10 Ways to Love Yourself Better

Hello, February! Whether you love Valentine’s Day or hate it…get ready! Personally, I love heart-shaped cookies, and I’m looking forward to making them with my son and his girlfriend. (Luckiest mom ever!) Which reminds me–I need to find a frosting recipe that tastes better than royal icing, but dries a little so the cookies don’t get smudged…

Anyway, if you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I posted, I fell into the pit of despair. It happens. I’m climbing out! Maybe you can relate?

But as I scaled the walls and paced a groove in the floor, I discovered a few self-lovely ways to be kind to myself. Then, as I was pondering newsletter topics this morning (sign up here if you want to be the first to know about my book news), I decided to share them. And to ask you if you’d like to share YOURS.

After all, you never know when you’re going to need a little boost–or where you might find it. If you’ve got a good tip, share it in the comments or find me on FB. I’m going to do a round-up for my next newsletter. Let’s share the self-love! As we’ve learned in a myriad of ways these last few years, we’re all in this together.

Need a boost? Try one of these 10 ways to love yourself better:

  • TAKE YOUR VITAMINS. For some reason, I tend to forget on weekends or when I’m feeling blue. Is it subconscious self-sabotage? A break in routine? Who knows, but I feel better when I take them, and maybe you will, too. Be good to yourself.
  • USE EXTRA LOTION. If your inner world takes a dive, you might as well pamper yourself on the outside. A nice rub and showing some love for the bod that carries you around in the world might change your state of mind.
  • BREATHE. OMG I’ve been doing yoga for over a decade. I breathe ALL the dang time. Intentionally. Deeply. But last week I caught myself holding my breath at my desk…and I think maybe I’ve been doing it for a year. And breathing in my chest not my belly, which can lead to feeling anxious. I love Yoga with Adriene and subscribe to her app, but she has two incredible “Yoga for Anxiety” practices that are free on YouTube. Both of them start with alternate nostril breathing, which chills me out EVERY TIME. This simple 16-minute Yoga with Adriene practice is great before bed. This 30-minute practice is a little more advanced (hello, warrior three), but it will get you out of your head.
  • DRINK TEA. Or whatever floats your boat. I like Yogi brand Honey Lavender Stress Relief (soothing serenity blend). Maybe it’s the ritual. Or the herbs. The heat? Dig in to whatever grounds you, and reach for it when you need it.
  • FILL A LARGE CONTAINER OF WATER IN THE MORNING. Hydration is essential for good health, and I always drink more water when I fill up my enormous water bottle in the morning. I can’t count on myself to fill up eight individual glasses of water every day, but if it’s already there? Glug, glug, glug. Maybe it will help you hydrate, too.
  • CHECK IN WITH YOURSELF. I’ve tried a bunch of different things to chart my emotional progress during this challenging year. This 3 Minute Positivity Journal is pretty cool. But journaling in the morning is my current go-to. I write down my wins, the things I’m grateful for, and things I’m trying to remember. When I do this, reading over the week makes me feel good. I learned the hard way that writing down what was troubling me every day made me feel worse when I read over the week. Framing your day, your week, your life, your SELF positively can make a huge difference!
  • EAT DARK CHOCOLATE. Science backs up the happy-making effects of dark chocolate! The catch: it only takes a half-ounce, so we can’t use that as an excuse to eat the whole chocolate bar…at least not every day. But if you like chocolate, eating it can have positive physical and psychological effects. YES!
  • REACH OUT TO A FRIEND. I’m grateful to have a few people I can count on for companionship (via text or whatever) on good days, bad days, and every day in-between. Just having someone know my state of mind makes me feel better. And staying connected with friends gives us the opportunity to be there for them, too, another mood booster.
  • BUY THE GOOD SEX TOY. MANY years ago, a wise friend and I went to an upscale adult toy store, and she splurged on a vibrator with a price tag that made me blink…and blink…and blink. I’ve replaced a half dozen of my cheapo “BOBs” since then, and you know what my wise friend says about hers? “Worth every penny.” Oh look, they’re having a Valentine’s Day Sale… YOU ARE WORTH IT. I feel like this article in Vogue magazine was written just for us! Appreciating the Orgasm as an Act of Self-Care. YES!
  • FIND A NEW BOOK. As a lifelong reader, I NEED to know what I’m reading next. Distraction is a great way to weather rough patches in life. (Full disclosure: I also discovered a few new TV series that made life better. The Morning Show. Minx. New Amsterdam. I also watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies again LOL.) I ask friends for recommendations, check out my Bookbub recommendations, read Smart Bitches Trashy Books reviews, and troll the Libby app for library options… If a new book gives you a mood boost, don’t deny yourself the pleasure!

