10 Things I Have Learned from Being an Athlete

I’m happy to welcome paralympian, speaker, author, and disability advocate Tricia Downing. Today, Tricia shares ten lessons learned from sports and her new release, Chance for Rain.

Aside from looking for love, my character Rainey Abbott, spends her time split between the ski slopes and the race track, chasing her athletic and competitive goals. One of the reasons I wrote Rainey as an athlete is because sports have been such a great part of my life, teaching me about overcoming obstacles and staying in the game even when things get tough. Sport has taught me:

1. The quicker you forgive yourself (and your mistakes), the quicker you get back in the game. How often have you beaten yourself up for making a mistake, not accomplishing a goal or doing something that you later thought to yourself, “Well, that was a dumb thing I said/did?” I think one of the greatest keys to success is to acknowledge a mistake (“yeah, THAT happened”), let it go (this is the hard one, because most of us tend to continually roll mistakes over in our minds), set a new course and refocus on the goal. The faster you can cycle through those steps, the faster you will get back on track.

2. You have to feel like a winner, even before you get to the start line. I have been an athlete nearly my whole life and I can tell you about the races I won or did well, and how the key was going to the start line believing that anything was possible. I can also name the events I went to doubting my preparation, my abilities or fearing my competition. Guess what? Those were the events that ended poorly. We are only as good as we believe ourselves to be.

3. Saying the word TRY is like having one foot on the track and one foot off. How many times have you said, or heard someone say they were going to “try” to do something? Once that word slips from between your lips, it builds in an automatic loophole…one through which you can escape to save face in case you don’t make it. Most of the time when we are worried about failing it’s not even about us. We wouldn’t be as afraid of failing if it weren’t for what we thought other people would think about us. Sports have taught me that whatever you’re going after, you have to own it to get it.

4. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to help you achieve a goal. Here’s where athletes and writers definitely have something in common. Whether it’s writing down my workouts, my successes or things I need to work on, my journal keeps me focused on what I am doing and working to accomplish. The same goes with writing. You can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment when you go back and see all that you have written and the ability to get words on paper. To everyone who says, “I could never write a book!” I say, you just have to sit down and start.

5. To Ride My Own Race. I think this is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. A fellow racer once said it to me, and I’ll never forget. There are so many things we don’t have control over. We spend time comparing ourselves to other people on social media, trying to be someone else, not thinking we’re good enough. But each one of us is on Earth experiencing our own journey and the most important thing we can do is honor OUR UNIQUE path and let it unfold. You can’t ride someone’s else’s race…only your own.

6. To take control. Resistance is typically due to fear. But if you’ve outlined your stretch goal, reverse engineered it and know where you’re headed, it’s time to take action. Think of a challenge you’re facing or a goal you have. What bold steps would you take if you knew you couldn’t fail?

7. To Be kind to myself. Have you ever listened to the voices in your head that tell you, you aren’t good enough? That you don’t have the talent to be a writer, a musician, a doctor, an engineer? Those words that we say to ourselves are often exactly what we get in the end. As an athlete I haven’t perfected the never-talk-negatively-to-yourself habit, but I am highly aware of it and when those bad thoughts seep in, I work to chase them out as quickly as they surfaced.

8. Consistency is a must. Whenever you want to be good at something or see the fruits of your labor, it takes discipline and regular attention. As an athlete, I know that if I don’t practice regularly my results mimick the effort I have put in. Same thing goes for writing. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

9. Work hard, do a little more every day, stay patient and don’t give up! I think this lesson explains itself!

10. When things get difficult, take off the dark lenses and try looking through some rose colored glasses. How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions: 1) As my Grandmother would say, “always count your blessings,” 2) Let yourself dream. Get out of your head or your body for a little while and think about the possible positive outcomes to your situation. Start by saying, “What if…” 3) Create a power statement that you can say to yourself every time things get tough for you. For example, “I am strong, able and nothing can get me down,” or “I am on an adventure, and will embrace the uncertainty because good things are going to happen.”

Blurb

Elite athlete Rainey Abbott is an intense competitor on the outside, but inside, she feels a daunting apprehension about her chances of finding true love. Her life as a downhill skier and race car driver keeps her on the edge, but her love life is stuck in neutral. A tragedy from her past has left her feeling insecure and unlovable.

