2 YEAR FITNESS UPDATE 2022

Recap of Why I Started This Journey

Almost two years ago I reached out to a fitness coach via Instagram and started my plan to get healthier. The overall goal behind the plan was to be able to fit into a bridesmaid dress for my best friends wedding. The dress was two big and I had two options; either get the dress taken in or gain the weight. That is when I decided to gain the weight. This was after their wedding was postponed again due to COVID. The journey was absolutely painful and I struggled a lot with meeting my daily macros and I felt like I wasn’t gain weight. The comparison mindset is so toxic that I felt trapped by the number on the scale.

The Full Journey

In order to understand where I’ve come I must recap of where I began. I began with zero knowledge of weight training and working out. I weight about 115 and am 5ft 7in. I would occasionally run to relieve stress but that was the extent of my exercising. I was anemic and ran into multiple health problems due to my poor diet. A common misconception was that I was healthy because I was small. That was false. I constantly had people approach me and tell me that it must be nice to stay small and eat what I wanted. I had a toxic relationship with food and I wanted to heal and be healthy. I went to therapy, joined a few bible studies, hiked more, and exercised. Getting healthy involves working on yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I got the coach and started working out 4 days a week and then we switched to 5. I started tracking my macros and learned how to properly shop for food. The journey was brutal. The first month it hurt to move and sit. I would practice proper technique at home before working out at the gym. I made a lot of mistakes and my workouts took two hours each day to complete. Learning a new skill is hard and it takes a lot of time and practice. You constantly have to watch yourself to ensure you do not injure yourself. I had to learn to listen to my body fully. I cried a lot and hit rock bottom essentially. It was all worth it in the end.

Where Am I Now?

Let me answer some questions about what I’ve been up to:

  1. Did you meet your goal weight?
    • Yes. My goal weight milestone 1 was 135. I hit that last year. My goal weight milestone 2 was 145. I hit that at the beginning of this year. My next milestone is 155.
  2. How is your diet?
    • I no longer track my macros using an app. I learned what my body needed and became more conscience about what I purchase. I eat a bit more food. I typically eat a high carb breakfast: peanut butter toast, yogurt, and a banana. Then I eat a high protein lunch and high protein dinner. I snack throughout the day with nuts, chips, vegetables, protein bars, protein shakes, and I have a low sugar treat after dinner. I am currently maintaining my current weight.
  3. Do you still go to the gym?
    • No. I cancelled my gym membership due to my schedule and me wanting to spend more time with family. I took a 6 month break from exercising to work on my mental health. I work out at home 2-3 times a week. I have a yoga mat, two 15 pound dumbbells, resistance bands, and a weighted ball. I typically with do a split workout or I use MadFit workouts on YouTube. Right now this works for me.
  4. Anything you’ve learned along the way so far?
    • Who you surround yourself with is important. You are who you hang around with.
    • You can’t expect others to love you if you won’t love you first. Take care of yourself.
    • Listen to your body and take a break if you need to. No you aren’t a failure if you rest.
    • If you are serious about weight training, hire a coach. A coach is not a baby sitter and will not coddle you. They are vital.
    • You have to sleep. Understand that getting a good nights rest is important to muscle growth and recovery.
    • You can’t just skip meals and expect to see results. Follow a meal plan when you get started and eat. Your body needs fuel.
    • Take care of yourself. Get an annual physical, go to the dentist, and go to therapy. I struggled with stomach issues and an iron deficiency for the first three months of training.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the trainer I used or any of the information listed above. Here was my coach https://www.instagram.com/dianagfitness/?hl=en . She does offer online training which is what I did. She is absolutely amazing at her job! She even had a free macro book https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LAFDr0ANYvYs38R3jknjdAEmBQsXyG-3/view

Thanks for reading and check out above for my before and after photos!

Blog Tour: Creatrix Rising

CREATRIX RISING
AUDIOBOOK
Written & Narrated by
STEPHANIE RAFFELOCK
 
Nonfiction / Self Help Memoir / Aging & Longevity
Publisher: Narrating Sound
Length: 4 hours, 43 minutes
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
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Ever since Eve was banned from the garden, women have endured the oftentimes painful and inaccurate definitions foisted upon them by the patriarchy. Maiden, mother, and crone, representing the three stages assigned to a woman’s life cycle, have been the limiting categories of both ancient and modern (neo-pagan) mythology. And one label in particular rankles: crone. The word conjures a wizened hag—useless for the most part, marginalized by appearance and ability.
 
None of us has ever truly fit the old-crone image, and for today’s midlife women, a new archetype is being birthed: the Creatrix.
 
In Creatrix Rising, Raffelock lays out—through personal stories and essays—the highlights of the past fifty years, in which women have gone from a quiet strength to a resounding voice. She invites us along on her own transformational journey by providing probing questions for reflection so that we can flesh out and bring to life this new archetype within ourselves. If what the Dalai Lama has predicted—that women will save the world—proves true, then the Creatrix will for certain be out front, leading the pack.
CLICK TO PURCHASE! 


 
Stephanie Raffelock is an author, speaker, and voiceover artist. She is the editor of the anthology, Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis (2022). Stephanie is the author of Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women (2021) and she penned the award-winning book, A Delightful Little Book on Aging (2020). She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and a goofy Labrador Retriever named Mickey.
 
