No Time For A Writing Career? Do This

I think I'm the Queen of No Time. I've not been able to put together any marketing plan for my new books in the last few years. I've barely managed to publish a few books. It's been hit or miss due to a plethora of personal factors.

I'm not the only one in this situation. I can name nearly a dozen writer friends who have been dealing with Life problems during this same time period. In case you're going through something, I just wanted to offer a little advice based on what I did.

Things got better when I decided to quit beating myself up about the fact that Life just wasn't working out the way I wanted it too. Yeah, let's have a pity party. Whine. Whine. Whine. Based on the downward trend in Life, I already knew things could be a whole lot worse.

So I took stock of everything including the available time and what was really important to me. The answer, for me, was to take care of my family and also to keep writing.

Eventually, Life would turn around because that's just the way Life is. Things would get easier. But if I quit writing while dealing with problems, I would end up losing. Writing is a part of me. It makes me happy.

Keep Your Sanity—and Your Writing Career

1. If Life hands you lemons, learn to make the best damned pitcher of lemonade that ever existed.

Yes, deal with your problems the best you can, keep a good attitude, refuse to give in to negativity, and keep your hand in by continuing to do what you love. In my case, that's writing stories about women and men who are meant to be together because they are made for each other. Even if they don't know it yet.

2. While you're weathering the storm, keep up with what's going on in the book scene.

What books are popular? Which authors are popular? Who's writing ground-breaking, genre-bending books? What social media is helping authors? In other words, stay on top of the news and stay connected.

3. Refuse to believe that you have to do everything yourself.

Yes, writing, formatting, proofing, editing, marketing, publishing, hanging out on 27 different social media websites, etc.

Guess what? You really don't have to do all of that. You can barter services with knowledgeable friends or hire a freelancer if you can afford it.

As for social media, if you like it, and it lifts you up, by all means stay with it. Be realistic. No one can keep up with umpteen different social media sites. Pick and choose. Be really good at one or maybe even two, and let the others pass you by or maintain a minimal presence.

4. Avoid drifting through the days.

Time waits for no one. Even if you're doing non-writing things day after day, keep track of your time. The habit of thinking, "I'll do that tomorrow," is a habit that can ruin your writing life. Make a Day Planner or a calendar your best friend. If you're not writing, jot down in your calendar what you are doing.

You may find you actually have some time every day to write. If you are writing and have deadlines, then create milestones along the way to keep you on track so you're not writing 50,000 words the week before a deadline.

5. Refuse to compare your writing career, your books, or yourself to other authors.

Everyone's career is different just as your stories are different from any others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to do well. Keep writing. Comparing yourself to anyone else is just a one-way ticket to Envy Land. 

Takeaway Truth

Always believe that your situation will improve. Always believe in yourself. Always be writing.

Saturday Share: 7 Uses for White Vinegar

I'm blogging late today. Darling Hubby and I spent the day shopping at the gardening centers.

I scored 2 very large clay pots, 21" diameter, in a golden ocher glaze that I'll use on the front courtyard patio.

I had DH place a new pot on either side of a huge pot filled with blooming red dianthus in the middle and asparagus fern spilling over the rim all around.

It was a fun day. A few minutes ago when I was cleaning up after dinner, I refilled the spray bottle of white vinegar that I keep next to the kitchen sink.

So, I decided sharing uses for white distilled vinegar would be a good info post.

Why Use Vinegar for Cleaning?

A gallon of store brand white vinegar costs only $1.99 at Walmart, Kroger, Target, etc. Or you can buy the name brand like Heinz for $3.99. For that low price, you can do all the things listed below.

Spend pennies instead of dollars and always have an effective cleaning agent that won't harm the environment.

By the way, you might have seen "Cleaning Vinegar" in the stores recently. It costs more of course. There's a minor difference between "Cleaning Vinegar," which probably represents a new profit center, and white distilled vinegar.

