A Lie That Holds Us Back

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to receiving their daily emails. Here’s a recent message that will resonate with all age groups:

“Starting over is not an option!”

That’s a lie many of us hold on to until the bitter end.

The idea of starting over being a bad thing is baked right into the fabric of our society’s education system. We send our children to a university when they’re 17 or 18, and basically tell them to choose a career path they’ll be happy with for the next 40 years. “But what if I choose wrong?” I remember thinking to myself. And that’s exactly what I did, in more ways than one.

Over the years, however, through bouts of failure and hardship, I’ve learned the truth through experience: you can change paths quite often in life. Yes, starting over is almost always feasible, and it’s oftentimes a pretty darn good choice too. Of course, it won’t be easy, but neither is being stuck with a lifelong career you naively chose when you were a teenager. And neither is holding on to something that’s not meant to be, or something that’s already gone.

The truth is, almost no one wins a game of chess by only moving forward; sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win. And this is a perfect metaphor for life. Sometimes when it feels like you’re running into one dead end after another, it’s actually a sign that you’re not on the right path. Maybe you were meant to hang a left back when you took a right, and that’s perfectly fine…

Let go of what’s been done and grow from it!

Of course, that’s much easier said that done. One of the absolute hardest lessons in life is letting go – whether it’s guilt, anger, love or loss. Change is never easy – you fight to hold on and you fight to let go. But letting go is generally the healthiest path forward. It clears out toxic thoughts and choices from the past and paves the way to make the most positive use of the present. You’ve got to emotionally free yourself from some of the things that once meant a lot to you, so you can move beyond the past and the pain it brings you. Again, it takes hard work to let go and refocus yourself, but it’s worth every bit of effort you can muster!

Truth be told, inner peace begins the moment you take a new breath and choose not to allow uncontrollable past events or decisions to dominate you in the present. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin…

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Light Through the Pouring Rain

I’m happy to welcome author James Ruvalcaba. Today, James shares his new release, The Light Through the Pouring Rain.

Hello, I’m James Ruvalcaba the Author of The Light Through the Pouring Rain and I’m here today to tell you 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Light Through the Pouring Rain. My story is an emotional story that details the trials and tribulations of a couple battling a cancer diagnosis. So, now I want to give you a “behind the scenes” look of the top 10 things you didn’t know about my book.

1. I wrote this book in one month.

During the Covid lockdown, I found myself stuffing my face with Oreos and washing them down with pop-tarts. I noticed some weight gain and needed a change, so I began to establish a routine. I would walk and then write. With a clear mind, the ideas flooded the pages as I wrote. Next thing you know the book was complete in a month.

2. There is a longer version of the book.

I originally wrote a 400-page version of The Light Through the Pouring Rain, but after sampling the book to the younger generation, they informed me that “400-pages is too long.” I decided to trim the book to what it is now – 150-pages.

3. Tik Tok & SportsCenter inspired the new length of the book.

After sampling it, I thought I shouldn’t worry about others’ thoughts of the book, but then I thought of the length of Tiktok and highlights on SportsCenter. The shorter the better, so I made sure to cover the highlights of our story and made sure it stayed true to the message.

4. Kobe Bryant inspired the book cover.

When it was time to come up with a direction for my book cover I had communicated that I was looking for something that was artistically similar to the animation that was used for Kobe Bryant’s live poem “Dear Basketball”. After one simple conversation, my illustrator got it right on the first try.

5. All included in the story declined to be named.

Out of respect to all involved in my story, I asked if they would like to be named, but all unselfishly thought it would be best for my name and my fiancée Anabel’s name to be the only ones included so readers would walk away only remembering our two names.

6. The story told is very true but was originally going to be taken in a different direction.

Throughout our process, my fiancée Anabel and I attempted to document as much as possible with hopes to use our story to inspire others to continue to push forward in their battles and appreciate their loved ones. Unfortunately, that story didn’t get told but was planned throughout the cancer process.

7. The story is out because of a friend.

After completing my story I had no direction where to go or what was next, so on one particular day I was followed on social media by an Author (that will remain nameless) or I should say my friend and one direct message later on social media the rest was history. It’s due to her that my book is out and available. Without her, my book may still be sitting on my computer waiting to be released. I will be forever grateful to her.

