How to Practice Letting Go

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.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Here’s a timely segment from last Friday’s blog post:

Imagine you’re blindfolded and treading water in the center of a large swimming pool, and you’re struggling desperately to grab the edge of the pool that you think is nearby, but really it’s not—it’s far away. Trying to grab that imaginary edge is stressing you out, and tiring you out, as you splash around aimlessly trying to holding on to something that isn’t there.

Now imagine you pause, take a deep breath, and realize that there’s nothing nearby to hold on to. Just water around you. You can continue to struggle with grabbing at something that doesn’t exist… or you can accept that there’s only water around you, and relax, and float.

Truth be told, inner peace begins the moment you take a new breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate you in the present. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin again.

Read the rest of the post here.


Top 10 Ways to Embed Carrots Into a Recipe

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Julie Howard. Today, Julie shares tips on embedding carrots into recipes and her novel, Crime and Paradise.

Here’s Julie!

Okay, this is a strange topic. But Joanne has this “top ten” list theme on her blog, and this came immediately to mind.

I love carrots. I love my children. But when my kids were little, they didn’t like carrots. As any good mother would do, I tricked them at every opportunity into eating plenty of these vitamin-laden vegetables. Over the years, I became an expert into sneaking carrots into recipes.

My children are now grown, but I still sneak carrots into a variety of dishes where they wouldn’t normally belong. Now I deal with a husband who hates cooked carrots, so I’m still up to my old tricks.

1. Chili – I dice them up and toss them in. They get soft during the hour or so the chili is on the stove or crockpot. With all the other strong flavors in chili – from garlic to red peppers – the carrots add a delicious hint of sweetness.

2. Enchiladas – Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce is my favorite, but I love adding a hefty variety of vegetables to the mix. My enchiladas are 2/3rds veggies to 1/3 chicken, and of course I never forget the carrots.

3. Zucchini or pumpkin bread. It’s easy to add a little extra veggie to these breads, and grated carrots keep them moist.

4. Lasagna – Same as enchiladas. I dice them up, give them a quick saute, and sprinkle some in. I love adding a few extra veggies to lasagna, even zucchini or spinach. I’m careful not to overdo it though as too many veggies can make your lasagna watery.

5. Potato latkes – I don’t make these too often, but when I do, I grate some carrots in. They add a nice color to the savory pancakes and a bit of sweetness. I’m not sure why more people don’t do this.

6. Smoothies – You need to cook the carrots first so they are soft and will blend well into the rest of your ingredients. I’ll make a fruit smoothie and add in a carrot for extra vitamins, and you’d never know it was there.

7. Salads – I’ll grate a raw carrot and add to a salad. Those tiny orange tendrils add a beautiful color to a green salad without overwhelming the flavor.

8. Stuffing – This isn’t weird at all! I’ll microwave a carrot until it’s soft, dice it up and add it. Stuffing can be so bland so it’s just begging for some variety – like some carrots!

9. Jello salad – I’m not the first in my family to trick kids to eat carrots. My mother added shredded carrots to Jello salads all the time. This is a tried-and-true way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

10. Carrot cake – I’m going end this on a sweet note. I love carrot cake, a dessert that is unabashedly carrot-based. I learned quickly not to call it “carrot” cake when my kids were little. Anyone want some cake?

Voila! And eat your veggies.

Blurb

Meredith has been uprooted to the middle of nowhere with two kids and an abusive husband. After she fantasizes about ways to kill him, he ends up dead. Despite all the evidence pointing to her, Meredith finds an unlikely supporter and friend in the county sheriff. Together, they uncover some ugly truths about her husband and this small, isolated town.

Can Meredith make this place a new home for her family, or will the real secret behind her husband’s death send her away for good?

Amazon | Apple | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime and Spirited Quest series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. Now she edits an online anthology, Potato Soup Journal, and spends many delightful hours writing her books.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub | Twitter


Movie Review: I Still Believe

Based on the memoir of Christian music star Jeremy Camp (K. J. Apa), I Still Believe chronicles the singer’s whirlwind romance with Melissa Henning (Britt Robertson).

Jeremy, a musically-gifted student from a financially-strapped Indiana family, meets his hero, Jean-Luc La Joie (Nathan Parsons), within hours of arriving at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Southern California. Flattered and somewhat amused by Jeremy’s enthusiasm, the successful Christian rocker takes him under his wing.

