Katie's Blog

FREE Sweet Romance and Other Reads

Hey all! Just a quick check-in with you to give you a heads up about some fun reads for the weekend! Two of them are even FREE!

First off, Little Miss Lovesick (FREE until Sunday!):

Little Miss Lovesick

The Blurb:

Sydney Riley hears voices in her head…

Voices that keep her sane and voices that drive her crazy. The one thing they all agree on – forget Dirk the Jerk and move on.

So Sydney lets her friends drag her into the wilds of Northern Michigan where Little Miss Lovesick, the loudest voice in Sydney’s head, runs into – literally – the perfect man. Is hot fishing guide Matt Engel the man to vanquish heartbreak?

With the vacation flirtation behind her, Sydney is ready to start again. Soon after, however, a difficult – and must keep – client demands Sydney work with his new contractor. Yes, one and the same Matt Engel, hotter than ever and right here in town.

But when Matt’s past comes between them, Sydney wonders how to prevent another broken heart. As the rest of her life spirals out of control, she learns that sometimes a plan isn’t enough without friends to share the load.

Maybe together they can even help Little Miss Lovesick find what she’s been fishing for.

Little Miss Lovesick is next on my reading list! And here’s some awesome news–right now, it’s FREE!! You can snag Little Miss Sunshine when you sign up for the occasional and non-spammy Reader List of Kitty Bucholtz. JUST CLICK HERE. Her other books look awesome, too! Check them out HERE.

Next up, my very own Happy Scoops (also FREE today and tomorrow):

Here’s the Blurb:

Chryssa Parker is about to start her senior year of high school and she knows that it’s going to be totes amazing.

As Team Captain of the Cheerleading Squad and President of the Student Body Government, Chryssa is ready to be the smartest and hottest that Intellectual Elite has ever graduated.

However, when a pile of traffic infractions show up in the Parker mailbox, Chryssa’s lawyer parents decide it’s time for Chryssa to learn some responsibility.

Forced to become a sign dancer dressed as a cone at her parent’s ice cream shop, Chryssa doesn’t think she’ll ever survive the job. Obligated to give up so much of her life, Chryssa is completely surprised when she learns what makes her truly Happy.

If you enjoy the parody of romantic comedies like Clueless or Austenland and that sweet quirkiness of Hallmark romance, you’ll enjoy Happy Scoops.

Today and tomorrow, Happy Scoops is free! That’s right–showing you a little reader love with a free book! And if you have a moment to write a quick review (1-2 sentences are fast to write and super helpful), that’d be showing me a little author love. I totally appreciate it!!

Our Sweet Guillotine:

OUR SWEET GUILLOTINE by [Gray, Mary]Here’s the Blurb:

Tempeste has survived much choosing to live on Paris’ streets–scavenging for food, learning survival skills from a deserter whom she paid to attack her in her sleep, and living a life her mother would approve of, one devoid of luxury. But denying oneself of food and proper bedding can stir a madness in the brain. So, when Tempeste witnesses the quick and painless death of the guillotine–the death her mother should have received–she vows to find her mother’s accuser and vivisect his spleen.

Quite by accident, Gabriel, the young executioner responsible for Tempeste’s mother’s botched hanging, falls for Tempeste. So, instead of strolling arm-in-arm with a respectable mademoiselle through the gardens of the Palais de l’Égalité, Gabriel finds himself traipsing after an axe-carrying siren through the catacombs and facing off a hostile sans-culottes army.

With little choice but to fight, Gabriel determines to win the hearts of the sans-culottes, while Tempeste proves she’s quite adept at swinging the blade. When the pair finally make their way to Tempeste’s sworn enemy, though, a secret is revealed which promises to sever far more than they ever hoped to gain.

Just finished Our Sweet Guillotine and it was great! I highly recommend this historical romance. Find it HERE.

 

Lastly, if you haven’t signed up for my Clean & Quirky Romance Readers’ List, you can grab my novella, Twenty-Five Candles, for FREE when you do!

 

Here’s the Blurb:

When Anna Lewis was young, she made a wish to be married by her twenty-fifth birthday and just knew that her dream would come true. The problem is, becoming an adult isn’t as easy as she thought it would be.

Between giving up her nursing career and caring for her home-bound mother, Anna feels her dreams are passing her by. It’s only when—on her twenty-fourth birthday—Anna learns that a doctor is moving to town that she begins to hope once more.

However, when Anna finds out who the doctor is, conflict arises and her emotions are torn between her hometown boyfriend and the boy she always loved.

Tell me where to send your book by clicking HERE!

