Don’t Miss This Mother’s Day Sale!

May the Fourth be with you! LOL. I saw these wookie cookies on Pinterest and had to make them at work, even though I had about forty other things I should have been doing. It’s the little things sometimes, even when the big things are looming!

Warning: I am struggling this morning. WordPress changed its format when I wasn’t looking, and I can’t seem to make this post behave. Or I could have the menstrual migraine I’ve been fighting off all week with Naproxen. Or maybe it’s the impending menses. Or the pandemic. Who even knows at this point? Bear with me. I have news.

Do you enjoy romances with kids/babies/pregnancies in them? Entangled Publishing has a dozen books on sale for .99 for Mother’s Day, and my book, Impulse Control, is one of them! The heroine has a fourteen-month old baby, and the tough-guy hero falls in love with him just as fast as he falls in love with her. The diaper-changing scene cracks me up every time, even though I wrote it. It also chokes me up a little because it reminds me of how hilarious and awesome my husband was with our kids. “Laugh it up, poopy pants,” Russ says, as he tries to convince the barely-walking baby of the merits of peeing standing up. Impulse Control is one of my favorites because the hero is a smoking-hot badass alpha dude, and he really and truly appreciates the curves and imperfections of a REAL woman. A mother. Who still has baby weight. Some stretch marks. Leftover baggage from a failed relationship. You know, A NORMAL WOMAN. Like all my books, it’s pretty sexy, and if you want to read part of why I love the hero so much, click here for a thrill. The excerpt is at the bottom.

And the sale page for all the books can be found HERE. The sale runs May 4th through May 11th, and I hope you download some of the books and enjoy them.

May the Fourth be with you, Happy Mother’s Day, and stay safe!

XOXO,

Amanda

E-book available  from AMAZONBARNES & NOBLEKOBO, GOOGLE, APPLE BOOKS, and more.

FREE and Discounted Books from Entangled Publishing!

I’m on my way out the door to work in the grocery store, but I wanted to tell you all about this sale in case you are having a particularly stir-crazy day!

Entangled Publishing, LLC has made over a thousand category romances .99 and 176 first-in-series single title books FREE on ALL retailers, as far as I can tell! STOCK UP, bookworms, and stay home in your happy place! I have direct sales links for the Barnes & Noble sales pages, so maybe shop there and then search out your picks on your favorite retailer?
B&N category romance: http://tiny.cc/BNcategoryrom
B&N free romance: http://tiny.cc/BNfreeromance
And, of course, here’s a link to all retailers for my HOT NIGHTS series: http://tiny.cc/HotNightsSeries
HAPPY READING from Entangled Publishing! 

XOXO,

Amanda

In Like a Lamb…then ROAR!

I work in a grocery store. Last week was mostly normal. I was crunching numbers for Pi Day (3/14) and the only thing I was concerned about was the fact it was happening on a Saturday. I wondered how many teachers and math loving parents wouldn’t bother buying pies…

Fast forward a few days, and the shelves are bare of paper products and meat, and every bakery employee who is able to cash (including the department manager) is on a register. Bakery employee who can’t cash (that’s me) are cleaning like their lives depend on it, which they kind of do, or putting away the very unpredictable deliveries. In some cases, we don’t even stock the display, we just drop a pallet near the display. It’s faster.

…and NO ONE is buying pies. Or cakes. Or cookies. Or basically anything in the bakery except bread. Me? I’d totally bring home a sheet cake for the apocalypse, but evidence puts me in the minority.

My kids are home until late April AT LEAST. I’ve always know I’d be a terrible homeschooler, but I’m trying to keep up with the e-mails from teachers about how this next month will proceed. Even though I’ve always made their grades their responsibility, I suddenly feel the need to micromanage. My children are, for the most part, tolerant of my parental anxiety.

My oldest is headed for college next year. What will that look like? I just signed both of my girls up for expensive college-credit classes…now cancelled. Let’s not even look at the stock market.

