Hulless Barley

What is Hulless Barley, you might ask?

Here’s a pretty good look at it:. Not pearlized barley, mind you, though this is what most of us think of when I say barley. Hulless is quite different from its processed cousin, both in taste, texture, and fiber content.

I came across hulless barley back when we were really trying to add more whole grains into our diet. I really like it. To me, it tastes faintly sweet and nutty. I can take or leave rice, but I actually will eat hulless barley without butter or other toppings.

But then, our local grocery store stopped carrying. Yes, I could drive across town and get it from the organic store, but let me tell you about shopping with a toddler and preschooler in tow.

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So, yes, we make one trip to one grocery store per week. My husband and I make the grocery list together, and one of us goes on a mission to acquire the groceries while the other stays home with the kids. It’s sort of like a mini-mission impossible: get out of the house without either child noticing and going into a fit of tears because mommy or daddy is leaving.

Of course, if you ask them if they want to go to the store, the answer is always no. If you take them anyway, there is a price to pay, and I’d rather them cry at home than at the store.

Anyway, we gave up on the hulless barley and moved on to other grains.

Then, my love of Amazon reminded me I could check there.

Lo and behold, while Amazon didn’t sell it, one of their third party vendors did. On prime, no less, and their with shipping included was less than what I’d been paying at my local grocery store. You know I hit that Buy button.

So, we made it with stir fry the other night. Yes, that’s right, barley instead of rice. Delicious. And really good for you. Then, I had it the next day in my lunch. But, I’d forgotten what eating such a high fiber food when you aren’t used to it does to you.

moderation

Moderation. I won’t forget again.

 

How about you? Any whole grains you like? Perhaps something new and amazing, or something you’d like to warn the rest of us about?

Burnout According to Science

After feeling rather burned out and then not being able to get myself back on track, I started to wonder if there was any science behind the phenomena of burnout.

There is. Lots of it. Apparently, I’m not alone.

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According to Psychology Today   “The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.”

While some of this doesn’t resonate, enough does.

The whole being in control thing is a big deal for us Type A personalities. And I have a lot of control at my day job. It may not be my life’s calling, but I’m good at it. Writing, on the other hand . . .

I have no control over it at all.

Despite the hours I’ve poured into both reading and writing, the classes I’ve taken, and the books I’ve read, I have no control.  I’ve been working on this for the majority of my life, yet I keep walking away from it.

Why?

Because no matter how much work I put into it, I have no control over the results. Self-publishing has changed some of this, but I still have no control over the success or failure of a book.

Then there’s the hard truth about branding and social media presence that goes along with being an author.

I was not on any social media until it was driven home to me that I had to be in order to be an author. I don’t like social media. I avoided it for years for a reason. So the whole line about responsibilities matching your true calling… Maybe I’m meant to be a writer, but I’m most assuredly not meant to be a social media personality.

If you poke around on Psychology today, you’ll come across this article that further explains that burnout is chronic stress that leads to:

  • physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

I can honestly say yes to all three of those.

The article also says when you are truly burned out, you can no longer function effectively on a personal or professional level.  So, at least I’m not totally burned out. I mean, I can still function at work at with my family.

Sure, I’m a bit more short-tempered lately, but I can function.

Right, guys? Right?!?

shorttemper
And let me tell you how much BS there is with two small humans

The article does say burnout doesn’t happen all at once, that it creeps up on us though it does give us some some signs.

I went through the list and noted several below, but it’s hard to parse out what’s just a part of life and what isn’t.

Signs of Burnout

1.Chronic fatigue.  Okay, so what modern American doesn’t this apply to? Especially a working mom with a toddler?

2. Insomnia. Only if you count being woken up repeatedly in the middle of the night by a child suffering from night terrors. Otherwise, I am exhausted at the end of the day and within minutes of my head hitting the pillow, I am usually asleep

3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention. I blame Twitter for this.

4. Physical symptoms. They include a list of things to look for, among them headaches, but it’s hard to know the difference between normal migraines and burnout induced ones.

