Choose Your Hard

Once in a great while, something life changing happens. It could be something you see. Maybe something you experience. Or simply something you hear. But when it does, it stops you in your tracks. It makes you think. And it reminds you that life is short. That we only have a few decades to chase our dreams. 

For me, it was something I heard a week or so ago. And it resonated so deep inside of me it was all I could think about – for days. Even now, I can’t get it out of my head.

Choose your hard.

What does that mean? Simply put – this or that.

The first thing that slammed into my head when I figured it out was ‘What’s harder?” Not writing because (insert various excuses here), or just writing anyway? Life is always going to happen. Too much of one thing, too little of another. Stress, irritations, distractions. They’re always going to be there. Every. Single. Day. And I can either keep letting those things rule my life – or I can find every moment I can to just keep telling my stories.

The next thought that followed was, “What’s harder?” Doing it (insert whatever ‘it’ is here) no matter what – or living with regrets for the rest of my life?”

Choose your hard…

Yeah. That statement – and those thoughts – seem to be on a loop now. I hear them off and on all day, every day.

So I’m making changes. Some, I’ve already started. Some will take a little time. Some will take longer than that. But now that I’ve remembered I have hopes and dreams, it’s time to figure out how to make them happen.

Life changing? You betcha! I wrote it down and fastened it to the top part of my desk. Right in front of my face. I highlighted it so it stands out like a neon sign. 

Choose your hard.

When I first started to write this post, I was going to title it, “I suck.” Then I realized that while I did suck – in a major way the past couple of years – I’m not going to anymore. I’ve chosen my hard.

If it resonates with you like it did with me, maybe it’ll change your life like it’s changing mine. Maybe you’ll start to feel the excitement and hope that welled up in me – and hasn’t diminished – well up inside you too.

It’s a good feeling.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Laugh Until Your Face Hurts

Sometimes things are just ‘smile’ funny. Some are worth a short giggle or two. But then there are the things that you just know are going to have you laughing yourself to sleep every now and again for the rest of your life. The kind of things that when they first occur, make you laugh so hard your ribs ache. And your throat, eyes, and face too. Because whatever it was just happened to be that funny.

Or at least it seemed so at the time.

Like the night my sister swore she knew how bad my brakes were. What can I say? I was a really stupid twenty year old. Not only for allowing the pads to completely wear away but for allowing her talk me into letting her drive while we ran an errand for our dad.

As she was going up and over the raised sidewalk at the store, barely missing the doors and an elderly couple (thank you, God, that she didn’t hit them!), I heard her panicked voice say, “Kristy! Kristy! The brakes! The brakes!” And she sounded just like Tattoo from Fantasy Island.

When something scares me – and strikes me funny at the same time – I’ve been known to laugh uncontrollably. That was one of those times. I laughed while we were apologizing to the manager for crumpling his trash can. And I laughed while we sat at KFC for an hour because we were both too scared to get out on the road in the car again. (Yes, I got my brakes replaced after that. Nearly hitting that couple was enough to convince me it was long overdo.)

Yesterday, my daughter, Aria, and I spent some time visiting my mother. Aria loves her ‘Gigi’ (short for Great Grandma – or GG) and she loves to check everything out at her apartment. During this particular visit, she seemed bent on yanking a pretty doily out from under a candy dish. When the three of us almost simultaneously told her no, she finally walked away from the coffee table.

I suggested she fix the doily, which she tried to do. Hey, she’s three. Wrinkles don’t really register. But something registered after Mom teased her and said now she wouldn’t have to “paddle her butt.” I’m guessing it was the word ‘butt.’ (Don’t worry, no one has ever paddled Aria, especially not my mom)

About two seconds later, Aria walked behind her and – without any warning at all – lifted the back of her dress up. The look of stunned surprise on Mom’s face was priceless. I swear I never knew she could move that fast but she managed to keep the hemline down to a non-embarrassing level.

I laughed so hard my entire face hurt. My eyes hurt. My throat hurt. My ribs hurt. And Mom pointed out that my my face was looking pretty red. Well, yeah. I expect it was. I don’t think it’s possible to laugh like that and not turn red.

I’m sure the same thing happened just now while typing this because I’ve been laughing like a loon since the moment I started telling you about near mooning. 

And you know what? It felt good. Yesterday. Just now. And the probably dozen times in between. 

Everyone needs to laugh like that sometimes. Or often.

Photo Credit: Pixabay



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Gluten-Free … Again

Those of you who have been following me for a while might remember that I actually adjusted nicely to living a wheat-free/gluten-free life. It took some time but it finally happened.

