2013 in review


This report surprised me.  How strange to see the stats in print like this.  All I can say is Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented.  May you all have a blessed 2014!  See you next year.  Stay safe.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 44,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Six “Lucky Foods” for the New Year


Every January 1 since I’ve been married (22 years), I have made my husband’s traditional family ‘good luck’ meal of pork with sauerkraut and dumplings.  When growing up, my mom (being from the deep south), made fresh black-eyed peas with stewed tomatoes with homemade cornbread to bring on the good fortune.  Traditions vary from culture to culture, but I was really surprised to find there were lots of similarities between them, six to be exact:  cooked, leafy greens, fish, pork, legumes, grapes, and cakes.  Here is why they are believed to be good luck foods.

1.   Leafy greens.  Cooked greens like cabbage, kale and collard greens are eaten every year on New Year’s day because when cooked, the leaves resemble folded money, therefore are symbolic of economic fortune.  While yummy and good for you, don’t eat too much.  They are cruciferous vegetables and are known to cause gas, bloating and abdominal pain if eaten in excess (in other words, you might fart a lot).

2.  Fish represent a progression in life, a ‘moving forward’ if you will (since fish swim forward, not backwards).  Charms and amulets depicting fish have been worn for ages to assure that the wearer will never be hungry.  Eating fish on New Year’s Day is also thought to provide the same assurance.  While fish is loaded with nutrients and wonderful Omega-3 fatty acids, make sure you eat ‘wild caught’ fish, and not farmed-raised as the latter are fed grains, which make them rich in Omega-6 fatty acids (unhealthy and believed to be pro-inflammatory).

3. Pork in many cultures is another symbol of moving forward as pigs push forward when foraging.  In many cultures, the rich, fat content of pork signifies wealth and prosperity.  While pork is a great source of vitamins and minerals, it is high in fat which could make your cholesterol levels shoot through the roof.  There is also some evidence that uncured bacon, sausage and ham may be good for your diet, whereas other types of pork, not so much.  Read here and decide for yourself.

4.  Legumes are symbolic of money because their when cooked, they swell, and so are eaten with financial rewards in  mind.  Italians and Germans tend to pair legumes with pork to double the luck.  The tradition in the south to eat black-eyed peas traces back to the legends during the Civil War when folks in Vicksburg, Mississippi discovered black-eyed peas after the town ran out of food.  It’s been considered a lucky food ever since.  While an excellent source of protein and fiber, if eaten too much at one time, they may cause cramping, flatulence and other digestive issues.  May not be a great combo with cooked green leafys like cabbage.

5.  Many cultures believe that eating 12 grapes at midnight, one for each stroke of the clock and one for each month of the year, will bring good fortune.  The goal is to swallow the last grape before the last stroke of midnight, but some cultures, like Peruvians, eat a 13th for good measure.  While grapes are rich in vitamin C and fiber, they can make you spend a lot of time in the bathroom if you eat too many.  Always wash before eating and choose organic if available.

6.  Like placing a coin in a new handbag or in a loafer, many cakes and breads made on New Year’s Day house a coin or trinket meant to bring the recipient good luck and prosperity.  Hopefully the person who finds the good luck piece doesn’t choke on his good fortune and you know…have bad luck.

What is your “lucky” New Year’s Day food?

10 Resolutions for 2014


I never make New Year’s resolutions.  Deep down inside, I hate planning and conforming to rules.  I’d much rather fly by the seat of my pants.  Over the years, however, I’ve ‘re-arranged’ myself to look or act a certain way, be a certain way, but it wasn’t ‘me’.  You know what I’m talking about?  I can’t tell you how many times I refused to sing in front of others because I sound like a dying cow, or I don’t smile as much as I should because I have a dorky smile, or I fail to express my childish enthusiasm and run sporadically like Phoebe Buffay because it’s embarrassing to those around me. Well, guess what?  2014 is going to change all that.  Here is a list of 10 things I’m going to do to get back to the real ‘me’:

1.  Eat healthier and get away from this dreadful type 2 diabetes that has been plaguing me for several years.  Yep, I’m going to eat more prebiotic foods like berries, bananas, artichokes, asparagus, onions, garlic, and leafy greens.  Take in more whole foods.  Get thin again and feel good about me.

