Meatless Recipe #4 – California Veggie Penne

unnamedThis is another recipe I found my searching the web and Pinterest. I found a recipe or two that I liked for penne rigate and then I put my own twist on it. Macaroni, Spaghetti, and Lasagna noodles have always been a staple in our house but I wanted to switch it up and try something new.  So I chose the penne rigate noodle because they are a little bigger and I thought they’d add more substance to a smaller portion.

I call this one “California Veggie” because that’s the name of the bag of frozen vegetables that I used in it. This is a cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot mixture but you could use whatever you want.  Or you could use fresh veggies too.

The best thing about this recipe besides taste is that I can make it in under thirty minutes and it only has four main ingredients: noodles, a bag of frozen vegetables, one can of tomatoes, and chickenless chicken strips. Yep, you read that correctly!  It’s another bean based protein food that I love.  I saw it at Whole Foods a few weeks ago and picked it up and it does taste just like chicken!  I’ve only tried the Southwestern flavor so far, but I’m sure the other flavors are just as good too.unnamed (1)

Instead of canned tomatoes, you could certainly use a pasta sauce. The first time I made this dish I used a can of thick diced tomatoes that did not have a lot of sauce in them. The second time I made it (pictured above) I used a can of crushed tomatoes that had more red sauce.  I actually prefer the lesser sauce version over more sauce but both were yummy.

Start by bringing the noodles to a boil in salt water. I use only about two cups of noodles. Once they are tender, drain the noodles but keep about half a cup of the hot starchy water. Once the noodles are drained, put them back in the pot. Add a pat of real butter to them along with the pasta water you saved. You know how once you drain your noodles, if you leave them sitting there too long they tend to dry out.  Well, adding just a bit of that starchy water and the butter to them makes the noodles shiny and keeps them from drying out.  Turn your stove to medium heat because you don’t want the noodles to start boiling again. They will soak up the water as you add the rest of the ingredients.

Then add your bag of frozen veggies. At this point, I season with salt and pepper.  I also add a bit of Italian seasoning.  The first time I made this I used spicey oregano from our herb garden. The second time I made this I used basil from the garden. Whatever spices you like in your Italian dishes will be just fine. Onion is another staple in Italian dishes for me so I chopped up about 1/4 cup of fresh yellow onion and added it to the mixture.  Next add your can of tomatoes. Stir the mixture so that the veggies unthaw and the mixture gets heated throughout.

Then I add about one dozen chickenless strips and continue to mix and toss. Once everything is heated well, you are ready to serve! This recipe makes about four decent sized portions that are only about 195 calories each. It has about 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar (mostly from the canned tomatoes), and 12 grams of protein per serving.

Here’s your grocery list:

1 Box of Penne Rigate Noodles (you’ll only use 2 cups in the recipe)
1 Can of Diced or Crushed Tomatoes (do not drain)
1 Bag of California Style Frozen Veggies (or veggie mix of your choice)
1 Pack of Chickenless Chicken Strips (use about 12 strips in the recipe)
1/4 of chopped yellow onion
Salt, Pepper, and Italian Seasonings (Oregano or Basil), and 1 pat of butter

  1. Boil the pasta in a pot and drain when tender. Keep about 1/2 cup of the hot water.
  2. Put the pasta back in the pot on low heat. Add the butter and the 1/2 cup of water to the pasta.
  3. Add the frozen veggies and can of tomato sauce to the pasta and mix.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian Seasonings.
  5. Add the chickenless strips and continue to stir and mix until heated throughout.
  6. Serve with dinner rolls and Parmesan cheese.

Meatless Recipe #3 – Chili

chiliChili is one of those dishes that we consume in our house at least once a month, even in the summer. Nothing beats a pot of homemade chili. In the winter, I like to let it simmer in the crock pot all day on a lazy Sunday. Previously, I kept it pretty simple and made it with just chili beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, onions, chili sauce, hamburger meat, and seasoning.

