Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tammy's Tidbits: 5 Must Have Guides for Indie and Self Published Authors #WWoW #selfpromotion

Welcome back to Not Enough Time in the Day. If you're anything like me, you really don't have enough time in the day to put a dent in your "to do" list let alone complete it all. Now add all the tasks you need to accomplish as an author and you're doomed from the start.

Okay, I'm being a bit melodramatic here, but getting ahead in the vast ocean that is the Publishing World can be extremely intimidating. I've been at this officially since 2010 and I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into when Siren Bookstrand accepted my first novel. 

Like many people, I thought once you were accepted by a publisher, they were in charge of marketing and selling your book. Boy was I in for a HUGE surprise! Not only was I expected to pimp out myself and build up a reader/fan base, there was a whole other world of social media etiquette I had to learn to navigate. Lucky for me, there were several authors who were kind enough to offer their guidance and point me in the right direction.

This week I'd like to share my top five must have references every author should have in their arsenal.  Each is written by someone in the publishing world and successful in their own right. Instead of keeping that knowledge to themselves, they chose to pay it forward.

1. Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker: Whether you choose to publish your books yourself on Smashwords.com or not, this guide is a must have because it goes through step by step how to create a clean Word document. All those hidden codes and formatting that Microsoft loves to insert into documents can muck up your files. If you don't find and remove these hidden pot holes, the electronic book you end up with at the end may be difficult to read. This one is free on Smashwords and on Amazon. Grab it!

2. Elevate Your Writing by Amber Lea Easton: presents her tips on how to bring your writing up to the next level in a way that's easy to understand and put into practice. With Amber's two decades of experience in the field, she can offer any author, newbie or seasoned, insight on how to succeed in this crazy business. With so many books on the market these days, we need to be able to put their best work out there, edited and polished until it shines in order to grab the attention of our target audiences. Without a guide, we can easily get lost in the sea of books. With Elevate Your Writing, you will be able to bring you and your work up toward the top of the heap!

I hope she puts out a few more books to go along with this one as there are far too few guides on the market written by true experts in the field.

3. Pimp Yourself: Easy, Painless, and Cheap Self-Promotion for Writers by Tymber Dalton: written by a fellow Siren author, this is another book you'll want for your very own. Tymber was one of the first authors who welcomed me to the Siren fold and was more than willing to share the knowledge she'd learned through the years developing her brand. When you're first starting out, you don't have the budget to hire a PR firm to create and pimp out your pen name and books. FREE was it for me in the beginning and pretty much all the time if I can get away with it! 

Here's the blurb: 

Congratulations, your book is published! 

Now what? 

Author Tymber Dalton walks you through quick, easy, and best of all, cheap ways to promote your book. You don't think you have time to fit self-promotion into your busy schedule? You hate doing self-promotion? With these easy tips, you'll find it's a painless process. While geared toward romance and erotica writers, writers in any genre will be able to use the information. Includes resource and link list.

Grab this one, folks! It's available on AMAZON.

4. Twitter for Writers: The Author's Guide to Tweeting Success (Writer's Craft Book 8) Kindle Edition by Rayne Hall

Do you use Twitter to your advantage or is it more like a constant stream of "buy my book!" If you're like most of us, we're still figuring out the right balance between pimping out our books and being social. Rayne Hall presents some great advice on how to use the fast paced Twitterverse as an author. Here's the blurb:

Use Twitter to improve your writing, network with other authors, meet fans, build a platform, gain exposure, find reviewers and sell books. 

Rayne Hall has one of the best platforms any writer has on Twitter – with over 50,000 genuine, engaged followers who enjoy her tweets and buy her books. Here she shares practical advice, fun ideas, step-by-step strategies for success – and even the embarrassing mistakes she made. 

This book is a great help to any writer who wants to use Twitter as a professional tool without wasting precious writing time. Suitable for newbies as well as Twitter veterans, it shows you how to spot fake followers, guides you past the dreaded 2,000-follower hurdle, helps you throw a Twitter party and reveals the most powerful ways to promote a book. 

Grab this one on AMAZON along with a whole list of other reference books by Rayne.

Last by not least, one of the absolutely MUST HAVE and MUST READ from cover to cover and then read it again...

5. Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World
by Kristen Lamb. Here's the blurb: 

Here we are—the future is now. The machines have taken over. Everything is computerized. People no longer talk, they text. What number do we have to press to get a flesh and blood HUMAN?

It’s easy to feel like we’re losing our humanity when surrounded by computers, cell phones, and text messaging, but here's the good news: The same machines that seem to be stealing our humanity also have the power to restore it. Yes, you read correctly. The more we embrace technology, the more distinctly human we can become.

The new author in today's publishing world is a cyborg of sorts—part human, part machine. The machine part allows us to compose series of words, copy them, email them, and then send them across the globe with a push of a button. We can research faster and more accurately than ever before. We can communicate with people all over the planet real-time and virtually for free. The new power technology has given writers has made us, in effect, superhuman.

Branding has broken free of marketing’s shackles and merged with personal identity. If we want to thrive in our new environment, we need to adapt, to apply technology as an extension of our humanness.

This is not a book to teach you 1,000 ways to blast people with advertising. The WANA Way is different than anything you’ve likely encountered. It is constructed using the timelessness of art, blended with the strength of human relationships. Platforms are more than a zillion ways to try to part readers from money; they are living works of art and meshed with the soul of the writer-artist.

The machines are rising, but humans were here first.

This book helps you learn the art of using social media to be...wait for it...SOCIAL. Instead of spamming the hell out of your fellow authors and getting blocked in the process, you learn ways to interact and build up relationships/friendships that help get you noticed by new readers. Readers who enjoy chatting with you and telling all their friends about your books.

Get this now on AMAZON

This is by no means an all inclusive list but my top five. I refer back to these books time and time again. In the case of Amber Lea Easton's book, I have the distinct pleasure of calling her my friend and one of the toughest editors I've ever had to work with—and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I'm still a work in progress and so is my personal writing reference library. Yours should be too.

Until next time, keep writing and reaching for the top!


Friday, August 21, 2015

Tammy's Tidbits: 5 Ways to Use Hashtags to be a Hit and Not a Miss #amwriting #TwitterTips

Hello all! Welcome back to my little corner of the web. I thought I'd kick the weekend off with a Writer's Words of Wisdom post. I haven't done one in a while and today is a great day to start it up again. I've been in the publishing world for five years now and have learned a hell of a lot. Through trial and error, I've found what to do and what not to do in marketing my pen names and my books. Of course, what works for me, may not work for another but the epic fails pretty much cover everyone. 

Let me tell you there are some HUGE failures out there and I can't sit back and watch fellow authors continue to fall down the same rabbit holes over and over again.

Today's epic fail? Hashtags.

Yes we need hashtags to help link our posts on Twitter to like minded individuals. They help draw in future friends and readers. They help start up conversations, connections, and bring followers to our blogs. It's all great...

until you abuse the #

That's why I came up with this short list of ways to use these tags without getting you labeled as a spammer to be ignored or blocked from Twitter, Instagram and even Facebook. I've made some of these mistakes myself on my own and based on what some author support groups had encouraged me to do. I found out the hard way what works and what doesn't. Here are the highlights...

1. Don't use more than two or three hashtags in a tweet, blog post title or Facebook status.

On Twitter, hashtags get highlighted a different color. If you have more than two or three in there, the post is distracting. It causes people to scroll on by your tweet in the stream and never check out your blog, website, or book. You want to stand out among the crowd, not be ignored.
By making every other word in your Tweet or post into a hashtag, you will NOT appeal to anyone. They may laugh at you, but they won't engage with you. Why annoy the very people you wish to have in your corner? 

2. Don't tag obvious words in the title of your blog post.

You want to tag KEY words to grab attention. You don't need to add #promotion #ebook #Amazon. For one, those are far too broad to draw in your target audience. Instead, use hashtags that narrow the field. Using #Romance is too broad. Try #EroticRomance. Secondly, you have a limited number of characters for tweets. Why waste the space on words that are already implied? 

Here's a blog title completely made up by me, but based on a few I've had to edit in my Triberr stream. For those of you who don't know, Triberr is a group sharing site where you join tribes to help you promote your blogs on Twitter and other social media. Twitter is the main endpoint so you need to have engaging titles your tribe mates would want to put out on their feeds.