Now that she’s in her thirties, Rainey’s best friend Natalie insists she take a leap and try online dating. Rainey connects with brian85 and becomes cautiously hopeful as a natural attraction grows between them. Fearful a face to face meeting could ruin the magic, Rainey enlists Natalie to scheme up an encounter between the two where Brian is unaware he is meeting his online mystery woman. Rainey is left feeling both guilty about the deception and disappointed by something Brian says.

When they finally meet in earnest, Rainey’s insecurities threaten to derail the blossoming romance. As she struggles with self-acceptance, she reveals the risks we all must take to have a chance for love.

Excerpt

“Sometimes going shopping is work,” Natalie announces as we head back to her house after a morning at the mall. “You can’t be creative when you’ve been jammed up in an office for five hours. You have to get out for new ideas to come to you.”

“I love how you can rationalize almost any of life’s indulgences,” I say. Nat turns and winks in response to my playful smirk.

“Life is too short to deny yourself all self-indulgent behavior.” The words hang in the air slightly, as we both know it was an off-handed comment, but our minds go immediately back to the event that reinforces her words.

“Yes, life is short.” I say this in a way that reassures her that her comment was taken in the spirit it was said, rather than meant to dredge up bad memories. Though I can’t help but elaborate on the subject. “Do you realize I’m only six years shy of my mom’s age at the time of the accident?”

“Yep,” Nat answers a bit too quickly. “I do. And I also realize something else. Your mom was thirty-eight, married to the love of her life and had two charming young girls.” I quickly realize I have given her the perfect segue into a lecture that has been constructed, rehearsed, and delivered to me many times in many different iterations over the past ten years. Now, as if she is attempting an intervention while we drive down Colorado Boulevard, Natalie blurts out, “Rainey, it’s about time we found you a man.”

“Why? Are you getting tired of hanging out with me?”

“It’s not that,” she says. “It’s just. That. It’s time,” the words spit out of her mouth. It’s obvious she wants to punctuate her points. “You can’t keep running away from it. You’re an incredible catch—beautiful and charming to be around. Athletic. Everything most girls would die to be.”

I know she is keenly aware of my resistance, but I get the feeling she isn’t going to fall for it today. But I also can’t ignore my feelings or my truth.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Author Bio and Links

Steve and Trish

Paralympian, Speaker, Author, Disability Advocate

On September 17, 2000, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Her life was changed forever, but Tricia’s competitive spirit and zest for life continued on. Making the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship twice. Additionally, she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tricia’s professional life has been immersed in sports as she earned a master’s degree in Sport Management in 1995 and worked at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games.

She has received many sports accolades, including the USA Triathlon Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year (2003), Sportswomen of Colorado—Inspiration (’03), Triathlon (’05), Hall of Fame (’12) Awards, the 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the 2008 Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority.

As a community leader and disability advocate, she was a member of the 2013 class of the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction. She also received the 2019 Inspiration Award from Craig Hospital for outstanding community contribution from a Craig Hospital “graduate.” (Craig is a world-renowned spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital) Tricia has truly excelled despite her life-altering injury.

In addition to her sports pursuits, Tricia has taken an active leadership role in her community as a peer mentor to others experiencing spinal cord injuries, she founded Camp Discovery (and subsequently The Cycle of Hope non-profit) dedicating 10 years to helping female wheelchair users gain confidence and self-esteem through a yearly sports and fitness retreat. Additionally, she serves on the board of USA Shooting, which is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of shooting.

Tricia published her memoir: Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility in June 2010, with the second edition released in January 2017. In August of 2018, she published her first fiction novel Chance for Rain.

Website | Facebook | Twitter| LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest

Giveaway

Tricia Downing will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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


Night Shifts: Love’em or Hate’em

I’m happy to welcome multi-published Canadian author Dr. Melissa Yi. Today, Melissa shares an entertaining post about night shifts and her new release, Graveyard Shift.

Here’s Melissa!

Graveyard Shift, the name of my new Hope Sze thriller, is slang for the night shift.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, night shifts are powerful beasts that you must know how to control as an emergency doctor. So it seems like an appropriate subject for the Power of 10.