What to do in this time of uncertainty? Well, I want to stick my nose in a book and leave it there for two months. That’s what I do in times of adversity. I retreat. Pull inward. It’s easy for me. I read Pat Conroy’s Beach Music through most of an induced but “natural” labor. I read Bryn Greenwood’s The Reckless Oath We Made while planning my father’s funeral. Currently, I’m binging KA Tucker’s The Simple Wild series and Kari Lynn Dell’s Texas Rodeo series AT THE SAME TIME. (They’re great. Just in case you need a new book.)

I also made these.

The spring roll wrappers have probably been in the cupboard for five years. AT LEAST. And the black soy bean noodles have been spinning on the lazy susan for months, rejected. The cilantro somehow escaped taco night a few weeks ago and is still mostly fresh. Put them all together with this sauce and you’ve got black soy bean, cilantro, romaine, cucumber (and chicken for the non-pescatarians in my house) spring rolls! Culinary creativity at it’s finest. LOL. Which actually gives me an idea, as I sit here at my kitchen table. My son likes to cook. He might enjoy a “mystery basket” experience in the kitchen. Do you think *I* can handle the resulting culinary consequences? And the bomb that will be my kitchen? Maybe it will be fun?

Isolation isn’t easy for some people. Introverted bookworms like me are pretty okay. We hang out with fictional characters. Plus, I still go to work. At present, my job in the grocery store continues. But the people who thrive on social contact will struggle. Are you one of those people? How do YOU find ways to connect that don’t involve actually being near another person? Please share. 🙂

I’m off to work. Namaste (from six feet away) and stay healthy!

The Super Bowl is NOT a Holiday

Oh but it is…in a grocery store. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since November! To be fair, I did send out a few newsletters. (If you want to get my cat pictures and oversharing, sign up HERE.)

In my day job, I live from holiday to holiday. There are a few quiet days in January, but then it goes Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day…and on and on. Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve allowed my day job to completely take over my life. I’m an overachiever. I pour myself into EVERY project like it’s my only project. Bakery is a beast. We never get enough done. The work is overwhelming. The expectations are endless. And I don’t know how to quit.

One of my daily goals for last month was “leave on time.” During January, the slowest month of the grocery store year, I left on time SIX TIMES. I can do better than that. I must do better than that. Because I want to have energy for other things that matter. And when I work twelve-hour days, I don’t. It’s as simple as that.

Do you have a goal for February? What is it? How are you going to crush it?

You are NOT your own worst enemy

I’m not doing nano this year because (many reasons) but I get the pep talks in my inbox, and, MAN, they are great. Anne Lamott telling me I must begin writing, “As is,” and not wait for the “right” time…or the right ME. Maurene Goo reminding me that I must have follow through. That “No one creates art half-heartedly. Even when they pretend to. Because writing is really hard. And only the tough survive.”

Why is it so hard FOR ME?

It might be that ANY activity I desperately want to do would become difficult because I like to feel like a failure. I never feel like my efforts are good enough. I deny myself success, or, at least, ENJOYING success, even though on paper I’m doing great. Healthy, happy family. Employed. Paying the bills. But I never FEEL like a success.

My counselor asked me last week: What do you think you have to be?

I stared at her blankly.

Perfect. Invulnerable. Infallible. Beautiful. Funny. Thin. Strong. Right. All the time.

*cue hysterical laughter*

If I believe that bullshit, I AM my own worst enemy. And maybe you are, too.

At least, that was the direction I was planning to take with this blog until I drove my middle kid to jazz band this early morning. As I drove and wrote in my head, I realized that I was BLAMING MYSELF for not feeling successful. I was putting MYSELY DOWN for feeling down. Why on earth would I do that? I tell my girls at work every single time I hear them putting themselves down that there are enough things and people in life who will make you feel low, so don’t do it to yourself, at least not where I can hear you.

