Time to Celebrate!


Welcome to week 15 of the MFRW blog hop.

This week’s prompt: How I celebrate completing my manuscript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How appropriate since I just completed Break Line!

I have different levels of celebration for completion. For instance,  I finished Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price and celebrated by doing an online giveaway party, going out to lunch with author friends, and of course the happy dance at home. Faere Warrior was accepted by a small house publisher along with Faere Guardian, Faere Mage, and Realm Wars with the stipulation that I do a prequal. I’m still working on the prequal –Rift, but the series has developed a lot more since that manuscript and I’ve learned a great deal since then.  I didn’t meet the deadline for submitting Rift, so the offer was withdrawn. My own fault there.

Releasing Book One for Realm Wars series, Rift is written in my planner –  in ink! I’m hoping to finish revisions on Faere Warrior by the end of the year as well.

I completed Break Line and am going today to celebrate with a luncheon with a fellow author,  the instigator of the anthology as a matter of fact! AND, to celebrate:

With Red Wine & Roses,  I didn’t celebrate until I received my box of books from Createspace. I made a steak dinner and Red Wine Chocolate Cake for dessert.

After completing Roxy Sings the Blues, I rewarded myself with a mani-pedi, and a fresh haircut to tame the short growth into a manageable coif! This one was a huge accomplishment for me after going through cancer treatment. I needed the pampering!

I will have Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening completed in May. What do you think I should do to celebrate? I’m trying to get away from food as a reward, although . . . I cook at home most of the time and we rarely go out to restaurants. Maybe something in addition to a night out?

 

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

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Win, Lose, or Draw


Welcome to week 12 of the MFRW blog hop.

This week’s prompt: My contest experience: Win Lose or draw!

 

How far back do you want to go? Hmmm . . .

In Junior High, there were essay contests.  I won 2nd place in our 8th-grade competition out of 120 students. I think I won a gift certificate to Spinning Wheels for a season pass. Disco Skating was all the rage and the roller rink was where the in-crowd hung out.  It was an essay about exploring, modern-day Tom Sawyer girl scout entrepreneurial adventure! I reread that about a year ago as I was clearing out some of the junk, and tossed it.  It would make you shudder to see the poor grammar. In a way, it brought a smile to my face as I was obviously very naive, had an idealistic view of the world, with childish expectations. Remind me again, why were we in such a hurry to grow up???

In my high school days, I took the obligatory English Composition but then took 2 creative writing classes. I loved those classes. The teacher,  a 5-foot tall lady named Mrs. White, who was married to the girls’ basketball coach – obviously Mr. White who was 6′ 6″. They were quite a pair! Anyway, Mrs. White encouraged me to submit a couple of my short essays to competitions in the region.  I got an honorable mention in a competition hosted at Lindenwood College.  It was a humorous piece, but I don’t have a copy of it anymore.

My passion for writing continued to a degree, I wrote several more short essays between 1000 and 5000 words. Most of which didn’t even get honorable mentions. During my college years,  who has time to write for fun??? I wrote term papers, assigned reports, and other miscellaneous papers that were required for my classes.  I usually got A’s on my term papers.

One mention here,  I wrote a report on the Battle of Antietam for a US History class.  I got an A on the paper,  but the instructor wrote a note on the side that it wasn’t necessary to be quite so graphically descriptive in my report, that it nearly made him sick reading my descriptives.  The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It isn’t my fault that he assigned that one to me. I wasn’t about to copy verbatim the research I read before writing my version.  It isn’t my fault that the weaponry of the day didn’t kill a man with one shot.  At least it wasn’t a medieval battle with broadswords and hatchets. The fact that he could connect to the horrors of battle as described in my paper means that I nailed that scene,  right?

Then the years went by while working for the defense department,  working in the corporate world,  raising my children and there wasn’t any time for writing or pursuing my writing dreams. Once my kids were in school,  I had a little more time that I could put my thoughts down and started entering contests again.   I sent in a few submissions to Writer’s Digest contests and other contests. I had a few responses but few wins.  Then I entered a competition for the opinion column and won. It was a rotating position with 3 others and mine got a LOT of feedback. That was really the turning point when I started putting more efforts into my writing whether it’s fiction or humor.

It’s been a long bumpy road for me from those early efforts to now. If I had it to do over I may make some changes but since I don’t,  these are life lessons along my highway. Live, Learn, do better!

 

 

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

If Only!


Welcome to week 11 of the MFRW blog hop. This week’s prompt is: If Only I Never Had to Do This One Task again . . .

