Friday, May 27, 2011

Q&A with MIMI BARBOUR

Thanks for being here today, Mimi. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?
Thanks so much for having me Rebecca. I wanted to tell your readers how I came to be invited on this blog. The story goes – Rebecca and I sat next to each other at a convention workshop in Seattle, and got to chatting like authors tend to do during the intermissions at these presentations. She was so sweet and invited me to contact her when my new release came due as she wanted to support me.


Rebecca, I thought that was incredibly nice and just wanted you and your readers to know how very much I appreciated your offer. (It's certainly not hard to be nice to Mimi. She's a sweetheart and very easy to talk to.)

Bio: Mimi Barbour lives on the beautiful west coast on Vancouver Island and writes her spirit/travel romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. Asked why she prefers paranormal, she answers - chuckling.


“Because it’s fun! Imagination can be a lot more interesting than what happens in real life to so-called normal people. I love my characters, and my goal is to make the readers love them also. To care about what happens to them while the story unfolds. If I can steal my booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a humorous fantasy, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”


Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?


A Nope – not even a little. One day at church, they were doing the Myers-Briggs testing on a bunch of parishioners, and I had to go to the far end of the line for being the one most extraverted. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not!!!


Q That's a great thing. I wish some of that would rub off on me. :) So, what’s the hardest part of this business for you?


A The hardest part…hmmm!


I love the writing. To create the characters and take them from their everyday lives, put them in crazy situations where they meet and fall in love, torture them along the way, and then – finally – let them have their happy endings.


I love the networking and meeting new people both online and in person. Authors are wonderful, warm and caring folks who are only too happy to give a helping hand and answer any questions they can. (Prime example - how sweet you were to me in Seattle.)


I love being a member of the local RWA and various writing groups I’ve joined. By working closely with others who care about the same things I do, it’s opened up a whole new world for me.


But, I dread the time I have to spend on promoting the books. It takes me away from what I love to do best, and that’s write. Marketing is like a whole new career. One that I don’t understand very well, and I’m not too good at. And one that you can never be sure whether you're wasting your time or not. Maybe a publicist would know how to keep track of the increased traffic to the website because of certain blogs or tweets, etc. Me, I have no idea. I just flounder around and try to do whatever seems to be the best choice for my time and my dollars. The only positive seems to be that from when the first book of the Vicarage Bench Series was released called She’s Me to this latest novel Together Again, which is the fourth in the series, I’ve learnt more than I ever thought possible. It’s amazing how new information keeps on coming faster than I can follow it up. I wonder sometimes why come my ole brain doesn’t self-destruct.


Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?


A Well, not too long ago a BFF who belongs to the Toastmasters invited me to come visit her and speak for her group and tell them about my experiences in becoming a multi-published author. Believing she was talking about a small group of 6 or 7 people, and that we’d be sitting around her living room drinking wine and visiting, I said sure. Turns out she wanted to get a certain certificate, and to do so, she needed to organize an evening community event. Next thing I knew, I’d promised to give a 30 minute talk about my journey from Little Miss Homemaker, to author of The Vicarage Bench Series. And do a reading from one of my books.


Posters went up all over town and my fingernails began to disappear. Sleep became a thing of the past, and I had to buy a larger bottle of Gaviscon. Talk about being scared – I’d never done anything like this before. I worried it to death until one evening, I gave myself a good talking to. What doesn’t kill only makes you stronger, I said. Grow up, I added. It’ll be over before you know it. Then I came up with a great solution.


I decided that as soon as the evening started, I would introduce myself to as many folks as I could before I had to start talking. That way it would be more like an evening with friends rather than with strangers. Worked like a hot damn! Once I got up in front of the crowd, I had them laughing within a few minutes, and from then on – no problem. Ended up, there were about 35-40 people that night and a good handful were men. Sold every book I’d brought with me, and answered questions for at least a half an hour afterwards. Turned out to be such a great success that I’m hoping to do the same for the Toastmaster group in my own area. Go figure!!


Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?


