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Spring Fever Giveaway

INSANELY HUGE YA BOOK GIVEAWAY!One grand-prize winner will walk away with a signed, first edition hardback of Witch and Wizard which just so happens to be written by one of the biggest names in fiction – JAMES PATTERSON! On top of that, they get a $100 amazon gift-card! Audiobooks, signed paperbacks, ebooks….SO MANY PRIZES – OVER TWENTY WINNERS!

YA Author Rendezvous

enter

We all need to get away after months of cold, dreary, monotony. But even while we’re dreaming of white sand beaches and rolling waves, our regularly schedule life must go on.

But does it really? Getting away is a lot easier than you think. All it takes is a bit of spare time, an open mind, and a good book. That’s why we’re giving away tons of books! There’ll be over TWENTY winners.

And one grand-prize winner will walk away with a signed, first edition hardback of Witch and Wizard which just so happens to be written by one of the biggest names in fiction – JAMES PATTERSON! On top of that, they get a $100 amazon gift-card! 

And all if takes is a minute or two and a few clicks of the mouse.

DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE!

Check out these other amazing prizes we have for you.

Signed…

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Author Beth Teliho’s Savvy Advice for First Time Novelists

(Originally published on The Right Writer for You, This is an interview conducted by Anne Goetz, where I discuss All Things Writing & Publishing.)

In May, I featured a review of a multi award-winning book titled “Order of Seven” that was blowing the mismatched socks off young-adult, paranormal/fantasy readers. Since then, first-time author Beth Teliho has continued to sell copies and rack up glowing reviews of her captivating book.

I asked Beth if she would consider writing a post for The Right Writer for You about what it takes to write, self-publish and market a successful first novel, and she was kind enough to consent. Today, I have the honor of sharing that marvelous post with you. It’s packed full of need-to-know information for first-time novelists — or for anyone anywhere who is considering becoming a self-published author.

What follows is a post abundant with common sense, priceless links and sound advice — all offered up from Beth’s own first-hand experience and in her distinctive and humorous voice. Trust me, you’re going to want to bookmark this enjoyable foray into self-publishing.

Making Sandcastles: The A – Z Guide to Writing and Publishing a Book 
by

Beth Teliho, award-winning author of Order of Seven

How on earth does someone go about the seemingly insurmountable task of taking a little idea in their head and turning it into a published novel? I’m glad you asked. There are secrets, and I’m going to break them down for you in three short sections. Okay four.

1. MAKE A GIANT SAND PILE

Believe with all your heart that you have a story to tell. You must know it in your marrow. Your story is unique to you, worthy of being told, and beautiful. It doesn’t matter who or how many read it. What matters is that you write it.

Write free. Turn your inner editor off and write what’s in your head. Give yourself permission to suck. It won’t be pretty at first. In fact, it’ll look like hell, but that’s exactly how a first draft is supposed to look. You can’t get a sand castle without a big pile of sand first.

Write everyday. Or nearly everyday. Like anything, writing is a skill that has to be practiced or it’ll atrophy. Done writing for the day? Then read, read, read, read — that’s writer school right there. If you’re a writer who isn’t regularly reading, your wordsmith skills will never evolve. After all, you got into this crazy writer thing because of the love of stories, right?

Right.

2. CARVE AND SCULPT

You stealth ninja warrior – you finished! Your story has a beginning, middle, and end. Now what? Your worst nightmare: Show it to someone. Yep. You have to.

Share it with friends, or colleagues, or relatives. A pair of eyes – several actually – need to be on your work for constructive criticism. Feedback is imperative. Your work cannot evolve without it. Pick people who will gently give valuable advice, thoughts, and suggestions. Have a list of feedback questions you’d like them to answer: Do they like the main character? Is there a part that was confusing? Do they like the ending? Etc.

