Sunday, December 22, 2013

Kindle edition of The Holiday Inn on sale for $.99!

It's the holidays, so why not help folks out with their book gift list? The Holiday Inn and Holiday Brides are available for just $.99 for the Kindle editions.
And look! As of 11:43, Holiday Brides is:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,586 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
I'm trying to get The Holiday Inn up there, too. Woot, woot!
Reviews for The Holiday Inn
Top Pick
THE HOLIDAY INN contains an expertly crafted trio of stories guaranteed to bring on your holiday spirit. Each of these novellas is smooth as a sip of eggnog and just as delicious. [. . .] I highly recommend this book. Each story is equally good and definitely above the norm quality-wise for holiday novellas. Sit back and enjoy it with the holiday libation of your choice!”
-- A Romance Reader at Heart
 5 Stars
“Stefanie Worth has penned another exceptional paranormal short story, ‘Can You Believe.’ Fallon and Naymond Terry are approaching their one year anniversary but things aren't really working. [. . .] However, the story is not that simple. Worth injects another woman, 'glimpse' into the future, along with money, sex and power. The characters are believable and tug at your heart. The magic from the 'glimpse' may be enough the change the course of this fluttering relationship while offering a dramatic ending to a brilliantly romantic holiday story.
--Deltareviewer for Real Page Turners (reviewing “Can You Believe”)
 5 Stars
Finding Love A Second Time Around 
“Holiday Inn is the collaboration of three very talented writers, Farrah Rochon, Stephanie Worth and Phyllis Bourne Williams. [. . .] .Holiday Inn is excellent. Each story was refreshing, funny, romantic, and realistic. Each couple was faced with dilemmas that are constantly being asked. I found myself rooting for each couple as they struggled emotionally to hold on to each other. This is the perfect holiday story for anyone who loves and believes in happily ever after.
--Priscilla C. Johnson, APOOO BookClub
 4 Stars HOT
“In these three holiday stories relationships are examined, repaired and enhanced with the magical backdrop of a winter retreat. The situations feel real, the characters are well developed and the stories will draw you in.”
--Romantic Times Reviews
 “With a nod to It’s A Wonderful Life, these three whimsical second chances uses the magic of the HOLIDAY INN to rekindle lost dreams and mend broken relationships.  The three couples are developed enough so that their differences seem real, which in turn makes each pair’s scenario plausible.  Well written, fans will enjoy spending time at the enchanting Holiday Inn (even without Bing).”
--Harriet Klausner
I like that all three stories end with the people still working on what they need to in order to overcome what divided them. Marriages are constant work and while I’d love to think that long term behavior changes can happen overnight, the image of these couples continuing to resolve the problems they’ve admitted to makes more sense. And I do get the feeling with all of them that they will continue to do whatever it takes to save the love they still feel for each other.
And so, brava ladies for a job well done. Each story garners a B from me and the collection as a whole is one I can recommend for people looking for a Christmas anthology by three fine authors.
-- Jayne,

Monday, December 02, 2013

Christmas with the one who got away

I spent some time hanging out over at Coffee Time Romance today for the December Book Brew talking about my stories and giving away books. I posted an excerpt from my novella in the Holiday Brides anthology that's actually one of my favorite scenes in the story.

If you've never felt the way Brenna and Evan feel in this slice of life, can I say you're missing out? lol Of course, you're free to disagree. Either way, enjoy.


Christmas scene from

Sorority sisters made great surrogate families – until they all wanted to play the mother. Holidays especially seemed to inspire gushing bouts of maternal instinct among Brenna’s peers and most of it revolved around her Quest for a Man.

Did it matter that she’d maintained her weight, gotten promoted at work, or had money in the bank (unlike the shop-happy contingent)? Not much.

“A little more meat on your bones and maybe you could get somebody’s attention.”

“Come out of that office once in a while and you could get somebody’s attention.”

“Hit a couple of these sales with us and you could find clothes that look like you want to get somebody’s attention.”

The well-meaning critiques sounded so similar that the women’s voices blended to monotone inside Brenna’s skull. Right now, they hit her head and her heart in time to a driving beat thudding from one “mother’s” living room stereo. They were all seated in the kitchen, gathered around the table finishing up Christmas dinner preparations.