Here are five reasons to hate ‘em mixed with five to love ‘em.


Hate #5: Fewer tests

At my tiny rural hospital, I don’t have access to extended labs or any X-rays after hours, let alone ultrasound technicians, CT scans, or MRI’s.

This is scary. Sure, we have a portable ultrasound and our stethoscopes and our training, but anything could go wrong.

Love #5: Bragging rights

No one admits this, but if I’m doing a night shift, the whole world has to know about my extreme dedication. I post signs on my door saying, “DO NOT DISTURB! NIGHT SHIFT!” I warn new friends that I don’t answer my cell in the ER, and I turn everything off before a night shift. Because I’m doing a NIGHT SHIFT. Are you doing a NIGHT SHIFT? No? Then you are not as wild as me. Sorry

Hate #4: Skeletal Staff

We only had one nurse in my rural ER overnight a few years ago. Now I have two, but the volumes have gone up, meaning that we can have many people, some of them on cardiac monitors, including patients who have been admitted but don’t have a bed on the floor, or who’ve had a heart attack and are waiting to be transferred to the heart institute. We can only juggle so many patients before our brains and beds overload.

Love #4: Chill patients

Some night shift patients are a different breed. They’re not the high-strung 40-year-olds who’ve been hanging out with Dr. Google and getting themselves revved up for the past six hours. They’re the teenagers wandering in at 3 a.m. because their toe looks funny. Tell them their toe is fine, and instead of saying, “But don’t you think I need a C-reactive protein? I read that a CRP can be extremely helpful in situations like this,” they say “Okay” and go home.

Hate #3: Drunk or wasted patients

Okay, not everyone. But many people! More than you’d think. The ones roll in regularly (“Is that Sam again?” “Of course it is.”). And the ones who think a company Christmas party is a good reason to do shot after shot after bottle after bottle.

Love #3: “If I work nights, I can be home with my kids during the day.”

This is the #1 reason nurses give for working night shifts. Personally, I would deteriorate into a seething mess if I worked all night and then spent all day with my knee-high offspring, but I admire the people who do this.

Hate #2: I am alone for a long time

I work in a single coverage emergency room. That means I’m the only MD guaranteed in house. Family doctors have clinics during weekdays and some evenings, but after 7 p.m. and every weekend, I am the only physician. The buck stops with me. Every code, every lawsuit, has my name on it.

Yes, I can call specialists at other hospitals for help. It doesn’t mean they’ll be instantly available.

And night shifts last from 6 p.m. until 8 or 9 a.m.—if you leave on time. Many times, we stay late to see a patient through or chart.

Love #2: I’m alone with good people

The nurses focus on me. When I first started at one of my hospitals, we used to have a single nurse dedicated to the doctor, so that every time a wrote an order, he or she was on it. Now, when up to six doctors are work, the nurses are sometimes like, “Aaaagh! Too many orders! Take a break.”

I miss those dedicated days. But on the night shift, I’ve got it back.

And the nurses are some of my favourite people. We make jokes. We laugh. One super doctor (not me) makes fancy desserts before her night shifts, so it’s kind of a party.

Hate #1: I’m tired and more prone to mistakes

Some people may love all-nighters. Not me, and certainly not multiple ones in a row. Studies have documented more medical errors at night, when staff is tired and overworked. I try to counterbalance this by double-checking doses and by telling nurses to please let me know if they spot anything amiss. Two or three heads are better than one, and we need all brains on deck at 3 a.m.

Love #1. I get all the cool cases

No other doctor siphons off the shoulder dislocation or the pre-arrest. I’m it. And that is the #1 reason to do emergency medicine—because you love the thrills, the bizarre, the extremes of humanity.

So there you have it. Love it or hate it, night shifts aren’t going away.

And if you want to read about the world’s worst night shift, I wrote my next thriller about it: Graveyard Shift! Thanks so much to Joanne for having me.

Buy Links

Amazon | Wind Tree Press

Kobo is kindly offering a promo code, GRAVEYARD100, so you can grab a free copy here.

Some of the proceeds will prevent violence against women. Part of them will go to a scholarship in honour of Dr. Elana Fric, and some will go to the Akwesasne Family Wellness Program.

Thanks again!

