Crazy Busy Summer

I wrapped up the synopsis, polished nearly 40 pages, and sent Billionaire #2 off to my editor.  Yay!  I’m hoping to finish it by the end of August, assuming she likes it.  The synopsis ended up being quite detailed – much longer than I really care to write (nearly 6K).  But as I worked on it, new ideas and layers came to me, so I recorded them.  I didn’t want to lose them.  I think it came out pretty well.  We’ll see.

I’m still drinking green smoothies.  My Dad brought me some fresh beet greens to try and I admit they were pretty tasty.  Nice and mild.  I have a spring mix that is so bitter I can hardly drink it even with a cup of mango and a whole banana in it.  (Once I eat the whole tub I won’t use it for smoothies again.)  Spinach is really my favorite, but I can do kale too.  It’s important to switch greens up to keep from having too many alkaloids build up in my system.

The two youngest monsters are away to church camp the rest of the week.  It was a scramble to get them ready (they only decided to go for sure on Sunday).  Princess is going to summer school and is already hitting extra band practice.  Middle has two basketball camps later this month and they’re planning two trips in June to head to my Dad’s farm (just 3 days each thanks to other activities).

Plus we’re moving by the end of the month one way or the other.

So it’s looking to be a crazy busy summer!

Baby Steps

(Her Grace’s Stable Giveaway still open!)

After two years on Weight Watchers, I’ve reached the point where I simply can’t stand the thought of counting another meal.  The thought of doing this the rest of my life is depressing.  I’ve been off the wagon more than on for most of the year as a result and definitely going the wrong direction.

So I’m switching my thoughts and reframing my goals.  I’m concentrating on what to eat, not what I can’t eat.  I CAN eat lots of super foods.  The more super foods I eat, the better I’ll feel and the less room I’ll have to worry about chips and pizza.  I’m not yet back to the place where I can cut most of the junk food out again, but I am working towards limiting it and filling up on the good stuff.

Since I got back from RT, I’ve been concentrating on whole super foods like avocados, cherries, mushrooms, and yes, I even tried sardines.  Not my favorite – the little fish bodies give me the heebee jeebies.  But I can smash them up with a fork and ALMOST eat them like tuna.  I prefer white albacore, which makes it harder to convince myself they are just like tuna, but I’ve not thrown up yet and they’re not horrible.  Not my favorite by a long shot, but I’m holding out hope that I can eventually look forward to them.  Coughs.  We’ll see.

I’ve even started making simple green smoothies each morning.  No yogurt, dairy, etc. but just greens, frozen fruit, maybe a banana, and water.  I drink a huge one off and on throughout the morning, and then when I’m done, if I’m hungry, I have some scrambled eggs in olive oil.  So far so good.  I actually like green smoothies more than I expected.  (I’ve been putting spinach in my workout smoothies a long time, but mixed with yogurt, protein powder, milk, etc.)  The only one that turned out gross was one with kale and cherries.  It was a lovely mud color.  However it tasted fine – just not aesthetically pleasing.

Starting today, I’m also doing a 30-day ab challenge on Twitter and a 30-day push-up challenge.  More small steps to hopefully get me back to some kind of regular exercise.  I don’t want to tackle anything too mind-consuming this month since we’ll be moving by the end of June.  Hopefully.  Assuming they finish the house on time.  Or we’ll be homeless!  No stress a all. *dies*

 

RT14

I made it to New Orleans for my third Romantic Times conference! My roomie, Ann Martin, and I had a blast touring around the Garden District and French Quarter today. We walked nearly five miles even though we also took the streetcar frequently (best $3 we spent all day).

The first place I wanted to visit was the Lafayette Cemetery. I was thinking Marie Laveau was buried there, but she’s actually in St Louis #1, so we crossed over there and then dropped down into the Quarter to have some beignets.

It was hot and humid – so bad I had to take a second shower before venturing out for dinner (and sunburned my shoulders since I forget sunscreen). Ann had a librarian event so I was on my own. I headed back to Daisy Duke’s since it was right across the street and familiar. Standing in the door waiting to be seated, I saw someone wave me over and ask if I was with RT. She invited me to eat with her party …. and then I realized she was Shiloh Walker! Talk about nice! We had a great dinner.

Now I’m already back to the room and trying not to dose off. I’m such a party animal! Even made a cup of crappy coffee but still can’t keep my eyes open.

Ann and I are planning to head to the Mississippi water front tomorrow morning since events don’t start until 10. Maybe we’ll hit Cafe DuMonde!

If you’d like to see pictures, head on over to Facebook. I posted a lot!

Realizations

It dawned on me tonight as I cooked dinner, though I’m sure it won’t come as any surprise to those who know me.

I’m stressed.  I knew that…but I didn’t realize how much it’d been affecting me.