Once we decided to go meatless, I started searching for vegetarian chili recipes online. Most of these recipes incorporate more vegetables like peppers, corn, or even celery into the recipe. To me, that’s not chili. That’s soup! So I wanted to stick to my original recipe and just eliminate the hamburger meat.

00011110849403_fullI started with a chopped onion which I sauteed for a few minutes on high heat in a large pot. Then I added a large 40 oz. can of chili beans as my base. Then I added two 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes. I like Hunt’s diced tomatoes with sweet onions but any kind will do. Then, I added a 15 oz. can of Simple Truth Organic Tri-Blend Beans. I was tempted to had two cans but with the chili beans and one can of the Tri-Blend, I thought it had plenty of beans.

Next I added 1 packed of chili seasoning. Again, any kind will do. I always add a bit more chili 4293407348_c0865a8dd6_bpowder for taste anyway. Then I poured in half a bottle of chili sauce. I like Heinz Chili Sauce but will actually buy the generic brand most of the time because it’s cheaper and tastes the same.

Add salt and pepper for taste, and most of the time I add about a teaspoon of sugar. We have used a dash of cinnamon before instead of sugar. Yep, you read that right! Cinnamon!  I’ve also heard of people adding some dark chocolate to their chili. Give it a try sometime. But for this pot of chili, I used plain old sugar.

Product-Smart-Ground-Original_0At this point, I thought the chili tasted great but I had recently bought a new meatless ingredient that I was eager to try. I’d been saving it for tacos, but thought what the heck! It’s called Lightlife Smart Ground Original Meatless Crumbles. So, we added the entire box to the chili. It’s basically made from beans and only has 70 calories per 1/3 cup. And each serving has 11 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of sugar. And it was awesome!  Had I not told you what it was before tasting the chili, you probably would have never guessed that it wasn’t meat. It really helped “beef” up the recipe.

We eat our chili topped with a bit of sour cream, shredded cheese, and some corn chips. And it was amazing!  We’ve definitely perfected the recipe for meatless chili. Look out, winter, here we come!

Here’s your grocery list:

1 40 oz. can of chili beans (any kind)
1 large yellow onion – chopped
1 15 oz can of kidney beans or black beans or tri-bean blend
2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 bottle of chili sauce
1 pack of chili seasoning
1 box of Lightlife Meatless Crumbles
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of sugar or cinammon

– Sautee the onion on medium heat for 5 minutes in a large pot
– Add all canned ingredients to the pot and stir
– Add chili sauce and seasonings and continue to stir
– Add the meatless crumbles and stir
-Bring just to a low boil and serve
– Top with cheese, sour cream, and corn ships

This recipe made about 6 large bowls (2 cups per bowl). That’s about 308 calories per serving, 23 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fiber. And if you watch what type of beans you use, it will have zero grams of fat!

How do you make chili?  What are some of your favorite staple ingredients for a pot of chili?

Meatless Recipe #2 – Stuffed Peppers Mexican Style

PepperThis is a recipe I’ve made on occasion but have now made two or three times since we went meatless. In the past, I made it with hamburger meat, Spanish rice, taco seasoning, and either salsa or canned Rotel.

It’s pretty much the same now except I replaced the meat with refried beans. I’ve also added Quinoa instead of rice before and I like to add corn or onions to it for more flavor. In the past, I always used green bell peppers but a few weeks ago I made it with yellow and red peppers which are much sweeter. I love a good versatile recipe like this! Here’s my latest version:

I cut the tops off of two large bell peppers and removed all of the seeds and then set the peppers aside. Then in a large bowl I mixed together 1 pack of Uncle Ben’s Spanish Style Ready Rice (I don’t cook it first), half a cup of whole kernel corn (we grow corn so I used one ear and cut the kernels off), half a can of refried beans, and about one cup of salsa.

