And Then Things Started Happening

I came back from Sleuthfest in Orlando on Sunday, March 4. A lot of normal stuff happened during March, but the quantity was daunting--life, y'all know what I mean.

Then, late in March I got an offer from Henery Press to publish LOWCOUNTRY BOIL, the first in my mystery series about a private investigator named Liz Talbot. At the time I had an agent, who still had submissions outstanding. My instincts were screaming bloody murder to go with Henery Press. I have had so many conflicting feelings about which direction I should travel on the publishing road--there are many forks these days--but suddenly I was no longer conflicted. I knew what I wanted.

On Thursday, March 22, I signed the contract with Henery Press. Happy Dancing ensued. LOWCOUNTRY BOIL will be released in trade paperback and all e-Book formats on September 18, 2012.

Then, on Monday, March 26, I got a call at 9:09 a.m. EDT from Romance Writers of America® (I would tell you who called, but I was so excited I haven't a clue) to let me know that LOWCOUNTRY BOIL is a 2012 Golden Heart® Finalist. More Happy Dancing ensued, but now I was pinching myself while I danced. For weeks I kept thinking they'd call me back and tell me there had been a mistake. So far, so good on that.

And the, on Friday, April 27, I got a call from Cathy Perkins to let me know that LOWCOUNTRY BOIL is a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, Mainstream Category (unpublished division). I remember her name for two reasons: I know she's the Mainstream coordinator, and she left me a voicemail as I didn't hear my cell phone ring. Naturally, there was more dancing and pinching.

Somewhere along the way, I decided I needed a better website than the pitiful thing I had done myself. So, the talented folks at Bemis Promotions are working on a new site, which will be up sometime in June. When it goes live, this blog will be moved to a tab on the website, so that I'm integrated. I hope y'all will come visit me on the new site. I've started packing up to move, so blog links and so forth have been disconnected, but I will reconnect with everyone as soon as I'm moved.

I'm ecstatic with all the recent developments. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me as I've chased this dream. I feel like I've finally reached the starting line. I know the real work starts now. I have a lot more books in me. My imaginary friends are shouting at me right now because I'm blogging and not playing with them.

Peace out,



Vegan Diets - The Right Way To Cut Costs On A Vegan Diet?

Healthy Salad
Harmonie Serving Bowl
by Daniel Turbin

Vegan diets are the most nutritious on earth, and usually the most nutritionally balanced. Vegans have long determined the benefits of avoiding animal products in their food, as well as staying away from most of the impacts that eating animal products can have on the human body. A lot of nutritionists and nutritional scientists are vegan because they are informed concerning their food choices and realize this is the only diet that can prevent and even reverse multiple lifestyle illnesses. Vegan meals do not have to be salad, there is a wide, and different array of fruits, vegetables and grains that can lead to a filling and far tastier diet than any omnivore meal can provide.

Vegans have always been called hippy, kooks, animal lovers, and all kinds of derogatory terms used by individuals who do not comprehend the lifestyle. It is not different than any other lifestyle apart from there is conscious thought put in to the nutritional value of anything that passes the vegan's lips. Many will utilize money as a reason, but a savvy vegan can spend less than $30 a week on food that includes every nutritional daily need healthily, and tastily. Vegan diets have been known to have so many advantages for the body, as well as the environment around.

Even though a vegan lifestyle will require forfeiting any form of animal made clothing, decoration, as well as harm as well as food, individuals who are simply nutritionally conscious can still have a vegan diet and wear leather. Vegan vs vegetarian diets are different only to the level of animal produce which they avoid. A vegetarian may still consume dairy and egg products, and despite the fact that they will see some of the benefits by cutting out meat making up for that by taking too much dairy can be just as bad for your overall health as not being vegetarian at all. With any diet it is all about balance.

Vegan recipes can usually be thought to involve nothing but salad. However, the human body cannot survive on lettuce alone so it is important to cover all the nutritional bases. Recipes including tofu, tempeh, or seitan often have omnivores making retching noises however they are not a requirement in any recipe to be a functional vegan. Grains such as quinoa actually supply the complete protein the body needs without the saturated fat and cholesterol that meat would. Almond and soy milks usually contain just as much or even more calcium than dairy milk with substantially less sugar. Substituting vegan onions in conventional recipes mean that countless vegans do not feel that they are missing out on their favorite foods in any way. Vegan diet recipes are in absolutely no way bland.

Vegan diet benefits have always been known to have health effects. The money that you may devote in addition on your food products is truly coming out of your healthcare spending later in life. Vegans evade many lifestyle diseases by simply their choice of food. With vegan diets weight loss is practically effortless as it is hard to overdo fats and processed sugars ingestion when consuming a plant based whole foods regimen. Vegan weight loss has been properly documented, but most discard it because they do not want to make such a drastic change. To be exact, you could have your cake and eat it too however only if it's vegan. There is lots of question concerning vegan low carb diets, though it is extremely difficult to eat such because all vegetables have carbohydrates in them.