Example of what NOT to do:

#FREE New Release from @dochappycamper #vampires #paranormal #LGBT #gay #romance #promotion #ebook #KU #Amazon

Do you see how distracting all the highlighted words are in the above example? The blog post itself is promoting the work. There is no need to hashtag that and it's too broad a category. Same goes for ebook, KU, Amazon, and romance. It can be tightened up to this: 

New Release from @dochappycamper #GayRomance #vampires

The second one conveys the same message in a shorter format AND it helps bring in the right target audience.

3. Don't use the @ and # on the same group of words in your tweet or blog title. 

Use one or the other, but there is no need to use both and waste valuable character space. I've seen this a few times with blog hops. I'm not picking on one hop in particular, but this one pops up in my Triberr stream often: @MySexySaturday and #MySexySaturday. Why have both of them in the same tweet/title? Pick one and use the other for a separate, different tweet.

4. Don't try to use several group hashtags in one tweet or blog post title.

This goes along with #1. Limited character space means you have to tailor your tweets and post titles to specific audiences. If you want to get shared by members of different groups, choose the ones specific for your target audience. 

For the love of all that's holy STOP using group hashtags that have nothing to do with your post, are from groups you are not a member of or have no idea what they mean. 

All you succeed in doing is make your tweet unreadable, labeled as spam and probably blocked by some of the very people you want to follow you. 

If you belong to several author support groups or tweet teams, then you must create unique tweets for each group. This will help get the word out about your posts much easier and you will gain true followers.

5. Don't start your tweet or blog post title with a hashtag.

Remember how the hashtags are highlighted when they hit the Twitter feeds? Having that annoying color change right off the bat can and does put your post on auto-ignore. Sure you may draw in a few people, but most will scroll on by. That's not what you need in the vast Sea of Tweets. You want to stand out and be able to engage. This won't happen if no one bothers to read your content.

Of course this is by no means an all inclusive list. I'm still trying to get over the jarring hashtag armies that assault me on Instagram. Whoever came up with the idea that stringing 30 to 60 hashtags with every single photo they upload to Instagram, must have been on crack. I hope they'll get control over that soon. 
I'm sticking to my 2 to 3 hashtag rule there because I cross post to Twitter and Facebook. If you do the same, you'd be wise to choose your hashtags carefully.

Until next time, peeps!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

The #FatChick Has Had It with Bullies Disguised as High Maintenance Creatures #MyWANA

You know it's been a heck of a couple of weeks if I'm here again with another post so soon. I've had enough drama to last me a lifetime and beyond and yet I can't tear myself away from it. It's like my favorite Real Housewives shows. I can't stop watching those train wrecks!

The publishing world is no different.

In my last post I talked about the changes with Amazon. Guuuurrrrrrlll! You'd think the world had indeed come to an end and there are still people bitching about it. Now Amazon is fighting back. Those who are the most vocal on social media have had those feeds deleted from their Amazon author pages aaaaannnnnndddd their books "hidden" from the general search feeds.

Ha! Welcome to the world of an author who pens erotica and erotic romance. Every single book we put out is subject to being slapped with the "adult" label and hidden from general searches. So what? All you do to get around that is promote the direct links just like you would for the links for other vendors...

Oh wait. You're exclusive to Amazon and think they'll never do anything to hide your books. You rake in the dough for them so they should bow down at your feet and let you do and say whatever the hell you want. 

Bwahahahahahahaha! Buck up, buttercup! You are NOT all that. Amazon is a business. They were there before you published your erotic shorts and they'll be there long after they ditch the ebook business altogether. All of your whining and crying about Facebook hiding your book links or Amazon burying your books from searches and your complaints that your gravy train of cheating Amazon's royalty system need to STOP. You are NOT the center of anyone's universe other than your own. Amazon, Scribd, Oyster, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, All Romance and any other vendor out there are under no obligation to sell your books.

YOU need them more than they need YOU.

Now some of those "Amazon is Number One" authors who put themselves up as "experts" on sales and rankings are being shown up as the fakes they are. "Best Seller" status doesn't apply to free books. I'm sorry, but giving your books away for free or 99 cents in order to get yourself higher in the rankings does nothing to sustain your career. Putting out 99 cent boxed sets with authors who have hit those USA Today and NY Times best seller lists ON THEIR OWN so that you can then get the same status could be seen as a genius move...until you have to prove you can hit those lists on your own merit.

