Friday, May 27, 2011

4 Hour Body: Skinny for NYC Check In

I'm in a holding pattern this week. No change. But I'm relieved because I expected the waist size to go up due to hormonal shifts. Yay! At least I'm holding steady. I wasn't able to work out as much as I would have liked either. I overused my shoulder during a Jillian Michaels Shred workout so I decided to give it a break for a week. I also had my teenager home more often than not due to her ear infection and her mono knocking her off her feet. Sure, she can fend for herself, but it's not fun being sick and alone. Despite all the interruptions, I did manage to walk twice and I went to Zumba class yesterday.

I called up a friend who is also following the 4 Hour Body plan with her hubby. She said she cheats a bit during the hormonal shifts, but I have held on and stayed true to the diet. Her hubby has lost 30 pounds since January. Mighty impressive numbers. My hubby has not lost more than 5 pounds, but his belly is shrinking so something is going right. Hopefully we'll see a continuing downward trend.

My friend and I talked about some of the challenges we faced on this diet. For one thing, there is NO fruit. I'm fine with the no fruit part except there are times when I just want a blueberry or a grape. And with summer here it's nice to have fresh fruit on a regular basis. However, I'm bound and determined to see it through till NYC. I'll let up on the diet a bit during that time -- and the first thing I'm adding back is fruit in small quantities.

The other challenge we face is more cooking. This isn't the kind of diet that allows you to call in for pizza after a long day of dealing with kids, schools, cleaning, working, writing, whatevers. Nope. And let me tell you, I've had days where I have wanted to throw in the towel. But I haven't yet. I try to get a lot of leftovers going so that I can serve them up in a pinch. To be honest, I usually make extra and stick it into the freezer, but ever since the tornadoes knocked out our power for 5 days I have been reluctant to store extra food.

Fridays. Fridays are tough. Why? Because we aren't officially on CHEAT DAY mode. We still have to follow the plan and it's like we're sick of being good and if we see one more bean we will choke. But the only way I know how to cope with Fridays is to make it a cute picnic day, a fancy meat day, or better yet, go out and let someone else cook it for you. So far we've only gone out on two Fridays. The restaurants just get too crowded here and it's not worth the wait. Somehow we muddle through the day and it works out.

We've gotten smarter about Cheat Day. I wanted to go for breakfast two weeks ago, but I think everyone in town and in the surrounding county had the same idea. We ended up having an early lunch where there was no wait. So now I bring in the cheat foods from the grocery story and make a big country breakfast. I also plan a good Cheat Day at home. This weekend it is Memorial Day so we're doing burgers, hot dogs, brats and all the trimmings. I'm talking potato salad, deviled eggs, Texas sheet cake, chips, dips, the works. I'm really looking forward to it.

But here's the funny part: we try to cheat but we cheat less and less because our bellies fill up too quickly. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. This is why Cheat Day works cause you think you're going to get crazy with eating, but your body simply won't let you.

Another thing I've incorporated is Lemon Juice. I do a shot of pure lemon juice in the morning to jump start my metabolism. It's tart. Not going to lie. It's kind of gross. But it does wake me up. I'm going to add more lemon into my day by squeezing half a lemon into my water two more times. I'll see if that makes a difference. Maybe adding the lemon juice to my diet is why I didn't gain around my middle this week--which is a total relief!

So my friend and I shared some ideas and recipe tricks. Things we're doing that make our diet more interesting and fun. She is a great cook and we used to cook together all the time when I lived in Virginia, so I'm glad we exchanged recipes and coping mechanisms.

As I've been writing this, I've realized that I'm cresting over the mid-part of my goal for the diet. I think this is where a lot of people give up. They start plateauing and give up. Not me. I refuse. I'm hunkering down and working even harder now because I can see the end. The new skinny me who will look fabulous in New York when she attends the RWA National Conference.

So how do you cope with the diet plateaus and letdowns? Do you give yourself permission to cheat? Do you hunker down and push through the plateau? Or do you quit?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Break out the Bubbly and the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Marilyn Baron's eBook Short Story A CHOIR OF ANGELS

Please join me in welcoming my sister blogger and writing friend, Marilyn Baron, as we celebrate the release of her eBook Short Story A CHOIR OF ANGELS. I first met Marilyn a little over a year ago at Georgia Romance Writer's author critique. She is a gracious, lovely person. I'm honored to celebrate her publishing story. *Pop* *Sizzle* and pouring a glass of bubbly right now.

Welcome to the Veranda, Marilyn. I'm so pleased to have you!! How did you end up becoming a writer?

I’ve wanted to become a writer since I started reading the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve been writing since I was in fourth grade. My first book was called “East West Island,” which featured my classmates as the characters. My teacher read installments every day in class and all the kids loved being mentioned in the book. I wrote, directed and cast a play in my neighborhood to raise money for the JFK Library when I was 13. From there, I wrote all the school assembly programs, was editor of my junior high school newspaper, feature editor of my high school newspaper, majored in Journalism (Public Relations sequence) and Creative Writing in college, and have enjoyed a challenging career in corporate public relations, which involves writing and editing. I also edit The Galley, Georgia Romance Writers’ online chapter newsletter. Although I’ve been writing in some form all my life, I’ve always wanted to write fiction.

I loved the Little House on the Prairie books! What is your favorite genre to write? 

Humorous women’s fiction and romantic suspense, so it was a departure for me to have my first story published by TWB Press, a Science Fiction, Supernatural, Horror, Thriller publisher of novels and short stories.

Wow, you really did jump to a new genre. Are you a plotter or do you follow the muse? 

I definitely “follow the muse.” I wish I could be a disciplined plotter. Typically, I get an inspiration for the title first and after coming up with the names of the main characters and fleshing them out, I just start writing. As a Public Relations consultant, I create advertising and marketing campaigns, and come up with concepts for brochures, magazines, annual reports and Web sites, so titles and themes are an important part of what I do. I apply that knowledge to my fiction writing.

How do you relax after a writing day? 

I read or veg out (and ultimately fall asleep) on the couch in front of the television.

I tend to fall asleep on the couch in front of the television as well! What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors? 