Cleaning vinegar is reduced to 6% acidity instead of the 5% acidity of "regular" white vinegar. The label on cleaning vinegar says, "Safe for cooking, perfect for cleaning." Personally, I'll stick with the less expensive white distilled vinegar.

7 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar

1. Fill a spray bottle and use to clean your countertops. Vinegar is natural and biodegradable and possesses mild anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It won't kill staph, but it will kill less threatening bacteria. I use it instead of commercial products like Windex Multi Surface Cleaner (which costs $2.99 for 23 ounces!).

2. Keep your drains smelling clean by pouring 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain once a week. Let it set for half an hour then flush the drain with cold water.

3. If your drains are slow to, well, drain, do this. Do NOT lean over the drain while you do this treatment. Pour 1/4 cup of baking soda in the drain then 1 cup of vinegar. The resulting chemical reaction will "boil and bubble" and clean out the drain. After 15 minutes, flush the drain with very hot water.

4. Clean your microwave the easy way. Place 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a large microwave-safe measuring cup. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until steam forms on the microwave window. Carefully remove the hot cup, and you can wipe away food residue with a dishcloth or paper towel.

5. Use it in your laundry instead of bleach.

6. Pre-treat the underarm areas of light-colored clothing by spraying with white vinegar. It's not perspiration that causes stains there. It's the interaction of deodorant and perspiration. Keep a spray bottle by the washer. Spray the underarm area then toss in the washer. If the fabric is color-fast, you can spray vinegar even on dark clothing.

7. Speaking of color-fast...In today's world, many colored fabrics aren't color-fast. You can keep the colors from running before laundering simply by soaking them for about 10 minutes in a pan with 1 cup white distilled vinegar.

Takeaway Truth

There you have it—an easy inexpensive way to clean up around the house using something natural and biodegradable.

Know Someone Who Feels Isolated? Try This

Feeling isolated and alone? Or maybe it's your mom or dad or a grandparent who's feeling left behind.

Whether you're the one feeling isolated or a beloved elderly relative who's coping with that, here's some unusual advice I read about recently.

There is a lot of evidence that turning to voice-activated technology like Alexa or Siri or whatever the digital companion's name may be, actually helps people.

I know. It sounds silly, but it's a serious problem and this is a serious answer. With more than 8 million adults over 50 affected by isolation, this is a health issue as much as an emotional issue.

Isolation Is Unhealthy

It's when someone is emotionally and/or physically disconnected from family, friends, and community. It's not exactly loneliness, but prolonged isolation—or disconnection—is recognized as a risk factor for bad health. In fact, health experts say its impact is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Several senior communities have test programs underway to see if voice-activated technology can help mitigate the isolation many older adults feel. Loneliness can reduce a person's life expectancy by several years.

Interacting Even With a Tech Device Is Good
Even if you're young, you can feel isolated.


Early results show positive emotional response from adults who are interacting with the Amazon Alexa device. Interaction runs the gamut from asking Alexa to play music, give the news, tell a joke, access the community events calendar, listen to audio books, and play games to setting up reminders to take medication are bringing people out of their shells.

The device users also discuss the things they do with Alexa with each other, and it's not just Alexa. There are other voice-activated technology devices like Apple's HomePod which uses Siri as do iPhones, Google's Assistant, and Android Genie.

Takeaway Truth

I often gripe about technology because it seems the more tech dependent you are, the more problems you have. But I think it's wonderful that something like this can ease the isolation so many seniors, separated by distance from children and grandchildren, feel.

Review: The Devil We Know

Photo by Renato Danyi from Pexels
Today, I'm reviewing a real life horror story that affects every person on the planet.

After watching the documentary, The Devil We Know: The Chemistry of a Cover-Up, I was enraged, horrified, and sick to my stomach.

I felt all of that to think so many people put making bigger bucks ahead of the safety and health of people and the environment itself.

If you cook in Teflon® or use anything with Teflon® in it—you'd be surprised how many products contain this health hazard—please read on.

