Diets, Boundaries, and Blooming

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Eating Right: Regular food hates me. I wasn’t aware of that until yesterday. My son came home and brought a friend. For them, I made lasagna, garlic bread,  a salad, cherry pie and ice cream. It was all yummy, but my system practically ejected it upon impact. I won’t bother you with any more details than that, but let’s just say I won’t have ice cream, pie, or large quantities of salad dressing or cheese again anytime soon.  My husband and I haven’t actually been following any specific diet plan, but we’re avoiding carbs (not eliminating, just not thinking every meal must include  a roll or potato), we’re avoiding refined white sugar and using organic raw honey, cane sugar and molasses instead, and we’re avoiding processed foods. So, whole foods, essentially. Plenty of fruit, vegetables, and lean meats (in smaller quantities.) So far I’ve lost nine pounds. I seem to steadily lose two pounds a week. The biggest payoff is I feel better, and  the way my system acted yesterday, I had no idea how yucky I felt before! To enforce my desire to continue eating well, I just made the double batch of granola you see above.

Pushing  Boundaries: Is it always a good idea to color outside the lines? I like to try different things and I’m not afraid to embrace unique ideas. I’m beginning to delve into researching how to push writing boundaries. I don’t know much yet, but I’m curious. What ideas do you as a reader (or writer) have about how to push boundaries in writing? What does it mean to you, or do you feel as though you’ve done it in the past?

Bloom Where You’re Planted: If we visit a writing group and it isn’t for us, is it a waste of our time? I suppose so if we’re only in it for what we can get out of it. But let’s consider what we can put into the groups we visit. Any group. Writing groups, classes, conferences, church… take your pick. Maybe we’re there, not to bathe in the light of new knowledge, but to provide a light for someone else. They say teaching is the best way to really learn something. I think that’s true. I also think if you find you can’t “bloom” where you are, uproot yourself and go to another garden. Maybe this is where I push my boundaries. All I know is I do not plan to push dietary boundaries more than I have to!

Platte River Sampler

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If you go to this URL: http://www.kzum.org/ , it will take you to the website for the radio station, KZUM, a non-commercial, non-profit, listener sponsored community radio station.  You’ll find it at 89.3 MHz on the FM band. KZUM features an evening radio program called, “The Platte River Sampler.” It offers writings and readings from the state of Nebraska, and it airs every Thursday, 6-7 p.m. You’ll hear everything from original prose, poetry, drama, songwriting and more, all from Nebraska and often delivered by the authors themselves.

If you go to the website you’ll find out Nebraska artists can submit your own works. I submitted a beginning portion of my book Thorns of Rosewood, and last night it aired. It was quite a bit of fun hearing someone read my words, and although it made me nervous, I will say it was also fun to be interviewed. I don’t think I sounded like too much of a goofball, so I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

Here is the MP3 of the actual story. It takes 11:20 minutes to listen to and I will say, it’s been cut and doesn’t read exactly as my book reads. You’ll get the general idea of the story, though.

Below is the MP3 of the interview. This has also been cut and only takes 3:28 minutes to listen to. I am thankful to KZUM for eliminating all the drivel and making me sound like a relatively normal human being.

Enjoy listening, and enter your own short works if you’ve a mind to. It’s free and it’s painless. Support the arts in Nebraska! Thank you KZUM for what you offer writers of all varieties!

Oh! And if you want to buy Thorns of Rosewood, that would be cool. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and more if you would be so kind! Thorns of Rosewood is now .99 cents. Book 2, Flames of Rosewood will be coming out in March!

Treating Myself Better

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Just like every 365 days, it is once again a new year. 2015, here we all come. Ready or not. And just like every January I am thinking about being healthier. Treating myself better. My daughter has set out to lose weight by doing a sugar cleanse. My son tells me he’s working out and is talking about cutting back on fast foods. Friends talk about cutting carbs and calories. So, I’ll make my efforts and maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll stick to some of the healthy eating habits I try to adopt. My goal is to actually think about what I put in my mouth and to make an effort not to indulge my every food whim.

I read a blog about additives and processing of food here in America that other countries consider unacceptable. I have a friend who lives in France because she simply can’t achieve health while living here and being subjected to processed and commercially grown foods. Here’s the blog post if you’re interested. Beware. It may cause paranoia, and rightly so. Formaldehyde in milk and meat? Good Lord. That might be enough reason to consider a vegan diet. It would be a stretch, though, for this meat lover.

My daughter tells me I need to watch a documentary called Fed Up . It was a game-changer for her. She’s journaling her process on this blogsite. I’m not sure I have the guts to watch the show. Maybe you’ll watch it for me and tell me all about it. I know what I need to do to live healthier without watching shows that scare me. I need to eat less, move more, and think about what I’m putting in my body.

