did not speak of the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, the rocks would cry out. Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father. The greatest gift of all came through the birth of one small child.

Joy’s hairless angel hangs on our tree this Christmas. All the gifts will be opened Christmas morning. I will eat far too much chocolate and then bemoan the five pounds I will gain. I will make my usual promise to start exercising on January 1, which I will probably break by the middle of the month. We will enjoy all the traditions that this wonderful season brings, full of joy, giving, and love. Then the ornaments will be taken down and packed away until next year. 

Hopefully, the roaches will find something else to eat besides angel hair. Life will resume its regular course, and I will be glad for the start of a new year.

Joy, Lorilyn, Manisha, DisneyWorld 2015

But for now, during this joyous Christmas season, I will pause to reflect on the gift of the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, knowing someday, too, I will bow before the new-born King. And, just maybe, there won’t be any roach droppings there.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Guest Post - Brave New Century - by Lisa Lickel, Paula Mowery, Kathleen Rouser, and Teena Stewart

 For a limited time, a holiday special for historical romance lovers!

From the Publisher:
Four young women each brave challenges at the dawn of the 20th century. Will they overcome their hardships and find love?

Three Rings for Alice by Lisa Lickel
Alice Smith is a thoroughly modern young woman at the brink of the twentieth century. She may be an orphan, but she enjoys the companionship of close friends who all look toward the future. When they begin pairing off, Alice feels lonely. In her job as the Milwaukee Mayor’s secretary, she keeps long hours at City Hall, filing, copying correspondence, and answering the new telephone system, the first without a switchboard. 

When an intriguing-sounding man makes an accidental call to the mayor’s office, they strike up a companionship. Alice tells herself she doesn’t miss him when his random calls stop and she begins a no-nonsense courtship with a friend. Until he calls again. 

Forgiven by Paula Mowery
Henry isn’t interested in working in the family business. He has his own aspirations. And his mother is determined to make sure he weds a woman he doesn’t love.

Jessie wants to build a life for herself and her sister that is more than the life her father dealt her when he abandoned them. 

When Henry and Jessie meet, it seems to be the classic love at first sight until a shocking revelation tears them apart.

The Pocket Watch by Kathleen Rouser 
Isabel Jones, an orphan, receives a ruby ring left by the mother she never knew and wants more than ever to find her roots. When a young physician, Daniel Harper, rescues her from an oncoming automobile and she finds his pocket watch in a puddle, her circumstances take a turn. 

She begins to consider what life outside the orphanage could be like. Daniel’s heart has been broken before and the attractive young lady who finds his treasured timepiece wouldn’t be deemed suitable by his social climbing parents.

When Isabel and Daniel work side by side, caring for the orphanage children during an influenza epidemic, she becomes gravely ill. Compelled to redeem the time by helping her find the past, Daniel finds a buried truth, connected to the ruby ring, which creates an unbridgeable chasm between them. Where will they find hope in a hopeless situation?

Flames of Hope by Teena Stewart
Young San Francisco police officer Gideon Light is smitten the moment he sees Lily McMinn rolling down the awnings on her father’s mercantile. Lovely, petite, and spunky, Lily had to grow up quickly after her mother passed away. She not only oversees the welfare of two younger siblings, she also helps run her father’s business. 

Gideon and Lily are immediately attracted to each other and soon become good friends. It doesn’t take long before Lily realizes her feelings for Gideon have changed to something far deeper. He secretly harbors dreams of advancing in the force to earn a substantial enough income to make Lily his wife. 

Before either has a chance to pursue each other, however, an earthquake of unthinkable magnitude shatters their world. With a raging fire fast in its wake, tragedy and triumph await as Gideon, Lily, and her family flee for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Set during the time of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, this tale of great loss, incredible human courage, and sweet romance will inspire and warm your heart. 

Print - $13.99
Ebook on sale in December - .99

ISBN – 978-1940099250
November 2013
Four-in-one historical romance novellas
Lisa Lickel, Paula Mowery, Kathleen Rouser, Teena Stewart

Brief interviews with each author:


What about Detroit’s history influenced your story, The Pocket Watch?
I knew someone who’d grown up in a Catholic orphanage in Detroit many years ago. I wondered if there were similar Protestant ministries in the city at an earlier time and discovered the Protestant Orphan Asylum of Detroit. I had been researching the Crittenton Mission, a home for unwed mothers, for another story, but wondered about what it would be like for a child left in and growing up at an orphanage.

