B is for Bike

BA couple weeks ago, my doctor told me to get some exercise. Not because I’m overweight. Not because I have high blood pressure or heart disease. No, he scolded me because after listening to me go on for twenty minutes about how depressed I had been over the past few months, he asked the three-word question I had hoped to dodge.

“Are you exercising?”

A year ago, I would have proudly told him I had just gotten my purple belt in Taekwondo. I would have told him that I was working out regularly. A few short years ago, I would have told him how I was training for and ran a marathon.

But sitting in my doctor’s office that day, I answered with a guilty shrug, “No.”

One of the problems with depression—at least for me—is that it can suck the energy, motivation, and vitality out of life. I think everyone has seen the articles and research about how much exercising helps with depression. I found myself in a  circular situation. I wasn’t exercising because I was depressed. I was staying depressed because I wasn’t exercising.

The doctor boosted my anti-depressants along with strict orders to exercise, even if it is just walking. He must have seen through my less-than-enthusiastic “okays” and “sure, I’ll do thats”; he scheduled me to see him again in six weeks. He warned me he was going to ask the same question and I better have a better answer.

I’m a wimp. I don’t like to be scolded.

I thought about what I could do for exercise, besides walking… I’m sure you see where this is going since the title of this post is “B is for Bike.”

Now, I’ve been very vocal about how much I dislike cycling. Running was my love and even though running abused my left foot, I still mourn for that loss.

I’ve done road cycling. I don’t like it. I don’t like traffic and I live in southern California, where it’s almost impossible to avoid people who I’m certain are just waiting for the perfect opportunity to run me off the road.

I do love nature. I especially love being where there are no cars or crowds. So the day after my visit to the doctor, I told my husband that I was going to start mountain biking with him. He was surprised but glad… he’s been bugging me about cycling for almost two years.

He got my dusty, old mountain bike down from its hanging spot in the garage, pumped air into the tires, and checked the brakes. And we went mountain—or trail—biking. It was tough. I am embarrassingly out of shape, but I had fun. We’ve gone a few times since and I actually look forward to putting my body through the work… seeing how far I can push myself.

It is true; exercise really does help with depression. I’ve been happier and mentally healthier than I’ve been in almost a year. I feel like I’m coming back after being checked out for far too long.

And it feels good!

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A is for Authors

A[1]A is for Authors

I love my little world of independent authors. Some are friends and some are clients… and many I consider to be both.

Social media has made it easy to connect with many independent authors, and what I’ve found is most of them are down-to-earth, humble, friendly people.

There are those who don’t think of independent authors as “real” writers because they aren’t published by one of the big-name publishing houses. I admit, I have read some pretty crappy self-published books, but there also is a lot of talent out there.

Many independent authors’ e-books are free, on Kindle Unlimited, or are much less expensive than the traditionally published authors. I had the “what have I got to lose” mentality when I downloaded my first few free books on Amazon. In return, I’ve been introduced to a whole new world of authors and genres.

I encourage you to check out some independent authors… you might be pleasantly surprised.

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Happy Little Horrors: Freakshow

Shameless self promotion:
This awesome, new book is available… just in time for Halloween! 
Description

Happy Little Horrors is an anthology of short stories, produced by author David Reuben and editor Monique Happy. 

Some of the best authors in the horror genre are represented, including Michael Robertson, Craig McDonough, Derrick LaCombe, David Reuben, C.L. Hernandez, Joseph A. Coley, James Michaels, Tania Cooper, Eila Oakes, Brandon Ryals, Michael Clary, Kya Aliana, Allen Gamboa, Dean Wild, John McIlveen, Toni Lesatz, Brandon Cracraft, and Steven G. Bynum.

If you look closely, you might notice my name sharing space with seventeen other amazing authors. It is an honor to be featured in this book!

Don’t miss out. Get your copy today! Available in paperback and Kindle format. 

My First Comic-Con

Authors A.R. Shaw, Doug Bornemann, me, David Forsythe, and Kathy Porter
Authors A.R. Shaw, Doug Bornemann, me, David Forsyth, and Kathy Porter (not shown: Dan Williams)

Last weekend, I had the honor of representing some of the fabulous authors who are a part of Monique Happy Editorial Services at the Long Beach ComicCon. Even though I live in San Diego, where ComicCon is HUGE, I’ve never been to one. I’m so glad I got to attend!

Shawn Chesser and W.J. Lundy sent some promotional goodies to pass out and they were snatched up quickly! The attendees were a lot of fun and I got to talk with lots of zombie fiction and horror fans. My goal was to introduce fans of zombies and shows like The Walking Dead to some of the amazing zombie fiction authors (like Chesser and Lundy).