 

When I sell enough books on a regular basis to hire a personal assistant,  I will.  Then, I will never have to . . . . Oh wait,  I still would probably have to do those things. Top on my list would be writing the cover blurb. UGH!

I find it ironic that I can write a blurb for a friend or tweak their starting efforts enough that it’s back cover worthy.  When I start to write my own blurb, however . . . *crickets*.

Why is that? Is it because I am too familiar with the story?  I know too much and tend to want to give out details? I know two amazing authors who are fantastic with blurbs.  I can send them a starting point and they will send me back something I can use! This is one of the reasons I have done pro bono work for those friends.

*Will trade editing for blurbs and elevator pitch!*

Blurbs would definitely be at the top of my list,  but then there is also mailing the packages – I have carried packages around in my car for days before actually stopping at the post office.

* hangs head in shame*

On a more personal note,  if I never had to wash another dish in my life, I would be all too happy.  Same goes for rinsing/loading/unloading the dishwasher. There are days when I consider investing in the paper plate industry and buying an industrial-sized case at Costco. That’s right,  I hate doing dishes! If it weren’t for my eco-friendly daughter that has us consistently recycling, nope,  I just can’t see the point of adding to the landfills because I don’t like doing dishes. If it’s just my lunch, I’ve been known to just use a paper towel for a sandwich. Eliminate the need to wash more!

You were probably expecting something deep and earth-shattering, but nope –  just the dishes. I don’t think I could get away with serving a can of peaches in the can, or persuading the hubs to just use a napkin instead of a plate. . .  never going to happen.

Maybe when I have the resources to hire a personal assistant,  then I can hire a maid as well!

Everyone has their dreams,  mine in this area are pretty simple.

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic at: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

Memoires from the Quarry Girl


Welome to week 10 of the MFRW blog hop. Yeah, yeah, yeah,  I’ve missed a few but I’ve had mostly good reasons. We’ll get to that in a bit. This week’s prompt is: Things Only my Family would understand.

OH, now y’all are getting personal. You know, there are some things about my personal life that I’d rather not share. I’ve got issues.  My issues have issues. those issues have itty bitty baby issues of their own.

I have to ask myself,  what does this have to do with writing?  What does this matter to anyone besides embarrassing the life out of me????? Whatever, let me grab a cup of joe and we’ll jump in with the top 5 Things Only My Family Would Understand. You might want to take this opportunity to run to the bathroom,  just in case you find these funny and have a laughing fit.

