This week’s Writer Wednesday is a little different. Instead of talking to a romance writer, I’ve invited Roni Noone and Carla Birnberg, bloggers and authors of “What You Can When You Can: Healthy Living on Your Terms.”

The blurb:

#wycwyc | Roni Noone & Carla BirnbergWe all know we should eat better, exercise more, get better quality rest, and so on. Tell us something we don’t know, right? After all, every statistic we have about Americans and our health proves that no matter how good our intentions are, we are failing to change the habits that undermine our well-being. But how do we achieve our healthy living goals when they’re so daunting? Who has the time, the willpower, the resources to do all that nutritious eating, muscle building, restful sleeping, and work-life balancing?

Carla Birnberg and Roni Noone have the answer to that—the answer is you. You have the power to make healthier living easy and exciting, just by adopting one simple mantra: “What you can when you can.” It’s all you need.

What You Can When You Can (#wycwyc) is a book, a movement, a mindset, and a lifestyle—one that harnesses the power of small steps to let you achieve your health and fitness goals on YOUR terms. The #wycwyc (pronounced “wickwick”) philosophy applies to anything and everything that contributes to a healthy, happy life: nutrition, exercise, physical and mental rejuvenation, and so much more.

The movement has its own hashtag (#wycwyc — pronounced wick-wick) and there’s a podcast, which I eagerly download every week.

You might ask why I’m such a fan? I’ve been following both Roni’s and Carla’s blogs for years, and when I heard they’d be writing a book that summed up this approach to healthy living, I was thrilled.

Too often, I fall into the perfection trap. If I’m not eating according to whatever diet plan I’m trying to follow at the moment, I throw in the towel and binge. If I can’t take an 45-minute walk, I don’t walk at all. #wycwyc is a reminder to strive for progress, not perfection.

We authors can be a particularly unhealthy lot, sitting at our computers for hours on end. Relying on takeout. Downing sugary coffee drinks like they’re going out of style.

Is that just me? Sorry.

But seriously. Life doesn’t have to be all or nothing. With each podcast, tweet and photo on Instagram, Roni and Carla remind me that every moment offers a chance to make a better, healthier decision.

Let’s get to know Roni and Carla with a round of “This or That.”

Snack of choice: sweet or salty?

Roni: Salty then sweet!

Carla: Salty salty salty. Years ago when my daughter was tiny she looked me in the eye one morning and said: Dada has a sweet tooth. I felt pretty prideful for a fleeting moment until she took a breath and continued with: and you have a really bad salt tooth. Ahh well….

Night owl or early bird?

Roni: Ex-Night owl turned early bird. Hey, you got to do what you got to do.

Carla: I am so much of a lark I often cross friends in the hallway – the metaphorical hallway 🙂 – as they are going to sleep and I am getting up to start my day. Especially my friends in the west coast now that I am a central time zone’er.  4 AM. Pretty much seven days a week. I treasure the quiet morning hours for writing.

Cardio or yoga?

Roni: Yoga for sure!! Although I do like a good run now and then.

Carla: Either. I’m a traveler and I will take it to how I can get it.

Would you rather travel to the past or the future?

Roni: Future for sure! I’m fascinated with how much progress we’ve made an a society and culture and I’d love to see what the future holds.

Carla: Either. I’m a traveler and I will take it to how I can get it.

Star Trek captain: Kirk or Picard?

Roni: Hands down, Kirk. Gotta love the cheesy original.

Carla: Either. I’ve never seen an episode. I know, I’ve been told that’s blasphemy.

Note from Arlene: Total blasphemy. Now I’m not sure we can be friends. 😉

Mac or PC?

Roni: Another switch for me. Started out PC and now I’m a MAC user. Although I love Android on my phone.

Carla: I’m a habit gurl. I was PC for decades, but now that I’ve switched to Mac I think I may never go back.

Arlene again: Okay, that redeemed you … Die-hard Mac grrrl in the house!

Get your greens: lettuce or kale?

Roni: Kale. Kale. Kale. Kale. KALE!