I only started reading zombie fiction when I went through The Walking Dead withdrawals. When I shared this with people, they laughed and said they understood the feeling. Many fans seemed very interested in checking out zombie literature, so hopefully they will!

The best part of the weekend was getting to meet some great writers. They were very generous with their advice and encouragement. As a new author, I appreciate the time they spent talking with me.

If I’m given the opportunity, I will definitely do this again. I’m not a salesperson and tend to be a bit shy about talking to people I don’t know. I surprised myself, though– turns out I’m pretty good at promoting people and things I truly like.

Now that I know what to expect, there are a few things I will change for the next time I go. I want to have actual books available for purchase. Hopefully, I will have a few of my own by then. People in that environment seemed excited to purchase autographed books from authors they could meet and talk with in person. I will also come with some sort of graphic to catch the attention of people passing the booth. Most people didn’t stop until I asked if they like zombies*. I want people to know right away what the authors I am representing are all about.

*The most common answer: “Who doesn’t like zombies?!”

In all, Comic-Con was a blast! The people were friendly and happy to be there. It was a people-watcher’s paradise. My husband took pictures while I worked the booth. Below are just a few of the amazing costumes we saw.

Many thanks to David Forsythe, author of The Sovereign Spirit Saga books and Sedulity, for arranging everything, setting up the ApocaCon booth, and inviting others to take part in this great opportunity!ii gg

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Z is for Zombies

Z

Z is for Zombies
Zombie Books

As I mentioned in this February 24th post, I recently discovered the fun of Zombie Apocalypse books. That post mentioned some fun Zombie books and some great authors of the genre. Read the post, if you’re interested in what I had to say back then. I don’t want to repeat all that.

I’m actually going to take a break from the Zombie genre for a bit and read a couple non-zombie books… just to keep my mind fresh.

Before I do that, though, I can’t write about the letter Z without writing about zombies. So here is a list of Zombie fiction authors I recommend… for those who are interested.

Shawn Chesser Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse series

James Cook Surviving the Dead series

D.J. Molles The Remaining series

Tony Baker Survivors of the Dead: From the Ashes

Mark Tufo Zombie Fallout series

Jack Flacco Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse **I just started reading this– so far, so good!

**I saved my favorite for last… the “zombies” in his books are technically not zombies, but close enough to include in this list:

John O’Brien A New World series

What I’ve discovered is many of these authors are really nice, down-to-earth people. As “indie” authors, they do a lot of their marketing via Facebook and word-of-mouth. Reviews are very important to their success, so if you do read any of these books, be sure to leave a fair review!

I know there are many other good ZA authors out there. I just haven’t read all of them. If you enjoy this genre, which authors do you like? Who am I missing?

S is for Scary Stories

Just when I got caught up with the A-Z Challenge, I got behind again. We went camping for two days and just returned this afternoon, so I’m back to trying to catch up. Anyhow, here we go…

S is for Scary Stories

As mentioned above, we have been camping for the past two days. One of our favorite things to do is tell scary stories around the campfire at night. My two sons and their friend, Maggie, insist I tell them a spooky story every time we go. On our last camping trip I came up with a pretty good one! I know it has to be good because it was very effective in scaring the kids, but not so much they will be traumatized forever. They also request to hear it again and again, so they must really like it.

Here’s a little bit of background for you– we love camping in the mountains not too far from where we live. Palomar Mountain State Park is located in north San Diego County. It’s where my family used to camp when I was very young. It’s now where I bring MY family to camp. I love the place! Palomar Mountain is widely known for its observatory, but the camp grounds and hiking trails are also excellent.

The campground we go to is located near Doane’s Pond, a very small pond that is mostly used for fishing. The story I made up for the kids is called “Catherine, the Ghost of Doane’s Pond”. The gist of the story is that a man named Obadiah was trapped when the gold mine he was excavating on the mountain caved in. His young bride-to-be (Catherine) was so heart-broken, she drowned herself in the pond. Her ghost still wanders the pond and surrounding area today, calling out to her true love, Obadiah. On some nights, you can even hear the trapped miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside as the sound echos through the valley.

The first night I told the story, my younger son insisted we walk the short distance to the pond to see if we could see Catherine. We did, but we didn’t get very far because we heard a loud “snap” off in the trees ahead of us.  He was sure it was the ghost and I was sure it was a mountain lion, so we turned around and ran back to our campsite as quickly as we could go. After we explained why we were out of breath, my older son decided he needed to check it out. So, down we went again– my two sons and me. We didn’t even make it as far as the first time before one of our flashlights started to flicker and turned itself off. At the same time, my younger son swore he saw a white, glowing figure over the pond.

It was hilarious to see two boys (ages 8 & 11 at the time) squealing and running in fear. They were loving it, though! They were positive the flashlight acted up because of Catherine’s electromagnetic field.  It became a legend in their minds and their recounting of our experience got scarier and scarier each time they told it.

