2016 Backward and Forward

Looking back, 2016 was an okay year as far as years go. It's hard to quantify an entire three-hundred-sixty-six days. It's a leap year so we got a bonus twenty-four hours! It's slightly overwhelming and I almost don't know where to begin, which sums up where I am right now, overwhelmed. My plate is full, but with deliciousness, so that's the upside. I'll hit the highlights roughly month-by-month to spare myself the stress of ALL the things. (Note to my 2017 self, chill out! Try to do a little bit less! Relax more!)

At the beginning of each new year I pick a word, a trait, or focus to bring light to. This year was peace. It could also have been authenticity, presence, simplification, elevation… Did I achieve any of them? In degrees my friends, in degrees.

February was prep for the release of Pearl a book written from a very vulnerable part of my heart. February was nerves and excitement in equal measure.

Then there was the funk. No, not a foul odor coming from somewhere in my car (though that happened too, each and every time I turned on the heat), but the post-launch let down. To be perfectly honest, Pearl's reception was, meh. I tried to keep my chin up like a buttercup.

Plateau, plateau, plateau and confusion. The next months were murkyyyyy.

Then the summer came bringing the sun and surfing almost every day (I surf year round, but going without a wetsuit is the bey-ast! I felt more peace.and presence. I felt lifted, elevated, more focused…

Then I got terrible news and a relationship that I thought had long since gone the way of the strange smell in my car resurrected itself, bringing lots of emotions and more confusion and anger and blahhhhh.

I also gave the Follow your Bliss series a makeover. The covers are beautiful if I do say so… Why did I do this? Maybe because I wanted one too? Because I wasn't sure who I was in my career? Mayhaps.

When school started for my little bigs, I was in a complete state of disarray. It was enough to get through the day while dealing with all the emotional fallout from the summer.

But the mid-fall unexpectedly brought renewal and deepening of friendships and a shift in the light that helped me see things from a new perspective. I dare say it was like surfing without a wetsuit. At last, I felt FREE!

Oh, in there I also released my first non-fiction book titled, Book Promotion 365: how to reach readers andshare your work with the world. It's free right now, but only for a limited time. Writers, go grab your copy now!

I had a birthday and realized, wow, time is an interesting fellow. There are wrinkles and sagging and perspective and growth in so many wonderful ways. 

Still feeling slightly out of balance and wanting to empower myself to practice more self-care, I became a doTERRA essential oils wellness advocate and my, my the improvements those little bottles of liquid magic brought! Like, wow

I also have an Essential Oils Enthusiast Instagram for this endeavor if you'd like to check it out.

We celebrated Chewie's first birthday and a year being part of our pack. He's a bitey bear, but we love him.

I lost my grandmother around this time and found her on my yoga mat. Did you know I'm a yoga student and teacher? I'd gotten so far from my practice that I felt completely out of alignment (the mental kind) and have committed to getting back to it.  

Then there was Thanksgiving and dang it if I didn't realize the multitude, the absolute wild abundance, of all the blessings I have. Grateful, grateful, grateful. 

Then the holidays. Holi-daze? I love the sparkly, twinkly time of year, I do. But I also love to sleep so I'm going to hibernate for the next week or so.

Thank you 2016 for pushing me to get uncomfortable and prompting me to let go enough to grow into my sweet ferocity. 

Life is a marathon not a sprint. I've by no means lost the race, but have realized along the way that I'm gaining a more closely united tribe—there's no rush to get to that finish line. It'll be waiting for me when I'm ready to arrive. 

What's the word of the  year? Check back in a few days to find out. But I will say this, looking forward at the New Year, I'm going to be more present and a better listener, to the people around me and to myself.  

And what do I have in store for readers? Oh, baby! BOOKS! LOTS OF BOOKS. BOOKS IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE BOOKS. Guys, I'm going ALL in. There are books coming your way. You have no idea. The goal is 10 in 2017! TEN! So charge up your Kindle, find your favorite bookmarks, and get ready to read!

If you want to stay up to date on all the ALL CAPS excitement, (there will also be confetti! Wink, wink) please sign up for my monthly newsie.

See you in 2017!


A Holiday Hello

I want to wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas! 

I'll be back next week with a look at this past year and what's on the horizon for next year. Hint, big things!

Here's a writerly snapshot for now:

The release of Pearl, my second YA with Skyscape Publishing. 

The Follow your Bliss series got a makeover! 

About five years in the making, I finished Frigid, possibly my most favorite thing I've ever written.