In the absence of male affection, sister love was cool. It kept craziness at bay that would surely develop after too much tell-all reality TV. It prevented occasions for gathering from becoming I’m-all-alone-eating-ice-cream pity fests. And today its collective spirit distracted Brenna from tallying all the more moments she hadn’t heard from Evan.

The room fell quiet as a slow song entered the musical mix. The women sprinkled cinnamon, buttered rolls, passed out plates in silence broken only by occasional humming or the clattering of forks.

“Don’t you all get dry on me,” the hostess admonished her guests.

“Where’s that wine?” the stuffing-spooner asked. “Bet Brenna needs a glass.”

“Just one,” she replied, knowing a single round would calm her nerves, but two would put her to sleep.

“Who is it this time?” The sister stirring gravy asked what they all assumed.

“Nobody.” Brenna hoped her answer would catch them off guard and convince them to leave her alone.

“Quit lying.”

Brenna huffed and spilled the truth. “I lost my job Tuesday.”

Her Mother Hen hostess abandoned the ham she was carving and scurried to Brenna’s side. “Girl, how come you didn’t tell anybody?”

“Shocked. Embarrassed. Pissed the heck off.” Brenna laughed. “What am I going to do without a job to wake up for?”

One by one, the other sorority sisters came to comfort Brenna, surrounding her in a circle of sympathy and hugs, offering ideas – serious and not – for ways to spend her time.

“Sleep in.”


“Try relaxing for a change.”

“What’s that?” Brenna pretended to tremble uncontrollably. “Must have work.”

“Get a life.” Her sorority sister mocked her motions, hurting Brenna with her words.

I used to say that to Evan all the time. Wonder if I offended him, too.

Not wanting to be caught brooding, she quipped with a smile, “You’re right. I can do much better than hanging out with the likes of you all.”

Laughter exploded throughout the spacious kitchen, bouncing from face to face, ricocheting off the copper pots and pans strung from a ceiling rack, until the joy settled around Brenna’s spirit with soft giggles and shaking heads. It elicited her gratitude for good friends and lured her girlfriend’s husband out of his upstairs confinement.

“Oh, goodness!” He rolled his eyes and circled the table with his eyes. “You all are drinking before dinner? We’re never gonna eat, are we? I might as well go get a burger before I starve.”

Joining in the fading laughter with a gentle snicker of his own, he stretched his neck around the table tops and counters, examining the imminent feast. “You all did good! Let me get a little piece of that ham.”

He followed his wife to the kitchen’s center island. She carved him a thin slice, stood on her tiptoes and placed the ham on his tongue as if it were a gourmet delicacy.

“Um,” he murmured, licking his lips and winking an eye.

Um. Brenna remembered having the same reaction to Evan when he kissed her. Um. She fanned a hand in front of her face as if waving away the heat. “Hey, you two. Put your fast behinds on pause for another four or five hours. We don’t want to see all that.”

“Hater,” he teased, patting his wife on the bottom and backing out of the kitchen.

“Ten minutes,” she told him. “Tell your boy, too. I know he’s coming.”

She turned her head from her husband to Brenna. “Got you a little company.”

The doorbell rang like it was cued. To Brenna’s shock, dismay, and hidden relief, Evan stepped through the back door wowing the women with his charm and cologne.

She felt both perturbed and possessive; wishing she could punish him with silence for ignoring her all week, yet wanting to claim him as her own to keep her single sorority sisters off him. He slipped off his leather jacket and handed it to “his boy,” revealing a pair of relaxed fit designer jeans – loose in the thigh, tighter in the butt – a dark plaid button front shirt open at the neck, and those doggone Timberland boots, this pair in black.

Bet he tastes better than the food, thought Brenna, biting back a grin.

“You look familiar. Do I know you?

Brenna shook her head. “I have one of those faces, the kind that makes you think you know somebody, but you don’t.”

“My mistake.” Evan stared into her eyes, speaking words no one in the room could hear but her.

“Happens,” Brenna answered with a shrug. “You’re forgiven.”

The hostess eyed them suspiciously. “What’s going on here? Did you all go to prom together? Date in college? Or did you meet in a bar and have a one night stand? It’s something like that, isn’t it?” she joked. “Well. It’s time to wipe the slate and get to the table before the food gets cold. Let’s eat. You can pretend like you don’t know each other later.”

They continued the charade through the entire meal. Seated next to each other, they made sure to bump elbows when passing dishes from one side of the table to the other and their feet rested beside each other’s beneath the table, barely touching.

