Connections


IN case you wondered, I”m not dead!

My internet has been. We had a series of storms come through and it knocked out power. When we got our power back,  we realized that we didn’t have any internet. It’s been weeks!

I didn’t realize how dependent on the internet I had become. Yes,  I ‘ve had very real withdrawal symptoms. I’ve had to go to local businesses to use their wifi in order to finish work related business. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic about this. I’ve had to budget my time a little differently is all.

It’s still not working correctly,  but my husband has managed to “redneck fix” it. NO duct tape was involved.

This couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

My new book just released. I’ve not been able to get on to order print books to have available. I ordered a few for prizes from release parties,  but that’s it. Then I find out that 2 recipients did not receive their prize packages –  but USPS tracking says they were delivered. I get it,  we have our mail delivered to wrong addresses all the time. It’s still frustrating though.

You’d think with all this time offline,  I’d have volumes written,  but I don’t.  I have made progress on the second book, and I’m in chapter 6.  I may start sharing some snippets from both – don’t even know if anyone would be interested in them.

I’ve taken my connections for granted, I’ll be the first to admit. I like having my wifi connections.  I like being able to scroll through my tablet from the comfort of my sofa.  I like being able to check facebook with my morning coffee.  I like being able to write a blog post when I have something to say – which is often. OF course, you’d never know it from the past few weeks, now would you?

So, I plan to get back into the saddle as soon as things get straightened out,  but in the meantime,  I have to budget my online time between the library and our local YMCA. After spending an hour and a half in my aquacize class, spending another couple of hours sitting in their lobby is not my idea of a good time. Besides,  I’m hungry after the classes!

Until next time,  be thankful you have internet!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

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To, Two, Too – Which One?


Welcome to my blog!

For the month of June, I planned to post 30 Days of Definition, well . . . if you’ve stopped by this past week,  you know I haven’t managed to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still dealing with the malaise from medications, but trying to get on top of it.

Today and for this week I thought I’d talk about frequently misused words. We all do it, be honest.

It’s  – its has been my latest issue.  I thought everything was good to go on my newest release and just a couple of days ago a friend pointed out that I had it’s on my back cover blurb instead of its.  EEEEEEEK! I got so excited about the design and finishing this book that I didn’t read my own blurb, just glanced over it.

That’s just one example which is only noticed in print. HOw many times though,  have we been in conversation with someone and they misuse a word, or habitually misuse the same word.  Do you correct their grammar or just cringe a little inside? NO? Just me?

Here are some that I’ve heard frequently misused.

• Adverse means detrimental and does not mean averse or disinclined.

Correct: “There were adverse effects.” / “I’m not averse to doing that.”

• Appraise means to ascertain the value of and does not mean to apprise or to inform.

Correct: “I appraised the jewels for the insurance coverage.” / “I apprised him of the situation.”

• As far as means the same as but cannot be used the same way as as for.

Correct: “As far as the money is concerned …” / As for the money …

• Bemused means bewildered and does not mean amused.

Correct: The unnecessarily complex plot left me bemused. / The silly comedy amused me.

• Cliché is a noun and is not an adjective.

Correct: “Shakespeare used a lot of clichés.” / The plot was so clichéd.

• Credible means believable and does not mean credulous or gullible.

Correct: His sales pitch was not credible. / The con man took advantage of credulous people.

• Data is a plural count noun not, standardly speaking, a mass noun. [Note: “Data is rarely used as a plural today, just as candelabra and agenda long ago ceased to be plurals,” Pinker writes. “But I still like it.”]

Correct: “This datum supports the theory, but many of the other data refute it.”

• Depreciate means to decrease in value and does not mean to deprecate or to disparage.

Correct: My car has depreciated a lot over the years. / She deprecated his efforts.

• Dichotomy means two mutually exclusive alternatives and does not mean difference or discrepancy.

Correct: There is a dichotomy between even and odd numbers. / There is a discrepancy between what we see and what is really there.

• Enormity means extreme evil and does not mean enormousness. [Note: It is acceptable to use it to mean a deplorable enormousness.]

Correct: The enormity of the terrorist bombing brought bystanders to tears. / The enormousness of the homework assignment required several hours of work.

• Fortuitous means coincidental or unplanned and does not mean fortunate.