Alright, here we go –

Top 5 Things Only My Family Would Understand

  1. Don’t Move My Table We have a small eat-in kitchen. When my daughters were teens,  they developed this habit of pushing themselves away from the table. As they were nearly adult sized,  they pushed the table about three inches, and suddenly the plate my husband and I were eating from is three inches to the right.We’ve gone round and round about this. It’s a major pet peeve of mine. Sometimes I come in from doing whatever and my table has been moved on purpose, or one end of the table is angled closer to the wall. I’ve been known to bellow from the kitchen down the hall “Who moved my table?” in a not so pleasant voice. They usually just snicker which then ticks me off more.
  2. Radioactive Turkey Everytime Thanksgiving comes around, or Dad is cooking,  I hear the pathetic cries of  “You’re not going to make us eat radioactive turkey again are you?” Long story – when my girls were in 4th and 2nd grades, I went away for a ladies retreat weekend – actually it was like five days of bliss, with a spa day,  and luxury massages, dinner out for the duration that I didn’t have to ook or clean up –  it was heaven!  Yeah, I was glad to get back to my family,  but oh those days of being pampered. . . anyway, I digress.  So, while I was away, the hubs was in charge of feeding our children. They had such luxury foods such as beenie weenies, frozen pizza, burnt scrambled eggs,  ravioli from a can, you get the idea. I do 99% of the cooking in our household. So, on Saturday afternoon, after a busy morning of cooking cleaning and laundry, time got away from him and they were like “We’re hungry” around 2 o’clock. He checked my menu – because I made sure they had three meals and snacks for the time I was away.  Come on, I’m not a horrible mom. So he read the menu – chicken broccoli with rice. He opens the fridge, and there are not Chinese takeout boxes of Chicken broccoli. Hmmm, so he calls and asks –  the chicken breasts are in the freezer,  the veggies –  carrots celery, bok choy, and broccoli are in the vegetable drawer –  just in case they wanted stir fry and not just the broccoli. Then I told him since you didn’t thaw the chicken out this morning,  you’ll have to switch the dinner for lunch and have that later. Too much work,  so he took out this frozen family dinner thing that we had gotten from a monthly food box plan for a while.  I have no idea how long it had been up there because honestly,  it sounded disgusting. Turkey and dressing, frozen in a cardboard box.  When he peeled the top off,  the “Gravy”  was a chartreuse radioactive color. Of course, when I arrived home Sunday afternoon,  the girls clung to my leg. “Dad tried to feed us radioactive turkey!”
  3. Crow sandwiches – I think I’ve shared this tale before,  but here goes again. Back in 2009 when my mother passed away, she left the house to my siblings and myself.  Five of us to have to agree on everything. The chances of the planetary alignment happening again in this century has better odds. I got into a heated discussion with my second sister. They are both older,  but she’s the younger of the two.  Anyway,   after a few hours,  I knew I had to make amends.  I was standing at the kitchen counter, slicing chicken breasts to make filets for sandwiches. My husband called to say he would be a little late, and I told him that I was going to have to eat some crow. My youngest was sitting at the kitchen table coloring. When I served the pan fried chicken breast filets on kaiser rolls,  she cried.  “I don’t want to eat crow.”  I didn’t understand what she was talking about, then through sobs, she told me:  “This morning you told dad he was going to have to go shoot those crows because they kept eating Ginger’s food. Then I heard you tell dad we were going to have to eat crow.” Now keep in mind that my husband was laid off for 18 months and things were unbelievably tight. So since then when I fix chicken filets,  they are crow sandwiches.
  4. Bleeding Out Your Eyeballs When my kids were school aged, specifically junior high and high school they started the wanting to skip shool thing.  “I’m sick.” “I don’t feel good.”  Hey, I knew all the tricks.  back when I was in school,   my parents left the hosue before our bus came. I have to admit,  there were a few days that I took advantage of it.  But,  I had things I really enjoyed at school. For one,  if you missed school the week of a track meet, you couldn’t participate.  You still had to go, but you were benched.  I hated being benched.  Anyway,  so the kids are pleading with me,  their stomach hurts,  they have cramps they feel feverish (always I mean always have the thermometer ready!) So after the assessment,  my standard answer was. take some Pepto, aspirin, Tylenol, eat a piece of toast,  go poop – followed by “You’re not bleeding out your eyeballs so you’re going to school!”  They hated it then and still hate it now.
  5. Quarry Girl This is my husband’s favorite nickname to tease me with. I grew up in a small town smaller than the one I live in now. My parent’s home was in a valley just below a quarry. every Tuesday morning and Friday morning,  they would blast dynamite and the whole house would rattle,  sometimes pictures fell off the wall. The walls were plaster,  so my father was reluctant to even put things on the walls. The quarry was a dangerous place so of course as kids,  we snuck under the gates as often as we could. The mounds of sand and gravel were ideal for sledding, or in the summertime we would run up the ramp that the trucks would dump their loads down and jump as far as we could. Other times we climbed on the rocks or scaled the cliffs.  I can’t laugh at the stupid things kids do today because we did stupid things too. One particularly hot summer,  we were jumping down the face of the sand pile –  you would sink up to your hips at times – and just after my friends and I finished that round of jumps, a big cavity caved in, and snakes and tarantulas poured from this “air pocket”.  I have to say,  it was the last time we did those jumps. I got bit by a copperhead climbing on the rocks in that quarry. I sprained my ankles more than a few times.  We were chased off of the premises more than a few times and were lucky to not have charges pressed against us. But, my husband thought it was hysterical as he grew up on a farm. He teases me about being a redneck quarry girl. *Shrugs* I guess I am.  Not everyone can claim the title, or get it.

So there it is,  a whole lot more about me than you ever wanted to know!  Hope that it offered a few laughs. So, back to the reason I have been AWOL, . . . I shared the other day about the anthology that I have been asked to be a part of,  and I’ve been plotting, drafting and rewriting my short story for this anthology.

I am pleased to say that a few days ago, I typed THE END!!! It’s gone to a couple beta readers and is now in the hands of my wonderful editor. WHEW!  Can’t wait to share the cover reveal – soon!

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic at: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

A Drop in the Bucket


Happy Friday! It’s time for the MFRW 52 week blog hop for 2018!

