Saturday, October 26, 2019

My Up and Coming Sweet Romance / Women's Fiction

I'm so excited as Cat Therapy is heading towards formatting with its publisher, Black Opal Books. That means it should be coming out soonish. I have no idea when and I don't have a cover yet, but it's been such a lovely feeling working on the final edits. I read through the book yesterday, even though I was supposed to be having a rest from editing, but I wanted to get it done as next week I'm getting stuck into some editing jobs again. I try not to do much reading over the weekend as I need to rest my mind and eyes. I put it on my kindle. I always seem to find errors that way that I never pick up when reading it on the screen.

I signed a contract for Cat Therapy last year August, but there were some changes happening in Black Opal Books and some of their contracted books got delayed, mine being one of them. The wait was so hard. The book had been through the mill already with a challenging overhaul. It's had so many changes made to it, but I have to admit that I'm really happy with it now and that's rare for me - I'm overly critical of my own work.

I have been so indecisive on what genre to promote this book as. It's got a strong romance threading through it but it also has other stuff, so it reeks of women's fiction. I don't know if you've ever read Katie Fforde. She usually writes a story about a woman who has some life-changing and growth experiences in her life and places a strong romance in her novels. Well, it's like that. I wouldn't say my style is the same as hers, but it kind of reminds me of her books.

It's a book for cat lovers and those who want to learn about the magical love of cats.

Here is my latest blurb:

Cat Therapy is a tender and funny women's fiction / romance novel about healing, love, and cats—lots of them!

Two-times divorcée Cherry Smith is quite happy with single life. Well, a little lonely at times—until her elderly friends give her four cats. She already has two cats and a dog. Can she handle six cats? When the kitten needs her shots, she visits the new vet in town. Dr. Jeff Clark turns out to be even more handsome than what she's heard. But Cherry can't let him distract her. She's been burned too many times by attractive men. He makes her feel uncomfortable, especially when she tells him she has six cats, and he seems to disapprove. To pacify him, she says that she's running a cat therapy hotel. As she ponders the lie on her way home, she realizes what a fantastic idea it is. With the help of her friend Delia, they set up a bed and breakfast facility.

People come from far and wide to enjoy the love of her cats, including a gentle widower named Seb, who needs help with his grieving son. Cherry should really go for someone like him, but when the impossible Jeff Clark keeps wanting to check on her business, she can't help wanting to be with the man who takes her breath away. Friendship with him wouldn't be a good idea because she likes him too much and it's way too soon after his divorce. They just can't seem to see eye to eye either. Maybe she should rather date comfortable Seb. When Cherry is swept away by the trials and joys of her cat therapy hotel, she has to learn what she wants most in life and the true meaning of love and friendship.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Does Loving Yourself Mean Not Caring about Your Health

I've written a lot of posts about body positivity lately. And I got to thinking: What if you thought I didn't care about health? So, I thought I'd do a little post about how to focus on health and still love yourself as you are. The two aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, they go quite well together. Because our mental / emotional health affects our body too.

Health and morality do not meet. You are not a bad person if you are struggling with something in your body, or how to balance things in your physical life. But, hey, don't we all want to have that energy to pursue the things we love? If we can do a few things to make ourselves feel healthier, why not?

Anyway, these are my little health tips. I'm not a pro at this, but these are little, happy, casual, balanced ways I look after my health:

1. Take time to prepare a healthy meal every mealtime. Yes, it's an effort, and with a busy life, it can sometimes be hard, but you'll find that if you fill yourself up with healthy foods, you're less likely to fill up on fast foods or unhealthy snacks. You can still have the snacks, because oftentimes, it's the prohibition that makes us binge more, but you'll crave them less (or less of them) when you are already full and nourished. I still snack, but the snacks don't make the bulk of my nutrition. And healthy foods don't have to be boring foods. Spend that little extra on those gorgeous berries for your breakfast cereal. Colour your plate. You're worth it. (I struggle with quite a few food intolerances and allergies. At times it annoys me as I can't eat sweets and chocolates or many processed foods anymore. My doctor said it's a good thing, and I've been thinking, really, maybe it is. 😊)

