Expectations & Expermiments

Expectations…

When I decided I was going to start writing more regularly again, I set some attainable goals and looked forward to crossing each item off in my planner at the end of each day. I had this! After all, the first step to success is figure out what you want to achieve and how you’re going to make it happen.

Right? Not ……. exactly.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned. After taking most of the last three years off, establishing a good writing routine isn’t as easy as I’d thought it would be. So I’ve been doing some thinking (can that be a good thing?!). And I realized something. When I was getting a lot of books written, I was also blogging a lot more.

So…

Experiments…

This is where the experimentation comes in. I’m going to try to blog every day for the next 30 days. Each day of the week will have a theme:

Magnificent Mondays
Tasty Tuesdays
Witty Wednesdays
Tune-tastic Thursdays
Funtabulous Fridays
Sassy Saturdays
Sweetheart Sundays

At the end of the the 30 days, I’ll see which topics you – the readers – like the most. So, if you like some of the topics more than others, please like those posts – and comment below to let me know. I would hate to go longer than 30 days to get the numbers I’m looking for. 🙂

Before I forget, I’ll probably be putting an affiliate link in each post too. Click here to read more about that. In a nutshell though, if you click on the link and purchase something, Amazon will pay me a small (very small) commission. It won’t change the price for you though.

Anyway, to start off the first day, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Music! And my newest favorite song is one of the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard. I listen to it way too much because Aria knows enough of the lyrics to sing along with it too. 

Be patient, it takes about 17 minutes to get to where the song starts. And if you like it, check out Ed’s music here.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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The Difference a Decade and a Half Makes

Wow. I just realized the tenth anniversary of my accident went by – almost nine months ago. There was a time when I marked each  year, but then I guess it got to the place where it didn’t matter anymore.

For those of you who haven’t read some of my older blog posts, in 2008, life was pretty normal. I’d just bought a new (to me) home and was settling in nicely. Until that fateful day. (cue dramatic music – sorry, couldn’t resist having a little fun there – I’m a writer though so… :))

I was on my way to pick up lunch fixings for my kids for school the next day. It was a chilly late afternoon on the sixth of October. The sky was clear, the sun was out. And a guy named Ed blew through a red light on the highway and totaled my van.

I didn’t know it then but my life would change – a lot – not only for the next few years, but pretty much for the rest of my life. I didn’t know I’d wind up in physical, occupational, and vision therapy three days a week for close to a year. I didn’t know there were doctors who encouraged you to give up fighting. Who would flippantly suggest you accept what life has become and start using wheelchairs and walkers instead of fighting to get back what you had.

Nearly eleven years ago, I didn’t realize just how stubborn and determined I could be.

Thanks to those tendencies, that awful doctor, and a nurse advocate who told me I’d probably never get back to more than seventy percent of what I was before the accident, I set out to prove everyone wrong.

And I did. Mostly. I’d say I’m at eighty-five percent – and still planning to hit the hundred mark. It may take a while longer but that’s okay.

I’m not in a wheelchair and I don’t use a walker. There are some minor issues  – if I do stupid things. To observe me most days though, no one would ever guess how hard I worked to get here because I don’t look different.

And that’s not the only thing that happened either. Because of a TBI (traumatic brain injury) I went from so much difficulty concentrating that I was afraid I’d never be able to write again. But I wouldn’t accept that either. Telling stories has been a huge part of my life for most of my life, so I kept at it. And I’ve written and published more than two dozen books since 2011.

Am I telling you all of this to brag? Maybe a little. I worked my butt off to get here and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Mostly though, it’s to remind myself that no matter how difficult situations may sometimes seem, I do have it in me to change them. To make my life better. It may take more effort than I want to expend but I can do it. If I persist. If I call on the same stubbornness and determination that got me from ‘you should just give up and start using a wheelchair’ to where I am today. If I pray – a lot. If I do all of those things, I’ll almost always accomplish whatever it is I set out to do.

There are times when it would be nice if the things I really want (or the things I really want to change) would come easier. But I don’t think I’d appreciate them as much if they did. Now I just need to keep telling myself that as I get ready to make more changes in my life. The struggle is worth it, right? 🙂

Have you ever faced something that seemed impossible? Something where it looked as though the odds were stacked against you – and yet you prevailed? Let me know in the comments below.

To conclude, I was going to share an inspiring song. But then I found my new favorite and decided I wanted to use that one instead. I just cannot get enough of Ed Sheeran!