Revise based on reader feedback, and when you’ve done all you know to do, hand your baby over to a professional editor. Writing your novel is the easy part; editing is where the real grunt work begins. Be prepared to rewrite your entire manuscript … many, many times. Even the most established, successful authors go back and forth with their editors, rewriting again and again. This is part of the process. I don’t care if this is your first book or your hundredth, if you don’t get a professional developmental edit, as well as copy and line edits, you are screwing yourself out of potential success.

Period.

3. TAKE PRELIMINARY STEPS TO FORTIFY YOUR CASTLE

Start building a list of readers who will read an advanced reader copy (ARC) for review, the more the merrier. These people will be the force that moves your launch from flaccid to badass by stacking reviews for your novel when it goes live. They can also point out any last minute errors. It happens.

Begin talking about your upcoming release – a lot. Amp up the curiosity and buzz about your book. Share quotes from the book or anything you can tease. List the release date in the teaser so people know when they can get it — anything to hook readers. Run a pre-order and get people to buy before it’s even live. You can run pre-orders up to a year before publishing!

Work on your blurb. It needs to be an airtight hook with no spoilers. This is the summary that’ll go on the back of your print copy, as well as the description people will read online. Need direction? Search all your favorite books and read their blurbs, or the blurbs of bestsellers. There are also a gazillion posts on the subject – just Google “how to write a book blurb.”

orderofseven

Beth’s engaging cover art

Start working on your book cover. Search other covers in your genre and see what catches your eye. HIRE A PRO. Do not try to do this yourself unless you are experienced with book designing. Share the main “feel” you want your cover to have, but trust the artist to deliver what sells. They know what they’re doing. A crappy, generic cover can kill a good book.

Get on Goodreads as an author, and for Pete’s sake, use their giveaway option to your advantage; it’s free and easy. Set the giveaway to run prior to the release. This really helps promote your book. Run as many as you want! They’re great exposure.

Get to know book bloggers in your genre. You’ll need them for reviews and promotion.

4. ADD A BADASS MOAT AND A DRAWBRIDGE

All your hard work has paid off. You’ve sculpted your castle – yay you! At least 80% of people who start a book never finish it, so pat yourself on the back! Yes, I made that statistic up, but it’s probably true.

So….Now what?

I’m writing this with the assumption that you want to self-publish. Unless you’re a tech-savvy guru, you’ll need help formatting your book for both electronic and print copies. You can use the services offered by your printer (Createspace, for instance) and Amazon OR hire independent professionals to format both. I did the latter and absolutely loved the cohesive and gorgeous finished product they delivered.

Send ARC readers your book at least a month prior to publishing. When they review (which can be done prior to publishing on Goodreads; on Amazon, reviews aren’t allowed until the book goes live), share the review all over social media. Make a Facebook group for all the people who are reading ARCs and everyone involved with your launch in any way. This way you can efficiently post info you want them to share through social media.

When uploading for publication, try to be as specific as possible with your categories and keyword searches to ensure you have the best possible chance of standing out in the crowd. Also, a little secret: You can use entire phrases as a keyword. This is helpful since you can only choose seven, typically. For instance, ghosts and spirits and paranormal is ONE keyword, but if you choose ghosts, spirits, paranormal separately, you’ve used three of your keywords. You can tinker and change these keywords anytime, so don’t stress too much about it. Nothing is permanent.

There are many decisions to make when publishing: exclusive or non-exclusive on Kindle? Buy your own ISBN’s or have them assigned? Create your own imprint, or have your book listed as published by Createspace? Make an audio version or not? Which genre should you market under?

These are just a few, of course, and they are all personal decisions with no right or wrong answer. To help navigate your choices so you can decide what’s best for you and your novel, I suggest research. Lucky for you, some killer sites and resources have already been compiled via Forewordz. This is a gold, I tell you – GOLD – list of resources for every step of your journey. If you do nothing else, bookmark this link:

43 Resources Every Author Should Bookmark

A couple extra faves of mine:

The Book Designer

Katie Cross

Final step?