I read everything from literary fiction and thrillers to romantic suspense. I just finished Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. I’m currently reading Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. On my to-be-read pile: Suzanne Brockmann’s Breaking the Rules and Vince Flynn’s American Assassin. Among my favorite writers are Robert Wilson, Daniel Silva, Jayne Ann Krentz and Nora Roberts. Some treasures I have discovered and passed on to other book lovers are Little Bee by Chris Cleave; Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; and The Book Thief, by Australian YA author Markus Zusak. There are just too many good books out there to mention.

We have very similar reading tastes. I love so many of the authors you listed. And yes, there are so many good books out there. Many of them are waiting for me to pick them up and turn the page. Speaking of turning the pages, what is your current writing project? 

It’s a romantic suspense called Sixth Sense. The story opens when a psychic predicts the death of the young son of America’s heartthrob in a plane crash and her warning goes unheeded by a ‘by-the-book’ Atlanta police detective. She and the detective are dispatched to help catch a serial killer in Sydney, Australia. When she returns to Atlanta, she enlists the detective’s help when her parents are killed in an auto accident and she learns she is adopted. The search for her adoptive parents leads the pair to Cassadaga, a spiritualist community in Central Florida, where she finds her birth mother, a strong psychic and spiritual healer, and her birth father, a lecherous trance medium who rules the community with an iron fist. Something is rotten in Cassadaga and the trail leads back to her parents’ killer. Since I was born without a sense of smell, I have an overdeveloped sixth sense, so working on this project has been very interesting for me.

Oh, this book sounds so intriguing. Could you tell us about your new release, “A Choir of Angels?”

Think Here Comes the Bride. There Goes the MOB (Mother of the Bride). This humorous, supernatural e-short story is timely because wedding season is just around the corner. If you like to cry at weddings and you like to laugh, I hope you’ll love “A Choir of Angels,” a heartwarming tale of a family’s tragedy and a wedding promise unfulfilled. How far will a mother go to sing at her daughter’s wedding? Nothing, not even a little thing like death, is going to cheat Rhonda Paver out of celebrating the happiest day of her daughter’s life. Even if she has to cross over to the other side to do it.

“A Choir of Angels,” is now available from TWB Press at in PDF eBook format or you can find a Kindle, Nook or OmniLit link at the TWB Press site. You can also search Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or by name and title or Smashwords at

Excellent! Great cover, too! Can't wait to get my copy. Where do you get your ideas for your stories? 

Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. I’ll hear a name that I like and know I want to use it in a story. A title will just come to me and I know that’s the one. For example, I got the idea for Sixth Sense sitting next to a psychic on an airplane flight to Sydney. I eavesdrop at every opportunity – at dinner, at the hair salon, on an airplane, anywhere. You never know when a snippet of information could become the basis for another story.

I love eavesdropping. Nothing is sacred in a writer's world LOL. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?” 

Almost eight years.

How did you celebrate the new book contract? 

My daughter, her boyfriend and my daughter’s friend came to my door and surprised me with a balloon, a congratulations card and a bottle of my favorite wine, Moscato d’Asti. My daughter and her friend had collaborated on a book and I helped them in that process, so their recognition was of particular significance to me.

Sounds like fun! What was the most important thing you remember after the story was published?

My father, who was always very supportive of my writing, passed away last year before I got published. When the story was first released, my mother printed it out and left it in his favorite spot in the kitchen. For a moment she had forgotten he was no longer there when she left it out for him to “read.” She said he would have been proud of me. That was heart-wrenching.

*Wiping eyes* That is a beautiful story, Marilyn. Was the “call” an actual phone conversation or an email or a snail mail? 

As you might imagine in today’s digital world, it was actually the “e-mail.” My publisher had been reviewing my story and we’d been going back and forth with edits and comments I had to address in rewrites via e-mail. He said, “If you nail this story, I’m going to send you a publishing contract.” When he sent the contract he wrote, “I want to thank you for the effort you’ve put into this story. In the end, it shows. You’ve done a great job. Now I believe you have a winner and I want to publish it so others can enjoy it.”

Do you have an agent? 

No, but I am actively looking for one.

What advice would you give aspiring writers? 

The same advice my writing friends give me, which is consistent with the advice I’ve receive from the established authors I’ve interviewed. Don’t give up. When I met Janet Evanovich at a book signing event, she had similar advice for aspiring authors: “Never give up,” and “move on to the next book.” Bestselling Georgia author Steve Berry, reiterates, “Don’t ever give up. Somebody’s name is going to be on the cover of a book. It might as well be yours.” Bestselling novelist Daniel Silva said, “Write something and finish what you write. Just write the book. Any book can be fixed.” Suzanne Brockmann said, “Write the best book you can.” There is still so much more I want to accomplish but you can’t succeed unless you put your work out there.

I love the advice to MOVE ON TO THE NEXT BOOK. That is the best way to avoid getting bogged down in the waiting for publication game. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?

I have read so many articles about well-known authors who were rejected time after time until they were published. James Patterson was rejected about 85 times. Dan Brown was repeatedly rejected until his work finally found a home. And of course, there’s the amazing success story of J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Steve Berry, who had five manuscripts rejected a total of 85 times over 12 years before he published his first novel, advises, “There’s no such thing as handling rejection, but you can learn from it. Just stay with it. Just keep going forward. Keep writing. There’s only one way to learn how to write and that’s to write.”

The advice to keep writing and the only way to learn how to write is to write rings very true for me. What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 

The sagging middle. I can come up with a gangbusters first three chapters and I always know my ending in advance. It’s the middle that causes the most problems.

Ah, for me it is the same. No matter how much I plot it out, the middle goes flat. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call? 

Apart from the time it takes to proofread galleys and approve cover art before publication and prepare your bio and a story blurb and solicit reviews for your author page on the publisher’s Web site, I was surprised at how time consuming it is to publicize your book. This includes Facebook, blogs, e-mail blasts and other ways to get the word out. If you don’t do it, it won’t go anywhere. As my publisher tell his authors, “Sales don’t just fly out of the woodwork... you have to get your names out there and promote yourselves.” To that end, I’ve joined venues like Goodreads. My blogging sisters at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales have been very supportive as are the members of Georgia Romance Writers. I’ve also started blogging for the Roswell Patch as part of their Local Voices program; and even though I said I would draw the line at Twitter, I am now Tweeting. You can follow me at Marilyn Baron@MarilynBaron. I’m excited to be part of the digital publishing revolution and hope to take advantage of the many opportunities that presents.

