Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday: On my playlist right now...

Hey peeps!

Been a while since I was last able to do this. Missed sharing my fave music with you, and since I have a free Tuesday slot today on the blog, why not showcase some of the tracks on repeat on my player right now, and that refuse to leave my brain no matter how much I try to forget? Maybe I could get those tunes in your brains too *mwahahah!*

So, let's kick off...

I happened to watch the DVD of the movie Wanted again this weekend... and in the process, recalled that this was the movie that triggered my Corpus storyline idea and that inspired me to have an agency of assassins and spies in my debut book and series. I'd also forgotten what a cool action movie this one is - well-rounded, and with an awesome soundtrack. Take a listen (and look-see here! The video cannot be embedded)





My son and my nieces love this one! I admit I didn't like it or get the fuss the first time I heard it, but damn if this song doesn't grow on you... I have no idea what the lyrics are saying, or even how to pronounce half the words in there, but this is a good one.




"Bouncy, bouncy" is how many refer to the tone of this track. I love this girl's voice - she's from Wales, and this song is simply too good to pass up on!




And of course, we gotta have a totally British singer in the mix (yeah, Marina & the diamonds is Welsh, but here we're talking England...). I love her voice and vocal range, plus this girl knows how to move. In a collaboration with the greatest DJ of them all, David Guetta, I'm loving me some Jessie J.




What are you listening to right now? Share with me, will ye? :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: How do I... Once Upon A Stormy Night (A 1NightStand story)

Hey beautiful people!
Cannot believe it's Sunday once again, and the last one of June too, at that... I'd promised snippets from my 1NS throughout June, and here we are at the last Six Sentence Sunday post for this short story. Can I entice you to go grab your copy of this one with this last excerpt...? *grin*

This story is the one that's closest to my heart right now, because it allowed me to go back to my writing roots - deep romance with slants on women's fiction and heroines with the same ethnic and cultural origins as mine, and the setting that of my island, Mauritius. I started writing to show Mauritius to the world...

And I admit both Lars and Simmi grew on me, the more I got to know them. I didn't want to leave them when this story was over, and I hope they stay with the people who read this one, too.

Anyhow, let's stop with the emotional waterworks-inducing reminisces, and get to the heart of the matter.

I love Lars Rutherford, because he is a man who knows what he wants... and what he wants is Simmi Moyer. Full stop.

He got her all worked up last week; remember that exchange? We pick up where we left off today.


'...
“So how do I make you scream my name when you come if you don’t even know what it is?” he asked as he moved back to look into her face.
 “Tell me,” he coaxed, “how do I make you come when I don’t even know your name? How do I ask you what pleasures you?”
She blinked, her eyelids drooping; her pupils had dilated, and the come-hither bedroom gaze she fixed on him poked at the smoldering embers of desire burning in his gut.
“You don’t have to,” she said on a ragged breath.
“Make you come or know your name?”

...'


Don't forget to catch the rest of the SSS peeps on the official list - and make sure to stop by the blogs of Jessica E. Subject, Siobhan Muir, Carmen deSousa, Gemma Parkes, Cara Bristol, Cherie Marks, Sue, TMonique Stephens, Monica Enderle Pierce, Angela Quarles, Elin Gregory, Mae Clair, Wildcat's Wife, & Karysa Faire.

Hope you all are having a lovely Sunday!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: We're here for... Once Upon A Stormy Night (A 1NightStand story)

Hey beautiful people!

Beautiful sunshine but absolutely blisteringly cold right now. An anticyclone in the region, blowing a blustery, bite-your-skin cold wind outside. Thank goodness we're inside, snuggled in a comfy wrap, with a hot drink in our hands. I dunno about you, but I love, love, love to read when the weather is like this. Good thing it's Sunday, innit, and time for Six Sentence Sunday? :)

I've been remiss in visiting the blogs these past few weeks. Was on a huge writing deadline, that I managed to kill on Friday. Back to 'relatively' normal now, and I'll be dropping by later to see the snippets everyone's posted. Sorry to have been such a cow, SSS peeps.

Back to today's posting, we're still with my 1NS release, Once Upon A Stormy Night. Lars and Simmi are inside the villa for their one-night date. Simmi doesn't want to know who he is, while Lars has recognized her as a business partner. But he wants the disclosure from her - remember, he asked her why last week?

I'm moving a few lines from that exchange. Lars has realized he shouldn't frighten Simmi, and is using another tactic. Yes, he's gone all gentle and caring...