5. Increased illness. Children are walking, talking Petri dishes. The moment I see the sign up at daycare that some new disease is sweeping through the center, I know it’s coming home with me.

cold

6. Loss of appetite. This is one thing I’d actually take. I’ve been on the other side of this lately with increased appetite.

7. Anxiety. I am a Type A personality. When am I not anxious or worried about something?

8. Depression. Nothing really to say here. While I don’t think I’m experiencing it, it’s too big of a deal to make a snarky observation.

9. Loss of enjoyment. Here we go. This is definitely something I am enduring. I just don’t like writing like I used to. Part of it is definitely feeling the need to do things I really don’t like. Like Facebook. That looms over me, steals writing time, and starts to flavor the entire writing experience.

10. Pessimism. Is there any artist that doesn’t feel this way, especially if they haven’t been “discovered” or published? Might even be worse once you are “discovered” as then I’d constantly worry if I was a fraud or not.

11. Isolation. Introvert here. I like people. Sometimes. In moderation.

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12. Detachment. Hmmm, I have been feeling more detached from my work. Caring less about the characters.

13. Increased irritability. Remember the two kids I love and would do almost anything for? They are very demanding, and I have been losing my temper more lately. Might be burnout or the result of living with a toddler and preschooler.

14. Lack of productivity and poor performance. My word count has definitely been suffering.

As I read through this list, it makes me think what I’m experiencing isn’t such a big deal. Clearly, I’m on the lighter side of burnout.

It’s still real for me, and it’s affecting me.

I need to do more thinking on this. Think more about what’s leading to burnout and what I can control.

Control. That, I believe, may be key.

 

How about you? Any of these describe you? Ever felt burned out before? What did you do to combat it?

The Lunch Lady is a Chemical Engineer

No, I’m not joking. The lunch lady at my daughter’s school is, indeed, a chemical engineer.

ChemE1

I was shocked. Chemical engineering is hard. Damn hard. She graduated from a good school. Had a terrific job at a Fortune 100 company. Then, she and her husband (who is also an engineer) decided to have kids. She went back to work after their first child was born, but she didn’t go back after their second child and has no intention of returning to her old job.

Why?

She can’t work and do all of the things she needs to do with kids. That includes finding care for them during the multitude of school holidays and over the summer, getting them to and from school (school by us starts after most people have to be at work, and gets out long before most people are home), and getting them to the myriad of activities that require a day time chauffeur.

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My first thought was what a waste of human capital.

She is smart and well-educated. She was doing some cool work on batteries I barely understand, and there is so much more she could have contributed.

But an antiquated education system designed during an era when women didn’t work outside of the house has created a paradigm where a chemical engineer puts aside four years of grueling college work and another six years of industry experience to serve lunches and chauffeur kids around.

Think about that for a moment. Doesn’t it feel like such a waste?

Yet, I am starting to understand as I struggle to find .

Our VP of HR hires a nanny during the summer even though her kids are all in elementary school. As she said, it was the only way to get them to all of the soccer camps, ballet camps, and various other summer activities that suburban children are expected to attend or risk “falling behind”.

Yeah, already worried about falling behind in elementary school. Because if all the other kids are in soccer camp and yours isn’t…  You get the idea.

I have no idea what a good solution to this is. I like to delude myself and think that there are people out there working on it, but I fear there aren’t.

ChemE3

That for some reason we’re content with this waste of human potential. I’m not even sure why we’re okay with it, just that we seem to be.

Maybe I’m just more aware of it as out little ones become school-age. I’m already seeing the issues as we have to cart DD1 to dance class, tumbling, or swim lessons. I recently received the school schedule, and counted 21 days off that the kids have that do not correspond to a normal work schedule. So, yeah, gotta find some kind of care for those 21 days.

I wish there was a magical place I could drop my kids off in the morning, pick them up there in the afternoon, on every day I have to work. They would be educated, get the activities that they need, and the socialization. This magical place sends me a monthly bill, and all is well.

I suppose we all have our dreams.

 

If you have kids, how do you handle all of the activities, especially if they are during work hours? Any kid chauffeur services I’m not aware of?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What, No Salt?