Thrilled to have Jean-Luc as a mentor, Jeremy quickly absorbs all his advice and begins writing “love songs to God—mostly to God.” Jeremy also becomes smitten by Melissa, a special friend of Jean-Luc’s. A romantic triangle involving Jean-Luc, Jeremy, and Melissa takes up much of the first act. When the truth emerges, there are hurt feelings and awkwardness but no passionate or violent episodes.

The characters reconcile when Melissa is diagnosed with Stage 3C ovarian cancer.

At age twenty, Jeremy takes a semester off. He stands by Melissa throughout chemo, surgeries, public and private praying sessions, remission, and a beautiful beach wedding. In the third act, the cancer return, and Jeremy experiences a spiritual crisis.

I was most impressed by Apa’s performance. He did his own singing and playing of Jeremy Camp’s real-life compositions. My favorite: the title track, his tribute to Melissa.

I would have liked more scenes with Jeremy’s parents (Gary Sinise and Shania Twain). While Gary Sinise delivers one emotional father-and-son scene toward the end of the film, Shania Twain remains in the background. A long-time fan, I would have loved to hear her sing one song with Jeremy.

An appearance by the real-life Jeremy Camp, his second wife, and three children brought an effective end to the roller-coaster of emotions.

An uplifting film!


Writing in the Time of COVID-19

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.

Each Friday afternoon, I receive Funds for Writers, a free weekly newsletter from C. Hope Clark. Here’s a timely and thought-provoking reflection from a recent newsletter:

Before the COVID era, we moved like fish, the current and demands of survival directing us here and there to do what keeps us alive as writers. During this era, we aren’t certain what to do because the entire industry isn’t sure what to do. Even self-publishing, which was so sure of itself before the virus, hasn’t decided how to recuperate.

Now is the perfect time to decide who you intend to be as a writer.

But you don’t know what writing will be wanted, which publishers will still be alive, what topics will be in demand and which will have fallen off a cliff. But that is a good thing. You have no parameters. You have no directives. You have nobody telling you to write this or write that.

Now is probably the best, most wide-open time in your life to write what moves you.

I was told by a zillion people in my early years that nobody wanted to read Carolina Slade. Nobody liked a rural mystery. She was too quirky. I just turned in the fifth manuscript to the publisher, and a producer is working with a movie writer on a script.

The world doesn’t want more of the same. When it recovers from this virus, and when it starts shifting into a different normal way of life, there will be few rules of thumb. All will be different. That’s why you should start working on defining yourself now. Set goals. Work daily on those goals until they become habit. Suddenly you are a different person than before. . . probably closer to who you really are, because you have no shackles and no reins. You’re finally doing what you wanted to do.

Sign up to receive Hope’s newsletter here.


Spotlight on House of the Twelfth Planet

I’m happy to welcome poet and author Miriam Newman. Today, Miriam shares her latest release, House of the Twelfth Planet.


Blurb

To whom does Lela owe her loyalty: her own people or the Thelonian Lord who loves her?

Excerpt

Her last memory was of sleeping in Caius’s arms. Her first was of his face.

There were other faces, too—human faces unlike her Thelonian Lord’s. More like her own. Shrill beeping noises. Nearly unbearable lights and a cold, sharp smell.

“Just be patient a moment,” one of the human faces said. “We will have you out shortly.”

Out of where, Lela thought, but she could see hands and feel them on her, too. Strange sensations, not unpleasant, but…invading. Removing things from her skin. Through it all, Caius’s steady, calm voice kept her from utter panic.

“You are awakening from a long sleep,” he told her, and she could well believe it. How long could you sleep, to forget where you were and why?

“You are on board a space transport,” he told her. “I have been with you the whole time. Just let the crew help you.”

She lay still, hardly daring to blink.

“There,” a woman’s voice said cheerily. “All finished now. How do you feel?”

Lela’s stare fixed on her. A medico. Fully human, understandable, not a threat. Dimly, she remembered. This woman had given her a substance that made her sleep, with Caius in their tiny cabin accommodation. His heartbeat was the last thing she had felt before she slept. Now she was inside one of the sleeping pods she had seen the crew members use. They had gone into the long sleep, and so had she. There were others, around her, stirring and stepping out of their pods.

“Strange,” she told the medico, then looked past her to Caius. “How long have I slept?”

“Twelve years by our suns. But now we are coming into the orbit of Colony Twelve, where I believe the days and years are somewhat longer.”