These authors have preached their hype for so long, they actually believe it themselves and attack their colleagues who choose not to put all their eggs in one basket. We're all supposed to listen and hang on to every single word they say because they talk a good game and make everyone think they're publishing gurus when all they've done is learn how to manipulate the system in order to get the results they want.

What has been done to manipulate the system? Here are a few things but the list is anything but all inclusive

  1. Participating in review swaps with other authors. Not so bad in itself if done with one or two other people and everyone actually reads the books. This is not what's being done and those in the swaps are pretty much expecting 4 and 5 star reviews.
  2. Kindle Unlimited borrowing program. Groups of authors and their fans have borrowed a book, scrolled through over 10% in order for the author to get full royalty and then returned the book. A few days later, the same book is borrowed again. This ended up boosting the "sales"/borrowed ranking and got the author double (or more) royalty.
  3. Sending in street teams to post lower rated reviews for perceived "competition"
  4. Creating sock puppet accounts to rate their own books higher and slam "competition"
  5. Publishing 10 page booklets/pamphlets in the Kindle Unlimited program so that as soon as the file is opened on the kindle, the royalty is awarded. (this is mute now that Amazon has switched to the pages read system but...)
  6. Having your street team, family, friends and group members borrow the book from KU and slowly scroll through the pages to the end, or set the kindle to audible and let it read the book out loud while you do something else.

Smoke and mirrors, people. Smoke. And. Mirrors.

Just this last week, one of my author friends was blasted and called a sell out because she is a hybrid. She self publishes and is also published with well known publishing houses. One of our "friends" took it upon herself to give my friend advice about her career telling her she shouldn't go with a publisher but keep doing everything on her own. She then told my friend that she needed to be a part of some project in order to get more exposure and bring up her rankings.

Well, imagine my surprise when I took a moment to look at the High and Mighty One's book rankings. Each one of them had rankings much lower than my friends and she has less than a third of the books published that my friend has. Color me purple with giggles when the same "Expert" came back and tried to make nice with my friend.

How much do you want to bet Ms. Expert did what I did and actually checked my friends rankings on Amazon...and then maybe she even took a look at some other vendors and found out that my friend could very well know what the fuck she's doing with her career?

Sorry. I had to get that off my chest. It's been stewing for a long time. It all came to a head this week. I've been witness to authors behaving badly toward each other for far too long. There were two incidents that blew me away this week. I mentioned one above concerning Ms. Expert. The second has to do with another well respected author getting in the middle of a disagreement between two others. The whole thing was settled before she got involved. One had decided to cut ties with the other for her own sanity. Not everyone gets along and sometimes friendships must come to an end.

Been there. Done that and all of us survived to go on to bigger and better things.

Well in this case, the "Mediator" took it upon herself to chastise one author while appearing to take the side of the other. There were no sides to take in this other than both parties needed to part ways. Instead of letting it happen, the Mediator made one author feel like shit and pretty much told her that her career could be in jeopardy because of her behavior...behavior that had been grossly exaggerated by others who had no clue what had happened or the history between the two involved.

This is a classic case of a high maintenance author in need of being the center of attention at all times. If it works, more power to her but she has no business demanding that others have to agree with it, nor should she recruit a mutual friend to "make it all better" and cry about being bullied for doing "nothing wrong." 

Sometimes the best thing is to part ways and be done with it. Let it go. You came together for a purpose, learned from each other and now it's time to move on. That's not a bad thing and it sure is hell doesn't give anyone else the right to jump in and demand you remain friends. Why on earth would anyone want a friend to keep up the facade of a friendship after it's soured simply to keep the other part happy? 

By forcing others to do what you want, when you want, without compromise is not simply being high maintenance but the ultimate form of bullying. Using lies and half truths to get others to be on your "side" of a disagreement is manipulative and eventually will come back to bite you in the ass. 

Instead of hanging on to all that drama and negativity, release it out into the Universe. When you do, the weight will be lifted from your shoulders, from your heart and your soul. Live your life and pursue your career the way that will make YOU happy and fulfilled. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. Whether you want to continue with personal and business friendships, publish your work yourself, with a publisher or a combination of the two is all on you. No one has the right to dictate to you what will make you happy, so why give them that power?

