On Exploring Creativity

At a recent workshop, one woman commented, “Everything you’ve suggested sounds great, but what if you’re not naturally creative. What happens then?” Several other participants nodded in agreement and looked to me for answers.

I didn’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about whether or not creativity was an innate trait. Instead, I suggested that it was never too late to explore creativity and launch second, third, and fourth acts in life. I then shared three strategies that have helped me on my writing journey.

Continue reading on Rebecca Marino’s blog.


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Lady Honor’s Top Ten Healing Herbs

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Madelyn Hill to the Power of 10 series. Today, Madelyn shares ten healing herbs and her latest release, Highland Honor.

Here’s Madelyn!

Lady Honor MacAlister is a healer. Her innate healing ability allows her to sense which herb is right for any malady.

1. Ginger – Lady Honor uses ginger for upset stomachs, building immunity when one is ill, and even to apply to a cut or sore to help it heal faster.

2. Willow Bark – Lady Honor uses Willow Bark as a pain reliever that is steeped in a tea.

3. Lavender – Soothing in a tea to help calm someone or help with sleeping.

4. Honey – Lady Honor gathers honey from the Bee Boles to use in teas for soothing throats, but also as a barrier to prevent infection. Honey offers antibacterial properties.

5. Camphor Oil – Not readily available in Scotland as a natural resource, but available for purchase in larger cities such as Edinburgh. Aids colds and consumption, think Vicks Vapor Rub.

6. Onion – Used in poultice to help with congestion and can prevent scurvy.

7. Catnip – Helps the body release heat from a fever and relaxes muscles and induces sleep.

8. Chamomile – Makes a calming tea and with other ingredients can be a soothing tonic.

9. Fennel Seeds – Helps with stomach upset, helps lower blood pressure, and treats respiratory issues.

10. Valerian Root – Has anti-inflammatory benefits, reduces stress, and calms anxiety.

*Please note, I am not a doctor and you shouldn’t try any of the above mentioned remedies without consulting your physician.

Hook: Lady Honor MacAllister can heal everything but a broken heart . . .

Blurb

Lady Honor does not believe in marriage. Her father’s death broke her mother’s spirit and took her from her daughters emotionally well before her own death. When Honor is attacked in the forest, she keeps the event to herself, lest her lairds search for the man and strike him down. As a healer, she’ll do anything it takes not to cause harm. Rumors of attacks in the Highlands forces the lairds to increase guards and security measures. When Bryce Calder is assigned to protect Lady Honor, she fights the burgeoning attraction for the man, knowing she’ll never risk her heart to love.

Warrior Bryce Calder trusts no woman. Women only strive to better themselves through cunning, as his father warned throughout his childhood. When he is asked to escort Lady Honor while she gathers healing herbs, he is vexed. Training the men and protecting the clan are his duties, not following the sharped-tongued lass about the wood. With each passing day, Bryce becomes enchanted by Lady Honor, despite his father’s words, but his unworthiness halts any proclamation of his desire.

An unlikely partnership develops during the frequent trips to the forest and work in the apothecary. The walls each has erected to protect their hearts and their future crumbles. Until a stranger arrives at the keep. Lady Honor’s secret is threatened to be revealed putting in jeopardy the growing romance between the ardent healer and the reluctant warrior-suitor.

buynow

Author Bio

Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she’d sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a “closet” writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn’t be happier!

A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They are busy with their 3 children and a puppy named Cannoli! They love to cook, go to the movies, and hang out with friends.

Where to find Madelyn…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | GoodReads | Amazon Page | Instagram


Rebecca’s Power of 10 List…This is NOT a Diet!

I’m happy to welcome author Rebecca Marino to the Power of 10 series. Today, Rebecca shares ten rules for losing weight and her latest release, The Drive.

Here’s Rebecca!

(Disclosure—I am NOT a health professional or a dietician. I’m a teacher/author who loves to eat chocolate and peanut butter.)

April rolled around in Indiana after a snowy winter. In one week the high temperature changed from 31F to 68F. Time for a drastic wardrobe change. I pulled several pairs of shorts from my closet and not one pair fit comfortably…My favorite pair were impossible to get into. I finally squeezed into last summer’s ‘loose shorts’ and decided I really needed to do something. Diet??? UGH!


I had all kinds of excuses…

• I’m a preschool teacher and work five days a week
• I’m an author and have been doing a lot of sitting while writing and revising two books
• I hit the golden age of 50 in February
• I run two to three times a week…isn’t that enough?
• I found some REALLY yummy dessert recipes on Pinterest that I just had to try–(and eat the entire batch)

There are more excuses too embarrassing to mention…

BUT, not only was I unable to zip my FAVORITE pair of shorts…I couldn’t squeeze into 90% of my shorts. I jumped on the scale and my eyes bulged almost as big as my protruding gut….I had gained 10 pounds in the past 6 months.

