Author Archives: Laura Hile

About Laura Hile

I'm a middle school teacher and a moonlighting author. My genre? Regency romantic comedy. It's fun, escapist reading for thinking readers like you.

Heatwave Strategies

We’re used to 70 or 80. degrees. Not this.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, whining about the weather is like a sport. But this week it is hot. Record-breakingly, cook-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot.

A house with so-so insulation and older windows — what’s a girl to do? Cope, that’s what!

I’m a native Californian, raised in a corner of the San Fernando Valley that sizzles in summertime. When heat comes to call here in Beaverton, I employ my heatwave strategies.

  • Windows on the second floor open all night, box fans on high. Although Portland is 110 miles from the Pacific Ocean, we cool significantly once the sun is down. Unlike, say, Hawaii or the Midwest.
  • Lockdown by 8:00 a.m. All windows shut and draperies closed. No exceptions.
  • Once the sun is up, forget errands or shopping. You want it, you go and buy it yourself.
  • A rusty sunrise, thanks to distant wildfires. But the smoke kept us from reaching the forecasted 108.

    Housework / laundry finished (or ignored) by 10:00 a.m. Because the power might go out, right? Once it’s hot, why bother with chores?

  • Microwave those meals. If you run out of options, use the grill or follow grandma’s lead and set up an Outdoor Kitchen.
  • Quit thinking about an air conditioner. Our windows are too large for one of those clunky window units. And besides, it isn’t worth buying one for one or two weeks of use.

My “redneck” Outdoor Kitchen. Why sweat the heat?

Tell you what, though, this summer we cried “Uncle,” big time. With temperatures predicted to soar to an astonishing 107 degrees, we finally pulled the trigger. Yesterday the cheerful UPS guy delivered to our door a portable air conditioner. We hurried to haul it upstairs and get it running.

Bam! It promptly blew a circuit. What can I say? In the late 1970s, no one guessed that families would use so much power.

The blessed Sleep Enabler.

It’s always a comedy routine around here, right? My son has a similar AC unit — and it turns out that our bedrooms share a circuit. So now he has a contractor-grade extension cord that snakes under his bedroom door and into the bathroom. Which shares a circuit with the outside power outlet I’m using for the Outdoor Kitchen. (Turn up the roasting pan and Bam! The circuit will blow. But that’s another story.)

So during this scorcher, we’re rejoicing. Because now two of our bedrooms are blessedly cool.

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A Cinderella kind of day

My favorite fairy tale as a grownup is Beauty and the Beast.  But my favorite as a girl? Without question it is Cinderella. It’s a story that delivers on every level.

From Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 adaptation of Cinderella

As you know, I live with a bunch of men. Even though they pick up after themselves, I end up doing many “Cinderella” chores!

This morning,  in the middle of my work I abandoned a shirt on the ironing board, plunked down at the laptop, and … cruised Facebook, ha.

You know what happened next. Yeah, I was sucked in by one of those quizzes.

Why do we take those things? It’s not like they’re even accurate. Anyway, today’s was especially tempting: What Grimm Fairy Tale Character Are You? 

Am I a beautiful princess or a sneaky villain? Inquiring minds want to know the answer to that one!

According to the quiz, I am the most like … Cinderella.

You believe in two things: hard work and true love. You don’t complain, even when you know that you are taking on more than your fair share of the work. You don’t ask for anything, and yet, every once in a while, someone comes along and takes care of you. You know it is okay to stand up for yourself sometimes. You can say no when asked to do too much work. People will still respect you, and they might even be impressed to see you stand up for yourself!

This description makes me smile. Sure, I can *say* no to too much work — but that just means it will wait for me to do later!

Kind of like that shirt I left on the ironing board. What else was I to do? It was time to get my hair cut. This “Cinderella mom” went rogue!

My stylist does not have a magic wand, but my hair now looks cute instead of scruffy. And after my appointment, this movie found its way into my shopping cart. Something beautiful and good, a Mother’s Day gift to myself. It’s an adaptation I’ve long wanted to see.

You know, for the busy mom Mother’s Day is a Cinderella kind of day. We’re given gifts and appreciation from those we love and serve. Glass slippers and a ball, who needs those? Heck, it’s enough that for one day someone else does the cooking!

Fellow moms, I hope tomorrow is a lovely day for you. What Cinderella’s mother taught applies to each of us, I think. “Have courage and be kind.”

After dinner, our family is set to play games (we all like 7 Wonders). But you know what? I might make my men watch Cinderella with me instead.

Laura Hile (1)

Ad Shadows

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.

Shadows.  Photo: pwjamro (Creative Commons Flickr)

A polished hematite stone (Photo: Morguefile)

So wrote Robert Louis Stevenson (My Shadow), long before the information age.  He was referring to the noun: a dark shape caused by the sun or by candlelight.

To be shadowed is something different.

These days we find ourselves shadowed by on-line advertising.

For example, the other day I was telling my Ben about the magnetic stones we bought years ago at a national park gift shop.  I rescued them from his give-away box, and they have lived on my desk at school ever since–much to the delight of my students.

What is it about magnets? Students never tire of playing with them. But I could not think of the name.

Google to the rescue! Within seconds, I had my answer: hematite.