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A Book Sale and a Recipe!

Just wanted to let you know that The Physician to the King is on sale for .99 cents through next Friday (June 28). This is book 2 in the Royal Sweethearts Romance series (book one, A Prince on the Run, is always free!). Since I hope book 4 in that series, Quinn MacMahon’s story, is out by the end of July, I thought this would be a good time to bring a little attention to the series again.

Click here for a link to your favorite store (except Google – they haven’t lowered the price yet).

Now for the recipe.

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to eliminate sugar and high glycemic carbs from my diet by adopting the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) lifestyle. That means I get to indulge in some low carb and keto foods too, among them some popular products that make my life simpler when I don’t feel like making something to eat.

I’ve really tried to like the low carb shake in that product line but after drinking about a dozen, spread out over a month or so, I could hardly force myself to open the last one one. Nope. I didn’t like them at all.

So I went searching online for a homemade one that wouldn’t take a lot of time or effort. Only one looked promising – but the texture was a little funky and so I crossed that off the short list. A really short list since it was the only thing on it. 🙂

Then I started playing around and came up with a combination I really like. It comes out very much like a thin chocolate milk. You can add more sweetener if you like. I added 3 drops of Better Stevia English Toffee. Oh, it’s so good!

In case some of you are like me – and you’ve never met a whey protein that you liked (and I’ve hated every one I’ve tried) – the one linked below really is unflavored.

And speaking of links, there are affiliate links for the Better Stevia and the items in the recipe below (and the Amazon link for Nolan’s book). All that means is if you click on one and buy a product, I’ll make a small commission – but it won’t change your price at all. Click here for more information.

 

Low Carb Chocolate Shake Mix
1/2 cup collagen
1/2 cup Swerve (powdered)
1/3 cup beef gelatin powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 scoops unflavored whey protein isolate
1 good pinch of sea salt (optional)

Mix well, split into 6 equal servings(roughly 1/3 cup each).

To serve, mix 1 serving in 1/2 cup of very hot water (just shy of boiling). Stir until well dissolved (cocoa will probably not dissolve completely though). Add 1 cup of your favorite low carb milk – I used 2 tablespoons heavy cream and the rest water. A little ice is nice too. Yum!

Each serving has around 17 grams protein, zero sugar, and less than one carb. I don’t count calories so I don’t know what that would come out to. This is for a lower/low carb diet.

 

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8 Years – and Counting

Wow. I was stunned to see a reminder that in two days, I’ll be celebrating the anniversary of my first blog. June 6, 2011. Eight years. How did that happen?

In that time, I’ve published sixteen novels, three novellas, and a dozen novelettes, short stories, and non-fiction works. I’ve also unpublished ten of those stories. One was just a little too personal and will never see the light of day again. One is on hold until I get more books in the series written. The rest are going to be rebranded to better fit their genre. I’ve also got several books in various stages of completion that need to be finished.

I’ve also pushed myself to the point of burnout a few times. In this business, I think it’s more common than we know. Some authors are great at getting through it, or at least pretending it’s not much of an issue. Unfortunately, I’m not good at pretending and honestly, sometimes I worried that this time, it would never end. But like all of the others, there is finally a light at the end of a long, long tunnel. It’s taken more than two years to get here though. 🙂

There have been other changes in my life. Some good, some bad. Some still in the process of becoming reality. But all in all, life is fantastic. It always has been. And it’s getting better.

My plan is to dive back into writing. Not like I did before. Sixteen-hour days that included writing, social media, blogging, editing, plotting, outlining, creating characters that weren’t like any of the others I’d created, and trying to find time for life – for nearly five years – is what set this all off. That being the case, I’m only going (to try!) and work six days a week, with one day to relax and have fun. And I’m not going to devote most of my waking hours to my career. I will spend enough time working at it though.

Because I’ve missed writing. But I’ve missed me too. So, I’ll be searching for that sweet spot. One that will allow me to succeed at my career goals while finding a balance that’s been missing since the get-go.

I’m also going to start listening to more music again. For some reason, I haven’t done as much of that the past couple of years. I don’t know why. Especially since it makes me so happy. Those of you who have followed my blog since the beginning know I used to share videos that expressed whatever it was I wrote about. It’s time to start doing that again. If for no other reason than it’s an excuse to watch a bunch of videos.