'...
“Answer me,” he said in a soft voice as he dipped his face to hers, and the hair at her temple tickled his nose.
“You—” she gulped, the sound audible in the hushed interior, “—you know why we’re here.”
He reached out, touched a lock of hair, and tucked it behind her ear; her breath hissed when he brushed his finger in a light swipe across her temple.
“One night of pleasure – is that it?” he murmured against the shell of her ear. Then, he blew warm, moist air on her earlobe and the delicate skin of her neck underneath.
“Yes,” the word came out as a moan.

...'


Don't forget to check the SSS list, and especially the following peeps - Jessica E. Subject, Siobhan Muir, Mae Clair, Tonya Burrows, Lorraine Paton, Sue, Monica Enderle Pierce, Babette James (thanks ladies for dropping by last week!).

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Saturday, June 16, 2012

When you're a writer, you WRITE! Full stop!

Hey beautiful people!

Didn't get to post my usual progress Friday report yesterday because I was on the final lap of finishing Transient Hearts. Finished Chapter 9 on Thursday, and I was just one chapter short of the end. No matter that this chapter would surely clock in at 5K+, I knew I had to finish it yesterday. I couldn't take the risk of stopping halfway and pushing this into next week, where I knew I would lose my drive if I didn't go insane from not writing during the weekend. And no, I cannot write in weekends because a) it's family time, and b) that's when I allow myself a break too.

So there I was staring at the last 4-5 scenes that made up the outline of the last chapter. Beside a note here and there that H does this and h does that while H speaks with cousin and h gets a call from home, I didn't have more prompts to write this one. Which is why it was daunting, and why I found myself for the past few days mulling over this chapter and how it was supposed to take place based on those notes I had penned and the synopsis I had sent in with my proposal.

There's something strangely weird about figuring out everything that's to happen in your story, even down to the last detail. I'm a complusive plotter - I plan and plan and plan, yet when I write, the story will almost always 'turn' on me and something I hadn't expected happens or gets said.

Here I was yesterday morning, with that chapter set in my mind, yet at the same time I had no clue what I was doing. I simply sat down and started writing, and lo and behold, I got that chapter done... to the point where I even wrote "The End" on the last line of that ms.

I did mention this in my "I wrote 10K in a week" post last Friday, but I'll say it again here. All it takes is you sitting down and starting to write. That's the first step; that's the only step. You're a writer so your job is to simply sit down and start writing.

After seeing what I've been able to do these past two weeks, I no longer believe in writer's block and all those things we tell ourselves is blocking us. Here's what I mean:

I've gone weeks when the most I wrote was 1K, 2K at best. I kept telling myself I couldn't do any better, that the story wasn't flowing, that I'd lost my way with the characters, that I needed to think it all through again.

Bollocks!

In the past 2 weeks, I've written over 25K on this story.
10,061 words last week;
16,886 words this week.

In the middle of all this, I was battling a cold with a super-runny nose, a sore throat, an ear infection, and consequently pain in my jaw and sinuses. The weather was a total bitch - if I managed to see 4 hours of sunlight this week, I'll count myself lucky. My husband was working on another job site that had him out of the house for 14+hours a day, leaving me to deal with the kid/s single-handedly without a hand to help with homework, fight breaking, dinner preps, and getting everyone ready in the morning.

I realized that I'm a writer, and a writer writes. Full stop. Yes, the deadline on my head contributed to that, but seriously? If we say we are writers, then our job is to write. Writing is not a hobby. When you have a job out there in the corporate world in an office or on site or wherever, what do you do every single work day? You buck up, get on with it, and head to work, where you work. What's any different when you're a writer (except that you don't have to get out of your PJs)???

The answer is Nothing!

If you are a writer, it's your job to write, and you better do it every single day whether you feel like it or not! The first step - the only step - you have to take is to start writing!

And just like an accountant brushes up on tax laws when tax season creeps up, or when a lawyer reads his case file notes over and over before stepping into a courtroom, as a writer it's your job to make sure you know what you are doing. This means knowing what story you are writing, what your characters are like - how they think, behave, react, where they are starting and where they should end, and most importantly, how they get there. You don't have to become an anal plotter like I am, but it would certainly help you to know what the heck you're doing with a story instead of simply having an idea of boy-meets-girl; let's see where they take me. If you're writing as a hobby, then you can afford to do that. Not if you consider yourself first and foremost a writer! Otherwise, you'd thus start in London and then find yourself in Paris with no clue how you got there, and have to backtrack to find that way. But instead of landing back in London, you find you're now in Cornwall, where the story should've taken place all along. Or, wait - is that Yorkshire? If you'd known your journey, thought it through even a little, you could've ended up in Yorkshire directly without the need to visit all these places and scrape all those trips from the final journey.