Until next drama...errrr...time!

~The Fat Chick

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The #FatChick Weighs in on Amazon KU Doomsday #MyWANA

Tick. Tick. BOOOOOM!!!

There. Do you feel better now? We're nearing the end of DAY TWO of Amazon's new royalty pay out system for the books borrowed through their Kindle Unlimited program. How many of you have been on your computers wailing, gnashing your teeth and sending out furious hashtag filled tweets across the Internet?

Has the world come to an end for you?

Sorry, but all this craziness is over the top. The program just started up yesterday and there are authors lamenting they'll have to find some other way to get money since their income will be drastically cut.

All based on less than 48 hours of figures. (Click HERE to read a great blog post by Hugh Howey)

Now some want to throw in the towel since they may have to wait an entire month or maybe two to determine if the program will continue to pay them what they've been used to receiving while they've been faithful Amazon exclusive authors. Oh wait, maybe those were some of the hundreds of authors who busted up their novels into ten page pamphlets so that they would get paid the full royalty as soon as the reader opened their files on their Kindle?

If you were one of those authors who deliberately released those shorts, then you have no one but yourself to blame for Amazon's change up. You should NOT have been receiving the same royalty as someone who published a 100 or 200 page novel. You cheated the system and ended up causing Amazon to lose more money than they were already bleeding through their publishing side of their company.

Another group to blame are authors and their publishers who abused the system by having others repeatedly borrow books, scroll through 10% or a more for good measure, then return the book only to turn around in a day or two and borrow the book again. Now the author/publisher is getting double or more of the royalty intended for the "book". Tell me where that practice was ever fair?

With all the barely there "books" in the system, how could Amazon sustain the program as it was? How could authors who take the time to develop beautifully written novellas and novels get a break and be noticed in the sea of crap?

My friend and fellow author Zoey Derrick posted about this very thing within the last hour. Here's the LINK to her post. She'd made the choice to become exclusive to Amazon only a month ago and has decided to give it the full 90 days to see how it works for her and her readers. I think she made a wise decision. Two days of numbers won't give her a good idea of how things pan out. I applaud her for staying in there. She is one of the authors who write FULL length books with fabulous characters and stories that grab you and never let go. She may very well be one of the success stories with this new system because readers will WANT to complete the entire book and Zoey will be paid accordingly.

I gave Amazon exclusivity a go with one of the anthologies and it was not good for me. My readers kept asking when it would be out on Kobo, iTunes, BN and All Romance/Omnilit. I had built up a following there and didn't want to disappoint them. Once my 90 days was up, I pulled it out of Kindle Select and never looked back. That was the best decision for me and all of my pen names.

Subscription services on the surface look great for the consumer. You pay a flat monthly fee and you're able to borrow as many books as you can read. Amazon only let you "check out" ten at a time but once you finished reading any of them, you could send them back and fill those slots again. Well, companies offering these services grossly underestimated the voracious appetites of romance and erotica readers. 

This is why there will be more restructuring...

Scribd just dropped a huge chunk of romance and erotica books from their listings. They couldn't continue to pay the authors the full royalty for books borrowed out of what they were taking in from the subscribers. Unfortunately, instead of reworking and renegotiating the rates, Scribd dropped a shit ton of books angering their distribution partners, authors and readers all in one swoop.

Oyster hasn't listed any of my adult books. At first I thought it was yet another site snubbing the hot stuff, but no. It's all about money. 

Just like with Amazon.

Lesson through all of this is you must treat your writing and publishing as a business. You have to do what's right for you, your brand, and your work. If keeping exclusive to Amazon is what you want...do it but stop bitching. There will be ups and downs. Either ride it out, or get the hell out of dodge. Amazon isn't the only vendor out there. If you spread out, PROMOTE those other sites! don't assume readers will just stumble over your work and you'll take off. It takes work—a hell of a lot of hours of it to get your books in front of readers. If this is what you want to do for a living, then get off your ass and DO IT!

Until next time,
~The Fat Chick

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The #FatChick Has Had It with All the Bullies and Their High School Games #KIBJ

Hello all. I'm here this week to talk about something that's pretty much an ongoing issue in the publishing world as well as every day life. Every time we turn around there are stories in the news about kids taking their lives because of nonstop mean, cruel harassment from their classmates. These evil twits use the social media, texts, and phone calls to mercilessly rip another human being to shreds.

