Wednesday, January 30, 2013

REFOCUS

Isn't it typical to make a big mess before we clean it?

I've been cleaning and reorganizing my kitchen the past three days and I'm tired. LOL
But now it's all out where I can get to it.

One pile of stuff I will throw away. One, I will keep and return to its normal spot. The third group of items I intend to keep but put in a different place or store in a different manner. I might give from that stack to someone who needs it more.

I purchased a potato bin and two shelves on which to put canned good. Since my kitchen is small, I deemed an unused bedroom closet as a second pantry. Once again, I made a mess before I cleaned it. Everything from that closet went to the floor or on the bed to be sorted. After three days, my baker's rack overflows with extra bowls and storage containers. One shelf holds excess foods. My recipe box perches on the top for easy access. Extra clothes are pushed to the back to make room for my vacuum. I'm rather proud of the end result.

You know its kinda like this weight loss journey. When our minds get cluttered, we lose focus. That's when we must start from where we are. It may be a mess, but how else can we clean it?

If that's you today, get started. What do you do first?

Pull out all the stuff from your mind.

Are you angry at someone? Put it in the throw away pile.
Did someone hurt your feelings? Ask God to handle that.
Are you tired, stressed, or bored? Innovate. Find new ways to overcome simple problems. Slow down, refresh, let God give you new ideas.
Are you too me-focused? Think of someone who needs what you can give.

Go through your food supply?

Do you have healthy alternatives? Restock you pantry and refrigerator.
Have you started buying your trigger foods again? Throw them away or give to a needy family.
What ingredients do you now have on hand? Make a healthy pot of soup. Throw in any available vegetables. Make a tasty, low-fat casserole that you used to make when you ate healthier.

What habits do you need to take up or change?

Have you quit walking because it's too cold? Learn to dance. Take an inside water aerobics class at the Y. Buy a DVD to do in your house.
Did you do away with morning quiet time? Get up early enough to start it up again.
Do you feel sluggish or bloated? Try making three weeks without sugar.
Is your life racing out of control with too much on your to-do list? Sit with pen and paper and prioritize every chore, both good and bad, that you do. Anything there ready for the throw away pile, or at least your delay file?

Little by little, just like my kitchen and pantry closet, we fit back important things into our lives and initiate new, helpful practices. We discard the waste to allow more room for God.

We step back and look. This isn't so bad.

The more we do it, the easier we manage. Our lifestyle changes. We lose weight and feel better.

If we spend time and effort doing this, we'll see results not only at the scales but in all phases of our lives.

Here's some helpful links on similar subjects that you might want to copy and paste into your server.

the simpledollar.com
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/11/15/review-unclutter-your-life-in-one-week/

10 ways to simplify your workday:
http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/business/simplify-your-workday/

Any ideas you wish to share?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

LOVE AT FIRST FIGHT

This weekend seems like a good time for an old-fashioned love story. It's short and funny. The heroine is a klutz like me.

Nicole circled the conference room but found no chair available. Her cheeks flamed. One man, probably two or three years older than her own thirty-three years, screamed arrogance by stretching his long legs across a second chair. With fingers tapping at her side, she glared at him. His eyes remained glued to the page of a book.

She cleared her throat. “Excuse me.”

Her new supervisor arrived and began the meeting. Nicole’s hands shook as she tapped the man’s shoulder. Why did she have to be running late this morning?

Without looking Nicole’s way, the rude man answered the question the supervisor asked. “That will be finished by tomorrow. Looking good.” His blond hair shimmered under the fluorescent lighting. His relaxed posture posed no rebuttal of his opinion.

Nicole leaned against the wall. She plopped her briefcase on the floor and pulled out a legal pad. Her notes toppled from the bag. Bending over to pick it up, she dropped her pen. A handsome older man retrieved the pen and offered his chair, but when she picked up her case to move, the contents dumped on the floor.

By that time, the supervisor stopped his talk and faced Nicole. “Should we wait for you?”

Perspiration played jack-in-the-box across Nicole’s upper lip. “I have no chair. This man…,“ she stared at the blond trouble-maker, “…confiscated two chairs leaving none for me.” She put hands on her hips and moved one step closer to the object of her anger. “You, Sir, are a rude, unfeeling man with no handle on common courtesy.” As her fists tightened, her pencil snapped.

Sighs erupted around the room.

The blond had the grace to look condemned. He stood and motioned. “Take your pick of seats.”

Both men helped pick up her belongings. Nicole perched on the chair which had recently balanced manly, muscular legs and looked up at her new supervisor. “I apologize.”