Publish. Set your baby free into the wild!

Now the real work begins … marketing! You’ll need to use all forms of social media to your advantage. Spread the word. Make sure you attach images of your beautiful cover to brand your book into readers’ minds. Post reviews or any other good news about your book. Don’t be afraid to ask people who read your book to REVIEW it! Reviews are everything.

Reach out to book bloggers in your genre (again, a simple Google search can pinpoint those) and submit your book for review. There are also paid sites that will advertise your book, some of which are linked within the resource link above.

“Real Life” marketing equals doing stuff outside of cyberspace — you know, off the computer. Remember that place?

Yeah?

Okay.

Places you can contact to either sell your book or allow a potential book signing:

coffee shops (Starbucks tend to be cooperative)
book stores
libraries
school librarians and/or English teachers (if your book isn’t appropriate for younger audiences, you could always talk to kids about writing)
Any opportunities that come your way – even if they seem terrifying – don’t be skeert! Just say YES and figure it out along the way. You can do it!
This seems like a lot, I know. But remember, you don’t have to do all of it at once. Take one step at a time, one day at a time, and little by little you’ll get there. We write because we want people to read our work, so just getting it published is a WIN! Good luck!

… what are you still doing here? GO WRITE!

BETH TELIHO is an award-winning author and artist who lives in Texas with her husband, two adventurous sons, and a veritable menagerie of pets. Restless in the mundane, she writes about the abnormal, paranormal, and otherwise fantastical because that’s what quickens her heartbeat. She laughs at inappropriate jokes and prefers spicy food and margaritas to almost anything. One day, she hopes to live in a treehouse, where she can be an eccentric introvert with at least seven cats.

Beth Teliho Links:
Beth’s Blog

Visit Beth on Facebook

Twitterverse: @beth_teliho

Beth Teliho on Goodreads

Beth’s Amazon Author’s Page

Follow Anne Goetz on Facebook!

GIRL POWAH – The Every Woman Story Project

Ever had a struggle so big it consumed your life? You fight it, sometimes succeeding, other times succumbing? How about when you learn of others that are fighting the same fight…it helps, doesn’t it? Knowing you’re not alone takes power away from the hold the struggle has over you. It gives you a feeling of camaraderie. Solidarity.

My struggle with body image and self worth is something I’ve written about before. I found the strength to let myself be vulnerable and write about it by reading other women’s stories. Those stories helped me tremendously, so I knew writing my own could help someone else, as well as be a cathartic exercise for me. Writing my story was a gift to myself, and my badass friend, Katie Cross, wants you to have that gift too. Let me introduce you to The Every Woman Story Project, which you can learn more about by clicking the highlighted title in this sentence, which is a link.

Or, simply read on….

The Every Woman Story project is a place to bring women—and all the things we struggle with—together. It’s a place of empowerment. Of vulnerability. Of strength. Of solid steel willpower. The purpose of the project is to collect stories from the women in the trenches and empower each other by sharing them.

The stories will be there forever as a resource for women, but you also have the opportunity to contribute by writing your own story. Your story will be completely anonymous, even to the project’s creator, Katie.

There is no rule. No limit to what you say or what story you tell. It can be two sentences, or two pages. Two paragraphs, or two words. When all entries have been gathered up, Katie will compile them into an ebook and offer them for free on her website, Health and Happiness Society.

There will be no charge for the book. No fee. No monetary gain. No content editing. The stories will be presented as they are given.
Enter the Every Woman Story Project today.

Please share with your friends using the hashtag #EveryWomanStory

Just F*cking Smile

Do you see me? I see you. Walking, early on a weekday. This is your time to exercise. It’s my time too. It would be impossible not to see me directly across the street from you, bright pink visor on my head, walking my dog. I dart my eyes your way, ready to receive or instigate a greeting should you look my way. But you don’t. No wave. No smile. No hello. No good morning, even though you know my name and I know yours. Yet you can’t even be bothered to acknowledge my existence. This makes me feel small.

