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!

 

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5 Authors I’d Like to Meet


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

Welcome to week 6: 5 Authors I’d Like to meet (dead or alive).

Mark Twain –  I was greatly inspired by Mark Twain when I was younger, and after visiting Hannibal, Missouri I was even more motivated. For a man who wrote sagacious wit,  he lived a tragic life. It makes me realize how much we often take for granted and motivates me to do better. I would love to sit down over a cup of coffee or tea with him and ask a million questions and let him regale me with his sardonic humor.

J.R.R. Tolkien – To get inside his head! Oh my, can you just imagine?? Where did he get the ideas for . . . (fill in the blank) What inspired specific characters?  Did he write linear? Did he write chronologically? Who did he feel influenced him?

Anne McCaffrey – The queen of all things dragon! Oh to discuss her dragon world would be amazing!

Katie McAlister – I would LOVE to sit down over lunch and talk shop with this amazing woman. I adore her sense of humor, her writing style and OK, it would probably have to be a full day’s worth because I would fangirl her so hard for the first several hours. SQUEAL!!!!   Seriously though,  I would love to meet her in person.

Chatty Chicks (Cathy Brockman, Vicki Locey, Misty Harvey, Amity Riles, and Emily Joy Grace Thompson! These women have kept me writing when I was so close to throwing in the towel numerous times.  They have shared my ups and downs.  They’ve offered a cyber shoulder to cry on, a cyber party to share our victories, and numerous hours of writing sprints! We would need a supply of coffee and cocoa, maybe some biscuits to snack on and several hours to visit in person. (OK, technically this is more than 5, but there is no way I could pick one of my chatty chick sisters and not the others, it’s a package deal!)

On a similar note, last year at Penned Con I got the chance to meet Angie Fox! I’ve adored her for years. When I found out she was a local St. Louisan, I hoped that some day I could meet her and I DID!!! By the way, she’s just as amazing in person. I hope I didn’t emberass her by fangirling her. I tried to act cool, but you know how it is, right?  I don’t think I could have been any less cool if I had met Jensen Ackles in person. GAH!!!

Go check out what the other authors are saying in this blog hop. You can find their links here:

MFRW 52 Week Challenge

Write on my friend, write on!

I’ve Been Influenced!


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

This week’s prompt: A Book That Has Influenced My Life.

Which one to choose?  That’s the thing about readers, we sometimes read excellent books that impact us! Maybe I should make mine in list form.

  1. The Bible – I was raised in a denominational church that my Grandfather founded, that had my dead relatives names on the stained glass window. I never read the Bible then, it was my parent’s religion. However, when I was in college, I was greatly influenced by an important person in my life that told me I should read it for myself. You want violence? Romance? Betrayal? Heartbreak? Disease? Pestilence? War? Love???? It’s all there. Seriously, go read Song of Solomon sometime – hubba hubba! I read it from Genesis to Revelations.  I read it like a history of mankind book. I cried, I laughed,  I connected. It guides my daily path. I made the decision for Christ just a couple weeks after New Year  in 1985 and have never looked back.
  2. The Four Agreements – I’m not forsaking my faith here, so don’t even go there. I have issues with a lot of things within the Christian community, namely that many are judgmental, discriminating and have lost their love for humanity. They are all about the religious practices,  us four and no more, the bless me club. It’s the very reason why Mother Theresa’s selfless sacrifice was such a tremendous act. These are things that I personally have grievances with. Because, at the end of the day, we need to be kind to each other and love one another. We are instructed as Christians to Love GOd with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind and to Love our neighbor as ourselves. Many people forget that last part and it is grievous. So anyway, I absolutely agree with the four agreements. No pun intended. I have a page in my journal that is the four agreements to remind myself often. I feel they help me be at peace with myself and keep the compassion towards others.
  3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Literally changed my view on reading from the forced reading required at school to reading for pleasure!
  4. The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Silmarillion – the epitome of reading pleasure.
  5. Outlander Series – OMG! Have you ever seen these books? They are huge – like War and Peace huge. I read the first one in like 2 days,  then raced back to the library and checked out the rest of the series. This book or series of books, jerked me out of a pity party slump where I was feeling useless as a writer, had had a long string of rejections on books and the only thing selling was magazine articles.
  6. Harlequin romances – I don’t even remember the titles I’ve read so many. The first one I read when I was maybe fourteen. It was OK, but, I didn’t really like it. I read a lot of Stephen King and Ann McCaffrey back then. However, when I was in college,  I found the stack at the college library that held the paperback Harlequin novels. It (reading a romance) was my reward for completing an assignment, doing good on a test, not spending money I didn’t have, . . . I used lots of excuses to go get yet another ‘cheesy romance’ book as my dorm mates would say. Meanwhile, they would spend hours watching daytime soaps that I never got into. (It was many years later while nursing my daughter that I discovered Nathan Fillion was on a soap – then you betcha I watched that one! Something about Buchannon’s??)
  7. The Worst Romance Book I ever read – This may sound strange,  but yes it really did change things for me. I have the book. It’s written by a well-known author, whom I’ve met in person and is a lovely person.  Makeover on the front stoop in the ten minutes she waited. She started off with long blonde hair, crystalline blue eyes, khaki trousers, and a red polo as described in the previous two chapters. Then when the man answered the door, she wore snug straight leg jeans, a soft angora sweater, her Ginger swing bob made a perfect arch as she turned to face him with her green eyes. WHAT?  This book launched me on my writing endeavors. If this crap could get published,  surely I could get published! I finished the book,  but it took me a very long time.