2.  Exercise more.  #1 and #2 go hand in hand.  Just gotta do it, even if it means going for brisk walks.  I don’t want to die before I’m 55.  Only I can change it.  Now I have to do it.  Who’s with me so far?

3.  Stop expecting people to Realize not everyone will like me, and that’s ok.  No more trying to ‘fit in’, or be what I perceive others want from me. I’m beautiful the way I am with all my  quirkiness and strangeness.  Some may see me as ‘unworthy’, but to others, I’m priceless.  That leaves me all gooey inside. 🙂

4.  Respect myself more than I respect them.  I’m always doing this…telling others how beautiful they are, how proud I am of them, and then turn around and tell myself I’m fat, I’m ugly.  How stupid is that?  Those words are getting a swift kick out the door.  I’m going to trust who I am, believe in my choices and feed off my inner strength.  I’m going to stop putting myself down.  Instead, I’m going to say, “I’m beautiful.  I’m strong and I’m happy in my skin.”  Come on, say it with me – “I’m beautiful.  I’m strong and I’m happy in my skin.”  Don’t you feel better already?  🙂

5.   Accept others for their uniqueness the way I want them to accept me for mine.  Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss,  once said, “Be who you are and say what you mean because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”  That’s my mantra from now on.  You love me for me, I love you for you.  It all has to do with that respect thing in #4.

6.  Understand I can’t change people (or allowing others to change me).  We are all unique with special gifts and talents.  If I can’t accept someone’s behaviors or habits, then I will need to change my relationship to it, not ask them to change for me, and vice versa.

7.  Allow myself to be happy.  Enough with the envious thoughts, the thinking I don’t do enough or if I’d only done something better.  Enough with holding my feelings hostage, pretending they don’t exist or don’t matter.  Follow my inner calling of being a writer and working with animals. Express myself.  Live.

8.  Those all too familiar words:  “Never mind.  It’s not important” that comes out of my mouth all the time?  They’re going away because if I’m feeling it, if I’m experiencing it, it’s important.  A great deal of unhappiness and confusion and feelings of betrayal comes from not saying what we feel.  I need to be brave and say what I think and what I feel.  There’s no greater sadness than holding on to words I never had the courage to speak.

9.  I will do whatever I can to not focus on the bad, but put all my thoughts into the good.  This is a difficult one for me and one that I will strive to fix.  I’ve suffered from depression my entire life.  I tried to commit suicide at the age of 18.  Yep, that’s a whole different blog post right there.  I’ve been in toxic relationships all my life and have pretty much lost who I am because of my need to fit in, be accepted, believing that acting a certain way would make someone love me more.  All it’s done is lead me to the place where I am today.  Someone I don’t even know recently directed me to a podcast by Joel Osteen’s on how we cannot be defeated.  You can listen to it here if you choose.  Anyway, it made me realize I’ve allowed myself to be defeated.  I’m the one amplifying the problems because I’ve dwelled on them and made them bigger than they need to be.  I lost my faith in God, in life, in everything around me.  This unknown angel (and a few others) brought me back to my faith, to the God I truly do believe in, and I know now He has a hand on my heart and I’m graced in His favor.  I trust in His guiding light.  I will not be defeated.

10.  Finish my dadburn novels!  They’ve been sitting here waiting, screaming at me to finish, but I have been filled with so much self-doubt, so much depression, so much hurt, I couldn’t focus.  2014 is the year.  3 novels are going down this year. I’m also going to get an agent and get my dream publisher.  I know 2014 is going to be a great year as I already have one publishing credit to announce in the next couple of months.  I’ve squandered my gifts for far too long.  It’s time to listen to my heart and my soul. What about you?