Though Nicole’s anticipation of her first week’s meeting had heightened as it neared, she failed to glean any knowledge but instead prayed for its completion. When they finished, she gathered everything and strode out before anyone could speak.

Nicole crisscrossed the office several times that day passing friends, old and new.

“Hey, Nicole,” called the receptionist.

An old friend barreled into her. Both sets of papers flew. “I’m so sorry, girlfriend.” They laughed and picked up their stuff.

When she moved on, her blond nemesis sauntered down the hall. “Still having trouble, Miss Wilson?”

“I…yes….I. None of your business.” She moved away but her pulse pumped harder, and she found it hard to breath. How did he know her name?

As she worked the next two days, greetings followed.

“Hey, Nicole.”

“Hi, Nicole.”

Again she passed the man from the meeting. “Hello, Miss Wilson.”

A lump swelled her throat making it impossible to speak.

Nicole’s supervisor approached her desk later that week. “I’m calling a meeting for two this afternoon. I need your figures on the Kelly contract. Hope you find a seat.” He walked off laughing.

Nicole made it on time with notes organized. Despite her heart hiccupping from the sight of the blond, she determined to be professional. During this meeting, she learned the man’s name was Clint.

When the meeting ended and she prepared to leave, her peripheral vision saw Clint lean toward a younger man behind him. She overheard his comment. “See that woman there. That’s who I’m going to marry.”

She choked. Her breathing came in short gasps. Who did he think he was? She answered her own question—a man who twisted her feelings like a bunch of pick-up sticks. She dashed outside. When she reached the cool October air, she inhaled. Her heart slowed.

A huge shadow blocked the sun. She feared turning. She didn’t, but she knew who was there. Flutters tickled her inside and rendered her useless.

“Miss Wilson, I never got to apologize appropriately.” Clint moved to her front. He reached for her legal pad and placed it under his arm then he clasped both her hands in his. “You’re right. I was rude and unmannerly last week, but most of all, I was blind. Forgive me.”

Blue eyes the color of her sapphire birthstone initiated Nicole’s amnesia. She dipped her head fearing he’d hear the gurgle of her stomach. “Okay.”

“Have dinner with me tonight?”

She held onto his hand like a life vest. “Okay.” Again, her cheeks felt warm. Would she always perspire around this man? Maybe not, but she sensed something special was happening.

He smiled, handed back her pad, and walked away.

Her old friend dashed toward Nicole. “Wow, making friends with the big boss already.” The woman went inside.

Numbness froze Nicole’s body. Had she gained an influential boyfriend or jeopardized her job?

Let me know if you liked it.




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WEIGHT STORYBOARDING

On our group blog www.bookstowriteby.blogspot.com, I've posted twice about storyboarding as it pertains to writing.

I find storyboarding a wonderful technique for plotting my novels. Others utilize this for a plot outline as they begin the story. I complete the first draft all the way to "the end." Then, I draw lines on a huge poster board forming squares enough for each chapter of the manuscript.

1. In each square, I write the basic scenes and highlight the POV character.

2. I use neon-colored sticky notes for each of 4-5 main plot lines. The last one I did used a)romantic tension b)trouble with protag's children c)trouble with hero's nephew and d)trouble with church people.

3. Next, I go thru with pastel sticky-notes for each small subplot. The last one showed these: a)older woman b) teen's romance c)hero's secret and d)use of the symbol for protag's dream come true.

Did I bring up trouble with the protagonist's children in chapter one and never come back to it, or not allude to it until chapter twenty three?

Did I bring up the blue dress as an indication of the protagonist's dream and never say anything more about it?

My storyboard poster gives me instant feedback as to what I should add to the story, to what more I require.

Today I normally post on weight loss, exercise, nutrition, healthy habits, but I wonder could storyboarding not also apply to weight loss or maintanence?

Sure enough, in the bottom of my drawer, I found what could be called a storyboard for while I was losing weight. I had drawn 8 squares and filled in the steps it would take to get to the end goal.

I'm sharing them with you today. Perhaps, God could direct those needing help to storyboard their plans for weight loss or healthier eating.

(Though I lost most of my 95 pounds doing the American Diabetic Exchange Diet, I finished the weight loss with Weight Watchers.) I must've been doing it when I wrote this because I speak about points. Your plan might count carbs or calories, whatever. Tailer it to meet your need.