Thank you for all your support this year. Reviews, likes, comments, emails, ALL of it is like a year-long gift wrapped in sparkly paper under the tree.

Let's stay connected on Instagram (my jam), Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and of course sign up for my monthly newsletter!


Sugar's Christmas Wish List

Sugar's Christmas Wish List: a mixture of goodies and goodwill for everyone in the world (in no particular order as told by the character Sugar from the young adult novel, SUGAR.)

1. A massage for service worker's, preferably after their shift: food servers, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, police officers, they do tremendously stressful jobs and could certainly benefit from tension relief. It would also create a high demand for masseurs! 

2. A splendid sunrise for everyone who fell asleep crying. 

3. A proper birthday cake with the appropriate number of candles. For people turning 100, it'll be a big cake, but that just means more to share. 

4. Peace on this planet. Peace in our hearts. Peace in our minds. 

5. Pink nail polish for fingers or toes. 

6. A notebook like this BE BRAVE one or this KISS MY CURVES one *Check out my Zazzle store for more goodies like this. I like to jot down design ideas, but it's also great place to preserve experiences, write out frustrations or hurts, or make lists of hopes and dreams. 

7. Speaking of preserving experiences, a retro instant camera like these are mega fun to have had when hanging out with friends or road tripping. 

8. Self love, respect, and body care for girls and boys, and men and women, young and old, little and big. 

9. A house, a room, or a spot in a church to take shelter. If I'm being specific I really enjoy a cushiony bed, with a pillow top mattress, and pillows like these! Sheets and pillowcases that are super soft like this one and a big warm blanket because everyone deserves to be warm and cuddled. 

10. A pretty, pretty dress or something like a dress. Like this Golden Girl one. Or this Frida inspired skirt. Or this one. I don't believe there is a one-size fits all, but I do believe girls and women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and should feel fancy and lovely when they dress up.

11. Reusable water bottles with fresh water for every human being on the planet. I like this glass one in raspberry! And this metal one is pretty utilitarian. 

12. Hugs. For everyone. Everyday. 

*Please note, I was not compensated to promote any of the items listed here. They are listed solely for the purpose of this post. Post originally appeared 

Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Genre: Contemporary Fiction // Age Group: Young Adult


I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl she sees in the mirror or sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

Get your copy of Sugar: Amazon // Barnes & Noble

Please share the Sugar Love:

Copy and paste to Tweet:
Sugar, a bullied teenager who learns to love the reflection of the girl she sees in the mirror. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PG8UCH2 #yalit #fiction 

Copy and paste to post on Facebook:
Through friendship, Sugar discovers she amounts to more than a worthless daughter, an annoying sister, and the target of the senior class prank.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PG8UCH2


Introducing, the Essential Oil Enthusiast!

Some might say I came for the scents, the calm, or the wellness benefits, but I'm sticking around after delving into the essential oil world to bring myself greater focus and creativity as a writer. I diffuse the Motivate to inspire feelings of confidence and creativity with a combination of mint and citrus essential oils. When I feel distracted and like I'm procrastinating, I use the InTune blend to help enhance my senses and sustain focus. It's perfect for staying on task when I'm trying to concentrate and meet a deadline. 

I've been a yoga teacher and co-owned a yoga and wellness studio, but these days I'm busier than ever with my writing life. However, this has left me feeling out of balance in my body. Like an essential component to my personal self-care routine has been missing.

Lately, I've struggled with feeling stressed in general. Can anyone relate?

Lacking concentration. My home office is smack dab in the living room, which means I'm always part of the action. While in many ways that's convenient, I have a tough time concentrating, causing me to stay up late to catch up on things.

This led me to feeling so utterly tired, like I was sleepwalking through life.

As you can imagine all of this added to the stress and I felt like I was spread thin, barely able to motivate and function. Something needed to change. I got focused on only what was absolutely necessary in my schedule, got back on my yoga mat, but I also heard essential oils could help.

I'd always had some eo bottles around, but grabbing the one that smelled the best from Whole Foods didn't quite cut it. I did my research and as a person who won't take so much as an aspirin unless it's critical, I needed to be sure the oils I chose were of the highest quality. One of my favorite yoga teachers turned me on to DoTERRA and I haven't looked back as I've integrated essential oils into my lifestyle.

I daresay it was almost like megawatt magical light bulb moment, bringing peace, clarity, and wellness into my family and my own daily routines.