Yes, the marketing of the books is a huge part of building success in the publishing business. I'm so honored that you are on Digging Out of Distraction to share your story with us. Thanks for coming by and sipping champagne with me!!

Here Comes The Bride. There goes the MOB (Mother of the Bride)
Wedding season is just around the corner. If you like to cry at weddings and you like to laugh, you’ll love “A Choir of Angels,” a heartwarming tale of a family’s tragedy and a wedding promise unfulfilled. How far will a mother go to sing at her daughter’s wedding? Nothing, not even a little thing like death, is going to cheat Rhonda Paver out of celebrating the happiest day of her daughter’s life. Even if she has to cross over to the other side to do it.
A CHOIR OF ANGELS, my humorous supernatural e-short story, is now available from TWB Press in PDF eBook format or find a Kindle, Nook or OmniLit link at the TWB Press site. You can also search Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or by name and title or Smashwords at
For reviews on Amazon:
Marilyn blogs at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales and The Roswell Patch

Monday, May 23, 2011

Crossroads, Forks and Detours: Goals Reevaluated

I'm approaching another end of a quarter and am reevaluating my priorities. I do so every 3 months. I've decided to work up a mini-fix for the month of June because this quarter has been a wild one. I'm only 2 months into the quarter and it feels like it has lasted 6 months! I must step back and regroup so I can strengthen my focus. Basically, I'm de-cluttering my mind of useless stuff so I can tackle the important events coming up this month.

This quarter I started strong with an R&R out the door and the rest of the story to revise. It's been about 2 months since I sent the R&R out and I am in "wait mode." So much of this business is about waiting and being patient, but while writers wait we must do only one thing: write some more. So I finished the rest of the revision, sent it off to my CP, and tackled her critique 3 chapters at a time. I have three more chapters to go and I'm finished this round. That's on the table for the first part of this week.

While I revised this book, I entered another contest (which still requires an entry LOL), learned I finaled in the Fab Five, and attended a great workshop. I returned home in mid-April ready to work my tail off. Then the first detour in my road occurred. Sick kid. Mono. She's been home for about a month and a half now. I've got to admit, it's put a cramp in my writing style. You see, I am a bit spoiled. She's a teenager who drives so I was used to the days being mine to do my work. I had to work around her doctor appointments, caring for her, organizing school work, and canceling a lot of her "life" till she got well.

But as Nora Roberts says, glass balls are more important than rubber ones. My daughter's health, my daughter period, is glass. Fragile, precious glass I cherish. Writing will always come second to my child. Always. She needed me. I was there for her. I still am. I managed to revise a bit more, but a week after my child's diagnosis, the skies opened up and all he!! broke loose in Alabama. 28 tornadoes in 1 day. The most terrifying day ever. I don't think I'll ever forget the sirens, the dark skies, the sudden pop above my head after an eerie silence, or the complete sense of helplessness.

We were lucky. We didn't suffer any damage or injuries and I'm so grateful. But my writing did suffer a setback. Not just because of the time lost, but because my heart was aching. I was sore. Sad. I just wanted to reconnect with my friends. Talk. Sleep. Be still. Pray. And so I did. I gave myself permission to take a bit of a break.

I took a look at the crossroad in front of me and went left instead of right. I enjoyed the journey. I played with a new story idea, came up with plot points, index cards, and just had fun. I ignored the revision for a bit. And that was great. I reevaluated my future writing projects. I relaxed. Well, I relaxed for me. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a "relaxed" kind of gal. In the midst of all of this there was still the sick kid, still the doctor visits, still the desire to create, still the household to keep up, still the new diet to cook dozens of meals for......... and so the relaxation was more of a pit stop here and there punctuated with bursts of work.

Of course, my part of my idea of relaxing was to take a break from revisions and plan a new story. In the midst of story boarding my next novel, I managed to snag a couple of great editor and agent appointments at the RWA National Conference. Usually Nationals are in July, but this year the conference is June 28-July 2. I have very little time to prepare for it because of, oh, the above paragraphs. But that's okay. I can pull it off. I plan on pulling this off after I finish the first draft of my next book, and after I tour two more colleges with my darling teen (who is slowly mending despite another minor health setback).

See, this post is just a rambling thing about LIFE. Life is happening. All The Time. And somehow, we writers, we must continue to write despite the many distractions. And the only way I know how to do that is to have a plan. A map. Of course, the map can't prepare us for every detour and crossroad that comes our way, but it can give us a place to refer to when we get a little lost. And sometimes a new map needs to take the place of the old map.

That is what I am doing this week. I'm gearing up to make a new road map. I'm reevaluating my goals, my priorities, my ongoing "to-do" list.

How often do you reevaluate your goals? Do you tweak them regularly or only change them once a year?

Friday, May 20, 2011

4 Hour Body-Skinny for NYC Check In Time & Recipes

Well I had a fabulous Cheat Day last Saturday, but I've noticed an interesting thing: I can't eat as much of the "bad" stuff as I'd like to eat!! I think this is a neat trick. You think you're going to gorge, but it's impossible to do so when the time comes. I do graze a bit more, but I can't even stand more than a few fries now. And I wasn't able to eat more than half of the amazing Smokehouse burger from Ruby Tuesdays. But, man, it tasted super delicious!!

The hardest part about this diet is the fact that we're not allowed fruit. This makes it difficult to try some recipes that I'm itching to make. However, I'm sticking to it almost religiously till I reach my goal. Once I reach my goal, then I'm adding back a little fruit and some complex carbs. I miss couscous and wild grain rice blends. I don't need them every day, but they are a nice addition to the meal. But as long as I am striving to get skinny, there is no way I'm going to blow it!!

I'm posting some recipes and I hope to get more from you.

Moroccan Grilling Rub from The Huntsville Times Food Section

1/4 c kosher salt (I think this is too much--I'd cut by half or more the next time I make it)
1 tsp. ground pepper
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. all spice (I used a teaspoon because I couldn't find mace and a recipe site said to substitute nutmeg or all spice for the mace)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground mace (or nutmeg or all spice if can't find it in store)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon

Blend well, store in air tight container. Makes half a cup.