Then go watch The Devil We Know: The Chemistry of a Cover-Up. The embedded link takes you to the documentary's website. If you click See the Film, a window opens with a variety of options for viewing. Or, if you have Netflix, watch it free there.

What's It About?
Pexels Photo #67654 by Martin Foskett


Quoting from the website:

"The Devil We Know is the story of how one synthetic chemical, used to make Teflon products, contaminated a West Virginia community.

"But new research hints at a much broader problem: nearly all Americans are affected by exposure to non-stick chemicals in food, drinking water, and consumer products.

"With very little oversight on the chemical industry in this country, we invite you to learn more about the problem and how you can protect yourself and your family."

Oh. My. God.

From the website: "American babies are born pre-polluted with more than 200 chemicals in their blood, 180 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and animals." and "PFOA, also called C8, is a toxic chemical used to make Teflon. It's now in the blood of 99% of all Americans."

In viewing the documentary, I learned that researchers wanted a control group who had no Teflon in their blood in order to conduct a study of the dangers of Teflon. To find non-polluted blood, they had to go back to blood drawn from U.S. soldiers before they were sent overseas during the Korean Conflict.

Pexels Photo #568027 by Kat Jayne
It's horrifying to learn that there are 80,000 chemicals approved for use in products in the U.S. and very few of them have been adequately tested for safety in humans.

What's more horrifying is to learn that DuPont knew about the dangers.

In an infamous memo regarding whether to stay with Teflon or find a new chemical that would possess non-stick properties, a DuPont official wrote: "It's better to stay with the devil we know..."

After all, Teflon resulted in billions of dollars for the company.

When the excrement hit the fan, DuPont settled with claimants whose health, if not their very lives, had been ruined. In an extraordinary act of generosity, those named in the lawsuits used the money to set up a foundation to monitor residents of the contaminated community.

What did DuPont do? They sold the Teflon® licensing rights to a Chinese company then announced their "new" non-stick product, GenX®, which has been used in products after 2015. They moved their plant from West Virginia to south of Fayetteville, North Carolina, on the west bank of the Cape Fear River.

Is GenX Safe?

You can judge for yourself. Here are some articles to help you.

GenX found in vegetables grown near the Dutch plant.

What's GenX doing in the water downstream (of the Cape Fear River plant)

Chemours to clean up GenX and pay 12 Million dollar fine

But Wait There's More

Before I get more upset just writing this and remembering the scenes from the documentary, let me give you a list of products you might not realize contain PFOA aka C8 aka Teflon®—and maybe now GenX®.

Glide and other brands of Dental Floss (we switched to silk dental floss from Amazon)

Takeout containers like pizza boxes and sandwich wrappers

Non-stick pots, pans, and utensils of course (we put all our Teflon® items in the garbage)

Microwave Popcorn bags (quit using them a couple of years ago because of the trans fat issue)

Outdoor clothing

Camping tents

Stain-repellant or water-repellant clothing

Stain prevention treatments for clothing and furniture (Won't pay extra for stain-prevention on furniture ever again!)

Carpeting and stain-resistant carpet treatments (can't do anything about the carpet at this time)

Certain cosmetics, especially eye shadow, foundation, face powder, bronzer, and blush (I'm looking into all-natural cosmetics. I'll let you know what I find.)

Please, please, please... watch this documentary and share it with everyone you can.

Go to the documentary website and download their Tip Sheet: Avoiding PFAS, a Family of Chemicals You Don't Want Near Your Family.

You'll find the link near the bottom of the home page.

There is power in truth, and there is power in numbers. Re-think the convenience items you're using.

Changing to products without Teflon aka C8 aka PFOA or GenX, the "new" non-stick incarnation DuPont developed, may save your life.

Takeaway Truth

Be informed. What you don't know might kill you.

Tips for Buying the Right LED Bulbs

Farewell Incandescent Bulbs
We just finished changing all of the light bulbs in our house in the country to LED bulbs.