And then I got glutened – just before my Aria’s baby shower. I’d thought all supplements from one company were gluten-free. Wrong! 

Prior to that, if it happened, I’d just deal with feeling bad, wait until it passed, and try to be more careful in the future.

Not that time though. I’d just recently read about a product called Gluten Cutter (affiliate link, see HERE for full disclosure).

Yes, folks, I bought the Gluten Cutter and things went downhill with my diet – in a hurry. I went from being totally gluten-free to what I call my three and a half year gluten tantrum. I loved every morsel of forbidden food that passed through my lips.

What I didn’t love was how bad I felt. Maybe if I’d continued taking the Gluten Cutter, it wouldn’t have been so bad but the exhaustion just got worse with each passing day, month, and year. Some of that overwhelming fatigue is because I made a decision to treat my hypothyroidism with natural supplements – but I’d been doing that before I started eating gluten again and functioned pretty close to normal. Or at least normal for me. 😀

I’ve been promising the first book in my new Weko Harbor series for quite a while now. Well over a year. And I just haven’t been able to get it finished. Last year was mostly a bust, just a couple of short stories and three novellas. Why? Because it’s really hard to write when you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open.

Fast forward to last month. I guess I finally had enough. Maybe I grew up a little more. Whatever the reason, I decided it was time. I don’t want to keep going through my life mostly looking forward to the next nap or bedtime.

And I’ve got so many stories stuck in my head that I need to get written! 

Then there’s Aria. I want to be able to keep up with that little pint-sized Tasmanian whirlwind. So the wheat and gluten are out. And over the next month or so, I’m going to get the sugar back out again. Yeah, I’ve fallen off the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) wagon again. But I decided to focus on the gluten first, then the sugar, and then work my way back onto the diet. 

There are only so many dietary changes I can make at one time, lol. Anyway, wish me luck. Pray. Send good vibes my way. Whatever you do – because it’s looking like Weko 1 might be hitting the virtual shelves in the next month or so. For real this time. If you get a chance, swing by my Facebook page (click HERE) to read an excerpt from the story.

This song seems appropriate just now. 

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Just Because…

…sometimes, a girl just needs a little more motivation than normal. And holiday weekends seem more suited to napping than accomplishing the things on my to-do list. Like reading through Weko 1 one more time.

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Toilet Paper Wedding Gowns

I wish I could tell you how I manage to find – or even think of – some the unusual subjects I share with you here. Seriously. One minute, I’ll feel normal. I’ll be having some normal, every day kinds of thoughts. Then suddenly, out of the blue, with no warning whatsoever, an off the wall thought will pop into my head, sending me to Google in search of answers. And those answers generally come by way of the ‘scenic’ route – meaning there are plenty of detours along the way.

For instance, something as simple as thinking about wedding days for my characters started off in a fairly normal way…

We know that when young girls decide it will be warm and sunny for their someday garden ceremony in June, or not too cold and snowy for a winter shindig, the weather will cooperate because it’s their special day and it wouldn’t dare rain or storm.

They know what will be on the menu for the reception, from the entree to the hors d’ oeuvres, to the flavor of each layer of the cake. Flowers are chosen for the church, for the bridesmaids, and for that oh-so-special bouquet they’ll be carrying down the aisle.

But nothing is more important than the dress. The beautiful creation made of silks and laces and ribbons and pearls. The dress they’ll be wearing as they marry their perfect Prince Charming. Yeah.

As the star of the show, the dress needs to be as beautiful as she is.

I came up with what I thought was an unusual but gorgeous dress for Annie Blake in A Fine Mess, but even my imagine can’t hold a candle to reality.

In my search, it quickly became clear that some brides not only shy away from the traditional, some choose to wear dresses made from … ummm .. duct tape – or trash bags. (*just click on the blue links for examples)

But the most unique, I think, are the ones made from … toilet paper!

Yes, folks, toilet paper wedding dresses are indeed a thing. In fact, they’re a really big thing according to this article in the Washington Post. As the reporter explains, there’s some big money to be made from designing dresses made from bathroom tissue. Charmin and Ripley’s Believe it or Not sponsor an annual contest where prizes of $10,000.00, $5,000.00, and $2,500.00 are up for grabs.

And one lucky couple won one of the dresses – for their wedding in a Times square public restroom. I’d love to see photos of the decor!

I’m the first to admit that the dresses are absolutely gorgeous but oh my word! Rain comes to mind. A spilled beverage on the floor comes to mind. A curious toddler who wants to see it up close. So many disastrous scenarios…

Yeah. I’m thinking there aren’t many young girls who dream of a Charmin wedding. But in case you’re interested, here’s a video of one $10,000.00 winner…


Let me know what you think of some of these ‘unique’ wedding dresses in the comments below. Would you wear one – or not?