She shook her head. She was a simple nonni-girl from Danaali, a farmer, not a learned person who would know such things. It was all very well for Caius to tell her. He had a law-giver’s degree. She was confused except for one thing: on Colony 12 she was no longer a slave.

Ten Things You Don’t Know About My Character

1) Caius was named by his father, a scholar familiar with Earth history who had an affinity for ancient Rome.

2) He is recognizably humanoid, but well over the height of an average denizen of Earth.

3) Like most Thelonians, Caius has caramel colored skin to protect him from Thelona’s two suns—the rising and ascending suns, equivalent to morning and afternoon.

4) Though his pupils are essentially normal and golden-colored by Earth standards, they can turn blood red under conditions of stress, temper or passion. This makes him intimidating to those unused to it—which is most of the universe.

5) He is the result of a political marriage between his parents—the requisite child to carry on the family name.

6) He was essentially raised by his parents’ slaves. In some ways, he incorporates their values superimposed on his patrician birthright.

7) The conflict with his parents that drove him still is not dead, even though his father is.

8) He once found a woman he could truly, deeply love and walked away from her. She married someone else.

9) He drinks too much and sleeps around too much, but he is secretly looking for the woman he will want to come home to.

10) He does not realize what a dangerous anarchist he is at heart—but other people do.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Lulu

Author Bio and Links

Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug. I bring that background to my writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18-year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where I nurture my muse. My published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance. Currently I live in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals. You can see my books at http://www.miriamnewman.com.

Website | Celtic Rose Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Giveaway

Miriam Newman will be awarding a $20 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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


Book Review: The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

In 1999, Sue Monk Kidd considered writing a novel about the fictional wife of Jesus Christ but ended up talking herself out of this daunting task.

Fifteen years later, she mustered enough audacity to put pen to paper. After four and a half years of researching and writing, she produced a mesmerizing novel written in the first person.

From the start, Ana’s voice rings loud and clear: “I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth. I called him Beloved, and he, laughing, called me Little Thunder.”

This was no ordinary woman.

Her father, Matthias, head scribe and counselor to Herod Antipas, suggests that her “talents were better suited for prophets and messiahs, for men who parted seas, built temples, and conferred with God on mountaintops.”

Her mother, Hadar, believes that a demon named Lilith had visited at birth and defiled Ana with unnatural tendencies.

Fortunately, Ana receives comfort and encouragement from her paternal Aunt Yaltha, a fascinating woman who experienced pain and tragedy but somehow found the courage to reassemble her broken life.

Inspired by Aunt Yaltha, Ana uses her formidable talents to chronicle the lives of neglected and silenced women. Her passion is evident throughout the novel: “To be ignored to be forgotten, this was the worst sadness of all. I swore an oath to set down their accomplishments and praise their flourishings, no matter how small.”

At age fifteen, Ana is forced to hide her parchments and scrolls and prepare for a betrothal to Nathaniel ben Hananiah, an elderly widower. At their first meeting in the marketplace, Ana faints and is rescued by a young, bearded man with remarkable eyes that exude generosity and kindness. Ana experiences an intense attraction: “My heart bounded up, along with an odd smelting in my thighs, as if my legs might give way once again.”

A series of unexpected circumstances (possibly manifested by Ana and Aunt Yaltha) follow, and the unwanted suitor dies from an illness. Considered a widow and defiled, Ana faces an uncertain future on the fringes of society. Another chance meeting with Jesus leads to a proposal. Anxious to be rid of Ana, her father gives his consent.

What follows is the author’s masterful attempt to fill that ten-year gap (ages 20 to 30) of Jesus Christ’s life. Ms. Kidd succeeds in demonstrating his humanity while downplaying his divinity. Jesus loves and worships God, but he is also determined to support his wife, mother, and family. Living in a crowded, multi-generational home has its challenges—limited funds, argumentative brothers, a resentful sister-in-law, a capricious goat—but Jesus rises above the fray.

The familiar events of Jesus’s life are retold through Ana’s eyes, as his wife and the sister of Judas Iscariot. Adding this twist to the narrative, created several subplots involving the conflicted man who would betray Jesus.

I highly recommend this compelling, multi-dimensional story about an extraordinary woman who refuses to be held back by a culture determined to keep her quiet and hidden.

Audio-Book Excerpt

Buy Links

Amazon (US) | Amazon (Canada) | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Note: Sue Monk Kidd is hosting a virtual book club for The Book of Longings during the month of May. Find out more here.