I am NOT my own worst enemy. I am my biggest supporter. My biggest fan. And you should be your biggest supporter and fan, too. We are enough. BELIEVE it. FEEL it. Now the work begins.

AS IS.

It’s Release Day for DARK AWAKENING!

At long last…

To say I’m excited is an understatement. The e-book is available from AmazonBarnes and Noble, Kobo,  and Apple Books. It’s on sale for release week, so if super-sexy, super-powered, and super-twisty urban fantasy is up your alley, grab it! And I’d love to hear what you think of it, here or anywhere, but especially in a review on a retail site. 😀

Bounce, boounce, booounce. BOOOINGGGGGG! I’m off to work. Have a SUPER day, folks!

Is Your Heart on the Back Burner?

No, I’m not talking about grieving or counseling. What is blowing my mind this morning is how easy it is for me to put my writing, which is really freaking important to me and the project of my heart, on the back burner.

I got home from Cincinnati on Tuesday, spent Wednesday picking up the threads of family and financial life, went back to work on Thursday…and BOOM. I worked overtime every day and completely (well, almost) lost of all the creative inspiration that welled up during my two-week “break.”

The books I want to write really aren’t going to write themselves.

A Monday suggestion for anyone out there who puts something they love last on their to-do list: Do it first. Do it now. Don’t do it as a reward for getting all the have-tos done. Do it because it gives the mundane stuff more meaning. You WILL get all of your have-tos done…because you HAVE TO. But you won’t get your want-tos done unless you prioritize them.

Do you put your passion project last on your list? Why?

And if you don’t, do you have any suggestions for how those of us who do can stop? Me, I’m going to go back to writing FIRST thing in the morning. I’M DOING IT.

What’s your goal for this fine Monday?

How Do You Unpack a Life?

Where do you start? That’s what I asked my new counselor. I mean, I probably would have benefited from counseling decades ago, but the thought of explaining ALL THE THINGS to someone is flat-out exhausting.

But I went. I sat on the couch. I started talking. I tried to explain what brought me there and what I wanted to get out of it. The next day, I felt more steady, as if beginning the process gave me some power back, which makes sense, I guess. I’m working on my struggles not denying, enduring, pickling, carb-loading, or sleeping on them.

And then my Dad passed away on Tuesday. If you’ve read my books, my characters’ daddy issues run rampant through them. Or sometimes the mommy issues because you gotta mix it up a little! My relationship with my father is probably the most complicated one in my life. I’ve been wondering for months, because his death was not sudden, how you go on when the person who created you, physically, mentally, and emotionally, doesn’t exist anymore. He got a surprising amount of discussion in my first counseling session, or not so surprising, really.

There’s a lot to unpack.

Currently, I’m with my mother and sister, doing the things you do when this sort of thing happens. There are a lot of things! And a lot of talking. Lots of casseroles, wine, and pie. Lots of pictures. Lots of leftovers. Lots of tears. Lots of laughs. We are doing a very difficult thing, but we are doing it together. The Fabulous Baker Girls, as my friend Jessica Topper dubbed us, are heartbroken. End of story.

But love goes on.

Depressed and Anxious, but Killing It!

Hi guys, I can’t believe I haven’t posted since June, but I kind of can because I’ve been slowly losing my shit over a period of months. Maybe a year. Maybe more because it takes me a long time to admit I can’t do something. To admit I need help. To rest in my mess because I am performing my job with tears rolling down my face, and even *I* can’t pretend that is normal!

It’s not necessary to feel the way I’m feeling even with good reasons. I have good reasons. My father is dying, my job is uber-stressful, it’s time to find a college for my oldest, I’m not writing, the cat keeps peeing in the house…the list goes on. And on.

And yet – I’m performing at a high level. My to-do lists are epic, and I am crossing off stuff that’s been on them for months! I assume it’s because I feel overwhelmed, and that’s a good way to assert some power in my life?