I rubbed this all over two pork tenderloins and had plenty leftover for another meal. We grilled the pork and it was delicious!! I served the pork with the turkish spiced meatballs and roasted cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 bag frozen cauliflower, thawed and drained
non-stick spray oil
garlic powder
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray pan with oil. Toss the cauliflower with the spices, place in pan. Roast till slightly browned, turn as necessary.

Moroccan Chicken

1-2 tbsp. moroccan rubbing spice
juice of three lemons
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 chicken breasts halved through the middle
green onion chopped for garnish

Combine lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and Moroccan rub. Whisk till thoroughly combined. Place cut chicken pieces in large plastic ziplock bag or glass bowl. Add marinade and cover all chicken pieces. Marinate 4 hours or overnight. Heat oven to 350 degrees, remove chicken from bag/marinade and place in shallow baking pan. Roast till juices run clear. Serve with sprinkled green onion and your choice of vegetables. Delish!

One Pot Cannellini Florentine (Bush Brothers & Co. Recipe)

4 slices bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon, already cooked and cut it up)
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained (you can use canned but I chose not to)
1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, small strips
1-2 tsp. dried basil
crushed pepper flakes
shredded parmesan cheese (we omitted due to diet)
crispy onions (we used dehydrated, non fried onions that were super crunchy and delicious)
olive oil if using already cooked bacon

In large sauce pan, cook bacon over high heat OR add 1-2 tbsp. olive oil and heat. Then add bacon, onion, garlic and cook till slightly browned and tender. Mix in spinach and saute for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except for crispy onions and parmesan. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. (This stays warm in pot for a long time). Serve with onions and cheese (if allowed on diet).

I loved this dish. It was colorful and filling. I'm keeping an eye on Bush Brothers' Bean Recipes--they know what they are doing!!

Porchetta-Style Pork Loin with White Beans from  MEN'S HEALTH Magazine

3 garlic cloves, minced
grated zest of two oranges (I figure zest is not a fruit LOL)
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 pork loin (about 2 lbs. with a a think layer of fat still attached)
2 cans cannellini beans (also called great northern or white beans), drained and rinsed
juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On cutting board, combine garlic, orange zest, and 1 tbsp of the rosemary till it forms a paste. Scoop it up into a small bowl and add olive oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper then rub paste all over the pork. You can let this sit up to four hours in the fridge. Place pork in roasting pan, insert thermometer, and bake at 450 degrees till the thermometer reads 160 degrees F. (about 30-40 minutes).

Take meat out and let it rest for ten minutes. Meanwhile, in saucepan heat the beans, lemon juice and remaining rosemary (1/2 tbsp) till warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice the pork and serve with the beans.

We loved this dish and plan to make it again. I also like to take herbs de provence and roll pork loin in the spices, then sear in olive oil, then bake at 400 degrees till the thermometer reaches 160 degrees F. Very fragrant and super delicious.

This week I also peeled parsnips and sliced them on the diagonal, then roasted in pan where I'd just seared the pork loin. I added the parsnips to the baking pan and roasted them with the pork loin. The parsnips got a nice caramelization which gave them a sweet taste (and on this diet any amount of sweetness that doesn't come from sugar is welcomed!). Totally yummy.

As always, I measured myself. Here are this week's stats:

Waist: down .5
Hips: same
Upper Right Thigh: same
Upper Left Thigh: same
Bicep: same

Total Inches Lost this Week: .5
Total Inches Lost to Date: 10!!

So the losses aren't as monumental, but the numbers are going down. I didn't expect to lose off my thighs or bicep. And I wasn't expecting any major losses off the hips or waist. I wasn't able to work out as intensely due to a sore shoulder, but I did walk a lot, so I feel good about the entire week.

So share your successes or frustrations with me about your weight loss/diet goals. And if you have any good recipes bring them on!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Break out the Bubbly and the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Lexi George's Debut Novel DEMON HUNTING IN IN DIXIE

Please join me in welcoming my fellow Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie friend, Lexi George, to the veranda as we celebrate her amazing first year in publication. Lexi's book DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE is available and I can't wait to read her book. So *pop* and pour, sizzle and sip with me as we toast another fabulous writer and learn about Lexi's journey to publication.

You weren't always writing about demon hunting pixies. How did you end up becoming a writer? 

I started writing in the third grade—bad poetry about hydrangea bushes and Erik the Red. I wrote poetry all through high school and college. And then I decided to go to law school and the words dried up. Law school does that to you. Sucks all the goody out of you. I started writing again when my oldest child was a toddler. This time I decided to try my hand at a novel, a romantic fantasy. I knew nothing about fiction writing. Never took a class or read a book on writing, just started writing and loved it. So, I’m self-taught. I joined a writer’s group about five years ago and that was a tremendous help. Getting feed-back and constructive criticism is essential, in my opinion. You can’t write in a vacuum, not if you want to get published. There are rules and you have to learn about them before you can break them. 

About five years ago, I started the querying rounds with my first book, trying to get an agent. I got rejected. Big time. Something like a hundred ‘no thanks.’ Discouraged, I decided to try my hand at writing a romance. The book took a year to write and the result was Demon Hunting in Dixie, a paranormal romance about a feisty small-town florist who meets an ancient, inter-dimensional demon hunter in pursuit of a rogue demon. The book was a total surprise. When I started writing it, I thought it was going to be dark and angsty. But it quickly morphed into something else. This snarky voice came out of me that I never knew existed. It was amazing and liberating.

Probably all that pent up repression from law school. The book is way more funny than serious. Who knew? Certainly not I.

I love how your voice morphed into a funny, snarky writer. Is this how you write as well? Are you a muse at heart or a plotter? 

I am a pantser with plotter envy. Wish I could plot the whole thing out before hand, but that’s not the way I roll. I start with the hero and heroine and the basic premise of the story—small town girl meets sexy demon hunter in pursuit of a rogue demon, chaos to follow. I usually knock out 50 or so pages to get a feel for my characters and then I get nervous and sit down and come up with a list of plot points. After that, I wing it for a while and try to connect the dots. About three-fourths of the way through, I sit down and sketch out the remaining chapters to make sure I get everything in, and so I know how it’s going to end.