Welcome to week 7: Top5 Things on My Bucket List


Let’s get right to it then, shall we? I never really put much stock into a bucket list until last year, when I thought I had waited too long. All sorts of images from worst case scenario to the ten worst possibilities flooded my mind. I thought that the first thing on my list would never get accomplished, and if I was lucky I might be able to do number 3 and 5.

Prior to my surgery I actually sat down and made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish or experience before I kicked off, or kicked the bucket. As that day seemed rapidly approaching, I spent most of those days in tears not knowing how I would be able to do any of them.

I’ve mentioned it before, but yes I tend to be overly dramatic at times. It’s kind of difficult not to when you get the big C diagnosis. I have been intensely focused on the first one, and this year I plan to make a serious dent in the first one, second one, and the 5th one. (I’m really pulling for all 5,  but hope to complete #2 and #5 this year!)

Ellie’s Top 5 Bucket List Items

  1. Publish 20 of my books. I have a huge file of partially completed and completed stories that I have been clinging to, reluctant to release my babies. Then what did I write them for? Why do I write in the first place?  To entertain others. How is anyone going to enjoy them when they are squirreled away in a locked file?
  2. Decorate my home the way I want!  I spent many years, trying to pease my mother, trying to win the approval of my mother in law.  I spent so long trying to fit in with everyone else,  I didn’t put things on my wall that I like. Currently,  we have very little on the walls. I can’t really use the excuse of we just painted because we painted over 5 years ago. I need to minimize the clutter in my home and organize, and put up minimum decorations in this house, in order to sell.  But when we move, Katy Bar the Door! I’ve got some great ideas saved on Pinterest.
  3. Travel!!! Nova Scotia, Western Caribbean, Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Venice, Rome, Australia – not sure I want to go to the outback and experience the wildlife like black mambas – crikey! There are places in the US that I haven’t been to yet, and I want to go. The Badlands, Grand Canyon, and many others!
  4. Be the Keynote Speaker at an Author Event. Someday. I have done public speaking before,  that’s not the challenge.  The challenge is to do it for other writers. It will be so much more fun than speaking of scientific type stuff.
  5. MY OWN OFFICE!!!!  Let me clarify, my own home office. If you’ve read last week’s post about the office you will understand. And here is where we have the hole in the bucket.

What do you think?  Do you think they are attainable? How about you? what are some of the items on your bucket list?

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

This Year’s Plan


You may have noticed my absence. I got one post in for this year’s 52 week blog hop and then I got hit with the flu. Along with feeling ill,  I’ve been uber frustrated with not getting my blog up. Sorry guys and gals!

This is the first time I have ever gotten a flu shot,  at the direction of my oncologist and I got the flu anyway. *Levels look*

The past few days I haven’t been online because I have been tackling the decluttering/organizing for our home that is at the top of my goals for this year. OK, part of this is avoiding the anxiety I am having over my scheduled mammogram –  the first since my diagnosis last year.

Timeout for a sec:  It is my intention to avoid talking about cancer,  to stay focused on the present,  the future, and not give any more attention to the hell that was last year. Having said that,  ultimately this is the cause of my current anxiety because I sure didn’t expect the diagnosis last time.

I’ve removed 5 bags of stuff- clothing, bedding, linens, miscellaneous stuff to take to Goodwill,  but it’s still sitting by the front door as it’s been too cold to get out if I didn’t have to. It’s going to be warmer tomorrow,  so it goes bye bye with me when I leave!!

I think that is a fair amount of progress for this week, that equates to a full trash bag per day!  I’ve been too embarrassed at the mess – seriously,  the whole time I was going through treatments,  it was all I could do to cook a few meals,  to sweep the floor on occasion, and swish the toilet. Since nobody else bothered, the accumulation of stuff is overwhelming.

Stuffitis is a serious issue here. But this year,  2018 –  the Year of the Dog, we are going with close to austere existence.  Minimalism is my new favorite word.

In fact, I’ve been pondering my word for this year.  I’ve seen several of my friends post here or there that their word for the year is. *fill in the blank*. I didn’t have a word.  I was looking for something spiritual I think, but yesterday it hit me like a 12-pound bowling ball on a rope –MINIMIZE!

  • Minimize the clutter and stuff.
  • Minimize the clothes that no longer fit or suit me.
  • Minimize the pantry contents.
  • Minimize my schedule.
  • Minimize my measurements –  making progress on that one!!!!
  • Minimize the emotional baggage I’ve been carrying.
  • Minimize wasted time.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I figured out that this is my word for the year.

So for this year on the blog,  I have a few things planned but I’m not promising that I won’t go off track.