Correct: Running into my old friend was fortuitous. / It was fortunate that I had a good amount of savings after losing my job.

• Homogeneous is pronounced as homo-genius and “homogenous” is not a word but a corruption of homogenized.

Correct: The population was not homogeneous; it was a melting pot.

• Hone means to sharpen and does not mean to home in on or to converge upon.

Correct: She honed her writing skills. / We’re homing in on a solution.

• Intern (verb) means to detain or to imprison and does not mean to inter or to bury.

Correct: The rebels were interned in the military jail. / The king was interred with his jewels.

• Ironic means uncannily incongruent and does not mean inconvenient or unfortunate.

Correct: “It was ironic that I forgot my textbook on human memory.” / It was unfortunate that I forgot my textbook the night before the quiz.

• Irregardless is not a word but a portmanteau of regardless and irrespective. [Note: Pinker acknowledges that certain schools of thought regard “irregardless” as simply non-standard, but he insists it should not even be granted that.]

Correct: Regardless of how you feel, it’s objectively the wrong decision. / Everyone gets a vote, irrespective of their position.

• Literally means in actual fact and does not mean figuratively.

Correct: I didn’t mean for you to literally run over here. / I’d rather die than listen to another one of his lectures — figuratively speaking, of course!

I can’t tell you how many times I find these in editing, which is easy to mark for correction but when they are used in conversation . . . Irregardless is a major pet peeve with me. It seems to be the standard thing from several people lately.  I don’t know if this is a local colloquialism or just general misinformation but the grammar nazi in me wants to correct them every time.

What words do you commonly misuse? Which ones set your hackles up when others misuse them?

Tomorrow is the big day – come back and check here tomorrow.

Until then, write on my friends, write on!

What’s Going on In Your Neck of the Woods?


Forgive me, readers, it’s been weeks since my last confession. I mean blog post. Well, sometimes they are about the same thing.

At the beginning of each year, I make plans.  Often, big plans! One of those plans was to get back to regularly posting. If I could figure out how to get onto my blog from my tablet, it would speed things up tremendously. Sometimes I am technically inept. I’ll figure it out eventually.

My husband is an IT guy. A code monkey. Name the electronics, he masters it. He writes in SQL all day at work. I was lost back in the day when I had to use Fortran and Cobol. Yes, I’m showing my age but oh well.

Until I have the time, (*cackles hysterically* time,  as in extra time – a delusional thought that most authors fantasize about) I’ll keep coming back to the laptop to enter my posts. Now that I’ve met my deadline for the anthology, I can return to a more manageable writing schedule.  Well, more manageable for me anyway.

My friend Vicki Locey is like a writing machine. She doesn’t use any dictation aids,  she just plugs away every day at her writing while managing a small farm. I don’t know how she does it. Other author friends have to juggle their home life, some with jobs whether part time or full time outside the home and still manage to crank out the books.

OK, a year ago I would have been stressed to the max over that,  but not anymore.  It is what it is and if nothing else, I’ve learned over the past year that I have to put blinders on to what “Other authors” do and DO what I can do. PERIOD! So, let’s do a little catch-up, shall we? Since I’ve been in absentia, maybe one or two of you have wondered where I disappeared. You did, right? Right?

January I had big plans! Some, I realize are on the dream level because if you never aim for the stars, you won’t ever clear the trees. I was super focused on decluttering our home and preparing to move closer to my husband’s work. We did great on that,  taking several carloads full of plunder to Goodwill. The estimated dollar value for all of the stuff we removed from our home –  $3500. Yes,  you read that right. Between clothing, (mostly mine in larger sizes that I am proud to say no longer fit!) furniture, small appliances, children’s toys that somehow got stored in a corner of the basement, and a plethora of knick-knacks. I should mention that our kids are adults now. I was shocked to find that we still had toys from their grade school years.

Just a word of advice –  if you are planning to make donations to a charity,   if you limit the donation amount to under $500, you are less likely to be audited.  We wrote off most of the stuff because I doubt that we are going to be able to itemize anyway.

The house was looking better,  after each purge we let the dust settle,  literally. Had to give a day or two between sessions because the dust aggravated the sinuses. Then we found the shop vac –  and began to be more proactive.