Oh, that sounds familiar. And it's hard work. So how do you relax after a writing day? 

Truthfully, I haven’t relaxed since I sold the book last year. I work full time and now I’m trying to write full time as well, so it has been hectic, but wonderful!

You've been on a wild ride, but a fun one, too. Do you have time to read and what do you enjoy reading? 
I fell in love with romance at the age of 13, when I discovered Georgette Heyer. She is a definite influence, even though I don’t write regency. Love her sly humor and quirky characters. I also love Jayne Ann Krentz in all of her various manifestations. Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels had a huge impact on me. She makes me sigh. I also love the Carpathians in Christine Feehan’s books; fell in love with the concept that they can’t see colors until they meet their lifemate. I loosely patterned the Dalvahni after them, in the sense that they are humorless and emotionless . . . until they meet the right gal.

I’m also a big fan of the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. Love her zaniness. She makes me laugh out loud. Charlaine Harris is another favorite. The Sookie Stackhouse novels—genius!

Lexi'e beautiful novella cover.
And I am something of a fantasy geek. Lord of the Rings is high on my list, as well as The Belgariad by David Eddings. Those books definitely influenced my tendency to write about an ensemble of characters. I’ve read all the Harry Potter books multiple times. I’m a huge HP nerd.

Your bookshelf almost matches mine! What is your current project? 

I am finishing up book two in the demon hunter series. It’s called Demon Hunting in the Deep South, and it’s the story of Evie and Ansgar, who are secondary characters in the first book. It has been a challenge to write, because Evie is the polar opposite of the heroine in the first book. Evie is shy and self conscious. She thinks she’s fat. I finally had to tap into my inner teenager, the girl who HATED her body and oversized feet in middle school, to get inside Evie’s head.

I'm glad you're exploring body images with your new book. There are lots of women who will completely relate to your heroine! Any new releases? (For later) 
Yes! I have a novella coming out in August in the Kensington anthology So I Married A Demon Slayer. The novella tells the story of Bunny Raines, the Hannah librarian, and Rafe, the hunky demon hunter who falls for her. Book two of the demon hunter series will be out next year!

Where do you get your ideas for your stories? 

The idea for the demon hunter series came about quite by accident. I was in a bad place with the fantasy romance I had written and looking for a change and a challenge. There was a writing prompt on a romance site: write the first chapter of a paranormal romance and get feedback. I decided to give it a whirl and came up with the idea of demon hunters in a small South Alabama town. It kind of grew from there.

How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”

I have been writing for 16 years and actively seeking publication for five! It’s been a long, bumpy road, but well worth it.

How did you celebrate the new book contract? 

Called all my friends and family, and squealed. Put it on the Southern Magic loop and squealed some more. Walked around in shock for days!

I love squeal days!! I remember the day you announced your "call" on the loop. I was so happy for you. How did you celebrate the “call?” 

I got The Call on March 11, 2010. I was on my way to the doctor for a recheck because I had broken by foot in two places in February. I fell off my shoe. It’s a talent, I know. Anyway, a friend was driving me and my sad, casted foot to the doctor when my cell phone rang. I almost didn’t answer it, because it was an out-of-state call. I figured it was a wrong number or one of those Nigerian bank schemes. I answered the phone and, boy, am I ever glad I did! It was Megan Records with Kensington calling to offer me a three-book deal! Good thing I wasn’t driving. I would have wrecked the car! I called my husband first and then everybody else I knew. I was a nervous wreck

Do you have an agent? 
Yes! I did it backwards: sold the book and then got an agent. My agent is the fabulous Jill Marr with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency in California. It is a gi-normous relief to know I’m in such good hands. Having an agent frees me up to worry about writing and the things that go hand in hand with it, like doing this blog!
What advice would you give aspiring writers? 

Read, read, read, and WRITE! Writing is a craft and it’s a muscle that gets stronger with exercise. Try to write something every day, whether it’s a blog, a short story, an essay, poetry—whatever. Check out some of the wonderful craft books on writing out there. Stephen King’s On Writing is an excellent one. Take advantage of the Internet. There is a wealth of knowledge available at your fingertips on everything from structure and plot to POV and dialogue tags. Join a writer’s group or start one of your own. Even if you don’t all write the same thing, it will jazz you to be around other writers, and you will learn from one another. Brain storming with other writers is great. A writer’s group will also teach you to give and accept constructive criticism.

I'm a firm believer in joining writing groups. We're so lucky to have Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie here in Alabama. We build each other up during the darker days. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
Rejection sucks, no two ways about it. I’ve received over 145 rejections, so I am familiar with the feeling. It stings. It hurts. It knocks your feet out from under you and throws you into a spiral of self doubt. Give yourself a day to pout and sing the “I Suck” song, then shake it off and get back on the horse. Remember that writing is subjective. You cannot write a book that will please everyone. Write the book you want to read. Name an author, classic or otherwise, that everybody loves universally. You can’t, because people have different tastes. You are going to be rejected on the road to being published. After you get published, guess what? You face rejection again! There will be reviewers that love you and those that hate you. You will work with editors who want you to revise your manuscript. You may submit a proposal on your next fabulous series idea and get rejected on that too. But, don’t give up. If you give up, you will lose. Believe in yourself and persevere. Writing is not for wimps.

"Write the book you want to read." I have that as a quote in my office. Great words to live by. What is the most difficult part about writing for you? 

Finding the time! I work full time and I have a very active teenage daughter. Also, I have the concentration span of a gnat, so I need quiet to work. Writing at work is a no-go for obvious reasons. Writing at home is difficult because I am constantly interrupted by the telephone, the family, and the dogs wanting in or out of the house. Arggh! Still, I manage to carve out a chunk of time to write on most days. Have to, because a deadline loometh!

As for the actual mechanics of writing, I find beginnings to be the most challenging, trying to decide where and how to start the story without boring the reader with an info dump or confusing the heck out of them.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received The Call? 

It was all pretty surprising, truth be told. I walked around like someone had dropped a safe on my head for three weeks after I got The Call. I’d been striving toward that goal for so long, and had decided it wasn’t going to happen for me . . . and then it did.

My editor also surprised me by asking me to write a novella right off the bat. I was given three months to write a 30,000 word novella. I’d never written a novella and I was pretty nervous, but I plunged right in and made that first deadline. That was a huge relief!