2. Keep moving. This one is so hard if you're spending your whole day at the office behind a screen. That's why I like to go for a walk on the beach most weekends. If you don't get to move as often as you want or at all in a week, don't give up. Try your next free moment. The most important thing is to find a form of exercise you enjoy. It's when we do things we hate or just endure, just in the name of health, or to look good, we can't sustain them long-term. Find something you love doing where it doesn't even feel like you're exercising, like dancing, or walking in a favourite nature spot. Have a break or two in the middle of your work day - do some stretches or walk around a bit. I like to go to the garden, look or tend to my plants, and sit in the sun. (See point 5)

3. Don't let pursuing your health become your main focus in life unless that's what you do for a living or you're on a mission to nyx chronic illness. As soon as it takes up too much of your time, you are getting out of balance and your mental, emotional, and relationship health will suffer. If you need to focus on it for a while to get things back on track, great, but don't let it become an obsession. This is something you have to be careful with food. I know I've had a tendency to get orthorexia (becoming obsessed with healthy foods) in the past. It never helped me and it made me more sick. Food should be a pleasure and a joy. We affect our nutrition oftentimes more with the thoughts we have about the food we are eating than the actual food. Studies have shown that if we feel guilty about eating something, we don't get the full nutritional benefit of the food. All food has some nutrition in it. Let's be grateful for every morsel we get.

4. Sleep. Yes, I know, it's so hard to get enough of this bugger. I'm a night owl; I relate. But even if you take a nap as soon as you get home from work, or in a quiet spot in your lunch hour, why not? Best thing is to try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. If you can't, try to catch up a bit on the weekend. I know they say that doesn't work, but I think it certainly helps. Try not to overcommit yourself on weekends and week nights. Another thing I did was download this app on my computer called Flux and on my phone called Twilight - they take the blue light off my screens. The blue light keeps us awake at night. If you get out into real sunshine during the day, you'll also sleep better at night. I think one of the surest ways to mess up your sleep cycle is to not get enough calories in your diet and to overexercise. If you find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to pee, you most likely are not eating enough or resting your body enough from movement (unless you're pregnant, of course). It's a sign that your metabolism is slow. A good way to check whether your metabolism is fast enough is to take your temperature first thing in the morning. I think it should be above 98.6F (37C).

5. Get outside in the sun and fresh air. We miss out on so much in our modern lifestyles. We need sunshine. We spend too much time indoors. Find something you enjoy doing outdoors and make a plan to do it at least once a week, if you can. If you're like me and can't drink dairy milk, watch your Vitamin D levels. I have to take supplements.

6. Try to avoid eating lots of processed meats. As nice as they are, they should be a treat every now and then, not the main meat that you eat. Eating less meat helps our planet and our bodies, and even more so cutting out those ones that have been processed. There are so many interesting meals you can make with just veggies or with healthier, lean meats. (But don't feel guilty if you have that ham pizza; the guilt is worse for you than that bit of ham.)

7. Watch the fats that you eat. Good fats are things like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, avocado. Try to avoid processed vegetable oils, especially fried at a high temp.

Anyway, I'm guessing you know all this already, but I hope I gave you the feeling that working toward or maintaining our health can be a self-loving thing that is not weighed down with self-loathing and shame. That is my intention. It should be fun.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Self-Love When It's Hard

So, I write a lot about loving yourself, even when it's hard, in my second book, that should be coming out in a few months. It's not always easy to love yourself, but the key is to love yourself even when you aren't being very loving toward yourself. Sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. Let me give you an example of my own story.

I'm in the middle of perimenopause - that trying time when the body is transitioning into menopause. It's not an easy thing to go through. The symptoms it's causing make me feel really low about myself at that time of the month. I literally feel ugly and hate my looks. It doesn't help when I have a tendency already to compare my weight to others. It's something I've learned from our culture. It's sad really.