 
 

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 STARS
*Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion and does not reflect the viewpoints of the author or publisher. A finished e-audiobook copy of this book was provided for review.*

Creatrix Rising is a self-help-style book that allows the reader to take moments throughout the book to reflect. After each chapter, the author provides self-reflection questions. A creatrix is described as a woman who is creative without the limitations of age set by society.

Each chapter in this book allows the reader to be transferred inside the mind of the author. The reader gets to be a part of the thought process of the author as the author analyzes pivotal moments in her life, which shaped her to become the person she is today. This includes diving deeper in order to truly understand the full make-up of a woman’s life and the cultural projection constantly forced upon women. Women are seen as obsolete beings once they hit the age of 40, and at the spark of a creative high are seen as having a mid-life crisis. For decades women have been seen as “less than,” compared to men. Women were meant to give up their dreams and serve as a caretaker for many.

Stephanie takes a stance on highlighting aspects of her life where she has worked to take back the authority taken from women by men for decades. She shares stories of family, the choices of women in her life, relationships, survival, recovery, healing, loss, forgiveness, and her life in the workforce. She talks about the impact of relationships she developed and her connection to her ancestors. She begins to fully understand the choices her mother and grandmother made in their lifetime and starts to see them as the women they were.

Throughout the entire novel, we get a chance to truly understand how the author has grown to become the person she is today. She finally finds her voice and learns to share her story and allow her story to impact others. This includes her being able to watch her life come full circle and inevitably achieving her dream of becoming a writer.

This central text provides such a diverse set of contexts that you are able to connect to every story shared, every moment of realization, and every relationship dissection. I highly recommend this novel to any woman regardless of age. This novel highlights many aspects of a woman’s life and the challenges women continue to face. It will reignite a fire in you that encourages the reader to give themselves space for their creative minds to prosper. 

I enjoyed the audiobook narration. The story flowed very well and I was able to stay alert throughout the reading. I listened to the audiobook in one sitting and loved it.

This book and author are truly one-of-a-kind, and I cannot encourage you any more emphatically to run to shelves to grab yourself a copy of it.


GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
FOUR WINNERS
Each receives an audiobook + a print copy of
CREATRIX RISING
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 9/16/22.)
 

Continue reading Blog Tour: Creatrix Rising

Blog Tour: Love and the Dream Come True

LOVE AND THE DREAM
COME TRUE
State of Grace Trilogy, Book 3
by
TAMMY L. GRAY 
Contemporary Christian Fiction / Clean Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 368 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2022
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The Anticipated Series Finale to the 2021 Carol Award-Winning Novel, Love and a Little White Lie

Their faith will face its toughest test yet.

Four years after getting the biggest break of his life, Cameron Lee’s music career has taken a nosedive, leaving him two options: become a sellout or give up on his lifelong dream. He reluctantly returns home for his sister’s wedding, hoping to avoid his past and find his love for music again.
Single mom Lexie Walters has suffered her fair share of tragedies and setbacks, but she has finally scraped together the money to achieve her dream of going into business with her cousin as an interior designer. When Lexie’s life is at an all-time high, she runs into her teenage crush, Cameron Lee.
Lost in the emotional turmoil of failure, Cameron is immediately drawn to Lexie and her infectious smile and optimistic spirit. Moreover, he adores her mouthy, no-holds-barred daughter. But fantasies only last so long, and soon Lexie and Cameron must face the real world, the one fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, and questions that sometimes can only be answered by a leap of faith.


“Cameron and Lexie’s chemistry is palpable, and readers will root for their happily ever after. This tender tale hits all the right notes.”Publishers Weekly


Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 STARS

*Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion and does not reflect the viewpoints of the author or publisher. A finished e-book copy of this book was provided for review.*

“Love and the Dream Come True,” is the final installment in the “State of Grace” book series. This book ends the series with a conclusion to Cameron’s story and an update on Darcy from the second book. Although this book is a part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Cameron is contractually bound in a record contract where his heart is no longer in his music. He is torn between facing the future and dealing with the skeletons in his past. This Christian romance novel will have you feeling a wide range of emotions as you watch the story unfold. 

This book is from the perspective of the two main characters, Cameron and Lexie. Cameron is a multi-dimensional character with a range of emotions that had me feeling like I was sitting next to him. He is the main character in this bookwhich starts with him reliving old memories and hashing out the details of his record contract. In an attempt to clear his mind, at the advice of his manager, Cameron heads home to Texas for an extended vacation. He arrives in time for his sister’s wedding surprised to see his old band mates, Darcy and Bryson. In an attempt to rush out of the wedding, he runs into Morgan, the daughter of his sister’s best friend, Lexie. Morgan shares with Cameron that her mother has an embarrassing obsession with the music star. Cameron meets Lexie in his final attempt to escape the event only to realize days later that they live in the same neighborhood. Lexie gets more chances to get to know Cameron, her best friend’s brother, and childhood crush. Lexie hasn’t been dealt the greatest hand in life after experiencing loss and maintaining life and business as a single mother. Cameron and Lexie both recognize that they need to tread lightly in their friendship if it has any chance of being more. Throughout the story, life continues to throw curve balls at the two as they work to heal relationships all while noting the looming record deal that awaits a decision. 