It didn't take me long to discover the multitude of benefits essential oils provide, from helping improve sleep, providing relief from tummy aches, muscle pains, and burns. Our world is brighter, more cheerful, and calmer than ever. I actually said, "Where have these oils been all my life?"

I delved into the Doterra world and saw that it made sense to become a wellness advocate because of the savings, but also because it makes it easier for me to share essential oils with you. I'd never push anything on anyone, but if you're interested, I'd love to talk some more about it.

Other benefits of essential oils and being a wellness advocate while building my business is the oils support my kids and myself balance school, social, and sports. Deep blue and several other oils are great for athletes. As a huge fan of Harry Potter, essential oils are a little like potions too. 

I'm also an advocate of the doTERRA business model because it helps me learn and demonstrate entrepreneurial skills setting a positive example for my children. I also am able to provide my them with access to trusted products and methods for self-care.

For all of us there has been a marked reduction in stress, an overall improvement health and wellness, and essential oils just make me happy.
Among some of the common applications of essential oils:

Weight Management
Skin Care/Eczema
Insect Bites
And more!

Essential oils have many personal and household uses and the Doterra wellness products such as hand soap, toothpaste, hair and skin care, and vitamins can replace some of the current products you use daily with natural options.

Want to know more? There are 3 Ways to Doterra

Create a wholesale account and order items online. It costs $35 for the first year, giving you wholesale prices which are 25% off retail on every order. (Renewal in subsequent years costs $25 and you get a free 15ml bottle of peppermint oil, which is valued at $27 retail/$20.50 wholesale. (*If you decide to upgrade to wellness advocate, you can do so with no additional enrollment fee.) The Wholesale Customer options is like having a Costco membership, you pay an annual fee and pay wholesale prices.

There is no required monthly order.
2. Become a Wellness Advocate: You get the same great discount above while sharing the benefits of essential oils along with access to wholesale prices, but also are able to earn income from sales. You will also get a personalized online shop, business training, marketing tools, the opportunity to grow your business, earn commission on sales with access to bonuses.  
There are loads of benefits of being a wellness advocate and this is a great option if you're ready for a majorly positive impact in  your life. 

You have the ability to share amazing, life enhancing and transforming oils with your family and friends. 

You can also grow your wellness business, create a team, mentor others, and have a positive impact on the lives of friends and family.

Work from home during hours that fit your schedule.

Become a part of an amazing community of wellness advocates.

Access to monthly promotions. 

As a wholesale customer or Wellness Advocate you have the added option of enrollment in the Loyalty Rewards Program. Recurring monthly order that can be customized, adjusted, or canceled anytime. For months 1-3 in the LRP you get 10% back in points on each order, 4-6 months, 15%, 7-9 months, 25%, 10-12 months, 25%, and 13+ months, 30%. If you keep 100 point value in your cart at all times, you get these points applied to your next order, which is like a coupon or you could think about it as Doterra dollars. 125 PV + orders entitle you to free products as well.

EXAMPLE OF LRP: Every time you place an order, you receive 10% back in points (we can call them Doterra Dollars). If you purchase 100 points (PV), which is $100, you'll receive 10%, which is like a $10 coupon off your next order. Overtime, if you consistently place these orders month after month, you'll eventually earn 30% back in points. Loyalty rewards is great for items you use and need to replace each month such as vitamins, hand soap, toothpaste, and of course, oils!

Shipping Rewards Program: if you order online, you get points back on your shipping costs usable on your next order, which is like another coupon.

3. Order through me. Let me know what you'd like and I'll handle the rest.

So that's my sort-latest story, a semi-new adventure, and my path to improved wellness as I balance the demands of an active writing life. Are you new to essential oils? Not sure where to begin? Interested in learning more?

Leave a comment below, connect with me on social media—

or email me: the blossoming family @ yahoo . com (please take out the spaces)


This post contains affiliate links, providing me with compensation if a purchase is made. However, all opinions are my own. 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. I am not a medical professional, am not treating or diagnosing you, and am not replacing the guidance of a medical professional. All of these statements are for informational use only.


Happy Thanksgiving!

What am I grateful for this year? I'm incredibly thankful for my family, friends, health, home, freedom, and career, but for fun, I'll list a few of the things I'm particularly grateful for today: (I borrowed a portion of this list from this site.)

What smell are you grateful for today? Cinnamon! But I've been getting really into essential oils and am fond of lavender and peppermint.

What technology are you grateful for? I am so thankful for "lappy" my "mature" laptop and the many, many years of faithful service it's provided. I've even grown to love the wonky letter i key and perpetually stuck space bar.