I saw a nude painting of Helen of Troy in a movie I watched a couple of weeks ago. She was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world at that time, and she looked a lot like me nude - full hips, rolls in the tummy area, tree-trunk thighs - you get the picture. It's really, really sad that nowadays you're pretty much unpopular and regarded as unworthy, lazy, and unhealthy if you're not slim. I could go into the health behind it, but I'm not going to now. That's a whole other post.

Hans Baldung 1545 (Not Helen of Troy)

Anyway, because being slim is regarded as beautiful and worthy, especially for women, when you're the fattest woman in the room, you feel kind of horrible, no matter how much you love yourself when you're at home, doing your thing. It's harder to love yourself when the culture screams at you at the top of its lungs continually.

So, I went to my dance group social on Monday. I shouldn't have gone because on the first day of my period, I really don't feel well physically. But I had FOMO (fear of missing out). Anyway, it was such an odd day with a lot going on and not feeling well, and I don't have a full-length mirror, so the outfit I chose wasn't a good pick. I only figured that out after the fact. I went there and danced to some of my favourite songs. It's something I love doing. But I began to feel sick and had to leave early. I pushed myself a bit hard, despite feeling sick, just to prove to people in the room that the fat girl could also dance. Not a good reason to push yourself. The next day, the first thing I saw in the morning was a video of us dancing. I looked like a blob / rock amongst elegant trees. Everyone else looked graceful and lovely and I was this round ball on the screen with spindly legs and arms sticking out. I was horrified. I was so embarrassed. I wished I had worn something slim-fitting, to make me look less huge. I began to go through scenarios in my mind - judging myself and hating on myself. It was NOT AT ALL EASY to love myself. And the hormones were pulling me down into the pit.

Image by
Just as animals come in all shapes and sizes, so do we.
Should we shoot the hippo and the seal because they are fat? Just saying.

What did I do? Not much except go watch some videos from my favourite fat-positive nutritionists and tell myself that this will pass. That I will soon feel better about myself, that next time I will wear something more flattering. But then I judged myself for not loving myself enough to have to wear something that was culturally more acceptable. This morning I thought - no, I can still work hard to wear something that makes me look thinner - there's nothing un-self-loving about that. We live in a culture that rejects us for being fat. What's wrong with working as hard as I can to make it easier on myself? (I'm not talking about dieting here. Yes, you are welcome to diet, but I'm no longer dieting as that is what made me go up three dress sizes after feeling sick as anything.)

Once my hormones were no longer persecuting me the next day, I felt better about myself. I felt tender toward myself. I concentrated on self-love in my morning meditation. I felt at peace again.

Now, having written a self-love book makes me feel all the more that I should be an example of self-love and not have these wobbles. But they happen. Often. And the key here is to love myself through it - to be gentle with myself as I grow in self-love. Will I ever feel okay about living in a bigger body? I don't know. I doubt I will. I have read so much material by fat-positive activists and coaches - they all struggle. Yes, they've made strides, but they still have bad days. It's so hard when society works against you - when you get looks, when you get rejected. Yes, I believe things are starting to change. As the health-at-every-size science research makes inroads into mainline medicine, things will start to change. But there is a tide that we are working against. And maybe in this lifetime, we won't get there, but things will get better - I believe it.

Another way that I slipped in my self-love this last week was overworking and not taking time out. So many things were happening around me, and they took over. It's so hard to put yourself first and nurture yourself when life throws you one challenge after another. You feel exhausted, depleted, and you've lost touch with that inner connection of love and peace. But it's never too late to find it again. As we grow in self-love, we learn how to make that connection again and again. We learn how to spring back sooner. We become more and more aware when we fall away. We begin to develop this self-love barometer inside our souls that speaks to us when we're going the non-loving route. Yes, it doesn't happen straight away. And I doubt we'll ever have it down to mastery. That's why we need to be gentle with ourselves. Accept that sometimes we neglect ourselves in the pursuit of money, helping others, putting out fires. It's part of life. The key is to say to yourself, "This too shall pass. Well done, you are doing so well despite it all. You're getting there."