Tonight, I thought about taking the easy way out and choosing Rachel Platten’s Fight Song for probably the tenth time. It’s one of my favorites, and one of the most motivational songs ever written. But there’s another that fits this situation at least as well. The second addresses the reason it’s important to make writing a priority again. Every year, the days speed by faster and faster. And if I don’t beat the burnout into submission in a hurry, I have a lot of stories that will never be told.

So I’m back. For good this time.

I can’t tell you how much I want to tack ‘I hope’ to the end of that last sentence. But I’m going believe that the burnout monster has been beaten into submission – permanently. 🙂

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My Favorite Prince

Before this past November, I’d have said Prince Harry was my favorite prince of all time. But then this movie made its debut on Netflix and Prince Edward edged him out. 

This post contains affiliate links. That means if click on one of them and purchase an item, I will make a few pennies. It won’t change your cost though. Click here to learn more.

Yup. You’re in second place now, Harry. Not by much but I just love, love, love Sam Palladio, and I love his character. Sweet, romantic, and… I don’t know. I just think he’s a perfect prince.

And I’m looking for all the inspiration I can get as I start the next phase of the Royal Sweethearts series. We’ll be moving (mostly) away from Casteloria to St. Chardemont and meeting a whole new set of royals. I’m loving the concept so far and am making good progress with Quinn MacMahon’s book, the story that will transition from one kingdom to the next.

So reading books and watching movies about princes and princesses help to keep my mind focused where it needs to be right now. And The Princess Switch helps most of all right now.

If any of  you have Netflix, I strongly urge you watch it and let me know what you think. I suspect die hard romantics – like me – will love it! 

Now, please excuse me while I go watch The Princess Diaries

By the way, I just realized I posted about this movie in November but decided I don’t care. It’s definitely worth the reminder. I’d hate for anyone to miss out on roughly ninety minutes of a great romance.

I also know the holidays are long past. But anyone who has followed me for a while probably knows by now that I listen to Christmas music, read Christmas stories, and watch Christmas movies all year long. 🙂

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Avengers Rant (yes, from me)

Anyone who knows me, or knows much about me, knows I love the Avengers. Captain America, Ironman, Thor, and all the rest. Even Antman, which (to me) sounded ridiculous. But since I’m a Paul Rudd fan… Yeah. I watched it. He’s too adorable.

I own many of the movies in this series and have both anticipated and dreaded the final installment, Avengers: Endgame. I don’t want to say goodbye to the characters. But I really, really want to see that movie next month.

Or I did. Technically, I still do. But I hate that Marvel seems to be throwing a new ‘hero’ in at the last minute.

In the writing world, experts warn against bringing something/someone in at the end of the story to magically ‘save the day.’ If we haven’t shown them, or at least mentioned it/them earlier in the book, we’ve got no business bringing it/them in at all. It’s a clear sign that the author of a story didn’t know what they were doing and had to resort to desperate measures to try and make it work.

Back to the Avengers.

When rumors started to float around that Captain Marvel was going to make everything right in the universe, my enthusiasm for the movie dropped a little. Who was Captain Marvel. And why were we just now hearing about her?

A friend told me that Captain Marvel was in the comic books.

That got me wondering and I started doing a little digging. Yup. Captain Marvel has been around since the late 60s. But this captain was originally a man. Then an alien. Then he was a cop from New Jersey. And then a genetically engineered child.

It wasn’t until 1977 that the character changed to a woman.

As of the end of 2018, if I counted right, there are twenty Marvel movies. And until recently, not once have I heard of Captain Marvel. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who hasn’t either.

I didn’t have a clue that Guardians of the Galaxy, who showed up in Infinity Wars, was part of this universe. But at least they’ve had movies out since 2014. Unlike Captain Marvel, whose only movie was released twenty-three days ago. Forty-nine days before the last Avengers movie is due out.

Apparently, they hinted at her existence at the end of Infinity Wars. I totally missed it. Probably because I never read the comics. I wonder how many others didn’t either.

I’ll still be parked in a theater at some point during opening week. But unless there’s an exceptionally good reason as to why they waited so long to bring the female version of Captain Marvel in – at the very last minute, I’m probably going to be a little disappointed.

What about any other Avengers fans out there? Those who, like me, haven’t read any of the comic books? Opinions on bringing in character we haven’t seen in the Marvel movie universe – until three weeks ago? One who will miraculously save the day…

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

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Fifth Time is the Charm!