So, I will eat more fish, more chicken, more vegetables, more fruit, and if I eat carbs, I’ll try to choose whole grains. Desserts, potato chips, and fried food will become things I avoid, or only have on occasion. I’ll go with the idea of all things in moderation. I’m going to try my best to land on the common sense side of the fence when it comes to my health.

Wish me luck. I’m off to make some Red Beans and Quinoa. 

 

COVER REVEAL!

Flames of Rosewood

TADA!!! Here is the cover of my next book. This is the second book in the Rosewood series. I’ve named it, Flames of Rosewood.

I literally wrote the last sentence today and sent it out for people to beta read. Hopefully, by the end of January this book will be in an editor’s capable hands. If all goes right with the world, Flames of Rosewood will be available for sale by March 1st. Fingers crossed.

In book two, the life and times of Gloria Larson in the small town of Rosewood, Nebraska, continues. You’ll meet new characters and Gloria and her Thorns will have new mysteries to solve. The ending put a smile on my face when I wrote it. The very ending has a surprise that leaves me itching to start writing Book Three!

Now is a good time to read Thorns of Rosewood as the digital version is now on sale for .99 cents! (Normally $2.99) Read Thorns first, then when Flames comes out, you’ll be ready!

Buy Thorns of Rosewood for .99 cents on Amazon for Kindle, B&N for Nook, or Smashwords for any format. Happy reading and spread the word—Flames of Rosewood is coming out soon!

As Much as I Want to Breathe

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Today I presented a program to a neighboring community’s Rotary Club. Civic clubs are often comprised of business professionals, and they are a pleasure to speak to as they are good listeners and appreciative of other’s efforts. I’m becoming more comfortable speaking in front of groups. It’s a great opportunity to network, meet new friends, and gain new readers.

Civic organizations often focus on students of area schools. This club, the Schuyler Rotary Club, has a student of the week, as does my home town’s club. Today’s student was a Latino young man named Victor.

Victor took his moment at the microphone to talk about his interests and to thank the group for choosing him as the student of the week. It was easy to admire this young man who was humble and grateful. His interests were in creativity and the arts. It sounded as though he had discovered his love for creating things, and as a creative person, I could relate.

One thing he said made a huge impact. He spoke from the heart when he said, “If someone held me underwater and I wanted more than anything to take a breath of air… that’s how much I want to create things—as much as I want to breathe.”

Wow.

That’s the kind of passion I wish for every young person looking to choose a career. I want that kind of passion and clear desire in what I do. And from the mouth of a young and first generation citizen of our country—like my grandparents and great grandparents were—I want great ideas and words such as his to be heard.

Way to go Rotary. Way to go Victor. I’m glad I got to meet him and hear a new way to think about passion for creativity. Every moment really is an opportunity to learn something new, and we really never know where new knowledge will come from.

Bake on Saturday

My mother was quite the baker. I don’t remember cookies or pies so much, but she made breads. Maybe she was like me and just couldn’t make a cookie to save her life. Mine are never shaped nicely. They’re usually overdone or underdone. I can even mess up store-bought cookie dough. But bread, I can make. Go figure.

I liked this recipe because it actually says it tastes better the next day and keeps for a week. We’ll be enjoying it for breakfast tomorrow morning. It’s a little Christmas tradition some families have. Do you have Christmas baking traditions? What are they?

Another Free Book

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I’m feeling gifty this month. Tis the season. I gave away a free signed copy of Casting Stones to Donna Wilder for commenting here on my blog.

Now I’m going to give away a free signed copy of my book, Recipes For Revenge, to one person who comments on my author Facebook page. Yeah, I’m switching it up. I want to find out where I get the most comments. This social media thing is an experiment waiting to happen.

So, go to this link. Like my Facebook page. Comment with at minimum your name, but conversations are great, too. Whatever you choose. I’ll pick one winner, probably on Sunday. Then I’ll mail the book. Give it as a gift or let it be my gift to you.

Now, about this book, Recipes For Revenge, a Four-Course Novel. I published this in 2012 and it been one of those books people have had fun with. It’s four (five actually) short stories. Each story has a different main character and a different problem revolving around a bad boy in their life. Fates step in and teach that bad boy a lesson. The lesson happens to be served by a recipe. Yes, each of the story’s main characters have that one special recipe they’re known for. I include that recipe at the beginning of the story, but there is a little secret ingredient I don’t add to the actual recipe, but gets added in the story. I’d advise leaving that ingredient out if you choose to make the recipes. Oh, and every recipe is a good one. I’ve tried them all. The cookies are especially delightful. Oh, and good news… if you don’t end up being the person who wins the signed print copy of this book, it’s available on Amazon and B&N as an e-book for only .99 cents. You can afford to buy it anyway!