I'm no different a writer than you are, peeps. I'm a wife, a mother, a whiner, a procrastinator, a TV-show junkie, and there's nothing I love more than a day of doing nothing.

But I know I also chose to become a writer, and now it's no longer merely a choice but a responsibility I took with myself, with my publishers, my editors, and more importantly, with my readers. I cannot let any one of these people down... just like you too cannot.

It doesn't matter what you have to do to start writing. Polish your craft, learn the art of writing, read like a fiend, plot out every single detail, know your H/h better than you know your spouse...

Just write! That's the secret!

That's how I finished Transient Hearts, how I conquered my doubt demons and came up with an ms that sits at 61,186 words on the 1st draft. Just by writing!

You too can do it!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Link Thursday: Real Friends v/s Fake Friends - How to tell the difference

Hey beautiful people!

Surfacing from my WIP (I'm on the final chapter, peeps! Final. Chapter!). It's been a heck of a ride these past few weeks to get this story in shape and actually written. Something I wouldn't have been able to do without the support, cheering, urging, prompting, and encouragement from those absolutely fantastic writing friends of mine!

I've been blessed with the friendships that fill my life. Most of these women (and a few men!), I've never met in person. But across the Net, we've reached out to one another to weave strong, resilient ties that withstand a lot of stress and long-distance and time-difference pressure.

I've known a few 'fakies' too, but thank goodness, I know I can count on everyone in my life today, and none of them will let me down. I hope they know/feel they can count on me just as much.

So, are your friends fabulous, or fakies? I was reading this article just this morning, and thought ye all would probably love this. And don't forget your heroine's BFF in the story, or the hero's bromance with his best buddy - these are all great pointers to sketch those characters. :)

I got the article from Betty Confidential, at this link.

Enjoy!

*****

Real Friends vs. Fake Friends: 20 Ways to Tell the Difference
How do you tell a real friend from a fake friend? Let us count the ways!
Updated on June 12, 2012, 10:34 am ET

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that friends are awesome. During the good times and the bad, through thick and through thin, your best pals are there for you—and you’re there for them. But sometimes, friends may turn out to be “friends.” You know: Those poisonous relationships that look great on the surface, but leave you feeling all icky underneath. So how do you tell these fake friends from your real friends? We’ve put together a handy guide to help you figure it out. If you’ve got anyone that fits one or more of these profiles, get rid of them, stat! The last thing you need in your life is the sort of negativity that arises from that sort of relationship. Embrace the positive—your real friends will help you do it!

1. A fake friend will expect you to drop everything for her if disaster strikes, but will brush you off if the same thing happens to you. A real friend is there for you just as much as you’re there for her.

2. A real friend makes time for you because she genuinely adores hanging out with you. A fake friend will only make plans with you if her other, “better” plans fall through. (PS: You’re totally better than her other plans!)

3. A real friend will help you look your hottest for a big night out. A fake friend will help you look hot—as long as she thinks she looks hotter.

4. If a fake friend asks you to help her move, she makes you do all the heavy lifting and then refuses to lift a finger when you ask her for the same favor in return. A real friend not only helps you move unasked, but also helps you pick out the best color paint for your walls—and has a painting party with you to get the work done!

5. If you say you need some space, a real friend will give it to you. A fake friend will either crowd your or start bad-mouthing you behind your back—or both.

6. If you've got a celeb crush, a real friend will help you meet him or her (even if it's Zac Efron and he looks like this). A fake friend will make fun of you.

7. A real friend will be there for the important moments in your life. A fake friend will try to make those moments all about her.

8. A real friend will encourage you in your dreams, no matter how crazy they sound. A fake friend will tell you, “That sounds great! But ...." and subtly sow seeds of doubt.

9. When you've broken up with a guy, a real friend will volunteer immediately to come over with ice cream, Kleenex and booze. A fake friend will suggest you calm down.

10. A real friend will lend you her expensive bag when you've got a big event coming up unasked. A fake friend will tell you where you can buy one like it.
11. A real friend will sit in the dressing while you try on a thousand pairs of jeans and encourage you until you find the right pair. A fake friend will tell you to shop online.

12. A real friend will not only sit with you through the thousandth time you've watched Dirty Dancing, she'll say the lines along with you. A fake friend will suggest a DIFFERENT MOVIE!