I HAD to do something about this because I couldn’t bear to place my favorite shorts in the Goodwill pile!

I turned to the internet and Googled every diet and exercise program I could find. Everything was commercialized…buy this food…buy this book…buy this exercise program…Diet and exercise is EXPENSIVE! The before and after pictures were encouraging, yet every success story had a small print disclosure stating, ”These results are not typical.”

Hours later I decided to not ‘diet’. I had watched a ‘Good Eats’ by Alton Brown episode a few years back about how he lost weight without being on a ‘diet’. He lost 50 pounds by changing the way he ate…without totally giving up sweets and carbs.

I LOVE bread and I LOVE chocolate and I LOVE peanut butter. Giving those foods up completely was not an option. I knew if I wanted to wear my shorts again I’d need to severely limit my intake of those precious commodities.

I also researched exercising and found out when you exercise is important for weight loss. The best time to exercise to burn fat is first thing in the morning BEFORE you eat. I didn’t increase my running (two to three times a week) because the research showed the best workouts for weight loss were NOT running…they were High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Strength Training. I decided to include a short Tabata workout (The Seven Minute workout on Youtube) and 25 minutes of strength training three times a week.

With a lot of will power and the following 10 rules…I changed my eating habits with the goal to lose those ten pounds. Here’s my POWER OF TEN list…Remember…this is NOT a diet!

1) Eat oatmeal for breakfast. Not the little package kind. Straight oats with water and a dash of cinnamon and almond or vanilla extract. I either cook it on the stove or microwave it. It’s not the tastiest breakfast, but it keeps me full.

2) Eat a mid-morning snack, a mid-afternoon snack, and an evening snack in addition to three small meals. Snacks I choose included: a protein shake (easy to drink at preschool) or a plain rice cake with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, or a handful of almonds or walnuts, or carrot sticks and humus, or a half cup of plain Greek yogurt, or an apple, or a piece of deli turkey wrapped in a piece of cheese, or any fresh green veggie.

3) Eat as much fresh green vegetables as possible during your six meals/snacks. Spinach, Kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, etc.

4) Drink a gallon of water every day. This one is REALLY hard. Most days I didn’t drink the entire gallon…but I found if I carry a water bottle around I come close to drinking a gallon.

5) No snacking in between the three meals and three snacks. AND no eating after 9:00 pm.

6) No added sugar. Read the labels. If sugar is an added ingredient…don’t eat it.

7) No high carbohydrate foods. (Oatmeal, brown rice, and ancient grains like quinoa are slow burning carbs—GOOD. Bread, potatoes, pasta, basically anything with flour in it—NOT GOOD).

8) Limit fresh fruit to one serving per day. Fresh fruit has a lot of natural sugar in it. Berries are the best with the lowest amount of natural sugar.

9) Treat yourself! Eat two servings of bread OR pasta each week…not per day… Two servings per week. That means one bun and one small cup of macaroni in seven days.

10) Treat yourself! Eat dessert once a week or alcohol once a week…make it worth it and keep the proportion small. Desserts taste so much better when you only have one a week!

During the first week I was shocked that I wasn’t hungry. Yes, I missed sweets and breads and potatoes at first, but quickly noted my energy levels had gone up instead of down. The water and the veggies really helped me feel full all day. I even had a hard time remembering to eat my healthy snacks three times a day.

After seven days…I got on the scale…I had lost 5 pounds! My shorts still didn’t fit, but the weight loss gave me some serious motivation to continue.

After three weeks…I remained at a 5 pound loss….UGH! At first I was very frustrated BUT….my shorts were beginning to feel MUCH looser!

After four weeks…I had lost 7 pounds and my shorts were zipping without me taking huge deep breaths!

After six weeks…I remain at the weight loss of 7 pounds…but ALL of my shorts fit comfortably!

I’m very happy after nine weeks….despite remaining at a 7 pound total weight loss. I’ve talked to a registered dietician and she noted my 3 extra pounds is probably added muscle from working out. I lost the fat but gained muscle which helps my body burn fat around the clock—even while I’m sitting. Cool!

Did I ever cheat? You betcha! I had two desserts one week (chocolate brownie and fresh strawberry short cake) I also ate a piece of yummy bread at a restaurant before I ate my grilled shrimp, broccoli, and green beans. I’d remind myself, “It’s okay to cheat once in a while, just don’t make it a habit.”