Since I’ve pretty well scotched the idea of any shyness about my personality whatsoever, I guess I can’t speak from experience. Only from what seems to work for some of my friends. Whether you’re shy or not, get out there as much as you can. Join the local chapter of RWA. Go to workshops and conferences. The more often you do, the more people you’ll meet. As it happens, many are like me who’ll start up conversations with you. It’s also imperative to get on the various loops and join lots of writers communities such as Goodreads and Savvy Authors to name a couple. Get involved. It’s probably easier for you when it’s not in person anyway. Remember, once your book is released, you’ll be faced with the promo work also. And if you’ve kept to yourself, it’ll be hell trying to get both you and your book out at the same time.


Q Where can my readers find you on the web?


A I really enjoy having visitors to my website, so please check in at http://www.mimibarbour.com/ and join my newsletter for a chance to win a free copy of my latest release.


Or follow me on Twitter. Or on Facebook 


Hugs…Mimi


Mimi, thanks so much for your awesome advice to us introverts!









Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WEEK 6: Lose 10 lbs in 10 weeks


Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting Week 6. Sometimes Blogger can be a bit ornery and doesn't post as it's scheduled...

Welcome to Week 6 of our little weight loss challenge. How are you doing? Are you halfway to your goal? Have you lost 5 lbs or more? If so, good for you. Keep doing what you're doing. No? Then you're in good company. I'm down 4 lbs. My diet is pretty good, but I haven't been working out as much as I should be. That darn day job just keeps getting in the way. Plus an injured foot. But those are excuses. Let's quit giving ourselves excuses and just do it. We know what to do.

This week is all about motivation. Excuse me for a moment while I put on my cheerleader uniform. I was never a cheerleader so I'll have to borrow my sister's old one. Hmm. It's a bit tight. She's one of those teensy, tiny, single-digit-sized people that we pretend not to hate.... Okay. The uniform doesn't fit, so I'll just use the pom poms. Ready?

First of all, ask yourself: Do I really want to lose this weight? Really? Make sure this is truly your goal, something you're doing for yourself and not because you think you "should" or because your significant other made a comment or just because you want to fit into some pants you haven't worn in years. So? Is this really your goal? Okay, good.

Now ask yourself: Do my actions match my goal? Do your actions every day support the goal of losing weight? Are you choosing an apple over a donut? Are you avoiding junk food? Are you breaking a sweat almost every day? You know what you should be doing. Are you doing it? If not, why not?

Let's get new-agey (is that a word?) for a moment. Here's an exercise: Sit in a comfortable position, relax and close your eyes. Imagine going to Conference in about 4 weeks at the weight you are right now (or imagine some other event in the future). Really picture yourself there. Picture the details, what you're wearing, how your hair looks, everything. Do you see yourself? How do you feel? Are you mad at yourself for not working the diet or exercise harder?

Now, imagine yourself at Conference with those 10 lbs off your body. Do you see yourself? How do you feel? Do you feel more confident, more energetic? Just all around better?

Now, psychoanalyze yourself. Do you feel a huge difference between the two scenarios? No? Then, don't worry about it. If you lose some weight, great. But if not, that's okay, too. But if the second scenario makes you feel so much more positive, then do yourself a favor. Spend these next few weeks eating really clean and breaking a good sweat almost every day.

Do it for yourself.

Rah. Rah. Rah!

Friday, May 20, 2011

PATY JAGER:

Please welcome multi-published author Paty Jager to the blog.

Rebecca, Thank you for having me here today!

Do you watch TV to learn about the weather? I do part of the time and usually the weather forecasters are wrong, but if I go by the clouds or lack thereof hanging on the Cascade Mountain range I can pretty much tell what kind of weather we'll have. So the first thing I do in the morning is look out the windows pointing West and see what's coming at us from the coast.

The Nez Perce Indians of NE Oregon, SE Washington, and Central Idaho taught their children at a young age how to observe the signs of nature. Animals, insects, birds, the moon and the sunset all helped them determine or predict the weather.

They believed to kill spiders would cause rain. If clouds in a sunset appeared red it would storm the next day. If the clouds were orange it would be a nice day. If the moon appeared upside down or face up it meant good weather. If the moon faced down there would be rainy weather.

These are all things I learned while researching the Nez Perce Indians for the second book in my spirit trilogy. Spirit of the Lake is set at the time the Whiteman started encroaching on the Wallowa Nez Perce. The first book dealt with the love the Nez Perce felt for this beloved country and this book is about how the Whiteman's deceit and lies began to pound a wedge between the peaceful bands.