Carla: Both but in entirely different fashions: The lettuce is in salads etc. the kale is always shoved into my vitamix blender and whirled until it’s unrecognizable.

It’s vacation time: Beach or mountains?

Roni: Beach. Nothing beats the feel of sand on my feet and the sound of the ocean.

Carla: 20 years ago I would have said beach. I don’t know if it’s growing up or simply changing – but I am a mountain woman now. Long hikes, fresh air, and nights spent reading.

Solo or group exerciser?

Roni: Group all the way! I’m super social and love working out with people.

Carla: My entire approach to fitness is fitting it in where I can. Completely our what you can when you can philosophy. So it all depends on who’s around when I feel the spontaneity and the time is there. If I’m at a playground I usually drag in companions 🙂

With unlimited funds at your disposal, would you hire a personal chef or personal trainer?

Roni: Trainer. I love to cook so this one was easy.

Carla: Neither. I’m such a boring plain eater I don’t need the chef and let’s just say I don’t respond well to personal trainers. I owned a boutique training studio in the early 90s and, while I like to think I was a fantastic trainer, my response to encouragement or people cheering me on is often to stop. I’m an enigma wrapped in a riddle who would probably donate the majority of the funds.

Jocks or nerds?

Roni: I’ve always associated with nerds but the more I workout and get into fitness, jocks are growing on me!

Carla: Both and neither. The older I get the more I’ve learned one label does not fit most individuals. Nocks 🙂

Shopping bags: paper, plastic or reusable?

Roni: *sigh* I would love to say reusable but I usually forget them! So I normally use plastic BUT I get a lot of use from them at home for things.

Carla: Reusable. After spending two years in Oakland California where it was a nonnegotiable I have finally learned to always be prepared. That said, my real answer would probably be backpack. I’m never go anywhere without my backpack and that’s where I tend to shove all of my groceries 🙂

More about the authors:

Carla Birnberg | #wycwycCarla Birnberg is an award-winning writer, speaker, healthy living and fitness expert, community builder, and social media maven. With “unapologetically myself” as her motto, Birnberg encourages others to carve their own unique paths to longer, healthier, and more vibrant lives. She has been published in Woman’s Day, the Wall Street Journal, Runner’s World, Better Homes and Gardens, and Health, in addition to numerous other publications. Shape magazine named Birnberg one of the top 15 fitness gurus to follow on Twitter, alongside Jillian Michaels, and Fitness magazine listed Birnberg’s blog as one of their favorites. To learn more about Carla, visit CarlaBirnberg.com

Roni Noone | #wycwycRoni Noone has founded and runs several healthy living blogs including Roni’s Weigh, GreenLiteBites, and a supportive online community called BlogToLose, where now more than 6,000 users are blogging to reach their own weight-loss goals. She used her blogs to not only shed 70 pounds, but to start a running habit, get over a fear of weight training, complete two marathons and run seven Tough Mudders, yes, seven. Roni has been featured by many media outlets including CNN, the Today show, Inside Edition, Ladies Home Journal, Everyday Health, Woman’s World, Woman’s Day, and Wired. To learn more about Roni, visit RoniNoone.com

#wycwyc online: wycwyc.com

Anyone want to join me in #wycwyc-ing our way to better health?

June 27, 2015

Excerpts

2 comments

LynnSexySaturday_bannerHappy Saturday! I try not to get political here—not because I have no opinions about what’s going on in the world but because I write to entertain readers, not preach my worldview. No doubt, readers could care less how I feel about gun control, Confederate flag-waving—or any flag-waving, for that matter—and same-sex unions.

However, I can’t let the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage go unremarked. Love is love. Period. And on Friday, love won.

Thanks, SCOTUS, for joining the new millennium. I’m proud that, in the words of President Obama, the court’s ruling has “made our union is a little more perfect.”

“This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts,” Obama said. “When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

In honor of the court’s decision, I’m sharing a snippet from BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER for My Sexy Saturday this week. Matt Thatcher, the hero of BEAUTY, has a brother who happens to be gay. (He’s also a stylist, which a few judges dinged me for when BEAUTY was making the contest rounds. Too stereotypical, they said…but in my mind, at least, Stan is a well-rounded guy. If I didn’t convey that…well, that’s on me.)