So once again I didn’t exactly follow the rules.  They are more like guidelines anyway, right?

 

Go check out what the other authors are saying, you can find that list here: MFRW BLOG HOP

Write on my friends, write on!

Version 3.0 – Author #MFRW


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

This week’s prompt: What I would do If I couldn’t be a writer.

Who is the evil person who thought up this prompt???  This is the stuff of nightmares! Are they a horror writer? Was it Stephen King? OR  maybe it was a descendent of H.P. Lovecraft.

*shudders*

If I couldn ‘t be a writer,  I would probably have pursued teaching as my second career choice. I worked as a civil servant for the department of defense,  my degree is in cartography. Back in those days,  I was firmly convinced that science was where the money was at,  and only pure genius writers could earn a living actually writing.

Well the years start coming and they don’t stop coming
Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running
Didn’t make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb
So much to do, so much to see
So what’s wrong with taking the back streets?
You’ll never know if you don’t go
You’ll never shine if you don’t glow

I digress. . . but, All Star seriously sums it up. Getting on the career track, following the ruts, doing the things you think you are supposed to do and then somewhere down the road you run out of gas, and look around and realize this isn’t where you wanted to be.

I was late in the game to allow myself to pursue my dreams of writing. I don’t know,  I guess with my upbringing and the push for success, I didn’t allow myself to chase dreams. I was already labeled a daydreamer, and I resented that my mom said it with an air of disdain.

Yes, I have mother issues. I’m dealing with it!

So, after Ellie version 2.0, stay at home mom left me with time to read, time to do crafts, sew, crochet, . . .did I mention read????  I read voraciously.  I read to my kids.  My eldest daughter’s favorite book was Moo Bah, LALALA. I can recite it from memory.  My youngest daughter’s favorite was Goodnight Moon. I can also tell that one from memory.

When we ran out of books to read before it was time to go back to the library, or we had exhausted our home library I began making up stories to tell them and they liked mine better! It gave me the boost I needed to pursue my writing aspirations.

About that time,  an opening came up at our local paper to write an opinion column.  Trust me, I have an opinion! LOL

When both of my kids were in school, I started substitute teaching at their school. There were certain parts of the substituting that I really enjoyed. So if I couldn’t write, I probably would have pursued teaching science at the junior high level.

I’m sure it would have paid better, and set my husband’s mind at ease. He tries to be supportive,  but the unknown factor of writing is whether or not people will buy your book.

Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps out to pay the bills and buy groceries! Hence I keep the dayjob as mortgage loan officer until my books fly off the shelf!

It could happen!!

 

Never say never!  It’s the beginning of a new year,  a time to dream and let your hope rise! What would you do if you couldn’t pursue your dreams? Would you vet your creative interests in another direction or shelve them?

So here we are with Ellie version 3.0 – author, editor, mortage loan officer, blogger – doing what I love, trying to manage my time effectively to get the things done!

Go check out what the other authors are saying, you can find that list here: MFRW BLOG HOP

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.

~~~~~~~

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!

 

 

There’s a Hole in My Bucket


This week’s MFRW blog hop post  – week 48 – 5 Things on My Bucket List.

First, I have a couple things to say before we dive in.  I am so grateful to my friend Cathy Brockman, for sharing this blog hop. At a time when I was at my lowest low, thinking I may not survive the breast cancer, this blog hop kept calling to me to get back to writing. Yes, I’m well aware that I can be overly dramatic. My father called me on that one back when I was like six. Anyway, it may sound silly but this blog hop, even though I missed several months for a while, kept calling me back. I have met ( online ) a great group of authors associated with this blog and read their blogs.  I don’t always leave comments, but I read them.

The Bucket List is something that became all too real to me during that time. Focus on what’s important and let the rest go. I had to keep reminding myself of the four agreements, specifically do your best every day.  Some days my best was get to radiation, eat something, and sleep.  That was it.  Cancer treatment is different for each individual and for me,   fatigue was a constant.

It is still a long road to recovery, but I’m getting there!

Now, on to 5 Things On My Bucket List.

  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.

 

There are many more items on my revised bucket list, but I know you have better things to do than stay here reading.  In fact,  why don’t you share something off of your bucket list in the comments.  Come on, do it!  Just one item, you can do that right?

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!