Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Trying a New Diet

A few years ago, I was planning a trip to Dallas to meet with some author friends I'd met online. It was a huge incentive to lose weight. I was eating healthy and exercising (see my Insanity blog). I lost a ton of weight, bought new clothes, and was feeling good.

After the trip, I went back to my old ways, and here I am several years later, right back where I started, only heavier. Like most people, I hate dieting and exercising. That whole B.S. about "think of it as a lifestyle change, not a diet" doesn't work for me. I've tried a million different diets. I lose weight, then I go right back to how I was eating before. I happen to love healthy foods. I just love junk food more.

Having recently celebrated a milestone birthday, I figured I'd better get back on track. The latest thing is eating foods that are good for the bacteria in your intestines. The idea being that they help with weight loss and stabilize your digestive system or some such nonsense. So I decided to give it a go. Here's where I put in the disclaimer that I'm not a medical professional, and please consult your physician before trying any diet or exercise routine. I never do, but I have to say it.

Anyway, the basics are this - no sugar, artificial sweeteners, wheat, corn or dairy. You can eat all the veggies you want and pure veggie juice along with limited servings of lean protein (including eggs), beans (including hummus), sweet potatoes, nuts and nut butters (saying nut butter always makes me giggle), fruit (no fruit juice), unsweetened almond or coconut milk, olive or coconut oil, oats, quinoa, and brown rice. You can use a little raw, organic honey as a sweetener.

So I started yesterday. My biggest hurdle besides chocolate is artificial sweeteners. I eat low carb chocolate and use Sweet n Low in my tea and coffee. I also like the occasional Diet Dr. Pepper. I had a ruthless headache yesterday, and I wanted to bite people, so I went to Trader Joe's looking for healthy crap to eat. I bought dates. Dates are sweet right? Who eats dates? I even bought a papaya. I hate papaya. Then I found some unholy frozen concoction of quinoa, kale and sweet potatoes that I bought for dinner. Today I went to the grocery store to try to buy some more appetizing foods. My intestines may be happy, but my sugar monster is definitely not. I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day was yesterday (9/8/15). Grammarly is working to raise awareness of the importance of reading and writing this week. Please see their graphic on literacy rates below and consider donating to the following charities. If you have time, check out your local libraries or schools and volunteer to help with their literacy programs. Thank you and happy reading!!

Literacy Day

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Rustler's Daughter Gets a Facelift

Hi all! Sorry I've been away so long. Life has been a little crazy lately - some good, some bad. On the good side, I've signed up with Booktrope. They are going to re-release my books with a fresh new look and some updates. First up is my historical western romance, The Rustler's Daughter. It's going to be re-released in August 2015, and I'm happy to share a sneak peek of the cover with you! Thanks to the talented Scott Deyett for this fabulous new look!

When Hannah Miller’s mother dies unexpectedly, she is forced to go live with her father, who she thought was dead. Hannah has high hopes that her father will be happy to finally meet her, but Roy Miller quickly puts Hannah in her place. She is a burden, just another mouth to feed, and an ugly reminder of the wife who left him.

Her father's act of desperation puts Hannah at the mercy of his enemies, the neighboring Scott family. Despite the bad blood between their families, Hannah is immediately attracted to Jackson Scott, but he has his own secrets and feels Hannah would be better off with someone else. When someone else does offer Hannah a way out of her predicament, will Jackson be able put aside his past and fight for the woman he loves?