I'm so impressed by your work ethic, Lexi. I'm glad you are focused on writing your wonderful books because they are fun to read. Thanks so much for dropping in and visiting me on the Veranda. And today one lucky commentator will win a copy of Demon Hunting In Dixie. Thanks Lexi!!!

Lexi George is an appellate lawyer by day and a romance writer by night. Her debut book, Demon Hunting in Dixie, a paranormal romance about a feisty small-town florist who meets an ancient, inter-dimensional demon hunter in pursuit of a rogue demon, is available now from Brava Books. Her novella, The Bride Wore Demon Dust, will be part of the Halloween anthology So I Married A Demon Slayer available from Kensington in August, 2011.

Visit Lexi’s website at

Demon Hunting Dixie is available from:,,,,, or your favorite retailer. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heart of Dixie Online June Workshop: Okay... I Confess....

Another fun Heart of Dixie Online Workshop. Learn how to make money by doing the things you love to do!

Okay... I Confess: Watch TV, Shop at the Mall and Surf the Internet to Make Money
June 6-20th
Marilyn Puett
Cost: $20

Course Description:  While it may sound like an infomercial for a get rich quick scheme, Okay… I Confess offers information and tips on how to create a source of outside income by writing short stories for the confessions and romance magazines.  This two-week workshop is geared for writers who want extra income while waiting to sell their first book, are between royalty checks or simply want an extra income stream.

This course takes students step by step through writing a confession.  It begins with learning the market, developing hooks and compelling story lines and structuring a story properly.  By the end of the course, students should have a story ready for submission.

Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to submit the first few pages of a story they start during the class and have the pages critiqued by published writers.  Two stories will be selected toward the end of the class to receive a full critique.

Instructor Bio:  Marilyn Puett has sold over thirty-five stories and a half-dozen short feature articles to the confessions and romance magazines.  Her other writing credits include Bylines Writers’ Desk Calendar, stories on the Long and Short Reviews website, and an article called “Short Shorts – Not Just a Fashion Statement” was featured on the Writing for Dollars website.  She is a three-time NaNoWriMo winner, and Harlequin SuperRomance requested a partial for the book she wrote for NaNo in 2008.  Marilyn is a member of Heart of Dixie RWA and has served RWA on both the local and national levels.  A founding member of The Writing Playground, a website for aspiring writers (, she lives in her empty nest in north Alabama and dotes on her granddaughter.

Friday, May 13, 2011

4 Hour Body-Skinny for NYC Check In Time

This week has been so much better than last week. First of all, I was able to work out 4 times and I was able to follow the diet plan. I had a fabulous Cheat Day on Mother’s Day. We went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I enjoyed the biscuits, the hash brown casserole, the jam, the juice, the ketchup—everything! I was full on breakfast, but five hours later I had some amazing brie cheese, Dubliner Cheddar, delicious pear, and then my Darling Teen and Darling Hubby made me a fabulous pasta dinner which they’d chosen from the Disney Cookbook. I was so full by the time I finished eating that there wasn’t room for the dessert my Darling Teen had planned to make us. But I’ll eat that tomorrow for my next Cheat Day.

Cheat Day makes this diet easier to follow. I won’t lie. I live for Cheat Day.

I did the Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred program this week. I am up to Level 2!! It’s a tough workout, but I like it better than the Level 1 workout. I think it uses more muscle groups and burns more calories, too. And I’m in a hurry for results so I’m glad I can puff my way through this tough workout. I also went to Zumba class two times. I was so happy to see all my Zumba classmates and to see that none of them had incurred major damage due to the April 27 tornadoes.

This week I tried a new recipe using a Moroccan rub. The rub was great, but a bit too salty, so I’ll try it again with less salt. It called for kosher salt, cinnamon, all spice, cardamon, coriander, white pepper, ginger. Once I fine tune the recipe, I’ll post it on this blog. I rubbed this onto pork tenderloin, then grilled the tenderloin. I also made Mediterranean meatballs using a Turkish spice from Penzey’s spices. They were delicious. I served them with a canellini bean salad and roasted cauliflower. Yum!! We also had steak this week. Today I plan to serve up chicken with the leftover Moroccan rub along with more bean salad and veggies.

I’m feeling pretty good about the results I’m achieving thus far. I have a pair of skinny shorts I’d bought five years ago when I was ahem skinny, and I’m trying them on once a week to see how they are fitting. I couldn’t pull them over my hips before we went to Disney World in March. Now I can pull them over my hips. My goal is to be able to wear them this summer and have them fit comfortably, not tight, but just right. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here are my stats for the week:

Waist: down .5 inches
Hips: down .5 inches
Bicep: same
Upper Right Thigh: same
Upper Left Thigh: same

Total Inches Lost this Week: 1
Total Inches Lost to Date: 9.5

I’m sooooo happy to see a downward trend in the hip and navel area. This is the toughest place to lose. I don’t expect to see much downward movement in the thigh and bicep areas. They are about as skinny as they were when I was at my best size 5 years ago. So now I’ll see losses where I want to see them the most!

So how are you doing with your weight loss and get healthy goals? Are you sticking to your plan? Are you seeing results?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Break out the Bubbly and the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Wendy S. Marcus's Debut Novel WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN'T ENOUGH

Please join me in celebrating a wonderful friend's debut medical romance WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN'T ENOUGH. Welcome to the Veranda, Wendy. I'm so glad you're here to share your writing journey. *Pop* pouring champagne....

Hi Christine! Thank you so much for having me at your blog today. You’ve been through so much lately and I’d like to start off by saying how thankful I am that you and your family made it through such horrific storms without injury.

So let’s get started.

      How did you end up becoming a writer?

Unlike a lot of writers, I didn’t pen stories in my youth. And to tell the truth, I wasn’t much of reader, either. That came about later in life, at a school fundraiser, when I found an old Harlequin Superromance in a box filled with children’s chapter books. I purchased it and threw it in the car to pass time while waiting for my children to finish with their dance/gymnastics/baton/soccer/baseball/hockey practices. With that first book I got hooked ravenously reading every romance I could get my hands on. Then came the inevitable terrible – in my opinion – book and I thought, I can do better than that. So I started writing.   