So there you have it! 10 ways (and there are more, trust me) I’ve learned to love myself better. Have you got a good one? Something you’d like to share in case it gives someone else a much needed boost? Leave it in the comments or find me on FB. I’ll get a longer list together, and we can help each other rise above the pit of despair–and love the hell out of ourselves!

Chocolate Chai Chippers From ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER

So what’s happening now that ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER is out in the world? It’s getting rave reviews, which is delightful. It has over 4 stars on Goodreads! They don’t hold back their true opinions over there, so YAY!

Here’s my current favorite review:


I received the first pass of edits on Book 2, ONE NIGHT STAND WITH BENEFITS, also delightful. I thought that book was a disaster of darkness, but my editors liked it. They did notice the darkness, so I have my work cut out for me making it as much fun as ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER, but I have faith.

I also put a new recipe on the site! The Chocolate Chai Chippers from the Slip Stitch Café in Denver, CO. No, it’s not a real place, but Clara and Zane visit it in the book! The cookies are irresistible, if I do say so. Chewy, chunky, oaty-to-the-tooth chocolate chip cookies with just enough spice to make them interesting. If you make them, let me know what you think.

Next up is the Slip Stitch Sandwich, or at least the Green Goddess dressing that goes on it. I’m a sucker for ranch dressing and anything green. And veggie burgers. And spicy things!

Aaaaand I have to get cranking on Book Three. It’s in me, somewhere. I can feel it. Kind of like when you know you’re forgetting something but can’t quite figure out what room to enter to trigger your memory. I’ll have to wander around on the page until I find what I need. It’s hard to keep showing up when the magic doesn’t appear. I’ve started this book at least twice already! Maybe three times. But I’ll start again.

The joy is in the process. I give myself permission to suck. Progress not perfection. It’s always hard. I always do it. All of that. Pretty sure I wrote a blog called “Ride the Hard,” about a million years ago…

Yes, we can do hard things. Eating cookies helps! Enjoy the Chocolate Chai Chippers. Fall will be here before we know it…

Release Day! One Night Stand After Another is LIVE!

ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER is here at last! I’m thrilled to introduce readers to Clara and Zane and their cross-country road trip filled with hot nights, incredible food, and outrageous yarn destinations. Yep-you read that right. YARN. Clara is a crocheting fiend who finds endless creative inspiration in Zane’s mad skills in bed.

Are you looking for a fun, sexy escape from reality? ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER is exactly what you need.

A fun, sexy, sweet romance read that went by too quick. I loved it and didn’t want it to end.” -Leah Hines 

This book has all the feels. Intelligent leads, strong unbreakable characters, suspense, and of course love!” -Di Budo

“I thought this book was so much fun to read, and it was the perfect amount of romance, humor and smut (honestly a golden trio if I do say so myself).” -Unhinged Bibliophile 

“This is a funny, cute and spicy story, it made me laugh so much, Clara and Zane are so perfect together, their sizzling chemistry is off the charts, and the banter is epic, I couldn’t get enough of them together.” -When Vane Reads 

What’s the book REALLY about? Here’s the blurb:

Clara Duke lives to crochet wearable art. But right this second, she’s looking at the one guy who has the uncanny ability to unravel her in every possible way. Zane Brampton. He broke her heart in high school and now wants to make it up to her—in a single night. Just being in the same room as him feels dangerously volatile. A whole night with this delectable, gorgeous man would be nothing less than a total sexpocalypse. But oh, what a way to go.

