Hello World…Again, Part Two

For me, 2016 was a journey.

Down.

2017 is seeing me rise.

Up.

That’s my story in a nutshell.


Here’s the longer version of that story…

In 2016:

  • I let fear take over my life and, fully operating in lack/limitation mode, made some poor decisions
  • I tried to be something I am not and hid my truth for fear that it would hinder me
  • I was in constant chronic pain
  • I stopped leading the active lifestyle I’d led my entire adult life
  • Because of the poor decisions I’d made, I suffered from anxiety that was so bad I was afraid to fall asleep each night
  • I let anger toward, and hatred of, an individual take root and fester in my heart and mind
  • I became severely depressed; my mind went into what was the darkest place it had ever gone
  • I started taking prescription anti-depressants (I hate drugs)
  • I gained 15 pounds
  • I let fear take over my life and, fully operating in lack/limitation mode, made some poor decisions

Notice the last item is identical to the first item. That’s because the cycle repeated. Needless to say, I didn’t finish my next books.

via GIPHY

There was some progress in business and other exterior pursuits, but when it comes to what really matters, who I AM, I lost myself in 2016.

But I didn’t realize it until the last week of the year. Specifically, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

As a result… I started to rise

In 2017:

  • I’ve restarted my yoga practice
  • I’ve reprogrammed my brain to tell me something positive as soon my eyes in the morning
  • I’ve restarted my daily meditation practice
  • I workout 5 times a week
  • I speak, walk, and live my truth
  • For the first time (in a loooong time), I’m on a diet
  • I’ve restarted my yoga practice

Notice the last item is identical to the first item. That’s because the cycle repeats. Needless to say, I am feeling so much better.

In addition…

  • I no longer require prescription anti-depressants
  • I’m actively stating my truth to whomever I come into contact with (how liberating!)
  • Whenever anger/hatred tries to raise its head, I lovingly obliterate it

I’ve discovered that speaking my truth cannot destroy me. It just makes me stronger.

via GIPHY

2017, so far, has been an amazing year. The winter is over, Spring is here, and my goal is to bring the heat (ok, I couldn’t resist the Game of Thrones dragon reference).

 

via GIPHY

 

How I Researched My Irish Heritage for Heart to Heart: Book Two in the Angelica Brown Series

How I Researched My Irish HeritageUnderstanding My Irish Heritage

I’ve been researching the history of Britain’s Irish ethnic cleansing for historical accuracy in my novels, particularly the Angelica Brown Series, and to understand my Irish heritage.

As a Caribbean-American, I mine all of my ancestral origins for inspiration–whether African, Panamanian, Carib Indian or Irish. Unfortunately, there was very little information that could help me to paint an accurate picture of Irish-Caribbean history outside of the usual St. Patrick Day rhetoric and Irish-American rah-rah.

Fortunately, while milling around the South End branch of the Boston Public Library, I found To Hell or Barbados: The ethnic cleansing of Ireland. The author, Sean O’Callaghan, was a former member of the Irish Republican Army and highly qualified to render a reliable account of Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland.

Along with extensive internet research, this book shed light on how Irish Catholics were stripped of their livelihoods, dignity and property and shipped off to be slaves. I was shocked to learn that Irish slaves in Barbados were considered less valuable than their African counterparts. It was also disheartening to think about the many stories connected to these events that will never be told.

Nevertheless, Heart to Heart explores this part of history through the story of Charles Wright, a 19th century descendant of Barbadian Irish slaves who forms intricate ties with Angel’s family.

Heart to Heart

Heart To Heart: Book Two in the Angelica Brown Series

It felt pretty cool to weave this barely-discussed part of Irish history with the story of West African slavery in Barbados, and create a memorable character in the series.

The human experience of the Irish-Caribbean is not something typically portrayed in school “his story” books. However, very much like the atrocities of the African genocide, this is a part of our collective history that deserves to be honored and understood.

How I Researched My Irish Heritage for Heart to Heart: Book Two in the Angelica Brown Series

Hello World…Again

Hello World...AgainHello World…again. It’s been so long, almost a year, since my last post, it feels like forever.

Just so you know, I am continuing to hone a new companion series to the Angelica Brown Series.

The first volume of the To Protect and Serve line-up was due for a 2015 release. However, I realized it wasn’t quite ready. The police/crime/fantasy series is based on Justin McCarthy, Angel’s blood donor in the Angelica Brown series.

I’m also working on the third installment of Angel’s story. It’s pretty spectacular in my opinion, but I’ll leave that to your determination, once it’s released.

Am I being mysterious? Perhaps. But like every artist, I suppose, I’ve gone through my creative highs and lows.

