A Banner Day

Rich is on vacation this week, so we went to the dump today. If you’ve never been to the dump, it’s liberating and even kind of fun.

We have a spare room upstairs that has been a catch-all for many years. Today was the day to get rid of the junk. Rich backed the truck up below the window, and we threw stuff out and into the bed of the truck. The sound of breaking glass was exhilarating. Legal destruction. Computers, monitors, a television … these were the fun things to pitch. Bags of superfluous junk, boxes, old business records? Throw them out the window! I asked Rich if he felt like David Letterman.

I think we’ll go again tomorrow.

The dump (or the landfill if you are more refined) wasn’t the best thing about today. Take a good look at this picture:

ImageAhhh … the perfect set up for a perfect evening. Today was not a day for the new way of eating. I’ve lost 52 pounds since the beginning of June, and I feel great, but this was a treat day. Yes, that’s a fortune cookie from the Hunan Chicken for dinner. And that’s a high-powered Cola-Cola. Oh my gosh! Caffeine and chemicals taste sooo good! The vintage ashtray filled with peanut butter M&M’s? That’s a gift from hubby. You bet I won’t hold back on those.

So here I sit … on my new deck … happy as a clam and ready to write for the evening. The locust noise has reached about 150 decibels, but I can live with that. It’s a beautiful evening with the temperature at 70 degrees. Justin Timberlake is singing Mirrors on the iPhone, Rich is in a chaise next to me, and the dog is hunkered down beside him. All is right with the world.

I’ve been writing quite a bit lately. I’ve had a hard time not feeling guilty because Susan Hunter has taken a back seat, but I have to write what has been filling my mind – and that is my new series, Two Sisters and a Journalist. … Synopsis: Jo Ravens stumbles across (well, actually she crashes a bicycle on) a murdered girl. It’s the fifth body she’s found in two years. She solved two of the previous murders with the help of her sister, Pepper, and her friend, Jackie (the journalist). Jo enlists them once again to help solve the murder of Peaches, a prostitute from Pittsburgh. Things get a little creepy for Jo when the dead girl comes to her in dreams.

Of course, there is some humor, because I’m simply not that serious. The first few chapters have been run by my mother and my sister, and both have given the book two thumbs up. I’m to the halfway mark at about 25,000 words. I’d like to finish this book within two weeks and then go right to finishing my Susan Hunter book. My goal is to have both ready to publish by the end of October. After that, I’m considering something I said I would never do again – National Novel Writing Month. I can write book number two in the new series in November. I think that sounds like a plan.

I’m taking time this weekend to read blogs, so I’ll be by to see you soon. What’s the number one thing I’ve missed with you while I’ve been gone? If you’re writing, how are things going? Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you had any M&M’s lately?

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Almost done! We still need skirting around the bottom, handrails on the steps, and the two boulders to the right need to be hauled away – to a dump! The gate at the top of the stairs keeps the dog in and strangers out.

Princess Pancake

This is Princess Pancake. She is not only a princess, she is our granddaughter. She lives Imagenearly 1200 miles from us, and it’s really hard not being able to see her on a regular basis.

Princess Pancake will be here next week and will be staying with us for a month. I’m so excited, I can barely sleep. Her room is the large living room of our house, and every year we add something new. This year we have a puppet theater. I can see some good times ahead – especially with the chef puppet.

The reason for sharing this good news is simply to further explain why I continue to fall behind with blogging and reading blogs. I value the friendships I’ve made through blogging, and it bothers me when I can’t keep up and show support to fellow bloggers.  Between writing and planning for her visit, I’ve had very little extra time.

So, you may not see much of me in August. I should simply declare I’m on vacation and will see you in the fall, but you never know. Once the deck is finished, Princess Pancake and I may spend our mornings out there. She can eat pancakes and play games on my Nook while I try to check in with blogs. We shall see.

ImageIn other news, does this board look straight? Do most men run to Lowe’s (or other home building stores) and return the wrong item(s) multiple times? Do most men forget to measure twice and cut once, thereby swearing loud enough for the neighbors to hear? I’m not sure if everything is going according to plan out there. 

Maple Leaf Hunter will not be finished in August. I’m so sorry Susan Hunter fans. I am writing, but I suspect the writing will slow dramatically when the princess arrives.

The new series with the two sisters? Fifteen thousand words so far. Rich doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to read it aloud to him on our way to Boston next week. It’s not like he can get out of the car or anything, right? In case you’re wondering, he has only ever read my first book – and only because I begged him to help look for typos.

Curious about the weight loss? I’ve lost thirty-three pounds so far. Rich is down twenty-five. We’re basically following a low-carb, food-combining way of eating. I spend a lot more time in the kitchen cooking fresh foods, but we are both really happy with what we are eating and how we are feeling.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this miracle we recently had in our lives. A round of wicked weather came through here two weeks ago. I was standing at the kitchen sink draining sauerkraut for a reuben casserole (it was yummy!). Thunder, lightning, the wind was really strong, and I saw a tall tree in the block behind us snap in two and over it went across the road onto the neighbor’s porch. Of course, it took the power lines down with it. Our lights flickered, some went dim, others went out. I raced around the house to unplug computers, televisions, etc. before we had another surge. When it was all over, our 220 line had been ripped from the house. Our 110 line was hanging by a thread. We had no power with the exception of at my desk (computer and tv), at Rich’s desk (computer and tv), the refrigerator, and the light above the kitchen sink. Every other light and outlet in the house was dead. That can only be a miracle that our creature comforts were left intact. It still makes me shake my head and laugh – and be grateful when others in the community were nearly a week without any power. 