8. My book was fully completed within a week.

I was very blessed to be connected to a very amazing group of individuals that had a quick turnaround on my book. From the editor to the book cover illustrated they had my book up and ready for release within a week.

9. I released my book with no marketing.

Due to excitement on just being able to come through on my promise I made to my fiancée in our last moments, I released the book as soon as I could. I only made one Instagram post about it and released it immediately afterward.

10. My book came out on December 21st in honor of my mom.

My mom was the MVP of the entire story and without her, I wouldn’t be here today. So as an honor to show my mom my token of appreciation I wanted to tell our story on her birthday. Mom, if you are reading this, Thank you for everything!

About the Book

A remarkable love story that pulls on your heartstrings and leaves you inspired. A page turner that gives a first-hand look into the lives of a young couple madly in love and eager to start their lives together, only to have it all halted by a cancer diagnosis. With no clear road map on how to navigate their new normal, James and Anabel proceed into uncharted territory, hand-in-hand, with the love of their families and their faith in God to guide them.

Book Trailer

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Before he started writing romance stories, James worked with the Special Needs population for 10 years. He devoted his life giving back to the population. From schools to agencies and everything in between, James has worked almost every job within the community. After that, during the pandemic James decided to start writing to pass the time, but to come through on his promise he made years earlier. He devoted his life to giving back, now he devotes his life to telling his stories.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon gift card. Find out more here.

Advice from Elizabeth Gilbert

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Inspirational advice for all writers and wannabe writers from best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert:

Happy National Live Creative Day!

Today is National Live Creative Day, a day set aside to dream, discover, and invent. Consider resurrecting an old hobby, participating in a favorite pastime, or exploring a new passion.

If you’re feeling stuck, here are ten quotes to spark your imagination:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”
Maya Angelou

“What keeps life fascinating is the constant creativity of the soul.”
Deepak Chopra

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” Erich Fromm

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Jobs

“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Sophia Loren

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.” Pablo Picasso

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

When a Sequel Burns to be Written

I’m happy to welcome author Brenda Marie Smith. Today, Brenda shares an interesting post about sequels and her new release, If the Light Escapes.

After I’d written If Darkness Takes Us and was querying it to agents and publishers, it was time for me to start a new novel. I considered several story ideas, but the only one that captured me was a sequel to If Darkness.

“Don’t do it!” more experienced writers told me. “Never write a sequel to a book that hasn’t been sold yet. Publishers don’t like it.”

But I had this compelling world I’d created, and a cast of characters I had carefully crafted until, to me, they had lives of their own. I couldn’t just abandon them. They’d be hanging there in stasis waiting for me to return and breathe more life into them.

I know this isn’t actually the case, but that’s how it felt to me. They and their world exist in my head, and my mind refused to ignore them. Besides, I had more plans for them. Not to mention that it’s easier to start with characters you’ve already drawn than it is to start from scratch. It was almost as though I couldn’t stop myself from writing a sequel. So, I gave up trying to refrain and started writing.

If Darkness centers on a grandmother named Bea who is keeping her four grandkids when a solar pulse destroys modern life, then their parents don’t return home. She has to teach the kids how to survive without power, cars, phones, or running water. In that story, Bea’s grandson Keno stands out as a complex older teen who is suffering but heroic in the face of it all.

Keno was the character I wanted to focus the sequel on, but because he was so young, I was worried he wouldn’t be able to carry the weight as the protagonist of an adult novel. I needn’t have worried. Keno’s eighteen-year-old voice poured out of me so fast that I literally couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with him. I wrote a 120,000-word first draft in 27 days. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and I wouldn’t expect it to happen again.

Of course, 120K words is much too long for a novel in the apocalyptic genre, so I spent months and months refining the story and trimming it down. Meanwhile, I won the 2018 Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest for If Darkness Takes Us, and the prize was a publishing contract. My first ever, from SFK Press.

I had to set If the Light Escapes aside while I focused on publisher edits for the first book and then on marketing it. Then, we had a pandemic. Still, I managed to get a contract from SFK for If the Light in the summer of 2020, and have spent much of 2021 working with an incredibly good team of editors to make it shine. The ARCs are going into production now in early June, and I’m getting more excited by the day.

