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So, I had lost 19 lbs. as of last October. For the past few months, since my mom has been in the nursing home, I haven’t exercised or eaten the way I should. At first, I didn’t gain any weight. But as I started losing muscle mass from stopping my weight workouts, I felt my clothes get a little tighter (when you have more muscle mass, you burn more calories). I had already gone down a size, and I really didn’t want to have to hang my head in shame and go back to the other size. But I was spending so much time at the nursing home that I was just grabbing whatever food I could and not finding time to exercise. And I could really feel my health declining. Things didn’t feel right with my body anymore. When I fell and injured my right knee and pulled my left hip muscle, I went to the gym and froze my membership. I didn’t stop it completely, but I was considering that. Then I started remembering how much better I felt when I was working out.

My hip injury is barely a twinge now, so I went back to the gym yesterday. I decided to focus on cardio right now and maybe take weights back up later. I have a treadmill at home, but it’s too far to go during lunch, and the gym is just about 10 minutes away from work. So for the last two days, I’ve gone to the gym and walked on the treadmill. I might tackle the elliptical when I have more stamina. And then run on the treadmill.

Also, I’ve been looking at a Mediterranean diet lately. Yesterday, I had stuffed grape leaves, olives, and mozzarella balls. Today for lunch I had half a pita stuffed with hummus, feta cheese, and olives and a stuffed grape leaf on the side. It amazes me how few calories these meals have, and most of it is very good for you. I hate diets that completely eliminate certain foods. Eating at least a partial Mediterranean diet is fairly easy for me because I like the food. I need to add some fish to the mix. Does that mean I won’t eat any pizza or burgers ever? Not this girl! I’m not giving up anything. But I can change the frequency I eat these things that aren’t as good for me.

All these foods I ate for lunch were bought from the grocery store, which means I’m saving money compared to eating out. So that’s another plus! 🙂

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me health wise. What are YOU doing to take charge of your health? Do tell.

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It’s been five months since my last post…. That sounds almost like the start of a confession, doesn’t it? In my last post, I was talking about how bad my mom was but that I still wanted to start writing again on my other pen name.

So here’s what’s happening. My mom is MUCH better. In fact, they are talking about possibly letting her go home in the near future. Her mind is back to what it should be. Her physical ailments are much better. She’s picked up a few other physical problems, but not anything we can’t deal with. Some of this is part of old age. She’s 83. But she doesn’t look it! And she has her stubbornness, her sense of humor, and her drive to “do things herself” back. She’s made some friends at the nursing home, eats dinner in the dining room instead of in her room, and takes part in games and functions. I’m so ready for her to come home. I live two doors down, and my brother is next door. Plus, my nephew has been living in her house and has it all cleaned up for her. He can help take care of her when she comes home.

As for writing. I’m really trying to get the drive back to write again. I’m trying to write that third book in the trilogy, but my heart isn’t really in it. Instead, my heart is telling me to write that book I thought about a long time ago that was a non-fiction book about marriage. There’s a couple we’re really good friends with at church, and the man told me yesterday that there are so many books about marriage written by men or a husband/wife team. He said there are so few written from a woman’s perspective. This guy got me enthused about that book again. I’ve had an outline for a long time. I don’t usually outline fiction (I tried it and it doesn’t work for me), but a book like this needs an outline since each chapter will be a different subject pertaining to marriage. The reason this project scares me a bit is that it’s not just fiction, but it’s something that could be really important if done right. So…can I do it right? I would sure like to try.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me. What’s going on with you?

I haven’t been around social media much….

This past year, especially since October, has really been awful for me. My mom went to the emergency room early in October and was admitted to the hospital. They finally determined they would have to take part of her colon out, and when they got in there, they found they would have to take out her ENTIRE colon. She now has an ileostomy rather than a colostomy. Then, two days before she was to go to a nursing home for rehab, she fell and broke her ankle in two places…at the hospital. She also has a lot of stuff going on in her esophagus and stomach she’s having to take meds for.