Both Cameron and Lexie are developed realistically. Author Tammy Gray does a great job developing the supporting characters and creating a story that has multiple layers. Throughout the reading, I was on the verge of tears, sadness, and happiness. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the author has a true writing talent. The book has a strong presence of faith and family bonds and also focuses on real issues such as anxiety, trauma, grief, faith, forgiveness, and so much more. Each topic is addressed in a manner that is sensitive to readers who may have experienced similar instances.

I recommend this book to readers interested in a clean Christian romance novel that highlights healing. If you haven’t checked out the other books in the series, I highly recommend you do.


 
CLICK TO PURCHASE
 

 

Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas. Her nine modern and true-to-life contemporary romances include the 2017 RITA Award-winning My Hope Next Door. When not taxiing her three kids to various events, Tammy can be spotted crunching numbers as the financial administrator at her hometown church.
 
Bethany House
 
 
 
 
 
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER:
Complete STATE OF GRACE SERIES in paperback!
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 9/2/22.)
 
 
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
OR VISIT THE PARTICIPATING BLOGS DIRECTLY:

8/23/2022

The Page Unbound

Guest Post

8/23/2022

Hall Ways Blog

BONUS Series Spotlight

8/24/2022

Book Fidelity

Review

8/24/2022

LSBBT Blog

BONUS Promo

8/25/2022

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

Notable Quotables

8/26/2022

Carpe Diem Chronicles

Review

8/27/2022

The Clueless Gent

Excerpt

8/28/2022

All the Ups and Downs

Excerpt

8/29/2022

Librariel Book Adventures

Review

8/30/2022

Rebecca R. Cahill, Author

Deleted Scene

8/31/2022

StoreyBook Reviews

Review

9/1/2022

Chapter Break Book Blog

Review

 

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Blog Tour: Fancy by Linda Broday

FANCY

Love Train Multi-Author Series, #10

by

LINDA BRODAY

 Western Romance /Sweet Romance/ American Historical Romance

Pages:          190 pages

Publisher:      Kindle Unlimited

Publication Date:     August 15, 2022

 

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A stolen baby
An orphan child
A bargain struck


Told her baby died in childbirth, Fancy Dalton grieves for her son. But in the midst of a raging storm, a shadowy figure appears and tells her that he’s alive and well! He was stolen! Now she has an address and a name. From despair comes hope.
One thought drives her—finding and getting him back. Selling everything she owns, Fancy buys a one-way train ticket to Denver. Nothing and no one will stop her. In a mad dash to board the train, she collides with Jack Coltrain. As fate would have it, the rugged cowboy, on a mission of his own, sits next to her. Experience has taught her to be wary of men. But when her bag is stolen, he gets it back and earns a small piece of her trust.
As the iron wheels roll, taking her closer to her two-year-old son, Fancy and Jack discover an orphan girl who needs their help and open their arms to her. Ten hours from their goal, Fancy and Jack strike a deal—her help for his. Desperate times for both call for creative solutions…but marriage, even in name only? However, nothing is off the table. She’ll do whatever she must to save the orphan and get her child back. Still, giving Jack her heart…that’s not part of the bargain.
Click to purchase!
 

Review
Rating: 5 out of 5 STARS
*Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion and does not reflect the viewpoints of the author or publisher. A finished e-book copy of this book was provided for review.*
“Fancy” is book 10 of the Love Train series. Fancy Dalton is a woman born and raised in a small town in Nebraska. Her story begins with a traumatic and tragic birth story and the start of the tale of a desperate mother.
Fancy’s life is anything but perfect. However, she continues to try to keep her composure as life throws numerous curveballs in her direction in a short time. In an attempt to clear her conscience, the midwife who helped with the birth of the baby informs her that her child is not dead. In a brief moment, Fancy’s plans of continuing to work as a waitress are no more after a recent loss. She packs up her life and heads on a train to find her stolen baby. The journey to her new, unfamiliar destination comes with many twists and turns. First, her bag gets stolen while boarding the train. Then an unlikely hero is captivated by her presence and retrieves her bag.
Fancy is finally able to confide in her new friend Jack. The two build an unlikely bond and work together on a new mission. They see a young orphaned girl on the train and vow to help her. Fancy and Jack work to resolve issues from their past and create a future. You’ll have to read the book to find out if their future is together or separate.
Fancy’s character is built as someone kind and compassionate. Of course, I love a good book with drama and a semi-happy ending. This book is well written. It shows the author spent time developing each character and creating a heartwarming story that will leave any reader audibly sighing. There are parts of this book that can be triggering for anyone who has experienced loss and sexual assault, so I recommend proceeding with caution if you have experienced any of these things.
I recommend this book for readers interested in a romance novel with an edge. Although this book is a part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone novel. If you haven’t checked out the other books in the series, I highly recommend you do.


PRAISE FOR FANCY:

“I have loved every Linda Broday book I have read, but I must say this one touched my heart.” Cricket (Goodreads)

“Linda Broday waved her magic wand when her turn came and gave us one of her most profound heroines she’s ever written. Fancy wrapped her tragic story around my heart and transported me into the late 1800s.” Tonya (Goodreads)

“Linda Broday has always been able to weave her characters together like a mix-match patch quilt, but the end results are amazing.” Rose Ann (Goodreads)

“…Her ability to convey the goodness of their souls will leave the reader wanting more.” Sally (Goodreads
 



 
I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and early cowboys once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’s rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys still remain caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide-open spaces. I combine those men with the love of family in all my stories and hope to continue to give readers books that entertain and fulfill.
 
 
 


 



Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

FOUR WINNERS!