I never thought I liked hard boiled eggs. I though the outside was tasteless and rubbery, and the inside was a gritty yellow mess.

I avoided hard boiled eggs in all of their forms, including deviled. I knew they were a protein-packed snack full of good fats, but the knowledge did not make my taste buds snap into line and like the taste or texture.

Well, the nutritionists are telling us eggs are great right now. I remember as a kid being told they were high in cholesterol and terrible for us. Seems like the consensus on whether or not they’re healthy changes with the decade. My taste buds, however, have been unwavering.

Anyway, my youngest child mostly refuses to eat meat. Yes, she’ll occasionally partake of very expensive steak. Possibly a few bites of hamburger once a full moon, but otherwise, she doesn’t much eat it. After hearing this, the doctor told us to try several other protein sources, among them hard boiled eggs.

toddler1

So, I looked up how to make hard boiled eggs online. There are a slew of recipes out there, all that promise not to create the nasty sulfur-tasting green ring around the yoke.

I figured, okay, this is literally boiling an egg. How hard can it be.

*smiles*

Yes, I know you’re laughing at me, but after attempting to follow these recipes, I was able to soft boil an egg, but never hard boil one. A word on soft boiled eggs. A two-year-old can make quite a mess with one, and she will not eat it as much as see it as a finger paint.

After several dozen eggs and frustrating attempts, I pulled open my old Better Homes and Garden recipe book. You know the one.

Better-Homes-Gardens - Copy

I received it as a gift probably twenty years ago, maybe more. It has a recipe for hard boiled eggs, and it also discusses the sulfur taste as well as gives a way to avoid it. I followed Better Home’s recipe, and my first batch of eggs turned out perfectly. Yeah, perfect firm exterior and bright yellow middle. No sulfur taste, no discolored yoke.

egg1.png
You will note the perfectly yellow yoke.

I took a bite, but I still wasn’t impressed.

DH then informed me I needed to add salt. It would be a lot better.

I was skeptical, especially as we’ve tried hard to reduce the sodium in our diet. But he insisted hard boiled eggs were eaten with a sprinkle of salt on the exterior.

I sprinkled some salt and took another bite.

It was so much better!  I might even say I like hard boiled eggs.

My daughter, however, was still unimpressed.

On to beans!

 

How about you? Ever resort to old-school advice on anything? Have any tips or tricks to boiling eggs? Or getting toddlers to eat meat? Getting toddlers to eat or do much of anything you’d like them to do?

Protein Powder – Fact and Wishful Thinking

I have taken up strength training, and as part of the process, the nutritional information I’ve been fed most of my life kicked in.

Ever since I took a class through my employer twenty years ago, people have been pushing protein powder post workout. Not just any protein powder, but whey protein.

Up until this point, I’d been diligently following what that original instructor told me. The books I’d bought on the subject reiterated everything he’d said.

Protein1
No, not Facebook. Just my blog.

I decided to check with science and see what the actual demonstrable results were.

This was harder than I thought.

I read through the WebMD articles, but there were no links to actual studies. No published results. Just an “expert” giving their opinion. I was surprised, though I probably shouldn’t be.

There is a lot of really good information here  if you are a really serious lifter. If you look past the images, you’ll see that the site is actually quite impressive. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was. The articles I read there were all very well written and footnoted.

Yeah, the authors quote real studies. They think about those studies and what they mean for their target readers. Seriously good site. I wish I could find something similar for middle-aged desk-jockeys trying to dodge osteoporosis. Interestingly, this site assumes you are drinking a shake after workout and goes into which protein powders are best. But, these guys are hardcore lifters.

I am not. Middle-aged desk-jockey, remember?

So, WebMD’s site offered a different opinion than the “expert” that my company had paid to come talk to all of the employees, and a different opinion than that of devoted lifters. WebMD’s opinion had no scientific studies behind it, so I dug a little deeper.

Protein2
Opinions masquerading as facts permeate the web. Have to check your sources carefully.