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I hope you are all taking care of the M&M’s, because they have not been allowed in my house – even when they bang on the door in the middle of the night.

Are any of you struggling to keep up with blogging? Have you seen your grandchildren lately? Do your menfolk build without complications? Any good miracles come your way lately? Tell me a story!

Kicking the M&M’s to the Curb

yellow_m&mIt was way back last September when I sat down with a one-egg, portobello omelet and proclaimed I was going on a diet.

Yeah right.

I was motivated, but it didn’t last long. I blame NaNo and M&M’s. Things didn’t get any better over the winter, and even though I never weighed myself, I knew I gained more weight.

When I posted my expectation to lose weight last September, I wrote this as a reason for my motivation: “I know I’m going to need headshots next spring when my books are flying off the eReader New_Sunshine_Hunter_386shelf and into eReaders, so I better start now so I can put out the best possible picture. How’s that for motivation?”

Who knew part of that statement would end up being true? I was just being silly when I wrote it, but over 51,000 copies of Sunshine Hunter have been downloaded to date.

However, I had an epiphany recently. I realized I didn’t feel good. My health was starting to suffer, and I was pretty sure I could attribute it to weight. The feeling was overwhelming, and I knew if didn’t do something now, there might be no turning back. Ahh, the things that come to you in the middle of a sleepless night.

So … I had to come up with something that would work for me. I didn’t want to follow a specific diet as I have in the past – even if it worked. I wanted to eat in a way that wouldn’t make me feel as if I was depriving myself.

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The smoothies at this site are only three ingredients each and sooo good!

I’m delighted to say, I’ve come up with something that makes me happy, and it’s working for me. Here’s the simple version: I have a fresh fruit smoothie for breakfast, the dreaded egg omelet for lunch, and then a protein and vegetable for dinner. That’s it. I don’t eat after 7:00 at night. I drink a ton of water all day long, and I’m not hungry. Because of the protein dinner, I have no cravings in the evening. I don’t add salt to anything, I avoid sugar (other than natural in fruit), and I’ve had no caffeine other than what’s in cocoa powder for a particular smoothie every now and then.

I’m eating healthier than I have in ages, and none of it is processed food. I weighed myself Tuesday morning. In eight days, I lost 15 pounds. I’m happy with that. I’m on a mission. I’ll feel better, and I’ll have an author headshot soon.

By the way, when I came up with the idea of writing a new series about a couple of weight-challenged sisters, it was because it would be easy to write – I know how they feel!

Wish me luck. I can do this, even though the M&M guys are sad to see me go.

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Happy Anniversary!

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Today is my one year anniversary of becoming a writer. On February 8, 2012, at 11:00 p.m., I used Microsoft Word for the first time in my life and decided to write a story. Susan Hunter and M&M’s showed up.

To this day, I still wonder where all of this came from. I had no burning desire to write a book, and I wasn’t even reading very much at the time. I’m sure I was quite bored – in addition to having the winter blues. I suppose most of it came from Rich giving me a Nook Tablet for Christmas. It opened my eyes to the number of indie works out there, and I simply thought, “I’ll give it a go, too.”

And go I did.

Five books in one year. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. Maple Leaf Hunter is the sixth book, and the story is underway. I think I have a solid first line this time:

The hot, sweaty man lying on top of me was dead.

Pretty good, eh? (Eh? I’m already practicing my Canadian for the book.) Here’s the rough draft of the first paragraph:

The hot, sweaty man lying on top of me was dead. At least I think he was dead. He didn’t appear to be breathing, while I, on the other hand, was gasping for air from his dead weight on my chest.

We’re off to a good start! And no, for all you pervy types, this isn’t something tawdry. Susan is with Samantha at the food court in the mall.

I’m having fun writing again. I keep reading that we should write to entertain ourselves, and I have that down pat. Already events are taking unexpected twists, and I can’t wait to start writing every day to see what’s going to happen next.

I want to do more marketing this year. With six books in the series, I think I’ll be able to find more creative ways to get Susan Hunter out there than I have in the past. Before I go gung-ho though … please control the shocked look on your face when I tell you …  I’m messing with covers again.

I know!!

We’re supposed to leave the covers alone, but I can’t. Not yet. As much I love the cover of ImageSunshine Hunter, I’m taking Susan’s racquet and gym clothes away from her, and putting her in a sundress. She’ll be walking barefoot on the beach with shoes in hand. I think the look will be more cohesive with the other covers, and it won’t impart such a strong sports theme, which is not the main theme of the book in the first place.

The cover for Big Apple Hunter is then going to be polished and given a more realistic, detailed skyline in the background. I’m one hundred percent happy with the remaining covers. Once the covers are completed and distributed to all sales outlets, I’m going to do my best to try some different avenues for marketing. I’ll keep you posted.Image

 

But for now, champagne for everyone!