Hello World…Again

What Gets Me Through a Juice Cleanse

What Gets Me Through a Juice Cleanse

What Gets Me Through a Juice CleanseAlso read “Ramping: How I Prepare for My Extended Juice Cleanses

It’s Day 8 of my juice cleanse, and here are some of the things that I use or consume on a daily basis.

Although there are a lot of fruits represented here, some vegetables I’ve juiced constantly include carrots (of course), cucumber, celery, beets and kale. Fresh and frozen fruits include strawberries, blueberries, pineapple (my absolute favorite), gala apples, mangoes, fresh limes and lemons. Store bought juices include Pom pomegranate and 100% Acai juice. I’ve also relied on ginger root and fresh mint to give the vegetable juices some warmth and kick. Supplements such as protein powder and vitamins are also necessary. Finally, because of the level of detoxing that comes as a result of  juice cleansing, lots of filtered water is vital. Here are a few of my must haves:

SmoothieBoxes

Strawberry smoothies! The homemade ones are my favorite but as you can see I like Stonyfield’s, too!

Smoothie

I adore making smoothies! This one was made with organic blueberry and yogurt. I might have thrown some fresh cucumber juice into it for a fresh edge.

ScrubBrush

The Breville juicer comes with this handy brush which helps make clean-up a breeze.

Oils

Olive, coconut and avocado oils. These come in handy for salads as I ramp up and ramp down. Coconut oil is also a super moisturizer for skin and hair!

LoneSmoothie

These little smoothies are my addiction. They’re great while on the go, and when I don’t have enough time to throw some fresh juice together. The empties fill my recycling bin!

Juicer

This is the best juicer I’ve ever had. Easy to clean and I love how one can just place a plastic bag in the pulp dump container and toss when done. Easy peasy. LOVE my Breville!

Juicing

Some of the numerous health benefits of aloe vera juice includes serious detoxing, increasing metabolism, and strengthening the immune system. I mix several ounces of this with pure pomegranate juice and drink once a day. Not crazy about the taste, but mixed with the juice it’s not so bad. Can’t deny the benefits!

Blender

This is an old, old blender from the 90s. I use it for making smoothies. I love dumping fresh juice into this baby and blending it up with frozen fruits, milks such as coconut, soy and almond, and more. My little ancient blender still does the trick!

I still continue to workout every week day, and the act of sweating totally helps my body with its ongoing detoxing efforts. Because I get majorly hungry after a half hour of cardio, I follow up with a rich thick smoothy featuring bananas, coconut milk, organic yogurt and blended fruits of choice.

There are other ways of helping my body detox and right about now I’m feeling pretty good. I no longer have cravings and have reached that place where I feel that I can go on indefinitely.

Ironically, because I do want to continue to lose weight, I’ll probably break my fast sooner than later. I’d like to push the calorie burning envelope and it’s too hard to do while fasting–I can’t keep up with my body’s need for calories and focus on my work. As I mentioned last week, this is the first cleanse where weight loss is a goal, so I had no idea the level of hunger I experience in the middle of the day after a medium cardio burn (roughly 250-300 calories) would feel so uncomfortable. If I wasn’t keen on burning more fat and toning muscle I would probably continue to 100% juice for a few more days. But for now my body’s telling me to start ramping down (re-introducing raw foods) over the next couple of days while continuing to enjoy juice and smoothies. All in all, this cleanse was definitely one of the easiest ones I’ve done. I can’t wait to juice cleanse again over the Summer!

Ramping: How I Prepare for My Extended Juice Cleanses

Ramping: How I Prepare for My Extended Juice Cleanses

Note: This is a method I perfected for myself since starting juice cleansing in the mid-90s. It is due in part to Queen Afua, whose book Heal Thyself was my gateway into detoxing during a time when cleansing was still viewed, in this country, as whacky. My method may not work for you; everybody’s body is different. As always listen to your body temple; it can tell you a lot about what it needs!

Juice Cleanse

Tomorrow will be the first day of my 2015 Winter Cleanse. I do this detox/cleanse every year (along with a Summer Cleanse) however this year’s been a little different. Usually I start in February and am done by this time of year, but Snowmeggedon 2015 was brutal. My entire being was in serious hibernation mode until March and I steadily ate comfort foods.

Ramping up

In light of the amount of time spent snowed in and shoveling out, I gave myself a break this year and allotted more time to ramping up than ever before. Usually it takes 3-4 days to ramp up to a 100% juice cleanse, but this year I’ve been ramping for the past two weeks. What does ramping mean? Simply it’s the method of removing particular food groups from your diet in order to facilitate an easier transition into juicing. For example, if you eat steak on Monday and decide you’ll start a juice cleanse on Tuesday, odds are you have less of a chance at success when your body starts craving meat. But if you’d removed meat from your diet on Tuesday and went without it completely before commencing to juice Friday, there’s a much higher likelihood that the cravings for meat will have a weaker hold on you.