Or you can learn more about the list right HERE

Fairy Wings and Dragonflies Cover Reveal

 

Fairy Wings & Dragonflies (Book One)

Back Blurb:

Summer break is starting tomorrow and thirteen-year-old Willow is dreading it as she drifts off to sleep. With only the daytime company of her big, black cat, Sammy, Willow would much rather be in school than spend all day at home where she will have to face boredom and loneliness.

Waking up in the night as Sammy heavily lands on her, Willow’s eyes pop open to find her cat wildly chasing something around the room and thinks it must be a bird. Jumping out of bed to throw the window open, Willow frantically rushes after Sammy, trying to keep him from attacking so that the bird can fly free.

A pouncing Sammy catches the creature and Willow hurries over, finally getting a good look at what she can’t believe is there. Shaking her head and squeezing her eyes closed in disbelief, when she opens them again, the shimmery wings that Willow just saw haven’t disappeared. They are still there.

Before she can get any answers, the enchanted creature escapes and Willow realizes that a magical realm surrounds her–a world she hadn’t believed in. A world right outside of her window. And, although completely unaware as she looks out into the night, Willow will soon discover that she is very much a part of the magic.

How to be a Minimalist With Kids: Figuring it out Part 2 (Finding YOUR Kind of Minimalism)

If you remember my last post on Minimalism and sacrificing the junk–both physical and emotional–in your life to get what you want, you might remember that I said that I would be spending the next 30 minutes cleaning with my kids. Well, life happened and my son ended up getting a pretty nasty cut instead. He’s fine–just really freaked out by wounds, though his pain tolerance is super high.

Anyway, I went upstairs later that night, looked in my son’s room, then my daughter’s room and I was reminded of a light bulb moment that I had previously had. Everyone needs a different amount of stuff, so everybody’s version of minimalism–should they choose to practice it–will look different.

Feel free to read our ongoing journey, or skip to the tips bullet-pointed below!

Did you know that I happen to not eat meat/fish/chicken? I also happen to try to avoid most dairy products and try my best to eat lots of whole grains, fruits and veggies. If you were to put a name to this, it might be Vegetarian, Plant-Based, Vegan, Herbivore, Crazy or who knows what else! After having lived with a few health issues and completely involving myself in the world of Vegetarians and Vegans, I’ve learned that my body isn’t stereotypical and I just can’t camp 100% with most of those titles.

What it comes down to is that I don’t want somebody’s ideals imposed upon me–I want to eat to choose for myself. To illustrate this point, I’ve got the perfect story for you. I was once given a plate of rice and veggies at a social event. I was very grateful that they had made a plate for me that didn’t include meat and was about to take a bite when the person that gave it to me questioned whether I would eat the rice or not–it had been made with chicken stock.

I thanked said person that seemed to be testing me, told them that I had noticed, but that I would go ahead and eat it anyway–I didn’t want to make a fuss when they had already gone to the trouble for me. What I didn’t say aloud was that, along with not wanting to be rude, I also didn’t want to disrespect the life of the chicken by wasting the food that graced the table due to said chicken. While I wouldn’t eat full-on pieces of meat due to health reasons as well as having gotten an aversion as a child that led to not wanting to eat animals, at the time, I just didn’t feel it would be right to not eat the rice and throw it in the garbage.

The woman then said some of the words that made me begin to realize that I didn’t like sharing with others that I was Vegan. In a snippy tone and loud enough for everyone at the table to hear, she said, “So then, you’re not really a Vegan,” and walked away. Honestly, it was humiliating. And it made me mad. As I’ve thought about it over the years (yes, I need to let it go), I’ve decided to not stand in those camps and I created my own because this is my life and I want to do things my own way.

Why do I tell you this? Well, calling yourself a Minimalist might bring on strong reactions from others and I want you to know that–in my opinion–it’s ok to find your own kind of Minimalism. That’s exactly what my husband and I are doing.

Honestly, this is what I didn’t understand when I rejected Minimalism after clearing out 75% of our stuff five years ago. Making Minimalism work for 1-2 people is very different from 1-2 people plus 1 or more children that are four years old or older. Instead of rejecting it, I wish I would have made it work for me/my family in our own way.

Everyone needs a different amount of stuff to be fulfilled in their lives. My son needs more stuff than my daughter. Not realizing this fully simply caused me to ditch minimalism, which resulted in too many toys for my kids–particularly my daughter–and then not teaching my son to share with others what he didn’t need anymore. So, now they have too much stuff because we bought things for our daughter that she would never play with, while I indulged in allowing my son to accumulate and not let go.

As I talked about in my last post, too much “stuff” gets in the way of actually living. It takes too much time to care for it all, costs too much money to purchase it all, and gets in the way of achieving dreams. On the flip side, not finding your kind of minimalism might make you give up if you find it overwhelming to persuade your teenager, spouse or ten children to donate/sell 75% of their stuff.