Do you see me? I see you. Running along the street toward me. A mere five feet from me. It’s your morning jog. Kids are at school. This your time to exercise. Mine too. I ready myself to smile, maybe a little wave. I don’t want to bother you. Hell, I certainly don’t want to chat. And even though we live on the same block, you don’t look up. Maybe you didn’t see me? Your eyes are hidden under the visor of your hat. I would give you the benefit of the doubt if this were the first time, but it’s not. No nod. No half-wave. No acknowledgment that I exist. This makes me feel small.

Do you see me? I see you. The flat “hi” you give me at the school function. We know each other. I sit alone at a table. I smile huge, welcoming. Like a stupid dog. You walk past me and find a seat at another table. An empty one. While you wait for someone better to sit with. I’m not good enough, or something. Maybe you just flat-out don’t like me. That happens. It hurts, but I get it. I don’t particularly like you either – nor do I have reason to dislike you – but because you are human, I would’ve sat with you had the tables been turned that day.

I see you, at the grocery checkout counter. The checker and bagger are friendly. I know because I’m in their line weekly. Let’s be honest, bi-weekly, because I’m always out of something. Did you see them? You respond to the checker’s friendly comments in a clipped tone, annoyed to be bothered. You don’t meet their eyes. You don’t smile. You don’t thank the bagger who just packed all your groceries while you stood there examining your manicured nails. I bet this makes them feel small. I’m extra nice to them when it’s my turn, because no one deserves that. You are not better than them. You are not more deserving. You are not special.

I’m not naive enough to think I’m perfect. I’m often lost in the stories that live in my head, and go way too long before calling my parents or reaching out to my friends. I’m sure more than once I’ve been hurried, lost in thought and didn’t see someone who saw me. We’re all busy; it happens. It’s totally probable that my social anxiety was mistaken for aloofness before, too. Perhaps my smile looked forced, or my greeting seemed short and impersonal, and I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings.

It’s possible my introverted nature made someone feel like I didn’t want to be with them, when the truth is, I adore them, but the social stuff is sometimes too much for me. Everyone has their own stresses and challenges. I get that. For that reason, I’m careful to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I try not to read into it. Try not to judge. It’s not always about me, after all.

But. Because I’m certain some people truly just don’t get it, I will spell it out here:

The tiniest act of kindness can change someone’s entire day. An unsolicited compliment, a nod, a smile – can make people feel like they matter. Can make them feel like they are here too. Like they are a living, breathing soul who matters and not just an invisible crumb that exists in your world.

I’ve had the simple gesture of eye contact mean so much to me I nearly stumbled. 

In the world we live in today, with all the violence, insecurity, competition to be “perfect”, disease, homelessness, fear, constant media awareness of the demented, hateful people that lurk around every corner, hell sometimes around our own Thanksgiving table…would it hurt to make eye contact once in a while? Would it hurt to acknowledge another human’s existence?

No matter our size, shape, ethnicity, culture, baggage, financial status – we will always have a common denominator: we are human beings.

And don’t you dare think you get to decide who deserves or needs acknowledgment. You don’t know anyone’s story. You may think you do, but you don’t. Don’t slather insincere kindness on people you deem to be “less fortunate”, acting like Mother Effing Theresa, only to be selectively cold to others, because you’re jealous, or you view them as competition, or they have nothing to offer you, or simply because your narcissistic head is so far up your ass, you don’t realize that Every. Life. Matters.

Either way.

Just f*cking smile.

You don’t have to hug, or talk, or become best friends. It won’t cost you a thing.

Just f*cking smile.

Because it says, “I see you.”

Because it’s human.

And it’s so easy to do.

And it could make someone’s day.

And kindness is contagious.

And maybe you’ll feel better for it too.