I had the most glorious weekend where I let myself drink in the things that feed my soul - reading a good book, resting, walking at the beach, watching a favourite show. When you do get that chance to unwind and put yourself first, you'll come back to that sanctuary that you've made for yourself. It will now be a familiar spot; you will crave it and know how much it helps you. You'll be renewed and things will fall into place again. You'll be more mindful of when you do get out of balance.

You are a self-loving being. You can do it. Even if you fail, pick yourself up, and get onto the love-train again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

I've Been Getting Crafty

Okay, it was quite a while ago, but I got crafty. I enjoy water painting. It's a relaxing pastime for me. I'm not particularly talented. Or let's say I'm not aiming to sell my paintings as they're practice and experimentation. It's more like a meditation for me. I paint to relax my mind. And my arty daughter usually loves to join me any time I bring out the paints.

Being a lover of tarot and oracle cards, I decided to make a little oracle deck to go with my self-love book. So I cut out oracle-card shaped pieces of watercolour paper and painted patterns or backgrounds on them. Then I used a calligraphy pen to write the messages. The messages come from my book - I've used the affirmations at the end of each day.

I did a video showing off my cards for the first book. I have put it on Facebook as it's too large for Blogger. Here is the link to my author Facebook:

And here are some pics of a few of the cards.

You can find my book on preorder here:

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Excerpt from Falling in Love with Me

I can't believe my book is coming out in a few weeks. The last few weeks have been one challenge after another. Life doesn't always show sympathy and make our paths easy. But here I am - still standing.

I would love to share an excerpt with you from my self-love book, just for you to get a taste of what it offers.

This comes from Day 4 - Respect Yourself

I’ve always felt that the cornerstone of a good relationship is respect. If someone doesn’t respect you, they don’t really love you, do they?

But what does it mean to respect yourself?

This is a really hard one, but it’s so important.

Firstly, do you criticize yourself constantly? What would it be like if you did that to your partner, friend, or your child? Would they feel loved? Would they want to be around you? Not at all. Remember that you’re the only person who is with yourself 24/7, 365 days a year, all the years of your life. You’d better learn to get on.

There is nothing wrong with becoming a better person and working on your faults, but negative self-talk can be debilitating. You have to learn to celebrate all that you are and all that you’ve come through. You’re an amazing human being. You’ve accomplished so much so far in your life, or multiple lifetimes (if you so believe). You’ve overcome immense challenges and stuck it out through many trials. You’ve loved and laughed and cried. You’ve grown as a person, matured through the years. The deepest part of your being is pure love. That’s because you belong to The Universe which is also pure love. You are one and the same. The very deepest well of existence is love.

Sure, you’ve messed up. We all have. Maybe you’ve done some terrible things that have really hurt you and others. You did those things because you felt separate from love. They were a cry for help. It’s time to forgive.

If self-respect is hard for you, write a list of five things you like about yourself.

My book is available on preorder on Amazon and Smashwords here:


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Stages of Writing and Publishing a Book and a Cover Reveal

There are about eleven stages in birthing a book out into the world:

1. Thinking up an idea.
2. Writing the first draft.
3. Reading through and editing the first draft - maybe rewriting stuff.
4. Sending to beta readers and fixing.
5. Deciding what to do with the book and going ahead with it - self-publishing or sending out to publishers.
6. Getting that contract or editor to work on your book.
7. Going through the editing stage.
8. Designing a cover or working with a cover designer, then doing the cover reveal. (This stage could be done at the same time as stage 7.)
9. Formatting the book and starting off your marketing.
10. Book release day!
11. Marketing, marketing, marketing...

I'd love to know what your favourite stage is. I'm more and more feeling like writing the first draft is truly the best part. There's something about that tingle of first creation that's so powerful, so beautiful, like the first few buds of spring after a long winter. Getting a new cover is another high moment. I think my worst stages are definitely 5, 7, and 11. Marketing being the worst. I hate pushing myself out there. I'm excited to talk about my book, but after going through the editing stage, I've lost a bit of that starry-eyed wonder toward it. Now I see it too critically. It's hard to take that editor's eye off it. Marketing isn't my strongest point. I know it's so important though. I would prefer someone else to do it all for me. But, in the end, I'd say all the stages are special in their own way and part of the wonderful and sometimes gruelling process.