There may be recipe shares, craft shares, writing shares,  health and diet information. ( I found a couple really interesting things I want to share.)

So,  I realize we are in the third week of January –  but my first two weeks have been mostly occupied with sickness.  So, here’s hoping for a great year –  for all of us!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

What Awaits in 2018? #MFRW


Week 52 – the last, final post for 2017 blog challenge.

Colorful fireworks over a night sky

I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions several years ago,  but I do set goals for myself for the coming year. What’s the difference? A resolution is something you hope happens.  A goal, a smart goal is something you set for yourself with a specific framework and a deadline.

This past year – 2017 my goals were as effective as resolutions. Why? CANCER.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see that one coming.  I let it derail me. I was shocked, stunned, reeling from the diagnosis. Then the whirlwind of prompt action from the doctors had my head spinning. The only time doctors act swiftly is when it’s a serious matter,  so I felt an additional stress imagining the worst –  what if it was stage 4, what if it had metastasized, what if . . .  but it wasn’t the case. THANK GOD, mine wasn’t nearly as bad as some. Praise the Lord –  it was found early.

The point is though,  they were swift in all their actions and then rushed me to treatment. I barely had time to think. It was the next appointment, the next treatment.  I lost control of my life from March through August.

In August, I evaluated where I was in comparison to the goals I had set for myself and cried. Seriously,  I just sat there crying for nearly an hour before I decided to do something about it. Then I looked at what I could do and pushed myself to get Roxy completely revised so that I would have at least one book for Penned Con.

I did manage to lose some weight, although the goal I had set for myself was 50 pounds,  I have lost 46 pounds. Still a win! (It was a 48 but I had extra portions over the holidays.)

From September through now, it’s been a difficult battle with dropping pounds as the medication that I have to take is known to cause weight gain. In addition to my slow fat storing metabolism,  I now have an additional obstacle, but I’m winning, slowly!

I had set a goal for myself to read 100 books this year, didn’t make that one.  I have read 25. Most of those have been hard copy print books. The ability to focus was lost during treatments. Chemo brain is a very real thing. So, I’m cutting myself some slack and counting this as a win as well because I have managed to read most of those since August.

What about 2018?

What goals will I set for myself this coming year?

  1. Publish 5 books in 2018: Valkyries Curse: The Awakening, Book 2: Trial of Aegir, and Realm WArs book 1 –  I haven’t decided on a title for that one yet. This is the precursor to Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price – which has been finished for ages,  but held back because my former media coach advised me to write the prequel first. In addition,  the release of The Blood Key in a fantasy anthology, then I will release in paperback in September. And one other one – I may have to do a poll with my readers to see which one they are more interested in because I can’t decide.
  2. Continue with healthy eating and lose 40 more pounds.
  3. MOVE! We plan to move closer to where my husband works because now he commutes for an hour each way. I have discovered one major flaw in our moving plans,  they don’t have a community pool in that area, so my aquacize classes will be gone. My solution?  We need a pool of our own! (You like how I worked that in there?  You think I could maybe get a tax write off for medical therapy??)
  4. Finally get my office! We’ve been through this before, I’ve worked hard to clean an area in the basement, shared pictures on here then it was promptly taken over for another use. Can’t even tell you how pissed off it made me. Then with cancer, I honestly didn’t have the energy to fight it.
  5. Enjoy living! Carve out time to spend with ones I love and care about, do the things I enjoy, have some fun in life! This will become a priority because I am prone to get overwhelmed with all the things that should happen that I forget to enjoy everyday life. Stress less and live more!

That’s it. Those are my goals for this next year. Not a twenty point bulletin of overachiever perfection. Not a ten point attack on every area of my life. Not even a 12 month, 12 item list of things I’d like to see happen. Simple, basic, achievable yet challenging goals that will improve our quality of life.

Cancer changes things.  It really made me see how much time I waste on fretting over things that don’t really matter, conceding on things that do matter to me, and wishing I had more time for what really matters –  the people in our lives.

What about you? What are your 2018 goals and dreams? Not going to say resolutions, because we blow those before the end of January!

You can find the other authors participating in this blog hop HERE!

This post is included in the prize drawing for the flash fiction fest –  so leave your comment!  All commenters are entered in drawing for this week’s prizes. (See post yesterday for the list of prizes, I don’t feel like typing it in yet again!) All entries will be put through randompicker and the winner will be selected!

Best wishes to each of you, and have a Happy New Year!

Write on my friends, write on!