Here are some tips on finding your kind of Minimalism:

  • Your kind of minimalism might mean none, one or two of an item–it’s all about what is actually useful to you. A question you might ask yourself–and your family–as you sort through items: Is it more valuable to have this item and all of the care/space that comes with it, or is it more valuable to donate it and have that time/space back? What will bring us more time and value to our lives?
  • Our kids are going to have a different kind of minimalism. Work with them to get their spaces in order, be calm, and remember that they may value certain items differently than you do. Letting them choose to keep one item over another will help them feel empowered, in control of their possessions, and (even if they get rid of something that they regret down the road) will help them to practice decision-making skills.
  • My kids have more hobbies/sets of items than they have time to use. We will be sorting said items into groups, then doing the following: We’ll require them to sell/donate a determined number of sets, then we’ll require them to box up a determined number of sets to go into the garage for a few months in order to swap toys out and make space in their rooms. If the toys in the garage haven’t been asked for or missed, we’ll address whether they should be kept or ditched at that time.
  • Set a 30-minute timer to sort through items to give away! Since the last post, we’ve been doing this and it works very well. As I work in their rooms with my kids, I know the clock is ticking, so we work quickly. Decisions are made more easily because we work fast and don’t have time to think about emotional attachments. Pull out a timer–you won’t regret it!
  • Offer a reward! Although I put this in the last post, I think it’s worth noting once more. I want my kids to know that having less has its benefits! Just don’t give them an object as a reward. It needs to be an activity or something that is used up; i.e. candy, going out for french fries, going to the park, watching a movie, going to a museum, going for a nature walk, etc.. I’ve been offering a reward for each cleaning session that we get rid of stuff. They really want the reward, so they’re more willing to part with stuff!
  • Make a goal and then work on it together! Although I am overwhelmed by their mess and all that needs to be done over time, I’ve been making goals for each of my kids, as well as myself, for each cleaning session. For example, today I worked on books and stuffed animals while they cleaned up crafting projects in their rooms. Once we were done, I didn’t complain about how much was left, I simply told them that they’d done a good job, told them it looked better and let them know that I was glad they were working hard, even though they aren’t really happy about letting go of so much stuff.
  • If you know your kids have way too much stuff, but they’re not too keen on letting stuff go, set a number of items to be donated, or assign a space that a certain collection must fit into. As an example, today when we worked through the stuffed animals, I told my kids that the stuffies had to fit in our toy bench. I would hold up an item and ask if it was ok to donate, if they said yes, it was tossed into the bag quickly so that the little stuffed animal eyes didn’t get to them with their sad, pseudo fur faces. If my kids said no, then I said, ok, but find something else that you will donate instead. It worked quite well and I have a garbage bag of donated stuffies, now. While somebody else might not think that the toy bench full of stuffed animals is very minimalist, for my kids, it is. They actually play with the ones that are left!
  • Accept your goals, efforts, and journey to your kind of minimalism! It’s ok if your kind of minimalism looks different to somebody else–isn’t Minimalism living with less and only what you need in order to live a richer life? If you’re doing that or making your way to it, I’d say you’re right on track. Even if it means that you have a few more items than the Minimalist Next Door.

What does Minimalism have to do with my author blog and author efforts? If you remember in this post, I talked about my goals to be a successful independent author and the sacrifices that I need to make in order to do so. My husband and I have a major goal and getting rid of the excess “stuff” is one of many steps toward said goal. And, as we take certain steps, I’ll be sharing our goal with you. We’re just not quite ready for that yet!

So, I want to be a successful author and am sacrificing in order to do so. What goal is your “stuff” sucking time away from?

If you’d like to support my efforts to become a successful author, please take a look at my books HERE–every purchase or kindle page read makes a difference! Thanks in advance!

Also, if you’ve already read my books, will you please leave a review? I honestly can’t tell you how important that social validation is on Amazon! It makes a huge difference in determining whether a customer will try my book or not. Thank you!

Live Piano Composition Session

Did you know that I’ve started performing LIVE piano composition sessions on Instagram Live?

It’s true! I sat at my piano and composed piano pieces on the spot tonight. It was really fun!

I have a Bachelor’s in Piano Performance and music composition is a major part of the way that I create story lines and develop characters. I’ve been trying to find an interesting way of showing/sharing this part of my creative process with you, so I was excited when the idea came to me–why don’t I compose live?

Honestly, I’ve been playing through my stories for so many years now and I do this several days of the week, anyway, I decided I might as well let you all be a part of that process!