What food are you most grateful for? Tacos! This goes without saying, but I also have been nom-ing loads of lentils with greens and goat cheese. I know, not as exciting as tacos, but great writing fuel that kept me going through the completion of my latest manuscript, a romantic comedy titled Love, Hate, and Other Lies we Told.

What sound are you grateful for today? I am thankful for the sound of laughter: my kids' laughter, my friends' laughter, my husband's laughter, my own laughter. A good belly laugh is THE BEST. Make me laugh and you win my heart (also tacos.)

What in nature are you grateful for? I am super thankful for the ocean. I appreciate its ever-changing, moody, clear blue, generous, wave-making enormity, even on small windy days, flat spells, medium swells, I love diving in, surfing, or walking along the shore with Chewie.

And YOU! 
Thank you for reading, supporting, liking, reviewing, sharing, and being such an amazing group of people!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Gratitude Giveaway

Every November I find myself getting deeply introspective about everything I'm thankful for. Focusing on and celebrating the blessings, abundance, and friends & family keeps me grounded, positive, and attentive to all of the things that are going right, rather than the complaints, the aches,and the comparisons. #KeepingItReal

November is also autumn, my birthday month and Thanksgiving in the US, which might also lend to this process of inquiry and examining what I appreciate and value. And this year, as much as ever, I'm so thankful for readers, book lovers, and fans of this glittery-writing space I have on the internet. 

As a way to thank you, I'm offering a special giveaway! See below for more!

Enter below to win a digital copy of the Follow your Bliss series in your desired digital format and a $5 Amazon gift card! Thank you to The Book Hounds for hosting this blog hop. You can simply follow the links on the list below to visit the sites of numerous authors and bloggers and enter for a chance to win great prizes including books, swag, gift cards, and more

Happy Thanksgiving! 
What are you thankful for this year?


YA Books to Read in the Fall & Interview with Cheyanne Young

Autumn is so cozy, ya? Pumpkin. Cinnamon, Socks! And books, of course. This is the time of year when I tend to turn in and open up a book or six. Here are some of my favorite fall-ish reads, they've got that *feel,* ya know? 

And a bonus mini-interview with Cheyanne Young, author of The Breakup Support Group down below!

I've provided links, in case you want to add 'em to your TBR.

The Heist Society by Ally Carter

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Breakup Support Group by Cheyanne Young

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Looking for a fun, fall, flirty read? I was lucky enough to read an early copy of The Break Up Support Group and if you answered yes to the question I just asked, this book is for you. It hits all the notes and has a sweet and modern, non-jaded Breakfast Club feel. I'm doubly lucky to have become friends with author Cheyanne Young and thought it would be a treat to do a autumn mini-interview with her. 

1. What's your favorite fall YA book?
The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. It's such a great story to cozy up with and read for hours.

2. What's your favorite warm drink?
Coffee will forever and always be my favorite, but in the fall, I love a pumpkin spice latte! (Or, to be frugal, a coffee with pumpkin spice creamer from Target.)

3. What is your favorite way to spend a rainy and windy day? 
I should probably say reading, but I love going on a Netflix binge when it's storming outside. I read nearly every day, but a Netflix binge is a treat.

4. What is your favorite television show to return with a new season? 
Oh man, this might be impossible to answer. I've watched every season of OITNB the day it was released, so that one might be the winner, or at least tied with Mr. Robot. I'm also obsessed with Reign, How to Get Away with Murder, Shameless, and Longmire.

5. What's your favorite Halloween candy? 
Chocolate oranges. I now know they're sold year round, but my BFF and I used to get them for each other on Halloween, so I still think of it as a Halloween thing. They're SOOO good!
Speed round!

Apple or pumpkin? Pumpkin.
Hat or scarf? Scarf! 
Hay ride or corn maze? Hay ride.
Halloween or Thanksgiving? I was born on Thanksgiving, so that's my fav! 

Dressing up for Halloween or staying in and giving out treats? Both!

Thank you Chey for answering and sharing your stories with us! If you'd like to find out more about the author, visit her website and be sure to pop on over to Amazon and preorder the book! It releases November 22, perfect timing for indulging in after you've stuffed yourself full of Thanksgiving dinner. *If you're not in the US/celebrating Thanksgiving, you can still plop on the couch, put your feet up, and enjoy a sweet read.

Have you read any of these? Do you have any recommendations for me to read this autumn? Please share below!

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