A Word of Advice #MFRW


Welcome to Flash Fest December!

I have some author friends who have joined me in this challenge, and are contributing to the prize baskets!

This week’s prize basket:

  • $5 Amazon gift card
  • Free e-book for Red Wine & Roses, contemporary romance
  • Swag bag
  • e-book of What We’ve Unlearned: English Class Goes Punk (The Writerpunk Project Book 4)
  • e-book of Holiday Fling, contemporary romance

This is how the prize giveaway will work:

Leave a comment throughout the week on any blog post, whether it’s the blog hop, flash, guest spot, or weekend writing warriors. I will select one of the commenters through Randompicker and post it on Monday’s post ( or rather Tuesday as it’s been lately, since my internet connection has been sketchy.) That person can contact me on Facebook or email me at: l.e.mcatee@gmail.com.

The challenge is to write a flash piece, 500 to 1000 words based on a Holiday tune as a prompt. The author was given the option to select their own or I would assign one. Trust me,  my list of holiday tunage is anything but traditional!

So, even though this isn’t a flash feature,  any comments will still count towards the prizes.

MFRW blog hop week 51 – Advice for new authors. Just one more week to go!

What advice would you give newbies? What advice do you wish that others would have given you when you were a newbie?

Those are the two main questions that I ‘ve been contemplating for this post.  I have to admit, it took a bit of contemplating to decide which tidbits to share. A couple of pots of coffee, a few oatmeal cookies – sugar-free of course, to dunk in my coffee, and my trusty notepad to jot down what came to my mind.

These are the three bits of advice that I wish someone would have shared with me. I hope it helps you if you are an aspiring author.

  1. Decide what you want to write. What genre do you feel comfortable with? What length of work do you feel comfortable with?

There are other options for a writer besides book-length novels. When I first began writing,  I wrote articles for magazines, and for a column in our local paper. The short 1000 word articles rolled off my fingers with minimal effort. But, my dream was to be a published author like my idol Katie McAlister. It is difficult to make myself focus on longer length works,  but oh so satisfying to hit ‘the end’.

2. Schedule time for your writing. Make it a priority. If you write whenever you have time,  you’ll find everything in the world crowding out your writing time. Make an appointment with yourself and KEEP IT! Just as if it were a doctor’s appointment. IF this is what you really want, then make your goals a priority!

3. Stick to one project at a time! (Best advice I ever got from my friend Vicki Locey! Thank you, Vicki!) I’m the world’s worst at having too many irons in the fire, with multiple books in the works. It wasn’t until I made myself focus on one project and stick with it to completion that I got my books published. Notice,  that completed does not mean published. I have five books that are completed but need revisions and editing before they are publishable.  It’s ok to jot down ideas for new stories while you work on your current WIP. FOCUS is a key factor to success as an author. I have to admit my ADD tendencies fight me on this point. I made myself a system of rewards for tackling the current WIP first, before anything else. For instance, when I have my writing time, lately has been in the afternoons because of doctor appointments, I set my timer, and write until the timer goes off. Now I may get up and get a cup of coffee or cocoa,  or run to the bathroom, but during that time I write. Most days I manage about 1200 words. Then I reward myself. Maybe it’s coloring in my planner, it’s one of those adult coloring book planners. Maybe I play a game for a bit or jot down notes for another story. If time allows or if I am really in the zone, I may work on writing for a longer period of time.

If you can master those three things, you are well on your way to success!

You can read other participating authors HERE.

Write on my friends, write on!

 

That’s A Win!


Welcome to Flash Fest December!

I have a few author friends who have joined me in this challenge and are contributing to the prize baskets!

 

This week’s prize basket:

  • $5 Amazon gift card
  • ebook for Red Wine & Roses
  • Author Swag bag
  • ebook of Protected By His Grace by Grace Augustine

This is how the prize giveaway will work:

Leave a comment throughout the week on any blog post, whether it’s the blog hop, flash, guest spot, or weekend writing warriors. I will select one of the commenters through Randompicker and post it on Monday’s post. The winner can contact me on Facebook or email me at: l.e.mcatee@gmail.com.

I apologize for not getting it posted on Monday, it’s been a rough couple of days.

The challenge is to write a flash piece, 500 to 1000 words based on a Holiday tune as a prompt. The author was given the option to select their own or I would assign one. Trust me,  my list of holiday tunage is anything but traditional!

I am still posting for the MFRW blog hop on Fridays and the WEWRIWA on Sundays. The comments on those posts count as well!