1. Eat no more than 22 points a day with no more than 14 extra flex points.
2. Walk in the mall 5 days a week unless it's impossible.
3. Do zone exercise room/machines 20 rotations 3 times a week.
4. On trip to Temple, stop at Applebees & not have any fried foods or desserts on trip.
5. Journal on paper and online when in town. Take paper and book and journal when gone.
6. Go to class every week in October and November.
7. Weigh 150 lbs on WW scale.
8. Wear burgundy suede pants.

Those 8 squares pointed me in the right direction. If the scale went up, I could go back and see which one of these things, that I hadn't done.

Have you ever thought of Weight Storyboarding?
For those of my viewers who are also writers, do you use storyboarding to plot?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Live, an Assembly of God take-home paper, published this article of mine for Thanksgiving, 2012. This week, my heart fills with gratitude for what God has done for me, so I decided to reprint the article today. I pray you enjoy it.

The pastor’s sermon blazed through my mind. He advised we keep an “attitude of gratitude” and quoted, “In everything give thanks: (1 The. 5:18a.)”

Everything? Really?

My dry, thirsty spirit longed for the peace the pastor spoke about, so I was willing to try. I prayed, “Lord, help me be thankful in everything.”

That night, my mother died while talking to me on the telephone.

When it rang, my house overflowed with daughters and sons-in-law. My joy was complete, and it was easy to be grateful.

“I think I have pneumonia,” Mom said.

“Have you called the doctor?”

“Yes and I have an appointment tomorrow, but I feel…..” Her voice trailed off. I heard a gasp.

I gripped the receiver as if it were her life vest. “Mom?”
I waited. “Mom? Are you okay?”

Nothing.

My heart raced. My legs couldn’t carry me the one hundred and thirty miles to her home. She had to answer. “Mom?”

A gurgle sounded then total quiet.

By this time, my husband held me.

I doubled over in pain. “Mom,” I screamed into the phone.

He pried it from my fingers, listened and hung up. “We need to call the emergency number. Do you want me to?”

I shook my head and dialed. I gave them the address and explained what I heard. “I’m an only child. She lives alone, so if you get no answer, you have my permission to break in a door or window.”

My tears soaked my husband’s shirt. He told them to call us. “We’ll be there in about two and a half hours.”

My body convulsed. My family surrounded me. I don’t remember but I know my husband tucked me into the passenger side of our car, and we drove off.”

While our car sailed along the highway nearing Dallas, my husband clutched my hand across the center console. I felt an encouraging squeeze. “It will be alright.”

But, a sick feeling flipped my stomach upside down. Breathing became a silent struggle to survive. I heaved in laboring pants identifying with the one who gave me birth, my number one fan on earth.

Another phone call gave us the hospital name. After we parked near the door, we rushed inside.

A kind nurse directed us to a small room.

A doctor entered. He confirmed what I suspected. They were never able to revive my mother. Her last words were to me on the phone. I followed him to a cold, clinical room. Mother’s body was rigid. “Good bye,” I spoke the words but my heart refused to accept the facts.

My husband led me out. He looked me in the eyes. “She dreaded going into a nursing facility more than anything. We can be thankful she died in her own home while talking to you.”

Thankful? I remembered my promise to be thankful in all things. I prayed again. I really tried.

My next call came from my baby daughter. Her husband had completed his tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force in Korea. She wanted me to know he’d be there for the funeral. “But, now I know we’ll be stationed at North Carolina.”

Already tender emotions melted into fresh tears. “That’s a long way from Texas.”

“Yes, but we’ll stay here for two more weeks.”

Two weeks? Thanksgiving Day would come in three. The coldness I’d felt in Mother’s hospital room crept along my veins like thick blood. “You’ll be gone for Thanksgiving?”

“Yes.” Her voice came soft and searing to my heart.

The next few days filled with so many things. God insulated me with a long to-do list and a shock-sedated system. Often, I faltered. I couldn’t go on. My husband and I prayed. God carried me through a few more hours. His mercy and love gave me rest when I could go no further.

My plans for the funeral.

The funeral itself.

Making decisions for Mom’s house and goods.

Helping my daughter pack to move.

Planning the Thanksgiving meal.

Holding tightly to my ten-month-old granddaughter that we kept every day while her mother worked. She was the new life out of the old. But, soon she would live fifteen hundred miles away.

In everything give thanks.

The Lord reminded me daily of my promise.

One week before Thanksgiving, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter drove off. How could my heart keep pumping while loaded with so much heartache? How could I thank God for this?