So, you can find me on Instagram HERE, and I’ll be performing another live piano composition session again on Monday, April 17th if you’re interested in hanging out with me while I jam. I’ll likely start playing around 8:30, though that time is tentative and I will post on Instagram on Monday the exact time. Go ahead and click that FOLLOW button in order to stay up to date if you’re interested. I hope to see you there!

How to be a Minimalist with Kids: Figuring it Out Part 1 (Words into Actions)

If you remember my last post, you’ll recall that I was talking about becoming a successful author. And minimalism. And yes, they were related topics! We definitely need to sacrifice physical and emotional things in order to change and get something that we want. This post will include key parts of our ongoing journey to living intentionally, as well as some tips below!

Some of you may know that about five years ago, my husband and I got rid of 75% of our things and our house was usually super clean. We also had more time and money to do some things that we wanted to do. It was great! However, our children were two and four at the time, and the four year-old was never terribly interested in “things”, but rather, events or activities. Smart girl, that one. I want to be like her when I grow up 🙂

As our son got older, he had many stereotypical boy interests and he soon had trains and building toys and cars and remote control whatevers. It was a slow build-up over a couple of years and it was at this point that I sort of rejected minimalism as something that only worked for singles, couples, and people with very young children–not those with kids that accumulated things due to hobbies. I mean, have you seen those lists of “toys” from the most extreme minimalists? I think the last post that I read on how to be a minimalist with kids included a picture of a–YOUNG–child that had a shoe-box sized box of toys. And that was it.

That would not work for my boy.

It was during this time that I felt that my kids were accumulating belongings and then that stuff would stick around as they got more things and it seemed as if they used all of it, so how could we get rid of it? We also try to live within our budget, so buying toys again after we’ve gotten rid of them isn’t something we’re interested in.

However, there has been a shift. I’ve realized that my kids really have grown out of certain things (whether I like them getting older or not). My daughter has become more invested in books and activities while my son has stopped playing with certain toys as he focuses on others.

The outgrown toys have remained on their shelves, though. We haven’t gotten rid of much of anything in a while and my son’s room now kind of looks like a hoarder’s room. Looking around, I wonder how on earth it happened and how many hours it’s going to take to clean it up and sort it out.

The other problem? While my daughter has willingly and gladly given certain toys away, my boy has become sentimentally attached to his belongings. So, now he has a room full of stuff that makes a giant mess, that he can’t even imagine living without. And it’s more than he can care for on his own.

Yes, you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t have scoffed at that shoe-box of “toys” that included a string of beads and a wooden sewing needle with yarn.

Going through their rooms with giant giveaway bags is probably a horrible idea, but I’ve come to the point where something must change. So, what have I done? I’ve decided to be the example. I’ve been piling things up that I’m ready to get rid of and sticking them in plain sight so that my children can see my sacrifices for change.

I went through my kitchen and wardrobe first and found the things that had lost value, usefulness, and meaning. I think that these two areas have been pretty easy to start with. First off, if you’re the in-home chef and like me, you get tired of looking at certain things anyway, so getting rid of them isn’t too bad. And certain items of clothing have been classified as traitors because they’ve grown too small, so it’s easy to get rid of a bad relationship with a shirt, as well.

Wherever you start, though, here are some tips that will, hopefully, add to your success.

BEGINNING THE “MINIMALISM WITH KIDS JOURNEY” TIPS:

  • First off, possessions hold memories, both good and bad. KEEP CALM!! It’s ok if it takes a little time, or if you aren’t ready to let go of certain things yet. Do a little at a time and you’ll be able to work through the process much more happily. This applies whether you’re working through your stuff, or others’ possessions.
  • SET A TIMER. I’m going to spend the next thirty minutes working on my kids’ rooms. WITH THEM, of course. It might be frustrating, difficult, or emotional. Isn’t cleaning kiddo rooms always? Setting a timer will help all of us to have a goal and a vision of relief from a possibly stressful situation. Whether you’re working with kids or alone, setting a timer is a great idea!
  • OFFER A REWARD. I told my kiddos that, once we’ve worked through our timer, there will be a reward when they are done. I want them to immediately feel the benefits of having less stuff, so I’m going to offer to take them to the park, the library, have a popsicle, watch a movie together, read a book to them, play a game with them, work in the garden together, or something else. This gets a little tricky, because our rewards are often things. I want them to know that they are missing out on experiences when we aren’t living intentionally and our stuff takes away our time as we have to spend excess time to take care of it. Ultimately, I want my children to value experiences more than things. And, don’t forget! Offer a reward to yourself! A beautiful truffle, cup of tea, manicure, a nap, an extra chapter of a book or going on a walk.
  • PICK AN EASY AREA TO START WITH. I chose the kitchen on purpose! When I had finally found a much-needed set of pots to replace the ones I’ve got, I knew that I didn’t want to have both sets cluttering up my kitchen. So, getting rid of those pots was the first step and replacing them with a new, more functional, WAY SMALLER set felt great. Once those pots had started a pile, I added several items to it, then full-on attacked it the next day. One last attack, and the kitchen will be much less cluttered and full of things that are useful to me. Starting with sentimental items, or things that’ll take a lot of time to sort out will likely be discouraging.
  • GRAB GARBAGE FIRST. If you feel overwhelmed by your stuff, getting rid of things sounds awful to you, or you have a busy schedule, easier is better–you need doable! Grab a garbage can or bag and go through an area, room or your whole house. Toss old receipts that you don’t need, junk mail, that sock with a hole in it, or things that can’t be sold/donated that you don’t want around anymore. Going through it quickly makes this process easy and fast! You’ll notice the difference quickly, which will be motivating, and you will have less to visually overwhelm you so that you can actually see what you need to get rid of.