One winner:
$25 Amazon gift card plus Kindle copy of Fancy
Three winners:
Kindle copies of Fancy
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/19/2022.)
 
 
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,
or visit the blogs directly:
 

8/9/22

Excerpt

Forgotten Winds

8/9/22

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways

8/10/22

Review

Librariel Book Adventures

8/10/22

BONUS Promo

LSBBT Blog

8/11/22

Character Spotlight

Chapter Break Book Blog

8/12/22

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

8/13/22

Notable Quotables

Shelf Life Blog

8/14/22

Character Interview

All the Ups and Downs

8/15/22

Review

Carpe Diem Chronicles

8/16/22

Sneak Peek

Stories Under Starlight

8/17/22

Review

Boys’ Mom Reads

8/18/22

Review

Writing and Music


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Blog Tour: The Sparrows of Montenegro

 
      

 

THE SPARROWS OF MONTENEGRO

 
by
BJ MAYO
 
 
Categories: Western / Historical Fiction / Texas
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Date of Publication: February 8, 2022
Number of Pages: 312 pages 
 
 
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Tree “Bigfoot” Smith and Cedar Jones first meet on the day they join the US Cavalry’s Fourth Cavalry Regiment based out of the Historic Fort Concho in what is now San Angelo,
Texas, in 1870.


Their journey takes them into the heart of the dangerous Llano Estacado region known as the Comancheria. The area is ruthlessly defended by a band of Quahadi Comanche and their stoic leader, Lonely Horse. The Troop encounters a large group of Comanches and the gun-running Comancheros at Mushaway Mountain, close to Gail, Texas. A quick battle ensues that leaves eight men dead.


Post Cavalry life finds Tree Smith and Cedar Jones as cowhand and cook on the large Rolling J cattle ranch in South Texas bordering the Rio Grande River. The ranch employs two Vaqueros from the village of Montenegro in Mexico, just across the river, whom Tree befriends.


The quiet life on the Rolling J ranch is brought to an abrupt halt when a local sheriff warns that a band led by the cold-blooded, sadistic killer known as Gato Montes has been preying on the ranches along the Rio Grande. After the sheriff is nearly killed by these men, Tree is tasked with tracking them down, only this time, he is traveling alone and the dangers are greatly multiplied. His epic journey takes him back into the Llano Estacado where he is captured by Lonely Horse and taken to Mushaway Mountain where the Comanche carry out their own form of frontier justice.


Tree’s return journey puts him on the same path as Marco, a Mexican goat herder, who rides with him to the Mexican Village of Montenegro, where Tree meets Julia, who changes his life forever after he becomes involved in and bears witness to the wonderful celebration of Dia de los Muertos.

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:

“I could not put this one down. Mayo has masterfully written a character-driven page-turner, a compelling tale for the reader who seeks something more than the stereotypical western novel.” —Ron Schwab, author of Goldsmith and the Law Wranglers series

“This mild-mannered west Texas rancher has woven a border tapestry using yarns made of unimaginable horror and sweet innocence.” —Tumbleweed Smith, author of Under the Chinaberry Tree

“A thoroughly enjoyable read—a cowboy’s trail you’ll want to follow, with a memorable cast of characters, renegades, soldiers, lawmen, and simple folks, and a hero that you’ll want more of.” —John J. Jacobson, author of All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone

 

 
 
 
 
 

BLOG TOUR: The Yes Dare

THE YES DARE

A Pies, Books
& Jesus Club Novel
by
KATHLEEN Y’BARBO
Genre: Clean Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: July 15, 2021
Number of Pages: 246 pages 
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Have you ever wished for a second chance to fix something you’ve messed up or for the courage to say yes to something that just may change your life? Sometimes saying yes to the last thing you want can mean saying yes to exactly what you need.
Ryan “The Rocket” Sutton’s winning streak is legendary makes him the undisputed best quarterback in the NFL. However, thanks to one dumb mistake, he’s a failure as a husband to Coco, the only woman he’s ever loved. When a judge’s mistake in divorce paperwork means Coco is still his wife, Ryan makes up his mind to fix what he ruined. Ryan’s game plan doesn’t count on an internationally famous movie director’s camera crew following him as he competes for Coco’s love.
After spending most of her adult life as a football wife and mother to twin sons, fashionista Coco Sutton is learning how to be single and fabulous. Emphasis on Fabulous. The sports trophies, memorabilia, and heavy masculine wood furniture in the home she used to share with Ryan have been banished to the attic, and her home is now a cozy haven of plush candle-scented comfort. She’s got big plans that include owning a boutique or maybe an art gallery, but she never planned to take on the biggest challenge of her life: staying single. Then her best friend gives her a copy of a book called The Yes Dare, and all her plans are turned upside down.
From a Hollywood movie to the local spring event formerly known as the Cow Chip Toss Festival and a country crooner with a crush on Coco, will Ryan dodge the obstacles to win back the only woman he ever loved?
Publishers Weekly bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students, Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Sisters in Crime, Faith Hope and Love Christian Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.
Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas, and are the parents, grandparents, and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and a trio of adorable Londoners.