So, I’m tickled if you comment here, but my goal is to see your name under this post on my Facebook page. So if you comment here, that’s fine, but I hope you’ll then go and put your name on my FB page… oh and while you’re there, “like” the page. Thanks!

A Gift of Reading

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Many of my friends who are writers achieved a goal this month. They participated and won something called Nanowrimo—an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. And it’s grown to be a world-wide event. The winners claim the prize of having written a first draft of a new novel in one month. Technically, 50,000 words. The spirit of competition drives the writers, and the prize is twofold: a pat on the back you give yourself at the end because, by golly, it’s a big deal to write 50,000 words of anything! The other prize is the actual novel. I participated back in 2010.  The novel I wrote happened to be the first book I published, Casting Stones. It’s still selling and I have to say, it’s a book I couldn’t stop thinking about when I wrote it, a book I hated while I was editing it, and a book I have come to love like a first-born child. I read it every year, and every year I like it more.

My writing has grown and maybe even improved since then (5 more books under my belt to date.) But, as far as stories go, I would have to say Casting Stones is still a favorite of mine. The characters are very real to me, and I am proud of the book. So, thank you, Nanowrimo! You showed me I could write a book.

A few thoughts about this novel. It’s a tale about a woman who needs a husband. A woman so broken she doesn’t know how to love, only how to judge. The man she desires could be any man. Strong, yet with weaknesses. Life deals him the hardest of blows and the woman brings him salvation, but it’s a binding , suffocating weight. He isn’t saved, as much as imprisoned. The man’s hard times seem never-ending, but he finds a true savior in an old friend. Sacrifices are made, to be sure, and hands are dirtied, but in the end, the man finds joy and love and peace. Was it worth it? Was it justified? These are all questions I put to the reader as I tell the tale of James Raven and Esther Barton. Set in Nebraska and Missouri, this story’s timeline runs from the ’20s through the ’50s. It’s an emotional experience meant to make the reader think and rethink. It may make the reader cry. It may make the reader angry at moments. But there is a message, and maybe it’s different for every reader.

Casting Stones was originally written as three different books—Prelude, Casting Stones, & Conclusions.  A year later I decided to combine all three parts into one book. I called it the Unabridged version. Now the book is only available with all three parts, and the name is simply, Casting Stones. This book is available in print and as an ebook.

If you’ve read this book, I thank you. If you purchased this book, I thank you even more! (editors aren’t cheap!) If you’ve helped me promote it, or given it as a gift, you are a treasure to me! But if you haven’t read it, or haven’t gifted it, I hope you’ll consider giving it to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking literary fiction. It is time to buy gifts, you know. Christmas is literally weeks away. This small artist would certainly appreciate your support during the 2014 holiday season. I noticed Amazon is offering 30% off on online orders. The book is $12, $10.69 for Prime members, and now with an additional 30% off, you save even more.

Win a free print copy of Casting Stones—my gift of reading to you—just add your email address to your comment at the bottom of this post on my blog, or email me directly at ginabarlean@gmail.com. One winner will be chosen. I will mail the book to the winner.

 

 

Giving Thanks

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It’s time to give thanks. So much to be thankful for I’m sure I can’t remember everything, but I think it’s worth the effort to try.

  • Thank you God for the abundance in my life and for my family’s health and safety.
  • Thank you to my husband for being a wonderful provider.
  • Thank you to my children for being a constant source of joy and pride in my life.
  • Thank you to my church, for welcoming me with open arms.
  • Thank you to my friends for making me smile.
  • Thank you to my extended family. I love you all and am in awe of your unconditional love.
  • Thank you Nebraska. You’re too darn cold in the winter and humid and buggy in the summer, but the fact is, you’re a good safe place to live.
  • Thank you to my pets who allow me to cuddle them and talk to them like they’re babies.
  • Thank you to my writing group who gives me support in the writing endeavors I undertake.
  • Thank you to so many new friends I’ve made over the last several years through writing groups and events.
  • Thank you so much to every person who reads my books. I can hardly believe I’ve had people from all over this country, and other countries who have read the words I’ve written.
  • Thank you to everyone who leaves a review on any book sales distribution site such as Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. Seriously, good reviews sell books and every 4 & 5 star review is like gold to this author.
  • And thank you to everyone who follows and comments on this blog. It means a lot to me to reach out and touch new people, or connect with those I know.

I have a daughter in St. Louis. The images of violence and anger in Ferguson last night are weighing heavy on my mind this morning. My daughter is safe, and for that I’m so thankful, but I’m mournful about the businesses who had to pay a debt they didn’t owe. I’m grieved over a media who no longer reports facts with a controlled tone, but now blurts out hearsay and gossip in voices that sound like little kids tattling on their friends at recess. And I’m praying we can all remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, who said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We could use a leader like Doctor King right now. I pray for that and I am thankful for every person who tries to bring harmony to the world.