Bio

Melissa Yi wields a stethoscope and a scalpel as an emergency physician. She also pens the Hope Sze medical thrillers, which have been named one of the best Canadian suspense books by the Globe and Mail, CBC Books, and The Next Chapter. Yi was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime story in Canada and shortlisted for the Derringer Award for the best short mystery fiction in the English language. Her novels will debut in audio as Kobo Originals on November 5th. Sometimes, she sleeps.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Sgt. Scott Coulter – Inspired Graveyard Shift

Sgt. Coulter will attend this evening’s Facebook Launch Party for Graveyard Shift. All are welcome. Find out more here.


Spotlight on In Over Her Head

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Krysten Lindsay Hager. Today, Krysten shares ten life lessons from her dad and her new release, In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety.

10 Life Lessons from My Dad

I love the idea of sharing life lessons from my dad because not only was he the one I went to for advice, but he inspired both the character of Cecily’s dad, Mr. Damone, and her vice principal, Mr. Warwick, in In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety.

My dad was always the one people went to for advice and we lost him far too soon, but I still have people ask me what he’d advise them to do on things. So, here are some life lessons from my dad.

10. You know how people will say to treat the janitor the same as the CEO? Well, he didn’t just say it, he did it. Years ago, my sister left my dad’s golf club behind at her down. Weeks later, the janitor came down the hall saying, “Amy’s dad, I have your golf club!” Someone else found it and wanted to keep it, but since my dad had always stopped and chatted with the janitor, the guy went out of his way to return it. He said he locked it up so no one could steal it because he appreciated my dad always taking time to talk with him.

9. He always said people want to feel remembered, so he’d visit people in nursing homes, attend funerals, and visit people who were ill.

8. He told me the hardest thing was being there for someone as they’re making a mistake. I didn’t fully get this until a friend of mine got engaged weeks after dating someone. He told me if I said anything, she’d double down, but if I let her talk, she might need someone to talk to about any doubts she had. I half did it just to show him how ridiculous that was, but you know what? It happened JUST like he said.

7.Follow your passion and not a paycheck. My dad’s passion was helping people find their path in life. After he passed, we received condolences from students saying, “he took the time to really listen to me,” “He cared. No one else had, but he did and I turned my life around.”

6. Take time to appreciate the simple things. He always pointed that out to me and so I gave Mr. Damone this line, “You don’t always appreciate the good things or even the everyday things if you haven’t been through some storms. I remember when my dad got well after being sick and I woke up that morning and it was the first time I truly appreciated a sunrise. That first sip of orange juice was like nothing I ever experienced… Now I make it a point to appreciate the little things like a sunny day.”

5. Integrity is everything. He always kept his word even when people took advantage of that. Integrity is something people don’t put value on because it isn’t something that brings monetary value, but it is invaluable.

4. Education and books are always worth it. He was a big supporter of education and a great Dad to have when you have a book addiction. You’ll never regret paying for something you learn from.

3. Look out for others. I have countless stories of people who told me how my dad made them feel safe during times when they felt intimated by someone else. My dad really hated seeing people of all ages being intimidated and bullied. He even stuck up for a nurse getting bullied when he himself could barely walk.

2. If you have to correct someone then do it without making them look stupid. Remembering that is what gets me to delete responses I soooo want to send, but I know it’s not right.

1. Let people talk and they’ll let you know everything about them. You know how some people just wait for the other person to stop talking so they can start? He was one of those rare people who actually listen and hear what a person is saying. And he was right—you can learn so much just by letting someone talk.

Blurb

Cecily feels like she has it all: great best friends, the beginnings of a career as a model/actress, and she’s dating her favorite singer, Andrew Holiday. Then Cecily’s best friend Lila begins to ditch her every time Lila’s boyfriend calls. Cecily feels lost, but she and Andrew begin connecting more and she’s never been in a relationship where she felt so understood. Andrew even begins to confide in her about his anxiety. Soon Cecily experiences her own anxiety on a magazine photo shoot, but she manages to impress the magazine staff. Just when it seems like all her dreams are coming true, everything comes crashing down when a photo of Andrew with another girl appears online. He swears nothing happened, but Cecily is crushed. She feels like she’s lost two of the people closest to her.