Review
Rating: 5 out of 5 STARS
*Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion and does not reflect the viewpoints of the author or publisher. A finished e-book copy of this book was provided for review.*

Some say that money can’t buy you love and it can’t keep the one you love in your life. Ryan and Coco have a very unique union. I should say, they had a very unique union at one point before fame and the effects of fame caused the marriage to end. Ryan, a rising star, will stop at nothing to win the woman of his dreams back. A year after their marriage ended he is still pining over his loss as the two continue to co-parent their twin boys. Of course, Chase and Cody want their parents to get back together. After some news from Ryan’s attorney resurfaces after a few i’s weren’t dotted and t’s weren’t crossed, Ryan finally has a chance to potentially win his wife back. Can Coco forgive Ryan for the mistakes from his past or will she decide to walk away for good?

Of course, anyone loves a good book where the main character has a well-developed storyline. Well-rounded football star Ryan Sutton, deemed with the nickname Mr. Rocket, has the world wrapped around his finger except for the love of his life. Coco can’t seem to forgive the man she gave up everything for. A mom at home raising twin boys while her superstar husband is outliving his dream. Coco resents him for the choices he made and for the ones she had to make so that he could live his dream. A year after her divorce, armed with the advice from her best friend Sasa and words from a book encouraging her to say “yes” more, Coco goes for her dreams of opening a boutique. The only problem with her life is the fact that everywhere she turns Ryan is surprisingly there. The author does such a wonderful job making each character realistic by explaining the challenges of divorce and infertility. As a divorcee myself, I enjoyed a different perspective and I enjoyed the drive of Ryan attempting to win his wife back. The author provides a glimpse into some obstacles that can arise and some of the insecurities that women face in marriages. I can relate to some extent to Coco and her reluctance to take Ryan back and see the good in him after years of heartache. Forgiveness goes a long way to healing from past pain from a relationship. I love the support Coco receives from her friends and family. This makes the novel more wholesome.

This book is a quick romantic read that makes for a great Saturday night book. If you’re looking to run yourself a bath and snuggle up with a good book, then this should be your book of choice. The author does a great job telling the story. The author tells the story in a way that allows the reader to feel they are watching the story unfold in front of them. Each character is thoughtfully developed, both the main and supporting characters play a huge role in the overall theme of the story.

This book is recommended for adults and I highly recommend this cozy read to anyone looking for a romantic tale.

Blog Tour: Inclined Elders

INCLINED ELDERS

BY RAMONA OLIVER

Publisher: BookBaby Publication Date: July 24, 2020 Pages: 246 Pages Categories: Nonfiction / Positive Aging

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THIS BOOK WILL BE INVALUABLE IF YOU:

· Have a desire to continue living a purposeful life, no matter what your age.

· Are interested in learning how to maintain a positive attitude from adulthood to elderhood.

· Want to learn how to create a living legacy and serve as a role model for future generations.

WHY EMBRACE AN ATTITUDE OF INCLINE?

For the first time in history we are not only living longer, everyone has an important choice to make: commit to a meaningful, purposeful life of “Incline” as we get older or believe that a new stage – one of steady “decline” – is inevitable. What is not helping is that in the media and society in general there continues the somewhat negative connotation surrounding the concept of aging. And while, at least not now, we cannot do anything about the chronological process of becoming 60, 70, 80 years and beyond, we can change the mindset for it. Embracing change and looking at life with a keener sense of curiosity will lead to living with increased courage to live life to its fullest.

Inclined Elders is a call to action for you to opt for Incline. Not only for your personal fulfillment, but also to help fuel a social “legacy” that increases the number of positive older role models in everyday life. I have written this book to inspire, inform, and challenge you. By the time you reach the last page, I hope you will have made a new choice: to become an inspiring example of a life of Incline so our society relinquishes – once and for all – the notion that aging is synonymous with “decline,” “decrepit,” “senile,” and “over-the-hill.”

In this book over 50 men and women ranging in age from 40 to 100 share their tips and techniques on how to live a life of Incline. Their strategies are supported by scientific evidence from the fields of Positive Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology.

WHO ARE INCLINED ELDERS?

We are the women and men who have made a conscious choice to ignore society’s negative mindset of “decline” and “over-the-hill” as we age. Instead we embrace a positive mindset of continuing to Incline and climb ever upwards.

Serving as vibrant role models, the Inclined Elders I spoke to for this book are leaving their own unique legacies of wisdom and inspiration for future generations. There needs to be more of us like them to effect real social change. So why not Incline too? There’s an amazing view from up here. Come with us and see for yourself.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple Books

*Paperback Use Coupon: AUG31PB
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Ramona Oliver has long been a passionate educator with former roles as a human resource manager/director, career coach, and director of outreach for St. Edward’s University. As a human resource director for many years, she championed the professional development of employees. While serving as president of the Austin Human Resource Management Association, she led a team that designed, developed, and implemented an award-wining leadership program. In addition, she launched a workforce readiness committee that partnered with community organizations to implement workforce readiness initiatives. At St. Edward’s University, she promoted lifelong learning and the adult undergraduate and graduate programs to older adults in the Austin community. Ramona currently serves as an advocate of positive aging. Rather than accepting a mindset of decline, she is passionate about living life with an attitude of Incline. Ramona has been published on the Changing Aging website, offering posts with titles such as “Can We Please Stop Calling It Aging,” “What Are We Missing When We Settle for Life Stages?” and “Leave a Legacy and Live It Now!” Ramona is a recipient of a Book Excellence Award for her current book, INCLINED ELDERS: How to rebrand aging for self and society. It has been recognized for high-quality writing style, book design, and overall marketing appeal. She earned her Master of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University. Ramona lives in Austin, Texas where she enjoys practicing yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Nia and participating in various community groups.