One thing to note is that, while many things can be purchased again if you free yourself of it too quickly, sometimes that’s just a hassle. Try putting items that you’re uncertain of in a dated box. Items that you pull out to use might be worth keeping and in fitting with YOUR kind of minimalism. For instance, I cook and bake a lot. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it to keep my two sets of measuring cups and measuring spoons–often having two sets makes the process a lot quicker. However, it’s also more to clean up and store. I’m going to decide what has more value, then keep or get rid of the items.

While being an example isn’t going to make my kids suddenly want to get rid of everything that they don’t use anymore, I have noticed them adding a few things to the pile, which is extremely encouraging. Now that the pile has been started and as we discuss the benefits of having less, we will slowly go through their things together, so that they feel comfortable and confident that their opinions and possessions are respected.

That confidence is important–I feel strongly that kids need to be respected in regard to their belongings. I do not want to create hoarding tendencies in my children simply because I forced them to get rid of stuff that they weren’t ready to let go of yet. This can often make kids hold on to things even tighter because they feel that they could be taken away at any moment.

Going back to my first post: I want to be a successful author. I will be sacrificing a bunch of my “stuff”–emotional and physical–in order to have that dream become a reality. Amidst trying to flip our house in order to live that and other family dreams, I don’t have time to take care of a whole bunch of possessions that have completely lost their meaning and value.

Ultimately, if I feel that way, I know that it’s affecting my kids, husband and our family as a whole. So, I’m beginning by putting my words into action and helping them to see that I’m happier with having less to care for, more time to enjoy life, and feeling great that my old possessions can better the lives of other people.

What about you? Has the spring cleaning/minimalism bug bitten you, yet? What are you doing to add value to your life?

Your support is SO APPRECIATED!! If you enjoyed this article, please consider purchasing one of my books, grabbing a free one to review, sign up for a Readers’ List, or telling a friend/sharing this article with the buttons below.

It’s not easy being an indie author, but I’m determined! Feel free to click the links above to support my goals and I’ll keep the info and books coming!

How to Become a Successful Author – Beginning the Winding Journey

My kids and I went on a walk recently and when I looked back, a profound thought struck. I’d been thinking about my journey as an author and this little pathway that my kids demanded I adhere to, and strictly, was a lot like my travels as a writer. Winding and wavering, but still, mostly a straight line from point A to B.

It seems that most people (including my old self) make a lot of assumptions when you say that you’re going to publish a book. They make assumptions about how long it takes to get published, the actual process of turning your manuscript in to publishers/agents, the amount of money you get, how much marketing and publicity you’ll get once a manuscript is actually contracted by a publisher, and where they will find your book. No, it likely won’t be on a physical bookshelf at any major retailer, let alone all of them.

After a short dabbling with rejections and offers of publication, followed by a whole lot of study of the independent author journey, I decided that I didn’t like the realities of the prospects of getting traditionally published and decided to take the indie author path. And, even though I’m just starting this journey and I can’t predict the future, I’m glad I chose this path.

As I’ve looked back, though, it hasn’t been a straight shot and the road of this path behind me is so similar to many in life. We sometimes believe that our road will be a straight line from point A to point B and, although we know that achieving our goals won’t always be easy, we don’t realize what this path will really be like. As in, we don’t realize that A to B is more like a zig-zag line with about 50 different points.

Also, B isn’t usually what we think it will look like, so it’s really more like A to D–just a little off from that B that we were trying to achieve.

On this journey, I’ve been finding a question placed before me over and over. The question is, “What do you really want?” As I answer that question, I believe that I can have what I want, but like point A to B, I’m find that what I really want is point D…or E.