Was her perfect relationship real or was she in over her head?

Excerpt

One day I had the career and the guy of my dreams. Then Danielle King came along. If people could be trusted, maybe it would have been okay, but they can’t. They suck. And now my dream relationship was gone and no one would ever know what had actually been in my grasp.

How can a person go from having a whole life with someone, and then it ends like you were never even together? No wonder people talk about how awful divorces are. That must hurt a million times more. Sure, I don’t have to see Andrew every day at school like I did Zach, but it seems like Andrew was everywhere. I went to the grocery store with my mom and they were playing one of his songs because he’s technically a local.

Andrew’s music was always what I listened to when I was sad. His heartache music got me through the worst times and now, not only could I not stand to listen to it, there was now the chance I could end up hearing music about our breakup. Actually, I didn’t know which was worse: the possibility he’d use our relationship as inspiration for a song, or finding out I was barely a blip on his radar and not even warranting a mention.

What was I supposed to do with my life now?

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon Japan | Amazon IN

Author Bio and Links

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.

Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Giveaway

Krysten Lindsay Hager will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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


Honoring Toni Morrison

The first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize in 1993, Toni Morrison lived a life filled with achievements and presidential honors. Her novels, among them The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, contain rich prose and unforgettable characters.

Ms. Morrison also taught at Princeton University and held workshops for aspiring writers. Her advice to her students is even more relevant in today’s world.

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

Last night, Toni Morrison died at the age of 88.

Here are more of my favorite quotations from Toni Morrison:

You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.

The function of freedom is to free someone else.

Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion…you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling. I don’t think it’s any of that—it’s helpless…it’s absence of control—I have no use for it whatsoever.

You are your best thing.

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

Make up a story…For our sake and yours, forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light.


Loving Those Oxymorons

Technically they’re oxymora, but according to the wordsmiths, oxymorons can be used as the plural form.

Whatever form you choose to use, one thing is certain: Oxymorons attract attention. And people who like to pepper their conversations with these literary devices are well aware that their listeners will stop and think, wondering whether they should laugh or not.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


10 Important Life Lessons My Cats Have Taught Me (and how they live on in my writing)

I’m happy to welcome author Jodi Rath to the Power of 10 series. Today, Jodi shares ten important life lessons she learned from the felines in her life and her new release, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder.

Here’s Jodi!

10. No matter how bad life can be, learn to be resilient and love IN SPITE of it all. Our cat Stewart has one-eye from being abused as a kitten. Yet, when we adopted him, we thought we couldn’t do it because it would be too sad. Stewart doesn’t care at all that he has one eye. He loves us unconditionally and is the happiest little guy in the world. He is on the cover of book two, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder, that comes out 6/21/19 and plays a role in the book.

9. Sleep is a good thing. Cats sleep A LOT. I’ve always been one to sleep a routine 6 to 8 hours a night. After I began my business, my sleep schedule has changed a lot. My cats remind me to take naps if I can’t get a full night sleep. No, they aren’t running a business—but they also aren’t stressed, and they sleep a lot—AND their fur is shiny and beautiful! Great for us ladies and our skin too!

8. When it’s time to play—PLAY HARD LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING! Recently, we adopted three five-week-old kittens. We mostly have adopted adult cats because most people want kittens. Our adult cats are playful at times, but they prefer food and sleep to play. NOT THE KITTENS! They are NUTBALLS! They do love to sleep and eat, but when they play—it’s like they are partying like it’s 1999! That’s important in life—adults need to play and let loose at times—AND don’t worry about who sees you or what they think. My three little girls, Lily, Lulu, and Luna, sure don’t care!

7. Race doesn’t matter. One of the themes of my culinary mystery series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, focuses on a small village where the villagers are tolerant and caring for those around them. They aren’t so much with outsiders when people from the city (politicians) begin to buy up land for urban sprawl purposes, and the villagers have to (what they think) “allow” outsiders in. Being tolerant means being tolerant to ALL—not just to those that it is easy to be tolerant to—think about it. That makes no sense anyway. Some of my cats are black; some are orange and white, some are golden brown, some are black and white mixed—they don’t look at the color of each others’ fur and judge based on that or stereotype—they equally love each other as is.