In this scene, it’s the morning after Matt and Meg have sex for the first time. Matt, in the heat of the moment, told her it didn’t matter that she was pregnant…but now he’s having second thoughts. In a panic, he calls his brother Stan, who already knew Meg’s secret because she’d told him in the stylist’s chair.  Stan, ever a straight-shooter, wastes no time laying into Matt: “Oh God. Tell me you didn’t feed her some line so you could sleep with her.”

Happy reading!

***

Beauty and the Ballplayer | Arlene Hittle

Stan’s reaction stunned him into silence. That’s exactly what he’d done, even if he hadn’t been conscious of it at the time. When he rediscovered his voice, he asked, “Why would that be so terrible?”

“That girl needs a man with staying power you have yet to demonstrate.”

Stan’s accusation hit him with the power of a 105 mph fastball, and Matt sank to the floor again. His butt hit the carpet with a soft “thunk.” His brother was right. These days, his relationships lasted no longer than Greg’s.

“Please tell me you’re still in the same room with her. Meg’ll feel abandoned all over again if you’re not there when she wakes up.”

Odd that Stan was more concerned about Meg than his own flesh and blood. “Are you forgetting who you’re related to? I’m your brother.”

Stan’s silence spoke volumes. Wondering how he managed to convey such strong disapproval without saying a word, Matt sighed. “I’m in the hallway outside the room. Does that count?”

“Barely.” Stan sniffed. “I suggest you get back in there, pronto.”

BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER is available now at Turquoise Morning PressAmazonBarnes & NobleAll Romance eBooksSmashwordsKobo and iTunes.

And in August, it will be re-released as part of Turquoise Morning Press’ UNFORGETTABLE HEROES boxed set — a collection of 14 books from New York Times, USA Today and national bestselling authors. Preorder now and get BEAUTY and 13 other titles for just 99 cents on Aug. 25: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Writer Wednesday | Arlene HittleWe’re back!

This week’s Writer Wednesday guest is 2015 Golden Heart Finalist Caroline Bradley. Caroline’s “Indulge My Fantasy” finaled in the new Erotic Romance category, so you know it sizzles.

I’ve known Caroline — or at least her alter ego — for years. She’s tenacious and has a great sense of humor, keeping our little band of writers (the LaLaLas)  merry with her stories. I’ll let her bio speak for itself.

Though she seems like a mild-mannered office worker by day, Caroline Bradley writes at night, all night, every night. “Indulge My Fantasy” is her first toe dipped in the erotic waters but she enjoyed it so much, she’s back for more with her newest work-in-progress, “Heated Competition.” Her alter ego wrote contemporaries until Caroline decided to step in and take a walk on the wild side. She’s having so much fun, she may never go back.

Caroline lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her two teenage sons and a very boisterous cat named Mickey, after Mick from the “Rocky” movies. If you see her, chances are good her body is right there but her imagination is miles and miles away.

“Indulge My Fantasy” is either three 20k word erotic novellas or a 60k word erotic novel. Whoever wants to publish it can decide. 🙂

The blurb: Auto mechanic Grace Bennett is again indulging her mother’s OCD when she crosses paths with a broken down sedan on the side of a snowy country road. The driver is none other than the saving grace to this single woman’s sanity, the hottest actor in Hollywood, Aaron Elias. Snowed in overnight, they relate to each other faster than she thought possible but he has his world in California and she has hers in workaday Philadelphia. She’s certain when they go their separate ways, she’ll only be a passing memory for Aaron.

But she’s not. He brings her out to Malibu and tries to make her a part of his life. Even though they grow closer, in his world she feels like a round peg in a square hole. His life is more of a fantasy than even she could’ve imagined and she retreats back home, ready to put Aaron and his world behind her and go back to her every-day-the-same existence.

In Grace, Aaron has found the grounding he needed. Grace makes him see who he is and what he really wants. Until her, he’s only been mailing in his career, even though he says he wants to shoot for the stars. She shows him how but then she leaves. He chases her back to Philadelphia and makes her see, a little fantasy in life is what makes it worth living.