MFRW blog hop week 50 – My Biggest  Accomplishment.

You know,  just when I think I got this in the bag,  they throw a wrench into my gears.

Uh, give me a few minutes to figure this one out.  Have a cup of coffee, a few snacks while I fish out the wrench.

I was going to post this animated short about a guy trying to fix an engine and tossing all sorts of parts around,  but then I saw Harry and well. . . I’m partial.

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I think that my biggest accomplishment, pertaining to being an author was getting my first book published. It was the barrier that I just couldn’t seem to break through, then a small print publisher showed interest in me. I was over the moon ecstatic!

I’ve learned a lot about the business of writing, about publishing, marketing – got a lot more to learn on the marketing front. I will always be grateful that they published me!

Fast forward, the small publishing house and I have parted ways, and I’ve published 2 more books.  Most of what I learned through this experience, helped me have the confidence to publish the others. There is definitely some satisfaction in each one,  but getting past that first barrier . . . well, I spent years submitting my work to multiple publishers, large houses and small, and I was on the verge of quitting and shelving my dreams permanently.

In my personal life, you already know what I’m going to say. You knew it was coming so I’m just going to lay it out there –  I beat cancer! So far! I am 7 months cancer free, but they won’t say a survivor until you’ve been clear for 3 years.  I have 2 years and 5 months to go! This year has changed my life profoundly, it would take an entire year to tell you every aspect that has been affected by this diagnosis.

It helped me sort my priorities.  I made myself a priority – something that was foreign to me as a mom and caregiver. I had neglected me for many years. I made my health a priority.  I’ve lost 42 pounds so far this year. I guess there is hope that I might squeeze in a few more for the year, but I count that as a win also.  I eat a healthy diet now that is cancer patient friendly. Very limited in carbs, zero sugar, (not counting fruit –  I eat fresh fruit), and packed full of phytonutrients.

My skin is clearer than it has been for years.  My hair,  well I have hair, hallelujah!  It’s a different look for sure,  but . . . I’m cancer free.

This picture was taken in 2015 at my sister’s wedding. Doesn’t the hubs look sexy as hell in a suit????  We both clean up pretty good on occasion.

 

 

This was the back. I miss my long hair.

 

 

 

 

 

Then cancer treatment took over my life:

Still adjusting to this new look. Sorry for the no makeup shock – I guess there should have been a warning!

OH, and if you were wondering what to get me for Christmas,  ear muffs, sock caps, hats, and those crochet bands that cover ears would be great! I’m not used to my ears being exposed. I don’t know how guys do it!

I’m exercising regularly.  Not running marathons or anything super strenuous,  I’m doing an aquacise class and loving it.  45 minutes of cardio a day for four to five days a week. It was one of the things recommended for cancer patients,  that is easy on the joints.  I haven’t talked about it too much,  but the tamoxifen causes joint pain.  There are days I’m nearly in tears. It’s a constant reminder for me to drop the excess weight and continue on a healthy road and to eat right.

I’ve eliminated environmental toxins from our home, from our food, from anywhere that I can control. I don’t eat processed foods – no sausage, bacon or anything with carcinogens. No lunchmeats, hot dogs, bologna, processed cheese, or Doritos. ( Yeah, I even gave up my Doritos.) I don’t eat the processed cereal, prepackaged anything.  The closest to processed that we get is an occasional splurge by buying chicken strips from the deli.

I’m making meditation, prayer time, mental health a priority to reduce stress. I spend a lot of my time driving back and forth to lymphedema therapy and doctors appointments. I have good music in the car that is relaxing to me, as well as audiobooks.

I’m making my goals and dreams a priority and not pressuring myself with ridiculous schedules. I see some authors bragging about running on the frazzled edge all of the time. They have more books out than me,  but you know what? I’m at peace.

I can do what I can do,  and do my best every day. Somedays my best is managing to get to appointments, maybe get  100 words down, a little bit of housework done. Somedays I can go 90 to nothing for a short time. Then there are those days when I can manage to feed myself and have my wits about me.  I have learned to accept that on those days I need rest.  On those days, I can’t push.

I have learned to take care of me.  When I am at my best,  then I can give out to others and be a blessing to them. But if I am depleted,  I have nothing to give.

I think I have to change my biggest accomplishment –  it’s not getting my first book published, it’s learning to take care of myself so that I can be a blessing to others.

