Love Is In The Air!

In celebration of SPRING (It’s coming! I saw a blooming daffodil!) Entangled Publishing is offering TWELVE books for .99 each, including INTO THE FIRE. There are some great titles on the list! Grab them on the cheap until FRIDAY. And tell all your friends, because love is in the air, and you love them and want them to be happy reading delightful books!

If you need me, I’ll be in the bakery. Just about the time this sale ends, I’ll be getting hit by the freight train that is Easter in #bakerylife. I’ll be eating, sleeping, and dreaming carrot cake and bunny shaped cut-out cookies. In fact, it’s supposed to be my day off today, but I somehow scheduled myself off on a major order-writing day before a holiday. Denial? MAYBE! But at least I get to see these cute little guys when I get there! Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all those who celebrate! Happy Love Is In The Air .99 Romantic Adventures to ALL!

XOXO,

Amanda

Are you getting enough done?

I never feel like I’m getting enough done. And I am hauling butt ALL damn day. (Except when I’m reading, which is frequently, but even then I read like it’s a competitive sport.) Rationally, I know I’m getting a lot done in a day, but emotionally, I feel like I’m getting nowhere because the book I’m currently writing only gets 20-40 minutes of attention a day, and I work full-time in a bakery. The work in a bakery is literally NEVER done. Like, ever. So what can a self-critical, driven, goal-oriented, energy and time-challenged person do to feel like s/he/they are getting somewhere?

PowerSheets®. Anybody out there use them? Two years ago, Katee Robert, an author I’ve followed for years, posted pictures of her Powersheets® planning on Instagram so many times, I got over my “I hate planners” attitude and checked it out. Then I bought a Powersheets® Planner and tried it for a year. Important: it’s not a daily planner. It’s a GOAL planner. And there are MANY pages of “who are you (and how and why) and what do you want (REALLY want) before you map out some goals. But then the magic begins. (Also important: the one I bought, the dated one, is sold out for the year. But you can still get the undated one. The 2020 launch happens in October, I think. I’ll let you know.)

I’m REALLY not good at dedicated, daily, progress-bar, checklist planning. There were more blank pages on that planner than filled pages in 2018. But I love the ideas behind Lara Casey’s goal-planning system. “Progress not Perfection.” “The best things in life are cultivated little by little.” And her most inspiring, “You know those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.” So I bought another one this year. And this year’s goals are pretty much the same, or at least, they fall into the same categories: write words, exercise, call my mother. Daily. This year’s bigger picture goals are: create a budget, write the book, college hunt, bar mitzvah plan, become a better bakery coordinator, book marketer, self-carer…all the things. Which basically fall into two-and-a-half categories: Nurture my family (short-term and long-term) and nurture myself. Oh! And nurture my friends.

On paper, I didn’t get very far in 2018, but OH, I did. I discovered what I’m afraid of, the obstacle I put between me and my goals, but that’s another post. I’m not feeling that deep today. 😀

Anyway, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to fit myself and my crazy life into a neat system. And every time I’ve either failed or felt like I failed. But the message of this system is entirely positive, and discovering my goals, big and small, and continuing to work toward them ON PAPER makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere, or at least, like I know where I want to go.

I’m not getting it all done. Actually, as I go along the Powersheets® path, I’m discovering Lara Casey is right about something else. “You can’t do it all and do it well, so cultivate what matters.” I’ve given myself permission to let some things slide because other things are worth concentrated focus. I can’t do it all and keep my shit together. I learn this over and over as I try to do too many things in a day.

Like so many things in my life…it’s a practice. Today, I wrote words, did yoga, and called my mom. Tomorrow I will do a different version of the same. YAY! Progress. Little by little. Focus. Intention. It’s enough. (Today I also did the thing I’ve been avoiding all month. I called the financial planner! I got her machine, but IT COUNTS.)

XOXO Amanda

P.S. Getting “enough” done in our “never enough” world isn’t going to happen, by the way. You ARE enough. Really.