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author interview

CHARACTER INTERVIEW

THE AMAZING MISS LEE

Several years ago, I had the good fortune of being introduced to, whom I call, The Amazing Miss Lee. She agreed to be interviewed for my upcoming book, Inclined Elders, as a featured “elder.” Following are some of the pearls of wisdom she shared with me. They and more are included in Inclined Elders.

 

As a young girl growing up in Palestine, Texas, what was your greatest aspiration?

I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and entered college with high hopes of accomplishing that goal. While the other students completed assigned art projects quickly, I toiled for hours, sometimes days, to finish my work. I began to think that, because it took me so much longer, I didn’t have the talent. After graduation, I sadly decided I would never be a designer. I gave up on my dream and instead settled for a job as a secretary for a large oil company where I worked for many years.

When did this all change and how?

At the age of fifty, I overheard someone make a comment that turned my thinking upside down. The individual mentioned that Beethoven rewrote his Fifth Symphony thirty-one times before it was completed. In fact, he rewrote all his symphonies many times over. Could that be true? Beethoven! Presumably a genius?

I had an awakening in my soul. If it took someone like Beethoven thirty-one rewrites to complete a masterpiece, perhaps talent was more than just a God-given gift. I realized that while talent may come easily to some, perhaps genius level, for others fulfilling a goal may require more work. I had incorrectly assumed that if I had talent, I wouldn’t have to work so hard. I realized that talent plus hard work equals success. I had turned my thinking upside down.

I went on to fulfill a dream. In my sixties, I began a successful career as an inspiring motivational speaker and I’m now the oldest living member of the National Speakers Association. In 2013 I was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Speakers Association Austin Chapter.

You are now 95. What is your “Recipe for Living to 95 and Beyond”?

Like all great recipes, mine includes several ingredients:

Genes: they are important, but they can only carry you so far.

Positive Attitude: this is the key to the kingdom. It’s not genes, it’s positive attitude.

Love: this is the most powerful – it is in every recipe of how to make it into the later ages of life. Love people and be with people. Have a circle of friends and keep in touch often.

Lifelong Learning: I just love learning. That’s key. It’s a big one.

Sense of Community/Socializing with People: being with people of all ages is also key – both young and old.

Spirit: have an anchor in God, but for people who don’t believe in a superior being, I recommend calling it hope.

How do You Keep Your Inner Child Alive?

When people ask me why I seem so happy and find it so easy to laugh, I tells them, “My inner child is working overtime!” That belief has been with me for my entire adult life. Many times throughout the years, friends and relatives have remarked to me, in a not-so-kindly manner: “Lee, you’re the biggest kid I know! Aren’t you ever going to grow up?” But they’re all dead now and I’m still here.

My mantra is: “Keep your mind on what you want and off what you don’t want. It works.” Keep your inner child alive always – with curiosity, inspiration, laughter, and learning. While we have only limited control over what happens to us in life, we have 100% control over how we react. Therefore, older people who have learned to keep their sense of humor, think positively, and remain active, and who genuinely care about other people, continue to learn, and are interested in life in general truly are “young at heart” forever and die young even at 110.

The 18th Century poet, William Wordsworth, once wrote: “The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” What would you most like to jettison, in order to feel lighter and free, as you learn how best to live YOUR life of Incline?

What I think about Wordsworth’s statement is: I partially agree with him. I have come to realize that old age can be a series of losing people and things most dear to us. It can be a horrible trap for those who suffer from physical or mental ailments that cannot be healed, leaving a huge, empty hole. And a multitude of negative things can happen to us about which we have no control. Losing a loved one can be devastating! It is true: “Old age is not for sissies!” I have come to realize that the only thing we do have control over is how we think! Therefore, older people who have learned to keep their sense of humor, to think positively, who genuinely care for other people and REMAIN ACTIVE, who continue to learn and are still interested in life in general, who do not let their INNER CHILD fade away, definitely can “mourn less for what age takes away then what it leaves behind”!

___________________________________________________

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

FOUR WINNERS: 2 winners: autographed copies of Inclined Elders. 2 winners: Kindle copies of Inclined Elders. Giveaway ends midnight, CDT, 7/17/21; US only.

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Click here to visit the LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE
for direct links to each stop on the tour, updated daily. Or, visit the blogs directly:

7/7/21

Notable Quotable

It’s Not All Gravy

7/7/21

Sneak Peek

The Page Unbound

7/8/21

Review

The Plain-Spoken Pen

7/8/21

BONUS Promo

LSBBT Blog

7/9/21

Author Interview

Chapter Break Book Blog

7/9/21

Review

Book Fidelity

7/10/21

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

7/11/21

Excerpt

All the Ups and Downs

7/12/21

Review

Jennie Reads

7/12/21

Character Interview

Librariel Book Adventures

7/13/21

Guest Post

Book Bustle

7/14/21

Review

Hall Ways Blog

7/14/21

Excerpt

That’s What She’s Reading

7/15/21

Scrapbook Page

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

7/16/21

Review

Reading by Moonlight

7/16/21

Review

Forgotten Winds

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Blog Tour: The Uvalde Raider

 