13. If you're going on a blind date and you're nervous, a real friend will be at the bar ahead of time to make sure you're okay. A fake friend will tell you to call and let her know how it went.

14. A real friend will totally not think it's crazy that you want to drive by his house just to see if he's home. A fake friend will call you a stalker.

15. A fake friend loves to hear all about your failures and disappointments. A real friend gives you a shoulder to cry on, but then reminds you about all the great things you've done -- and will go on to do.
16. A real friend will volunteer to come over and take care of your kitty while you're on vacation. A fake friend will suggest a cat-sitter.

17. A real friend can laugh now about the fights you've had in the past. A fake friend harbors resentment -- you know what we're talking about.

18. A real friend sends you links to articles she knows you'll love, or that reminds her or fun time you've had together. A fake friend only forwards you those passive-aggressive chain-letter emails!

19. A real friend would rather stab her eyes out than flirt with your boyfriend. A fake friend will laugh, "It's all in good fun!"

20. A fake friend is someone in your heart you know you wouldn't miss if you never saw her again. A real friend? She's the one you hope will grow old with you so you can be crazy little old ladies playing gin rummy and drinking martinis together!

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: Why the secrecy?... Once Upon A Stormy Night (1NightStand series)

Hey beautiful people!

Seems like the rain and fog have let up to grant us some tepid sunshine this morning. Bland heat, but I'll take that over seep-into-your-bones cold and humidity, the kind we've had this past week. Nothing quite brightens a Sunday like sunshine... and a few hops on the Six Sentence Sunday list!

As promised, throughout June, I'm sticking to my 1NightStand release, getting you acquainted with Lars and Simmi. Theirs is a bit of a different/tricky situation. Both wanted a one-night tryst with a stranger - no expectations, no shared past, not even an acquaintance hindering that one night. Simmi even shushed Lars when he tried to tell her his name.

He's okay with the non-disclosure... until he does see her clearly, and realize he knows who she is... Remember, last week, he pulled her into the villa and tensed up when she stopped on the edge of the living room? Simmi had stopped in the glow of an applique light, and Lars realizes he's seen her picture, once. She's a strategic partner for his firm in Mauritius...


'...
Why did one of the most beautiful, intelligent, and successful women of Mauritius choose to be here tonight? Simmi could have her pick of men.
And she doesn’t want to know my name....
“Why?” he asked.
She parted her full, pink lips; they seemed devoid of artificial color—soon, he would know. But first, he wanted answers.
“Why what?” she asked in a voice that held a low, sultry note.

...'


Catch the rest of the SSS posse over at the official list - and make sure to check out the following peeps: Jessica E. Subject, Siobhan Muir, Lorraine Paton, Elin Gregory, Angela Quarles, Monica Enderle Pierce, Christine Warner, Jennifer Lowery, JM Blackman, Lisa Fox, Sue, & Kate Warren... among many other fab folks who post every Sunday!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend, peeps!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, June 08, 2012

Progress Friday - & how I wrote 10K this week alone!

Hey beautiful people!

I couldn't believe it when I looked at my word count earlier - in the past 4 days (Tuesday to today), I've written 10,061 words!

I broke the 10K mark on a week's work. Astounded didn't start to cover it! Now I just hope I don't jinx myself... But it's true that a little everyday adds up to a a big amount. It's not even like I slaved away the whole day while my kids were forced to eat their Apollo noodles (similar to Ramen; just a local brand) that they made themselves. Lol, no! I even got to squeeze one or two Zumba workouts in there.

How did I do it? Organization is the trick. That, and park-your-arse-in-chair-and-just-write.

I think the best thing that's happened to me so far is losing my unlimited Internet access. Previously, I had wireless Internet. Fixed fee, no limits on download/upload/data/time usage. Then that went to hell in a handbasket, when the ISP started toying with us and (purposefully! I'm pretty sure of it! To get us to move to a more expensive deal) blocking that connection every so often during the day. So we ended up dumping them, to move to another company that doesn't provide unlimited access. Instead, what we now have is a fixed data amount per month. How we use it is up to us - all of it in 2 days, all of it in 30 days; whatever you haven't used at the end of the month, you lose; and whatever you use over your limit, you pay a hefty excess).

So because of that, I now have to monitor my Internet use, more precisely the amount of MB and GB I'm using as data when I'm connected. This forces me to have set times every day to check email, log onto Twitter and FB, update the blog and browse other links. I'm no longer online all day, losing precious time surfing the Net.