The proximity kept Brenna preoccupied with adult-themed thoughts of Evan all evening. She couldn’t brush his hand without wishing it was holding her. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’d disappeared on her for three days, she’d invite him back to her house for an encore. But hormones won out the first time (and got her into this tangle). Tonight she’d use her head.

Dinner and dessert finished, the group moved from the dining table to the lower level recreation area. Laughter and loud conversation flowed with the drinks. New guests, unknown to Brenna, began to arrive. Some making the stop their second or third holiday visit, others coming just for the good times they knew were waiting. Brenna was glad for the growing crowd; it helped shield her and Evan from her many mothers in the room. She smiled at their protectiveness.

“Is that for me?” Evan leaned and whispered in her ear.

She tingled, but told the truth. “Not hardly.”

“I deserve that. Surprised you’re talking to me at all.”

“Surprise is the key. If I knew you’d be here, I probably wouldn’t have come.”

“If I’d known we were going to wind up having sex the other day, I wouldn’t have taken you home.” He smiled as if the statement was funny.

Sex? That’s all? No wonder he hasn’t called since.

“Well, I know not to let you in my house anymore, don’t I?”

“Not if you can’t control yourself.” He laughed a little louder.

People probably thought they were really connecting in that dark corner of the room. But Brenna was beginning to feel that the tryst had changed the way Evan looked at her as a person. Maybe that’s why he hadn’t called – or apologized. He didn’t think she deserved any better treatment.

This man had witnessed her overwrought, out-of-character behavior and replaced her sensible side with that perception. Brenna searched for her most controlled tone.

“I thought you could handle me waiving my ninety-day rule.” She shook her head. “You weren’t ready though.”

“Please, girl.” He furrowed his brow and studied her face. “What do you mean I wasn’t ready?”

He’s thinking performance issues. She giggled. That was hardly the problem.

“All I'm saying is that I’m still Brenna. Treat me the way you have for the past three years.”

“Really?” He raised his eyebrows. “Hm. Okay. If you say so.”

So what did I just say? Brenna worried.

Evan looked totally perplexed. “Most girls want more after you sleep with them – not the same--”

“Well, you can call --”

“Hey, no problem.” Evan shrugged, totally misinterpreting her point. “If you’re saying we’re still cool, same as before, that’s alright with me.”

Did she just give him permission to do something she didn’t want him to do? Had she managed to chase off the polite, thoughtful Evan who always listened to her work rants, took her to lunch, and escorted her home on the worst day of her professional life?

One thing felt certain: She’d probably ensured she wouldn’t be getting that “sorry I didn’t call” apology she wanted so badly. That would mean he cared, and she just convinced him he didn’t need to.

She checked her watch. “Wow, it’s almost eleven.”

“You ready to go?”

Her hopes brightened. Maybe she hadn’t totally botched a start with Evan. “Yeah. I’ve been here all day.”

Evan walked to the bar and set his glass down. “I’m going to hang out for a while longer, but go ahead and grab your coat. I’ll walk you to your car.”

“Oh, sure. Thanks,” Brenna said, feeling incredibly silly. She began weaving through the crowd toward the stairs, her sedan, and the safety of misunderstanding. After all, nothing had changed and that was cool, right?

She gathered her winter wear from the hall closet and wished her hostess and sorority sisters Merry Christmas while Evan went outside to start her car. When they returned to the party downstairs, Brenna stood in the doorway peering through the steamed glass of the storm door, watching Evan clear a dusting of snow from her windshield and headlights.

So, if he could be yours, would you want him that way?

He ran up the walk. She stepped outside as he shook flakes from his coat and stomped his feet. “All set.”

“Thanks, Evan.”

They stood staring at each other like awkward teenagers. Falling snow swirled in the glow of the porch lights. Their shine gave Evan a godlike quality against the royal blue night. Her insides twisted and tingled. She shifted from one foot to the other.

“Cold?” he asked.

Very, very hot. She just smiled.

“The car should be warm by now.” He hesitated. “Drive safe.”

“I will. You, too.” Her feet were freezing. She turned toward her car, then looked back at Evan. “Call me?”