 

I found this: Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training

It’s from the US National Library of Medicine. Yeah, that’s a respectable data source.  I tried to read this article, but I’ll confess, I ended up skipping down to the conclusion. That conclusion states that certain proteins, consumed pre or post workout, do, indeed, have an impact. Not only that, but for building muscle, whey protein really did have the best results.

Sometimes experience, as in the case of those weight lifters over at T-Nation, has taught us a thing or two.

Next question for me, however, is does what I do really constitute the level of exertion they are describing in the study.

Probably not. I’m a desk-jockey by day and romance writer by night. Yes, I’m strength training, but I’m not really “weight lifting”. Especially not like the guys a T-Nation. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m in awe. Especially after enduring my version of strength training. That’s serious dedication and pain over there that I’ll never have.

That’s okay. My goals are different. I’ll never be ripped, but I am looking to be able to stay mobile as I age and fend off osteoporosis which is a big deal in my family, especially for desk-jockeys.

As of right now, I am still using the powder after each workout.

Protein3
Although, first I have to get the scoop out. Why doesn’t it attach to the lid?!?

Not because I think it’ll help me build more muscle, but because of a less talked about side effect.

Faster recovery.

I’d love to link to a quality study on this, but for all of the websites that talk about faster recovery, none of them actually link to any studies that prove it. *sigh*

What I do have is my own experience. Maybe it’s placebo (the brain is powerful that way), or maybe it’s real, but lots of people who do much harder workouts than mine swear it helps get rid of jelly legs faster. Lemme tell ya, I’ll do a lot to get rid of jelly legs and drinking something that tastes like chocolate milk is not a hardship.

So, for the moment, I’m willing to let my quest for the truth rest and drink my protein shake after working out. Maybe it helps, maybe it’s all in my head, but for the moment, I don’t see any reason not to indulge a placebo. And, they whey protein I found on Amazon tastes like chocolate milk.

 

How about you? Do you strength train, and if so, do you drink a protein shake afterwards? Why or why not? Any other post-workout tips to reduce jelly legs or just the general aches and pains?

Brain Went on Summer Vacation

A week before vacation, my brain and body decided they were already there. I struggled to motivate myself on my WIP, and my exercising regime became sporadic.

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I enjoyed the week I was off of work, but it’s now a full week after returning from vacation, and I’m still not back in my groove.

Perhaps it’s the summer doldrums. Our months-with-snow are usually longer than our months-without-snow. My daytime gig as a desk jockey is usually quieter in the summer months before we gear up for budgeting. Right after budgeting, we face a new fiscal year, and things get even more hectic.

So, yeah, summer is a good time to relax, take a deep breath, and get ready to face the challenges.

So, after three weeks, why am I not facing those challenges?

Maybe I’ve hit a snag with my current WIP.

The piece I’ve been working on for over a year is at the point that I actually have to send my baby out into the world and face the cruel rejections coming. I truly dread this.

Maybe I’ve been pushing hard for a while and I need a break. A longer break. Burn out is very real.

Maybe I don’t really know what motivates me, so I struggle to stay motivated.

I’ve adjusted my word count requirements to reasonable levels, but there’s more to it. I just don’t know what that more is.

As far as exercising goes, I suppose this is the epic uphill battle you face when you hate exercising. When it’s always a chore rather than something you look forward to doing. Not sure how to fix that, either.

Time to do some thinking. To analyze what’s going through my brain and why my motivation has evaporated into procrastination. Science may help with this, or it may just be I have to figure things out for myself.

Maybe inspiration will come and get me.

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What do you do to rekindle motivation, especially if it’s something you know you need to do rather than want to do? Any tips or tricks you use to escape the procrastination beast?

 

Book Review: Nothing Like a Duke

BookNothing Like a Duke

Author: Jane Ashford

Status: Don’t bother.

This book was one in a series. It may have been better if I’d read the rest of the series, but I doubt it.

NothingLikeADuke

Premise: I’m sure there is a premise… Woman goes to a house party and the man she loves happens to be there, but she didn’t know he’d be there, and he didn’t know she’d be there. Yeah, I’m still not sure what the story was supposed to be about, and I read the book.

