The Perils of Ignoring Self-Care

So it turns out burning the candle at both ends is really, really, REALLY bad for your well-being. We’re talking physical, mental, emotional burnout.

I thought summer break would be a chance to recharge, as it always has in the past, but it’s turning out not to be the case. You see, I recognized around mid-March that I was dangerously close to hitting the proverbial wall. At some point shortly thereafter, I apparently decided to haul myself and the metaphorical 50-pound pack-of-everything over that wall, instead of admitting to myself that it was time to take a true break.

In years past, I always made a point of doing little things for myself. Having a mini-spa day. Sleeping in. Watching a movie or seven that I’ve seen a billion times over. Reading a book in close to one sitting. Playing the piano. Wandering around the house singing at the top of my lungs. Exercising, even if I hated every second of it and only kept going because, yes, there is that euphoria when you finish.

Now, working full time and having a small child, I realize that a lot of that stuff isn’t going to happen much anymore, and I have an amazing support system. But the problem is that, in the past couple years, it’s not even so much that I don’t do the things that replenish me, it’s that I, somewhere along the line, apparently convinced myself that it wasn’t necessary for me to do them anymore.

There’s a lot of research out there on the importance of self-care.  Self-care is, in fact, so important and so often ignored that Ted-Ed actually has a whole series of TedTalks about it! I need to start figuring out a way to build it back into my life. Without it, I’m finding myself short-tempered, easily irritated, overly sensitive, constantly exhausted, and continually struggling to remain focused and effective in my work (both the teaching and the writing).

Ignoring self-care has affected my relationships, how I behave as a wife and a mother. It has affected me physically, as I haven’t managed to get myself back into an effective workout routine to maintain my weight and fitness. I’ve become a stress eater for the first time EVER, when stress used to make me lose my appetite. My skin has gone crazy in ways it hasn’t since I was a teenager, and even then I’m not sure it went this crazy. I continue to have flare ups of postpartum anxiety (something I struggled to identify at all for months before finally seeing a therapist).

And I’ll be perfectly honest – the current events we’ve seen since the start of 2017 have not helped. It’s been a real challenge to not only maintain a sense of sanity as I try to keep up with those current events – being a world history teacher to students who also see this stuff and constantly ask “WHY?”, I don’t have the luxury of ignoring them or even just perusing a shortlist of what’s happening around our planet. I actually ended up taking an unintentional media fast during the last couple weeks of school, and when I finally resurfaced I felt like I’d missed a boatload of imperative information that just stressed me out more. The kicker with keeping up with those current events is that needing to know, and the inundation of constant “what NOW?” moments, almost kept me from completing the first draft of HE TAKES THE CAKE.

It’s incredibly hard to write lighthearted romantic comedy when you feel like the country and the world is falling down around your ears, and your anxiety is on overdrive because of stuff you have absolutely no control over.

I digress – a little – but the point in this ever-lengthening venting session is that one day, I looked in the mirror and realized how ignoring my own self-care has slowly whittled me down. My willpower, my self-image, my confidence, my energy level, my ability to be present to the people who need me to be present.

Now to come up with a plan…

And the Winners Are…

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the HE TAKES THE CAKE Release Day Giveaway!

Sometimes it just takes a little spark to reignite an old flame…

Grand Prize Winner of the $25 Amazon Gift Card is: JANE BASSETT-NELSON

And the winners of a copy of HE TAKES THE CAKE for Kindle are:

  • Amber Ag
  • Gabrielle Smith
  • Ally Swanson
  • David Holder
  • Gina Marie

All winners have been notified. Thanks, everyone, for entering the giveaway!

And remember, if you’ve read BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE, WHEN IN ROME,  and/or THE ONE I’M WITH, please don’t forget to leave some reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course tell your friends!

If you would like to stay in the know about future giveaways, releases, and other announcements, remember to sign up for my email newsletter, and follow me on my socials, Goodreads, and my Amazon Author page!

HE TAKES THE CAKE – Meet the Main Characters

It’s been about a week now since HE TAKES THE CAKE hit Kindles. There are still a couple days left to enter my Release Day Giveaway, for a chance to win a $25  Amazon Gift Card or a Kindle copy of HE TAKES THE CAKE.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Tess and Ty’s story, here’s a little intro to our main characters.

Meet Tess Gardiner

Baking has been important in Tess Gardiner’s life since she was a child. But until her college years rolled around, she never considered making a living by doing what she loves most. Between her business degree and a baking certification course, she soon turned her love of confectionery into a thriving bakery and cafe in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

 

 

With her focus on local and regional success, Tess doesn’t have much time to pursue romance. She’s content in her corner of the world, surrounded by friends and family who support and love her. Tess’s ambitions have never been about far-flung fame, but she’s worked hard to gain recognition. If there’s one thing she can’t stand, it’s feeling left in the shadows when she deserves a share in the accolades.