IT’s Your turn…

What does your New Year’s resolution list look like?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Winner in Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt!


Today, prizes are being picked for 11 lucky people who played along in J. Taylor Publishing’s Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt.  Today, I get to announce the winner of the e-book, TIED, by Laney McMann.

And the winner is………………

Sharon Hughson!

Yay!!  Congratulations, Sharon!  Please send your e-mail addy and e-book preference to me at kford2007(at)gmail(d0t)com so I can get your book out to you in time for Christmas!!  Make sure you put “Christmas Scavenger Hunt Winner” in the subject line.

Thanks to all who played along.  You still may have a chance to win books from any of the other 10 blogs you visited, so if you didn’t win here, you may have won a book elsewhere or you may have won the big $100 Amazon Gift Card prize!!

Paper Wishes


Looking for a little romance this holiday season?  Author Jennifer M. Eaton has the stories just for you.

Paper Wishes follows Jack and Jill on their journey from friendship to love over Christmas and New Years in two heartwarming stories.

Connect the Dots: Jill writes her most intimate Christmas wish to God—and throws it away for its ridiculousness—but Christmas wishes have a way of coming true, even when you don’t know what you’ve wished for.

A Test of Faith: One day after her Christmas wish comes true, Jill faces a wrenching choice that tests her deepest beliefs. Will love prevail over conviction, or is happiness nothing more than a fairytale?

Blurb:

Jill has no idea what she wants for Christmas, but when it looks like her best friend Jack is going to get exactly what he asks for, Jill makes a Christmas wish that will change both of their lives forever.

Excerpt:

I scrolled the words Dear Santa across the page. For crying out loud, how stupid is this?

“Come on, Mom,” Nicole said, placing a long fold in her letter. “It’s not that hard.”

I dropped my pen on the table. “It’s hard if you’re a grown-up.”

“Just write down what you want.” She bent and tucked the folds together, molding her letter into a perfect origami star.

“But I don’t want anything.”

Nicole held up her creation, scratching a freckled cheek. “Everyone wants something.” She fastened a paperclip to her star and hung it on the Christmas tree. The matte paper stood out from the bright glass ornaments.

I ran my fingers across my bare neckline. I’d love to have back the ornate silver and gold necklace that Nicole broke a few months ago, but I couldn’t write that. It would hurt her feelings.

“I’m too old to be writing to Santa,” I announced.

“Then write to God. He listens too.”

I narrowed my eyes. Stinker. “Okay…” I placed my pen on the sheet and crossed out Dear Santa. “Okay. Dear God.” I sighed. “It’s not helping. I still don’t know what to ask for.”

I threw my long, dark ponytail over my shoulder and tapped my pen across the sheet, leaving a wavy line of dots marring the clean, white-lined paper.

Nicole shook her head, jostling her auburn locks. “Come on, Mom. Just write something. It’s God. He already knows what you want.”

“Then can He tell me?” The rumble of the school bus granted me a temporary respite. “Grab your lunch.”

“Got it.” She tossed the brown bag into her backpack and grabbed her jacket off the back of the chair. “See you later, Mom.” The screen door slammed behind her, rattling the knickknacks on the shelf beside the door. The frigid December air swirled through the kitchen, pushing the paper across the table.

I tossed my pen to the side and poured myself another cup of coffee. Liquid heaven rolled down my throat. Well, day-old reheated liquid heaven. I tossed the rest down the sink. Coffee Stop drive-through here I come. I popped the last bit of toast into my mouth and grabbed my car keys.

The nearly empty sheet of paper shifted across the tabletop as I passed by. The words Dear God taunted me.

Writing the letter didn’t seem like a game anymore.

Dear God… it doesn’t get more serious than that.

What do I want? I hadn’t thought of it much since Bill took off on us. The pressure of being both Mommy and Daddy left little time for thinking aboutme. What I wanted was for Nicky to be happy. Nothing else seemed to matter.