Why? Because they feel like it. We can say all we want that the "bullies" have issues with their own self esteem but truth of the matter is these people are just plain mean. They thrive on bringing others down. Our society gives them the attention they crave when they do this crap and reinforces their shitty behavior.

True bullying is rampant in the publishing world too—from authors attacking fellow authors who they feel are "competition" to authors attacking reviewers for daring to not LOVE their books to "reviewers" making it their life mission to shred an author to confetti because they can. It's consuming every inch of the world wide web and you would think there couldn't possibly be room for any more...

Think again.

Now the folks who were bullies before are claiming to be victims now. Every real or imagined slight is now being labeled as an attack by "jealous bullies." Instead of talking it out, insults and threats are tossed out so others can join in on the feeding frenzy. It's damn easy hiding behind a computer screen and attacking a stranger. You can bet your sweet behind the same thing wouldn't happen if the people were face to face.

It's time to take back our power. The lies and half truths being tossed out there don't have to mean squat and they don't have any power over their target/victim if they don't let them. Yes, that's a hell of a lot easier said than done, but shut off the cell phones, shut off the computer, don't get dragged into commenting on "bad" reviews or posts on social media. Don't get into Twitter wars. Just let it all go. 

Only YOU have the power to make it stop. When you publish a book, you have to accept the fact not everyone will adore your work. You are not the Universe's Gift to literature for every man, woman, and child. You may very well be that for some. Celebrate those victories and keep moving on.

Mistakes are made by EVERYONE every single day, sometimes repeatedly. Hell, I'm in that category at least twice a week myself. I can choose to wallow in it, or learn from my mistakes and become a better veterinarian, author, poet, publisher and cover artist. I can become the person I want to be: kind, caring, smart, witty, strong and loving. I'm far from all of that on most days but I'll be damned if I'll stop trying to get there.

True bullying is horrible. Labeling every little slight as a form of bullying is over the top. Shit happens and sometimes there isn't someone out there pulling the strings to make your life miserable. If you are someone who is the victim of bullying, or you think you are definitely TELL SOMEONE. At the very least, talking about it could give you the support you need to find your way out of the dark. You don't need to suffer in silence.

For those real bullies who are now getting a taste of their own "medicine"...

Damn. I really want to say "serves you right!" 

Unfortunately that would bring me down to their level. I have to fight with this every day. As a Wiccan, I strive to "above all do no harm." If I take pleasure in the fall of a bully, I'd be adding to another's pain. It's a horrible dilemma but I can choose not to go down that path. 

I think I'll just let Karma figure it all out...

#KIBJ (you'll find out what this hashtag means soon!)

Until next time, lovelies!
~The Fat Chick

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Three Weeks Down and the #FatChick is Loving Life Again #HealthyHabits

Welcome to Not Enough Time in the Day. I'm The Fat Chick and this week I'm sharing my journey to better health and a new me. To help you catch up, I'm a diabetic, on a diuretic for my high blood pressure, obese, stressed out veterinarian, best selling poet and author (under four pen names), and wife to the best husband of this and all life times.

aka Tammy. :)

Here I am three weeks into my program on Sparkpeople.com and I've lost over 18 pounds and 6.5 inches from my body. I'm still building up my stamina for my cardio workouts, but their getting easier with each day that passes. Next month, I'll move on to longer routines. I'm excited about that since the Walk Away the Pounds workouts have always been my favorite and regaining the ability to get through a 5 mile boosted walk in an hour is one of my short term goals. 

My blood sugar levels have stabilized and dropping to below 119 now instead of a whopping 167. Yeah, I know others have much higher levels, but if I would have kept going they way I was going, I would have had to start insulin. I'm afraid of needles so this broad is going to kick her own ass in gear to make sure I never have to get those injections.

Take that, pancreas!

My blood pressure has improved as well and my medium range goal is to get to the point where I don't have to be on it anymore. I tell you it's not fun chugging all the water I have to drink for my program while being a diabetic on a diuretic. Get the picture?