I pack this mixture into the peppers and then sit the the peppers in a shallow Pyrex dish with about an inch of water in the bottom. The water keeps the bottoms from burning. Then I baked them in the oven for about thirty minutes at 350 degrees. You’ll know they are nice and tender when the peppers start to wrinkle around the top. Top them with some shredded cheese right before you serve them. That’s it!

Each stuffed pepper is about 260 calories if you follow this recipe. They also have about 10 grams of protein and only 4 grams of fat depending on what type of beans you use. I like Simple Truth Organic refried beans. For salsa, I’ve used Pace or On The Border before. For this last meal, I used Carlita’s Thick and Chunky Mild Salsa because I discovered it’s very low in sugar – only about 1 gram of sugar per serving.

Here’s your grocery list:

1 Pack of Uncle Ben’s Spanish Style Ready Rice
1 15 oz. Can of Refried Beans (You will only use half for two peppers.)
1/2 Cup of Whole Kernel Corn (Fresh or canned. If you use canned, be sure to drain.)
1 Cup of Salsa
2 Large Bell Peppers (Make sure they are level on the bottom so they sit up.)
Some shredded cheese for garnish

  1. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove the seeds.
  2. In a large bowl mix the rice, corn, beans, and salsa together.
  3. Pack the mixture into the bell peppers.
  4. Place the peppers in a Pyrex or casserole dish with about one inch of water in the bottom of the dish.
  5. Bake the peppers for thirty minutes at 350 degrees.
  6. Remove the peppers from the oven and top with shredded cheese before serving.

peppergenderHave you seen the post about how to determine the sex of a pepper by how many bumps are on the bottom? It says male peppers have 3 bumps and are good for cooking in dishes. Female peppers have 4 bumps and have more seeds or taste sweeter and are good for seed collecting or eating raw.

Well, folks, guess what? Peppers don’t have a sex. They are hermaphroditic. This “three bump or four bump” method is just a culinary way of remembering how a pepper tastes and how to use it when cooking. Assigning them a sex makes it easier to remember. So the method is true, but the peppers don’t really have a gender.

What is your favorite type of pepper and how do you enjoy cooking with it?  Do you have a favorite stuffed pepper recipe?

Meatless Recipe #1 – Breaded Zucchini Sticks

ZucIt’s been almost a full month now since I went semi-meatless. The best part of this process has been coming up with new recipes to eat.  So I thought I would start sharing some of them. The first one is Breaded Zucchini Sticks.

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that is easy to grow but we usually have too much and we get tired of eating it because we don’t know what to do with it besides salads or stir fry. So we usually end up giving it away. Last year I found a Zucchini Christmas Jam recipe that helped use some of it up, and the year before that I was canning zucchini relish.

I came across a breaded zucchini stick recipe on Pinterest a few days ago and decided to give it a try. Then we picked a medium sized zucchini from the garden last week so this was perfect timing. I like to put my own twist on recipes sometimes, so I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Here is what I did instead:

I mixed together some seasoned bread crumbs, Kraft Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. I spread the mixture out on a dinner plate. Then I sliced the zucchini into four spears. I coated each spear lightly with coconut oil and then rolled them in the bread crumb mixture. I put the spears on a cookie sheet and baked them in the oven for about thirty minutes at 350 degrees. That’s it!

The spears were cooked perfectly. They were nice and tender. And don’t worry…the coconut oil does not give them a coconut flavor. You could probably use a different oil or butter of your choice. The crumb mixture gives them a nice light breaded flavor. This is definitely a dish I’d make again.

Here’s your grocery list:

1 medium sized zucchini
4 to 6 tablespoons of seasoned bread crumbs
3 to 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (I used Kraft, but you could definitely use fresh grated too.)
2 to 3 tablespoons of Coconut Oil (or oil/butter of your choice)
Salt and pepper

  1. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper together and spread on a dinner plate.
  2. Cut the zucchini into four to six spears.
  3. Coat the spears with the oil.
  4. Roll the spears in the crumb mixture and then place on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.