This is not a cry for help, my people. I know how to get help. In fact, all the while I’ve been sinking I KNEW I could get 6 FREE counseling sessions through the EAP program at work, and I called yesterday. You’d think that making that call would have been the hardest thing to do.

Nope.

Getting my ass to the gym for the first step aerobics class I’ve taken in 20 years was the hardest thing I did yesterday. So hard. Even though my primary told me last year that doing cardio would help with my fatigue. Even though my chiro poked me in my butt cheeks and told me I was losing muscle mass. Even though my creatinine levels came back low, which can be another indicator of losing muscle mass. Putting down my book and getting off my bed and really and truly taking a “step” toward rebuilding my physical health was more difficult than taking a step toward rebuilding my mental health.

Go figure.

Anyway! A huge fist bump to all of you out there taking care of your heads, hearts, and bodies. It isn’t easy to take care of your family AND your SELF. At least, it isn’t easy for me. I’m hoping the counselor has some insight into how I can sustain a healthier, happier me. I’ll let you know! Meanwhile, I’m going to attempt to focus on the positive while I mend. Hence the image of the homegrown tomatoes sitting on my counter. HAPPINESS! Any tips for sustaining joy, my people? What’s keeping you sane and chipper these days? 🙂

Is work/life balance actually a thing?

I read something that scared me last week. I was sitting at my daughter’s softball game, which I rarely do, because I’m usually working, too tired from working, or working on a writing project. Plus, her dad is amazing sports dad, dinner dad, driving dad, every good dad thing, soooo I’m off the hook if I want to be. But I was at this game because I was lonely and feeling isolated and her amazing dad insisted that I join them.

And I sneaked a peek at my e-mail and found a Brené Brown blog celebrating her 23rd year of recovery, and that is where I saw the scary thing: “Over the past two decades, food and work have emerged as my real drugs of choice.” OMG, people. ME TOO.

In my twenty-five years in bakeries, I’ve probably only gotten out of work on time a handful of times. I work holidays. I arrive at family functions with a bag of clothes, so that I can change out of my work uniform. I have caused countless small arguments by being late. Or not showing up at all.

I work about an hour overtime every shift, at the expense of my body, my family, and my creative life.

And the food thing? I’m a sugar addict. I don’t have a weight problem. My blood sugar is fine. My cholesterol is fine. All my numbers are fine. Just got them checked yesterday. But I eat cake when my mood dips. I eat cookies when I start to get frustrated, which is every day at about 3:30 pm when I have to reprioritize my bakery list (and my co-workers lists) because there’s no way we are going to get everything done. (Mind you, the list is always impossible, and yet, every day, I think I can do it. Every day, I stay late trying to do it all. Every day, I feel like I’ve failed. Every day, I know that is ridiculous…and yet…I keep doing it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?)

At every opportunity, I counsel my colleagues, from my years of experience, that they need to maintain work/life balance NOW, while they are young. They need to leave on time because it’s impossible to do everything, and we might value our jobs GREATLY, but it’s a grocery store, and tomorrow is another day. Our bodies/families/lives are more important than cake, cookies, pies, and tarts. And then I kind of maybe sometimes stay late finishing their lists.

So.

Work and food are my drugs of choice, and I am well aware of the ravages they make in my life. I’m exhausted by a double shot of too much work and too much sugar. And the worst part? It’s alllll me. I have a colleague who suffers from a similar problem. She thinks leaving bakery is the solution. I disagree. I tell her that her problems will take a new shape in a new job, that she will be bored with less chaos, that *I* will help her manage her work/life balance, which means I send her home on time and stay late, because I am a work addict, too.

I have the day off today, and my to-do list spans TWO DAYS in my planner. I LOVE my projects. I DO. But every so often, because I seem to learn the same lessons in this life over and over, I need to remember that I am my project, too.

And, yes, I said basically the same thing in my last blog on May 13th. LOL. Same lessons. Over and over. 🙂