Photo credit: Pixabay



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Notebooks, Notebooks … Everywhere!

I have more notebooks than any ‘normal’ person needs or wants. No, I’m not a collector but I usually don’t remember to stick one in my purse to jot notes on, should the need arise. Unfortunately, that need arises on a fairly regular basis, hence the stockpile in my office.

This post may contain affiliate links (see here for full disclosure). What that means is if you click on an affiliate link for an Amazon product, and you buy it, or other qualifying purchases, I’ll receive a small commission. It will not affect your price at all though.

That’s okay though. I love notebooks – and index cards, and sticky notes, and pretty much anything I can jot something down on when I absolutely don’t want to forget it. I even bought a box of envelopes at a party store  once because they didn’t have notebooks and I needed to write a scene down. Immediately. By the way, party store = convenience store, if you don’t live in Michigan.

Anyway,  it’s not unusual when I do remember, to grab what I think is a new one from the cupboard, only to find I’ve written notes about one story or another. Just a few pages but whatever it was I needed to write down justified buying yet another notebook.

Since my daughter almost always calls dibs on driving – which is totally okay with me because it allows me to read, write, take notes, or just gaze off into the distance and let my mind wander – I let her have the wheel again for today’s errands. And I DID remember to grab a notebook because I needed to do some plotting and scheduling. So I tucked one into the pocket of my purse and off we went.

This notebook wasn’t new either. In fact, it’s been in the stack since 2012. How do I know this? Because I was writing both His Only Love and A Hero For Holly. Yup. It was chock full of notes for both stories. And I got so distracted reading them all, I totally forgot why I grabbed it in the first place! I still don’t recall what it was I thought I needed to write down.

Such is the life of a writer. A million thoughts running through my head, easily distracted … and left to wonder the rest of the night what I wanted to take notes for. 🙂

Do you have a closet full of something you didn’t actually mean to collect? But like me, you forget to bring it with you so you wind up buying ‘it’ nearly every time you leave the house? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Fresh Air and Some Updates

My daughter, Aria, and I spent most of five hours at an outdoor wedding and reception yesterday. It was really nice, with no less than half dozen ‘why didn’t I bring tissues?!‘ moments.

Today, I’m reminded of two things. One. Fresh air makes me really, really tired. Like for two days. Why? Because I’m used to air conditioned or heated office air and my body isn’t quite sure what to think of all that fresh stuff. And two. While I love a lot of music – everything from Dean Martin to Aerosmith to the Backstreet Boys – I do not and never will love super loud hard rock music filled with language so shocking I wanted to hold my hands over Aria’s ears for fear she might repeat some of it.

Yeah, I guess I’m getting older…

Still, it was a beautiful wedding and I wish the happy couple well on their new life together.

It makes me kind of excited for the couples in some of my new stories. I didn’t get everything I wanted done for Camp NaNo because the decision that it was time to get most of my books (all of the fiction anyway) in the biggest online bookstores meant I had to devote a big chunk of my time and energy to actually getting them there.

But Weko 1 is nearly done. I’m doing a final read through and edits before sending it off to two of my favorite people. I’ve also started a couple of more stories. I figure if other authors can work on two or three at a time, so can I. Right?

LOL…well, we’ll see if I can.

For now, I’m going to go get some ice cream, and then I’m going to get through as much of Weko 1 tonight as I can because I really want the rewrites out of the way in the next two or three days. I’m also going to leave you with a video. The disc jockey played it during the father/daughter dance last night.

This isn’t from that wedding I attended but I love it anyway. I can just see all of my heroines – those who have fathers anyway – dancing with their dads. Especially… Well, I’ll just say when I think of one of my favorite guys in Her Best Friend Jon (affiliate link) dancing with his daughter at her wedding, it brings tears to my eyes too.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Meet Nick!