Unfortunately, that’s what ultimately led to her parting ways with the person who convinced her to pursue culinary arts in the first place…

Meet Tyler Brinks

Tyler worked hard his entire life to achieve his goals. First culinary arts school, then Le Cordon Bleu. Now, between his two restaurants in Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina, he’s become something of a regional celebrity. Charismatic, well-liked, and talented as can be, Ty is always on the lookout for a challenge and new opportunities.

Success has come easily for Ty, and has given him the chance to hone his skills in countless ways. But if Ty has one regret, it’s the way his relationship with Tess ended after they graduated from college. She remains the one who got away, and he’d give anything to at least figure out what went wrong.

HE TAKES THE CAKE is now available for Kindle!

Sometimes it just takes a little spark to reignite an old flame…

HE TAKES THE CAKE Release Day Giveaway!

Release Day for HE TAKES THE CAKE is only a couple days away – and so is a chance to win either a $25 Amazon Gift Card OR a Kindle Copy of HE TAKES THE CAKE!

To celebrate my upcoming release, I’m holding a Rafflecopter Givewaway. Starting at

HeTakesTheCake2_850

midnight on Tuesday, June 20th, you’ll have the chance (or really, several chances) to throw your hat into the ring to win:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card (1 Grand Prize Winner)
  • The Kindle Edition of HE TAKES THE CAKE (5 winners)*

*Just a reminder that as long as you have a device that will run the free Kindle reading app, you’ll be able to enjoy HE TAKES THE CAKE.

The giveaway will run from midnight on June 20th to one minute before midnight on June 30th (all times are EST). All winners will be notified no later than 11:59pm EST on July 1st.

Click the link below to enter starting June 20th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As always, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter, and follow me on my socials, Goodreads, and my Amazon Author page!

Stay tuned over the next couple days for my usual “Meet the Main Characters” post!

Take a Sneak Peak at HE TAKES THE CAKE

Can you believe it’s less than a week until HE TAKES THE CAKE hits Kindles? I know I’m excited for the latest, and final, installment in my Sweet Somethings series.

Keep an eye here on the blog, as well as my socials, for an announcement this weekend about my Release Day Giveaway and Facebook event, as well as a “Meet the Main Characters” post that will pop up Monday or Tuesday.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at a sample chapter.

Preparation

On a Sunday evening a month later, packing checklist in hand, I stand over the open suitcase on my bed and mentally run through the itinerary for the convention.

“Do you think I should bring anything else?” I ask Carmella, who sits on the accent chair in the corner, flipping through the organizational packet I got in the mail last week.

“Maybe another cocktail dress,” she says, frowning at the last page of the printed schedule. “The dark green one you splurged on after you finished your ACF coursework would look awesome with those copper highlights you just had done, and it complements the mahogany tones of your skin so well. You should wear it to the soiree.”

I brush my palm over my hair. The highlights were a last-minute idea. There are two semi-formal receptions I’ll probably attend over the next week, and I love how highlights look when I style my hair into chunkier, relaxed curls instead of leaving the tight, corkscrew ringlets that form when I let it go natural.

Approving the clothing suggestion, I cross to my closet and pull out the green dress. After carefully folding it, I cast a sidelong glance at Carmella. “If anything happens while I’m gone, anything at all, make sure you call me. Okay?”

“You do realize I have at least a month before my due date, and you’ll be back well before then. But yeah, I promise.” She flips open the convention booklet that arrived on Friday. “Did you get to proof your bio before they printed this?”

“No. I just copied and pasted from the bakery’s website, so it’s short and sweet.”

Carmella glances up. “The website doesn’t have anything about your new ACF credentials.”

I shrug and focus on shifting the contents of my suitcase so the green dress doesn’t get crushed. “It’s not a big deal. They’ll probably ask for something more inclusive to use at the panel discussion.”

“I’ll remind Lily to update your bio while you’re gone.” The booklet pages make a slight fwip sound as she flips to a different section. Then she gasps. “Tess!”

“What?” I spin, a pair of running socks in each hand.

“Did you see this? The final list of featured presenters?” Carmella turns the booklet and holds it up. A look of surprise etches itself on her face. “You must have.”

When I realize what pages she’s showing me, my stomach twists. I hide the accompanying grimace by shoving the socks into a side pocket of my suitcase. “Yeah, I saw it. So what?”

“What do you mean, so what?”

She stands and comes to my side, laying the open booklet across the suitcase and jabbing her finger at a bio at the bottom of the right-hand page. A small headshot, of a handsome black man in his early thirties, accompanies the short paragraph. He’s smiling—no, smirking—at the camera.

Tyler Brinks.

The man I told in no uncertain terms about seven and a half years ago that I never wanted to lay eyes on him again.

Who, exactly, is Tyler Brinks, and why doesn’t Tess want to see him? Read the rest of the chapter, and check out HE TAKES THE CAKE on Wednesday, June 21st!

HE TAKES THE CAKE is Now Available for Pre-Order!

The past couple months have been absolute insanity around here. But fans of Sweet Somethings will be happy to know that, at long last, HE TAKES THE CAKE will soon be here!