The sight of Clara and her mouthwatering curves might actually kill restaurateur Zane. Ten years ago, their volcanic chemistry exploded… taking their social circle along with it. But Zane hasn’t forgotten the heat—and this feels almost like fate. He’ll be damned if he’ll let her run from their connection again. And he might just have found his chance to prove he deserves more than just one night…

Now Zane is driving Clara to California to meet her professional dreams. But between the road, the chocolate, and the ridiculously hot sex, Clara risks getting tangled up with her not-so-one-night-stand. And worse, Zane might just be the thread that snaps all of her perfectly crocheted plans.

You can join me on the blog tour (and enter a giveaway) here.

Newsletter subscribers have exclusive access to a FREE bonus chapter! Sign up here.

Hurray! Happy birthday to ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER! Thanks for celebrating with me!



Living in New Orleans in the 90s

My husband and I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1998 and moved to New Orleans to work in the French Quarter. He had a job at Commander’s Palace, and I’d been hired as assistant pastry chef at Bayona. Both of these restaurants topped the lists in the city, and we were over-the-moon excited.

Why did we pick New Orleans? Well, Ben said it would be fun…and we’d probably had some wine. Maybe a bottle or two? As it turns out, he wasn’t serious about such a big move, but I made inquiries, got responses, and off we went.

We lived there for two years before moving back to Western New York to raise a family. What do I remember most? The smell of the French Quarter: hot sidewalk, vomit, dog crap, powdered sugar, onion ring grease, and possibility. A never-ending prep list. Before long Ben joined me at Bayona, working the line during the day, while I worked around the corner in the bakeshop. The pastry chef left, and I begged for her job. I got it, too. What a rush…pastry chef of one of the top 3 restaurants in the French Quarter!

(Sometimes, I want that job back. Because the job I did at 26, when I was so green and full of myself, could not compare to the job I would do now…but all the baking and living I did after we moved back to NY is what would have helped me kick butt harder. Ah, life!)

I have writer friends who LOVE research (I’m looking at you, Jessica Topper), but I like to write what I know. I dig in deep when I have to (I worked at a winery for a day while writing LUSCIOUS), but I often lean toward familiar passions: food, drink, family, love.

Our time in New Orleans inspired MAKE ME, TAKE ME, and I wrote about quite a few real-life experiences (details changed to protect the innocent!) in that book. What I wouldn’t give for the blue cheese burger from Port Of Call, a mango daiquiri from any random French Quarter corner, beignets from Morning Call, the mushroom madeira cream goat toasts from Bayona…another chance to nail that dessert menu. (I DID get my tea leaves read. I did NOT do anything even close to what Quin and Betsy do in that bar…or the elevator…or everywhere else in the French Quarter. Fun fact: this book was so hot, I had to cut sex scenes during edits LOL.)

Here’s the blurb:

He's every fantasy she's ever had... Betsy Mouton knows that easy doesn't last forever. She's working her butt off to launch the Last Call Café so her family can leave the New Orleans bar business—and its heartaches—behind forever. That is, until the hottest one-night-stand of her life shows up next door, twice as uncompromising and two million times hotter, offering to buy the bar and send the Moutons to Easy Street.  Hotelier Quinton James has never forgotten the unbelievably hot night he and Betsy shared. Never forgotten how beautifully she submitted to him, or how he found the only peace he's ever known in her arms. Now that Betsy is the only thing standing in the way of his new hotel, she's the one in control. But there's more at stake than her cafe or laying their past to rest—Quin wants a future. With her. All he has to do is convince her...one sensual command at a time.

Want to experience New Orleans through the eyes of a young chef struggling to make ends meet while falling in lust with the hotelier next door who is trying to ruin her life? Get the eBook for .99 on all platforms today ONLY!

New Book Coming in July!

Would you say no to a cross-country yarn, food, and sex spree with a guy hell bent on making every day–and night–better than the last?

Sooo it’s been a while! A year, in fact, since I published my last blog post. So what happened to derail my good intentions to stay focused on all things romance and writing?