It’s important to me to write what compels me. I’m not sure I could write a decent novel any other way. In this particular case, it’s working out well that I ignored the advice I was given. But even if I’d never found a publisher for either book, I would still be satisfied for writing what was burning in my heart.

Blurb

A standalone sequel to IF DARKNESS TAKES US

A solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid fourteen months ago. Everything’s gone: power, cars, running water, communications, all governing control and help—gone. Now northern lights have started in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong. The universe won’t stop screwing with eighteen-year-old Keno Simms.

All that’s left for Keno, his family and neighbors is farming their Austin subdivision, trying to eke out a living on poor soil in the scorching heat. Keno’s still reeling from the the death of his pregnant sister. His beloved Nana is ill, Grandpa’s always brandishing weapons, and water is far too scarce. Desperate thieves are hemming them in, yet he can’t convince his uncle and other adults to take action against the threat.

Keno’s one solace is his love for Alma, who has her own secret sorrows. When he gets her pregnant, he vows to keep her alive no matter what. Yet armed marauders and nature itself collude against him at every turn, forcing him to make choices that rip at his conscience. If he can’t protect Alma and their unborn child, it will be the end of Keno’s world.

IF THE LIGHT ESCAPES is post-apocalyptic science fiction set in a near-future reality, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.

Excerpt

FROM CHAPTER 3

A huge sliver of moon rises to the east, lighting up the park and Alma’s face with an orange-yellow glow. We pull ourselves up and sit wrapped together on top of the monkey bars like we rule the planet, gazing into our dark subdivision, on the southern edge of our emptied-out city, in the middle of the scary*** world.

“Keno? Alma?” Bobby Carlisle calls from the street. “Y’all come home. Now!”

The crickets and tree frogs have gone silent. I hear Bobby cock his rifle thirty yards away. …Alma and I gape at each other, and then we run.

When we reach Bobby in the street… I scan the trees behind the swings and monkey bars, half a football field away.

Before the sun zapped us, those trees would’ve seemed pretty. Tonight, they’re creepy. I’ve been too worked up about Tasha and Mom to even think about watching the tree line. As bad as things sometimes get around here, I’m still not totally used to life post-apocalypse and the never-ending vigilance.

“I don’t see—”

“Shh!” Bobby aims his rifle…

I shudder and run my eyes back and forth among the trees. With all the different-sized trunks in the deep shadows, people could be hiding in there and blending in.

“There!” Bobby hisses, pointing to the north edge of the trees. And I see—what?… Two pairs of feet… Then …metal flashes in the moonlight. Behind me, Alma gasps. I pull my Glock, flick off the safety, and aim.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio and Social Media Links

Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.

Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their own limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count.

Her first novel, Something Radiates, is a paranormal romantic thriller; If Darkness Takes Us and its sequel, If the Light Escapes, are post-apocalyptic science fiction.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Goodreads

Giveaway

One randomly chosen winner via Rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card. Find out more here

Follow Brenda on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Spotlight on A Pride of Brothers: Aiden

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning, multi-published author Peggy Jaeger. Today, Peggy shares a short post about eidetic memory and her new release, A Pride of Brothers: Aiden.

Here’s Peggy!

Alexis “Lexi” Buckley, my heroine in A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: AIDEN has what is called eidetic memory. The easiest definition of the term is the ability to recall images in great detail after seeing or reading something once.

Along with this image recall, some eidetics can also remember things that have happened to them in chronological order or they can tell you what day of the week any date in any year fell upon.

Giving Lexi eidetic memory served an important plot point for me because when she reads something just once, she remembers it exactly, and this helped her and Aiden discover who was behind the killing of her sister in the book. It also didn’t hurt that she was able to get earn her Ph.D at a young age due to her amazing memory.

Famous people in history — and even today — who claim/claimed to have this gift include:

Leonardo da Vinci
C.S.Lewis
Nikola Tesla
Teddy Roosevelt
Rachmaninoff
Marilu Henner
James Spader

Blurb

Lexi Buckley wants answers about her younger sister’s death. The police have labeled it a suicide, but Lexi doesn’t believe it. Stymied in her investigation, she doesn’t know where to turn next. After a chance encounter with a private investigator, she thinks her prayers have been answered.