Fresh Fruit

About the Author:

My Last Day at Price Lab

"I am a Panther
I have walked these halls 
I have sat in these classrooms 
I have cheered, and cried 
I have worked, and played 
I have learned 
No matter where I am, I am a Panther 
No one can take that away from me..."

I wasn't sure what the last day of school at Price Lab would look like.  One part of me felt that the goodbyes had been said, the tears had been shed, and students would be ready to check out, close their lockers, and get on with their summer breaks much like every other year.  But as I checked Facebook the night before last, I began to see that school on Wednesday would be anything but every other year.  Memories of past years, quotes about goodbyes and endings and moving on, and staples of what makes our school one-of-a-kind, like the cornbread in the Grassroots Cafe or the painted bricks in the Butzier Auditorium, filled the walls of all who have been shaped by Price Lab.  And as I read these words and pictured my students all up later than normal, crying and trying to make sense of what it meant to say goodbye to their friends, their teachers, and their school, I thought back to Gary Kroeger's final send off on Tuesday afternoon, running up and down the aisles amidst a K-12 sea of orange shirts, asking students of all ages what it was they loved most about this magical, incredible place.

And most of them said 'family.'

And if an outsider were to grace the halls of Price Lab on its final day as a school, one would have seen a family, hugging, laughing, but mostly crying, and just being there for one another on a very sad day.  And just like a family is made up of unique traits, personalities, and ways of reacting to circumstances, the differences in our students, in our faculty, and in our staff were embraced and appreciated yesterday more than ever before. 

There was Blake, riding up and down the halls on his skateboard, and Emily, who stayed up late making cookie bars and writing cards for her teachers.  There was Mrs. Grey, pulling chairs out of the faculty lounge so the students and teachers congregating in the hall would have a place to sit, and Mr. Spurr, a favorite science teacher, writing and reciting poetry for a group of 10th graders in the hall.  There were popsicles and pictures, a dozen roses from Noemie, and a dozen hugs from John.  There was Alissa, who didn't stop crying the entire morning, and Rowen, whose unusually quiet presence said more to most than a sea of tears.  Although school dismissed for Juniors at an early 9:00, they stayed much through the morning, sitting amongst teachers and underclassmen in our famous 'Crossroads,' quite fitting for the crossroads they feel as they think ahead to their senior year of high school.

And as school dismissed at 11:00 and families, students, and media gathered at the entrance of our school one last time, a part of me felt defeat.  The unfair diagnosis we received in February was terminal, and although we fought like hell to keep this school alive, we lost the battle yesterday.  But, although the physical makeup of the school will no longer be around, nor will classes, or desks, or that amazing cornbread, we will.  The hundreds of people who have been touched and changed by the education, the talent, and the uniqueness of this school will live on in so many new places.  Kids will go to new schools next year, faculty to new positions, and all will use their experiences and the challenges we've faced together this semester to continue to learn, grow, and shape others.  It's a common bond we're all so blessed to share - a common bond that will forever tie us together.

Yesterday was rough, but I know that most of the time, life's challenges create some of our most powerful learning opportunities.  I like the quote: “Do not watch the petals fall from the rose with sadness, know that, like life, things sometimes must fade, before they can bloom again.”

I am sad today, but look forward to seeing all the little flowers that bloomed brightly and beautifully at a school known for its nurturing, bloom again.  It may not look the same, and it may take longer than others, but blooms will indeed show up --- in new places, with new faces, and in circumstances we can't even imagine.

I am one of the lucky ones to be touched and shaped by Price Lab School.  I would not be the teacher I am today without the people, the expectation for greatness, and the challenges that have always seemed to exist.  Although yesterday was my last day walking those halls, the faces of my students and their stories will forever be an important part of mine. 

Last Chance for Artisan Market...Shoptobegreen Live

by Katy Green

We must say farewell and a green goodbye to Shoptobegreen's weekly presence at the Artisan Market ArtBridge in Scottsdale, AZ tonight Thursday, May 31st from 6:00 - 9:30 pm. For more information click here.

If you are planning to attend the Artisan Market ArtBridge this evening mention this post and you will be automatically entered to win a WWI/WWII Button Ring or a Fork Bracelet!

Don't wait another minute to view Shoptobegreen products live and in person!

WIAW & A Farmstead Field Trip

Happy Wednesday everyone! It's that time of the week again, to find out what Avery and I are up to...and what we're eating of course. This week we also went on a fun little "field trip" to a local farmstead where Avery got to meet a number of farm animals, which she was very excited about! Scroll down if you want to see some farm fun!