          Hannah took a deep breath and wished she had waited in the store. The heat was already making her uncomfortable after only a few minutes in the sun.
          "Well, well, aren't you a pretty thing?" slurred a voice.
          The smell of whiskey and sweat was overpowering, and Hannah wrinkled her nose before turning to see who was talking. She hoped the words were not meant for her. No such luck.
          The man on her left was dirty and smelled as if he lived in a saloon. He hadn't shaved in days or changed his clothes by the looks of them. He leered at Hannah looking her up and down, making her stomach turn. She hoped Mr. Carter would show up soon.
          "Whassa matter girlie? Cat got yer tongue?" He reached out to grab Hannah, but she easily dodged him.
          She looked over her shoulder nervously, expecting Mr. Carter to show up any second, but he wasn't there. Hannah decided it would be best if she ran back into the store for her own safety.
          Before she could make her move, the man suddenly disappeared from her view and was flying backwards. He landed on his back in the street with a loud thump. His face was replaced by a handsome young man who was smiling broadly.
          "Hi!" he said excitedly, tipping his hat. "I'm Lucas Scott. We haven't formally met yet."
          Hannah returned his smile with a beauty of her own. She was both relieved and amused by his obvious appreciation of her. He was every bit as handsome as his brothers, but he still had some growing to do.
          "Why Mr. Scott, I do believe your timing is impeccable." She giggled nervously, still shaken by the drunken man's advances.
          "Hey!" The man yelled from his position in the street.
          Lucas turned around. "Sorry Travis. Didn't see you there."
          Before the man could respond, Matthew Scott came around her wagon and stepped right in the middle of the man's chest before feigning surprise.
          "Travis? What are you doing in the street? I didn't even see you." Matthew winked at Hannah and smiled. "Miss Hannah."
          He tipped his hat. She covered her mouth to stifle her laughter. Both brothers ignored Travis and started to load Hannah's supplies into her wagon.
          Travis got up and fixed his angry gaze on Hannah. "You think that's funny?" he hissed, causing Lucas and Matthew to move in his direction.
          "Enough." That one word sent chills down her spine. Even filled with anger, Jackson's voice made her heart race. He was standing right behind her, so close she could feel the heat from his body over the warmth of the sun.


          "I believe you owe the lady an apology, Travis." Jackson was trying hard to keep his anger contained. Right now, he wanted nothing more than to tear Travis apart with his bare hands.
          Seeing Travis leering and grabbing at Hannah had him seeing red. He was almost glad his brothers had reached the man first. Almost.
          Travis looked at the Scott brothers with disgust. Even in his inebriated state, he knew he was outnumbered.
          "Fine. I'm sorry," he spat out, bowing awkwardly in Hannah's direction before stumbling off down the street.
          Hannah nodded gratefully to Matthew and Lucas who both smiled at her before loading the rest of her supplies.
          She turned around to face Jackson. He fought the urge to touch her.
          "Thank you. It seems I owe you and your brothers yet again." Jackson noticed the color heating her cheeks. They were standing closer than was proper, but neither made a move to back up.
          "Are you okay?" Jackson asked, concern filling his eyes.
          Hannah tried to focus. "Yes. I'm okay," she said softly. "I'm glad you showed up when you did though."
          "One of us should go with you when you come to town next time." He said it in a way that didn't invite opposition.
          "Are you offering to come yourself?" Hannah wasn't used to being so bold, but with Mr. Harding's proposal fresh in her mind, she wanted to know where Jackson stood.
          Jackson looked at his brothers who seemed to be just as interested in his answer as Hannah was.
          "I'm sure we'll be able to work something out." Jackson dodged the direct question. He knew he had hurt her, but better he let her down now than break her heart later.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Indie Music Station 92.6 The Blitz!

My friend and DJ, Tom Slick, runs a radio station called 92.6 The Blitz. He plays indie music from around the world. As with most indie projects, he needs a little help to keep the station going. But he can tell you about it better than I can. 

I would love to show you the awesome video he made for this Indie GoGo campaign, but blogspot isn't cooperating. Click on this link to see what the station is all about!

Or you can check out the video on their Indie GoGo page

If you love indie music, be sure to check out the station! Tom also promotes other indie artists including authors and filmmakers.

Say hello and give them a Like on Facebook!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Post: Allie Burke Author of Paper Souls

When I started down this bumpy road of self publishing, Allie Burke was one of the first authors I met in a Facebook group filled with incredibly supportive indie writers. Recently, I read Allie's latest book, Paper Souls, and I was blown away. Having worked in the field of psychology for more years than I care to share, this story about a young woman diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia was so painful for me to read, knowing how accurate it is with the ups and downs of mental illness that I've seen in my own clients, and yet it left me with such hope in the end. One of the things I love about this story is the fact that Allie was able to create a woman who struggles with mental illness, but yet she is a strong person, who runs a successful business and has a loyal support group of close friends. I am proud to say that Allie agreed to do a guest post for me. I applaud her bravery, and I'm grateful that she is willing to speak out about her own struggles to raise awareness for those with mental illness. And now...Allie Burke.

The truth about Paper Souls is that I was having such a hard time at life for so many years that I really felt as if I needed to get it all out so I would feel better. I did eventually get it all out, and it did make me feel better.

Until it didn’t.