And if I want more, forget driving all the way to Crater Lake. Amazon will drop-ship a set right away.

Amazon’s “Remarketing” e-mail for Hypnotic Hematite

Of course you know what happened next. I acquired a shadow–or rather, my computer at school did. Advertising for hematite stones began to follow me.

This practice is called “remarketing.” My computer showed interest, so my computer will be shown more.  On Facebook and all around the web.

This morning, Amazon e-mails me. Just in case I wanted another look at Hypnotic Hematite.

As a consumer, I am dismayed. Can’t I just look at something without being followed?

Ah, but as an indie author? Perhaps this remarketing thing is not all bad. For what if potential readers are looking at my books?  “Want more Mr. Darcy? Click here.”

Aw, Mom, really? It’s a Bonnet Book!

Which brings me back to Ben. Poor fellow, he was so excited when Darcy By Any Other Name was released, and he was checking the listing on Amazon multiple times a day. Ah, but then remarketing caught up with him.

“Mom,” he complained, “what the heck? Ads for girly romance books are everywhere I go! Ew!”

I think his manly pride was offended.

Well then. Perhaps I should be thankful that I’m being shadowed by something harmless as hematite?

What kinds of ads have shadowed you?

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Death, where is your victory?

The Resurrection of Christ by Rembrandt (Matthew 28:2)

“He is risen.”
“He is risen indeed.”

This ancient greeting, passed from one follower of Jesus to another on Easter morning, says it all. Death is a defeated foe. God’s word is trustworthy. His promises are true. And as believers in Jesus, we have a future and a hope.

Here at Jane Started It, this Easter brings a personal reminder of victory over death.

Since July, it has been our privilege to pray for our own Gayle Mills, as she underwent treatment for colon cancer.

The prognosis was chilling, truly. And yet God was with Gayle every step of the way. Along with her family, friends, and coworkers, we prayed, and our Gayle bravely walked through the dark days of chemo and radiation.

Bit by bit, the cancer was beaten back. In March, Gayle felt well enough to return to teaching, retreating to her cot during prep periods. And at the beginning of this month,  Gayle makes this announcement:

I am officially in remission and cancer free. God has been so good to me. Thanks for every prayer you’ve offered on my behalf. Thanks for your encouragement and support.

Needless to say, we are rejoicing over what God has done for Gayle and her family.

Thank you, sincerely, for your prayers on her behalf. May your Easter be a blessed one.

Eclipse Sisters? That’s us.

Today we have a sunrise–a real one–after a week of soaking rain. And oh, the difference sunshine makes for the Pacific Northwest. Spring at last!

And spring brings hope for summer.

Tell you what, this summer I’m looking forward to the Great American Eclipse. August 21st has been on my calendar for a while, although it doesn’t need to be. If our skies are cloud-free that morning, we won’t be able to miss what happens.

Map courtesy of GreatAmericanEclipse.com

It’s also cool for us here at Jane Started It because of its path. The total eclipse lies just south of Susan Kaye and me here in Oregon. It also lies just south of Robin Helm and Gayle Mills in South Carolina.

We met on-line, we share a blog. And now we will share the path of the sun’s shadow.

All of North America will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, according to the Great American Eclipse website. Do have a look around. There’s fascinating stuff there.

How about you? Are you in the path of the eclipse?

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With a little help from my friends

From friend to friend Image: Eliza C3 (Creative Commons Flickr)

This is how we discover the best stuff. Friend to friend.
Image: Eliza C3 (Creative Commons Flickr)

Isn’t this how we discover the best restaurants and movies and reads?

From our friends.

Around here we’re smiling at the success of Robin Helm’s new Pride and Prejudice romance. Understanding Elizabeth has really taken off.

My Kindle Select numbers are smiling too.

All because of Cross Promotion.

See, now that I’m an indie author, I can participate in that. Placing a link or two at the back of my e-book that says I think you would enjoy …

Mr Darcy recommends

“Mr. Darcy Recommends”

It’s a simple concept. Robin has placed an image link to Darcy By Any Other Name at the end of her book, and I have done the same. And readers must be having a look at Darcy, because my Kindle Select numbers are way up.

While Robin and I share a blog, it appears that we don’t always share the same readers.  Who knew?

Hey, Robin has a two-book giveaway going on this week at Of Pens and Pages. Stop by, read Nissa’s review of Understanding Elizabeth, and post a comment.

logo-4-1The USA winner has the option to choose a print book prize. Love that!

Really proud of Robin. Elizabeth has held on to her #4 spot against two best-sellers (with over a hundred Amazon reviews apiece), and has even won out against a 99 cent erotica.

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Loving Jane Austen’s Persuasion

persuasionpanelToday Susan Kaye and Laura Hile join a panel of authors (Karen Cox, Regina Jeffers, Shannon Winslow, and Melanie Stanford)  to discuss our love for Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

A big thank you to  author Karen Cox for hosting us!

“Persuasion-esque authors are a sisterhood of sorts,” she writes. “We know that Darcy gets the majority of the press around Austen-World, but…Wentworth…Letter!…Pierce my soul!!!”

Come by and enjoy the rest of the article here: Persuasion Panel