Now for this week's food you may notice that I'm back to my old routine of lots of snacks. I'm doing this mainly because I've been getting up at my usual "in school" time of 4:45 AM. Although it's not too fun when the alarm clock goes off, I'm able to get my workout in, shower, and get ready for the day all before Avery wakes up! I love that. Maybe it's because I'm so used to that routine during the school year that it feels weird to sleep in and not even get my workout in until nearly lunch time.  Don't get me wrong, I still make time to relax and chill out each day (and still sleep in on others!), just not

Enough rambling about me and my need for routines and schedules, let's get to talking about food! Be sure to check in on Jenn's Peas & Crayons blog to see more of the "What I Ate Wednesday" fun. Last week there were nearly 200 bloggers who took part in the weekly link up...awesome!

Here's Avery and I's gluten-free, vegan food for the day...

5:15 AM Just woke up snack:
Workout: 1 hour pilates with 10 Minute Solutions Rapid Results Pilates DVD.

8:00 AM Breakfast: Chocolate Ice Cream Smoothie
Chia seeds, hemp seeds, raw cacao powder, rice milk,
2 frozen bananas, 5 frozen strawberries
Avery's breakfast: EnvrioKidz Organic Peanut Butter Panda Puffs
with SO Delicious Sugar-Free Vanilla Coconut Milk.

"Wait one this that panda cereal I love?"

Sippy cups work great in cereal bowls right? ( :

9:15 AM First Morning Snack: Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar

10:30 AM 2nd Morning snack: Gluten-free, vegan pancakes
from Cinnamon Quill with Maple Agave Nectar.

12:00 Green Juice: Apple Juice +

12:30 Lunch: "Veggie Sizzle Burritos" with zucchini,
mushrooms, onions, and green peppers on corn tortillas with
Daiya cheddar cheese...and of course some homemade
guacamole and corn tortilla chips on the side!

2:00 PM Afternoon Snack: Almond Dream Strawberry Yogurt

As I said before, we went on a "field trip" today to a cool local attraction called, Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead. Aside from having all kinds of farm animals for kids to see and learn about, it's free! (Well, Monday-Thursday is free, Friday and Saturday cost $2). Check out the fun we had as some of the characters from Avery's favorite books came to life!

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, KS.

My parents joined us since they are off on summer break too
(yep, you guessed it they're both teachers like me!).

Here's the look she had on her face when she saw the first

"Mmmmmm" as Avery would say.

For horses, she makes a clicking sound with her mouth.

Still working on saying goat, or something related to a goat.
We saw enough of them there, I'm sure she'll
know them well now!

She liked this goat peeking it's head out of the fence.

Onto the ducks...

"Ha ha ha" (hop hop hop) of her favorites!

Here she is doing the hop-hop-hop with her hands.

Sweet chickens.

Loving time with Grandpa Frank.

Even from the stroller, she found lots of things to point at.

Like that finger pointing at the bench? She was pointing for my
grandpa to join us on the bench-lol.

My favorite shot: peeking around the stroller.

Someone's getting tired!

Those yawns let us know it was time to call it a day at the Farmstead. I have a feeling we'll be back there again soon.
4:00 PM Afternoon Snack #2: organic strawberries for
the drive home.

We also had some of Avery's new favorite snacks...
Veggie Straws!
Next on the schedule...a nap! Can you believe I typed that? Let's just call it my reward for getting up at 5 AM on my summer break! I've been trying to get in the habit of taking just a short nap each day (25 minutes) just to relax, rest, and re-energize myself for the evening. So when Avery goes down for her afternoon nap, so do I. I set my alarm for 25 minutes and I zone out to my favorite relaxation track: "Gentle Surge" by Aaron Aldridge. This was the track I listened to when I gave birth to Avery and I have been hooked ever since. (In case you're wondering, I do track #2 that does not have any's just music). I highly recommend it for birthing, or just general relaxation.

5:30 Evening Snack: "Chocolate Vanilla Smoothie": vanilla
coconut milk, Chocolate Sun Warrior Rice Protein Powder,
Spinach, 1 1/2 frozen bananas, 3 frozen strawberries

7:00 PM Dinner: "Tofu Mushroom Stroganoff" a favorite
in this "green" house! Baked tofu with mushrooms, vegan
sour cream, and gluten-free noodles.
"My favorite...tofu mushroom stroganoff!"

Finger-lickin' good.

Dessert: 1 gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free vanilla cupcake
with sugar-free chocolate frosting (that I made gluten-free
by substituting the whole wheat flour for gluten-free
 All-Purpose flour). 
Well, that's our food and farm fun for the day. See you next week for some more adventures!