6. Stop and smell the flowers every so often. We keep fresh flowers in our house weekly. Our cats get SO excited when we bring them in, and they always are on the counter wanting to smell them and maybe be sneaky and chew on the stems too. My husband and I have bought or picked fresh flowers weekly for each other for 17 years now. It makes a HUGE difference in our relationship.

5. Good litter box manners are important. Enough said! LOL

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We’ve had 16 cats in 17 years—never more than nine at one time. Many passes, especially when we adopt them as adults. Our first cats, unfortunately, are the ones we learned from. They would do things, and we would punish them getting SO upset. Once we lost them, we realized how stupid we were being. Some scratched furniture here and there? Who cares? It’s things—the things do not give unconditional love and trust.

3. Keep your mouth shut when you snore. My husband snores while sleeping on his back—LOUDLY. Stewart, the one-eyed cat, did not appreciate it—he sat on Mike’s mouth while he snored. Mike freaked out in the middle of the night. I’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life!

2. Understand your place in life. We do not own our cats—we are their servants. We want it that way! They bring us joy and happiness. I’ve had a very good reason not to trust many people in my life—I’ve dealt with abuse as a child and in a first marriage. I’ve worked with many teens who have experienced horrific trauma. Not all people are bad—but animals love unconditionally.

1. Advocate for those without a voice. I learned this lesson the hard way when my 13-year-old diabetic cat was taken to a vet we typically don’t see, and she recommended we take him to the vet ER. We did; they kept him, and everything in us said not to let them. They kept him four days, and he died of a blood clot. None of that had to happen. We trusted those with an education that we didn’t have—but our hearts told us differently. Maybe he would have died anyway—but he would have at home—we spent close to 13 years loving and spoiling him, and he had diabetes for six of those years. We never left overnight to be sure he got his insulin twice a day. Because we didn’t advocate for him, he suffered for it. Trust your instincts and be willing to live with consequences.

Blurb

Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where DEATH takes a delicious turn!

Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder? Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!

Buy Links

Amazon | All other e-platforms

Author Bio

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her nine cats.

Website | FB Author Page | Twitter | Bookbub | Goodreads

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In Praise of Fruits and Vegetables

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, a month set aside to remind us that fruits and vegetables are essential components of a healthy lifestyle.

As a cancer survivor with a family history of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, I am always on the lookout for any dietary changes that can help support a healthy heart, mind, and immune system.

A few years ago, I took special note of the following research conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research in 2004. If every American consumed 15 to 30 ounces of fruits and vegetables every day, the incidence of cancer could be reduced by at least 20 percent.

The Institute suggests we aim for nine servings or 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. This may sound daunting, but it is doable. With careful planning and a few doses of creativity, we can increase our daily intake of fruits and vegetables and stay within our budgets.

Here are 10 tips:

• Learn about serving size. In his book “Anticancer,” David Servan-Schreiber provides the following helpful guide: One serving equals ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables, 1 medium fruit, ½ cup cooked fruit, ¼ cup dried fruit, or 6 ounces of fruit juice.

• Start small. At breakfast, top your oatmeal or cereal with sliced bananas, fresh berries, raisins, or apricots. Add one cup of fresh or frozen berries to pancake batter. Mix eggs and vegetables for a healthy and hearty breakfast or lunch. Adding minced broccoli or finely grated cauliflower will not change the texture of the eggs. At lunch or dinner, add strawberries, mandarin orange sections, and raisins to green salads.

• Use a spiralizer to create zucchini, squash, asparagus, or cucumber noodles. Top with your favorite sauce and enjoy! You won’t miss the carb-laden pasta dishes.

• Hide the vegetables if your children ignore or push away anything green. Instead, try incorporating vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach into your favorite pasta sauce, chili, lasagna, or stew recipes. As you stretch the recipe, you will obtain more servings and also cut back on the meat content.

• Pinch pennies on produce. Buy whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. Apples, oranges, grapefruit, and bananas are always available and usually last for a week. The cheapest vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, celery and onions.

• Consider buying frozen fruits and vegetables. These foods are flash frozen at their peak and contain the same amount of nutrients as their fresh counterparts. Frozen vegetables can save dinner preparation time since washing and cutting are not required. Frozen fruit can be used in smoothies, low-fat muffins, yogurts and salads.