Brenna sped up her walk.
He took too long to answer.  “Based on what we said and everything, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Well, you take care then, Evan Shephard,” she snapped, stepping into the car and slamming the door. “I don’t know what got into me anyway; making love to you, waiting for you to call, letting my mind wander to ‘us.’ What in the world got into me?”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Passion, suspense and supernatural twists

Where Souls Collide is back! Montlake Romance recently released my first novel -- an award-winner I might add -- and it's available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. And right now the Kindle version is on sale for $1.99!
Where Souls Collide book cover

Here's the cover blurb:

RELECTIONS OF THE PASTDetroit journalist Navena Larimore thought her romance with NBA star Maxwell McKnight would last forever, but forever came to an abrupt end fifteen years ago, leaving her brokenhearted. Now Maxwell is back in her life as the owner and editor of her newspaper, and Navena's turbulent feelings have come rushing back.

VISIONS OF THE PRESENTNavena cannot find peace at home, either. Her boyfriend wants more of a commitment than she can give and she's haunted by prophetic dreams of murder.

DREAMS OF THE FUTUREIt is up to Navena to figure out her psychic legacy and prevent the murder...but not alone. After struggling with doubt, Maxwell realizes that Navena's visions are authentic, and it is she who might need saving. Navena may have extraordinary powers, but together they discover that real love is a force of its own.

One of several great reviews:

“Worth has masterfully written a paranormal adventure with superbly developed characters. The imagery in the descriptions will force you to stay up late reading and thinking about Navena’s next move. The suspense, romance and fiery love scenes all brilliantly combine to make this one of the best paranormal romances this year. [. . .] The twist in the storyline along with smoothness of time shifting will leave you in awe.”                                                            
– Deltareviewer,

For more reviews and an excerpt from Chapter One (as well as info on my other books), visit

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Smell of Home

When me and the kids moved into our new home, it had a distinctive smell. It had been empty for months before I looked at it. And when my real estate agent showed the place, it was on a chilly, overcast Michigan summer day. (The next day, it was probably 90 degrees. That’s Michigan weather…)

There was a lot of unpacking, cleaning, and claiming the space as our own in the following months.

Between the odor of fresh paint, the frosty dampness of fall, the cinnamon of Christmas, and all those other scents that make a house a home (dirty laundry, Mr. Clean, brownies baking) and the flavors of changing seasons, the house’s smell disappeared.

Until the following Fall. And, now, braced for our fourth Autumn in this home, I came down the stairs Saturday morning to that old familiar smell of this house; as if it demands to retain a wee bit of its prior persona in spite of the new owner’s influence. And that’s okay.

Because over the years, I’ve come to associate that scent with new beginnings, progress, opportunities, grace and thankfulness. It no longer reminds me so much of the divorce that set me on this homeowner path, but of all the steps I’ve taken in my journey since.

Every year I get to look back, smile, and keep looking ahead. All, thanks to a certain welcoming smell.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Holiday Inn is out!

The Holiday Inn delivers
happily-ever-afters all year round.
I'm so excited that Amazon has re-released The Holiday Inn under its Montlake Romance division!

Available in paperback and Kindle formats, the anthology features my fantasy novella, "Can You Believe" which tells the tale of a newlywed couple faced with a glimpse into an unhappy future:

Fallon Terry’s having a hard time supporting the song writing aspirations of her real-estate selling husband, Naymond. He’s spent the last three months taping a reality singing show in L.A., a world away from Detroit and Fallon. Their post-Christmas anniversary offers a chance to re-connect – until fame and fate intervene.

With devastating problems on one hand and incredible potential on the other, together they must wade through the trappings of success to discover what matters most in their marriage.

What will make them believe that they have everything they need for the love and the life that they want?

"Stefanie Worth has penned another exceptional paranormal short story
, Can You Believe.  Fallon and Naymond Terry are approaching their one year anniversary but things aren't really working.  Fallon has been working overtime everyday to support her husband.  While Naymond has taken time off from selling houses to pursue his dreams of being an R&B star by competing on the television show, Chart Toppers.  They have been separated by thousands of miles for most of their marriage, communication is limited and the tabloid has printed some racy photos of Naymond with another woman.  Just before the final taping the show takes a break, hopefully this weekend the Terry's can renew their love and save their marriage.

However, the story is not that simple.  Worth injects another woman, 'glimpse' into the future, along with money, sex and power.  The characters are believable and tug at your heart.  The magic from the 'glimpse' may be enough the change the course of this fluttering relationship while offering a dramatic ending to a brilliantly romantic holiday story."