I could easily see these deep fried and served like fries with some horse radish or ranch dressing too. Yummy!  But if you follow my recipe and your zucchini is about eight inches long, two spears is only 80 calories and has 5 grams of protein and only about 3 grams of fat. Enjoy!

What do you do with your zucchini during the summer months?

Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship Part 4

fast-foodIn one of my earlier posts, I mentioned addressing fast food but had chosen to ignore it because at that time I was still eating fast food.  I can proudly say today that I am not.

They call it fast food for a reason. And just because it’s fast doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  Sure, there are salads and wraps and better things on the chain menus these days but I was always a burger and fry guy or a chicken sandwich. I do love me a good chicken sandwich from Wendy’s.

We all know it’s common sense that fast food is not good for your health or if you are on a diet. Movies have been made. Books have been written. So I’m not about to feed you a bunch of information you’ve already heard. Instead, I’m going to show you approximately how much I’ve spent on fast food the last few years.  I know this because I keep a spreadsheet of all of my expenses and have done so for many years now.  And fast food has always been one of those expenses I keep up with.

I get paid every two weeks so I update my spreadsheet then with bills that are paid and any receipts that have gathered on my desk. For the first time in probably ever, I didn’t have any fast food receipts to record for the last two weeks!  So that’s the main reason why I decided I would finally blog about fast food.

This year alone, up until two weeks ago, I have spent $719.16 on fast food.  Yep. That’s 3.5 car payments for me.  Or if I look at my utility bill, I could have paid it for 8.5 months with that money. Or I could have filled my gas tank 27 times!

In 2014, I spent $2763.13 on fast food. And in 2013, I spent $2290.98.  Uh huh…if you add just these two and half years together, you’ll get $5773.27!  And what do I have to show for that…nothing but some fat around my waist.

I averaged anywhere from $30 to $100 or more every two weeks on fast food. It was usually a dinner for us at least two nights a week. We often had pizza delivered on Fridays or weekends which is super expensive these days. And if we were out and about on the weekends, we often picked up fast food for a quick lunch.

It all adds up and we know it’s not healthy and yet we ate it anyway. Just like everyone else out there. I always laughed at the crowded menus at McDonald’s listing the calorie counts, salads, fruit, milk, or healthier choices available to you. The calories were always in fine print and did nothing but make the menu harder to read. But the numbers on your favorite combos are in big bright font, aren’t they?

Eh, I’m not going to preach.  Just look at the money I wasted the last two and half years on fast food. But not anymore. Giving up the majority of meat in my diet definitely helped with this decision and made it easy for us. But for others out there on the go or with kids in the house, I know it’s not that easy.

But if you are a regular fast food eater, challenge yourself to go one month without it and put that money to the side and see how much you save. Do it for one work week even, especially if fast food is a staple in your routine. You can save money and save your health at the same time.

You don’t have to diet. You just have to slowly change your relationship with food.

Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship Part 3

meat_rgb2Have you ever thought about ending your relationship with meat?

Me neither.

Until I came home from an out of town trip two weekends ago and discovered J was already two days into a meatless diet. I was very surprised at this because meat is generally a staple in our meals. He didn’t demand that I stop eating meat too, but since I prepare most of our meals I knew it would be more time consuming for me to have to prepare separate meals so I decided to give it a try.

I’m not giving up meat entirely though. I’ll still probably eat it for lunch through the work week, when I’m not eating leftovers. But this basically means that meat will be eliminated from the majority of my diet and I’m okay with that.  I just wrapped up my first week being semi-meatless and I can honestly say I don’t miss it.

One reason is because I haven’t had a lot of practice cooking it. So most quick meals consisted of something prepackaged or something made with hamburger meat. I have never grilled out. I leave that up to J, but even then we probably only grill out once or twice a year. I’m not a big steak eater anyway. I prefer chicken or fish. Eating out usually means a hamburger, chicken, or pasta meal. I could go on and on, but the more I think about it, I know that my meat tastes have been limited my whole life. Now I do love me some chicken which is probably why I won’t give up meat entirely. But given a choice, chicken is much healthier than beef anyway.