I eased back down into my chair, picked up the pen, and began tapping it on the paper again. Another line of scrolling black dots appeared across the sheet.What do I want… really? My wrist flicked, and I wrote the word please.

I stared at the letters, and before I knew it a sentence had formed. Fifteen little words stared up at me, the blue ink solid and demanding on the white ruled page.

Permanent, but ridiculous.

It’s not even what I want. I crumpled the letter into a ball and tossed it over the counter. It scooted across the beige surface before slipping off and falling into the trashcan.

Done.

I’m too old for Christmas wishes anyway.

 ***

Paper Wishes is on sale now for just $.99!  Snuggle up with a great Christmas Romance today!

Click here to buy it now!

About Jennifer Eaton:

Jennifer M. Eaton is a contemporary blender of Science Fiction, Dystopian, and Romance.  Her work ranges from the sweet contemporary romances of Paper Wishes, to the dystopian society of Last Winter Red and Optimal Red, with a dusting of young adult paranormal just for fun in The First Day of the New Tomorrow.

While not off visiting other worlds, Jennifer calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Full time team leader, full time mom, and full time novelist… what more can you ask for?  Writing help did you say?  Well, sure!  Jennifer hosts an informational blog aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be. Stop on by and chat. She loves to hear from fans! http://www.jennifermeaton.com/

Email | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook Manic Readers | Goodreads | Amazon

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Never Too Far Gone


This post spoke to me in many ways.

TTT

What would you think

If you could see how she is

When she’s all alone?

She puts on a smile

And laughs with her friends

But never when she’s at home.

She wants you to think

She’s got it together

Yet inside she’s falling apart.

The things that she’s done

And the things that she’s said

Makes her feel like she’s too far gone.

But God sees you

And me

And her

Even when we are alone.

His forgiveness is great

And His love is true

For those who are lonely and hurt

So open your heart

And let Him in

To heal the wounds and scars.

Whatever they say

And whatever you think

You’re never too far gone.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

-christrocks

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Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt!


Welcome to the J. Taylor Publishing Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt!

Today, TEN J. Taylor authors are taking part in the Scavenger Hunt, which means there will be multiple chances to enter for a shot at an AWESOME GRAND PRIZE!

PLUS, there are more goodies up for grabs at EVERY stop along the way, too!

In fact, here’s MY mini-giveaway.

All you have to do is follow me on Facebook or Twitter, and you will be entered to win an EBOOK OF TIED by Laney McMann.

Normal people don’t believe their nightmares stalk them. They don’t fall in love with boys who don’t exist, either.

Seventeen-year-old Layla Labelle, though, is far from normal. Her delusions walk the earth. Her hallucinations hunt her, and her skin heats to a burn every time her anger flares.

Or is that all in her head?

Layla doesn’t know what to believe any more because if none of that’s true, Max MacLarnon must be an illusion, and her heart must still be broken.

No matter how much she wants to believe Max is real, doing so would mean everything else is, too. How, then, is that possible?

The answers lie in an age-old legend the supernatural aren’t prepared to reveal, and with a curse that could tear Layla and Max apart forever—if it doesn’t kill them both first.

In TIED, book one in the Fire Born trilogy, learning the truth will mean fighting an arsenal of demons, and being with Max will put Layla on a path toward her own destruction.

Just how far will Layla go to protect the one she loves?

The answer may never be far enough … away.

***

You have until midnight of Friday 20th December 2013 to enter, after which a winner will be selected using Random.org

Good luck!

And back to the …

So … the GRAND PRIZE?

Enter in the Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt, and you could win a $100 Amazon Giftcard just in time for Christmas!

Still got last-minute shopping to grab? Fancy treating yourself as a reward for surviving yet another year?

Here’s your chance.