For me, the hardest thing about Paranoid Schizophrenia—which I was diagnosed with in 2011—is the judgment. Why doesn’t that guy want to be with me? or Why did I say that? Jesus, I am such a horrible person or Oh my god, everyone hates me. I still have these issues. It’s an extreme self-confidence issue, not necessarily based on the illness itself but the experiences I’ve had while also dealing with the illness. My doctor, who is not your ‘typical psychiatrist’, once told me that it can be compared to the three pigs and the wolf story. The three pigs are having a grand old time in the woods and the wolf comes after them, so they run to safety into their home. They slam the door behind them and they are okay. They are all standing against the wall, breathing heavily, exclaiming how the wolf almost got them and they could have died. An hour later, two of the pigs are on the couch relaxing, but the remaining pig is still against the wall, gasping for air, saying over and over, “he could have killed me.” Six hours later, two of the pigs are sleeping, and the remaining pig is still against the wall, gasping for air, saying over and over, “he could have killed me.”

That self-conscious pig is me, the girl with Schizophrenia. When I say something that upsets someone, or do something that was the wrong thing to do, I can’t let it go. I analyze the situation over and over, turning it around in my head, thinking how I could have handled the situation better or why life is so hard or why people don’t understand what I meant or why I did what I did. It is how I learned never to act on anything when I’m upset or in the heat of the moment, because it has always gotten me into trouble. When any little thing happens to someone with Schizophrenia that is not the best thing that has ever happened, it is the end of the world. If someone reacts to something I do in a negative way, I truly feel as if everyone hates me and there is no remaining reason for me to exist. The number of times the idea of suicide has crossed my brain is insurmountable. But this is not a trait of only those with Schizophrenia, it is a trait of Bipolar Disorder, of Depression, Anxiety, of Autism. Pretty much every mental illness that ever existed ever. And I think that’s why those of us with a mental illness are so quick to take the medication that is given to us by doctors. Because they numb the problem. Anti-psychotics, which are given to people with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder, numb everything. They cross the blood-brain-barrier to literally numb your mental (and physical) existence to promote sleep for as long as you are on it. As with every drug there are side effects—you cannot sweat, you cannot see, you cannot concentrate—and you really just want to sleep. When you’re on it, nothing—such as a reaction to a mistake that you think you made—can touch you. The same goes for anxiety medication, which doubles as an anti-depressant. It numbs the effects of your problems. It does not solve them. Medication combined with therapy and probably a thousand life changes can solve your problems, with an end-game of getting off the medication, but taking a pill every day does not solve your issue. The woman who raised two autistic children who spends her time helping other children with this illness—that can solve your issue. Personally, I wished I never took the medication that was prescribed to me (which happened to be anti-psychotics AND anti-depressants) because 1. it was that much harder to get off of them and 2. the ideal that I can just take the medication and everything will be better will always be in the back of my mind.
To date, more than three years after I was diagnosed, went through a divorce, changed jobs and my place of residence, I continue to be very affected by my illness and the symptoms that it causes. I haven’t mentioned the hallucinations because really, that’s such a small thing to me. Something I can easily deal with. It is the mental turmoil one puts themselves through by thinking they are an alien and that everyone hates them that is so hard. Like everyone else, I have good days and bad days—my good days just happen to be really good and my bad days, really bad. That’s how it was for Emily and that’s how it is for a lot of people affected by this illness, I think. And that really is the point of Paper Souls. To bring up awareness that people in general can be bad people, not just people with problems. And vice versa. People with problems can be good. Or they can try really hard to be.

Schizophrenia is a thing that is hard, but life in general, can be hard. If we choose not to be defined by things such as Schizophrenia, we can make it. My definition of making it might just be different than yours.

Author Bio
An American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal. 

Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales. 

From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.
Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com

Check out Paper Souls

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cover Reveal: Eggnog Kisses by Mireille Chester

Eggnog Kisses

Christmas in Quelondain

It’s been six months since Kaley’s fiancĂ© called things off, disappearing with barely an explanation, and the thought of spending Christmas alone is causing feelings of hurt and loneliness to ruin her holiday cheer.  Tall, dark, quiet, and ever the gentleman, her next door neighbor has been sneaking into her thoughts more often than not lately.  When she decides to ask him to go to a Christmas party on a spur of the moment whim, she has no idea she’s about to unleash a whole new dimension on her usually normal life. 