Anyway, I have hit the cover-reveal stage of my self-love book. I'm so excited as I absolutely adore this cover that my daughter Laura made. She is so talented.

Falling in Love with Me

30 Days of Self-Love

Do you struggle to like yourself? Do you battle with negative thoughts about your body, your worth, or your personality? Do you wish you were like someone else? What if you could learn to love yourself? Falling in Love with Me is a book full of nuggets of wisdom on how to love yourself, even if the world keeps on telling you otherwise. In thirty days, you can grow your self-love muscle and change the way you speak to yourself in your head. And maybe become a more peace-filled and happy person.

Falling in Love with Me is written in a casual, intimate style without the clutter of academic jargon and multiple exercises and worksheets. It's a self-love book that can be read as your daily companion. Each day's write-ups are short and sweet but pack a punch in whispering those loving thoughts right in your ear, like a dear best friend who always has your back. Born out of grief, this book shows a way to heal your broken heart and bring you back to love.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

BR to Four Foxes, One Hound - Commonalities in My Stories

I follow this amazing author blog called Four Foxes, One Hound. It's comprised of five authors who share parts of their lives and about their writing and books. The theme this past week has been Commonalities in My Stories. The authors have listed the common themes or threads in the books that they've written. So, I couldn't resist doing a BR - Blog Response. 😊 You can find Jeff Salter's one here. He went into huge detail. I don't know if I can match that, but I'm going to try to list a few things.

Four Foxes, One Hound

Major Characters

Most of the time, my main character is a heroine and she's usually into something that she's really passionate about, which is her career in life. Or she changes her life around to follow this special dream. For example, in the Wedding Girls Series, with Clean Reads, they were all into things to do with weddings. Kiana sold wedding gowns and sewed bridesmaid dresses on the side; Elaine made wedding cakes; and Rachel ran a wedding chapel on a cruise ship. In my Creators Series, with Decadent Publishing, Tessa ran an art gallery and painted these secret paintings of her dream of having a kid; Rowena was a ballet teacher; and Alicia was into photography but suppressed her desires because she carried so much shame.

Usually my heroines are more introverted, but not always. They often aren't looking for romance. They've either given up or are jaded from a broken relationship, or they're too busy with their lives.

My heroes are generally kind, gentle, giving types. Maybe too perfect. I could probably develop them more.

Secondary Characters

The heroine usually has a best friend who helps her along the way. Sometimes she gets a story in the next book, e.g., the book I'm writing at the moment is the story of Colette's best friend, Rachel, who features in When Love Blooms, which has just been contracted with Black Opal Books.

I do have grandmothers, aunts, cousins, work colleagues, or siblings. But most of the time there's a best friend around.

In Cat Therapy, it's Delia, who comes alongside Cherry to help her run her Cat Therapy Hotel.

Main Themes

The usual theme of my books is finding love, but in my later, more recent books, I've tried to thread in a women's fiction theme, as well, where my characters have discovered things about themselves and grown as people. The love relationship isn't the only focus. For e.g. in Cat Therapy, Cherry learns about self-love and how to heal from heartache. In the book I'm writing at present, my heroine learns the importance of balance and taking time to rest and renew. In my short story, Ghostly Tours, the heroine learns the importance of forgiveness of the past. In Reminding Me of You, Mia learns to listen to her intuition.

Other Things that Come Up

I find a lot of my books feature cats as pets: Wedding Gown Girl, Cat Therapy, and now my latest book, In Full Fruit.

I also have a thing about magical shops / items. This features in my Album series which I have taken off the market until I fix up Book 1. I wrote a magic shop in my first ever novel, The Shoe Shop, which is pretty awful, lol.

I'd love to hear what common threads you have through your books.