Deltareviewer for Real Page Turners (reviewing "Can You Believe")

For more reviews and an excerpt from Chapter One (as well as info on my other books), visit

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Trayvon beginning

Nat Turner's revolt was not the first.

Rosa Parks' refusal was not the first.

Trayvon Martin's death was not the first.

Or last.

Yet each of these represent pivotal, iconic moments in the history of Blacks in this America. They caused a swelling of outrage, emotion and awareness in communities and throughout this country. And the repeated actions of others replaying these situations throughout the years has led to incremental change.

For those who ask "Why all the outrage over Trayvon when this kind of thing happens every day?," this, for me, is why: Because Trayvon Martin's death has become iconic -- symbolic of what is wrong on so many levels in this America.

It doesn't mean that those who black out their profiles, tweet or post their hurt over the verdict don't care about every other Black child killed or child of any color abused or the many, many other horrific events taking place in our communities.

Many of the people chastised for speaking out in support of justice for Trayvon are in the trenches of their communities every day fighting for causes that affect every level of our society. And they do this without recognition, applause, media attention and even thanks. They don't post their good works
in their statuses. They don't tweet about how many kids they educated today, how many homeless people they clothed, how many resumes they helped jobless people write. They just do it.

I am waiting to see what divine order has in store for Trayvon's death and the international outpouring it has created. I will continue to support the call for justice knowing that for every Facebook post that hashtags #Trayvon, there are a thousand other people working diligently, unseen and unposted on similar cases and causes, all for the greater good.

This can be another beginning in our community. Of what, is up to us.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Severed memories

I woke up to this today. (Note photo.)

Yes. Gasp.

I peered into the front yard like I always do when I switch off the porch light, saw the carnage, and had to remind myself there was no storm yesterday...though I did suddenly recall the sound of buzz saws late into the night.


A little backstory here: My subdivision was built in the 60s. I gravitated to this neighborhood because it reminded me of the ones I grew up in – with my fondest memories being those of the mature trees that surrounded us. I remember huge Maple trees and their “whirlybirds.” I remember raking leaves,  jumping in leaf piles, trying to build a leaf house (really), and re-raking leaves at dusk after we’d played in them all day.

After my parents had a house built, there were no mature trees on any of the lots, but there was a forest at the center of the subdivision. Yea, boy, those were the days. Hiking along those trails with my brother CJ, trying to catch crawfish in the creek with mom’s leftover steak (oops), encountering snakes, and running away from imaginary sounds that seemed so real at 13.

So fast forward to present day, with my cottage-like house and mature trees in the yard, up and down the streets and overhanging every nook and cranny of this neighborhood. Even when I found out two weeks after we moved in that the trees would prevent me from getting Dish because we couldn’t get a satellite signal, I forgave them and grudgingly accepted being sentenced to cable.

Then we got new neighbors. I was glad to see the empty house occupied. But shortly after they moved in, Mr. Neighbor came to my door, knocked and informed me that he was getting his trees trimmed and did I want his guys to cut my trees to. I declined. From the pile of logs I could see in his yard, they were doing a little more than trimming. A week later, he got Dish. Two dishes on his roof, as a matter of fact.

No biggie. But over the last two years, more and more of the trees on his property have disappeared. Great branches are ritualistically lopped off, where they tumble in our yards, get chopped up, and are eventually hauled away. Maybe it’s the artist in me, but when I look into the sky and see half a tree missing, well, it’s just weird.

That brings me to this morning and the branches in the yard. I heard the sawing last night. It had to be after 10:00. But I had no idea that the trees were again under attack. It makes me sad.

I’m sure part of Mr. Neighbor’s concern is the threat of storm damage. We’ve certainly had trees topple in massive storms, but more often than not, damage has been minimal.  And, too, 50-year-old trees can disrupt sewer lines and sidewalks and create challenges to growing lush lawns. I understand his probable concerns, I just don’t like his resolution.

To make a stretch analogy here, moving into a subdivision with mature trees and then cutting down all the trees reminds me of readers who pick up books by me and my romance writing colleagues and then get mad because as African American writers, our stories aren’t street lit.

Don’t want happily-ever-afters? Stick with urban fiction. Don’t want the bother of trees? Move into a new development.