How did you use your setting, Kathy? Did you make your story fit facts, or did you use facts you uncovered to create your story and guide your characters?
I mostly tried to make my story fit the facts, doing my best to find as much as I could about the streets, the homes, and the stores, some which have names that are familiar even today. Also, I remember my mom talking about riding on the streetcars, a trolley type of transportation, and found that it existed many years before her time. I hoped to create as realistic a backdrop as possible.

There had been some flu outbreaks in the city in other years. Though there wasn’t an epidemic reported at that exact time, I felt it was a plausible reason for quarantine conditions at the orphanage.

How did you come up with the idea of making the pocket watch a key part of your story?
There’s something I’ve always found intriguing and elegant about the use of a pocket watch. The watch, a gift from the Daniel’s father, is something which a doctor would be hard pressed to live without. The lost object is like a treasure to an orphan like Isabel and she wants to return it to the owner. The timepiece, like time itself, becomes integral to bridging Daniel’s past to his future. This also fits with the focus of a new year and indeed, the new century coming.  

Kathy, what did you enjoy most when writing your tale?
That’s a tough one. I enjoyed digging up books containing old photos of Detroit, learning a little more of the history of the city which I grew up so near and where I spent much time. It was nice to see its past vitality and know there’s hope for its future as well.

I also enjoyed watching my characters grow and adding humor with the cantankerous poodle, Taffy. It was hard to say “good-bye” to Isabel and Daniel! 


How did you go about finding historical facts about Knoxville’s history for your story, Forgiven?
My mom and I took a little trip to an archive section of the library that is in downtown Knoxville. We had a fun time exploring there. I found directories for exactly what business was at what spot on the city streets. Many of the building numbers and establishment names used in Forgiven were really those listed for that time in the 1900s. 

Of course, another part of the story, the shoot-out, came from some ancestry probing done by my father. The hero and heroine are based upon my paternal grandparents.  

Where did your story meld with the setting, Paula, to make Knoxville the unique influence on your characters?
Knoxville is the place the hero and heroine "find" each other. My grandparents actually lived in a house near downtown Knoxville. 

Your story Forgiven is based on a true story. Who were the people in the real life story and how did you learn about the tale?
My father had done some ancestry digging and found the newspaper account of a shoot-out between his father and uncles and some business colleagues. My paternal grandfather, Henry, survived the gun battle and went on to marry my grandmother, Jessie Lee. I have never heard the story of how they got together. That's where I took some fiction writer's license. 

What takeaway would you like readers to get from Forgiven?
Forgiveness is something we must learn to extend just as God has so willingly extended it to us. 


What gave you the idea for making the telephone a part of your story in Three Rings for Alice?
I was researching inventions around the turn of the twentieth century for a blog I used to write for—Favorite Pastimes—and learned more about the telephone and switchboards and how technology was changing. It also happened to be about the time of the 100th anniversary for the Milwaukee City Hall, and when I learned that this building was one of the first to feature direct dialing, I was able to incorporate that aspect into the story.

Why did you choose Milwaukee for the location?
It’s only thirty miles from where I live—I grew up south of there, and now live north of there. I love the county history museum, which is also nearby the city hall.


Teena, what influenced your choice to set your story, Flames of Hope, in San Francisco?
We lived in the Bay area of California for a while and I learned about the great earthquake and fire. When I was invited to write a story for the book the stipulation was for it to be a romance set at the turn of the century and in a city, so it was a natural choice for me.

When you devised your story, was it more around the facts, or did you have your story in mind before you researched the events of the era, and what choices did you employ to guide your characters? All I knew was that I wanted a romance to take place in San Francisco during the earthquake. I had no story line in mind and no idea of characters. I brainstormed who those characters might be and why they would know each other. I came up with the idea of a shop girl. Who would she know? Locals. Who could be a local she is drawn to and see on a regular basis--a young policeman. I felt that if there was already a spark between them, then putting them in danger would be a catalyst for drawing them closer together and would make for an exciting story.