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, some of the stars of my new Weko Harbor series have demanded some time on the blog and other social media sites. I’ve just been swamped with getting most of my books up at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords. They’ll still be available at Amazon, just not exclusively anymore.
That said, Nick and the gang started nagging me about getting the login information for this, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest … and that isn’t happening. So I stopped by to get Nick’s first blog post up. And now I’m going to bed. Feel free to chat with him in the comments section. I’ll let him back on every day or so to check. 🙂
Hello. I guess I should start off by introducing myself. I’m Nick Rutledge. My family has lived in Weko Harbor for a few generations, and we’ll probably be here for a few more. Probably until the end of time because though some of us have tried to leave, we always find our way back home.
That’s not a bad thing. Weko Harbor is one of the best places in the world. It just isn’t where I thought I’d be spending my life. I thought I’d be off somewhere else, slaying giants and making a difference. Yet here I am.
It seems my mid-life crisis arrived … a couple of decades early. Yeah, it hit me at the ripe old age of twenty-three and four years later, it seems its settled in for a lengthy stay. And I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life.
I thought I did. From the time I was a kid, I had everything all planned out. Graduate from high school, four years of seminary, and then find a church somewhere. Maybe start out as the youth pastor, then move up into the top position when the head pastor retired.
Within eighteen months of getting my degree though, I’d been hired—and quit—three positions. I’ve pretty much been working on cars in small service station (where know-how is valued over a license) ever since, trying to keep my friends and family from finding out what a failure I am. Of course, Gramps probably would have said I just needed to figure out what I didn’t want to do before I could figure out what I did want to do.
What exactly do I want to do? I wish I could tell you. I’m still sorting through my options. If I’d done that nine years ago, I wouldn’t have wasted four years of tuition at seminary, and I wouldn’t have done quite so much job hopping.
Right now though, I’m back where I’ve always loved to be. Weko Harbor. It’s where all the people I love are.
For now, I’m running Gramps’ Surf ‘n Soda Shack. I’m living in his big ol’ Victorian house too. You see, when he died, he left my brothers the lion’s share of his life insurance policy. He left me the Shack and the house.
It came as a big surprise to me. Kind of like Gramps dying. I might have had some time to prepare myself for everything if even one person I know had bothered to mention he’d been sick. Really sick. For two years. I have some … issues … over that.
But I can’t say much. I spent those two years hiding out in Ohio, coming up with one excuse after another to avoid coming home for visits. I told myself that they’d see the grease and oil stains on my hands. No matter how many times I washed them, I couldn’t make them go away. But was it ever really there? Or was it guilt I was seeing instead? Guilt at letting everyone I know down?
You want to hear something funny? Gramps knew. Seriously. I don’t know how but he did. He It was in the letter he wrote to me before he died. When he told me the business was mine—to do with as I pleased. He just wanted me to be happy.
I know his hope was that I’d want to take over for him. Not that he tried to pressure me or anything. Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I know I’m happier than I’ve been since I left high school. And I know the Shack inside out. I tagged along with Gramps from the time I learned how to walk until he gave me my first job there on my fourteenth birthday.
Maybe providing food, beverages, and ice cream to the residents and tourists who visit Weko Harbor is my real calling. If it is, I’m in the right place. The Shack has always been the heart of our little community.
So anyway, that’s a little about me. Gotta go though. Tomorrow is the meatloaf special. I’ve got to get everything mixed up and ready to go in the oven bright and early in the morning. Thanks for letting me bend your ear for a while.
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They’re Hijacking My Social Media Sites!

Don’t worry. It’s nothing serious. Just the stars of the Weko Harbor series in a mood to pull some shenanigans. Like their proposed takeovers of my blog and Facebook and Twitter pages. The closer I get to being finished with the first book, the more excited they getting and the more they think I’m slacking off in the marketing department. Which is probably true. Marketing isn’t my first love. Writing is.

So they’ve nagged the heck out of me to let THEM do some of the marketing, freeing me to stay busy on the stories. I’m sure they’re just trying to be nice. There’s not any ego stuff going on here. Uh-huh.

Anyway, it’s just easier to let them have their way. Within reason, of course. So sometimes, they will be doing some blog posts or interviews, and sharing news and, if I know them, probably some gossip (nothing incriminating – at least I hope not!) on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The blog posts will be shared here first, then moved over to the website. Everything else though… It’s kind of a ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ thing. The tidbits they share on Facebook and Twitter stay on Facebook and Twitter so if you want to find out what they’re up to, you’ll have to make sure to follow me on both sites. My Twitter handle is @KristyKJames and, if you’re reading this on my blog, my Facebook page is:

Nick said he planned on posting something yet tonight so check back in case you’re one of the 90% Facebook doesn’t send notifications to. 🙂

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A Recipe and….. A Sneak Peek!

I totally love how I feel on the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) plan. Most of the residual pain from the car accident goes away, along with other aches and pains you just seem to accumulate with time. Since I tend to feel better with a lower carb diet anyway, this is perfect. But finding substitutes for favorite foods, especially sweets – well that can sometimes be a challenge. 