Thanksgiving Day was bittersweet. My husband, the other two daughters and sons-in-law gathered around a feast cooked with both love and sadness.

Like a robot with fork in hand, I scooped good food and lifted it to my mouth without tasting the buttery, sweet flavors. Memories ran like escaped prisoners through my thoughts. My hand stilled.

Memories.

“I thank God for the memories of Mother, of Cindy and Victoria.”

My husband held up his fork holding a piece of Cindy’s pecan pie she made and left for us. “In all things give thanks.”

I smiled. “I think we should stop now and pray again.”

My family laid down utensils and looked up at me as if I’d sprouted angels’ wings. We bowed our heads.

“On this Thanksgiving Day, give us an attitude of gratitude in every thing.” When I lifted my head, I saw smiles cross each face. I silently asked God to remind me of this time on the next trial. I knew there would be one.

Last November, I joined with others to post on Facebook something each day for which I thanked God. We should do this in prayer every day of the year.

Today, I'm thankful for the emotional healing God gave me twenty years ago this month.

What are you thankful for?







Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FOOD ADDICT? 10 ways to know

Do You live in denial? Are you a food addict in secret? Do you find you're controlled more and more by food, but still hold the belief that the next diet will be the magic pill?

Here's 10 signs to look for to determine if you have a food compulsion or addiction:

1. You have food hidden at different places; your home, your job, your car.

2. You tell small lies- maybe say you spent so much money on the kids’ books, but forget to tell that you spent $10 for junk food for yourself.

3. You think of food all the time, planning what you’ll eat next.

4. You give enough time to pick up a treat in case you get hungry before you can get out of work, meeting, whatever.

5. You can't buy one of your favorite foods, put it in the pantry, and leave it there for a week without eating it, right?

6. Have you eaten so much at one setting that you were stuffed and nauseas?

7. Have you eaten one meal by yourself and then ate another with someone else?

8. Have you lost weight on a diet only to regain it again with more added.

9. Have you suffered from a sugar overdose and then craved sweets for days?

10. Have you eagerly anticipated time by yourself at work or at home when you could eat uninhibited?

If you say yes to three or more of these signs, find a twelve step program for food addicts or a teacher or someone who knows something about your problem and won’t advise you to use your will power because will power will add fuel to the problem.

WINNER

The winner is: (drum roll here)
Lyndie Blevins wins a copy of Victoria and the Ghost, my inspirational YA. Congratulations, Lyndie, and thanks to all who entered the drawing on my blog.

On K. Dawn Byrd's blog last week, I offered to give away a copy of Divine Dining, my 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Healing. The winner is still to be notified. I thought I'd post the e-mail winner in case she/he checks on my blog. I don't have a name. Here's the e-mail of the one who won: gahome2monATgmailDOTcom. If this is your e-mail or any of my viewers know this person, please let her know to contact me for her prize at my e-mail.(See my contact info on the author page.)

Again, thanks to all the wonderful comments on both blogs.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Melanie Robertson-King Author Interview and Publishing with 4RV

4RV Publishing Co. honored me with my first book contract in 2011. They released my debut novel, Victoria and the Ghost, an inspirational, paranormal YA on July, 2012. During the same time frame, they released another debut YA for my new friend, Melanie Robertson-King. Our publisher, Vivian Zabel, entered both of our books in the Kansas Book Festival in Sept. 2012. I drove from Wichita Falls, Texas. Melanie flew from her home in Brockville, Ontario, Canada, and so we met and relished in our newfound status of published author.

Her debut novel is A Shadow of the Past.
I purchased her book. Melanie writes with a distinct style and quite different from this poor Texas girl, and I loved it.

I found Melanie a delightful woman. She's helpful, kind, and interesting. I asked her to be a guest on my Writing with Hope blog today and tell us something about herself.

You will enjoy making her acqaintance. I urge you to read her book.

Thanks for inviting me here today, Janet, to talk about my writing journey. I’m going to go back a bit further than that to give you a better idea of who Melanie Robertson-King is, and what makes her who she is today, which I suppose is part of my writing journey.

I grew up as an only child so had to learn to amuse myself from a very young age. For most of that time, books were my best friends beginning with The Little Golden Books that my mother or father (depending on what shift he was working) would read to me at bedtime. I moved on from there to The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and from the time I got my first library card, read an eclectic selection of books from the children’s and adult’s sections there.

I developed a vivid imagination growing up and would tell or write stories. I always did well in English classes, especially the writing part. Looking back, I wonder if any of my teachers thought that one day, I’d become a published author.