Seriously, I'm enjoying the journey this time around and instead of throwing myself in 1000%, I'm easing myself into it. In the past, I've burned out on it after getting to the 80 pounds lost level and then gained it all back. I don't want it back again. So by making these gradual changes, my hope is to create lifestyle changes that stick with me forever.

So there you go! I'm still hanging in there and moving forward with my plan to reinvent myself. I'm not creating a whole new DIFFERENT person, but simply letting the real me see the light of day again.

Until next time,

The Fat Chick

Thursday, April 16, 2015

#FatChick is On the Road to a Healthy LIfestyle

I'm happy to report I've gone back to my old stomping grounds on Sparkpeople.com to help me on my journey to regain my health. For those of you who don't know about it, Sparkpeople.com is a FREE site that offers all you need in order to find a healthier you. There are trackers for your weight, food, exercise, water intake and so much more. You can join groups for support and you can be as active in them as you wish, or stay on lurker status. It's all up to you. They have free videos you can watch to help with your exercise program, inspiration, recipes...and so much more.

All for free.

I found the site in 2008 after joining BiggestLoser.com. I had to pay for that one but found everything I needed and more on Sparkpeople for free. I could use their meal plans or simply enter my own food as I went. I didn't have to purchase any special equipment or join a gym. Everything I need to workout is already in my home. Of course I did get some new videos, body bands and weights to change things up a bit, but it was a small investment and I have everything with me now.

It's been five years since I was on Sparkpeople full time and I really missed it. I was worried that I would have issue with my crazy schedule getting everything I did and ate during the day into my trackers before I went to bed. Lucky for me, they have a free app for my phone. I can enter everything I do throughout the day and keep up with my progress.

I'm happy to report after two weeks I'm down 16 pounds. While that seems like a lot for two weeks, most of it came off because I cut down the snacking and junk food and cut out soda/pop for the first week. I did have one small bottle of coke yesterday but it took me several hours to drink it. LOL! Only a month ago I would have downed four of those small bottles in the same time period.

I had a flareup of gout arthritis in my big toe so I hadn't been able to jump right into the cardio workouts I picked out, but this week I'm gearing up to start again. I love the Walk Away the Pounds work outs and the free videos on the website. I have so many things to choose from that I know I'll be able to change things up and not get bored.

I've learned that if I go to fast and furious with the workouts in the beginning, I burn out on them later when I need them the most. I'm determined to make this lifestyle change a permanent part of my routine. I'm not stupid. I know there will be bumps in the road again, but with my husband's help, I'll get through those and keep on the right path. We have so much we want to do together and I for one can't wait to get rolling!

See you all around next time,

~The Fat Chick

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wake Up Calls and Heartbreak for the #FatChick #cancersucks

Hello all,

It's with a very heavy heart that I write today. An author who inspired me to keep following my dreams with all four of my pen names and continue self publishing with Sassy Vixen, left the world this week.

Brit Blaise (aka Judi Thoman) fought cancer and won the first time it entered her life, but the second time blindsided her. She fought hard and soldiered on during the battle, continuing to write and share the posts of other authors through social media. Finally her body could take no more and she moved on to the next chapter. Now she's free of the pain and never has to battle fucking cancer again.

Sorry. Normally I don't let the swear words fly on this blog but I'm pissed. It's not fair someone can win their battle against breast cancer only to have it thumb it's nose at her and come back with a vengeance. It seems to me there are more than enough people for this nasty group of vicious killers to attack. Why does it have to go for seconds or even thirds?

I know that sounds morbid and that if it wasn't Brit, someone else would be attacked. Well why not some of these evil shits who take great pleasure in causing others grief? Why does Cancer have to bulldoze it's way into the lives of caring, loving, people?

Where is Karma? When someone gives so much back to her peers why did she have to go out this way? Where was her reward for paying it forward and reminding people to live every day as if it could be their last and follow their dreams wherever they may lead? Where is her kudos for going through hell and back the first time?

Losing Brit has brought back so many of the memories and emotions I went through losing my dad in 2005 to Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He braved through EIGHTEEN rounds of chemo and the original tumors continued to grow. He did everything right. He quit smoking nearly thirty years before his diagnosis. He was physically fit, a retired Marine, and worked for the local police department. At the same time he developed his own company and traveled for speaking engagements. He was the last person you would think cancer would strike down...