My Weird Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up to a lovely gift from my husband, who had already left for work. I gave the kids their Valentines and some super-cute cookies decorated by one of my co-workers. (Thanks, Kimmie!) Then I went to work, where these things happened at hyper-speed because we’d sold all of the ones we’d prepped earlier in the week.

When we finally called a halt to production, I still had to write a schedule, rearrange the freezer (because of a call-in) and write an order. I got home around 8 pm, and let me tell you, it didn’t feel like Thursday. It felt like Saturday and Sunday rolled into a big taco of tired! My husband and I had a drink at the kitchen table, after which I declared I needed him to brush my teeth for me and put my pajamas on me, but we settled on just the pajamas. Because that’s love.

I’m hoping with the Super Bowl over and Valentine’s Day done, it will be quiet for a few weeks. Maybe until Easter?

Meanwhile, happy day after Valentine’s Day! I hope yours was sweet, is sweet, and continues to be…SWEET! XOXO

 

 

Drinking and Thinking in Miami…

98FAC436-4EC9-44D7-A2CE-49E99230FEFEIf you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen this picture of me drinking mimosas in the clouds. Eating cheesecake while watching a movie AND reading a book. I didn’t post about the three tequila and OJs on the way back from Miami that led to me scarfing an airport cheeseburger that RUINED me the next day, but that happened, too. My first (and probably only because I used a non-transferable free flight voucher) flying first class experience was everything I hoped it would be. Flawless, boozy, and well-fed.

IMG_4620My high school BFF and I live on opposite coasts. Every few years we pick a city, meet there, and catch up. Miami wasn’t so much about Miami as it was breathing the same air and having relaxed, low-stakes conversations with someone who knows the family that made ME and the family *I* made. We’ve been there with each other through teenage drama, college drama, marital drama, baby drama, MORE teenage drama, and parent…well, drama seems disrespectful, but those of you with aging parents will know what I mean.

Sure, we enjoyed the beach, the Cuban food, the art-deco. We walked through beautiful neighborhood in search of Books and Books, an indie bookstore that did NOT have a romance section. I asked. Romance was mixed in with other titles. I didn’t get tooooo snarky about it, but I was disappointed. However, they did have The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, which I recommended, and my friend bought. I got Crazy, Rich Asians, recommended by my friend. Then we had lunch at the attached cafe, which was lovely.

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A South Beach Cuban sandwich!

Walking back to the hotel, we navigated to Whole Foods and stocked up for a post happy hour hotel picnic. (Yes, I do know how lucky I am to have a friend who knows me so well, she told me I wasn’t allowed to go to happy hour until I did my physical therapy exercises.)

Basically, we shuttled from the beach, to our gorgeous corner king hotel room with a wraparound balcony and a shower ROOM, to the hotel pool, to the hotel bar, to bed. I’m on east coat time, so I got up in the morning to write and watch the sunrise. She’s on west coast time, so she stayed up after I conked out and had her own quiet time. IMG_4548The closest we got to partying in South Beach was walking Ocean Avenue at night and soaking in the vibe, and that was close enough for me. There was much cocktailing, but my friend is a better drinker than I am. She put us on a schedule. For once, I listened.

My friend brings a new perspective to my life. So does getting AWAY from my usual routine. I came home with great book recommendations, a money management app recommendation, and a sense that we were both on the right paths, for the most part. Always room for growing.

I’d been looking forward to that trip for SO LONG. And now it’s over, and it’s time to do Thanksgiving and Christmas in the bakery. I could be depressed that I don’t have a soul-filling trip in my immediate future, but while I was filling the well in my soul, I realized something simple:

Fill your well before it’s empty. Fill it often. Keep it full.

Fill it with a nap. (Oh my gosh, a NAP.) A new book. A trip to the library. Nurturing a friend. Staying in touch. Stopping work before you HAVE to because you fall over.

The well is yours. The soul is yours. What do you need to feel cosseted? I challenge you to think of  something luxurious that your don’t *think* you have time to do. (Because time is harder to come by than money in these months. We spend the money on credit. There is no credit card for time. OMG, can you imagine what would happen if there were?!)