At 10 AM, wherever I am online (unless in the middle of an important email!), I close my connection and find myself offline. What to do with the time?

Simple - park my arse in my chair, open the Word document of my WIP, and start writing. Usually, the first few lines/paragraphs are like pulling teeth... until I get into the groove and the words start flowing when I let myself go to visualize the scene as it's happening. I write pretty much til half past noon/ 1 PM. That's a solid 2.5-3 hours of writing every day. Averaging a scene every day, I move along and make progress on my story.

Is it really as simple as that? Yes, it is! I'm as astounded as you are, because, in the past, if I got 1,000 words down a day, I considered that a feat. It was also terribly easy to just hop online when the doubt demons started to crawl my mind - instead of staring at that blank Word page, I could be on YouTube looking for the latest David Guetta or Lady Gaga video, or browsing sites like sofeminine.co.uk and ogle a fest of hunky British blokes.

But now, I don't have the option of anything else beside looking at that blank document. That, or close the laptop. Which is akin to throwing the towel and slinking away like a coward...

Did I force myself to write this week? Yes, I did. At least, I had to force myself to bring those first few lines onto the page. Until that moment when I was no longer having to force anything to get the words out or the scene to flow or for my characters to take over and show me where they are going, not where I am wanting them to go.

Transient Hearts thus jumped 10K this week, to sit now on the cusp of 45K, the planned original finished wordcount. But though I'm close to the end on that one, the ending is not behind the door either. Which sees me shooting this story too into the 50K ballpark. 55K too, even. Let's see where this goes.

If all things stand as they are right now, I should be finishing this one next week. At least the first draft. Then it'll be edits and polishing before sending off to my beta readers.

Have faith in yourself, peeps! Whatever it is you are looking at in front of you, that mountain you feel you cannot climb... well, guess what? You CAN do it! Just start. That's all it takes!

Last Friday, I was down with the (second!) cold of the century, and didn't get to wish you all a lovely weekend. Remedying that this week. *grin*

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Link Thursday: Indulging Guilty Pleasure Is Good For You (in small doses)

Hey beautiful people!

I've been MIA on this slot for a while now - apologies for the absence. After the whirlwind of 2 releases in a single month and the accompanying promo madness, I'm settling into a semblance of normalcy here, thus hopping back for the regular Link Thursday post.

And, browsing my file a little while ago, I came upon this one. Who doesn't have a guilty pleasure? And who doesn't enjoy indulging it time and again?

Turns out - indulging in your guilty pleasure is good for you... in moderation, though! :)

I thought we could all use this little boost today.

The article is originally from iVillage.com and is written by Jill Provost. You can find the original slideshow here.

Enjoy!

*****

Indulging in Guilty Pleasures Is Actually Good for You (in Small Doses)

Shopping, chocolate, sunshine and even gossiping can be healthy (in moderation). Find out when to indulge and when you’re overdoing it

Jill Provost


Shopping

Why it’s OK: Retail therapy can be as good as sex. Researchers at the University of Westminster in London found that, in women, shopping activates the same areas of the brain that get turned on during a romp in the sack. Shopping allows us to interact with the world and explore our interests, says April Lane Benson, Ph.D., author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. Buying things we like reflects the traits we appreciate in ourselves.

When to indulge: “Shopping should be done in a mindful way, and not as a way to anesthetize yourself,” says Benson. Ask yourself whether you can afford the time, energy, money and emotional distraction. “Shopping should never be used to fill a hole in the soul. It won't work and will move you farther away from figuring out what it is you really need and how to get that.”

Don’t overdo it: Though bargain shopping can give you a thrill, racking up credit card debt is not a good strategy for long-term happiness. Between 2 and 8 percent of Americans have an obsession with shopping for unneeded items and the inability to resist purchasing them. “It’s important to remember that you can never get enough of what you don’t really need,” she says.


Chocolate

Why it’s OK: Sweet on chocolate? Don’t feel guilty. Heart-healthy chemicals in cocoa called flavonoids decrease inflammation and help keep blood vessels pliable, preventing the arteries from hardening, says Monica Bearden, R.D., co-author of Chocolate -- A Healthy Passion. Dark chocolate also helps lower blood pressure, reduces the risk of stroke, raises “good” HDL cholesterol and boosts blood flow to the brain.