• Sneak in extra fruit servings with the right juice. Stick with the top four—orange, grapefruit, prune, pineapple—and check the sugar content on each label. Whenever possible, buy in bulk. This will cut down your costs and help avoid the excessive packaging associated with single-serving bottles and juice boxes.

• Create quick, no-cook meals using fruits and vegetables. Fill a cantaloupe or honeydew melon with low-fat cottage cheese. Combine fresh or frozen berries, a banana, whey or soy protein, water, and ice to make a delicious smoothie. Mix a bowl of low-fat yogurt with fruit.

• Create more fruit-based desserts and snacks. Cut up some plums into chunks and roast them in the oven. Serve warm over a small scoop of frozen yogurt. Mix blackberries or blueberries with a few chocolate chips to create a quick trail mix. Freeze individual grapes on a cookie sheet and serve later as cool, healthy treats.

• Plan ahead and add convenience to your day. Stock your glove compartment and desk drawer with apples, pears, and bananas. Cut up your favorite vegetables into snack-size pieces and store them in clear plastic containers at home and at work. This will cut down on visits to the vending machine and coffee shop.

Any other tips to share?


You Might Be a Garden Junkie…

I’m happy to welcome award-winning Soul Mate author Catherine Castle. Today, Catherine shares a gardening quiz and her novel, The Nun & the Narc.

Here’s Catherine!

At my house, the spring garden is in full bloom. The snowball bush, shown here, is so laden with blooms that you can hardly see the bush. All the beds have been cleaned and mulched. Now I can see every weed that has popped up in the last 2 months since spring cleaning. And it’s driving me nuts.

I’ve come to the conclusion, over the years, that I’m a garden junkie. If you are a gardener, are you a junkie too? Take this quick quiz to find out your junkie status.

You might be a garden junkie if…

1. A picture of a garden … any garden … makes you gasp in ecstasy.

2. You love the smell of newly laid mulch.

3. You subscribe to every garden magazine you find.

4. You carefully replant every earthworm you accidentally dig up.

5. Horse sh**t isn’t a curse word to you, but a source of free fertilizer.

6. You plan your vacations around spring cleaning, summer blooms, fall blooms, and winter cleanup.

7. You know the exact number and species of every tree, bush, and flower in your garden, and most of the weeds too.

8. You always buy more plants than you can plant in one day.

9. You know the garden center employees by name.

10. You have more pictures of your garden in your smart phone than family members.

If you answered yes to number 1 you are definitely a beginning gardener. Don’t despair, just keep on digging and you’ll eventually reach junkie status. If you answered yes to numbers 1-5, you are well on your way to joining the elite. If you said yes to 1-9 then you are an avid gardener.

And if you said yes to all 10 statements, you, my friend, are a garden junkie.

If you’re a Garden Junkie and If you’d like to get your garden fix, join me and some other lovely writer gardeners on my blog at A Writer’s Garden every Thursday. Each week you’ll see lovely pictures of gardens and meet some new garden junkies and authors. And welcome to the Garden junkie club!

Blurb

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

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Margaret Mary O’Connor is not a typical nun. Dressed in jeans and a bandanna, she has no qualms about climbing up on roofs or meddling in other people’s affairs. It is not surprising that Mother Superior doubts her commitment to the convent and often admonishes the younger woman: “Stubbornness, curiosity and bluntness don’t become a nun.”

While Margaret is haunted by Mother Superior’s words, she does not hesitate to get involved when a motherless boy in Mexico is tempted by a life of crime. That meddling lands her smack in the middle of DEA office Jed Barringer’s undercover operation. When Margaret and Jed are captured by drug dealers, there is an instant attraction, but before they can even think of love, they must escape the clutches of the cartel and deal with Margaret’s impending vows.

From start to finish, I enjoyed this well-paced novel brimming with conflict and emotional intensity.

Bio

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books, The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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10 Interesting Facts About My Protagonist Sarah Collins

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Debbie De Louise. Today, Debbie shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist in her new release, Sea Scope.

Here’s Debbie!