 

 

Author Interview – Beth Teliho – Order Of Seven

WRITERLY TALK. ENJOY.

toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

Howdy folks.

We have yet another fantastic guest for you in the Author Interview Series tonight and I couldn’t be happier to be talking to author Beth Teliho about her superb novel (which just recently won a Gold Award in the Readers’ Favorite 2016 Book Award Contest in the Supernatural Fiction category, so very well done Beth!)

So without further ado, it’s time to start this interview, so here we go and a very pleasant evening to you all.

Hi there Beth, a real pleasure to be chatting with you today.

Let’s start with your novel “Order of Seven”. I remember you mentioning before that it spanned multiple genres and was very intrigued by the name of the book, along with the setting and characters. Can you give us some insight into the nature of your beast and what sort of challenges the heroine Devi Bennett is going to face…

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Hold My Tiara. I Have to Pee Again.

My hair is an oily, tangled mess. I’ve been in the same pajamas for three days. Okay, four. A soft, wooly layer of hair covers my legs, and that one, stubborn chin whisker gleams in the sunlight. Wrappers from food I don’t recall eating litters the floor at my feet. I wince every time my 8yo’s basketball hits the wall, and for the hundredth time, I ask the boys to be quiet, please, mommy is writing.

The hubs is not here today – he’s off competing in an endurance race.

But so am I. Only mine requires brain cells, not fitness. And instead of one day, it lasts thirty. (more…)

This is what happens when 9 women can get their shit together and meet

Online friendships can be pretty intense, but nothing compares to finally hugging someone you’ve known only online for years. You get to learn how they sigh after they laugh, how their nose crinkles when they smile, how their voice sounds, and how they walk. It’s kind of magical, really.

The SisterWives are a force to be reckoned with over the wires, but when we actually got together In Real….HO. LEE. SHIT.

It was electric and thrilling and perfect.

I was very nervous meeting eight of them at once. I’m pretty sure I was quiet and wore a huge, creepy grin for a full 24 hours. But then I realized that I already knew these people. They are family. And I can fart if I want to.

Just kidding…I didn’t do that. (that anyone’s aware of)

A handful of our tribe couldn’t make it this time, but that’s okay….there will be another SisterWives gathering in the near future. And another….and another…..

To enjoy a hilarious recap and see photos of our meet up, go HERE.

 

BE A REBEL

My battle with self-image has been life long. I don’t remember a single day in my life where I was happy with my body. Okay, maybe that one year when I lived off of diet coke and cigarettes back in my twenties, and even then I would’ve changed some things had I been given the opportunity. I dropped to 115 lbs and at 5’6″ that was underweight for me and obviously not healthy At. All. But it’s the last time I remember feeling totally free.

For a multitude of reasons which I shall not delve into here, my self-image is tied into my feelings of worthiness. Do I belong? Depends on weight. Do I deserve X, Y, Z? Depends on weight. If someone acts like they don’t really like me….I assume it’s because of my appearance. Pretty and thin = worthy.

Of course, I never put that standard on anyone else. Just me.

I tend to gain and lose the same ten pounds over and over and over. All through my thirties and into my forties, it was the same old story. Gain some weight over the holidays, then rein it in and lose ten pounds. But I’ve never been above a size 12.

Upon entering my forties, I took up running and, briefly, crossfit. I was arguably the most fit I’d ever been, but also the most critical of myself. The expectations I set were stricter and more unrealistic than ever. It was becoming obsessive.

In the summer of 2013, I was viewing photos from a recent family trip to Colorado. When I saw myself in the pictures I cried. They were real tears of disgust and anger because what I saw was appalling in my eyes. A failure. Someone who is unacceptable. A disgrace. And I was bitter and resentful that I worked So Hard and still looked like shit.

I was a size 8/10. In retrospect, I looked fit and amazing, but I couldn’t see that then. Ridiculous, right? But logic doesn’t always play a role in corrosive thought processes.