Once again, answering this question has led me on a different journey than I thought I would face, but I feel that being honest with myself is going to help me to have a life that I want for myself and my family.

The difficult part? Sacrificing those things that aren’t helping me to get where I want to go or that are directly or indirectly blocking my way. Things that take up too much time, things that take up too much energy, and things that take up too much emotion.

A few years ago, my husband and I got rid of 75% of our possessions and it was awesome! I felt free to do what I wanted and we focused on life instead of things. However, things have a way of creeping into life and so I would definitely say that we are no longer practicing minimalism.

I’ve realized that some of these possessions are keeping me from my author goals and as I look around, we’ve traded a certain amount of our life for things again.

Minimalism and becoming an author don’t really sound like they have much in common, but becoming a successful author is my goal and my things are taking up too much time and energy. They’re taking up writing time, editing time and when my house is messy, my creativity is stifled.

It’s interesting to me how, when we have a goal that we are completely determined to succeed in, light shines on the stuff that we have ignored for a long time; stuff that we didn’t realize was getting in the way and sucking away our energy.

So! I’ll be filling you in about our journey to living that more intentional life–one where stuff doesn’t get in the way of goals, happiness and those experiences that are truly important.

To be successful at something always requires some kind of sacrifice. I feel that this idea of asking yourself, “What do I really want?” combined with ridding yourself of long-ignored road blocks can make us successful in any goal. So, for me, becoming an author means getting rid of the material possessions in my house that are killing my creativity and taking up too much time to maintain. It means exercising so that my physical and mental health are on track. It means ruthlessly scheduling creative time. Ultimately, it means sacrificing the garbage in my life, which, when put that way, sounds like it should be easy! Of course, I know it won’t be.

Once again, I’m grateful that my books, writing, and generally being creative have thrown in front of me that question; What do I really want? It makes the winding journey much more meaningful.

What about you? Any goals that you’ve been working on?

Mary Gray Interviewed Me!

Video #4: Interview with Katie Coughran | Shifting to the Indie Author Mindset

I had so much fun doing this interview with Mary Gray! Not only was it great to geek out about author stuff, but Mary Gray really influenced me a lot when I was deciding whether to be an independent author or not. Her openness and kindness will always be appreciated.

https://i2.wp.com/marygraybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/OUR-SWEET-GUILLOTINE-004.jpeg?resize=228%2C365

 

As mentioned in the video, her latest novel will be out soon! Our Sweet Guillotine is a Historical Romance and if you act quickly, you might even be able to snag an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for an honest review on Amazon (I think it’s Amazon). Just head on over HERE to sign up in the sidebar.

Isn’t it pretty? And the synopsis sounds awesome, too. You can read that HERE. I loved A Tale of Two Cities, so I’m super excited to get my hands on Our Sweet Guillotine!

Please feel free to like the video, share this post, sign up for Mary’s Advanced Review team, or just snag her book when it comes out!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Broden and Cookie Merchandise!!

Look what I got!!! A Broden and Cookie mug!!!!

Let me tell you what! I have wanted some Broden and Cookie, Inheritance Aflame or Happy Scoops swag ever since I knew that my books would be published. Just ask my husband…he’s been trying to talk me away from the edge. Well, the day has come and I now even have my own little swag storefront that you can check out HERE!

With the amazing modern technology that we have, a little awesome swag merchandise is possible without me having to order 100 mugs in order to get one for myself! And if my supporters want to grab one for fun–they’re super cute, btw–they can order one and have it shipped right to their doorstep.

So, if you’re just dying to have a Broden and Cookie mug of your own, or want to grab one and a Broden and Cookie book to make up a little gift for a kiddo (Easter is coming, people!!), this could be the perfect solution. Just to let you know, I’m really happy with the quality of the printing and I got mine in about a week, which is pretty amazing for a create-on-demand item.

Also, once I got going, I had to design a few more mugs, which you can find by clicking HERE to get to my little swag store. These are just a few of them–you’ll have to head to the store to find the rest!

FrontFrontFront

If you’ve enjoyed these items, check back occasionally because I’ll likely be adding more goodies as time goes on. Also, most of the items will automatically have timers that reset. So, just because it seems like an item will expire, it probably won’t. And if an item does disappear, let me know at my address below and I’ll see what I can do for you!

Do you have an inspirational thought you’d love printed on a mug? Leave it in the comments or email me at KatieCoughran(at)KatieCoughran.com and I’ll see if I can get it up in my store!

10 Healthy Snacks for Authors or Anyone Else!

 

I’ll admit it–I love food. It’s delicious, there are so many different flavors and textures, it’s essential to survival and it brings people together. Food is also intimate–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten something lovingly prepared just for me, or given something that I took great care to prepare for somebody else.