Okay. I admit I just pulled that number out of the air. I’m sure if I’d been counting, I’ve tried far more than five recipes for low/lower carb bread and biscuits. Some were tolerable. Some were wet and kind of gummy in the middle (all together now, “YUCK!!!”). Some were just totally underwhelming.

So mostly, I’ve stuck with one version or another of mug – aka microwave – bread. Those always seem to get done – all the way through. And once they’re toasted, buttered, and buried under a fried egg or two … or sugar free jam … it’s not too bad. It’s not what I’d call good. Maybe ‘better than nothing’ is the description I’m looking for.

Because one thing I can say with certainty is that, for me, they’re nothing like the beautiful loaf of bread above. Nope. They’re dry. They’re very eggy. And there’s no yeast. 

The recipe I made tonight tasted very eggy straight out of the oven, but was much less so after it cooled. It was surprisingly good. Enough so that I had two slices with my supper (below are two slices cut in four pieces – with three left because had to eat one 😀 ). I got the recipe from the Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved website.

The rest of the meal is roasted pork and radishes boiled in beef broth, which I then thickened with a combination of 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum to every 1 tablespoon oat fiber (per Briana Thomas’s recipe on her website). I LOVE this thickening mixture and will be mixing up a batch of it and keeping it handy for whenever I need gravy! It wasn’t slimy at all.

Are you still wondering about the radishes? I don’t know where I first read about using them as a potato substitute but I found the first time I used them in stew, they did taste potatoes. Or close enough that I was happy. Cooked in packaged beef broth – without the meat, carrots, and onions to help flavor them… Well, they weren’t awful, but they didn’t taste as much like a potato. Fortunately, they no longer tasted like a radish either.

But the best thing about my supper tonight? Chocolate ice cream with my version of Oreo flavored ‘skinny chocolate.’ I melted half a cup or so of refined coconut oil, added a couple of heaping cereal spoons of black cocoa (affiliate link – click here to learn more), a couple of pinches of salt, and powdered Swerve, to taste.

Honestly, I’d forgotten I bought the chocolate ice cream this time and had been looking forward to some vanilla with the chocolate. But this was soooooooo good, I’m not sorry at all. I just hope I won’t have a stomachache all night because I love Carb Smart ice cream a whole lot more than it loves me. 😀

Oh yeah. I think I’ve finally hit a happy medium and won’t be falling off the Trim Healthy Mama wagon again for a while. ’bout time!

Photo Credit (bread): Pixabay.com

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The Best Part of Waking Up?

And no, this isn’t a reference to coffee commercials. It’s a question I’ve been pondering for a few days now and I’ve been reflecting on what ‘waking up’ has meant to me through the years. And it’s meant very different things at different stages in my life.

I’ll admit I don’t remember giving it much thought until now, and in looking back, I don’t really remember having any opinions but when I was in school, if it was a weekday, I was very much not enthused. In elementary school, if it was a Saturday, I couldn’t wait to get up to watch my favorite cartoons. Beyond that, it usually meant sleeping in and then, because I was shy and a bit nerdy, reading a good book. Or a few.

There are other memories of times when I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed. The mornings we’d leave for a vacation – and my dad would make a run to the bakery because the first day of vacation meant a breakfast of donuts and rolls while driving to one lake or another.

Christmas mornings were also some of the best times. When I was growing up, my siblings and I would be up before sunrise to see what Santa brought. One year, we all slept on the floor in one room – and tied strings to our feet so if anyone tried to sneak downstairs before the rest of us, we’d all know.

Now my kids… They’re another story entirely. I would wake up long before they did, excited to see their reactions to the gifts I’d so lovingly shopped for and wrapped. And I knew they were excited about the prospect of gifts too. They just didn’t want to wake up early to get them. I’d walk around the house like I’d strapped bricks on my feet and bang cupboard doors. Eventually, my efforts would wake them and they’d stumble out to the living room – but I was still more excited than they were.

And that’s what life has been like as an adult. Sometimes, something happens and I can hardly wait to jump out of bed. Mostly though, it’s just something I have to do.

The past three years though, is making me rethink my attitude. Which isn’t bad, mind you, it’s just … kind of … blah.

But Aria is my polar opposite. Every day is an adventure. She wakes up with a sleepy smile most mornings, gives me a big hug, a, ‘G’mornin’ Gramma,’ and then she hits the floor running. Daylight is burning and she’s not wasting a minute of it.