I’ve just been out of it.  I haven’t wanted to cook.  I haven’t wanted to write.  The words won’t come.  I haven’t wanted to exercise.  I’m tired all the time.  Not sleeping the best.  Yet I don’t have anything to show for it.

I have been reading…but not fiction.  Lots of parenting books.  I have a teenage daughter.  Need I say more?

But as I spent nearly two hours in the kitchen tonight trying a new recipe and then experimenting some more, I realized it’d been a long time since I actually felt like cooking something that wasn’t fast and easy.  It’s like I didn’t have the mental capacity to try something new, let alone the energy to expend on a lengthy meal.

The light bulb went on.  For the first time in weeks I actually got off work almost on time.  I didn’t have to immediately jump in the car and drive somewhere to pick up someone.  I had the time to make ham and alfredo lasagna from scratch–and also a homemade cream soup using up the tidbits of wild mushrooms leftover from my Dad’s trip.

Both turned out delicious by the way.

So I have to be patient with myself.  My tank is nearly empty.  So that’s why I haven’t been writing much lately, not even the blog.  The big Evil Day Job project is winding down (hopefully).  RT is only two weeks away, so I’ll be frantic for that, but that’s at least FUN.  We’re hoping to close on the house in June so we’re already in yard sale, donate, throw away mode so we don’t have to move anything but the necessities.

I’ve got a lot going on right now other than writing.  That’s okay.  I just have to give myself time and baby my creative muse.  I’ve been stitching more and have been having a blast making all my book marks.  I’ve lost count – I need to box them up and ship them to the hotel soon.

Who knows – maybe I’ll even get my incredibly delayed Christmas gift finished and mailed.  So I don’t have to move it!!

Camp NaNOTMo

So Camp NaNo just hasn’t been going so well.  At all.  I’ve just got so much going on right now that I’ve not made any progress at all.  Between the house, my Evil Day Project (now in phase 3, sob, will we ever be done?), and all my RT scrambling, I’ve blown it.

On the bright side, I’ve used up one whole box of 250 business cards making book thongs.  I’ve mailed off some and given several away to my hairdresser, and of course we had a few boo-boos (holes punched too close to edge), so I don’t have exactly 250 book thongs, but I’m happy with how many I’ve managed to make.

Some interesting realizations while making all of these thongs:

1. 200 crimpers seems like a lot.  Until you realize it takes 4 per thong + all the ones that you drop and can’t find in the carpet.  (Those suckers are SMALL.)

2. It’d be a lot easier to store these thongs if I made them the same length.  But I just hack off another length – roughly – and move on.

3. Because I like each one to be as unique as possible.  Even if that’s more work on my part.  Sound familiar?  I just don’t like cookie-cutter approaches to anything.

4. I finally have a system down, using a single strand of black hemp or cotton, crimp the end, add a small bead, which holds the business card on the end, a charm, followed by a large bead and a couple of small ones depending on my mood.  A crimper to hold them in place.  Then a crimper, whatever small beads I want to add, maybe another charm, and a final crimper on the opposite end.

5. The silk ribbon was a huge pain in the ass because I didn’t have the right beads.  Tiny holes = huge headache, even with slender silk ribbon.  Much easier for large-hole lampwork or pony beads.

I’ve just about used up all my handcuffs and keys.  I have maybe 50 or so masks left.  I guess I’ll either be done at that point…

OR ORDER MORE!  You never know.  I’m kind of addicted at this point.

I’ll post some pictures of all my loot soon.

Colors Are Hard

I’m moody when it comes to color.

In writing, I’m all black and red, mixed in with grays and white.  Every once in a while I get a craving for brilliant blue or emerald green, but in general, my colors are solid.

However, in my non-writing life, I’m a little OCD with color.  I go through “cravings” where I like certain combinations and want to buy new kitchen towels or a new bedspread.  But after a year or so, I’m DONE with that color.  I’m glad for the item to wear out so I can replace it with the new craving!

I’ve loved blue and yellow.  Earth tones.  Antiqued reds and blacks.  Copper.  Chocolate and turquoise.  It’s crazy.  Sometimes I satisfy this thirst for color through my crafts — much cheaper than indulging in a new kitchen theme!  But even then, I get tired of certain projects because of the monotonous color scheme.  (I’ve never actually been able to complete a monochromatic cross stitch project before for that very reason.)

So now, we’re trying to pick out colors for the new house and I can’t make up my mind.  I’m afraid in a year or five, I’ll be sick of the color.  I don’t want anything brown or beige in the house.  Except maybe the wall color.

I’m trying to pick “timeless” colors.  Neutrals as my core colors, and then I can change the accessories as my whimsy changes over the years.  But if I eliminate browns, that means my neutrals become black and gray (I won’t have anything white – we’ve got three kids and two dogs).  I’ve already picked out clean black Shaker-style cabinets.  Now I have to figure out the floor color, and then the granite.