Oh, I love Harlequin Superromances. They are fabulous stories. When you write, are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?

When I start a story I loosely plan out the beginning and end. That’s the extent of my plotting. Sometimes, in the murky middle, I curse myself for not doing more.

Ah, the dreaded middle! I know it well. When you're not writing, what do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?

I read contemporary, historical, and some light paranormal romance. There are so many authors whose work I enjoy. But if I had to limit it to, say, five, they’d have to be Robyn Carr, Susan Mallery, Victoria Dahl, Lisa Kleypas, and Suzanne Brockmann.

Fabulous authors. I love them all. Do you have any new releases?

On May 1, 2011, my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, When One Night Isn’t Enough, went up for sale in the UK on the Mills and Boon website. In June it goes up for sale in UK bookstores and in July it goes up for sale in Australia and New Zealand bookstores and online in the U.S.

 I read the reviews on the Mills and Boon web site and the readers love it! I have to get the book today. Wendy, how long were you trying to get published before you got ‘the call’?

I started writing in 2007, at night after my family went to sleep, and I sold in October 2010.

Was ‘the call’ an actual phone conversation?

Yes, two actually. My agent called me first then told me to wait for a call from my editor who works in England. I was totally stunned and don’t remember much of either conversation. Luckily my editor followed up with an e-mail so I had confirmation it wasn’t just a dream.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Practice and perfect your craft. Take classes. Go out into the writing community and mingle, don’t just lurk. And most important, read the types of books you like to write. Stay current on what’s out there and what’s selling.

What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?

That’s a tough one. All I can say is rejection is a part of the publishing industry. You don’t have to like it but you do need to learn to deal with it. I’ve heard of multi-published authors who have had proposals and even finished books rejected by their editors. It hurts. And it does NOT get any easier. My suggestion is scream out your frustration, preferably when alone. Then get in touch with some of those friends you’ve made in the writing community for support. (You’ve been a great one for me!) And indulge in something that makes you happy. But only for twenty-four hours. Then shake it off and move on. The editor/agent who is a perfect match for your manuscript is still out there, and you have to get back to work trying to find him/her.

Thank you for your kind words. I completely agree that a writing support community is vital to keeping a writer motivated and in the chair.  What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Avoiding distractions while I write. I am constantly hopping on the Internet, checking my emails, and Twitter. I wouldn’t spend near as much time on the computer if I’d just stay focused and write for a solid three hour block of time. I just can’t seem to do it.

Tell me about medical romance. Do you have to be a nurse to write it?

I write for Harlequin Medical Romance which is published out of their Mills and Boon office in England. The circulation is international. Right now the U.S. is one of their smaller markets which is why medical romance books are only available online to U.S. readers. But I’m hoping as more Americans become familiar with the line and realize what great books we put out, that will change. And no, you do not have to be a nurse to write for medical romance. While our stories take place in medical settings with medical personnel as the hero and heroine, like all category romance, our focus is on the primary romance relationship, not blood and guts or sickness and injury. In fact we’re told not to get too technical and to keep the medical scenes in the background. If you’re good at research, you can write medical romance.

I think Medical Romances are wonderful. I order them online all the time. Of course, your book is next in line! I hear you’re running a contest. Would you tell my followers more about it?

As part of my blog tour I’m running two contests with four chances to win gift cards to Amazon. Please visit my website: for more information. While you’re there, check out an excerpt for When One Night Isn’t Enough. And please, check me out on Amazon. My U.S. release should be up for pre-order soon.       

Now to get the conversation going. Have you ever read a Harlequin Medical Romance? If yes, what did you think of it? If no, why not? And would you consider making mine your first? I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about medical romance, and one lucky commenter will win a copy of my 2in1 UK release which includes a full novel by Author Janice Lynn. 

Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us today, Wendy. I love your cover!! Very sassy. I think a lot of people will want to learn more about these stories!! And if you want to beat the rush to order Wendy's book here in the USA, go to the Book Depository where the book will be offered as of June 3!! Woohoo!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Post Its On my Wall

I am a very visual person, so I have a lot of little visual cues taped to the wall above my lap top desk. I also have a list of things taped to the inside of my closet door that motivate me. Not all of the post its are about writing. I also have sheets of information and quotes posted on my wall and inside my closet door. I thought I'd share what I currently up on my "working wall."

Cooler to Picnic-that's for my neighborhood picnic next week. I also have to bake cupcakes. I'm looking forward to the picnic.

Wendy-Celebration Blog-Wednesday, May 11: another friend is debuting her first medical romance with Mills and Boon. I can't wait to share her story with everyone.

Character Chart--Traits for current H/H and how they change throughout the course of the story. Major turning points are listed. This is for part of my revision process--deep revision, not little line edits.

Character Reaction/Order of Events: 1) physical 2) thought 3) dialogue 4) purposeful action BE VIVID
What I love about this is I read it somewhere in a blog and it has helped me as I try to ramp up the writing of the story. This will stay up on the wall--probably make it into my WRITING CRAFT BIBLE.

Need more conflict in Tycoon. Premise clear? in Chapter 4 Paige and Kendra state what the conflict is for Alex and Sarah internally. I have to add that--read somewhere to do that--it made sense.

A long list of scenes in Tycoon where I want to ADD words, make the writing better. I have this penchant for creating weird lists and goals that just make me feel like I have some measure of control, but really, I don't. Not till I wrestle it into shape.

Write the book you want to read! Got this from a blog Tawny Weber posted about in Twitterland. Love that quote.

Two post-its about agents I want to query. My passwords to yahoo, and blogger because I can't ever remember them. My Disney ID number. Query Tracker's PW, A post it with Enid Blyton written on it. I loved her books when I was a girl. Would like to read them again. My RWA# (though for some reason I do have that memorized).

In addition to the post its and tiny reminders, I also have Michael Hauge's Six Stage Plot Structure taped to the wall, Tami Cowden's from Lust to Love sheet, the 12 Stages of Intimacy, my calendar week printed and taped to wall with tasks on it, and a Donald Maass quote.

"I hope that your measure of success will be not the gratification of getting an agent or seeing your name on the cover, but putting together a novel of real depth--of having something to say and saying it in a story with lasting power." Donald Maass

The inside of my closet door has a list of my strengths, things that make me smile, my successes, a James Michener quote, a Delle Jacobs' quote, and a letter from a friend telling me how much she admires me.