Since I juice cleanse for a minimum of 7 consecutive days, it’s important to me that my body is primed for the long haul. Juice cleansing is a marathon, and ramping up properly is a way of stacking the odds in my favor. The first things I remove are animal products. I don‘t eat red meat (haven’t for over 22 years) or many dairy products (with the exception of yogurt, which I’ll explain in a minute), so the first thing I removed from my diet was poultry and fish. After a couple of days, I started removing my real weakness—carbs. I cut down on cooked grains, whole grain crackers and breads over the course of 5 days. This method almost guarantees zero cravings and helps me go as long as I like. My longest 100% juice cleanse, so far, was 15 days.

Balancing out

As I remove various cooked foods from my diet I increase raw foods—both fruits and vegetables. I jump to 50% raw immediately, and from there ramp down the cooked/baked foods while increasing the amount of raw. Around now is the time I introduce the juicing by having a serving of juice at whatever time’s convenient, usually at night. This is also a good time to re-compile my juice recipes and try some newbies. Once I hit 100% raw, I either start juicing 100% the next day or ramp down raw for a day or two while increasing juice exponentially, depending on what my body tells me its comfortable with.

This year, I’ve got a new goal–weight loss. For the 15 years I’ve been doing this bi-annual cleanse (I started 20 years ago, but stopped during pregnancy and slacked off during early momhood), I’ve always sought to cleanse and detox above anything while the (inevitable) weight loss was icing on the cake. Now, in the wake of the Great Hibernation and what seemed like never-ending eating, it’s like getting rid of the Freshman Fifteen all over again. My goal is to lose at least 10 pounds, and so far I’ve lost four pounds on ramping alone.

Why yogurt?

As mentioned above, the one dairy product I keep in my diet is yogurt. I don’t drink cow’s milk and rarely eat cheese (although I LOVE it), because of its effect on me. Yes, I am lactose intolerant, but according to much research so is the majority of the human race.

“Look, are you a suckling calf? Name one creature on earth that uses milk after it’s weaned. Man’s the only one. And man’s the only one who lives out only half his life span. A cow has four stomachs. You don’t. You can’t handle whole milk.” – Jack Lalane

Yogurt, on the other hand, while still a dairy product doesn’t wreak havoc on the human digestive system due to the active cultures it possesses.

“A benefit of yogurt…not present in most milks is the presence of probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help maintain digestive and immune health.” – Larissa Gedney

Yogurt is honestly one of the best things I can put in my body. Plus it fits in with my juicing efforts—I love making yogurt-based smoothies during my Summer Cleanse. So yummy!

But how does it feel?

Juice cleansing is not about starving your body—far from it—it’s about feeding your body all the vitamins and nutrients it needs while giving it a break from digesting solid food. And, just in case you’re wondering, I still work out while ramping and cleansing. To support that, not only do I ramp up my protein intake with yogurt-based smoothies, I also add soy-based protein powders, green supplements such as spirulina, wheatgrass and more. That being said I keep my cardio workouts to 30 minutes—5 minutes stretch on either end of 20 minutes sustained cardio. With that ratio of exercise and calories I lose pounds, detox and stay energized!

It feels fabulous!

Over the next few days, I’ll give more details about my cleanse, including recipes and cleansing techniques. Stay tuned!

 

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Heart To Heart Top 10 Video Playlist

Like the Top 10 Audio list, this video list offers the top songs from the Heart To Heart Official Playlist, the sixty songs I played religiously over the roughly year and a half that it took to write and edit (and edit, and edit) Heart To Heart. There are also a few other songs from the official list that are thrown in here, just for fun.

Unfortunately, not every song has an official video, some are simply fan-made such as the Dark Shadows tune, “Go All The Way,” which was never officially released.

Artists on this video list include Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Santigold, Icona Pop, Florence + the Machine, and more.

Also check out the Official Blood To Blood Playlist so see what I listened to while writing the first book in the Angelica Brown Series, Blood To Blood.

Heart To Heart Top Ten Audio Playlist

Heart To Heart Top Ten Audio Playlist

If you read my last post, you’ll know I had sixty songs on constant rotation while writing Heart To Heart. Like Blood To Blood‘s playlist, the compilation of songs reflect my obsession with always playing music while writing or doing anything in general.