One shocking bit of purge –  books.  I know, I know,  y’all are shocked. I got rid of over 100 books. A few of those were my books from college, my husband’s books from college, reference books, and many old novels. I kept my first edition copies, despite the hubs protests.

February – decluttering continued but I was more focused on writing.  Value of things hauled out of our home to Goodwill or set on the curb with a sign  – FREE estimated at $2600.  (Not that I’m bragging if anything it’s embarrassing to admit how much stuff I didn’t need that I purchased with retail therapy over the years.) I had two anthology submissions to have in by the beginning of April.  The doctor appointments,  weekly therapy for lymphedema and aquasize classes kept me more than busy and by the time I got home from the aquacise classes and the therapy, I was drained.  My stamina is greatly improved since radiation treatments,  but I’m still not there yet.Fatigue is a very real issue.

I spent the majority of the month writing The Blood Key for the 12 Realms Fantasy Anthology while I worked out a plot line for my short novella for the Cancer Research anthology. Then I went gangbusters on that one. More about this in a bit.

March – this is where the train comes to a screeching halt while our lives are derailed. Things were going well.  We were making progress on the house. We could start renovations mid-March if we kept going at the same pace.

March 12 – 16, our oldest daughter was home for Spring Break. She didn’t get to go to Ft. Lauderdale or anywhere cool because she had doctors appointments, dentist appointments, and had to get her regular scheduled auto work done. While home she told us her big plans for the following school year, which were quite frankly ridiculous.  Her plans were to move back in with us and commute every day. Now, that may not sound like a problem except that the commute would be an hour and forty minute drive one way, every day, to and from.  That’s three hours on the road on a highway that semis use regularly. Sometimes she works late hours.

Being a mom,  I was terrified!  What if the semis push her little car around and she has an accident? What if she is so tired that she falls asleep driving?  What if she starts skipping classes because she’s tired of driving????? 

The following week I spent a day researching available apartments in Cape.  I set up appointments for the next day when she would be available to go see them.  We viewed 14  apartments in about four hours. They ranged from roach motel to the Bates Motel, to meh, to College Life Resort center. Obviously, we didn’t want her to be in the roach motel, and we couldn’t swing the Resort.

So, our plans for renovations are on hold for a while so that we can help her finish to get her degree. Our plans to move closer to his work are on hold because, . . .  well,  moving costs money. There are closing costs, moving expenses and we have decided that our daughter’s safety is more important.

This put a big kink in the writing for a few days, so then I was back at it like gangbusters when I got news that the 12 Realms Fantasy anthology was canceled. SIGH

I’ll take The Blood Key and work on it some more,  develop it more. 15,000 words were limiting, I was just getting warmed up at 10,000! Now I can put in some of those scenes I had in my mind. It will have to be worked into the schedule for writing though as it’s been pushed from top priority to about fifth down the pipeline.

Now the good news! Break Line is complete! Cover Reveal for the anthology, next week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought things were getting back on track and then . . .  hospital. People need to stop getting sick and hurting themselves! I’ve been to the hospital more times than I can count over the past few weeks.

Life always throws you a curve ball when things are going smooth, and sometimes the ball machine goes haywire and throws out multiple balls when you’re already under the gun!

For now, things are calm and I’m back to writing or rather revisions. Valkyrie’s Curse has been on my desk for a while, a couple of years. In 2016, I did revisions on it and realized that it wasn’t a complete story. Back to the drawing board. Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening is in revisions again. This time I’m checking my grammar before sending it off to my alpha. The release date for this one will be in a couple months,  I’ll have more of a set date next week.

So, now you know what I’ve been up to. There was a funeral,  sickness,  and dealing with anxiety all thrown in the mix as well. More about the anxiety at a later post but for now,  I need to get a couple more chapters done for today.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

Thanks for stopping by! Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

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!

 

Oh Well!


In the past, I would have been quite upset.

In the past, I would have been ten times bent out of shape because my plans were derailed.

In the past, . . . well you get the idea. I make plans,  they get trashed. You’d think I would get used to it by now, but no.

I can’t afford to get upset over this anymore, it’s not worth it. I can choose to go with the flow, adapt, overcome, and change directions on the fly. Well, sort of.