By now many of you are probably shaking your heads with dismay at me and thinking this is ridiculous.  You could never give up meat!  And you are probably wondering why anyone would want to, right?  Remember what I have been saying for several months now: you have to change your relationship with food. For a long time, I’ve said I could probably go meatless if I lived on my own and didn’t have to prepare meals for someone else who does eat meat. So my decision isn’t political. It’s just another step in changing my relationship with food and the fact that the person I live with is doing it too makes it all that much easier.

The hardest part, but also the funnest, has been trying to find new things to eat. I like to try new recipes but meatless recipes can be a challenge.  You meat lovers out there are probably thinking I’m not going to eat anything but salad, but believe it or not, I haven’t had a salad all week. I do like salads though. I recently started making a Mexican lasagna that had meat in it. Last week I made it without meat and I added a few other ingredients and it tasted just fine. Tonight we are having stuffed bell peppers, another dish that I previously made with meat but whose recipe I’m now perfecting without it.

This past weekend we made a trip to the farmer’s market for fresh fruit and veggies. We also have a small garden in our back yard. So there’s no shortage of good healthy ingredients in our house.  Like I said, the challenge is just learning new ways to utilize them.

And that’s kind of the theme here overall that I’ve been experiencing since late March when I first decided to give up coffee.  You have to break bad habits one at a time and replace them with better habits.  It’s a slow process, but overall, you just have to change your relationship with food!

In the next few posts, I hope to share some of my new meatless recipes!  Are you meatless?  Or semi-meatless?  If so, share your thoughts or ideas or recipes in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Christians, Be Careful What You Say On Facebook

Shannon Yarbrough:

My thoughts exactly…

Originally posted on :

While the Bruce Jenner* controversy is at its peak, be very careful about what you are tempted to say about it on social media. Though your gut reaction might be to post a comment/article that articulates your disgust, I beg you to reconsider. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

  1. Many of you are either looking at porn, or something close to it. I know this because some of the pages and videos that you “like” on Facebook show up on my news feed. You probably don’t realize this, because you keep doing it, and I keep seeing it. Unfortunately, all sexual perversion is a result of human corruption. You have it, I have it too. But you might want to reconsider publicly shaming one perversion when you have another.
  2. Related to reason #1, you don’t understand the gospel. There is nothing wrong about outwardly expressing your disgust at sin. The…

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Notes on Consumption

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No, this isn’t a post about old world tuberculosis.  It’s about “consuming” or even “consumerism,” the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy.  Or in my case, how that said consumerism caused my food pantry to get out of control.  Which in a way is like tuberculosis in that it makes me sick just thinking about it.

I’ve blogged about this before, and here we are again.  I’ve been dreading it for some time, but thanks to the rain keeping us indoors on Saturday I finally broke down and decided to just do it. I cleaned out the food pantry.

Now, guessing from the photo you probably don’t believe me.  But believe me!  Just come over and inspect the two bags of trash in our dumpster or the numerous cardboard boxes and plastic bottles that filled up our recycle bin when I was done.

I started by removing all of the bottles of alcohol and all of the boxes of tea, and there was a lot!  We have a small kitchen cabinet on the wall that contained mixing bowls, shot glasses, tooth picks, lunch bags, cloth napkins, coffee filters, and other various things that don’t get used often. Earlier last week I decided I wanted to relocate all of that and so I did.  Now I had a new space for alcohol and tea!  Never mind the amount of old tea bags and old alcohol that I pitched.  Or the amount that’s still in the pantry because my cabinet filled up quick (alcohol in the back of the bottom left shelf, and tea on the bottom right). But suddenly, an entire space in the pantry was empty! I hear angels singing!