The problem is, sometimes those foods I love contain a few too many calories, too much sugar, or whatever else that, in excess, isn’t healthy. Another problem is that I sit at the laptop for at least a few hours every day in the early mornings and late evenings as I write out my stories and articles for you to read. While totally fulfilling, I’ve been working on eating less garbage and dictating a lot more so that I am a healthy author.

While I still have to eat, I’ve got a list of snack foods that can help with the munchies without totally killing your health goals.

Before I get started, though, let me just say one thing. Powdered Peanut Butter–have you guys seen this stuff? My amazing friend showed it to me recently and I absolutely ADORE it! I’ve tried a couple of brands, but I’ve got the PBfit brand (no affiliate links in this post) right now. They extract most of the oil out of it, then you can use it powdered or reconstitute it with water or almond milk.

It’s in an idea or two in the list below and you should totally check it out–it’s changed my life! Well, maybe that’s a little dramatic. It’s made my life a little easier as I try to navigate what I deem to be a healthy diet for my family and me.

  1. Rice Cakes and Peanut Butter–the powdered kind

Did your mom/grandma/aunt/friend ever go through a phase of eating lots of rice cakes? Yeah, well, now I know why a few every woman I know has gone through a rice cake stage. They are something to eat when you’re trying to take care of yourself, but also trying to make sure you’re not eating a bunch of garbage that makes you feel like garbage!

You can only eat so many plain rice cakes before they taste like packing peanuts, though.

If you reconstitute the powdered peanut butter with a little almond milk or water, you get that amazing nut taste, but with so few calories! Spread that on a lightly salted rice cake (35 calories for the Quaker brand), and you’ve got yourself a treat of about 60 calories that’s satisfying, but low in calories and, imo, pretty healthy.

  2. Veggies and Hummus

While veggies are delicious on their own, I’m not prone to simply grabbing a carrot and eating it. They have to be cut up prettily, tossed in a yummy salad, or, one of my favorites–dipped in hummus.

You have to be careful, because hummus can be really fattening/high in calories, however, there are lots of recipes–check THIS one out–that taste great and have less fat than store-bought.

  3. Popcorn

Yes, we’ve heard this one a million times, but do you remember how few calories there are in air-popped popcorn? About 35 per popped cup!! Don’t have an air-popper? You can easily pop 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn it in a pot in about 1 TBS of oil, which doesn’t make it that much more, calore-wise, per popped cup.

The thing about popcorn is, you can throw stuff on it! Try putting some in a few taster bowls, do a short spritz of Pam to get your stuff to stick, then try curry, salt and pepper, cinnamon sugar, my beloved powdered peanut butter mixed with cocoa powder, garlic and parm, or whatever! Don’t limit yourself, friends. It can taste good and be a healthy, low-calorie snack.

You might even want to check out some gourmet popcorn sites to get some flavor ideas.

  4. Smoothies

I love chocolate. I would eat it 10:00 a.m. or later. Not before then, though–that’s just crazy…or so I tell myself.

However, with how addictive that stuff that tastes like heaven is, I’ve been trying to avoid it, lately.

Cocoa powder is a different story, though. While it’s not See’s candy, a tub of Haagen-Daz, or decadent homemade brownies, it has powers of taste when it comes to a smoothie.

Taking it for what it is, a brown-spotted banana will make the recipe below taste like a chocolate milk shake, which you can sip on while you sit and hammer out a thousand words.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Smoothie

2 Bananas, frozen and over-ripe to make them sweeter and less banana-flavorish

1-2 Cups unsweetened almond milk  (usually 30 calories per cup, yo!)

1 TBS cocoa powder

1.5 TBS powdered peanut butter (lower those calories/fat while getting the peanut butter taste, people!)

1 TBS smooth or chunky peanut butter (or just add another TBS of the powdered peanut butter)

 

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Riper bananas lose that banana flavor and mostly just taste sweet. If they’re not frozen, better blend with ice or pour it over ice or it will taste really gross. In my opinion!

  5. Oatmeal Peanut-Butter Bites

 

Mmm. Sometimes, the savory just won’t cut it. And sometimes you’ve already had 3 of the above chocolate smoothies for the day. What’s left? That’s right! Energy bites, balls, frozen cookie dough, or whatever you want to call them.

The problem with most recipes is, sure, you can eat them, but if you’ve got the munchies, one tiny ball that has 200 calories just isn’t going to cut it! These have a lower in caloric content, no processed sugar and, your daily caloric goals permitting, you can have more than one.