Plot: I couldn’t find one. The hero goes to a house party to forget the heroine for reasons. Didn’t read the other books, so I don’t know why. Heroine goes to the same house party for reasons. I never really figured out why she went. It’s not clear other than she wanted to see the ton, but why she does must’ve been in another book.

While nothing in this book was deep, the part that was very disturbing to me was the way the author treated PTSD. I don’t think she did any research on it, or if she did, it was very superficial.

  • The heroine was apparently captured, tied up, and helpless at one point in an earlier book.
  • We’re told this is a big deal toward the end of the book. We’re never shown her nightmares, her fear of men, her fear of being in tight places (which happens). Even her being caught in a brier bush is told to us from the hero rather than a very deep and dramatic scene for the heroine.
  • The “cure” for this was for her to be attempted to be raped by another man and for the heroine to escape on her own.

I know very little about PTSD. Maybe this would work, or maybe it would deepen her fears. I don’t know. But the way it was handled was not believable to me.

Romance: The hero, Robert, already loves the heroine, Flora, from another book. Flora also loves Robert and has no real reason not to want the romance to happen. I’m not sure why this book wasn’t over in less than 50 pages rather than the 352 it took.

Steamy Scenes: There were none. Not one. So this isn’t where the filler came from to get to the 352 pages.

Imagery: Nothing was ever really brought alive for me. Nothing felt sumptuous or beautiful. So, this isn’t what filled the 352 pages, either.

Characters: There is no character development. Robert starts out as Robert and ends as Robert. We’re told he’s celebrated by the ton, what all gentleman aspire to be. Perhaps we were *shown* that in previous books, but not this one.

Flora learns all people in the ton are people rather than caricatures, but that’s really not a lot of growth, either. We’re told Flora is smart so freaking many times I was ready to scream. And she’s beautiful. And she’s smart. And she’s charitable. And she’s smart.

One of the things I hated most about this book is that so much of it focused on a rivalry between the heroine and another female character over the hero. It started to boarder on the absurd, and frankly, I am tired of the trope. I prefer to see female friendships rather than competition over a man. It was such a blatant competition, the one woman literally called the other her competitor. Yuck.

 

All in, I’d rather do the dishes or vacuum than read this novel a second time.

Happily-Ever-After According to Science

Why do some marriages work and others don’t? Why do some people stay in a bad marriage, while others will leave a relatively good marriage?

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I hated Romeo and Juliet anyway.

Some will say love. Romance. Soul mates. On the more mundane and practical side, people will say shared interests, beliefs and goals.

As a romance writer and reader, you often see the story end at the point where the characters are married and are now expected to live happily-ever-after. Or, maybe this particular trope is one where they’re forced to marry because of plot reasons, but by the end of the story, they confess their love for each other and then live happily-ever-after.

Either way, we end with the characters in love and ready for their happily-ever-after ending.

In the real world, more marriage will end in divorce than be successful. At least in America they will.

Yeah, not very romance-writer of me to mention that, I know. But, if I want to give my characters a believable happily-ever-after, I need to understand what leads to that happily-ever-after. What makes some marriages work?

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No, no, no, no, no!

 

Well, science has an explanation on why some marriages work and some don’t. It’s called Interdependence Theory.

Interdependence Theory states the following.

Rewards – there are rewards from marriage (or any social interaction). These can range from companionship to physical intimacy. Interdependence theory has defined them as the following:

  • Emotional – Positive and negative feelings in a relationship. These are especially important in a close relationship. Ah, here we’re getting to where love comes into play. See, you knew I was a romance writer!
  • Social – Or how you appear to others. Does being seen with a super model make you feel better about yourself? What about with a stripper? What other social repercussions are there from the relationship? Perhaps you have to attend a lot of operas, and you love opera. But what if you hate opera?
  • Instrumental – These rewards are achieved when a partner is proficient at handling tasks. Like mowing the lawn, building the kids a tree fort, or doing the laundry without anyone getting stuck with pink socks (true story).