THE UVALDE RAIDER 

A Templar Family Novel

BY BEN H. ENGLISH

Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Publication Date: April 17, 2021
Pages: 229 Pages
Categories: Historical Fiction / Military / Texas
The time is the eve of the First Gulf War. The place an abandoned World War II emergency landing strip for heavy bombers, nestled amid the near countless miles upon miles of wide openness in West Texas. Here a climactic battle will be fought, while the rest of the world focuses on what would become known as Operation Desert Storm. But in some ways, the stakes here are even higher as men from other places and past conflicts gamble all that they are, and all they ever were, to prevent a catastrophic terrorist attack unthinkable before on an American city. One group seeks wholesale slaughter, the murder of helpless civilians on a massive scale. The other strives to stop this evil in any way possible, and by whatever means necessary. The key to either side’s success or failure? One old Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, an enduring symbol from another war and ensuing catastrophe of a different era. This relic of a not so distant past is named ‘The Uvalde Raider,’ and this is its story…

Purchase: Amazon | Front Street Books

Personalized Copies: http://thestablealpine.com

Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as an infantry platoon sergeant. Later he worked counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries on four continents.
At Angelo State University he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, patrol procedures and defensive tactics.
After retirement he decided to try his hand at writing. His first effort, Yonderings, was accepted by a university press and garnered some awards. His second, Destiny’s Way, led to a long term, multi-book contract.  This was followed by Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend and now his second fictional work, The Uvalde Raider.
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter, but also the hunted.
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.
Just as he has done throughout most of his life…
Find out more about Ben English’s Adventures on Facebook,Amazon Author Page, or visit Ben on his Website


Review

Rating :★★★★★
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is a finished copy of the book. #partner #LSBBT

This action-packed military historical fiction focuses on one moment in history that shaped the overall way the world handled situations that followed. The author uses a narrator-style writing style to allow the reader to be taken on a journey through time and nostalgic moments. The main characters face hard times, challenges, and overcome some of their greatest obstacles all while seeking opportunities to see the truth in every situation. They encounter terrorists, government secrets, and learn to rely on each other in one of the most daring moments in their career. It seems the men have gotten themselves tied up in a sticky situation that they may or may not get out of. You’ll need to read the book to find out.

Overall, the book is filled with twists and turns and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the next event to occur. The patrotism is evident as you continue to navigate your way through the detailed, engaging explanation of each scene. The author does a wonderful job with character development, terms used, and you can tell he did his research before completing this novel. If you’re a native Texan then this novel will make you proud to be a Texan.

I enjoyed the religious aspect of the novel and the moments of wholesomeness. I also enjoyed the moments of reflection. I love historical fiction novels. I studied history in college and have read quite a few books in this realm and this is one of my favorites. There is a moment after the rise of action moments where the book takes a slow pace, but overall I feel does not take away from the story and provides depth.

The question is, can you handle this type of novel and the surprising plot? I guess you will have to read it and find out. This is book one of this series and I am confident you will want more.

This book is suited for adults but can also be read by older teens interested in historical fiction.


Click to visit the LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE for direct links to each stop on the tour, updated daily, or visit the blogs directly:

6/28/21

Review

6/28/21

Kick-off Promo

6/29/21

BONUS Promo

6/29/21

Author Interview

6/29/21

Excerpt

6/30/21

Review

6/30/21

Character Spotlight

7/1/21

Review

7/1/21

Guest Post

7/2/21

Review

7/2/21

Series Spotlight

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Blog Tour: River, Sing Out

   

RIVER, SING OUT

BY
JAMES WADE
Categories: Contemporary / Literary Fiction
Rural Fiction / Crime Fiction / Coming-of-Age
Blackstone Facebook  Twitter   Instagram
Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 315 pages
“And through these ages untold, the river did act as the lifeblood of all those things alongside it.”
 

Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.

Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.

 

 

PRAISE FOR RIVER, SING OUT

”With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.” —Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author of Valentine

”If you read one novel this year, make it this one. James Wade’s River, Sing Out, is an instant classic filled with characters that will break your heart, lyrical prose as haunted as the river it evokes, and a Southern Noir undertow that wholly sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages until it’s searing, masterful conclusion.” —May Cobb, author of The Hunting Wives

”Wade, whose striking debut, All Things Left Wild (2020), traveled back a century in Texas history, uses an unlikely friendship to explore an equally wild present-day landscape…A haunting fable of an impossible relationship fueled by elemental need and despair.” —Kirkus Reviews


Review

Rating :★★★★★
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is an advanced reader copy sent to me in exchange for my honest review. #partner #LSBBT

River, Sing Out is a recently published novel that takes you on a journey through drugs, poverty, abuse, and relationships. This high-stakes novel is based in East Texas River bottoms. The story begins with a thought-provoking epilogue before diving into the introduction of John Curtis and his act of redemption. We then are introduced to Jonah Hargrove and later Cade and River. We get a chance to get to know each character as their stories are written from their perspective. As the novel progresses, you feel as though you are transported into the mind of each character, noting that the narrators are the characters themselves. The story continues to unfold in a method that has you both feeling sad and sorry for the characters involved. We get to watch as each character’s lives start to entangle and secrets start to be revealed. Who will leave this situation unscathed and will they ever truly escape? You are left with many thoughts after reading this book.