Blurb: Two generations after his brother became mortal, Wewukiye, the lake spirit, prevents a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and becomes caught up in her sorrow and her heart. Her tribe ignores Dove's shameful accusations—a White man took her body, leaving her pregnant, and he plans to take their land.Wewukiye vows to care for her until she gives birth, to help her prove the White man is deceitful and restore her place in her tribe. As they travel on their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities yet unknown in her people, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But can love between a mortal and a spirit grow without consequences?

*******This post is part of Paty's blog tour. Leave a comment on as many of her guest blogs as you can and the person who travels with her the most will receive an autographed copy of Spirit of the Lake, a sweatshirt, and cowboy chocolate. To find all the places she's visiting go to her blog. The contest runs from May 18th – May 29th covering thirteen blogs. She'll notify the winner on May 30th. In the event of a tie she will draw a name.

To read more about the spirit trilogy or her other books visit her website.

Buy Link: The Wild Rose Press
 Be sure to leave a comment and follow the blog tour to win!

About Paty: Growing up in the Northeast corner of Oregon, riding horses and reading were my favorite pastimes. Many hours were spent roaming the Wallowa Mountains on my horse Junebug and making up stories in my head.

My love of books and positive feedback from instructors gave me the incentive to try my hand at writing. I dabbled with Children's books and was told I wrote to adult. Then tried my hand at murder mysteries when a personal experience had me facing anger issues.


After reading LaVyrle Spencer's "Hummingbird" I knew I had to write historical romance. While honing my writing skills my husband and I raised four children. We are now empty nesters and loving it! Instead of grumbling kids, we now cater to three dogs, two horses, and thirty mother cows and currently ranch 350 acres.

Along with writing I also teach writing workshops online, at writers meetings and at writing conferences.

Thanks for being here today, Paty! Have fun on your tour!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 5: 10 lbs in 10 weeks challenge

Welcome to week 5 of our challenge. How are you all doing? We're almost halfway through the challenge--are you halfway to your goal?


I'm not quite there. I've lost three pounds so far, so I know I need to kick my plan into high gear if I want to reach my goal of 10 lbs by Conference.


If you're on track, good for you! Keep up the good work and keep doing what you're doing. If you're a bit behind schedule, it's time for a pep talk.

First of all, any weight loss at all is a good thing. Studies have shown that the slower the weight loss, the more likely you are to keep it off. Second, have you improved your eating habits or exercise habits in these past few weeks? Yes? Then that is success.


Weight loss is very simple (generally, it's burn more calories than you take in. Ie: move more, eat less). It might be simple, but it's definitely not easy. Especially as we get older. (Grr.)

Here are some suggestions to get that weight loss going.

1. Review all the previous weeks' steps. Are you following all of them? If not, start following the steps. Every day.


2. Are you following all the steps, but you're still not losing weight? You may not like to hear this, but you'll have to amp up your exercise. Start with cardio. For weight loss, you need 250-300 minutes a week of cardio (where you're breathing faster/harder than normal, working up a sweat). That breaks down to 42-50 minutes of cardio 5x/week. Yes, that's a lot. But that's what I'm going to have to do, so you're not alone. I've always needed more exercise than the average person.


3. Stop eating starchy carbs after 3 p.m. This means no rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, peas, breads, cereals. Your dinner and late afternoon and/or evening snack will consist of proteins and fruit/vegies. If you carry your weight in your belly and upper body, avoid fruit after 3 p.m. too.


Come on! We can do this. I've been a bit slack about keeping my food diary and eating enough fruits and vegies. I'm changing that this week. I want a 2 lb weight drop by this time next week. What's your goal?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

WEEK 4: Lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks

Welcome to the 4th week of our 10 week/10 lb challenge. For those of you just joining us, I've summarized Weeks 1-3 below, but please clink on the links if you want more information.


How is everyone doing? Is your weight loss on track? If you’re losing a pound a week, yay you. Feel free to add this week’s steps, or just keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s obviously working for you.