Costs – there are costs to a relationship as well. Basically, for all of the different types of rewards (emotional, social or instrumental), there is a corresponding cost. So, just like there are emotional, social and instrumental rewards, there are emotional, social, and instrumental costs. Makes sense.

So, DH putting up with my annoying habit of leaving my shoes by the sofa where I kick them off every night would be an example of an instrumental cost my husband has to pay regardless of how many times I’ve promised I’d be better about it. Or going to the annual corporate party for my employer would be a social cost. Sorry honey!

Rewards Minus Costs  Should Be Positive – Yeah, not very romantic, is it? Sounds more like I’m building a profit and loss statement than writing a romance novel.

Yes, I’m sure I’m a romance writer. But science is seldom romantic.

However unpleasant it may sound, research has shown that humans keep a record, whether consciously or not, of the net value of a relationship to us. So, you’re in a “profitable” relationship if the rewards outweigh the costs. But, this still isn’t enough to keep people in a relationship. They have to be making “enough” profit. Kind of like when you invest in your 401(k) account. You only have so much money, so you want to select the investments that will net you the most profit for the time you have them invested.

Comparison / Opportunity Cost – Once someone has tallied up their total relationship rewards and costs, they will either consciously or subconsciously review their other options. Even if they are net positive, in their account isn’t earning as much as they think it should, they are more likely to end the relationship and look for another. This may explain all of the Hollywood break-ups.

 

Okay, so now that we know this, how can we apply the science to making a romance novel earn its happily-ever-after?

mar3
Not the response I’m looking for, though I may have said it about a romance novel or three.

 

I want my happily-ever-afters to be believable. So, here are a couple of ways I can use the Interdependence Theory to make it believable:

1.No Alpha-Holes – A strong male lead could provide a lot of rewards on the instrumental level. He gets stuff done. But even if a heroine loves him, the emotional and social costs of dealing with him are going to be extremely high. Toning him back so he’s still an alpha without being a jerk would help a lot.

2. No Porcelain Dolls – Both characters in the romance have to be active. If either can basically be put on the shelf while the other does all the heavy lifting, you’re going to have a relationship with very high instrumental costs. No matter how much you love someone, if they can’t figure out how to open the refrigerator and get themselves a soda, you’re going to get pretty ticked at them after a while.

3. Opposites Might Not Attract – The whole wallflower with a super outgoing character trope might not end well. If the wallflower really doesn’t like much social interaction, but the extrovert loves it, there is going to be a high social cost to the relationship. Unless, of course, one or the other is the way they are to mask their true personality. The extrovert who actually hates all the parties etc.

 

What do you think? Does interdependence theory hold water in your book? Think it’s bunk? If so why or why not? Any other way that it could be used in writing to give believable happily-ever-afters?

Book Review: Mine Till Midnight

Title: Mine Till Midnight

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Status: Worth a Read

Mine

 

I listened to this as an audiobook rather than read it. I am still pretty new to listening to books, but I am starting to really like it. The experience is different, and while I still prefer to read rather than listen to books, this is a great way to get some “reading” in while doing boring tasks like cleaning the kitchen or weeding.

 

Summary: After the death of their parents, four sisters are dependent on their older brother who has a promising future as an architect. When the brother loses the woman he loves to scarlet fever, he becomes a self-destructive boar. This is compounded when the deaths of three distant family members drop a “cursed” title and admission to the peerage on this brother.  The story centers around the oldest sister, Amelia. She’s forgone marriage herself to see to her family, keep them together, and keep them safe. She encounters Rohan, the hero of the story, while rescuing her brother from a gaming club.

Plot: Plot is pretty sparse. It’s basically getting Amelia and Rohan together as she deals with the trials of her family. With a suicidal brother, a sister with weak lungs from her bought with scarlet fever, to a kleptomaniac sister, Amelia has her hands full. The fact that the estates that came with the title are falling apart, literally, doesn’t help. There’s enough going to keep the story moving forward and keep Amelia and Rohan together without feeling contrived. I don’t expect more, so this was fine with me.