When to indulge: Unfortunately for chocoholics, you don’t need a box of truffles to reap the benefits of chocolate. In fact, you can get all its perks just by indulging in fat-free cocoa powder. But where’s the fun there? To keep your heart healthy and your waistline slim, nibble on no more than 10 grams of chocolate a day, says Bearden. To get an idea of what that looks like, two Hershey kisses is about 9 grams. To max out on the benefits, choose dark chocolate that has at least 50 percent cocoa, says Bearden.

Don’t overdo it: Even though flavonoids are good for your ticker, chocolate is loaded with calories, sugar and fat -- it’s not exactly a health food


Sunbathing

Why it’s OK: It’s no wonder a good mood is referred to as a “sunny” disposition. Basking in the sun’s ultraviolet rays stimulates the production of endorphins -- those feel-good chemicals linked to exercise. And when exposed to the sun’s UV-B rays, your skin manufactures vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin that helps keep bones healthy, and may protect against autoimmune diseases and some cancers.

When to indulge: For vitamin D, spend time in the sun sans sunscreen (which blocks D production) during the middle of the day, when UV-B rays can penetrate the atmosphere, says Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., professor at Boston University School of Medicine and author of The Vitamin D Solution. If you have fair skin, you can get the vitamin D you need (1500-2000 IUs for most adults) by exposing your arms and legs between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the spring, summer, and fall for 10-15 minutes, three or four times per week. If you have dark skin, you’ll need 5 to 10 times as much exposure, says Holick.

Don’t overdo it: Too much sun is responsible for 90 percent of wrinkles, age spots and other age-related skin changes. UV exposure resulting in sunburns is to blame for 65 percent of all melanoma cases (the most deadly form of skin cancer; however, occupational sun exposure has been demonstrated to decrease the risk of melanoma), and 90 percent of other skin cancers. When spending more than 10-15 minutes outside -- especially at the beach or park -- wear sunscreen from head to toe and reapply every two hours.


Giving into Food Cravings

Why it’s OK: A study in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who allowed themselves to indulge once in a while lost more weight than those who tried to suppress their cravings. The reason: Putting your favorite foods on the do-not-eat list only makes you want them more, until finally you cave in the form of a big-time binge.

When to indulge: Don’t reach for forbidden foods when you’re starving, says Susan Roberts, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston. It can lead to overeating. Instead, schedule your splurges at mealtime, after your main course. You’ll get a taste of the flavor you crave, but you’ll be too full to overindulge, she explains. Keep it light by sticking to a 100-calorie portion (or less).

Don’t overdo it: Giving into every food whim leads to an ineffective (read: nonexistent) diet. Plus, constant nibbling on a French fry here and a doughnut there keeps your taste buds hankering for rich, sugary flavors. After all, it’s hard to think of strawberries as sweet if you’re used to buttercream frosting.


Gossiping

Why it’s OK: Gossiping is a form of social glue -- it solidifies friendships and brings people closer together. Even two strangers can forge a bond by talking about others. “It’s an expression of mutual trust,” explains media expert Richard Weiner, author of an upcoming book on gossip. “The gossiper feels like a big shot to be in the know and the recipient feels grateful to be in the loop.” Plus, the threat of being gossiped about can keep others in line. Knowing that you could be badmouthed makes you less likely to act like a self-centered jerk, according to research in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

When to indulge: Weiner advises people to consider their intentions whenever discussing others. If it doesn’t benefit anyone and may in fact cause harm, it’s best to keep judgmental words to yourself. However, Weiner believes that most gossip about people we know, rather than celebrities, can be useful. There’s gossip (“Did hear? Deb is having a baby!”), and then there’s gossip (“I heard Jane cheated on her husband and got herpes!”). Stick to the first kind and people may see you as a dependable source for news in your social circle.

Don’t overdo it: Research shows that when we slander someone, our audience unconsciously assigns the negative traits to us that we pin on others. For instance, if you call Janie an idiot, the person you’re talking to now unwittingly associates that quality with you. Luckily, the phenomenon, known as spontaneous trait transference, works both ways, so if you say good things about others, those positive qualities will also get assigned back to you.


Playing Hooky

Why it’s OK: Feel like you need a mental health day? You’re not alone. According to a 2004 poll by the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of men and women say work has a significant impact on their stress level. Time away from work helps reduce stress, restores efficiency and even boosts creativity. As a result, one in four of us has taken a “mental health day.”