Just to let you know, though, these are some of the ingredients allowed in my limited dietary experiment right now, so if you want something that tastes like cookie-dough, you might want to try something else!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bites

3 TBS Old Fashioned Oats

2 TBS Powdered Peanut Butter

1 TBS Cocoa Powder

3 TBS Whole Grain Crispy Rice (THIS is the type I used)

1 TBS Honey (I use raw and local to help with allergies!)

1 TBS + 1 tsp regular peanut butter

Mix those ingredients up, people! You are probably going to think I’m crazy and be tempted to add in some milk or PB to bring it together, but I’ve done this many times and you just have to keep mashing it together with the back of your spoon. It will come together.

Of course, if you want to add more PB or a little milk, no prob! Just be aware that the milk might make your cereal a little soggy.

Form into 7-8 balls, then freeze to make them stick together.

***According to my ingredients and quick calculations, these are about 47 calories per ball if you make 7 out of the dough. I store them in the freezer and have no long how they keep.

  6. Salad

So, you probably read that and thought, gag me. I’m hungry, not looking for rabbit food advice.

However, if you’re watching your calories and want to munch on something, a big salad is one that keeps on going and going, takes up a bunch of stomach space that suppresses your appetite, and–depending on what you put in it–doesn’t have a lot of calories compared to volume.

You can even buy pre-bagged or boxed stuff so that you can just throw on a low-calorie dressing and start eating.

I love adding rinsed beans (garbanzo or black are my favs), a few tortilla chips crunched up, dried or fresh fruit, dried or fresh herbs, rice and I usually save some of my daily nut intake for my salads. Mmm. Actually, I’m eating a salad right now and it’s delicious as well as filling!

7. Pistachios

Ok. I know what you’re thinking! “Those aren’t low calorie and are full of fat!”

I’m not a nutritionist, however, I’m convinced that we are too quick to shun nuts and seeds. Unless you’re allergic, of course, and then shun away!

Think about everything it takes to grow a plant/tree/whateva. It’s all hanging out in that little nut or seed! And we can eat that and have those nutrients. Maybe it’s more about the nutritional value of the whole of what we eat, not just that something has fat or sugar or cat hair in it?

My bag of pistachios says 120 cals per 1/2 cup in-shell pistachios. Not bad at all! Especially for something that takes forever to eat.

8. Dried Fruit

While you can’t just go and eat a ton of dried fruit if you’re counting your calories, they are pretty amazing at satisfying that sweet craving. I’ve been buying dried fruit for years and tuck it in my cupboard, but I found this recipe for Cinnamon Apple Slices that I’ll be trying out!

9. Copycat Frito Bean Dip

I think my husband would go through a can of Frito Bean Dip every other day if they weren’t so expensive. I found this copycat recipe a few years ago–thank goodness!

Also! It’s a true copycat, taste-wise. It isn’t one of those recipes where they say that it tastes even better than the fried whatever recipe that they baked and are trying to trick you into enjoying. Whew! Rant over.

While tortilla chips have a lot of fat and calories, I’ve dipped baked tortilla chips, pita chips, veggies and crackers in this stuff. Man, it’s so good!

10. Baked French Fries

I really love good french fries. If they’re cold, soggy or floppy, there’s no way I’ll eat them, though. Since they’re loaded with fat and will make you retain 10 pounds in water weight with one bite, though, I try to not eat them very often.

Baked fries, though? They’re full of nutrients and skip out on most of the fat and water-retention.

Here’s a recipe that does, pretty much, what I do. Only difference–I toss mine in rosemary, garlic, onion powder and pepper as well as the salt. You can check out this recipe HERE.

 

So, there you have it! 10 Snacks that won’t totally kill your dietary standards or goals. Good luck and–I have to ask! Do you have any awesome, healthy snacks? Leave the ideas in the comments!

Also, please feel free to pin or share this post–I’d appreciate it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Ah, the sweet day of love has arrived! Whether you have a “Treat Yoself” day, or are prepared with heart-patched teddy-bears, I hope your day is fantastic!

If you’re less than prepared, may I suggest heading on over to my Pinterest Board, Valentine’s Day, to check out some of the fun ideas I’ve found from around the web. You can find some of my own pins there (Valentines for Book Lovers and Star Wars Treat Boxes), plus lots of awesome ideas from lots of other pinners.

Shameless plug: if you’re looking for a fun, clean romance to read for you or somebody else, you can grab Happy Scoops (Kindle Version) HERE. It’s a story about the girl you love to hate having to get dressed up as an ice cream cone to sign dance away her speeding tickets. And, of course, her love interest might end up being a sign-dancing sandwich. What doesn’t sound amazing about that story???

However you choose to celebrate, have a wonderful day!