And I can’t decide.

We’ve at least narrowed the flooring down to bamboo.  The living/dining/kitchen area are all open and all the same flooring.  I can’t go too dark, since the cabinets are already dark.  But I don’t like light woods at all.  We almost went with carpet in the living room and tile in the kitchen/dining, but I don’t like the mix of surfaces.  We have that now in the rental (actually three surfaces with laminate wood in the dining room) and the carpet seams over time begin to look frayed and worn.

So bamboo it is.  But there are currently three different finishes we’re looking at.  Of course the girls aren’t helping any.  One likes this, the other doesn’t have an opinion, and Princess hates everything and can’t be pleased even if it was gold plated and blessed by One Direction.  I can’t pick the granite or wall color until I figure this flooring thing out.  Sigh.

Don’t even get me started on what flooring we’re doing downstairs in the teenage hangout.  *headdesk*  One wants ceramic tiles that look like wood, which makes the other want to puke.  ARGH!

To complicate matters, the places our builder has told us to go aren’t open on the weekend, and both That Man and I have to work.  Thank goodness for the online places that will send free samples!  I have one last sample coming this week and can hopefully finalize the flooring.  That will help pinpoint everything else.

Any favorite design pointers you can share?

Still Alive

Sorry I’ve been quiet around here lately.  The push to get the big Evil Day Job project I’ve been working on since last fall into production started last week.  I’m relieved and still very shocked that everything has moved and *knocks on wood* ran successfully last night.  I’m afraid this “easy button” will bite me later (this job runs monthly) but at least this first run was successful.  Woot!

Things are still stressful but nowhere near as bad as the last 3+ months have been.  Plus I know an upcoming project will let me work with Wanda again, so that’s super wonderful.  I can’t wait!  It’s probably been at least ten years since we got to work on a project together.

On the home front, we have faced a major stressful decision over the last few weeks.  Our lease is up in June, so we already knew we wanted to move.  I hate the heat pump in this house, we freeze all the time, our electric bill’s insane, and worse, starting this fall I have no bus service to the junior high for three years as Middle and then Littlest move schools.  We’ve been here going on four years, but we *have* to move.  I can’t worry about late afternoon meetings keeping me from picking them up on time.

But there’s nothing to rent in our price range that has at least 4 bedrooms.  Lots of mansions!  But nothing for an average family.  We’ve been looking the past year and still haven’t found anything.  So we bit the bullet and began looking to buy a house.  *gulp*  We signed a purchase agreement on a house last night.  *double gulp, passes out*

It’s in our old neighborhood before we moved here and the bus literally stops in front of the house.  The kids will have access to the community pool and playground (though they’re probably almost too old for it!)  It’s currently under construction, so it works perfectly with our lease timing, since the house isn’t technically on the market yet.  The teenagers will have plenty of space to hang out in the basement, everyone will have their own room, and I’ll still have a nice office on the main floor.  Plus the kitchen will be really nice and large.  (Our backup plan was an existing house in the same neighborhood, if it was still on the market in a few months, but the kitchen was ridiculously small.  Plus it’s been on the market since June, so there were no guarantees that it’d even still be around in April/May.)

So right after RT… I’ll be frantically packing us up to move again!  Hopefully this’ll be the last time we move until we’re ready to downsize after all the kids have graduated and moved out.

On the writing front, Mama C’s off my plate waiting on a decision, first round edits on The Billionaire Submissive are done, and I’m working on a new old project.  I’m not going to say which yet because I don’t want to jinx myself.  The words have been slow, but I’ve restarted my chain in March and chipping away every single day.  If the words start flowing fast and crazy again, I’ll let you know which one I’m working on!

Sharon Cullen’s Pleasing the Pirate

Image Two hearts are wrenched between love and duty in Sharon Cullen’s tale of a ruthless pirate and the Scottish lass who fills him with desire for something greater than plunder.

With her clan’s crops burned and their property confiscated, Mairi McFadden is desperate to free her brother from imprisonment so that he can take his rightful place as chief. Her only hope is the fierce English pirate Phin Lockwood, but the buccaneer laughs at her meager funds. His roving eyes, however, tell Mairi there’s something else he’ll take in exchange for her brother’s rescue. Though she burns with hatred for the English, she’ll do anything to save her clan.

The crown has made it clear that Phin has two choices: bring in a certain Scottish traitor or hang. And he’s not about to let a tiny, whiskey-eyed woman get in his way, even if she is pointing a gun at him. When Phin learns that Mairi’s brother is the very man he seeks, he’s more than willing to use the lass as bait. But as the moment of capture draws near, Phin is surprised by his feelings for the courageous beauty who has him considering risking his life—for someone besides himself.