Born in Quelondain, Sean is no stranger to a broken heart.  Though it’s been years since the one he loved fated to his best friend, the ache is still present and crossing over to the other world hasn’t helped like he’d hoped it would.  When Kaley asks him to accompany her to a Christmas party his gut tells him to stay away.  It’s not that he isn’t attracted or tempted, but how is he supposed to explain his past and what he is.  Of course, it’s just one evening, right?  What could possibly happen in one night?

Two broken hearts…

Two worlds…

One fate…


She managed to get into her apartment while keeping a curious JJ from escaping.  The fluffy white cat purred and rubbed himself against her ankles.

“Hey, bud.  Did you miss me?”  Kaley went to the cupboard and pulled out a few Whiskas treats for him.  She looked around her small apartment and suddenly, she didn’t want to be there alone.  “I’ll be right back.”

She didn’t bother putting on shoes before closing her door behind her.  Sean answered his door and smiled at the sight of her.

“What can I do for you, neighbor?”

“I…”  This was stupid. 

 “So, what brings you over here?”

“I just…”  Kaley’s good mood vanished.

His smile softened.  “First Christmas since Gale left?”

She took a deep breath and blew it out of her nose.  “It’s stupid, I know.”

Sean shook his head.  “Not at all.  I know the feeling.  I wasn’t engaged, mind you, but my first holiday after my girlfriend left I was a wreck.  We’d been together four years.”

“I’m sorry.”  She looked at the ground.  “What happened?”

He cocked his head to the side.  “I was just about to have a rum and eggnog.  Want one?”

She was tempted to turn him down, but curiosity got the better of her.  “Sure.”

He held the door opened wider so she could get in and directed her to the couch.  “It was your typical breakup.  We were young and life had other plans for us.”

She watched as he mixed the drinks and brought them over.  “Thanks.”  She took a sip and he took a long swallow of his drink.  “Anyway, it wrecked me when she left.”

“What did you do?”

“I moved here.”  He smiled.

Kaley frowned.  “That worked?  It helped?”

“Not even a little bit.  The only thing that helps is time.”

She couldn’t help the depressed look that took over her face.  “Five years, eh?”

Sean laughed.  “It’s been that long, but it didn’t take that long.  I’ve had a few other girlfriends since, I just haven’t found anyone else I want to settle down with, that’s all.”  He raised an eyebrow at her glass.  “Want another one?”


“So where’s your party at tonight?”

“Mel’s boss is throwing a bash for their office. He rented the Rex Hall.”


Kaley noticed him glancing at the clock on the wall.  “Do you have something to do?”  She turned toward the door as someone unlocked it from the outside and he stood.

“Sean!”  The dark haired woman dropped her duffle bag and ran into his open arms.  Kaley watched dumbfounded as he hugged her close.  He had a girlfriend.

“I was getting worried.”  He took her coat from her and hung it up.

“My bus was delayed.  There was a crash on the highway and we got caught behind all the traffic.  I don’t think it was too bad.  I mean, there were ambulances and stuff, but the cars looked to be in not bad shape when we were finally able to go by.”

“And you didn’t think to phone?”

She shrugged.  “Ooh! Are you having rum and eggnog without me?”  The woman finally turned her attention to Kaley.  “Since Sean has zero manners, I’m Reese, by the way.”

“Um, Kaley.”

“Let me guess.  He didn’t tell you I was coming?”  She took the drink Sean handed her and settled on the cough beside Kaley.  “And he says I’m forgetful.  You’re getting old, big brother.”

He scoffed.  “And you get more immature the more years you put behind you.”

“Mom’s going to flip when she hears you finally have a girlfriend.  It’s about time you got over that stupid bitch.”


“Well, what?  By the moons, she was.  None of us could figure out what you saw in her.”

“You were sixteen when we split.  Don’t tell me you gave a shit.”

Reese pounded back her drink.  “Of course I cared.  How many big brothers do I have?”

Sean rolled his eyes.  “Four.”

“Right.  But you were always my favorite.”  She skipped back to her knee high leather boots, slipped them on, and shrugged on her coat.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m meeting Heather.”  She gave him a peck on the cheek.  “I have my key.  Don’t wait up.”

“Just remember I’m leaving at eight tomorrow morning.  With or without you.”

“Yeah, yeah.”  Reese grinned.  “I missed you.”

“I missed you too.  Brat.”

She closed the door with a wave at Kaley.

“She’s, uh… she’s one of those high energy people.”  Sean smiled and went to refill their drinks.