The sawing continued all day today. I even met the man in charge of the operation -- and fussed about the huge holes left in my lawn by falling tree chunks. He assured me they would fill them and provide grass seed to restore the lawn. No consolation though. I can buy topsoil and grass seed myself.

Then, as my daughter and I were wrapping up our afternoon bike ride, Mr. Neighbor came out with a huge grin, waving and shouting, "It looks nice, doesn't it? What do you think?"

"I like the trees."

He explained about falling branches during storms, how this company had provided him with a great deal and again reassured me, "It looks nice, doesn't it?"

Call me ungrateful. Tree trimming is expensive and it didn't come out of my pocket. When the next storm rolls around there will be fewer branches to unleash at our roof tops. True.

But apparently, I am absolutely sentimental about some things: I suppose looking out my kitchen window to watch squirrels play tag up and down tree trunks, seeking shade that rustles on a hot summer day, and long ago memories of climbing trees, are just a few of them.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Tonight's Writing Game

I have tee'd up the chapters in my WIP like dominoes: One good thump, just the right phrase and they will tumble through this well-plotted outline dot by dot, square by square, creating some fantastical shape that leaves you splayed and breathless at THE END. #thatisall #amwriting

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Today is one of those days when the thought, "I wish I could make more time to write," is quickly countered with, "But I don't wish I had less time with my kids." Writer's guilt I can conquer. Mommy guilt -- not so much.

Yet another life change occurred in my parental world today as my youngest child (known as Baby Girl and Little Bit to my Facebook friends) finished elementary school. It's a much bigger deal than my heart originally bargained for.

All day I've been singing Fleetwood Mac's song "Landslide." Especially the line that says, "I've been afraid of changing 'cause I built my world around you... Time makes you bolder, children get older and I'm getting older, too..." And it asks the question, "Can I handle the seasons of my life?"

Well, can I?

I mean goodness, I've done this twice already. It should be old hat. But the third time's charm struck after we arrived back home and I sat down at my laptop somewhat paralyzed. With a span of 13 years between my oldest and youngest, I've had plenty of years to prep for each of my "last baby does X" moments. Yet they always catch me off guard.

When she was a baby and I was juggling middle school football, T-ball, a crazy a** job and breastfeeding, I wanted everything to go faster. I couldn't wait until everybody could do just a little more for themselves so that I could find a minute or two to breathe. In those early years of hers, she absolutely caught the brunt of my "hurry up and grow up" mental chant.

Then suddenly (not at all though), she grew, she laughed, she turned into a tweenage Mini-Me and I felt buckets of hourglass sand slipping through my fingers. She did hurry up and grow up. But not by my doing, that's just life. When my oldest took off for grad school I instinctively turned around to slow her down, but it was too late.

Thankfully, only theoretically.

She's growing up, yes. And I'm accepting that I am in a state of lifelong transition because change never ceases.

I know that one day (too soon) ample writing time will come. I'll be able to post about my knocking off word counts and counting up sales because -- God willing -- there will be long languid hours without soccer practice, sleepovers and the mountain of busyness that life with kids brings.

But meanwhile, I will be deliberately thankful for every single moment: to be able to have a child, and raise her, and love her, and to have enough sense to stop and smell the roses that we plant together.

No, the landslide won't bring me down. Today.

Stefanie Worth

Monday, June 10, 2013

Seven Pounds

Face it: Writing is a sedentary gig. I can't tell you how many blog posts and articles I've read about how this craft can be bad for my health. I even work for a health organization. So, I know all the "shoulds," right?

Maybe not.

Because I had my annual physical in early May and my doctor summed up my visit with a piercing up-and-down glance at my frame and the words, "You need to get rid of some of that."


I knew good and well that she was referring to the "few more" pounds I'd gained since my last visit. Of course, I blamed it on a salty meal a couple days before, lack of sleep the night before, things I should've done -- but didn't do -- before, like exercise and eat right.

Maybe I just needed to hear someone else tell me what I already knew. There's a definite level of accountability that came with my doctor's unflinching order. My mind immediately compiled a laundry list of the things I'd do as soon as I got home. And as my thoughts were racing, she rambled off her own suggestions: 1500 calories per day, an hour of exercise every day, and a follow up visit in three months.