OK, so maybe I don’t adapt on the fly. There are a few kinks and jagged edges before I accept the inevitable. Alright,  in some cases I am downright pouty that my plans were trashed. Like my plans for January – trashed. I haven’t been in the “Oh well” frame of mind.  I’ve been in the ‘toddler kicking and screaming mentally’ stage. Hey, I know my truth and at least I’m honest about it!

Real mature, I know. I need to adapt a more French “C’est le Vie” approach, or  the “que sera sera” or a more Bohemian -“Oh well.” attitude.

Changing your habits and behavior is a difficult thing and sometimes those learned responses that are programmed into the rabbit tracks of our brains,  you know the automatic responses, still show up even when you think you’ve kicked it.  It’s the same type of thing that triggers PTSD, seriously it’s the same brain parts. I know y’all don’t want to talk about the amygdala and the reticular formation so we will move on.

For example, I had laid out a plan for my blog with themed days again. Mojo Monday with my motivational posts to stir myself and others up! Tasty Tuesday where I will share new tasty Cancer friendly meals. I was undecided on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fridays would be the MFRW posts, and Sunday to get back to the WeWriWa snippets.

Then . . . LIFE HAPPENS. First, it was the flu, even after getting a flu shot. Then the therapy appointments and doctor appointments. Then, family in the hospital, then funerals, then more people in the hospital,  then the big appointments with the oncologist. (We’ll address that at a later time when I’ve processed things fully and can  be calm.)

All of this has left me with little left to give out, feeling exhausted and drained emotionally and physically. Not that y’all aren’t important to me,  because I’ve told y’all before, I get super excited when I get a new follower, or someone leaves a comment. It really is a high point in my day! But there comes a time when there are other life matters that take priority over what I want, over a self-imposed deadline that only really matters to me.

Seeing a loved one in the hospital in pain,  or the nerve-wracking waiting for them to be out of surgery. This is when you have to accept the moment, be in the moment and realize that the most important parts of our lives are the friends and family we love and that love us.

You are only truly blessed when you love and are loved.

I think this is one of the really sad part of our current society, people will spend hours on social media, yet isolate themselves from the people who care about them.

Do yourself a favor.  Put down your phone, get off your tablet and engage with someone. Call your mom, ask her what’s for dinner and tell her how much you appreciate her. Call your sister you haven’t seen or talked to in weeks or months. Go visit your kids and grandkids! Life is too short.

We need to embrace the moments of joy that life offers. Make part of this year’s goals be spending real time with friends and families and living life.

I have a lot more I’d like to say,  but I need to go to the hospital to visit my sister. The “tyranny of the should haves” is really working overtime on me and I don’t want to add to it.

Go! Live! Laugh! Enjoy life.  Have dinner with someone you love! Visit a friend or at least call. That’s what our phones are really for.

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!

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.

~~~~~~~

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!

 

 

Flash Fest Begins!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve tried my hand at flash fiction. A few years back I took a challenge on someone else’s blog to try my hand at it. It was fun and challenging and helped me to cut out some of my wordiness.

I failed at NANO this year. *Hangs head*   BUT,   in all honesty, I didn’t expect to win this year given my current schedule. I do have 18K words down,  so that’s something right?  A far cry from my usual but I’ll take it.

So . . . I wanted to do something for my readers. I wanted a way to give prizes without breaking the bank. LIGHTBULB!

Flash fiction – I will have guests on the blog on many days in December who accepted my challenge to try their hands at Flash and share prizes.

What is Flash Fiction? Flash fiction is a short short story. Typically flash is 500 words or less. Super flash is  100 words, I bow to the people who can do that.

Extended flash is 500 to 1000 –  I can do those.  The challenge is to write a 1000 word or less piece with a given prompt.  My theme is holiday tunes.

At the end of each week,  I will use the random picker to select a winner of that week’s prize basket.  Many of the authors are sharing in the prize baskets.

I was going to start things off today,   but that would make this post really long.

Sunday is Weekend Writing Warriors excerpt, Monday is a special guest then we’ll kick off on Tuesday, 5th!!!!

STay tuned, be sure to comment throughout the week in order to win!  Also,  comments on the regular posts (Friday’s MFRW blog hop and Sunday’s WWW) to add more chances to win!

Write on my friends, write on!