Some of the songs were played more than others, and I always like to check out the “Number of Plays” column in iTunes to get a glance at which tunes I played more than others. Most of this list features female artists that I pretty much wrote to non-stop. The wildcard in the bunch is a song from the Johnny Depp starrer Dark Shadows that was never even released (don’t ask me how it got it in my playlist, I’ll plead the fifth if you do). The only other soundtrack song comes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Santigold’s goose pimple-inducing “Shooting Arrows At The Sky.”

This audio playlist features the Top 10 of the list in order of plays, starting with the most played. For the entire official list check here. Enjoy the tunes!

Heart To Heart Top Ten Audio Playlist

Heart To Heart Official Playlist

Blood To Blood Official Playlist

Heart To Heart Character Quote No. 15

Heart To Heart Character Quote No. 15

This quote and others like it are pulled from Heart To Heart, the sequel to Blood To Blood. The young adult paranormal romance DROPPED TODAY (yay!) and I can’t wait for you all to read it.

In the meantime, enjoy another snippet and a quick excerpt below!

Heart To Heart

Here’s a quick excerpt:

Soon we were in front of a burger place where at least twenty racing bikes were parked along with a group of bikers.

Markus whispered in my ear as we rolled to a stop. “All weres, most immortal Trads.”

One girl eagle-eyed me before shepherding her mohawk-wearing boyfriend’s gaze in my direction. In a husky Mexican accent, she introduced herself as Storm, from the all-female biker group Pink Mist, while her boyfriend and Markus slapped hands. I looked around at some of the other bikers and was met with more open stares. I asked Markus if they were Kat Trio fans. Storm answered my inquiry. “We don’t care what you do in the mortal world. It’s our world that counts. And we know who you are.” Her smile was full of glistening teeth. “You’re danger. You belong with us.”

“Let’s call her that,” her boyfriend, Shank, said with a smile. “Danger.” The bikers who stared nodded in agreement.

They were different from the majority of immortals I’d run into since my Mahá. Instead of cringing away from me, they welcomed me into their group. It was nice to be surrounded by people who were acquainted with me, but not afraid to look me in the eyes.

Markus handed me a clove cigarette. After a brief pause, I took it, and he lit it for me.

“You’re a bad influence, Markus Seymour.”

“Now that’s what I want to hear.” His grin stretched expansively between his ears. “Live a little, Beacon Hill princess.”

He howled, and the biker crowd response-howled as smoke from various types of cigarettes rose up to waft and hover briefly above our heads before being dissipated by the breeze sweeping the twilight sky.

Bikes continued to line up along the curb until the gleam from their collective chrome rivaled the glare from the streetlights and illuminated storefronts. Leather was everywhere. Rap music blared from the bike of a Japanese werewolf named Black Mayhem, while rock flowed from another, and dubstep blasted from a third. Mortals wanting to be a part of the action rolled up on their bikes, too, while locals gingerly waded through the frenetic energy on their way to dinner. Tourists attempted to blend in, even as they stood gawking at the Hollywood wildlife.

Want to see more quotes like this?

Heart To Heart Character Quote No. 15

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel Brown’s Neighborhood

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel Brown’s Neighborhood

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel's neighborhood

Beacon Hill: Halloween in Angel’s neighborhood

Every year the residents of Beacon Hill host a fantastic multi-block Halloween party that sees hundreds of costumed people–kids, parents, tourists, Halloween enthusiasts, weirdos–roaming from door to door, with expanding bags of candy, smiles, and clicking cameras. The atmosphere is festive, like a Northeastern mardi gras.

This is just one of the reasons why I decided that Beacon Hill would be Angel Brown‘s neighborhood. Her family has lived there since the 1800s. In Blood To Blood, we start to get a taste of the deep sense of wonder Angel has for her ‘hood:

The feeling of my toes catching in the crevices between the uneven bricks made me appreciate, again, the history of my neighborhood. The gas lighting, colonial architecture, and sense of danger in the dark, centuries-old alleyways always fascinated me. ~ from Blood To Blood

In an upcoming Angel Brown installment (shh, I can’t say which one!), we’ll see the family participate in the yearly Halloween festivities. I’m really enjoying weaving this tradition, and more Beacon Hill history, into Angel Brown’s story. In the meantime, here are a bunch of pics I took tonight. Happy Halloween! And don’t forget Heart To Heart will be released November 3!

IMG_20141031_184918

IMG_20141031_182330IMG_20141031_19010920141031_194729IMG_20141031_192545IMG_20141031_192422IMG_20141031_192112IMG_20141031_191514IMG_20141031_190443IMG_20141031_181853IMG_20141031_192707IMG_20141031_185931IMG_20141031_185231IMG_20141031_184952IMG_20141031_183027IMG_20141031_182909IMG_20141031_19300920141031_1949102014-10-31 20.48.24