When to indulge: Provided you don’t get caught, an unscheduled day off now and then isn’t going to kill your career. However, constantly pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion could, says executive coach M.J. Ryan, author of AdaptAbility. “If you always have this feeling of misery or dread, it tells you something’s not working. Vow to do things differently in your daily life,” says Ryan. Instead of calling in sick, schedule regular days of downtime to avert mental meltdown. Plan activities you really enjoy to help you take your mind off your job. And do not check email while on vacation!

Don’t overdo it: Playing hooky is a legitimate reason to fire an employee. Plus, calling in sick won’t necessarily give you the respite you need to recuperate. The fear of getting caught can make people sit at home and worry about work. Plus, research in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows fretting is the number-one way to ruin the mental health benefits of a vacation.

Facebook

Why it’s OK: All those tweets and status updates may be more valuable than you think. A recent study from Kent State University found that having lots of Facebook friends was linked to greater happiness. Other research shows online networking helps people build valuable connections in real life.

When to indulge: Instead of checking in every two minutes, set aside a few minutes of dedicated Facebook time a few times a day. By confining it to a set time, you can diminish that compulsive urge to peek in on your friends every second.

Don’t overdo it: Anyone who has unwittingly lost hours of their life to Facebook knows that social media sites can be a huge time suck. “It’s very attractive to find a place where there’s always someone to talk to,” says Larry Rosen, Ph.D., author of Rewired. According to Rosen, we can become so obsessed with checking in to see if people have commented on our status, that it occupies entire areas of the brain even when we’re not logged on.

Red Meat

Why it’s OK: Lean red meat is a protein powerhouse, as well as one of the best sources of hard-to-get nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

When to indulge: According to a 2010 study in the journal Meat Science, moderate consumption of lean red meat as part of a balanced diet is unlikely to increase the risk for heart disease and colon cancer. How is that possible? Studies don’t always differentiate between the types of red meat being researched. David Katz, M.D., director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, recommends choosing your red meat wisely. Steer clear of processed meat and fatty cuts. Instead, opt for grass-fed lean beef, bison or game meat like venison, which has more heart-healthy omega-3 fats and less saturated fat. Keep your meat eating to no more than two servings a week.

Don’t overdo it: High in saturated fat, red meat has been linked to everything from heart disease and diabetes to colon cancer and premature death.


Daydreaming

Why it’s OK: Daydreaming is an important mental state where we unconsciously turn our attention away from immediate tasks to sort through important problems in our lives, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Not only does it help us work through issues, it encourages creative thinking.

When to indulge: Since daydreaming can sap attention from what we’re doing, researchers recommend letting your mind wander daily during simple, solitary activities that don’t require much brainpower. Some of your best ideas may come to you if you let your imagination take hold while showering, going for a walk or cleaning the house.

Don’t overdo it: Researchers at Harvard found that people are generally less content when they allow their mind to wander, instead of being in the present, because we tend to ruminate about negative, rather than positive, things. If you feel stressed, says Harvard mindfulness expert Ellen Langer, Ph.D., “It’s usually because you’re anticipating a negative event that may not happen. If it does, it might turn out not to be so negative after all. It may be wise to practice, ‘no worry before it’s time’ and enjoy being in the present.” When daydreaming leads you to focus on something that causes anxiety, that’s a sign that you need to get out of your head and back to the present.


Watching TV

Why it’s OK: There’s a reason we tune into our favorite shows every week: We’re emotionally invested in our beloved characters because they keep us company and bring us comfort, according to research in the journal Mass Communication and Society. Sitcoms and movies that make us laugh can also boost feel-good endorphins and reduce stress.

When to indulge: Keep your screen time to under two hours a day. You can even downgrade your couch-potato status by using the exercise bike or treadmill while watching your favorite shows. Not the treadmill type? Just get up and walk around during commercials. And keep those hands out of the potato chips!

Don’t overdo it: Women who watch three to four hours of TV daily are twice as likely to be obese as those who tune in for under one. So, unless you watch TV standing up, being glued to the tube could lead to an early demise. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that logging six hours a day in front of your screen could subtract five years from your life.


Procrastinating

Why it’s OK: It might not be particularly helpful, but procrastination may be an unavoidable part of being human. Research shows that even primates procrastinate when working toward a far-off goal.

When to indulge: Putting things off gives us momentary reprieve and gives us an excuse to engage in pleasurable activities. But you still have to get things done. If you really do work well under pressure -- more efficient and focused and less mistake-prone -- then you can probably start the project a little closer to deadline than others.

Don’t overdo it: The telltale signs that you procrastinate too much: You’re always handing things in late or they’re often riddled with mistakes. You could see physical signs, too: Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that people who dawdle encounter more physical and emotional difficulties, like stress, headaches and stomach pains.