If you haven’t dropped at least 4 pounds, then follow me. And don’t feel bad—I’ve lost just 1.5 lbs. It’s better than nothing, and I’d rather have those pounds off of me than on me. I tried on some of my conference clothes hanging in my closet and they’re still a bit tight.


So…it’s time to kick it up a notch.


Let’s review the steps we’ve taken so far:


Week 1


1. Weigh yourself (and weigh in weekly)


2. Measure around your belly button (remeasure every 2 weeks)


3. Take a “before” picture


4. Keep a food journal and write down EVERYTHING you eat.


5. Drink 8-10 glasses of water each day


6. Break a sweat every day for at least 20 minutes.


Week 2


1. Eat a balanced breakfast within an hour of waking up


2. Add one fruit and one veggie to what you’re already eating each day


3. Add some simple weight-training exercises 2-3x/week


Week 3


1. Eat every 2-3 hours that you’re awake.

2. Stop eating when you’re satisfied, not full.


3. Add another serving of fruit and veggie to your day

4. Add 5 minutes to your sweat time each day.

Now, on to Week Four suggestions. Again, if you’re already losing at a rate of at least one pound a week, I’d suggest staying with the changes you’ve made. If you plateau or want a bit quicker weight loss, follow along.

Step 1 -- Start tracking calories. This is a pain, I know, but it will really kickstart that weight loss. I use Fitday.com. I bought the inexpensive PC version, but there is also a free version. I’m also familiar with Sparkpeople.com and and Livestrong. There are many more, including some free/inexpensive phone apps. Check them out and choose one that looks interesting to you.


How many calories should you be eating? I start most of my clients out at 1500-1800 calories a day (or go with the calorie count suggested by your chosen app).

Step 2 -- Eat lean protein at every meal. Protein has many different forms, not just meat.


Some healthy options:

Beef
Chicken breast
Turkey breast
Pork
Nonfat milk
Lowfat cottage cheese
Greek yogurt (higher in protein than regular yogurt)
Eggs
Nuts (including nut butters)
Beans
Soy products like tofu, soy milk, tempeh
Protein powder supplements

 That’s it for this week. Counting calories alone will get that scale moving in the right direction. But following all of the other steps will have you feeling great, looking great, and losing fat not muscle.



Good luck. Let's all have a great week!

Rebecca J. Clark has 9 years experience as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor. Her favorite class to teach is Turbokick because it's so much fun and it burns so many calories. When she's not working the day job, she's writing. You can learn more about Becky's writing on her website.

Friday, May 6, 2011

AJ NUEST: Getting Fed to the Sharks


Please help me welcome romance author AJ Nuest to the blog. She lives in northwest Indiana with her husband and two children. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels.
By nature, I’m not a shy person. Ask anyone who knows me and “shy” won’t be the first word they choose to describe me. In fact, I’ve often been known to strike up conversations with complete strangers in the grocery store (much to my children’s utter dismay), and mostly likely, get categorized in the “She Talks too Much” column.


This is because I suffer from a condition called Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and for some odd reason, becoming familiar with everyone in my immediate vicinity alleviates my symptoms. If you’ve never had a panic attack, chances are you don’t understand the debilitating force with which they can strike. Without warning the tremors set in, I’m covered in sweat and an overwhelming sense of losing control has completely taken over. Whenever I’m in a crowd, standing in an elevator, waiting in line somewhere–BAM! I’m suddenly treading in shark infested waters.


I take certain steps to avoid these situations. While driving, I sometimes veer blocks or even miles out of my way to avoid a specific intersection where I previously had a panic attack. I carry bottled water with me everywhere, and usually tote my kids along while running errands so I never have to go anywhere alone. And forget Wal-Mart. That place ranks right up there with Dante’s seventh level of Hell.


Being an author, I spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen. Between writing, blogging, tweeting, and writing some more, I usually arrange my days so that I rarely have to leave the house. When I first started out, this career suited me just fine. I could happily click away, lost in a story, creating characters that never freaked out at the thought of navigating the expressway or leaping onto the back of a dragon.


Until the day something unforeseen happened…I was offered my first publishing contract. HORRORS! Because on the heels of this fascinating little tidbit, I learned the disturbing news I must now promote my book. Release the sharks! Let the feeding frenzy begin!