After some quick decisions on what to put where…baked goods, seasonings, canned goods, breakfast things, chips, snacks, pasta, and so on, the fun part came from deciding what to keep and what else to pitch. This pantry is both tall and deep which has both its positive and negative connotations. Positive:  there’s lots of space. Negative: there’s too much space and things get lost in the back, bottom, and very top. We have a few organization caddies in there as you can see, but I was almost tempted to jump in the car and go to the local organization store for more!

Instead, I combined things…like the 3 containers of cocoa powder we had, or the 3 half used bags of powdered sugar and the 2 bottles of cooking oil.  How does this happen you ask?  Like I said, things get lost and forgotten back there so we just end up buying more.

Then came throwing stuff out!  Oh what fun this was! We had so much freaking candy just buried in there – including Valentine’s candy from 2013!!  Christmas candy. Halloween candy. You name it. And there’s more. Half eaten bags of chips. Old cereal. Half used bags of beans. Old flavored coffees from holidays gone by, also half used. I already mentioned old tea – I threw out about six or seven half used boxes!  There were also about 3 half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins. I thought about processing these to use for breadcrumbs but we already had two cans of crumbs in there that I also combined into one.

Now, I know what you are thinking. How wasteful!  Yep, I agree. I was ashamed not only that my pantry had gotten so out of control but by how much junk food and half-used things we had that we didn’t finish and were no longer good. Or I knew we wouldn’t finish them if we hadn’t already, so I threw them out anyway. And like I said, two bags of trash and half a recycling bin later, my pantry was somewhat clean again. Or at least now I had a mental inventory of what we had.

I’m sure some of you out there suffer from sad pantry syndrome too but I’m not pointing any fingers. I’m also not going to wrap up this post with tips on how to keep your pantry clean when that’s advice I haven’t even been following. I’d like to think I’m a smart shopper.  I don’t stock up on things greedily if I don’t have the room. I like to save money. I like to talk about good deals and saving money with my friends.

But maybe what I really suck at is keeping an organized kitchen, or just like I said before…consumption. And isn’t everyone like that to some point?  We want to try new things so we buy new things and we get them home and don’t really like the new things so if we don’t have children (Hey Mikey! He likes it!) or can’t feed it to the dog, then we put said new things in the cabinet for some reason when what we should really do is cut our losses and throw it out or give it away. But then we think we are being wasteful. We paid good money for those new things.  Yep, and we also made poor decisions by even doing that but how will you know unless you try.  Yep, and how will you keep your pantry clean unless you admit to your mistakes and throw that shitty new thing in the trash.

So, there’s a life hack for all of us….don’t keep it. Give it away. Donate it. Or throw it away. I would have gladly donated some of my stuff to a local pantry but who wants half eaten boxes of Wheat Thins and old bags of Cherry Sours?  So I threw it all out. No regrets. This. Pantry. Is. Clean!

Feeling Himself Forgotten – Cover Reveal!

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Did you think I had forgotten to update you on my next book?

Since my April 25th post where I let you know the book was no longer under contract I’ve been rereading the manuscript and preparing to send it to my editor. I hope to have it ready for them by the end of next week.

I’ve also been working on a face for the book! I had started a cover idea a few years ago while I was still writing the book. I always do that because it’s a fun way to do something else creatively while working on pounding out the story.  It also gives your work a face to look at and can help you with developing the story. You can “see” your book through the readers’ eyes, or at least the first impression of it.  And first impressions are everything!

That first cover idea involved bright splashes of paint, paint brushes, a fountain, and a pigeon. Yes, a pigeon.  Since Feeling Himself Forgotten tells the story of Auden, and Auden is an artist, I wanted the cover to really convey his personality. The fountain and the pigeon were to pay homage to Stealing Wishes. If you read it, you know how much Blaine loved the downtown park with the fountain in the middle and the pigeons all around.  But this cover concept was abandoned by the time I finished the book and it was under contract with the publisher.