Call me a sentimental sap if you will. I’ve learned a lot this past year. Being the true strong-willed person and blockhead,  I had to learn it the hard way. Lessons learned the hard way are not soon forgotten!  I can honestly say that I have a better quality of life than I did before the cancer diagnosis.

Now if I could just say the same for the state of my home. Maybe I’ll tackle the clutter for a bit before I start wrapping gifts.

What would you say that your biggest accomplishment is?  As always, you can find the other MFRW blog hop participants HERE.

Write on my friends, write on.

Secret Recipes and Family Favorites


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 49 – A Favorite Recipe.

Being a lifelong foodie, my recent dietary changes have eliminated a lot of my favorites. It’s hard to choose just one, so I will give you a few categories.

Sherri’s Secret Salad – a lady at our church  (Sherri) prides herself on this salad. Everyone loves it, including me.  She has sworn the recipe to secrecy so that you will buy the bottled dressing from her. The funny thing is,  I wasn’t aware of that when I first tasted her salad and copied it. I can generally figure out a recipe by taste most of the time. I figured it out pretty closely, but alas it has sugar in the dressing so I have to figure out something else.

Salad base:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped
  • red onion, sliced very thin
  • cherry tomatoes, sliced in halve
  • iceburg lettuce, chopped ( I prefer to use buttercrunch myself)
  • cucumber, peeled, chopped
  • carrot shreds
  • shredded cheddar

The dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing bottled
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP additional Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine dressing ingredients, whisk together and pour over salad. Toss gently and serve. Guess it’s not a secret anymore,  but I can’t guarantee that is exactly the recipe she follows.

Yeast rolls – I make homemade yeast rolls every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and occasionally other times in the year. I can’t have any,  but I still make them for the family. White bread more than other bread sends my blood sugar soaring, so I have to bypass. There is just something satisfying about kneading bread.  I follow the Betty Crocker recipe in an old tattered book that I received as a wedding present 32 years ago! I’m sure you can find it online, look up dinner rolls.

Rosemary and garlic potatoes – again, one of my favorites but I can’t do potatoes anymore because it affects my blood sugar. (Another thing I can thank cancer for!)

Super simple –

  • red potatoes  – scrub them, cutting out eyes and any bad spots.
  • yellow onion – cut into coarse chunks and separate.
  • rinse in cold water.
  • Put into large bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil.
  • Add 1 tsp salt or sea salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp minced garlic
  • one stem of rosemary leaves, rake leaves off of stem from tip to base. Fresh is best,  the dried is like eating twigs.

Roast in oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Lasagna – I’ve often had requests for my lasagna. I don’t have some guarded family secret.  I use ingredients from Aldi – the secret is in the seasoning.

Find the Betty Crocker recipe online – when you make your meat sauce, add a little more garlic,  some additional Italian seasoning,  and fresh basil. If there’s any secret,  that is it. Basil is amazing.

Tonight, in fact, I am making lasagna. However, since pasta is on my no-no list, I am making zucchini lasagna. This is tricky to an old-fashioned pasta fiend such as me.

Instead of lasagna noodles, buy 3 to 4 zucchini. You can peel or leave the skin on – your choice.  I peeled mine so it wasn’t such a shock to the family. Cut the stem end and bottom end off. Slice lengthwise into thin strips, so you have long skinny lasagna “noodles”. Have your pan of boiling water at a full boil before dropping them in, and you only want to parboil them, then drain on a paper towel. Otherwise, they end up mushy and the only thing worse than mushy is gooey.

Everything else is the same in the recipe, except I omit the pinch of sugar I normally add to my marinara. Add a little parsley to cut down on indigestion if needed.

I’ve only tried this with the lasagna once before, so let’s hope that it works!

My all-time favorite dessert – brownies, just aren’t’ the same without sugar. I’m still searching for a palatable sugar-free alternative. I’ve tried a dozen or so paleo, sugar-free, carb free, and otherwise craptastic recipes. Most have ended up in the trash.

So, since you, my wonderful readers aren’t restricted to a no sugar diet, I will share the full recipe that I have always used. This recipe has won baking contests!

Best Brownies

(I usually double this)

Ingredients

  •  1/2 cup butter (real butter not margarine)

Frosting:

  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm. 

 

As this is a blog hop, there are many other authors who are participating.  You can check them out HERE: when I scheduled this,  the list wasn’t up yet so hopefully you will be able to go there and get the fresh list.

What’s your favorite recipe?

Remember to leave a comment to be entered into the prize drawing for the week!

 

Write on my friends, write on!