I begged *insert Divine energy* to please let me have a body I’m not ashamed of. PLEASE. Please, I’m working so hard, please let my body reflect it. I just want to go out with friends and not be consumed with my appearance. I want to agree to that beach trip my husband keeps mentioning, rather than make excuses why I can’t.

And then that Fall and Winter of 2013, I started gaining weight for no reason. My diet and exercise hadn’t changed. Perfect, give the girl with body images issues some random weight gain. Ohh, the irony, right? It’s just my winter layer, I told myself. I’ll get my game-face on in January.

Come January, not only did I get my game-face on, I became vegan and began running again.

My husband, who went vegan as well, lost 15 pounds.

I gained 12.

Throughout all of 2014, I continued to steadily gain weight. By December, less than eighteen months after the weight gain started, I’d put on nearly 30 pounds. THIRTY. That’s a medium size dog…on my ass.

Panic and shame don’t begin to describe it.

please let me have a body I’m not ashamed of….

I stopped volunteering at the school. I started parking in the back driveway to hide from neighbors. I cancelled social engagements, unless it was with my most trusted friends whom I don’t feel judged by. I didn’t eat in front of other people because I didn’t want them to judge what I ate. I couldn’t risk them thinking, “That’s why she’s gained weight…did you see her eating?” or worse, “Wow, she’s really let herself go.” I couldn’t bear the thought that people might think I sat around eating cheeseburgers all day.

The courage I had to muster just to be seen in public – especially in front of people who hadn’t seen me in a while – was titanic, and usually ended with me crying on the way home. Mortified.

Even worse? I wanted to write about it, but was too embarrassed to “come out” to my online community as “not skinny and perfect”. Because then what reason would they have to like me?

please let me have a body I’m not ashamed of….

I went to two doctors who each did full blood panels and physical exams. It has to be my hormones, right? Or my thyroid? B12 deficiency? I’ll be able to take a pill and this nightmare will end, RIGHT?

“Mrs. Teliho, you have the cholesterol and blood pressure of a 25 year old and you’re perfectly healthy. Keep up the good work.”

Good work?? But I’m failing. I’m….I’m…the F-word….*whispers* fat. I’ve become my worst nightmare. I’m a monster. How can I be fat? I showed up to boot camp at the crack-ass-o-dawn, in the hot Texas summer, on a Saturday, and flipped 200 lb tires in a parking lot. I took my own sweet potato to the family BBQ and didn’t touch the chips. I’ve been doing everything right. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

There was a part of me – the logical part – that knew how screwed up this thinking was. I was so grateful for my health, and for my family’s health, and my awesome marriage…so many *real* things to be thankful for….yet I couldn’t stop fixating on my weight, which continued to pile on in 2015, albeit slower.

One doctor said I should try a juice cleanse to help jump-start my metabolism. I spent $200 on the best juicer and did the cleanse. I lost eleven pounds in two weeks. And gained it all back over the next eight weeks.

Another doctor sent me to a nutritionist who suggested a 40 day cycle of injectable HCG, which is a hormone that tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant, while committing to a PERMANENT 500 – 700 calorie/day diet. This for the small price of $400.

Oh sure. *eye roll* That’s realistic and safe. I’d rather eat frog assholes.

I’ve always believed part of the reason we’re here is to learn lessons, so whenever I’m facing a challenge I constantly ask myself, what am I supposed to learn from this?

And then I remembered – when I was wishing I was back to the size I was in those Colorado photos – that I hated my body when I was thin, too. I’ve never been happy with my body, so what does it matter if I lose weight? I’ll still fixate, criticize, and stew in self-hate.