Some strengths include: persistent, self-motivated, hard-working, organized, goal setter, eager to learn, willing to ask for help, supported by my family.

Some things that make me smile: flowers, walking with a friend, sunshine, petting my cat, spending time with my family, the Dowager Feline Clancy.

Some Successes: Graduated Top of Dean's list, teaching myself to be a parent, writing despite multiple changes and upheavals, supporting myself since I was 16 (that's a blog for another day), finaling in contests.

The object of goals is getting there... the object of dreams is the journey. Delle Jacobs

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him it is always both. James Michener

But the most important thing I have on my wall is this sentence from my friend: I just want to tell you again what a great mom you are and a great dad (DH) is. You have a wonderful daughter who is happy and enjoys being with you and who you can trust. 

So that's what is on my wall. What's on your wall? Do you need visual cues? How are you motivated to get the job done?

Friday, May 6, 2011

4 Hour Body: Tornado Survivor's Guide

On Wednesday, April 27, my area was hit with 21 tornado warnings over a 16 hour period. We lost power at 4:30PM. No lights, no cooking, no sound other than a small transistor radio which kept us informed about the NEXT tornado band's approach. I had been on a pretty good roll with 4 Hour Body diet and exercise in place. However, the 4 Hour Body was the least of my concerns on that day. We had cake for dinner. The next day we grilled all the meat and had meat for lunch and dinner. We also had cookies, cheese, tortillas, bread, you name it. Frankly, who cares? The thing about the 4 Hour Body is that it doesn't really offer much in the way of comfort food when one, well, needs comfort. We were spared. You can read about my experiences here and here.

After we cleaned out the fridge and threw out about $600 plus of food, we drove to Nashville to ride the rest of the week. We had no Internet or cell phone service and a sick kid so we felt it best to go to a place with power. We arrived at our friends' house and were immediately surrounded by good cheer (read LOTS of wine) and fabulous southern comfort food. My friend loves to make full, hot breakfasts. We had bacon, quiche, pancakes and hash browns two days in a row. We ate ribs, grilled bbq chicken, steak, corn casserole, chocolate bomb cakes, amazing banana bread. The 4 Hour Body went out the window. We didn't care. We were alive.

See diets don't matter when one is in survivor mode. One eats what one has and that's that. I was also unable to exercise which impacted me as well. However, I did a lot of running around because of the tornadoes and I believe my adrenaline was pumping a lot. I didn't  notice any weight going around the middle, but honestly? I didn't care. On Monday we left our friends and went to a hotel in Franklin, Tennessee. I began to make small changes again. My lunch was healthy and followed the plan as did dinner (but I admit I did eat the roll that came with the Cobb Salad). The next day we had McDonalds for breakfast. I ate an Egg McMuffin and I enjoyed the hash browns, too. When we got home, we had to clean the fridges with hot water, etc., then I went to the store. I immediately implemented the 4 Hour Body plan, but I am not going to lie: wine consumption was still higher than allowed by the plan.

I haven't been able to exercise yet because the YMCA is offering hot showers to those who still have no power. I did go for a walk with darling hubby on Wednesday. I wore workout clothes yesterday, but didn't work out. Today? I hope to go for a walk again.

I did notice that my jeans, the smaller ones, fit just fine yesterday and my stomach is not bloated at all. I'm happy about that for sure! My hope when I measured this morning was to see no UP on the numbers. I was pleasantly surprised! I lost another inch and a half. None off my hips or navel area, but that's okay. At least I didn't increase due to all that yummy comfort food.

So without further ado, here are my stats:

Total inches lost this Week: 1.5
Total inches lost to Date: 8.5

I hope to be more on plan and get the belly flab down -- that is the hardest place for me to lose weight and usually the last. I'm just very grateful that I didn't gain despite all the yummy food I indulged in eating.

I hope you are all doing great on your plans! Check in and let me know if you're still on track for getting Skinny for NYC this summer!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

RELIEF After the Storm

We're home. Finally. We arrived home to power and the ability resume our lives. We cleaned out our fridge and freezer, cuddled the kitties, went to the grocery story, cooked our own food, and slept in our own beds.

We were spared major upheaval. We were incredibly fortunate. I don't know why, but I am grateful. Others were not so fortunate. Many have lost everything. And my heart goes out to the families. There are a lot of people helping in the relief efforts. People cleaning up debris and taking care of the families who are in the most devastated areas of our state.

Even if people can't help in person, they can help by donating money to the relief efforts. If you feel compelled to help, please click here for more information. The Alabama Red Cross is a reputable organization.

I'm in awe of the power of these storms--tornadoes are vicious and non-discriminating creatures. I am still processing a lot. I know other survivors are processing a lot. I'm sleepy. I'm craving sugar. I'm shocked. I'm grateful. I'm sorrowful. I'm weepy. I'm glad. I'm stressed. I'm relieved.

These emotions are just part of healing. Another part of healing is resuming life. I'm beginning to write. I'm enjoying my home. I'm starting to read other people's writing.

Life is a gift. I always try to live it to the fullest. Now I have more reason to be positive and to strive to be a light in the world.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Powerless in Madison

We've been without power for several days, but we aren't directly coping with it because we're in Nashville till it is restored. There are several neighborhoods around my neighborhood that are back to power thanks to the hard work of the Huntsville Utilities Board. I'm not sure how they are restoring it or what their plan for restoration is, but I hope people can hang tight till they are back on the grid.

Today we head to a hotel, then back to Madison to check on our kitties. The HU has asked us all to prepare our homes for when the power comes back on. We have to unplug small appliances, unplug the computers, turn off lights, and cut the breaker to the hot water tank. All this to prevent damage to our stuff. In a way I am glad we don't have power because I've got to get home to get these things done.

It's weird being a nomad. I haven't written a word. I've talked about writing. But no time to write. And that's okay. This waiting time is okay. I'll be back in front of my computer soon enough. Others will not be so lucky.

We may not have electrical power, but we have other powers to draw from as we weather the next few days. Throughout all of this I hope to maintain a sense of humor and a measure of patience along with a huge dollop of gratitude.

We are beyond lucky!