Here are some interesting facts about the protagonist of my new psychological mystery, Sea Scope:

1. She’s 30 and is a children’s book illustrator.

2. She likes cats and has a female red tabby named Rosy.

3. When she was 10, she and her younger brother, Glen, found a body by a lighthouse in South Carolina where they lived.

4. She and her brother grew up in Sea Scope, the inn that her parents and aunt ran in Cape Bretton, South Carolina.

5. Sarah wants children, but she and her husband, Derek, haven’t had any luck conceiving, and it’s caused a rift between them.

6. Sarah’s aunt Julie is a portrait painter.

7. Sarah’s father, Martin Brewster, committed suicide the year after she and her family moved away from Sea Scope.

8. Sarah’s brother, Glen, was killed in a motorcycle accident in California where he lived and worked as a psychologist.

9. Sarah’s mother, Jennifer Brewster, is an alcoholic.

10. Sarah had a childhood crush on Russell Donovan whose father dated her aunt and who still lives in South Carolina. She got her first kiss from Russ.

Blurb

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she accepts an invitation to return to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

She hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope.

Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home. As the past and present collide, she must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

buynow


Author Bio

Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. Her novels include the four books of the Cobble Cove mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks. Debbie has also written a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace, and a paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow. Her psychological mystery, Sea Scope will be published May, 2019. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.

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Inspired by Dr. Ross Pennie

This past Saturday, I attended the “Writing Your Life & Other Personal Stories” workshop facilitated by Brian Henry in Guelph. A book editor and professor, Brian teaches creative writing at Ryerson University in Toronto and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. You can find out more about Brian here.

In the morning session, Brian shared tips and techniques for writing creative non-fiction. In the afternoon, one of his star students—Dr. Ross Pennie—shared his fascinating writing journey.

A bit of history…

In 1977, at the age of twenty-five, Dr. Pennie set off for a two-year posting at a Catholic Mission on a remote island in the South Pacific. He spent his days dealing with tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases. Evenings, he would read, write letters and update his diary.

At the end of his posting, he returned to Canada and spent the next twenty years working as an infectious-disease specialist and daydreaming about writing his memoirs.

Finally, he took action and signed up for creative writing courses and workshops. He also analyzed other memoirs, read books on writers’ craft, and joined a writing group. It took him two and a half years to complete The Unforgiving Tides, which was released in 2004.

The logline is a tantalizing one: A young doctor encounters mud, medicine, and magic on a remote South Pacific Island.

He then tried his hand at fiction and wrote the well-received Dr. Zol Szabo medical mysteries. The first of these, Tainted, came out in 2010 and won the Arts Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction. He followed up with three more medical mysteries: Tampered, Up in Smoke, and Beneath the Wake.

After 39 years of working as an intensive-care pediatrician and infectious-diseases specialist at McMaster and Brantford General Hospital, Ross retired.

But he is not retired from writing.

In a 2017 interview with Hamilton News, he shared his love of the creative process: “I love spending time with the characters. They seem very real … it’s almost as though they live with us. I also find writing meditative. I enjoy being on my own, so there is a meditative and reflective aspect to it.”

At Saturday’s workshop, Ross shared practical advice about the memoir process.

Here are ten nuggets that resonated with me:

• Dribble the dry facts gradually into your story so that any one page is not filled with a laundry list of details. Do not confuse the reader with too many characters and too much technical jargon.

• Keep the narrator humble, vulnerable, embarrassed, noble, quirky, smart, but never arrogant.

• Leave yourself open to memories that bubble up unexpectedly.

• Exaggerate your deficiencies. (You will probably be telling it like it is!)

• Imagine that your mother and Grade 8 teacher are never going to read your memoir. This leaves you free to add healthy naughtiness. Some examples of healthy naughtiness include embarrassing situations, swear words, family secrets, petty criminal acts, and sexual encounters.

• Break grammar rules with pizzaz. But first, learn the grammar rules.

• Show the action and dialogue up close. Don’t just talk about it from a distance.

• Punctuate your stories with newsworthy events. Make a dated list of earth-shattering events that occurred during the period of the memoir such as wars, elections, assassinations, and natural disasters. Include some of these events in the memoir.

• Write frankly without bitterness.

• And most important of all … Persistence Writes the Memoir.

Find more about Dr. Ross Pennie here.