And because Caroline is letting no grass grow under her feet, she just put out her first book, Heated Competition. Here’s the blurb:

Heated Competition | Caroline BradleyPhys Ed teacher Lindsey Kincaid has spent two years running her ass off to rebuild the life her ex ruined. She depends on her coaching stipend from the cross-country team, and when colleague Gabe Shraeder sets his sights on taking over her team, she can’t back down. Why is the son of one of the richest families in three counties a high school teacher, anyway? Is slumming it the latest trend in noblesse oblige? But the varsity soccer coach is hotter than the track in July, and a harmless beer bet lands her in Gabe’s arms.

Lindsey would prefer if their casual spring break hook-up meant nothing, but Gabe turns out to be anything but casual. His touch reminds of things she misses like intimacy, pleasure, and companionship. With him, she’s not alone anymore; she doesn’t have to fight. But Gabe has secrets of his own.

Is Gabe trying to help her, or does he want to take over her team and her life? She’s done things she regretted to keep the home and the dream she still clings to. What in Gabe’s past will shape Lindsey’s future? In this Heated Competition, can either of them win?

Now, let’s move on to “This or That?”

Snack of choice: Sweet or salty? BOTH! I love mixing the two. Every Christmas (and sometimes before then) my kids and I make what we call Pretzel Buttons. Take Hanover Butter Snap pretzels (wagon wheel style will work too), lay them all flat on a baking sheet, then put an unwrapped Hershey Kiss on each one. Bake in the oven at 250 for 3 minutes. Take the sheet out and press an M&M into each half-melted Kiss (mush them in so the chocolate melts into the pretzel). Let cool and enjoy! (I’ve been told creativity in the kitchen relates to creativity in the bedroom.)

Sneakers or heels? Sneakers all the way. I’m a runner girl. There’s a magnet in my kitchen that says, “Forget the glass slippers; this princess wears running shoes!”

Cardio or yoga? All the above. Cardio because I love to run, yoga for strength and balance. Moderation in everything is key. Unless it’s…well, you know… <wink> Then go get all you can get.

E-book or print? I love my Kindle but books have their place too. I don’t see paper books ever going out of style, but being able to take my Kindle on the elliptical and letting it read to me? Priceless…except the text-to-voice option sometimes mispronounces things. That, too, can be quite amusing.

Bradley Cooper or Brad Pitt? With a name like Caroline Bradley, take a guess. I have a thing for men with blue eyes. Always have, always will. Besides, Brad Pitt is taken. Bradley Cooper is not. Yet. (He hasn’t met me yet.)

Plain ol’ lettuce or super-fancy kale? I actually prefer spinach in my salad to lettuce, but kale chips? OMG. I forget where I found the recipe but it’s the one time I can make two teenage boys fight over vegetables.

Find Caroline at carolinebradley.net or on Facebook at Caroline Bradley.

June 19, 2015

Musings

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Reviews are a funny thing. When you’re waiting to be published, published author friends warn you not to read them.

With good reason, I’ve realized.

A negative review has the power to make you doubt everything. When you encounter criticism, you can start to question your ability to string words into complete sentences, your self-worth, your fitness to live amongst human beings.

On the flip side, take too many positive reviews as the gospel truth and you might end up with an overinflated opinion of yourself and your writing. I don’t care how many people like a book, there’s always room for improvement.

Still, most of us — myself included — can’t help but sneak a peek at reviews from time to time. And, thanks to Amazon algorithms and whatnot, we’re always begging for reviews. Good or bad, a review helps a book’s visibility — and getting a book noticed on Amazon creates sales, which leads to money in the author’s pocket.

Start raking in enough pocket money, and that elusive goal of quitting the day job can become reality. What author doesn’t dream of that?

I was reading an e-newsletter from Goodreads or Createspace or somewhere else I can’t remember. In it, there was an interview with Susan Mallery. She said something about reviews that I don’t want to forget, so I made a quote card about it.

Feel free to share it with your friends!

Every review is a gift