A year after his death, my uncle (Dad's brother) was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Our family had to go through it all over again, but this time the cancer was knocked back and my uncle is still in remission.

I have had a lump in my breast for several years now. I've had it checked out multiple times and it remains benign. The last mammogram confirmed it too. My doctor has suggested additional testing for myself and my other family members since there is breast cancer and others on both sides of the family. Up until now I've been reluctant to pursue it. With the loss of Brit and several other author friends dealing with various types of cancer, I've changed my mind.

I've finally found my happily ever after with my husband Liam and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss out on any moment of it because I'm too scared to find out the full extent of my health issues. I owe it to him to be tested and more importantly, I owe it to myself not to be cheated out of my life because I waited too long to be diagnosed. I'm setting up my doctor appointments for the coming weeks and taking charge of my life. Enough hiding!

Until next time,

~"The Fat Chick"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The #FatChick Gets a Grip On One of Her Fears #anxietyattack #MyWANA

Hi Ho! The Fat Chick is back and ready to share more of her crazy ass journey through life after forty. For those of you just joining us, thank you! This is a little feature where I share my journey through all the bumps and briars of my life now that I'm in my late forties. Don't get me wrong. I love my age but there are some things that happen to all women in this age bracket that are just too damn funny to pass up talking about. Of course there are some things hard to get through for all of us and I hope that by sharing my story, the journey of others is a little bit lighter.

This time I'd like to talk about conquering long held fears. I have many and some are pretty mild. This one is quite debilitating. I have a fear of drowning. I can swim, fish from a boat and go over short little bridges without a problem but put me on a long spanning suspension bridge or on a...ferry...and I turn into a blubbering bag of flesh and bones.

Part of my job requires that I travel throughout the Seattle region to work at various veterinary hospitals. The best routes to one of them require a ride on one of the Washington ferries or drive 90 miles around. The first time I worked there, I did drive around. I wasn't ready to get on that ferry no matter what anyone said to me. Last week, I tackled it with my husband at the wheel.

It wasn't pretty.

I shook and cried and yes tossed my cookies. So many people offered me remedies for my nausea and sea sickness. Problem is, I don't suffer from sea sickness and the nausea had nothing to do with being around the water. What they were witnessing me experience was a full blown anxiety attack.

Dramamine doesn't help that. Meditation doesn't help me for it. Getting drunk off my ass doesn't help either although it would be perfect if it did. Just kidding! (maybe) The only tried and true way for me to get through it is to experience it over and over again. This is a process called flooding.

By going through it repeatedly, step by step, my brain can process it all and analyze it. The unknown is held at bay and my mind is occupied with getting through each step. The thoughts of the ferry going down and me being trapped in my car in the center of it, unable to get out stop running on a loop in my brain. The return trip only set me shaking. No vomiting. Yay me!

Today was the big test. I had to make the trip alone. I have to work at this hospital again tomorrow and by traveling over tonight, I stay at a local hotel so I can be there ready to rock and roll at 7am. My dislike of mornings is topic for another day, let's just say there was no way in hell I would make it up and over here in time if I had to drive in the morning for this shift.

What happened? Nothing but a little stomach butterflies. I purchased my ticket and parked in the waiting area. Within fifteen minutes we were moving. They directed me where to go and I ended up in full few of the front and the water. So cool! I waited a few minutes to be sure I wasn't going to go postal and then got out of the car. I made my way to the galley and got myself a hot pretzel and a Dr. Pepper to celebrate.

I did it! I made it through the whole process without any freaking out. No vomiting. No visions of the water rushing around me and into my car while I struggle to fill my lungs with enough air to be able to swim to the surface...

ohhhhhh...damn it...Just kidding! None of that happened today. Whew!

Here I sit on my little Netbook writing this post and smiling. I made it through one more trip and survived. Day after tomorrow I have to make the return trip bright and early so I can be back in time for a 9am shift at another hospital. As long as I have my plan of action, I think I'll be fine. Just in case, I'm going to take the advice of one of my friends.

Since my fear is being in the middle of the ferry, trapped in my car while the thing sinks, she told me to get my butt to the top of the ferry. Let the insurance replace the car. If the ferry goes down, I'll be on the sun deck and the first off that bad boy!

Until next time,
~The Fat Chick

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