What small soul-filling thing would you do for yourself if you had time, but won’t because you can’t justify the luxury of time spent on yourself in your busy, crazy life? Tell me in the comments. Let’s share well-filling ideas!

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I’ll go first: I filled my well this week in a thirty-minute gap between dropping off one kid and picking up another with a great library book and an excellent tequila cocktail. (It was called Pear Pressure. Are you feeling it? What are you going to do about it?!)

I’m going to Miami!

IMG_4487South Beach, specifically. And staying at a newly renovated hotel with a rooftop pool with a bar! I’m going with my high school best friend who has know me since I was fifteen. That’s four decades and at LEAST four incarnations of myself. This morning, she just sent me an e-mail with a lovely menu from the cafe at a local Miami indie bookstore. Because she tries to support indie bookstores wherever she goes. Food and book love. She is my people!

She also lives on the other side of the country. We see each other every few years, and “recently” we’ve developed a pattern of going fun places to catch up. First it was a weekend in Venice Beach to celebrate turning forty. Then we went to Palm Springs. (Oh, the hangover I had there. So memorable. But more memorable was the way my friend took it in stride. Note to self: don’t drink THAT much in Miami. You are not fifteen anymore. LOL.) If you’ve been with me here for a long time, you might remember our adventures, if not, I linked the posts above. (Food, booze, a visit to The Ripped Bodice, epic!)

It’s been an interesting year, and we have so much to discuss. I went back to work full-time a little over a year ago, and I’m feeling a little…haggard. I’ve lost 8 pounds from running around all day in the bakery. It’s been tough, and I’m ridiculously excited to have carved out a little safe space in the sun to breathe. I feel like the fact that there are no hurricanes heading for Miami, and Ben got his cast off a day early (and is so much happier and doing great!) is like the universe blessing this little vacation/celebration of friendship. I’m feeling really fortunate this morning, as I paint my toenails at six am before going to work. (I’ve got a lot of feelings going on in this paragraph. Usually, I’d look for synonyms and edit them out. This morning, I’m going to let myself have my feelings.) I get to see my friend!

This is my mug this morning. So full of gratitude for all my things. Friends. Family. Healthy kids. A job. A vacation. Every one of you reading this. Are you grateful for something today? What is it?

XOXO,

Amanda

 

Apparently, you have to bring your own crutches

Hi guys!

So my husband had surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon last Friday. Right before they wheeled him in, I said, “Uh, we don’t have crutches.” They assured me they’d get him out to the car after surgery. At which point I had to cop to the fact that I had assumed free crutches were part of the tendon repair service. “You don’t have crutches in the car?” they asked, in the same tone one might ask if someone didn’t like chocolate. Or wine. Or kitten snuggling.

Anyway. NOPE, no crutches. No scooter. No nothing.

So while my beloved was under the knife, I raced out of the ambulatory surgery facility to rent a knee scooter and get crutches, a task I accomplished in 37 minutes flat because I didn’t want to be the wife who was MIA when the doctor wanted to tell her how the surgery went. It went great, by the way. A few fibers of tendon hanging on made the repair very “routine.” So yay!

Anyway, that whole “You don’t have crutches?” moment got me thinking because it’s not the first time I’ve learned this lesson: BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. Make the calls. Ask the questions. Get yourself ready. Don’t wait for the information to be delivered to you mama-bird style. It’s so strange. It’s like some sort of paralysis comes over me when I think someone knows more about how something works than I do. Doctors, editors, publishers, bosses of all sorts, hair stylists, it’s nuts. They are the “professionals” so I think they know more about my body, my story, my hair, my everything than I do. And just to really drive my fatal flaw home, another time I thought a medical professional knew more than I did, I walked around hemorrhaging for six weeks after childbirth. Yeah. That. Still shaking my head over that one.