I'd be lying if I said my gut didn't want to offer a few excuses or that I didn't feel the urge to be a tad bit defensive. (You know -- kids, job, life, time, yada, yada, yada). But apparently, the swift kick my doctor gave was just the extra motivation I needed.

I am proud to report that I have lost seven solid pounds in the last five and a half weeks. (Yay me!!!)

Now, as much as I've longed for a magic pill and snap-my-fingers solution to the 20 pounds (now 14) that vex me, I have to admit that no such cure appeared in these last 40 days. I just stopped eating too much. Granted, I first had to realize how much I was really eating. And I did that with the help of (thanks to my sis-in-law for turning me on to the site).

It only took two weeks of diligent tracking to learn how much -- er, how little -- 1,500 calories per day really is. And when I told the magical site what my weight loss goal actually is, it told me that I only need 1,320 calories per day to reach that number. Oh. Wow.

Thus, I tracked. Soon I found that one day, one mindless run-of-the-mill day in my life, I nibbled away 1,000 calories in snacks. WTH? That stopped. I countered dinner outings with two exercise sessions on those days. Once I saw the scale begin to shift, I got downright excited. Today, I happily -- and comfortably -- tightened my belt one more notch.

Nearly six weeks in, I'm no longer tracking my calories online. I know what 1320 is. I weigh every day because that's what works for me. I don't drink calories. I've learned that bread is absolutely my enemy. I've known for years that Chinese food doesn't like me, and I've reached the point where I'm okay with letting it go. And after 40 years of eating two scoops of Very Berry Strawberry ice cream at Baskin Robbins, I've switched to treating myself to one scoop of the non-fat Vanilla yogurt on a sugar cone. All the sweeter because I'm inching ever closer to that Better Me I strive for.

The bottom line is I don't like the number I see on the scale, though my goal is getting closer. I'm not quite obsessed, but I am finally focused. Besides, I'll be doggoned if I go back to my doctor's office in six weeks the same way I left last month. She won't care how sedentary my writing life is. And hopefully the scale won't let her know this time.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Fire the After Earth marketing team

First, let me say that I'm not really a proponent of anybody losing their job these days. However, despite my son grudgingly telling me that M. Night Shyamalan directed After Earth and reading countless naysayer accounts on Facebook, I took my kids to see the movie anyway.

We LOVED it! (Like 4 out of 5 stars loved it.) Especially my 11-year-old daughter. My 16-year-old son also enjoyed the challenges, effects and overall plot though he was a little disappointed that there wasn't more action from Will. So he gave it a slightly lower family rating. I noticed on my Facebook page that at least one other poster said her 12-year-old daughter went crazy over Jaden (and, of course, liked the movie, too) though the poster didn't care for it.

Lucky for me, I realized about 20 minutes in that this was Jaden's journey and not Will's story at all. Without any pre-set notions about what the movie should be, I was able to adapt to that reality and immerse myself in the rest of the flick from that perspective.

Apparently, most of the reviewing world is not that flexible. And here is where I fault the film's marketing team.

Why was Will Smith even on the poster? To sell tickets? Will and Jada have produced plenty of entertainment that doesn't splash their photos and titles. This should have been the case with After Earth. A poster featuring Jaden-in-peril aimed at the fantasy action-loving tweenage crowd of 10- to 14-year-old moviegoers would have made all the difference in this movie's success. In my opinion anyway.

I walked away wondering why the movie's marketers and promoters didn't target a Spy Kids or Percy Jackson type viewer. I told my oldest son (the one who forewarned me), that this was absolute Karate Kid and no Independence Day. Why couldn't the Shyamalan-Smith Powers-That-Be see the same truth? To me, it would have given the public the proper framework and allowed the movie to get the reception it deserved.

End of story: Take the kids, see the movie, forget Will, and enjoy.


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Friday Eve Epiphany

Memorial Day weekend I saw an ambulance two doors down with a stretcher readied out front. It's the house of my elderly neighbor with the overweight dog who always stops to chat (and let her dog roll in my grass) when I'm doing yard work.

I've noticed new people, strangers, in her driveway lately. So yesterday I asked my immediate neighbor (a woman who tends to make me nuts) if she knew her and what had happened. We spoke for a while, she said she didn't know.

When I returned home this evening she'd left me a note saying the woman down the street had fallen down the stairs. She died on Memorial Day. It made me so, so sad. And suddenly -- immediately -- I was overcome with a sense of release.