Well, the summer I graduated from elementary school, I started writing and illustrating a story. There was little plot and it went on and on and on. Thankfully, secondary school began and this never-ending story came to an end.

I always knew my Dad was raised in an orphanage in Scotland before he immigrated to Canada but it wasn’t until the genealogy bug bit me that I delved into my own heritage and made myself the promise that I was going to travel to Scotland and visit my father’s birthplace in Aberdeenshire and the orphanage where he was raised.

In 1993, I kept that promise I’d made to myself and on my own (never flown before either) made that trip across the ocean to Scotland I’m not sure if that’s when the wheels started turning or not, but I was inspired by the rugged beauty of the country, and its broodiness in foul weather.

Return trips with my husband in 1997 and 1999 (I schmoozed with Royalty on this trip when I met Princess Anne at the former orphanage) and reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series really set the wheels churning. A friend and co-worker who had read my short stories fuelled the fire even more when she told me I should try writing a book because she thought I could do just as good a job.

My debut novel began its life as a (not-so-well written) novella or novelette depending on the word-length guidelines you use, or as I referred to it back then an overgrown short story because I had never heard of a novella or novelette. Talk about being green, but even back then, I had taken events from the news and worked them into my writing.

Another friend and co-worker who believed in me stumbled upon an advertisement for a creative writing course so I signed up and by the time I was finished, that overgrown short story, then entitled Sarah’s Gift, had been expanded into the first draft of my novel.

Many drafts, new characters, and umpteen more revisions later, and just as many rejections, I was about to give up. One of the editors I pitched told me that Sarah’s Gift didn’t do my story justice. She loved the premise of the novel but still rejected it saying it wasn’t for her.

But things did turn around for me. With the help of the members of the Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association and my local group, Writers’ Ink, I had a new title – A Shadow in the Past – far more thought provoking and indicative of what my novel was about.

I read about an online writing conference on one of my Scottish writer friend’s(Rosemary Gemmell blogs where there were workshops and the opportunity to pitch to publishers and agents. I signed up and got a pitch appointment with Vivian Zabel, President of 4RV Publishing. I mean nothing ventured, nothing gained. The pitch session went extremely well and I was asked to submit.

The next while, I worked at making my submission as perfect as I possibly could and on Thanksgiving Monday (Columbus Day in the US), I sent it off. According to the 4RV website, it could take some time to get a response, so I was completely gobsmacked when later that evening, I had a return e-mail saying they were offering me a contract.

And that’s been my publishing journey from the very early days until now – October 2011 contract offer, January 2012 assigned an editor and my cover (which I had input on), and finally September 2012 when my book made its debut at the Kansas Book Festival where you and I met for the first time. Since then, I hosted a launch in my hometown, did a twenty-one stop, fifteen day blog tour, and did signings at various seasonal events in the lead-up to Christmas.

The one line that best describes my book (I think so anyway) is “When a contemporary teen is transported back through time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…”

Blurb:
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Links:
Where to buy:
4RV Publishing: http://4rvpublishingcatalog.yolasite.com/robertson-king.php

In Canada:
Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King/dp/0983801886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346607916&sr=1-1

ChaptersIndigo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/A-Shadow-In-The-Past-Melanie-Robertson-king/9780983801887-item.html?ikwid=a+shadow+in+the+past&ikwsec=Home

In the US:
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King/dp/0983801886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344434406&sr=1-1
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shadow-in-the-past-melanie-robertson-king/1112348992?ean=9780983801887

And in the UK:
Amazon.co.uk:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King/dp/0983801886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344434484&sr=1-1

Melanie’s Links:
Publisher: 4RV Publishing Author Page http://www.4rvpublishing.com/robertson-king-and-russell.php
Author Website: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/
Author Blog: Celtic Connexions http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/wp02/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-Robertson-King/221018701298979
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing https://twitter.com/RobertsoKing

How exciting, Melanie, to hear your journey to 4RV Publishing.

My journey started with a friend recommending I attend Oklahoma Writers Federated Inc. conference in May, 2011. This exciting conference hosts many big name editors, agents, and authors. I pitched Victoria and the Ghost to Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing and, like you, Melanie, the rest is history.

Thanks, Melanie Robertson-King, for being my guest.

For my viewers, feel free to comment or send me an e-mail, a tweet, or a Facebook message if you have any questions for Melanie or me or any inquiries about publishing with 4RV. Obviously, Melanie and I are well pleased with this tradional royalty-paying, professionally-handled small press.