Flirting When You’re in a Relationship

Why it’s OK: “Harmlessly flirting with others helps you to feel attractive and desirable, which helps to charge the energies you bring to your relationship and to the bedroom,” explains Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., sexologist and author of Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover.

When to indulge: It really comes down to each individual couple, says Fulbright. “There's no harm in window shopping as long as your partner understands that that's all it is. Couples need to discuss what is and isn't acceptable, and where to draw the line.”

Don’t overdo it: Flirting when you’re unavailable can lead others on and hurt the one you’re with, says Fulbright. “If you need to flirt to get your ‘high’ for the day, or if you find yourself needing more and more attention from the same person, then that should be evaluated as far as what's really making you happy (or unhappy) in your relationship.”
*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Tidbit Tuesday: The SONG behind my 1NightStand: Once Upon A Stormy Night

Hey beautiful people!

Been a while since I've had a free slot on Tuesday around here. Missed sharing my little tidbits and stuff with you. I'm also feeling withdrawal from the Monday Random Thoughts' post... Guess I'm gonna have to hop back onto the wagon and interact with you lot more on here (did I just hear you all scream "Run for cover?" No? Good! *grin*).

That being said, today's post is a little snippet about how I came up with the storyline behind my 1NightStand (and latest release!), Once Upon A Stormy Night.

Remember, in this one, the heroine Simmi is looking for one perfect night. She's always looked for love before, hasn't found it, and now, she's decided her "body won't be denied". She's "never took this road before"... and she knows this one-night-stand encounter with the man Madame Eve has found her will be a one-off occurence, a moment in time when she'll "only know him in the dark...".

Why do I have these words above in inverted commas? *smile* Well, that's because they're lyrics from the song that inspired this story's unfolding.

I first heard Jojo's In The Dark on a friend's website, as she had used it as the background music for one of her mythical warrior series. I fell in love with the song, and listening to the lyrics, I just knew this is what Simmi was feeling and going through too.

Couple the fact that the sexual tension, the desperation of their coming together, simply thrums from the video, and I had my perfect soundtrack!

Take a look & a listen:



Eager to hear your thoughts!


And, you can find the book here, on Decadent Publishing's website.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: When They Meet... Once Upon A Stormy Night (1NightStand Series)

Hey beautiful people!

I'm slowly joining the world of the living after hovering with the undead since Thursday, with a cold that simply slammed in without warning and made me sicker than I can recall (actually, the only time I've felt this sick & out of my depths was after a chemo round... definitely not something I want to experience, or remember...). Anyhow... Sunday...

Time for Six Sentence Sunday, and last week I mentioned I'd be hopping onto my 1NightStand release for the duration of June, get you more acquainted with Lars Rutherford and Simmi Moyer.

You've kinda met these two already - Simmi in this very first SSS glimpse of the story, and Lars in this SSS snippet with pics of Caudan Waterfront, where the story starts.

Today, we move to the moment when they actually meet for their 1NS date... and if you want to read the start of the book, and catch a glimpse of how I pictured these two, check this post.


But here's Lars with Simmi on the porch of their date villa; it's twilight, and shadows are cloaking her. He wants, desperately, to see her clearly, because just one look at her beautiful mouth, and one touch of her soft fingers against his lips, and he is craving her like a thirsty man on a desert trek craves water.


'...
Treat her like a princess.
Madame Eve’s words—in bold and italics—in the confirmation email, blinked like neon lights inside his head; why did this woman warrant such deference?
He had to see her, damn it, and without releasing her hand, he took a step backward and tugged her with him. She moved as if she floated on a cloud, steps delicate and small, and followed his retreat into the villa without any hesitation.
As he passed the demi-console in the hallway, he put his glass down. Lars moved into the wide-open space of the villa’s living room; the heels of her shoes click-clacked on the polished wood parquet, but when she stopped dead at the edge of the room and pulled her hand back, he grew tense.

...'


Once Upon A Stormy Night released on Tuesday, peeps, with Decadent Publishing!

And don't forget to check the rest of the SSS posse today over at the official list - among others, Jessica E. Subject, Siobhan Muir, Elin Gregory, Kate Warren, Cate Masters, Lorraine Paton, Jess Schira, Christine Warner, Mae Clair, & Jennifer Lowery.

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday!

Thanks for dropping by today, and double thanks + XOXO if you leave me a comment!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee
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