There have been several major movements in the media (alliterate much?) over the past year or so that got my attention. Curvy women living unapologetically. Models, bloggers, comedians, moms, authors…all of them embracing their shape, whatever that may be. Funny, smart, talented, successful women. Slowly, this began making an impact on me.

o-DENISE-2-570

BEAUTIFUL DENISE BIDOT

I was at the pool a few weeks ago and there happened to be a high ratio of curvy women. The astonishing thing I noticed is that they weren’t covering up. They were in bikinis. In the pool with their kids. Enjoying a snow cone and smiling. You know how that made me feel? Proud. Unashamed. Normal. Jesus, it was incredible. And that’s when it hit me. Our perception is our reality. If we’re fed images of beaches filled with size 0 bodies with golden tans and perfect hair, than that’s what we process as acceptable and realistic. Who are we to mess up the picture with our pale skin and stomach rolls?

I wanted to be a part of this incredible movement, and it starts with being a rebel and living unapologetically.

I searched for a lesson and I got one. Want to know what I learned?

I’ve been a fucking fool. We all have.

I learned I’ve been a pawn in our culture’s ploy to make money off media-imposed insecurities. The media that tricked us into thinking it’s adorable to see a thin person enjoy a dessert, and repulsive when a curvy person does it. The media that teaches us that there’s only one perfect way to look, and everyone else should be able to achieve that body with diet and exercise, and if you don’t, then you’re lazy or ignorant.

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BE A REBEL

I learned that happiness is in loving yourself, unconditionally.

My body is a result of genetics, and my weight gain is (evidently) the result of genetics and age. The same genetics that gave me pretty hair, a great smile, high cheekbones and full lips. The same genetics that gave me a body that’s been strong and healthy for over four decades. The same genetics that allowed me to have two healthy sons. The same genetics that gave me the creativity, imagination, and drive to write a book and publish it.

I learned that I’m beautiful because I say so. I learned that weight doesn’t define me. I learned that appearance does not always reflect health and fitness levels. I learned all bodies are gorgeous, not just the ones the media pushes down our throats. I learned that “normal” bodies come in ALL shapes and sizes. We’re all normal.

The Universe works in mysterious ways. Turns out I got exactly what I’d wished and prayed for, but not in the way I’d imagined. My perspective had to change, not my weight.

I got a body I’m not ashamed of.

Yes, there are days I “relapse” into old thinking habits, and the shame seeps in my bones like a virus. Hell, this week in particular has been brutal just because of the vulnerable nature of this post. It’s something I’ll always have to maintain, just like any big life change. You know what I do to readjust my perspective? I think of my friends, and how when I visualize them, their weight never enters the equation. I think of their light, their energy, their laugh, and how they make me feel. How their happiness matters to me. I think how beautiful they are because of their amazing spirit. And then I picture myself the same way.

Nowadays, I choose food for its health benefits – and sometimes that means mental health and this gal needs nachos and a cold beer. I don’t apologize for it. I choose exercise I enjoy and I do it because it feels good, as opposed to doing it as a punishment for last night’s bread. I eagerly keep plans with friends. I get in the pool with my kids. I smile, a lot.

And I went on that beach trip with my husband, rockin’ a bikini.

Regardless of what the future holds – gain, lose, maintain – I hope I continue what I started here today, which is to represent myself without hiding. To be me, without shame.

To be free.

 

12 Signs You Live With a Competitive Cyclist

1. You’re repeatedly told, “Please don’t put anything in the dryer that has a padded crotch.”

2. You start to use a curiously large tube of toothpaste when you see it’s actually Chamois Butter, which is basically WD 40 for ass cheeks and inner thighs. (more…)

I DON’T WANT TO SEE DEAD PEOPLE!

GUYS.

I’m not even kidding. In exactly one week I’ll be staying in a haunted house for four whole days. HAUNTED. Like for reals.

You know I love this shit. I mean, duh, I wrote about it. I’m obsessed with the paranormal and I love watching shows about ghosts or ghost hunters. But that’s on TV.

As in from AFAR.

I am not down with close and personal ghost encounters. I repeat: I am not down with it.

(more…)