The author’s writing style continuously allowed the reader to be encapsulated by the total storyline and engaged from page to page. The book gives off a gritty, motel 6, a drug deal gone bad vibe that has you hoping it gets adopted as a tv show. The twists and turns have you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out the outcome of the souls who were mixed up with the wrong crowd. Surprisingly, this book reminded me a bit of my childhood and the challenges that can arise when children get mixed up in Adult choices. My father was a drug addict and no one ever depicts the humanistic aspect of the addict itself and focuses on describing their characteristics. For me, this novel brought back a bit of nostalgia. The author does a great job with the descriptive text, writing style, transitional scenes, and character development. I highly encourage everyone to pick up this novel. You won’t regret it. One being, for every action there is a reaction and for every reaction, there is a potential consequence.

I highly encourage this fast-read novel for any adult interested in a gritty, Texas-sized, high-stakes, action-packed novel that will keep you both entertained and on the edge of your seat awaiting the next move. Due to the violent scenes, sexual content, and language, I recommend this book for Young Adults and up. This book may contain content that could potentially be triggering for those who have experienced drug abuse in their past.


   

James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. He is the author of All Things Left Wild, which is a winner of the 2016 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest, a winner of the 2021 Spur Award for Best Historical Fiction, and a winner of the 2021 Reading the West Award for Best Debut Novel. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and magazines.

The Start of My Fitness Journey

2 Corinthians 5: 7 “Walk by Faith and not by sight” CSB

To start with my journey, I must start at the beginning and explain why I chose to change my life. 

I remember randomly picking a week of September 2020. The original plan was to go visit a cousin in New York but with COVID restrictions those plans were nixed. It was about two to three weeks before my scheduled time off that I randomly decided to do a solo road trip. I did not know where I was going to go but I picked three states and looked online for two days until I found a rental car that had four-wheel drive. My first stop would be Bricktown, Oklahoma to stop and see the Riverwalk and the Sonic Headquarters. Then I would drive to Eckhart, Kansas to Visit a Grassland. Then I would drive to Guymon, Oklahoma to stay the night and enjoy some local pizza. I would go to Denver, Colorado for a hike in the Rockies, Ziplining, and to watch a UFC fight at a random bar. My last stop on this week-long journey was Albuquerque, New Mexico for a hike, a visit to Route 66, and a trip to the local Botanical Garden. Did I mention I took this week-long road trip alone? I got to spend a lot of time with my thoughts and reflecting on my life choices. I also learned to love myself and not let fear hold me back.

I returned from my trip, not ready to get back to work or anything but ready to tackle some life changes. I reached out to a local trainer I had been “stalking” on Instagram. It was crazy how I found her. A DJ I follow posted a photo of them in this gym then I went to the gym’s page to look at the trainers and she stood out the most of all of them. So I signed up for her online program, got a gym membership, and within a week from returning from the solo road trip I was training in the gym four days a week and on a new diet.

I strongly believe that God puts people in your life for a season and some for a lifetime. Each person will leave you better than you were before and I am so grateful for the ghosting. Don’t worry, I forgave and moved forward with myself. 

So, to sum up, my fitness journey and answer some potential questions:

  1. What made me decide to start weight training?
    1. Reason one: I was pretty angry after another failed dating-ship and wanted to have force in my punch in case I ever saw the guy in person. Boxing is next on my list.
    2. Reason two: I have a bridesmaid dress that was too big and I wanted to fit into that dress.
    3. Reason three: I was super unhealthy and it was causing some health problems.
    4. My trainer offers an online training program that I have been doing and it is easy to follow and she is available to answer my questions.
  2. What is your goal weight?
    1. First Goal: 135. I am 5’8″ so I’d like to be between 150-155
    2. Hoping to hit my next goal by May 2022
  3. Have you changed your diet?
    1. Yes, I eat 2075 calories a day. This includes 120g of protein, 55g of Fat, 255g of Carbs
    2. My trainer is a trained nutritionist and adjusts my diet based on my monthly gains. It was hard at first and every day is a challenge.
  4. What does a typical workout week look like for you?
    1. Recently I switched from 4days a week to 5 days a week Monday-Friday.
    2. It depends on what my trainer has me doing. I was doing three leg days and two split upper days. Now I am doing 2 leg days and 3 split upper days.
  5. Any advice for someone just starting?
    1. No one knows what they are doing. They may look like they know but they don’t know so get a trainer. Even if it is only for a month or two. Lifestyle changes are an investment that you want to do right. Don’t skimp and try to get a “cheap” trainer. Quality over quantity.
    2. Set clear goals and find your “why.” What is the reason you want to lose weight, tone up, or bulk up. Having a goal helps you have something to reach for and gives you the motivation to keep showing up.
    3. Be consistent. You won’t want to show up every day but still get up and do it anyway. At the end of the day, if you want it bad enough you won’t quit.
    4. This isn’t temporary it is a lifestyle change and you will start seeing results.
    5. Progress takes patience. Change won’t happen overnight, so do not rush it. If you get a trainer, listen to them. You are paying them to train you, if you don’t listen, only you suffer.
    6. It is okay to fail in the gym. Get up, laugh it off, and pretend like no one is watching you. I make so many weird faces in the gym at this point it is just comical.

I pray this post inspires you and encourages you to set clear health goals. The hardest part is starting and showing up daily. But remember you are showing up for yourself. Don’t change yourself for anyone, do it for you. As a believer, I felt that if I want the Holy Spirit to live in me, then I needed to do a better job of taking care of his home. 

God bless and reach out if you have questions.