I may have mentioned on the blog, although who knows because it was A YEAR AGO, that I was leaving my job in the bakery to do a triple career switch. Yep, at the end of July last year, I wadded up my apron and dropped it in the bin for the last time. Then I started my new job as a copywriter for a company that does marketing for the staffing industry.

The learning curve for this position has given new meaning to the word “steep.” I’m STILL climbing. Fortunately, my employers and colleagues believe in me and have given me time, resources, and more time to inch up the copywriting/marketing/staffing knowledge mountain.

So that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing all year. Well, that plus negotiating with terrorists. I turned 50, and my hormones have taken me hostage. So that’s been fun…

But I’m back with new ideas on how to make this blog a fun place. Pre-order links for my upcoming release ONE NIGHT STAND AFTER ANOTHER are coming soon! (Can you tell I was going a little stir crazy during the pandemic? This book is a steamy, romantic, food coma/sex fest that spans the country LOL.)

Meanwhile, if you’re taking your own road trip (and YAY if you are!), INTO THE FIRE is now available in audiobook. No better way to stay awake on the road! Or while cleaning, walking, exercising, resting your eyes…

Now in audiobook format!

I hope your summer has gotten off to a great start! XO, Amanda

Get Creative! Muse Goosing: Part Two


Last week I talked about how connecting with a larger community of creatives by listening to an inspiring podcast gooses my creativity. This week, I want to share how connecting with myself keeps me inspired.

I started meditating.

Sounds so fancy, but for me it’s not. I Googled “best meditation apps” and read reviews until I settled on two free ones and downloaded them: Mindfulness (I apologize for the Apple-centric link. Take note of the icon if you want to find it in your digital world. It’s different from The Mindfulness App.) and Insight Timer. I’m so happy with Mindfulness that I haven’t even explored the other one. I’ve worked my way through the five weeks of guided introduction meditations twice, making note of my favs. I discovered that spending ten minutes in the morning breathing means I breathe more deeply throughout the day, often becoming aware of my breath just as tension and frustration begin to tighten my shoulders, my mind, and my spirit.

Mileage may vary, but the life concepts introduced in these meditations make a lot of sense to me. Somehow, I’d forgotten I could choose my own path. That I can change paths if I want to. I’m such a trees person, that I forget my life is a forest. Remembering that every day, connecting to my breath, my inner self, keeps me focused on my goals, my people, my priorities.

Breathing is highly underrated.



Get Creative! Muse Goosing: Part One

“Butt in chair,” is common advice to writers trying to get words on the page. However, I’ve found that unexpected things feed my creativity, things that have nothing to do with writing. 

For example, I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast on my drive to work. In an episode titled, “Brené with Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard on Podcasting, Daily Practices, and the Long and Winding Path to Healing,” Brené asked Tim and Dax what is the one thing they do every day that is necessary for their wellbeing (paraphrased from my horrid memory). I’ve been thinking about that question a lot. Because their answers were surprising. I’ve been pondering the things that are necessary for my wellbeing and creativity and how they aren’t necessarily the same as the things I actually do everyday.

Whoa. Right?

So I’m trying to actually DO the things that goose my muse.

Listening to Unlocking Us is one of my things. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that a show called UNLOCKING US makes me think about myself, others, the world, and connection, but I’m not always the brightest bulb. The current topic on the show is one of my favorite Brené books: The Gifts of Imperfection. Yes, I bought the ten year anniversary hardcover edition. Yes, I also sent a copy to my sister. Because Brené and HER sisters are discussing the book together every week in July!   How cool is that? 

Listening to Brené’s conversations with writers and artists makes me feel connected to the larger community of wounded, growing, healing, creative people. I didn’t know I needed that until my short commute to work led me to Unlocking Us. Now that my commute is over, I’ll have to find another space in my life for this podcast because I’m not giving it up. Other incredible conversations:

Dr. Clint Smith, author of How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. I can’t stop thinking about this conversation. A must read book.

Alicia Keys, author of More Myself. This led me to Alicia Keys’s song “Fallin’” which is totally inspiring my new book!

Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter. I had to stop in a parking lot and make some notes while listening to this one. Damn. I get tears in my eyes thinking about it. It took me ten steps closer to writing a book I’ve been thinking about for nearly twenty years.

By the way, my mother objected to my “Try Different Shit” motto last week. I knew it! Ha. I told her I was okay with that. It feels brave to me. Determined. Very “I laugh in the face of danger!” Invincible! Resilient with a sense of humor. (I love you, Mom.)

Writers and Goal Seekers, I encourage you to step out of your bubble and connect with a larger community of creatives, even in a way as introverted as listening to other people having a conversation which inspires you to read a book. Inspiration doesn’t always come from within. Sometimes you have to go looking for it and invite it to come inside. Find a podcast, a book, a song, a painting, a connection to something in the world that might open a portal to your own creative spirit.

I’ll see you next week, when I share another thing that has nothing to do with writing that is helping me create.



Do You Want To Be More Creative?

The Struggle is Real.

How do you live a creative life when you have REAL bills to pay?

Folx, I’ve been struggling with family/adult responsibilities versus my desire to have a writing career for several years now, and I have come out on the other side. Well, this other side. I have no doubt more struggles will come, and there will be other other sides, but for now: EPIPHANY. 

Mine, to be clear.

Your mileage will vary. We are not the same. The things we desire are not the same. The way we make decisions is not the same. The things that move the needle for you are not the same things that move the needle for me. (My needle is stubborn, and moving it requires a ridiculous alignment of seemingly unrelated things, so I hope your needle is less intractable than mine.)

I am so down with Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic when she wrote, “Don’t make your muse pay your bills.” Okay, that’s not exactly what she wrote. She was much more poetic. But that was my takeaway from Big Magic. (Which is fantastic. Read it for your own Big Magic takeaway.) If you expect your creativity to pay your bills, and it doesn’t, bad things can happen to your creative spirit. 

At least, bad things happened to MY creative spirit when my Hot Nights series didn’t make a zillion dollars, solve all my financial problems, and prove that I’m a creative genius. Add in the facts that my three kids were suddenly old enough that I could go back to work full-time, and my part-time grocery store job offered incredible benefits. There was no way I could know going full-time was going to be physically and emotionally exhausting. Or that my terminally ill father was going to pass away. There was a lot I didn’t know.

Fast forward six years.


And a freaking pandemic.

Obviously, there are those who are making so much money with their creativity, they don’t have to worry about this happening. Good for them. For those of us who aren’t making enough money with our creativity to support our lifestyle or families and we STILL want to be creative, BUT we’re exhausted/discouraged/afraid, how do we go on? How do we get started achieving our big, hard dreams when we’re already pooped, we’ve tried and “failed” in the past, and our inner critic is holding a Whack-A-Mole hammer and bonks us back down in our hole every time we see a sliver of creative light and start to climb toward it?

Crass—I’m sorry. I spent some formative years working in kitchen, and my inner voice uses a lot of profanity. So does my outer voice.

I’ll go into the shit I’ve tried over the past six years in depth this month. Only one of my new things has to do with writing, but all of them support my creativity. How did I discover them? Trial and error. How do I know they work? I do them. I feel good. Better. More myself. More creative. I wrote a book in January 2021. I sold it to Liz Pelletier at Entangled Publishing. With two other books to follow.

Did I bury the lead? Probably. Dear readers, I sold three books to Entangled Publishing! More information to come, but I think I’ll put the details in a newsletter first, so sign up for my newsletter, if you want to hear more. 

I am thrilled to be working with Entangled again. Over the freaking MOON. But I’m even more deeply delighted to know I’ve discovered things about myself that will support my creativity through the books and years to come. Because when the first shit didn’t work, I tried other shit. And I feel really good about it. And when this shit stops working, I’ll try other shit.

How are your creative goals doing? Have you found ways to blow on your precious spark? Do you have a thing you do that makes you feel good, so you keep doing it? Does feeling good make you do good things? Start thinking about it…

See you next week!




Happy Spring, everyone! Into the Fire is on sale NOW! Get it here if a steamy, enemies to lovers romp in a NYC kitchen (not literally, all food safety rules observed!) is your jam.