Aiden Keane has never been an answer to a prayer before, but he agrees to help Lexi. A quirky combo of brains and beauty, the pixie blonde makes him feel things no professional ever should for a client.

When their investigation puts Lexi’s life in jeopardy, her safety becomes his number one priority. The hard part is not falling for her.

Excerpt

Were you close with your sister?” Aiden asked.

Not the way we should have been. Not at the end.

“We had a sizable age difference between us. Almost ten years. I was the big sis. The oldest.” Her lips trembled when she pulled them into a sad line. Rolling her eyes she added, “The bossy one, according to her. She was the baby and took full advantage of her status from the moment she realized it.”

“And rightly so.” The corners of his eyes crinkled. “I’m the youngest of my brothers and I’ll can tell you with one hundred percent honesty, my oldest brother is the bossiest one of us. I think it comes with birth order. Although he takes his so called right uber-seriously. Especially at work.”

This time her grin was steadier. “What kind of business do you all own together?”

“We a run a private security company.”

“Security?”

“Personal bodyguards, if a client needs protection from something. Background checks for employers. Mostly we do investigations.”

“What, like private eyes? Like on television?”

He laughed. “Nothing so glamorous. The fast cars and hot babes are all fantasy. It’s a lot of boring research, computer work, and surveillance, but yeah, you could say I’m a private eye.”

Lexi’s entire mood turned on his words. The sorrow flew, the hurt dissolved. Even her nervous trivia-speak went dormant. She sat bolt upright, her knees bumping against the tabletop when she shifted. Excitement shot from her system as she turned her body, placed a hand across his forearm and declared, “Oh, my God. You’re the answer to my prayers.”

Book Trailer

Universal Buy Linkhttps://books2read.com/u/braGJZ

Bio

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go “What??!”

Where to find Peggy…

Website/Blog | Twitter | Amazon | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram | BookBub | You-Tube

Cover Reveal: The Texan’s Favor

I’m happy to reveal the cover of D. K. Deters’ novel…

A stranger’s path, a broken promise, and a second chance…

Blurb

Ambushed, Texas Ranger Jake Fontaine’s a dead man until a Kansas spinster raises her shotgun in his defense. Despite the rogue lawman’s obsession to bring in his brother’s killer, duty demands he escort her to the next town.

Kat Collins is a thief, though an honorable one. She’s on the run from controlling kin and aims to escape her past. Traveling with Jake offers the perfect cover—until her uncle finds them sharing a campfire and imposes his own kind of justice—a wedding.

Marriage will cost Jake his freedom but refusing may cost him his life. Kat figures he’s bound to recognize her on a wanted poster. Would sharing passionate nights in his arms be worth the peril?

Excerpt

“Not that it’s any of your affair, Ranger, but I’m goin’ to St. Louis. I didn’t plan for any delays. You were in trouble, and I tried to help.” She lifted her chin. “Although you bein’ a Texas Ranger and all, I’d think you would’ve had the upper hand.”

He stuffed his hat back on. Contrary to his usual confidence around women, she baffled him. “Lady, you’re riding a horse to St. Louis, alone?” Stubborn woman, someone should be responsible for her welfare. Was Emmett involved with her decision?

She slammed the coffeepot to the smoking fire and a moment later stomped across the ground separating them. At over five-and-a-half feet tall and her boot heels adding an extra inch, she dug her forefinger into his chest. “Ranger, you question where I’m going? Don’t forget you’re in Kansas. Don’t Texas Rangers ride in—Texas?” She stretched the word Texas and placed her hands on her hips. “Did you lose your way?”

Her words strained his good intentions. He leaned forward, wrapped his hands around her thin wrists, and murmured, “Honey, it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever lose my way to Texas.”

Available for pre-order on Amazon and Apple Books

About the Author

D. K. Deters is a fantasy and historical romance author. She was a communications consultant before turning to a writing career. Like many historical romance authors, she’s always had a deep interest in history, and the nineteenth century is her favorite. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her adult children and their families. Her hobbies include restoring old dollhouses and secondhand furniture. Christmas is her favorite time of the year. Her debut eBook, Christmas Once Again, was also published by The Wild Rose Press.