Since then, her health has gone downhill. The long incision in her stomach from the surgery came open, and now it’s having to heal from the inside out. She has now developed MRSA (antibiotic resistant staph) where she had surgery on her ankle. She’s still in the nursing home, and her mind is slipping really bad. First, I made them check her for a UTI to see if that was causing the dementia. She did have one, and when she went on antibiotics, she was herself for two whole days. Then it was back to the craziness. It could be the MRSA or other infections causing the dementia. It came on way too fast to be Alzheimer’s. She was really smart and self-sufficient before all this happened. I have noticed a slight improvement the past couple of days, so maybe the antibiotic she’s on now is helping her. Fingers crossed. But as bad as she is, I don’t think she’ll ever be able to stay by herself. So there are some hard decisions to be made. The most likely scenario is that she’ll stay in the nursing home since everyone works and can’t stay with her. I’ve been up there pretty much every night since this all happened, and I see that being my future for quite some time.

So, new things. I’ve tossed this back and forth for awhile, and some of you have seen me post about it. But I think, for 2018, I’m truly going to focus on my other pen name. I’m tired of not making at least a part-time living on my writing. And it looks like Lauralynn just isn’t going to do it in the foreseeable future. I never market the other pen name, but it’s time to start. I’m going to concentrate all my efforts on that name for awhile and see where that goes. The genres are very different. My other name writes sweet romance and mysteries. I’m probably going to add a sweet historical romance and possibly a sweet older woman, younger man romance to the mix. We’ll see. I just think when something’s not working, I need to try something else. I’m not going to retire Lauralynn. If I get a good idea for a story that won’t fit the other name, I’ll probably write it under Lauralynn. I’m just so disappointed that Keeper of His Soul did so badly in sales. I felt sure this would be a book that would take off, but it just didn’t.

So I’m really going to try to be more organized next year and work hard to market my books in a non-spamming way. All that while taking care of Mom. Wish me luck or prayers, whichever one you do. I’m going to need them!

When I was a newbie writer, I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to respond to reviews. And I did a couple of times until I was told it was a no-no. I look back at that time now, and I’m kind of embarrassed. But one of the reasons I thought it was okay is that I work in a retail/wholesale business, and we are told we ARE supposed to respond to reviews. We are supposed to try to make the customer happy in any way we can. And I’ve noticed on Amazon, for physical products, many vendors do respond to reviews.

So why aren’t authors supposed to? Honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that. I have some ideas, but I’m not sure I’m right. What I’m thinking is that books are so subjective that we can’t really respond to an unhappy reader and make things better. Either they liked it or they didn’t. But what about books that are badly edited? Should authors say anything about that or just hang their head in shame and try to fix the problem without responding? Should an author thank the reader for pointing that out and say they will do their best to correct the situation?

What even started me thinking about all this is an email I got from a company who helps businesses get reviews. It was a link to their blog post that talks about how you should never (on your own site…you can’t fix Amazon) take down negative reviews because it seems untrustworthy to do that. Which I have to agree with. They talked about how you should always respond in some way that assures the customer you’ll do everything in your power to correct the problem. So why can’t authors do that? Why are we limited when other retailers are encouraged to do it? Just something to think about.

What do y’all think?

From Keeper of His Soul

No, I don’t mean that I’m up to no good. LOL. Just what I’ve been doing.

I FINALLY finished Keeper of His Soul. I figured while I was on vacation, I would just bite the bullet and do it. I’ve been struggling with the last chapter or so because the ending I had in mind was kind of lame. It would have been a satisfying HEA, but it didn’t feel right. But the ending finally came to me, and it kind of threw me. I was like “do I really want to do this?” But I had to. Now for all you romance lovers out there, don’t worry. It has a HEA…sort of. It wasn’t all rainbows and roses, but it had to come with some pain. I don’t see how it could have ended differently. It just wasn’t possible. I’ll see what my beta readers think, but I can’t change it too much. The pain had to be there. The characters had already been through too much, and for it to end up as a perfect HEA wouldn’t have worked for me.

The next project will be under my other pen name. I have to make some hard decisions soon, and the biggest decision is whether or not to stop writing under Lauralynn Elliott. There’s a lot of competition in the paranormal romance genre, so it’s hard to get noticed. I have a few hard-core fans, but they can only buy so many books. My other pen name writes cozy mysteries, sweet romances, and soon, I hope, a historical romance. First, I have to finish the trilogy, then the historical. This all comes down to the business side of things. If I can’t make a decent living under Lauralynn, I HAVE to focus on the other pen name. Neither is selling well, but the other one sells a bit better, and I RARELY post anything on FB or do anything else to promote that name. Yet is still sells better than Lauralynn, although sales have picked up a tiny bit lately. But not enough. So, if Keeper of His Soul doesn’t do well, Lauralynn might die off for awhile. Not on social media because I would miss everyone. But as far as anything pertaining to writing.