You know what else? When I tutored SAT prep to already over-scheduled teenagers who needed more homework like they needed a throat punch, I tried to inspire them by saying, “You want it? You gotta go get it.” That pretty much applies to SAT/ACT scores and everything else in life, including finishing books. YOU know what you need. YOU can make it happen better than anyone. Your new comfort zone? It’s waiting right over there.

Go get it.

Last week, I had the power to make a phone call, get some crutch info, and calmly sit in the waiting room reading a book during Ben’s surgery…and I gave that power away because I waited for somebody to tell me what to do. I’m being hard on myself. I always am. But it’s true. I gave power away when it would have been easier to keep it. To be power-FULL.

Something to think about for next time.

XOXO,

Amanda

PS: For anyone who needs to keep weight off a foot, I HIGHLY recommend the knee scooter. $75-ish a month! Mostly covered by my insurance ! Fascinating to cats!

 

INTO THE FIRE is free today!

ItF_300Hey, everybody! The first book in my Hot Night series is free today, and I hope you’ll grab it, if you haven’t read it already. If you have read it, please tell your friends that a super-steamy, enemies to lovers e-romance with great snacks is available on all US platforms for the bargain price of zipperoo! I really love that book. Links found here!

What else is going on? I went home to visit my family in Cincinnati. My parents are aging, and it’s both amazing and difficult to watch them care for each other. My kids traveled with me because seeing them delights my parents, and my husband stayed home to work and feed the cats. LOL. Last time, I stayed home, and HE took them to Cinci. We can get more visits in that way!

And…CAKE! I didn’t design either of these, my very creative boss did, and aren’t they summery and CUTE?!

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Neopolitan!
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S’more!

I love them.

And now I’m off to the bakery! Enjoy your day!

XOXO,

Amanda

 

 

Dark Awakening April 2019

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It’s been a while! Since December! How can that BE?! Hello, hello, hello. I hope you are well. 🙂

This working full-time thing ain’t no joke, and it wears me out. But I’ve been getting up EARLY to write before work. Every day, although lately I’ve been sidetracked by redesigning my website. It felt stale. And dated. And I wanted one that was scroll-y. Stop by and tell me what you think, if you have a chance. I’m not paying anyone to design it, and my technical skills are about average, but I’m pleased.

The getting up early has been good. Dark Awakening is mostly finished, and it has a lovely cover! My plan WAS to write the next book and then publish them together (or very close) because the end of the book is definitely sequel bait, and I don’t want angry readers. But then I started writing the sequel. And I stalled. The stall is part of my process, but I got to thinking about how long it took me to write Dark Awakening (and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until I was happy with it). I remembered that I’m doing this for fun. I started wondering how long it will REALLY take me to finish Book Two. Then I decided to release Dark Awakening during my birth month, April. Because I love the book, and I love my birthday, and what could be better than that?!

I’ll probably rewrite the blurb to be first person and more fun, but here’s the gist:

Zoe Draden was perfectly happy using her secret talent to grow vegetables for her family’s café. But when her brother is kidnapped by the entity responsible for their unique abilities, she’s forced to trust a dangerous and tempting man who scares her more than their mutual enemy.

Jake Fallon has one goal: protect the Talents. His ability to control minds made that an easy task until Genecorp began hunting them. Now Talents are dying, and the only person who can help is a constant threat to his crucial self-control.

Zoe doesn’t remember what happened when she met Jake, but she’s beginning to suspect he’s keeping a secret. So is she. There’s more to her Talent than meets the eye. In fact, she may be the key to their survival. But she’s got her work cut out for her convincing control-freak Jake he needs her help, especially when they discover the greatest threat lies within…

And YOU are the first to know!

The Hanukkats and other delights

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Our new holiday cake at the Transit Wegmans: alternating layers of white and chocolate cake with cran-raspberry filling, vanilla buttercream, chocolate glaze, sugared berries and pistachios.

Hi! I’ve been working. Shocking, I know. Holiday time in a bakery is freaking nuts, and this is my first year as a full-timer and a coordinator so I’m busting my butt trying to make sure we have all the things, do all the things, and make ALL THE THINGS. It’s going pretty well. At least, Thanksgiving went well, pie-wise, but we are in a seriously weak cut-out cookie position, so I’m …sure it will be FINE.