Why use LED? They use 80 to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs plus they last for years.

LED bulbs used to be super expensive, but the price has dropped a lot in the last 2 years.

I bought the ones we used at Costco, but you can find them just about everywhere now.

They come in all shapes and sizes now—even candelabra shapes for your chandelier and fan light styles for your ceiling fan light fixtures.

So much better than fluorescents
Essential Facts to Know About LED

Most of what I know I learned from our electrician who upgraded the lighting in our house in town and from the very helpful salesman at our local Batteries Plus Bulbs store.

1. If you are replacing incandescent or fluorescent bulbs in a dimmable fixture, you must buy an LED bulb that is rated dimmable.

2. The wattage is the actual power used by the bulb. The wattage an LED bulb pulls is far less than an incandescent bulb. So if you are replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb then you have a wide choice in LED bulbs since most rarely use over 20 watts.

3. To make sure you get the brightness you want, lumens is the measurement you should check. The more lumens, the brighter the light.

4.There are various shades of “whiteness” that LED bulbs come in.

Generally speaking, if the descriptive label says Soft White, then that’s for bedrooms and living rooms.

Cool white is used in bathrooms, and Daylight is the brightest white—usually used in outdoor fixtures, garages, and workshops.

If you find soft white is too “dim” for your vision, then get a bulb that’s Daylight white.

Takeaway Truth

They're worth the price and the effort to change out your bulbs. You'll save on your electric bill and be surprised at how much better the lighting is in your home.

Discover Your Happiness Autopilot

Have you heard of a Happiness Autopilot?

I read an article about research done at Duke University. It all has to do with habits.

I had an English teacher who was fond of quoting Benjamin Franklin who said: "In the beginning, man makes the habit. In the end, habits make the man."

Researchers found that more than 40% of a person's daily actions are habits that use no decision-making brain power. If you think about it, you realize that's totally true.

The researchers suggested taking 1 of the non-thinking activities and adding something small to it. Here are some ideas to get you started. Pick one and try it.

If you're successful, try adding another.

1. When you wake up in the morning, stretch and think of a memory that makes you happy. Recall every sensation of that memory. How things smelled, how it felt, etc. Let the memory wash over you.

2. When you wash your face and pat it dry, smile and tell yourself that it's going to be a wonderful day. Focus your thoughts on that affirmation.

3. When you get in bed at night, take a few minutes to think of one good thing that happened during your day and dwell on it.

4. Look at a photo of someone you love and let the feeling of that love wash over you.

Takeaway Truth

These tactics are supposed to create the habit of happiness, in effect, putting yourself on Happiness Autopilot.

Random Numbers: 7 Things You Can Do With Lemon

I have a lemon tree that produces Texas-sized lemons like this one I placed on top of a tuna can to show its size.

There are lots of  uses for lemons other than for food.

7 Things You Can Do With Lemon

1. Wash a cutting board first then sanitize it by squeezing half a lemon over it. Rub the juice in and let it set for 20 minutes. Then rinse with water. Better than using bleach.

2.Use to polish copper cookware. Sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt and polish away.

3. Use to brighten white clothes in the laundry by adding 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the wash load.

4. Save lemon peels because the oil in the rind is a natural bug repellent. Place strips of rind outside on window sills and near weep holes. Sprinkle in flower beds.

5. Mix together 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to have an inexpensive polish for leather or wooden furniture.

6. Make your own produce "disinfectant" to remove sprays from fruits and vegetables. In a clean reusable spray bottle, mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 cup of water. Shake well. Spray liberally on the fruit or vegetables.

7. I'm trying to go organic in gardening. I'll be replacing Round Up with lemon juice which is supposed to be an ultra-effective weed killer. You place it in a spray bottle and soak the unwanted plants with the stuff to kill them. Better lemon juice soak into the ground than glyphosate.

Takeaway Truth

My mom used to use natural cleansers she made from white vinegar and such. I do believe organic can be just as good as chemicals. You just have to find the right formula.