So here’s the deal. When I release Keeper of His Soul, I need your help to spread the word. Word of Mouth is the best advertising. And, by the way, Soul of a Vampire, the book to which Keeper is a sequel, is in an anthology that’s FREE right now. Yep…free (except on Amazon, but not for lack of trying). So pop over to your favorite retailer and grab your free (or .99 on Amazon) copy of Paranormally Yours.

Amazon (It’s still .99 on Amazon since they still haven’t lowered it. Be sure to go there and click the link to report a lower price.) Update: It’s now free on Amazon!

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Or you can search it on your Apple device in iBooks!

Happiness

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. What makes us happy? What makes us sad? How can we change sad to happy? So many questions.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for me, personally:

1. No one else can make me happy. No one else is responsible for my happiness. I have to find that myself.

2. There are things that can help make me happy. I’ve realized that being more fit has definitely elevated my mood, but it also seems to help long-term, too.

3. There are some things I can’t change. I can choose how I deal with them.

4. Bad things happen to good people. I have to accept that fact and move on. My husband has had many health problems. Some of them are very serious. I’ve had a few of my own. Sometimes it feels like we can’t take one more thing going wrong. We both choose not to dwell on it and to live life as well as possible.

5. There are people who are much worse off than me. There was a lady who had been bed-ridden for a few years. My husband used to visit her nearly every week. She was very sick and could do almost nothing. But my husband loved visiting her and loved her attitude. She always said there were people worse off than she was. She passed away recently, and the world lost a shining light.

6. Death is a part of life. It’s sad when I lose someone I love. But it’s a cycle that’s been going on since day one of the world. I choose not to dwell on it.

7. This may not pertain to everyone who is reading this, but I pray. I read the Bible. I try to focus on spiritual things as much as I can. I have a very loving and supportive church family. But, again, although sometimes I might need their support, it’s ultimately up to me to be happy.

I know many of you are depressed or lonely. So many of you have troubles that are probably worse than mine. And I know it’s hard to stay positive when you feel like your world is crashing down around you. But if you can reach inside you and find that little bit of happiness, that small kernel of hope, maybe things will look better. Life is a cycle, and it goes on.

Love and good wishes to you all!

I think it’s time for me to get back to blogging. One reason I haven’t is that I haven’t had that many likes or comments lately, and everyone is saying they just want to communicate on Dramabook Facebook. But I miss the days of blogging where this is my space where you come and visit. Or that’s your space where I come and visit. And you can say so much more. So I’m going to try to get back to it. I have a couple of people who regularly comment on my posts, and I appreciate that so much. So maybe, if I start doing this more often, I can get my following back.

So what’s going on in my life?

1. I’m writing again. It’s going slowly as I get back into it, but it’s going.

2. I’m editing for clients quite a bit, but it still seems to be feast or famine. Since I haven’t had too much editing work for the last month, I’ll probably suddenly have four people wanting an edit RIGHT NOW. LOL. I want to thank Ruth Ann Nordin for always giving me plenty of time. She always plans ahead. 🙂

3. This is third on my list, but certainly number one in my heart…I have a brand new granddaughter! This makes two for the oldest son and one for the youngest son. *eyeing my baby boy*

4. I’m trying to get fit again. I think I might have mentioned, at least on Facebook, that I fried my Fitbit fitness tracker in the ocean when I was on vacation in May/June. Fitbit offered me 25% off a new one, which they didn’t have to do since I was going to buy one anyway. Great customer service! Anyway, the new one does a few more things, including telling me to get up and walk if I haven’t done at least 250 steps in that hour. And I’m doing it almost every time. You can’t argue with your Fitbit! 🙂 I’ve been tracking my food faithfully with the Fitbit app. I’ve been getting on the treadmill at home, and I finally bit the bullet and joined the gym again. My insurance will pay for it if I go at least 12 times per month. I have more energy, at least on the days I get enough sleep. That’s something else I need to work on. The Fitbit tracks my sleep; it even tracks what sleep stages I’m in and for how long. One thing I’ve noticed is that I wake up several times during the night. I usually average about 45-55 minutes awake per night. I don’t know what’s up with that, but I think I’ll try to start going to bed earlier.

Anyway, that’s my life right now.