I finished the book beast. It’s with a few readers right now, and I’m hoping they’ll return it with accolades and amazement, but I know the ending needs some love and that the world I’ve built is complicated, so they may well be searching for the most tactful way to say, “WTF, AMANDA. This is what you’ve been working on for TWO YEARS?” It has a gorgeous cover, which I will share soon, but first I want to tell you about the most wonderful thing.

We got kittens.

And now I am a cat-crazy lady. And I have cat-crazy children. I don’t know what we did without them, because now we all spend most of our time following them around the house, watching them play, petting them, feeding them, and waking them up to play with them some more. First we got Dobby, because two cats seemed excessive, but we couldn’t stop thinking about his brother…who we are now “fostering” (LOL. He’s ours.) and we named him Sock, of course. Because every Dobby needs a Sock.

They’re difficult to tell apart, but Dobby has stripes and Sock has spots, mostly. They get along with the dog. They sleep with the kids. They haven’t destroyed anything…yet. I love them. So much more than I expected! I always had cats growing up, always two at a time, Peepers even had kittens in my bedroom, but I forgot how much I enjoy them. (Probably because Ben and I rescued a feral cat when we lived in New Orleans. But we didn’t know he was feral. And we named him Bill. Bill the Cat. I’m sure that didn’t help. He would let us pet him for just long enough to secure a position in which to latch on to an arm or leg and bite and scratch the crap out of us. He also climbed my wedding dress in the closet. After the wedding, thank goodness!) Anyway, now we have cats, and our house is filled with cheer!

I hope your holidays are warm, happy, and filled with all the things that bring comfort and joy to you and yours, now, in the new year, and always.

And now I’m going to feed kid number 3, (1 and 2 have already been fed, lunched, and kissed out the door) and get ready for work. Holiday desserts don’t make themselves, thank goodness! #jobsecurity

Happy holidays, my friends!

Oh, life is bigger

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Chocolate cake filled with raspberry filling and pistachio buttercream. Sometimes I get to make new cakes at my new job!

Hi! I can’t believe it’s September, more than mid-September, and I haven’t blogged since May. WOWOWOW. My life kind of exploded in a good way, and although I’ve had so much to say and share, I keep falling asleep. When we put both our daughters in braces the same month, it became clear that we needed more money and better insurance. So I applied for full-time at the Wegmans bakery. Wegmans offered me a job as a bakery coordinator–yes, please!–so I got transferred to a new store and started on Memorial Day.

 

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I liked this cake (white with apple pie filling and cinnamon buttercream) but…

 

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It turned into this one, which my savvy managers think will sell better! It is also white cake, apple pie filling, and cinnamon buttercream, but we added a cinnamon glaze, caramel drizzle, and dried apple chips. We are going to call it “Apple-y Ever After! Of course!

I love the job and my new people, but starting any new job is rough. Last Saturday was the first Saturday I’ve had off since May. I’ve had to be more organized than EVER just to keep life rolling. I’m happy to say I haven’t lost touch with the book I’m writing, but it’s going sloooooowly. Slow is fine. Life is good. I’m tired. 

I’m also co-teaching a class two nights a week, which MAY have been a poor life decision because I literally have to explain to everyone dealing with me why I am a hot mess who can’t stop yawning and takes three full blinks to answer yes or no questions.

Work. Eat. Sleep. Write. Text. Write everything down. Yoga. Kiss the kids. Love the husband. Shower. (Don’t forget to shower.)

A new normal is emerging.

Happy September! I’m back! 🙂

bottoms-up-webOH! I’m making BOTTOMS UP free for a little bit, Amazon only. I’m experimenting with marketing on KDP Select. I suck at marketing! LOL. The new job threw a kink in my plan to improve my business skill set. I figured it couldn’t hurt. So if you haven’t read it, and you want to take a walk on the wild side, grab it and have a good time. 😉