This last trip, my boys’ good friend wanted to visit the pond area at night so she could try to see Catherine. She even brought her GoPro to document it. The boys were scared, Maggie was scared, and I was hoping they would get freaked out (yep, I’m that kind of mom). About halfway to the pond area, Maggie’s flashlight started to flicker. The creepy shadows cast by our lantern seemed to grow longer and become more active. Even my phone, which I was using to “document” the kids’ reactions, started to act strange.  The screen saver page wouldn’t flip up to allow access to the camera. It actually got stuck in a strange, broken up pattern I’ve never seen before. Weird coincidence!  I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried! Even my younger son’s camera supposedly stopped working. Then, Maggie (12) and the boys (now 9 & 12) all said they saw something over the pond. This ended in another frantic, squeal-filled run back to our campsite.  And they loved it!

That same night, as the kids were trying to settle down in the tent, a pounding sound filled the campground.  It was probably someone chopping wood or pounding in a tent stake, but in their minds, it was Obadiah and his fellow miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside.

I will never tell them I made the story up. I’m sure they will figure it out when they get older. For now, I’ll let them enjoy those moments of being just a little afraid. They are bonding experiences and make for great memories.

 

 

P is for Picking

P is for Picking

No, not as in picking your nose. Although, that could be a possibility for next year.

P words are plentiful and I could have chosen quite a few to write a post about.  Even with so many choices, I decided to delve into a very deep topic: Picking the detestable Jelly Belly flavors out of the Jelly Belly container. I know, this topic is a lot deeper than my other posts, but I think it’s time somebody addressed this very important issue.

I have developed a highly effective process of picking and I will share it with you. Keep in mind, the Jelly Bellies I hate may not be the same ones you hate.  Simply substitute the flavors you detest.

1. Find a work space with good lighting and plenty of room to work.

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The amount of work space you need will depend on the number of Jelly Bellies flavors you wish to extract.
I only pick out two flavors– Buttered Popcorn & Caramel Corn–  so I don’t need a lot of space. 

 2. Prepare the work space with your essential supplies.

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For my purposes, I used two small Mason jars, one large Mason jar, and one medium-sized jar (not shown).

 3)  With clean hands, take out a few Jelly Bellies at a time. Inspect the Jelly Bellies closely, picking out the flavors you don’t like. Put the flavors you want to keep in the large jar and the ones you don’t in the smaller jars.

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I like to separate the rejected flavors so I can give them to friends who happen to like the flavors.
Remember:  For every flavor you don’t like, there is someone out there who does.

4) Once you have cleared the container of undesirable flavors, pour them slowly back into the original container, inspecting them closely for any rejects you may have overlooked.

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I happened to find two sneaky Buttered Popcorn Bellies during the pour-back process.
Whew! That was close!!

I hope you found this picking tutorial helpful– especially since Easter is less than two days away. It’s my hope you will be able to have a disgusting-free Jelly Belly experience!

Enjoy!

 

 

K is for “The Kiss”

 

It is probably one of the most iconic photos in U.S. history– the photo of the sailor kissing the “nurse” after the surrender of the Japanese on August 14, 1945. I have always been in love with that photograph. You can read an account of the kisser and the kissee in the photo on the NY Post Blog Site. It is an interesting story, but is not what this post is about.

This post, in a round-about way, leads me to my beautiful home town of San Diego, CA. The actual kiss took place in Times Square, so what does that have to do with San Diego? If you ever visit the place often referred to as “America’s Finest City”, you may find yourself at the port of San Diego, looking up at a twenty-five foot statue portraying the kissing couple.

San Diego has an extensive Naval history, of which I am very proud. The sculpture is located near another amazing tourist attraction, the USS Midway. The USS Midway Museum is a must-see for all who visit the area.

I love San Diego and am proud of its military presence. Sure, we have an awesome zoo, beautiful weather, lovely beaches, Sea World, Balboa Park, Coronado Island, Legoland, lots of great independent breweries, and so much more! If you do make it out here, make sure you see it all– including the city’s more military-focused attractions.  You won’t regret it!

G is for Gruesome Goodies

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G is for Gruesome Goodies
Day Seven of the A-Z April Blogging Challenge

“Gruesome Goodies”? I know, it’s a lame title. Truthfully, I just wanted to show a video I took today of my classroom pet, Frankie. And since the letter of the day is G, I had to make it work somehow.

My students love him. I’m not so sure how he feels about them.  But then, he rarely displays his enthusiasm for anything.

The video shows him eating his favorite treat, meal worms.

Click the link below to see the video on YouTube–

Frankie’s Gruesome Goodies