Sometimes it just takes a little spark to reignite an old flame…

Life is good for Tess Gardiner: Her Savannah, Georgia, bakery and cafe is thriving. She’s earned Master Pastry Chef status from the American Culinary Federation. And she’s attending a regional culinary convention in Charleston, where she’s been invited to sit on a small business panel discussion. The opportunity to tout her success will, hopefully, lead to bigger and better things in her professional life. As for her personal life? The relative contentedness she’s enjoyed for years receives a sudden jolt when she comes face to face with Tyler Brinks, the ex-boyfriend she summarily dismissed from her life eight years ago.

Tyler’s success as a highly-trained chef has launched him into the stratosphere. He already owns one ridiculously successful restaurant, and he’s aggressively working on plans for a second. But he’s never quite gotten over Tess, and he’s never really been sure what actually went wrong between them. So when a pastry and baking competition is announced for the week following the culinary convention in Charleston, Ty jumps at the chance to tempt Tess with the challenge of being his partner, giving him the perfect opportunity to remind her how good they once were together.

As the competition heats up in the kitchen, it soon becomes clear to Tess that Ty has more than cream puffs and cupcakes on his mind. And she can’t deny that her feelings for Ty never truly cooled, but have been simmering all these years, despite the way their relationship ended. Now Ty’s attention has her wondering—is this just the path to final closure? Or could this be a second chance at true love?

Coming June 21st from Soul Mate Publishing!

Soul Mate Publishing

Preorder Now at Amazon.com!

Debra Holt Book Blast (Virtual Tour)

 

Debra Holt Books

by Debra Holt

GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Mercy’s Rescue  

 Fighting for his life after an ambush, Sheriff Josh Wellman awakes to find himself looking into the eyes of a real-life angel of mercy. Despite his groggy condition, he knows his life has changed the instant their hands touch. Devastating heartbreak has left Mercy Smith’s faith in tatters, her heart guarded against more loss. Her dedication to the air evac trauma team she leads has insulated her from the realities of the earth below, so now Josh faces the biggest challenge of his life. Can he find a way around the walls that fortify her heart and convince this angel to stay on the ground with him? Can Mercy open herself to life again and find a way to restore her faith in God … as well as love?

Love Beneath the Blue Texas Sky  

 J.D. Sterling shook the dirt of the small Texas town from his boot heels a dozen years before. Now, he’s returned… not as the poor country boy who left to follow his dream, but as country music’s sexy superstar. He has everything he always wanted except for the girl who holds his heart. Mandy.

Years come and go and people change. Amanda Lawson has grown up. From heartbreak and struggling to survive to becoming a successful businesswoman, she has taught herself to never look back. Once before, she had survived the wild, green-eyed cowboy with only a guitar to his name and a pocketful of dreams. Then he left her behind with nothing but his hollow vows and a shattered heart.

Mandy was his muse. J.D. was her dream. But tragedy and broken vows can be insurmountable obstacles. Can they find their way home to each other again… or is it too late?

His Country Bride 

 “Sheriff’s Department! Raise your hands above your head and don’t move.”

She’s a runaway bride who left her two-timing fiance at the altar. He’s a county sheriff determined to keep the peace in his country and leave city girls alone after his own fiance left him for the bright lights of the city. Neither of them planned on running straight into each other…over a burning wedding dress.

Ellie and Lucas planned on never trusting their hearts to love again. When danger follows her from the city, the sheriff must do his duty to protect her. However, it isn’t long before he discovers the real danger may be to his heart. Ellie just might teach him that even a city girl can be a country girl at heart.

 

An Excerpt from HIS COUNTRY BRIDE

Lucas set the extinguisher on the ground and used a couple of fingers to push the hat back on his forehead, hands on his hips, obviously considering the options before him. “Do you have any other clothing with you, ma’am?” A furrowed brow preceded her reply. “Why are you calling me ‘ma’am? I’m not that old. And just who are you, anyway?” “Lucas McCann. I’m the sheriff of Joshua County, which is where you are at the moment. I use respectful manners and call you ‘ma’am because I don’t know your name.

The woman turned in a huff and stomped toward the porch steps behind them. Perhaps stomped wasn’t the right description Lucas amended, as he folded his arms across a broad chest and watched her negotiate the uneven stones of the walkway leading up to the porch…all in her ridiculously high heels. Of course, the sight of those long, tanned legs and spiky heels caused a definite stirring in his midsection. That realization made his jaw set harder as he sought for the calm control he always demonstrated when performing his duties-that is, until he came across her.

A slow shake of his head. “I have to hand it to you, lady. You’re one cool customer, under the circumstances. You also may be used to giving orders to people wherever you come from, except there’s on problem with that at this moment. You’re in my county now. Here, I give the orders and as a general rule, people follow them.”

Ms. Holt will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet Debra Holt

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs…to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.

Debra invites you to visit her website at www.debraholtbooks.com.  She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com.  Twitter is https://twitter.com/DebraHoltBooks and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DebraHoltBooks.

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/debra+holt

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=debra+holt