Excerpt:

The sound of large, booted feet made its way toward Captain Phin’s cabin, interrupting her thoughts. The steps were heavy, methodical, steady, moving ever closer. Mairi sat up. Her palms grew moist and her heart thundered. This had to be him. Even his footsteps sounded authoritative.

She jumped up and wiped her free hand on her skirts, wincing at the protestation of her stomach. Transferring the pistol, she wiped off her other hand, then raised the pistol with both hands, sighting down the barrel as her da taught her to do.

The door creaked open and Captain Phin stepped in. All six foot plus of him. He had to duck to clear the doorway and when he straightened, the top of his blond head nearly touched the ceiling.

He locked stormy gray eyes on her. He was wearing a dark blue waistcoat with gold epaulets at the shoulders and absolutely nothing beneath it except a very large expanse of sun-browned skin.

Oh my. She had to remind herself to breathe.

His breeches were tan in color and so tight she saw every muscle in his thighs ripple. Rugged, well-worn boots reached his knees.

Mairi tore her astonished gaze from his body to his face. This was not what she expected when she pictured Captain Phin Lockwood. She’d imagined an older man, face creased by years on the ocean. Bowlegged, bent at the shoulders, a dry voice and rheumy eyes.

This man’s shoulders were impossibly wide and his eyes . . . She swallowed. She’d never seen such beautiful gray eyes.

A dark brown brow was lifted in query, a sensuous mouth twisted in an ironic smile. He crossed his arms over his naked chest and spread his very non-bowlegged legs to accommodate the rocking of the ship.

“That pistol is as big as you are, little one.”

Oh, dear. That voice wasn’t dry at all. It was smooth as the whiskey her da had kept in his study.

~ * ~

sharon cullen 021Sharon Cullen is the author of the historical romance, The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl and Pleasing the Pirate. She’s also published in romantic suspense, paranormal romance and contemporary romance.

Her other job descriptions include chauffer, laundress, cook and mediator to her three very busy kids, her husband and two dogs. She lives in southwest Ohio with her brood although her dream is to someday retire to St. Maarten and live on the beach.

If you’d like to find out more about Sharon and her books, you can visit her website. She’s addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion—books.

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KoKo Intervention: Bark Busters

Continuing our efforts to help calm Koko, I took her to the vet and discussed some options, specifically training recommendations.  A large noisy group class wasn’t the best idea for her, not with her anxiety, but personal trainers are $$$.  Her #1 recommendation was Bark Busters.  They were running a Christmas special, so I was able to get both KC and Koko training for the same price, with a lifetime guarantee.

That means they will come to our house, as many times as we need, for no additional cost, for the lifetime of both dogs.  Even if we move out of the state.  Of course it’s a hefty one time fee, but I’m able to make payments and I’ve already MORE than gotten the training for the $$, just in two visits, using the $100-150/hour rate we were quoted elsewhere.

Actually, the training is for US not the dogs.  We just need to know how to help her.

So far, our trainer has come to the house twice, for almost 5 hours of training.  The first time, we worked mostly with Koko, in her crate, on a leash, and free.  She barked and barked and barked at the Strange Man.  None of his techniques would calm her for long.  He’d move, and she’d go nuts again.  Forget him even touching her leash — let alone her.

However, when he pulled out the spray bottle and gave it to me, we finally had a breakthrough and she quit that mean barking.  One good pop of spray in the face was all it took.  The second time I missed, but it still shook her out of her barking rage.

Today, my Dad came over to watch.  Koko has a hate hate relationship with him and always barks at him, even though he kept her for two weeks while I went to the home office last fall.  This time, she barked at him.  No surprise.  I escalated using our trainer’s techniques and ended up popping her once with the spray bottle.

Not another bark.

She even came over after awhile and laid down between us and let him pet her.  (Usually she just paces and paces when he’s over.)

Then the trainer came by and she did bark at him some, but we were able to correct her immediately.  We practiced several different techniques and really, the heart of her issue became clear to me.  If there’s a stranger in the house, she watches them with single-minded focus.  One of the exercises required her to look up to me and make eye contact before she got the treat…and she wouldn’t do it.  She wouldn’t take her eyes off the Strange Men in the house.

So this week, I’ll be working on getting her attention on me.  He gave me several attentive exercises to practice with her that will hopefully help.  The barking is better, but she’s still afraid and nervous.  It is an improvement, though, and I’m encouraged that there’s hope.  As soon as the weather breaks, I’ll be walking her a LOT.  I need it and so does she.

But she ended up on her leash with the Strange Man leading her around.  She wouldn’t ever get in front of him – because she wanted to keep an eye on him!  But he was able to get much closer to her without her sounding like Cujo.  It’s a start!