“No kidding.  I had no idea you had a sister.  Or three brothers for that matter.”

“What about you?”

Kaley shook her head.  “Only child.  Your mom and dad?”

“Both alive and running the farm.  You?”

“My parents died when I was fifteen.  Drunk driver.  I went to live with Mel and her folks.”

“But you don’t do Christmas with them?”

“They’re not around since they retired.  Mel gets on a flight tomorrow to join them in Mexico tomorrow morning.  They invite me every year, I just… Christmas needs snow.  You know?”

He grinned.  “I agree.”

Kaley found her gaze moving to his mouth.  He had a great smile.  Had they really been living next to each other for almost six years?  How had she never noticed? 


“Nothing.  I was just thinking that I can’t believe we’ve been neighbors all this time and we know nothing about each other.”

His smile softened.  “Yeah.  I guess that’s life.  Everyone’s too busy.”

She looked at her watch.  “Shit.  I have to go get ready.”

Sean stood and walked her to the door.

“So, you’re just home alone tonight?”  She looked up into his dark green eyes.

“Seems like it.”

“I was just thinking… Mel is bringing a date tonight and I’m going to be the third wheel.  Want to come along?”

“I don’t think…”

“Come on.  I’ll owe you one.  There’s this guy that works there that always gets drunk and hits on me.  You can pretend to be my boyfriend.”  Sweet mother of fuck.  Had she actually just suggested this?  She was thirty four years old for shit’s sakes.  Her face turned a deep shade of red.  “Sorry.  That’s so highschool.  I’m just going to leave before I make myself sound any more stupid.  Thanks for the drinks.”

Kaley rushed out of his apartment and back into hers.  Good god!  How many eggnogs had she had?


For more information on Mireille Chester and her books go to http://mireillechester.blogspot.ca

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Fun with Michael Shinafelt!

It's time for one of my favorite annual traditions. Fellow horror fan Michael Shinafelt invited me for a fun Halloween interview on his blog a few years ago, and since then, we have been having a great time grilling each other every October. You can read his interview with me HERE.

1. I know I'm stealing your question here, but I have to know...what kind of freak would you be?
Lobster Boy could be fun, if you get my drift... 

2. Would you rather walk around in a graveyard after midnight, or spend the night in a haunted house?
Oh, walk around in a graveyard all the way!!! Have you ever seen the devil dance in the pale moonlight? Come see me in the graveyard after midnight sometime.

3. Are you a trick or treat kind of person?
Oh, that's easy...Tricks!!! Any kind, anywhere, anytime, Boo-Yah!

4. If you could do a remake of any horror movie and play the monster, which one would you choose and who would be your supporting cast?
I would want to be the character of Miriam Blaylock in The Hunger. Obviously they would have to give the character a sex change in the re-make as I don't do drag. But I would love to be sexy, evil and drink lots of blood. Then I would have to have two lovers one of each sex so that would be basically who would I want to make out and get naked with. I choose Rosario Dawson & Gerard Butler as my paramours. (M.E. - Good call!)

5. Who gets your vote for the worst job in a horror movie?
a. The babysitter
b. Local law enforcement
c. Horny teen lovers
d. Chick who falls
e. Priest
Horny teens, my suspicion is The Vatican finances horror movies to promote abstinence. (M.E. - You could be onto something.)

6. In the next big horror flick to be filmed, you can choose your role...good guy or monster?
That's a no brainer, the monster, c'mon you knew that answer when you asked the question. (M.E. - True, I did know the answer to this one. Heehee)

7. Favorite snack/drink when you're watching a horror movie marathon?
A nice Cabernet Sauvignon and jalapeno popcorn.

8. We're both fans of American Horror Story, which season would you least like to be stuck in? (Mine is The Asylum, although Freak Show is gaining ground).
Freak Show is gaining ground, but I would have to concur with you on Asylum. Coven would be a close second as it was just too silly and campy for my tastes. All that lame dialogue and lack of continuity would make Michael a very dull boy. (M.E. - That clown is just wrong.)

9. I love to read your interviews. If you could interview anyone in the horror industry, who would it be?

Paging Jamie Lee Curtis! My favorite horror movie of all time is Halloween and Jamie Lee held the Scream Queen tierra in the 80's for a spell with other horror opuses such as Prom Night & Terror Train. Hey Jamie Lee if you are reading this contact me. (M.E. - YES!)