I accomplished my goal of fitting into my clothes without losing all ten pounds and that is OKAY because I feel new strength in my arms from the muscle I developed. My biggest takeaway is my new awareness of ingredients in the foods I’ve eaten mindlessly for so long. With a little preparation and planning I eat more foods that are healthier and make me feel better.

Plus, I learned how to eat to feel full, yet remain in moderation without completely giving up chocolate and peanut butter. Now that is sweet!

Here’s my favorite snack.

5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

2/3 cup peanut butter (I use natural crunchy)
½ cup Hershey dark chocolate chips
1 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup ground flax seed
2 Tablespoons honey

Combine all 5 ingredients in a bowl. Stir. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to make it easier to roll. Roll into 12 bites and store in a zip baggie in the fridge for up to a week. (I use my small cookie scoop which makes 16 smaller bites.)

I found this recipe at ChefSavvy

I LOVE to try new recipes and read mystery/thrillers so feel free to share your favorites in the comments below. Thanks, Joanne for hosting me today!
Keep reading, writing, and indulging (every once in a while).

Blurb

Three last words…Trust No One.

Kasey Carter’s life changes forever when a mysterious flash drive arrives on her doorstep. Three people with connections to the drive are soon murdered. With evidence in hand, the police and FBI quickly close each case.

A year later, Kasey finds the drive hidden, along with a note from her husband. ‘Deliver this to FBI Agent Dylan Rogers. Trust no one.’ Within hours of contacting Rogers, she finds herself on the run from an organized crime ring, the police, and the FBI.

Who can she trust?

A heart-pounding, action-packed tale of nail-biting suspense that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

buynow

Free on Kindle ~ Wednesday, June 20 – Friday, June 22

Ms. Marino has crafted a riveting thriller filled with nail-biting suspense, multiple murders, romantic tension, and plot twists. I was impressed by the descriptive detail, heart-pounding and action-packed scenes, and smooth handling of multiple POVs. I strongly recommend setting aside large blocks of uninterrupted reading time. You won’t be able to put down this gripping page-turner.

Next, please!

Bio

Rebecca Marino is a preschool teacher, author, and mom of three, almost-grown kids (four if you count my husband of 26 years). I read and write suspense novels and children’s picture books while eating chocolate and peanut butter.

My novel, THE DRIVE is a Suspense Thriller, taking readers on a non-stop ride full of mystery, murder, and unexpected twists from the very first page.

Website | Facebook


On Stepping Out of Time

A non-athlete, it took me a while to find a preferred physical activity, but once I discovered yoga, I was hooked.

That was nine years ago.

Since then, I’ve gone off the “yoga wagon” several times—interestingly enough right before prolonged writer’s blocks—but have now settled into a practice that both challenges and centers me.

Continue reading on the Buried Under Books blog.


All About Baci Perugina

When a book blogger asked me to compare the Gilda Greco Mystery Series to chocolate, I had no problems coming up with the perfect answer: Baci Perguina, the most famous chocolate brand in Italy and popular with Italians worldwide. Perugina’s signature recipe includes whipped milk chocolate, gianduia filling, and chopped hazelnuts all in bittersweet chocolate. Each bacio (kiss) comes individually wrapped in silver and blue packaging and hugged by a poetic love note.

The three books in the series—A Season for Killing Blondes, Too Many Women in the Room, A Different Kind of Reunion—contain romantic elements, humor, and bittersweet moments…A perfect fit for Baci Perugina!

Continue reading on Peggy Jaeger’s blog.


10 Interesting Facts About Parry Sound

Having grown up in what is often called the “Other Ontario,” I thought it was time to let cozy mystery readers discover the beauty and tranquility of the North.

Or maybe not so tranquil.

Seven murders have already taken place in the first three books of the Gilda Greco Mystery Series.

Books 1 and 2—A Season for Killing Blondes and Too Many Women in the Room—are based in Sudbury.

Book 3, A Different Kind of Reunion is based in Parry Sound. Today, I’m providing ten interesting (and not so well-known) facts about this picturesque town on the eastern shores of Georgian Bay.

Continue reading on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog.


In Praise of Older Protagonists

In my late forties, I realized that I no longer enjoyed reading novels with twenty-something and thirty-something protagonists. It felt like poking into the heads and hearts of young women who could easily be former students. While searching for novels featuring an older crowd, I discovered several late-blooming authors (Maeve Binchy, Frank McCourt, Louise Penny) who had launched successful second acts. Inspired, I decided to populate my essays, stories, and novels with Boomer women and their older sisters.

At first, I wrote primarily for the non-fiction market but later gravitated toward cozy mysteries and paranormal romances. The protagonists in both series were fifty-something women facing transitions into unexpected second acts.

Continue reading on Anna Dowdall’s blog.