Romance: It’s pretty standard that he falls in love with her, then must convince her that she wants to give up her independence to be his bride. He has a few issues along the way coming to terms with his feelings, giving up his own freedom as he feels tied down by her world, but he comes to terms with them. No real spoiler here as this is a romance novel, but he gets her to agree to marry him by the end of the book. Some of her objections in the last quarter of the book become annoying, and this was one of the only part that had me rolling my eyes.

Characters: Rohan is half gypsy, so this is a unique spin on any romance novel I’ve ever read. I can tell the author did research on the gypsy people of the time. Or if she didn’t, she faked it exceedingly well. Possibly helped by the fact that none of my history classes even touched on them. War of the Roses? Oh yes. Roma people? Not at all.

Rohan is your typical physically powerful very rich male lead. But the fact that he’s an outcast for his mixed heritage adds a different flavor.

Amelia is your standard pretty spinster heroine who has put independence and siblings first. If you’ve ever dealt with difficult or unruly children, you’ll feel for her. She has personality, but not nearly as interesting as Rohan.

One thing I loved about this book was that woman are shown as friends. The Countess of Westcliff is kind and understanding. As is Lady St. Augustine. So many authors, far too many, in my opinion, show other women as rivals. They discard all notions of female friendship and focus on a very unhealthy rivalry. Always over a man. This author did NOT do that, and I very much appreciated it.

The sisters were kind and snarky to each other, as sisters will be.

Steamy Scenes: These are quite good. Very good. Some worth rereading. This is one of the author’s big strengths.

Use of Imagery: This is amazing. Her descriptive prowess is excellent, and she does it succinctly using terrific metaphors and similes I don’t usually here. She makes things feel sumptuous and sensual. This is a huge strength for this author.

 

All in, this is a good read from an author I had written off after not being able to get through more than a chapter or two of another one of her books. Makes a case for giving an author a second chance. And I never would have if I hadn’t been able to get her audiobooks from the library.

Burned Out

I am burned out.

candles

I have been burning the candle at both ends, and as so many have said before, you can’t do that forever.

I’m a mom, corporate employee, spouse, writer, and person who exercises.

I just can’t be all of it the way I want all the time, and I’m paying the price.

 

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And here I gave up coffee…

I am no longer finding joy in writing.

I’m finding less happiness in blogging.

All of the branding and social media is exhausting. A more extroverted person might not find it so, but that’s not me. Few writers seem to be natural extroverts, though they do exist, and this whole use of personality to connect with readers is starting to seem spurious at best.

So, I unplugged. I took several days off of all social media, and no one missed me. Makes me think social media is a lot less social than its name implies.

workagain

I haven’t exercised in over a week.

Rather than feeling tired and run down, I’m actually feeling better. Maybe the break was needed.

I haven’t written in 5 days. Not even over the weekend. It felt good.

No guilt at sneaking in a few words while the kids were playing or while I was doing housework. No race to the computer once the kids were in bed.

I don’t know what this means for me long term. Perhaps it’s the wake-up call I need to get my priorities straight and realize I can’t do everything I want and need to do.

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I’ve spent the last 2.5 years working on my writing. The last 1.5 years adding a blog and other social branding to the mix. I have yet to publish a book. I don’t even have an agent.

A growing part of me says to self-publish and be done. Put the work I’ve already done out there and walk away. But I can’t do that without feeling disingenuous.

If my self-published work fails, which it most likely will, I won’t know how it could have done if I pushed forward and kept up the branding. If I had a back list. Or if I’d tried, really tried, and succeeded in landing a publisher like Avon that know the Romance market.

I’ve walked away from writing before. Many times before. It demands so much, and there are so many other things in life that need me.

Demon
Is this the doubt-demon making an appearance? Again…

Perhaps I just need a break. A chance to catch my breath. To ignore my muse for a while so she’ll want to come back (she can be fickle like that).

Or maybe I need to take a long break and ease back. I already know I will never be a full time writer. We depend on my corporate America income.

 

Have you ever come to a point where you know something has to give? Where you’re feeling frazzled, burned out, and like you aren’t always present in the moment? What did you do about it? What choices did you make? How did you deal with it?