In order to enter, you will need to answer a variety of questions. There are ELEVEN questions in total—so eleven chances to win—and you will find ONE question on each of the nine other participating author blogs plus the J. Taylor blog.

As for the eleventh? Well, that one’s below:

Question: What is the name of Amber Jenkin’s love interest in “Dragon Flight“?

If you need help, here’s a hint: You can find the answer HERE!

And you can enter in the Rafflecopter form below.

Good luck!

And don’t forget to enter the NEXT STOP on the Hunt for another chance to enter!

Don’t worry if you get lost. Simply hop back to the J. Taylor Blog, where you can find the complete list of authors and links.

Rafflecopter Form

####

NO PURCHASE is necessary to enter this giveaway; This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to anyone over the age of 17; Prizes is as stated: ONE ebook to ONE winner; No cash alternative will be offered; Giveaway begins on December 16th 2013 and closes at midnight Eastern time on December 20th 2013; one comment on the blog post equals one entry; Winner will be chosen using Random.org; Winner will be contacted via email, and will be asked to select their preferred e-format for their prize; No addresses, emails, or other contact information will be shared with third parties, other than the publisher, who will deliver your prize direct–all information will be treated with the strictest confidence; If there are any technical issues, they will handled post haste. Eg, duplicate entries will be deleted; if the blog via which you have entered goes ‘down’ you entry will still stand and be entered; VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW

That’s ok…blame it on Mom


Today, the lovely and talented Danielle Shipley, author of many tales, is visiting my blog and is going to talk to you about the most influential person who helped her stay true herself, her dreams and her writing.  Danielle, we’re all ears (and eyes).

***

We can blame a good percentage of what I’ve become on my mother.

It was she who first got me hooked on books by reading aloud and letting me loose in the library. She who taught me how to arrange letters into words, and set me up with computer programs (and piano lessons) that trained my fingers to type like the wind. She who was always cool with me spending my free time on fictional character development and stories without a point. She who exposed me to the timelessness of fairytales, the allure of mystery, the thrill of heroic adventure, and the zany humor of my early mentors, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

And she didn’t limit my artistic freedom to my childhood. When I gradually came to realize that, more than a hobby only, authorship was what I wanted to do with my rest of my life, she never once told me to wake up, leave my imaginary friends behind, and go be a normal adult. Quite the contrary! She picked up books from the library about querying literary agents for me. She sat with me when I moped after yet another rejection came in, and squealed with me when the inbox actually contained good news. She brings me a cup of tasty grapes when I’m typing up a guest post about all the stuff she does for me. (Seriously. She just now walked in here and handed me a snack.) She lets me rant to her about everything I find irritating in the world of writing or the world in general, helps me brainstorm when I’m all tangled up in plot ideas, stays up hours past her bedtime to scrounge for votes when I’ve entered a contest to turn my fairytale tailor into a pony doll… I’ve little doubt I owe that victory to her.

She’s more than just a momma. She’s an intern in my self-publishing house and half of its marketing team. She’s one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders, which is saying a lot, considering the squad also includes my ALL CAPS-happy writing besties and Will Scarlet. (If you’ve met the man, ‘nough said.)  She’s a solid line of defense between me and accidental starvation. Once I finally stopped being shy and let her read what I wrote, she became a fan of my writing. Naturally, she was a fan of the writer all along.

I’m not much of a rebel. If my mom had voted “nay” against the pursuit of my authorial dream, I may well have set that dream aside and gone searching for a new one, writing relegated to the realm of “hobby only” once again. Happily for me (and, I would suggest, for all of you), Mrs. Shipley’s got my back. I don’t expect you to love her for it quite as much as I do, but you can give it a go.

***

Ahh, to have such a person on our side is truly a blessing.  Thank you for stopping by, Danielle.  It was an extreme pleasure.

Want to know more about Danielle?  Keep reading.

 Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it at www.EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

Books by Danielle:

      

Be sure to pop by Danielle’s other locations on the web, take a look around and say hi.

Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of One More Day.