I opened that file a few days ago though for the first time in two years and decided it wasn’t what I wanted at all. So I started on a completely new idea that had a more somber tone to it. No paint. No brushes. No fountain.  And no pigeon either. It was good but again, not what I really wanted.  I decided I wanted something a bit more theatrical – the reason being is Tennessee Williams himself plays an important part in the story! In fact, he’s a character in the book.  Well, his ghost is! I even thought about putting TW on the cover, but none of the photos I like of him are available for use.

And then I found the artwork you see above and fell in love with it.  I love the mood it conveys.  It could be TW or TW’s ghost or it could be Auden.  So I started toying around with ideas using the photograph and pretty soon I had the cover I knew I wanted. So here we are!  What do you think?

Stuck between a book and a hard title…

Two interesting things have happened to me this week.

First, I canceled my contract with the publisher of my upcoming book. There were no differences between us. No hardships. They are a micro publisher who only publish in Ebook format. My contract was signed over a year ago and due to delays often brought on by real life circumstances, they just haven’t gotten around to publishing my book. 48550518I’d been waiting patiently. I finally sought advice from a writer friend who told me what I wanted to hear. So, I sent an email asking if we could cancel the contract.

I got a quick reply that they were happy I sent the email they’d been unfortunately avoiding to send me. Like I said, no hard feelings between us. And so now, a book that I wrote in 2012 is finally free. I can do what I want with it. I can find another publisher. I can forget about it and sit on it a few more years if I want. Or I can get to work, reading it over again, giving it to my editor, polishing it, and ultimately publishing it myself.

And that’s what I’m going to do.

I think the last time I touched the manuscript was in 2013.  I’d forgotten most of it by now.  I wasn’t even sure if my heart was still in this book. Sure, deep down, I knew it was. It had to be in there if I wrote it. But sometimes when there is so much distance and time between us, the heart goes quiet.

I found the manuscript and read the last chapter a few nights ago and all the emotion kicked in and came flooding back. Yeah, there it is. I’m in this. My heart is in it. I knew it always was. So… let’s do this.

And so now I’ll proofread and polish it and turn it over to my editor in May. And while she weaves her magic, I’ll think about and work on a book cover (honestly, I’ve already started thinking about the cover). And when she’s done I’ll make the corrections she suggests. I’ll format it. I’ll send it to some beta readers. And then…I’ll release it out on its own.  And then I’ll celebrate. After three years of waiting, another one of my babies is all grown up and going out into the world to find its place in it.

Another good thing about doing it myself is that I can do a paperback version as well. The micro publisher only did E-Books.  There’s no money to be made in paperback books (but since when have I ever done this for money?) but it’s still nice to hold your physical book in your hand.  I also have family that don’t read E-books and prefer hard copies, so it’s nice to be able to do this for them too.

The second interesting thing that happened to me this week involves my work in progress that I started this year.  If you read my blog posts, then you saw me mention it in some of my Write or Wrong posts. I thought I was off to a good start but quickly lost steam and didn’t know what to do with it or where to go.  My editor suggested that maybe my thoughts were tied up with this finished book and what was going on with the publisher and all.  And I can see that. I definitely feel different about all of this today than I did yesterday.  So maybe that was affecting me creatively.

My biggest conflict this week, now that I am back on track with the work in progress, is what to call it.  I’m stuck between two titles and not even sure about either one of them at this point.  What do you think?  The first working title is “Late for His Funeral.”  It has a double meaning which would be revealed in the story.  The second is “If You Need Me” which is not as mysterious but also has meaning.  Any thoughts on which you like best?

I’m kind of hoping that as I continue to write it a brand new title will reveal itself to me and I can stop tormenting myself over choosing between these two.  But for now the working title is still Late for His Funeral.

So, I’ll have a new book out this year and I’m working on another one! Yay me!  Oh!  And I almost forgot to mention that this new book is the sequel to my second book, Stealing Wishes.  It tells the story of Auden and how he returns to Memphis to try to reconnect with Blaine.  It’s called Feeling Himself Forgotten. You can learn about it here! More news about it to follow as it develops!