I dread the day when she decides sleeping in is preferable to jumping out of bed.

That is the attitude I want again. The excitement. That energy! The determination to find the best in everything I do, even if it’s the adult equivalent of stacking a pile of blocks twenty times, knocking them over, and then giggling like it was the first time.

Image by kaboompics on Pixabay

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“You Do Know This is a Television Show, Don’t You?”

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve only ever joined AND participated in one group for a television show. A Million Little Things. I love that show. It’s one of very few I’ve ever loved so much I can hardly wait until each new episode – and Thursday nights will find me parked in front of my television like a kid watching their favorite cartoons.

That’s why I joined the group. And I think most people in the group are like me. We can suspend disbelief enough, get involved in the story enough, that we talk about the characters and what’s going on in their lives like they’re real people.

Not everyone, however, is able to do this, as evidenced by the regular questioning of our sanity. “You do know this is a television show, don’t you?”

Umm… Actually, I do know that. I also know if I can’t lose myself in the story and characters enough to CARE about them and what’s going on in their fictional lives, there’s not much point in turning the television on.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a reader since I was old enough to check my first book out of a school library. And I can hardly wait for those special books. The ones that suck me in from the first page. The ones that are nearly impossible to put down. The ones I find myself reading so late at night I have to keep arching my brows in order to keep my eyelids open so I can read a few more pages. And a few more after that because I just have to know what happens next.

Do I know I’m just reading a book? That the characters and the things they’re going through aren’t real? Yes. Yes, I do. At least in my head. The thing is though, when the story is so good I totally lose myself in it, and the characters are written so well it’s like I actually know them, my heart doesn’t care if it’s real or not. I will care about the story, and I’ll care even more about the characters.

And I’m going to keep on caring. About books. About the occasional series. And I’m going to care about them like they really exist because if I can’t, what’s the point of reading or watching anything? Right?

Photo Credit: Pixabay
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Worldbuilding

It’s one word. Who knew? Not me. I just looked it up to see if I’d need a hyphen. Anyway…

In literary circles, the term is generally used in relation to sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal stories. But that doesn’t mean it can’t refer to every day life on planet Earth. And in the case of the series I’m putting all of my writer’s block hopes in, I need to create a fictional town. A small town in northern lower Michigan. As opposed to Michigan’s Yooper-filled Upper Peninsula, which is across the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge (where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet).

 

 

I was making really good progress on that, basic plots for each book, and the beginnings of characters I hope we’ll all fall in love with. But three days after my last blog post, I wound up getting what I thought was a flu virus but sounds like it’s RSV instead. So I don’t really know what that is, nor do I care. It’s seems to be a bit worse than a cold but not as bad as the flu though so I’ll be glad to bid it goodbye. I hate being sick.

While I’m getting over it, I’m still doing some work in the plotting and character creation but not as much as I’d like. All the coughing is interrupting my sleep, and just wiping me out. So I decided the next best thing to forcing myself to think coherently would be to find some television series about small town life and do a little binge watching.

That led me to Everwood, a series I loved in the early 2000’s. For some reason I’ve never understood, I missed the last few episodes so when I found it on Hulu, I had to watch them. But now I’m on the fifteenth episode in season one. And I’m remembering that there was one thing I absolutely hated about it – and I still do.

While the show ended in 2006, I’ll put ***SPOILER ALERT*** here so if you haven’t seen it, it won’t ruin it for you. In case you ever decide to give it a whirl. I’ll tell you about the story line I hate after the trailer below…

Now for the spoiler alert. Technically, only the first season was about Colin and whenever I think of Everwood, I’ll always be sad the powers that be decided his story needed to end. I still enjoyed the rest of the series – but I really did like Colin.

***END OF SPOILER***

Everwood is a prime example of why I tend to like stories set in small towns. While everyone might not know everyone else, you know enough other residents that you almost always run into someone while dining out or shopping. And it’s really nice.

It’s that atmosphere I worked hard to add to the Coach’s Boys series. And that I’m trying to achieve with this series, only on a larger scale. The atmosphere, not the town. 

I’ll be sharing progress on the new series here, and in my newsletter. In fact, subscribers to the newsletter will likely get a few more sneak peeks than visitors to the blog. So if you want to get everything, you might want to subscribe now. Just click the link below:

Newsletter

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

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