Follow Down Salem Way on Wattpad

I’m trying out something new this summer. As some of you may have already guessed, I was stalled trying to bring the new Loving Husband story, Down Salem Way, to life. For now, let me just say that it wasn’t writer’s block as much as reader’s block. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a post later this week.

It’s about time I completed the story and sent it out there for fans of the series. After some consideration, I decided to experiment and post my progress on the novel twice a week on Wattpad.com. This way fans can see that, yes, in fact I am making progress on the story, and posting it this way will hold me accountable to both myself and readers. Her Dear & Loving Husband has received some great attention on Wattpad, and just today I received two lovely messages from readers who loved James and Sarah’s paranormal story of eternal love. It’s a great feeling knowing that my characters have struck such a positive note with readers all over the world.

Sharing unfinished fiction is definitely something new for me. Normally, I show my unfinished novels to exactly zero people. I like everything to be in tip top shape before readers read it, which means a lot of work prior to publication. While I’m nervous at the prospect of sharing my work in progress, I’m also finding the thought of it liberating. I don’t have to make myself crazy before I post things on Wattpad. The point of the platform is to allow people to write and revise, and revise some more, and some more after that, and it’s not supposed to be perfect when you first post it. I didn’t post Her Dear & Loving Husband on there until after it was published, so readers were seeing a finished product.

One of the great things about being a writer today is that there are so many ways to share our work. Thanks to Wattpad, our work doesn’t even need to be revised or polished before we start sharing our ideas with the world. So rest assured, James and Sarah’s story is moving forward. Down Salem Way is both a sequel and a prequel since like the other Loving Husband stories, it’s set in the past and the present. Today I posted the prologue, so we’re already getting started. I expect to post twice a week as I complete this draft.

If you’d like to join me on this adventure, visit me at Wattpad. Follow me on Wattpad and you’ll receive updates whenever I make a change to the story. I’m looking forward to this new journey with characters I love.

Health Matters—Not Perfection

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Spring in Las Vegas

As a writer, and like many of you, I spend most of my days sitting at the computer writing something. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, which isn’t such a physical activity either. When I’m not writing or reading, I have an ongoing thing with Netflix. We’ve all heard the health experts—too much sitting is not good for our physical health, and I’m pretty sure it’s not so great for our mental health since being stuck in one place can become a strain on the brain. Whenever I’ve been working for a long time, I keep looking out the window where today the sky is crisp blue and the yellow circle flowers are blooming on the bushes.

I admit I’ve been feeling the blahs lately. I watch the health segments on talk shows and I listen to health-centered podcasts, and I know that eating healthy foods and exercising helps us to alleviate stress and feel better generally, but maybe some of you can relate to the fact that the more stressed I am the more I tend to just sit and work and not eat particularly well. Cookies, candies, and sweet drinks all look more desirable when I’m stressed or under some time crunch.

I’ve become more concerned with my health than with losing weight. As the years have passed, I’ve become less concerned about what size clothes I wear. When I was younger, I was obsessed with the number on the label. One of the nice things about getting older is that, if we’re lucky, a little more wisdom comes our way. Besides, between us, I wear mostly stretchy pants these days. And who gets to set the standard of perfection anyway? We should be striving to be healthy, not skinny. It seems as though we’ve been wired to pursue some level of perfection that simply doesn’t exist, and the pursuit of that perfection only makes up unhappy and often more unhealthy. The other day I was watching Bill Nye the Science Guy’s new show on Netflix (that Netflix again…). By the way, if you’re not familiar with Bill Nye, he’s awesome! One of Bill’s guests said that whatever size you are when you eat a mostly healthy diet and get a reasonable amount of exercise is the perfect size for you. I wanted to kiss this woman through the television screen. Yes! I wanted to shout. That’s right. That’s what we should be striving for—health, not perfection. We want to eat healthy most of the time but allow ourselves pizza or ice cream on occasion—not all day, not every day, but sometimes. I know there are health experts who claim that they never eat a bite of bread or a grain of white sugar, but I often wonder if these people are truthful—or human. I can’t relate to people who claim to be perfect, so their messages about how to be healthy are often unhelpful to me.

I had to make a deliberate decision to be healthier since it’s so easy to grab a sugary drink or snack when I’m busy. I don’t start out well in the morning, sometimes skipping breakfast (I know, I know…), which means my eating schedule is thrown off the rest of the day, which makes a bagel look very appetizing when I get hungry. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional bagel, but every day? Probably not so good. I also had to make the decision to get out of my damn office chair. I’m the kind of person where once I get my focus on, I can keep going for hours. Granted, it takes me a while to find my focus. I’m a world-class procrastinator, as most writers are, and the Internet makes it too easy to shop for cat toys and coloring books. Once I get working, though, it’s all systems go and hours could pass before I know it. I’ve heard the tip to set a timer when you’re working. Every hour the timer goes off, reminding you to get up, move around, do a yoga stretch or take a walk around the block. I’ve been doing a better job of getting up. I work for a while, get up and play with the cats. I work for a while, get up and make lunch. I work for a while, get up and pop in an exercise video or hit the treadmill. I’ve eyed those standing desks and I’m curious, but not enough to actually buy one—yet.

I’m eating and drinking better too. I love fruits and vegetables, so eating more of them isn’t hard for me. Yes, I have to cook more, but I feel better afterwards so it’s worth the time and effort. The key for me as I’ve been making these changes has been not worrying about being perfect. If I decide I want a piece of cinnamon raisin bread, I’m not going to freak out about it. I’m going to eat the bread, enjoy it, and eat healthy the rest of the day. I’m focusing more on how I feel rather than pursuing perfection. I feel better when I drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, avoid too much sugar, and do my yoga stretches. The better I feel the more productive I am. When I sit too much or eat or drink too much sugar I feel lethargic and even simple tasks feel like they’re too hard. And that’s not how I want to live. I want to have the energy to tackle everything I have to do in a day, and in order to find that energy I have to be healthy, not perfect.