I once read out of 100 people surveyed, 85 fear public speaking more than death. I’m one of those 85. The thought of hosting a book signing or speaking before a group of my peers completely terrified me. Yes, I like to talk, but only one-on-one, not standing on a dais before a room full of people. Toss me a life preserver, because I need the heck outta this water!


So, I had choice to make. I could decline the contract and kept the story to myself, which meant the last year of my life could be summed up as a complete waste. Not to mention no one would ever read my story–the ultimate goal of any writer. OR, I could accept the contract and have the story published, which meant going WAY outside my comfort zone.


In the end, I accepted, knowing what lay ahead, and at the same time unwilling to accept defeat over a condition that ruled so many aspect of my life. You see, even though Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a PART of who I am, it’s not ALL that I am. I didn’t want my panic attacks to define me, because I’m also a Christian, a wife and mother, a cheerleader, tutor, boo-boo tender and professional cuddler–who just so happens to have an innate ability for getting emotions down on paper. Giving into fear over what might happen because of my God-given talent would only destroy the joy I experienced over my new found love of writing. And I wasn’t about to let those sharks chomp off such an important part of my life.


Three years have passed since the publication of my first novel. During that time, I’ve hosted several books signings, done lectures in schools, been on the radio and even been interviewed by the local newspaper. Has this been easy? Heck, no. Before each event those sharks still circle, just waiting for the opportune moment to strike. But so far I’ve outwitted them, and I intend to keep outwitting them until I’ve reached my goals. Because anything less, and the sharks win.


Now, toss me that oar, will you? This one over here is getting feisty.


Thanks, AJ, for being here today!

AJ's newest release, Jezebel's Wish, is available at Amazon and The Wild Rose Press.

Jezebel’s Wish Blurb:

Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she's stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.

Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can't she?

You can learn more about AJ and her books on her blog, Twitter, Facebook: Tattered Pages.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

WEEK 3: 10 lbs in 10 weeks challenge

Welcome to the third week of this challenge. How are you doing? Are your pants getting a bit looser around the waist? Is the scale coming down a bit? If so on one or both counts, great job. If not, that’s okay. I’ve got some tips today that should really get that scale moving down.


I’ve lost just ½ lb so far, so I know I need to make some more adjustments in my diet. However, I put some jeans on yesterday and they felt just a bit less snug than they did last time I tried them on. That leads me to Step 1…

Step 1. Sometimes the scale lies. Or doesn’t tell the whole truth. So I’d like you to find a pair of jeans/pants that are a little tight on you. Make it a pair that you rarely wear. Check out how you feel and look in these pants. Now, hang them up on your closet door or some place where you’ll see them every day. I want you to try these on every Sunday. Sometimes, we lose inches before we lose pounds.


Step 2. Take your belly measurement again. Measuring tape right around the belly. Has the number come down since we last measured? Mine is down 1/4 inch.


Step 3. From now on, I want you eating every 2-3 hours that you’re awake. Think ‘mini-meals’ or breakfast/lunch/dinner + 2 snacks. This means you’ll be eating 5-6x/day. You have to eat more often to lose weight. Trust me on this. When you go too long without feeding your body, your body slows down your metabolism to preserve energy. When your metabolism slows, you burn fewer calories. But every time you eat, your metabolism rises. The easiest way to keep that fire burning is by eating.


Step 4. Eat until satisfied, not full. This step alone will really make a difference on that scale, but it’s hard to do. Especially if you’re eating something really yummy. The best way to do this is to eat slowly. Pay attention to your food rather than scarfing it mindlessly down the hatch. When you reach the point where you’re no longer hungry anymore, stop eating. If you still have food on your plate and are worried about wasting it, then wrap it up and finish it off in 2-3 hours when you’re hungry again.


Step 5. Add another serving of fruit or veggie to your day. Look over your journal. How many servings of produce are you eating on average? Eventually, I want that number to be 5-10 servings a day.


Step 6. Keep moving. If you can add 5 minutes to your sweat time, that would be great. Remember, you’re breaking a sweat for 20 minutes, 6 days a week. If those strength training exercises are getting easy, try holding dumbbells by your sides, or adding repetitions. Or try a strength-training class or DVD. 2x/week.


That’s it. You’re doing great. Remember, we’re looking for progress, not perfection.