There is so much going on in my life right now, but I just let go. I freed my mind of all the bs and took a deep breath and a step back. Life is too short to anguish over much that we do. In that moment, and now, I am thankful for the people who do love me and the life that I live. My God is an awesome God and He is good all the time.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Sunday Morning Blooms

I'd like to say I woke up early today and did something productive; went to church, started writing, planted all those flowers I bought from Home Depot yesterday. Something. But no. I simply woke up early and starting...thinking.

There's an itch at the back of my brain -- one of those personal preoccupations one doesn't share in a public blog -- that's demanding more attention than I want to give it today. But man, it's loud. Peskier than that character conflict I need to heighten as I plow through this manuscript re-write, and certainly more compelling than the fact that I always leave my plants-to-plant in the garage or on the porch until they're on the brink of death before I turn gardener and save them.

So I've managed to ignore the "itch" by covering it with the guilt of not making it to church. Again. (Shaking my head here.) I even told the kids that today would be the day we return. The first for them since the divorce. (Except for a family funeral and birthday celebration they've attended with the other side of their family.) Maybe I was mad at God for a while. You know how we humans can be. But somewhere in the past few weeks, I've decided it's time for us to return.

Until I remembered -- this morning -- that I let my daughter ride her bike and make mud pies in the rain for a looooong time Friday evening. Wonderful for her. Trauma for her hair. An afro puff is fine for soccer, but not for church (to me anyway). I can just hear the old folks whispering behind the itch in my brain, saying, "Look at that baby's head," with an accompanying tsk, tsk, tsk. I let mommy guilt push me into the paralysis of analysis and here we are at home. The kids are not in pews. They are in bed until I finish this post.

It's been so long since I've strung a whole thought, I figured my poor Plotting Me blog was way past due for a new installment. And this is so much easier than that dagblasted re-write I'm submerged in. (Notice I did not say immersed. Very careful word choice there.) I love my story and its new direction, the growth and evolution of characters I am as attached to as my Mac lipstick, the anticipation of an amazing happy ending.

Yet, every other day I'm thinking it would have been easier to start an entirely new story. So, why didn't I? Because there were components of this one that I wanted to keep. At least that's what I thought a year ago when the book found a new home with Amazon. Now, the more I work on it, the more I realize how much I outgrew the manuscript I originally submitted. Little remains the same in this story aside from the title and the characters.

Now that I've admitted this factoid aloud to myself and the universe, I'll move ahead accordingly, deleting the old words and replacing them with new direction. After I plant. My daughter is awake and anxious to bring the color of God's annuals to the front porch and the back deck.

That's what Sunday morning thinking will get you: Prayers without church, new life for uprooted plants, heart-opening plot bursts, and a shower of words to help all of this bloom. Everything, it seems, becomes salve for the itch.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Finite Creativity

I saw an interesting tweet the other day that said (in paraphrase) that Hollywood has run out of original movie ideas. I suppose if you look at titles and themes you might think that. But, then, I subscribe to that school of thought that says there is only a finite pool of story themes to draw from. To me, the differences between the re-makes is in execution, in the re-imagining of the story.

For example, I can think of four different takes on the Snow White fairytale: there’s Disney’s “original” animated feature, many years later, “Snow White: A Tale of Terror” starring Sigourney Weaver in the late 90s and, most recently, “Snow White and the Huntsmen” with Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, and “Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of Snow White” with Julia Roberts. Check IMDb and you’ll find several other versions. I have to say that the Huntsmen and Mirror Mirror movies – released a few months apart – were vastly different and refreshing for that reason. I wouldn’t even consider them the same story. And to me, they underscore the power of reinvention.

Singers who want to stay relevant in the industry find new faces to show to the public every few years. Think Madonna. So why shouldn’t Hollywood pander to audiences’ love for the tried-and-true by twisting underlying themes? It’s like they give us just enough familiarity to bring a certain level of mental comfort while mixing in a generous serving of whatever’s in style – be that darkness, edge, thrills or modern comedy.

I’m not disenchanted or disillusioned.

But what’s your spin? Any favorite re-makes? Overdone storylines that you don’t want to see on screen ever again?

Personally, I would’ve said no more Batman…until I saw the Dark Knight. Or even the Spiderman franchise until Andrew Garfield showed up as The Amazing Spiderman. I think there’s always room for a better idea.

How about you?