Connect with D. K. Deters

Amazon | BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | Website/Blog

Four Hard Choices That Make You Happier in the Long Run

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A longtime fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to receiving their daily emails. Here’s some excellent advice for these challenging times:

You need to do hard things to be happy in life. Because the hard things ultimately build you up and change your life.

And, strengthening the mind is the hardest thing you need to do for yourself…

Think about the most common difficulties we as human beings deal with in our lives—from lack of presence to lack of exercise to unhealthy diets to procrastination, and so forth. In most cases, difficulties like these are not caused not by a physical ailment, but by a weakness of the mind.

Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed yourself in hundreds of little ways over time, of course you’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have a choice today…

1. You can choose to be present when it would be easier to pick up your phone.

2. You can choose to do a workout when it would be more comfortable to sit around.

3. You can choose to create something special when it would be quicker to consume something mediocre.

4. You can choose to invest in yourself when it would take less effort to procrastinate.

You can prove to yourself that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life.

Mental strength is built through lots of small, daily victories. It’s the individual choices we make day-to-day that build our “mental strength” muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but we can’t wish our way to it. If you want it, you have to create positive daily rituals—mind-strengthening rituals—in your life that reinforce what you desire.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

Excerpt Tour: Life On Your Terms

I’m happy to welcome author and life coach Tanya Russell. Today, Tanya shares her new release, Life on Your Terms.

Blurb

What a shame it would be to come to the end of your life and look back and say, “That was it?”

Life on Your Terms is a practical blueprint for how to feel fulfilled while creating the life you imagine. No matter what situation you find yourself in today, there is a bright future waiting for you. Applying the skills and practices in this book will launch you to that place and beyond, faster than you ever imagined possible.

In this practical guidebook, the author compresses decades of lessons learned from her wins and failures as a businesswoman and single mother into actionable steps to achieve the life you truly desire. Once bankrupt but now financially free, her courage, faith and strong desire for something more for herself and her children have driven her to seek out ways to create exactly that.

Don’t live the same day every day and call it a life. Apply these foundational principles and rewrite your future today.

Excerpt

Money Mindset

I wish I could say I learned my lessons quickly but the pain of the loss of my dad and not having a good understanding of finances led me to make some foolish financial and life decisions. At 23 I filed personal bankruptcy. Life was not at all going as planned! So where does one go from there?

This was the beginning of my money mindset transformation. I had some basic knowledge and had read some books on the subject by this time, but I wasn’t following that advice. The trigger and major changes happened at two different seminars that I attended during my 20s.

The most powerful change occurred at a Jack Canfield event. I was sitting near the front, taking in everything he was saying about success. Then he began talking about being a millionaire. At that time, I had mounds of debt and no real plan on how I would ever get to millionaire status! I could barely comprehend the enormity of a million dollars, let alone believe I could attain it.

It was the following few minutes that changed my financial beliefs forever. He went on to ask the crowd what we might be willing to sell one of our kidneys for, or maybe a piece of our liver, and what we thought our left arm would be worth to an insurance company if we lost it in an accident. (FYI the average worker’s compensation benefits for losing an arm in the USA was $169,878 in 2015 according to a 2015 article in propublica.org.)

The final question was about how much we would sell our eyes for. I immediately thought, “There’s no way in a million years I’d sell my eyes for any amount of money!” At that very moment, my belief about myself and my financial value changed. I was already a millionaire! I had a set of eyes worth well over a million dollars to me. It was that small click in my brain that evening that launched me forward.

Believing in the possibility of being financially successful is the first step. Maybe this simple exercise changed your views as it did mine. Or is there some other belief about yourself and wealth that is holding you back?

Purchase Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Bookshop | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Smashwords | Kobo | Apple Books

Author Bio and Links

Tanya Russell is a successful multi-business owner and life coach. Her passions are her family, continued personal growth, and empowering others to live their very best lives. Tanya enjoys fast cars, motorcycles and travelling. She is currently enjoying the Okanagan lifestyle in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway

Tanya Russell will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Tanya on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.