Sometimes, I find new favorites, like Briana Thomas’s Fried Cream Cheese and Blueberry Taco. Of course, the night I decided to try it, I discovered my blueberries had been in the freezer so long they were freezer burned, as were the strawberries and raspberries (I lose track of time). So I made a couple of changes, first mixing the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and sweetener together. I’m not a huge fan of plain yogurt, and especially not of plain Greek yogurt. Then, I drizzled a little sugar free strawberry preserves (the only on-plan fruity thing I had on hand).

Let me tell you, I was in love. I wanted to make ten of them! Twenty of them! But the Dr. Jekyll side of my brain wrestled the Ms. Hyde side of my brain into submission and I just had the one.

A few weeks later, PMS dictated I find something chocolate. As in chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies. I found one recipe that was pretty good. Not 100% close but close enough. Then I decided I still missed the ‘real’ thing and so tonight, I experimented. And these, in my opinion, are perfect.

Let me first say that I went with the unsweetened coconut flakes that I’d seen in the first recipe. I like that the net carbs are ZERO, unlike oatmeal. But I still wanted a closer texture so I decided to add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped peanuts (almost zero carbs). Okay, I didn’t chop them. I put them in a baggie and pounded them with the flat side of my meat mallet. I also added a little of an 85% cocoa chocolate bar, hoping that would be the key to what I wanted. It was. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the photo of it after it’s mixed up – all shiny like no-bakes are supposed to be…

Kristy’s Chocolate No-Bake cookies

1/3 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 square Lindt 85% Cocoa Extra Dark chocolate bar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (or so, to taste) unsweetened, flaked coconut
2 tablespoons powdered Swerve sweetener
2 tablespoons finely chopped (or crushed with meat mallet) peanuts

Heat peanut butter, butter, and chocolate square in microwave safe bowl for 20 seconds. Stir until chocolate is melted. Add cocoa and Swerve. Mix well. Add coconut and peanuts. Drop onto buttered plate and refrigerate. Makes 4 small cookies or 2 larger ones. Or you can just eat it out of the bowl if you haven’t had anything sweet for days and you can’t wait for them to harden. 

If you want to try these, you’ll have to get the nutrition counts from the labels on on the food containers. One of these days I’ll try to get them posted here but I’m too tired to mess with it tonight.


Now for the sneak peek at a new opening scene for Weko 1. I posted it on my Facebook page earlier this evening and decided to share it here too. And no, I still haven’t decided on a title – but it hit me last night that I’d started the story in the wrong place. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

“I could crash the car,” Wesley Cooper thought as he cruised down Red Arrow Highway just a tad over the speed limit. The wind whipped his hair around like laundry hanging on a line during the middle of a hurricane. Normally, he’d wear his U of M ball cap to keep it under control but hat hair wasn’t a fashion statement he was willing to make at a funeral.

A funeral. The word sent a sharp stab of pain through his heart and his hands tightened on the steering wheel until his knuckles were white. He’d had to say goodbye to a few people through the years but none that hurt quite this much.

He forced his thoughts back to the most recent idea to get out of going. Granted, it was the most idiotic by far but if he crashed the car—nothing bad or anything, just a little fender bender with a tree—who could blame him for not showing up? Of course, his shiny red convertible wasn’t even two years old and he’d never gotten so much as a scratch on it. The thought of purposely smashing any part of it, and on purpose- Yeah, well, he knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Traffic was surprisingly light for a sunny July afternoon in the heart of a major tourist area. Too bad there couldn’t be more vehicles on the road. Dozens of them. And maybe a minor train derailment where the tracks crossed the road on the way to the power plant a few miles outside of Weko Harbor. Not much he could do if he was stuck in the middle of that kind of mess.

Sighing, he glanced to his right. In the distance, over the dunes, he could see the waves rolling across Lake Michigan were good sized already. The forecasted storm was predicted to hit sometime during the late afternoon or early evening. For once, the weatherman seemed to be on target as the wind had picked up a couple of hours ago. It would make the humid heat more bearable when all of the mourners arrived at the cemetery.

But it was still nice out now. The sky was bright blue. The only clouds floating around were of the billowy white variety. In fact, if he was home, he’d enjoy kicking back in the hammock on his miniscule deck and watching as they passed by.

Sorry, everyone. I couldn’t make it today. I decided I needed to admire the clouds more than I wanted to see Hank one last time.

But he knew, no matter how many excuses he came up with, he’d go. The old man had been a good friend through—too good to disrespect his memory by making up a cowardly lie in order to avoid this painful day.

Besides, he’d given his word. Nick was coming home today. For the first time in a long time, he’d be back among his family and friends. And while he probably hated them all right now, Wes had promised to be here for him.

Wes never broke his word, no matter how much he might want to.

Posted in Books, Trim Healthy Mama (THM), Weko Harbor Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments