Cindy Ervin Huff has come to share a little with us today about her latest novel! She's a fabulous Clean Reads author and I thought my readers would enjoy hearing about this new release and Cindy's 'why' behind her writing:
I have been haunted by the idea for my Contemporary Romance for a while. As a write I see stories all around me. Some ideas flit about in my mind and fade to nothingness, but New Duet rooted itself in my authors’ heart.
The idea of a romance between two wounded people intrigued me. The “what if” moment that was the foundation for the story happened a few years prior to writing the book. I was part of a worship team. My author’s mind went a wandering as I look at our group. The vision for the first chapter began to take shape. It was based on an actual experience many years prior. A missionary was at an elder’s meeting and dropped dead from an aneurysm. It shook the church. He knew he had it and it was a matter of time before it took his life.
What if in my story it was the worship leader who died during the service. And what if his wife was on the team and didn’t know he had an aneurysm. What if she was abused. That’s when Isabella Wilson introduced herself to me. An artist shoved into a mold of her late husband’s making. She travels to Aurora, Illinois to live with her sister and find herself.
Then ‘what if' her love interest is a disabled soldier. Wounded Warrior Dan Sweeney is not the hunky guy you often meet between the pages of a romance. But he is sweet and caring and suffers from PTSD. Dan has a prosthetic and struggles to be a whole man. Add a service dog and life is interesting for him. Both Isabella and Dan are on a journey to find themselves. Isabella searches for her artist muse and Dan must make peace with his new normal.
This is a character-driven story. The plot is the thread the characters evolve on. They are like caterpillars changing into butterflies by the end of their respective journeys.
Cindy Ervin Huff is an award-winning author who writes historical and contemporary romance. She serves as a mentor for Word Weavers International and is the founding member and past president of Word Weavers Aurora, Illinois. Helping fledgling writers improve their craft is important to her. Jubilee Writer, her biweekly blog shares writing tips and gives new authors a platform to be spotlighted. Cindy is also a member of ACFW and alumni of the Christian Writers Guild.
Facebook Author Page: https ://www.facebook.com/author.huff11/
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cindyervin
Twitter: https:// twitter.com/CindyErvinHuff
Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt-ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in search of her own identity and a new beginning.
Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.
Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?
An excerpt for your entertainment:
She reached the driver’s side door of the red Dodge Durango
first. Ron closed the gap between. His breath brushed across the
top of her head, “I’m driving.”
She faced him feeling for the handle and pulling the door
Anger flashed in his dark brown eyes. Melinda stood her
“You have one of your migraines. I’ll drive.” She climbed in
before he could grab her arm.
“Fine.” Ron moved to the passenger’s side, slammed the
door, and leaned back on the gray leather headrest. “It’s so bright.”
His forearm covered his face.
“Here’s your sunglasses.” Melinda took them from the visor
before gazing into the rearview mirror. The gravel driveway
flowed beneath the tires. Her chest tightened and her hand shook
as the gears shifted into drive.
Ron adjusted the sunglasses. “Can you drive a little faster?”
“No.” A tremble escaped her lips. White knuckles gripped
the steering wheel. Fear wrestled her confident tone. “We’ve got
“You’d better be right.” Ron massaged his temples with his
index fingers. “If we’re late, it’s all on you.”
Everything always seemed on her lately. Always her fault,
always her problem. Blame had been the morning focus.
“What’d you do with my socks?”
“Why haven’t you folded the laundry?”
“Did you break the iron? I wouldn’t hand off this shirt to the
“You forgot to charge my phone again.”
His harsh words produced her own headache which found
solace in a bottle of pain reliever.
The silent treatment was a welcome change. Sweet worship
music streamed into the car comforting her soul, relaxing her
thoughts. Peace flowed from the melody. She turned the wheel and
panic assailed her. Her wrist was bare. I left my witnessing bracelet on
the bathroom sink. The colorful beads used to share the gospel. Oh,
how she hated it. He gets so mad when I forget it. Please, please don’t
notice. Another reminder of her failure in the ministry.
“Turn off the radio. The music’s killing my head.”
“Maybe we should return home and you can rest.”
Ron raised his head, lifted his sunglasses, and glared. “And
give you another excuse. Six Sundays, Melinda, six times sitting in
the pews and not helping with worship. Well, my migraine will not
be your seventh excuse.”
Melinda’s knuckles ached on the steering wheel. Tight lips
held back tears. Arriving at church in the middle of an argument
would make things worse later. God forbid anyone would see them
arguing. That would be my fault too. She hated being in ministry, on
the worship team, and under a magnifying glass in this
congregation. If I don’t get away soon, I’ll go insane. God forgive me.
Ron made no mention of the headache once they arrived at
the church. His spotless dress shirt and neat pressed Dockers (no
thanks to her imperfect ironing ability) added to his confident air.
His look had changed over the past few years from casual jeans and
collar-length hair to short, moussed hair and black dress shoes.
Ron wanted her to get a makeover. The CD sales had
switched her husband’s focus. When they first married, Ron asked her to grow her hair out. “Sweetheart, the Scripture says long hair
is a woman’s glory.” Now a file folder of acceptable hairstyles
created by the church secretary lay in the bottom of her underwear
Ebook only $.99 for the next 24 hours!!
Click here to grab your copy of New Duet on Amazon
Paperback copy of New Duet on Amazon
Fear may be a liar, but hope can be a monster.
Saylor single-handedly saved the world from a devastating solar flare...and it nearly killed her. Now her father's Alliance Military Guard must track down pirated tech, missing ships, and a rogue billionaire, and they’ve requested a reluctant Saylor’s help.
Tucker spent a year training the rookie Guardsmen. They call themselves Dragons. He calls them defiant. Dispatched across the ocean on a mission to retrieve AMG's bootlegged tech, he rallies Saylor to overcome her fears and return to the field by his side.
Working together wielding unprecedented tech and determined to defy their destinies, the two wrangle missing ghosts, brunt force betrayal, and the swagger of power. What lies beneath the earth just might save it.
EARTHSHINE is the final book following the McConnell clan and Alliance Military Guard, a standalone for the seeker of YA Sci Fi Action Adventures.
Today is RELEASE DAY for Earthshine! Go grab your copy on Amazon! Wooooo!
For the faint-hearted. For the disillusioned. For the lonely. For the seeker. For the adventurous. For the lost. For the found.
May you be the hero. May you face the fear with a grin on your face. May you overcome the odds. And may you be somebody’s Earthshine.
My fellow Clean Reads author BW Morris allowed me to visit on his blog the other day. He let me share about the idea of what makes a superhero and how that relates to our real lives. I hope you'll read on and check it out. And share with a friend who could use some encouragement.
Happy reading, friends!
~ Saylor ~
Sitting on my stool at the dry cleaner’s, my foot tapped
along the ground in a steady rhythm. The humid, thick air
wrapped around my face and up into my hair like a bath towel. I
grinned a little. My heart thrummed. It was safe. Not deadly. I
haven’t heard of many cleaning-related deaths. One guy in the back
burned his hand real bad because he shut the press lid too quick,
but I don’t do the presses. Just the buttons. Unbuttoning the shirt
buttons, buttoning the pant buttons, zipping the zippers, pinning
on the tags. Tag it, bag it, and repeat. It’s simple. Again, not deadly.
It’s practical. Comfortable.
The wooden, swinging door to the back thrust open toward
me. A screeching stack of hangers filled with clothes, covered in
plastic, swayed along the rail mounted to the ceiling.
“Rack these and you can go,” Crystal called out from behind
the bags as the door shut between us. “Slow night. I’m closing.”
Her voice faded behind the rattling of the steam-powered presses.
Nobody had come in for the last half hour; surprising, for a
Wednesday night. Crystal was right. The hand of the clock on the
wall ticked to seven. Finishing up the last tag on the shirt, I tossed it
in the silky red bag. Drawing the string tight and yanking it into a
knot, I pulled the lumpy sack up from its stand. Red meant rush.
Following where Crystal exited, I ducked around the plastic
bagged laundry and tossed the red bag into the big red bin by the
metal wash tubs. The last of the presses hissed, winding down, and
the back room seemed to sigh in relief. Usually the area rang with
conversations of the ladies cleaning and pressing. They’d gone
already, booking it to dinner with their families.
Crystal was probably in the office counting the registers.
Shoving back through the door, I wound over to the front
entry and glanced out the windows. Clouds made the sunset hazy.
Three small trees lined the edge of the parking lot, their flimsy
branches and leaves flopping about in the soft breeze. Golden
flecks of light pranced upon the blacktop in the empty parking lot. I
snapped the lock on the door. Closed. A burly black truck rumbled
into the drive, gleaming black rims on the tires tagging the
I couldn’t help but grin then, and tossed a wave to the dim
interior. Holding up a finger, I spun on my heels and ran to the
“Crystal!” I called, grabbing the heavy hangers. “My ride is
Ten bags for customers whose last names began with M
later, Crystal slumped through the swinging door. “What’d you
“My ride’s here!”
“Oh. Alright. See you tomorrow.”
“Okay. See you!” Yanking my thick time card out of its slot
on the wall, I penciled in the time for the day.
“What shift you working?” she asked.
“Early!” I whined. “I’m the six crowd. Have to open.”
“Fun for you!”
“You know it.”
“I bet Earl brings coffee.”
“Eh. I guess it helps.” I shrugged. The lights from Tucker’s
truck shone through the front doors.
“Yeah. Nicer looking driver inside.” I jiggled my eyebrows
She giggled. “You go get it, girl.”
“You bet I will.”
“Here, I’ll lock the door behind you.”
After last waves and condolences for opening so early the
next morning, I ducked out of the glass entryway and flung open
the truck’s passenger door. Tucker hunched over a pile of papers
stacked up in his lap and propped against the steering wheel.
“Whoa.” I breathed out. “That’s a lot of paper, yo.”
“Hm.” Tucker tapped a pencil against his forehead. He
squinted at his other hand’s grip on the wheel.
“Are—hey? Hello? Everything okay?” Hefting myself up
into the body of the truck, I hauled the door shut behind me. Cool
air drifted around us. I sighed, liquifying against the soft seat. “Air
conditioning.” I breathed in the sweet, crisp wind. A last beam of
sunlight meandered across the dashboard, renewing the cab with
the fragrance of freshly ground coffee beans. Wiggling my
throbbing toes against the soles inside my hot shoes, a shudder ran
through my spine.
“Sorry.” Tucker glanced up. “I have to finish a project before
we can grab dinner.”
Dinnah. Dinnah with Tuckah. I’ll take it. His lovely Aussie
accent. Say anything, Tuckah. “What kind of project?” I asked.
“Hold up.” He held out the eraser end of the pencil for a
moment, then sighed, and scrawled several sentences on the paper.
While he finished, I buckled my seat belt, untucked my
white polo shirt from my khaki pants, and re-did my ponytail into
a fabulously unkempt messy bun.
Tucker gathered all the papers, shuffling them into a huge
stack, and dumped them into a box in the back seat. “Have you
talked to your dad today?”
“No. But he’d be happy to know you have a huge box in
your back seat.”
Tucker huffed out a laugh as he twisted back to face the
steering wheel. “Too right.”
“You don’t need a back seat in a truck, Thompson,” I
mimicked Dad’s stern concern. “A vehicle serves as transport and
Tucker furrowed one eyebrow, lowering his voice. “When
you take Saylor out in that truck, imagine I’m right there in the
Giggling, I rolled with it. “Is he in the back seat? In the box?”
Tucker’s humor loosened then, and the one eyebrow rose.
“What? Is he in the box?” I glanced back at the box. “Did
you kill somebody?”
He rolled his shoulders back, and sniffed. “Let’s eat.” He
forced a smile onto his chiseled jawline. “Starved. Absolutely
“Did—did you kill a guy?”
Tucker’s emerald glance rolled over to me and then behind
him as he reversed the truck away from the front of the building.
“I’m in the mood for pasta. Something saucy. And bread.”
His hunched shoulders swelled into tense arms, gripping his
menu. In the three months he’d been working with the new
recruits, he had spent a lot of hours in the fitness center. Those
muscles on the sides of the neck, the perfect place to rest a head or
nuzzle a kiss, had become more defined along with his shoulders.
His camouflage uniform jacket didn’t hide it.
A single candle in a red glass holder flickered between us
upon a red and white checkered plastic tablecloth. Only a block
down from the dry cleaner’s, we hadn’t had a chance to say much.
But the waiter would be bringing our water glasses any time and
Tucker just stared at the menu like he wanted everything on it.
Maybe he did. That was entirely possible.
“What’s in the box, Thompson?” I breathed out the question.
“The tears of my ancestors.”
The waiter stalked up then, carrying two ruby jars filled
with icy liquid. Setting them down before us, he offered a quick
smile. “Have you decided what you’ll be having this evening?” He
readied a notepad from the black apron at his waist.
Tucker tossed the menu onto the table, the cardboard
slapping onto the plastic. “I can’t. I’m sorry.” Tucker ran a palm
across his forehead and jerked his head my way. His eyes stared
through me. “Here’s—let’s—I need to—”
Tucker slid his chair out while the waiter stared. Tucker
grabbed my wrist and heaved me toward the door. I mouthed a
silent “apologies” to the stunned man, as the muggy evening air
filtered around us. Tucker charged onward, until he stopped short
at the bench on the front porch. Robotically, he sat, stiff, on the
edge of the metal furniture.
“Are you alright?” I asked. “Seriously, what is in the box?”
“I have to leave.”
“You should eat dinner. I think you’re having a hangry
moment. Hungry and angry. All at once. Hangry.”
“It’s not like that.”
“We all get cranky. The waiter—”
“I’ve been called up for duty overseas. On the seas. Away.
Not sure exactly where we’re going.”
My tongue melted into the roof of my mouth. “The—why?
What?” All the questions I wanted to ask clung to my ribs, sticky
“We need to find—” He stopped, licking his lips and then
clamped them shut. “I’m not supposed to say. It’s a high-level
“Do you know who’s going with you?”
“Your dad will be assigning duty recs tomorrow.” He
heaved out a heavy breath through his nose.
“But. You. You just—for how long? How long will you be
gone?” As the sun sank behind the trees, so, too, my heart tugged
into the horizon.
“Until we finish the assignment.”
“You can’t tell me?”
His palms wrapped around my cheeks, guiding my eyes to
his. “If you were to join us, I could tell you everything. And we
wouldn’t be apart again. We’d be side by side on the field.
Together. Working as a team for a greater good. And I wouldn’t
have to garner secrets or confidences or keep information from you.
You’d be right there.”
“I can’t. I won’t.” Shuddering away, I had to break free from
his warm, pervasive grip. He’d have me sunk in an instant. The
chill helped. “You know I can barely walk by myself. I’ve spent
months, months, getting to where I can stand up for an hour at a
time without leg braces.” Anger welled up, underlining all the
words as they tumbled out.
“You’d see it all for yourself.” He continued his line of
thought, ignoring my argument. “You wouldn’t miss out on
anything, because you would be on the front.”
“Can you not hear what I’m saying?” I cried out. “You hear
me, Tucker. If there’s one thing I love about Tucker Thompson, it’s
that he hears me in all the noise. No matter what I said, you heard
“That’s the thing.” He pleaded back, just as sunk in his own
case. “You will be heard. By getting back out there, standing on
your own, you’d be free.”
“Stop. You haven’t seen me broken. I’m broken. Remember
those months you traveled the world doing missions for Alliance?
While you were out exploring, I recovered from nearly dying.
Wheelchairs, leg braces, endless dark nights where my voice
refused to meld with my mind. The words refused to come out, but
they’ve started to come back. But look at me now. I’m done with
“You aren’t, Saylor! Remember the nanocomputers! I
brought them back for you. Those weeks when we injected the
serum of nanocomputers back into your blood, they changed you
for good. You are a whole new person.”
“No! I am not. I’ve lost.”
“Why do you continue arguing a moot point? Quit being
dramatic about the pain and use it. Move into it. Make it a stepping
stone and not a crutch.”
“Easy to say.” I spat out the words. He doesn’t hear me. The
idea drove burning and blurry tears into my eyes.
Tucker stepped back. He studied his shoes and lowered his
voice. “You need to come with us, Saylor.” He planted his balled-
up fists in his pockets.
A man and woman walked up to the front door, eyeing us
discreetly. I offered a tight smile as they entered the restaurant.
Tucker sank onto the bench.
“You might want the old Saylor to come with you. The one
who was reckless and bent on destruction. She stole a boat and
convinced everyone she could save the day. That Saylor didn’t
know her limits. She didn’t realize how tall the heights truly are.”
“But I’m not Yesterday Saylor anymore.” I held up a palm to
stop his beautiful voice from bickering. “I’ve built big walls and I
ripped them down. I did my hard thing: saved the world from a
global wave of solar radiation. And it struck me down. I cannot do
“Why do you believe that lie?” His voice breathed out
question after question, unhearing, misunderstanding.
I can’t face any more giants. “Some people face death and it
makes them stronger. It makes them want to live each day fully
and do big things. But I did those big things. I gave away my time
for people who hate me now, and who say I’m this despicable
“You’re not despicable. Why do you care about what
strangers think of you anyway?”
“Stop. You are not listening to the words coming out of my
“I’m hearing you.”
“No.” Quaking in my white tennis shoes, I bit back loathe
for his thick-headedness. “You used to hear me. I’m not sure—”
“Saylor, I refuse to leave on a bad note again. I’ve left twice,
wait, three times from a bad spot. I won’t do it.”
“Maybe it’s our fate.”
“And since when do you believe in fate?”
“When have I not?”
“Who am I even speaking to right now? Where’s my Saylor?
The Saylor who forges her own path, come what may?”
I let out a quick yell, a quite unladylike grunt, and tossed my
fists in the air. “Do you not see I’m losing this battle inside of
myself? Do you not see I’ve got nowhere to go? I’ve got nothing to
give. I don’t care about the things I used to dream for. Now I dream
of blood stains. Now I dream of falling into darkness. My losses
outweigh any wins I’ve ever had. My clothes don’t fit. My knees
always hurt. And I can’t train. And I can’t run. And I can’t be who I
used to want to be, because I tried, and it ripped me apart. I cannot
face the darkness again.” The tear spilled out of my eye, running
down the side of my nose, dragging a river of black mascara with
it. I didn’t care.
Tucker sprang up from the bench, wrapping his arms
around me. His coffee scent devoured the hunger and wrenched
hope. Whatever spices of cinnamon or leather or mountain forests
he’d used earlier, bound the splinters of fear. He held me, resting
his cheek against my ragamuffin hair.
“All I want,” I whispered, “is to sit on a porch with you,
watching a sunset together.”
He swallowed, breath ragged. One of his hands buried into
the back of my hair. “We can find a sunset. That I can do.”
He laced his fingers through mine and we wound over to the
truck. He parked us by the small pond over the hill from Fort Story,
and we sat in the back of the bed, legs dangling over the gravel,
while stars dropped into their places above the trees.
We didn’t say much.
The stars didn’t either.
But Tucker held my hand the whole time, even as he walked
me to the door of the house, and kissed my cheek. I ached for more.
I wished he’d said less. His eyes, oh those eyes, they shone with
questions and unstated opinions.
That night behind my closed eyelids, black pools of wide
oceans quivered with unblinking eyes and hollowed cheeks.
Somewhere someone laughed, but it silenced with a quick crack.
Somewhere in the deep forests, monsters lurked, snapping and
flapping their vicious wings, heaving fire at those who’d charge
Grab your own copy of EARTHSHINE next Tuesday, October 9th!
As we prepare for the upcoming release of EARTHSHINE, my other Clean Reads books will all be on sale for $.99 each! Here's the schedule:
Insurrection -- September 27 through October 2
Incomplete -- Oct 3 through Oct 8
Indelible -- EARTHSHINE release week! -- Oct 9 through Oct 16
Here Be Dragons -- Oct 17 through Oct 23
You can click the BOOKS tab to access links to each one, or simply click the title above. So if you follow the sales, you will be able to get all five of my books for about $10. What a deal! Download Insurrection today and catch up with the story. Need a great adventure? Check these out today. <3 Get ready to rumble!
Carl Wayne graciously invited me onto his morning show at KOXE radio 101.3. We chatted Texas beauty, inspiration for the challenges we all face, and exciting news for Kadee Carder Ink that you will not want to miss. Listen here to the replay on your own time. Do you like a good sale? Well check it out!
Happy listening for your daily walk or commute:
There’s a city beside a lake in the heart of an old volcano. The city is called Sete Cidades and sits on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Atlantic Ocean. Rich sunsets adorn the lush greenery of this island, stucco walls bracing the quaint walls of the houses lining the narrow streets. My husband discovered this marvel while exploring the planet for the elusive city of Atlantis. (Which, by the way, he found it.) He showed me a picture on Google Earth and said, “You need to use this location in a book.”
And so, I did.
We live these busy lives, walk the dusty concrete, and rarely glimpse, let alone immerse in, a tropical paradise. Between the pages of Earthshine, you’ll receive a new mission, a new voyage, into the harrowing wilds of the oceans deep and forests high.
I scoured the interwebs for every photo and article on the Azores islands, watched endless videos on YouTube, and even spent hours using our virtual reality set on Google Earth to explore these and other various locations Saylor and Tucker traverse within the pages of Earthshine. A fellow Clean Reads author even shared an hour chatting with me about her experiences while living on of the Azores islands. One goal for my books is that they will serve readers for multiple readings and re-readings, providing rich, realistic environments and imagery to take my reader friends to these brave new worlds.
Needing a vacation? Get ready to grab a copy of Earthshine and escape. Join me in the Azores, at a fraction of the cost. Maybe it will even entice you to get up and add a new locale to your travel wish list. It sure did for me.
Windchimes swung in the background. A gentle wind hummed. Fingers picked the tinny strings of an acoustic guitar, one at a time cascading into a tender melody.
“Belief in the breeze
The smoky morning haze
The sun on her face
and the touch of lovers' hands
The pain that comes today
Is here, then goes away
And we are homeward bound
I want this more than life…”
Whitley’s version of the song, “More Than Life,” brought Saylor and Tucker into my mind, sitting on a porch swing, watching the sun set.
The two characters have stayed with me over the years, as I have traversed their roads, through wet marshes, muddy mountain trails, and the wilds of the Australian outback. What would they be doing right now, I’d ask myself. The hard part about meeting characters and following their stories is that they stay with you, real as friends. Their lives influenced mine. Their stories shaped mine. So in that smoky morning haze, in the golden, setting sun, what would they be doing, I’d revisit the question in my memory.
Would Saylor ever be satisfied with her ending?
What would she want more than life?
And from the ashes of broken dreams, from the depths of dark nights, of agony, of restlessness, of inability to wait with inaction, the story of EARTHSHINE came to be. Could a girl who’s “done the hard thing” once more rise to the occasion? You see, there is not just one “hard thing” to face in life. There will be one, then another, and another. Each time more difficult, each time more unhinged and chaotic, each time drawing the protagonist further into the hero position. What would Saylor do when asked to face her greatest fears, knowing they are real?
I wasn’t ready to write EARTHSHINE when the words began spilling out. It began with another title – Deadlight.
Halfway through, exploring the theme and tone brought on by the title “dead-light” generated, the word no longer fit. Is death the finale? While it served as an intriguing vocabulary word, no, it didn’t fit with Saylor and Tucker’s story. Theirs is a story of perseverance, of love, of hope. Of reflection. Of audacity. Of moxie. Of grit. One morning as I began to wrap up the final chapters on my manuscript, my “Word of the Day” email popped into my inbox. The term, “earthshine,” lit up my screen. In fact, it lit up my eyes from its first appearance, because earthshine means…well...I suppose you’ll have to read the book to find out.
I hope you will.
I hope you enjoy the story that had to be written.
I hope you may also get back up, once your heart has broken.
I hope you will be the one who shows up, builds up, and believes.
May you be the light, shining into the abyss. May you be someone’s Earthshine.
Earthshine releases in three weeks, on October 9th. Happy reading.
Every one of us, it doesn’t matter what we look like or sound like or feel like, no matter what we do, what we have done, the plans we have or have had, we are all trying to do our best. It’s about time to stop comparing. It’s time to stop saying, “It should be this way,” or “I’m not good enough.” Stop.
It’s a struggle of mine. I so deeply have limited confidence and I don’t know why or where it came from, but it’s there. And we need to stop. It’s time to deal with it.
The Not Good Enough.
Know that today, right now, no matter what you are doing, or have wanted to do, or thought you should be doing, you’re okay. If God had other plans for you, he would have put them into play. But the ones he has in play now are right and best. So be encouraged in the thing that you are doing, regardless of how hard or easy it is, or how much you feel like you are doing it good enough. You are. So just show up, hang in, and be happy with your best. Even when you feel like your best should be better. Know that you are on the right track.
I have felt insecure the last couple of weeks as I’ve been learning the tracks I need to teach for my BodyFlow training. The hours spent learning choreography and notes have made me fully aware of my lacking and newness to the idea of leading a yoga, tai chi, and pilates class. I feel quite out of my element, and challenged. There have been many tears.
But if God had something different, he would have put that into play. What is in play is the thing that is. So go with it. Smile with it. Cause it’s the best. And you are the best to be in that role, in that job that you are doing.
We often receive and share the reminder of brokenness. Do you feel like you are inherently broken and can never be right? There’s more to life, there’s more to your plot line, than being broken. You are capable of doing great things because of God’s love and power in your life.
Release the demands of pretention. Release what no longer serves you. Release the expectation of perfection.
Because of the work that God has done, because of Jesus’ sacrifice of life establishing victory for us, his children, his living body on earth, we do not have to stay broken.
Strong. Capable. The best fit.
Yes, you can.
Fear can be a lack of trust, but it can also be a nudge in the right direction. Consider the source of fear, and not just the fear itself. Ask ‘why am I afraid’? Do you fear the unknown? Are you afraid of letting someone down? (By the way, this is your projection of what you think they want) Do you trust yourself? Perhaps the fear can be the tool to get you where you need to go.
Do not fear the fear, embrace the fear and find its root. Because the fear will help you get to where you need to be. The more afraid you are of it, the more you might need to pursue it, look it in the face, and deal with it.
We have nothing to fear. The children of God have nothing to fear on earth. Yes, there are times to use wisdom and safety. However, use fear to learn. Learn about yourself, learn about others, learn about God’s sovereign capability.
Overcomers. Capable. The best fit.
That is reality.
Martin Luther King, Jr:
This is the most important and crucial period of your lives, for what you do now and what you decide now at this age may well determine which way your life shall go. And the question is whether you have a proper, solid, and sound blueprint. And I want to suggest some of the things that should be in your life’s blueprint.
Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity and your own worth and your own Somebody-ness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel like you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.
Secondly in your life’s blueprint, you must have a basic principle: the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days and years unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. And once you discover what it will be, set out to do it and do it well. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or you fail, be the best of whatever you are.
Finally, in your life’s blueprint, must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love, justice. While life for none of us has been a crystal stair, we must keep moving, we must keep going. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.
See King's inspiring speech here:
The past couple of weeks have been intense. They’ve been crammed with work, play, writing, reading, and people. So many people. After thirty-something years around them, I’ve come to realize and acknowledge that the more I’m around people, the more aware of myself I become. It’s draining to be hyperaware of your actions, word choice, tone of voice, and movement. What’s more draining about it is that I realize most people aren’t even paying attention, and yet there’s this creative spark inside of me that whispers, “But, what if they are?”
And so I overanalyze, overthink, and afterwards, rehash. Exhausting. The more tired I become, the more this exacerbates itself.
So this weekend was the epitome just waiting for a bang. I’ve been working with multiple people doing the #PitProm pitch contest (more on that in a coming soon blog!) and on Sunday morning, found myself among the team of people practicing the music for the church service.
I love to sing.
I love it, but I’m more of a back-up or ensemble singer. I’m no Taylor Swift. #ThingsIKnow #BTeam. There are times when people don’t make it to the practice at the last minute, and usually it is somewhat of an annoyance but no big deal. But yesterday, I wasn’t feeling it. I *was* feeling overwhelmed, tired, cranky, and in need of coffee. My voice kept cracking, I was kind of bloated because I had eaten pizza and a doughnut on Saturday, and I was receiving emails and notifications for work that I needed to keep up with. The nagging thought that I am tired but I show up so why don’t others too??? kept going through my head. I was out of my element. Out of my power. Can you see it? Charlie asked me why I wasn’t singing, and it was quite obvious I wasn’t singing because I was the only one other than him that should have been singing. I snapped at him, “Because I don’t know the song.” Eh. Wasn’t a great response, but what got to me was my tone of voice. I heard myself being so mean. I heard three-years-ago me answering.
You know what’s hard about working on yourself? Sometimes you miss the mark. Sometimes you find yourself not responding how you want, but you can’t seem to navigate the new waters in the new self, and judgmental snarkiness rolls out instead.
If you were ever wondering about this chica over here and what the struggle really is, well, I saw it this weekend.
I left the worship center, tears in my eyes, a mixed bag of emotions. My loudest thought was, “What if everyone expects me to react like this?”
I used to react like that. I know it. But I’ve made the effort over the years to be better. To react better. To be the kinder, more gracious person in conflict. Doesn’t always happen. But maybe my biggest fear isn’t actually responding badly, it’s what the other people think. Do they find it shocking, and therefore they are concerned about me? Or do they shrug and sigh, “Typical.”
You know what? I can’t determine what anybody else but myself thinks.
So when I drove to my quiet house, the hush wrapping around me like a fresh breeze, I sifted through the thoughts. I sorted the “why” and the “how come” and the “you stinks” and the “always” and the “never” and the “they should” or “I can’t” and settled on the one thought that got me straightened out again: I control how I react.
At the time, I was having trouble controlling the crying. Because as a female, that’s just part of the project. Insert tears here. They’re in there, they come out, you deal.
I needed to get back into my element, where the REAL ME resided. The real me, my heart and soul, knows I’m not based on ill-will and frustration. I needed to get her back at the helm. The tears, the “what if” thoughts were hijacking my reality. The thoughts you think? They’re not all true. Don’t listen to the false ones. Find the truth.
The truth was and still is this: I’m an amazing critic. I am so good at judging. I rock at finding the things that need to be improved and then implementing a plan to fix them. I am SO GOOD at that. I can order around people like tomorrow depends on it. It’s a great skill to have when directing plays, leading public relations campaigns, teaching classes…but it can be quite difficult to live with inside my head when I dwell on planet earth.
Since I’m one of the best versions of me when I’m critiquing and making lists….I sat down at my computer and graded an essay. Yes. I sipped on my coffee, gave notes on essay writing and compositional form, and when I stood up fifteen minutes later, I was a new person. No…I was my real person again. I got back in my element.
Once I refreshed my makeup and drove back, I apologized and explained what was going on. And you know what? We had some laughs. People chuckled. We related over past challenges and similar stories. The words were wrong on the screen. “You are the hope to the hopless and broken.”
You know what? At times we are hopless and borken.
But then there’s time to get back up again.
Three steps to getting your life back when your emotions or the situation hijacks you and your "not good enough" triggers you:
1) Take a break.
Relaxation, resting, and taking a break are the fastest way to resetting your entire body and mind. We stress ourselves out too often. This is the first and most important step to getting back on track. Think of a train derailing. What if the train just kept chugging forward, off its rails? What a mess! No! The train needs to stop so it can be hoisted back on the rails. Turn off the engine. Step away from the tracks. Take a break and breathe in deeply for at least several minutes. Be alone, be quiet, be still.
And while you’re quiet, hush any lying thoughts or voices. They don’t belong. Criticism doesn’t help, so take a rest from it as well.
2) Get back in your element.
Sometimes we call this “power.” Be in your power. Do the thing you love most. Do the thing that brings you joy, bliss, most importantly peace, and reminds you of why you are here on earth because of how much you enjoy it. Do the thing you’re good at. Do something you’re good at.
How do you know what your element is? What’s your power? Well, you need to know yourself first. If you don’t know what this is, then take some time to get to know yourself right now. Shut off your phone, go outside, and walk for an hour to begin figuring it out.
3) Trust your tribe.
You cannot manage other peoples’ perceptions. That’s not your business. Manage your own perception, your own mindset, your own abilities, and do your best. Apologize when necessary. Own who you are. Own that you’re learning. Own the opportunities and challenges. The people who love you will stick around regardless of the outcome.
We all have our lessons to be learned. The important thing is to learn them. We have the tools, so make time to use them. I know that I'm not three-years-ago me. She wouldn't have taken these steps or even known there was a problem snapping at someone how I did. Now the lesson is the thing. Because life is the thing. The getting back up is the thing.
If you feel this story and need your own set of tools to build your best life, get crackin’ reading KINGDOM COME, a reminder of the hero you are and the empire you were built to create.
Can you relate? I’d love to hear back from you about a time when you found yourself emotionally out of your element and what you did to get back on track. Feel free to hit reply with your story and tips!
“Those voices that tell you to stop, those are wrong. Those voices lie. They steal your victory. Out there be dragons, but in here—” Burkman tapped my chest, “—here lodges your sword and shield.”
Can Tucker lead his small crew of rogue warriors in a daring rescue mission? Or will the ghosts of his past and the tech of tomorrow rip him to shreds? Find out now with your free copy of HERE BE DRAGONS!
Regularly $4.99, you can get HERE BE DRAGONS for FREEEEEE from now until July 15th. But don't wait, because you don't want to miss a free awesome adventure.
Just click here: https://amzn.to/2KYcdVj
Follow Tucker Thompson to the brave wilds of the Australian Outback in search of his long-lost home (which he doesn’t remember) and to rescue the remnants of an undercover op gone wrong (which has been attacked). HERE BE DRAGONS is a young adult science fiction adventure for the thrill seeker and action taker. It's the a spinoff standalone of the INSURRECTION trilogy. If you liked Saylor's point of view, just wait until you see Tucker's, on a whole new mission.
And share with your friends who need a great story! <3 Happy reading!
Got a manuscript you've been itching to pitch? Well, wait no longer, because #PitProm is heading your way this weekend!
Calling all Sci Fi and Fantasy writers! Pitch your manuscripts and see if you can make it to the Top 20 finalists. We are accepting up to 200 submissions for this year's PitProm contest. Our Royal Advisors will take the submissions and pick the top ten favorite sci fi and top ten favorite fantasy pitches. Those finalists will then work with published authors to sharpen their pitches, submit the final work, and industry experts will vote for their favorites! Whichever manuscript pitch receives the most requests from an agent or publisher will be crowned King or Queen of this year's PitProm!
The fun begins July 14th at 10:00 AM, Central Standard Time. Simply go to PitProm.com and submit your 140-character pitch, query letter, and the first ten pages of your completed Sci Fi or Fantasy manuscript.
Know someone who has a manuscript waiting to be published? Share the news so they can enter and dance to the finish line!
See you on the floor this Saturday!
Have you felt overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up? How many times have you waited, unsure, hesitant, when faced with a decision? Is that ache in your chest old yet?
I’ve had that deep ache in my chest these past few months (years?), and I’ve done a lot of seeking. A LOT. I got tired of the ache. Instead, I tooled up. I learned that I can sit there sad, frustrated, burned out and cynical…or I can take action.
Did you know that you have incredibly powerful tools right within your grasp, and you are on the verge of walking through this mysterious, fabulous door to unknown new worlds? Oh, yes you are.
I hope that doesn’t sound too scary….actually, maybe I do. Because fear masquerades around you, calling you out. Are you ready to stop being afraid? Do you even realize when you’re afraid?
I used to think I was pretty brave until I looked at how I was going about my business, hiding out in the shadows, taking the safe path, and venturing only when I was sure the next step would find firm ground. Even putting this book out is the entry into a nail-biting, murky realm for me, but I firmly believe these tools are essential for us and we don’t even realize we have them. But they’re right there.
Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater.
My latest collection of seeking and soldering has led to a 150-page guide and workbook to help you change your mindset to change your life. Within these pages of KINGDOM COME we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Here we discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.
Available TODAY from Amazon, in paperback and ebook, you too can join the adventure. Come on, friend. I’ve taken some of these steps myself, and it’s beautiful over here. Let’s get crackin, together. Click here to purchase your copy right now. Only $1.99 in ebook and $6.99 in paperback, you’ll have my crazy little stories about life and how all these problems around you serve as the real excitement you’ve been seeking. The chapters are short and the questions might make you squirm, but I’d rather be out there on that sunny mountain than stuck, waiting for air. Here’s your fresh breath. From my heart to yours.
What does becoming a champion entail? It’s a methodical, ongoing trek toward a goal. It’s a pushing forward, regardless. It’s upward and outward, every day, showing up, and breaking boundaries.
To be honest, it was his turquoise shoes I noticed first. Then, it was his superhuman pull-ups.
One day about a year ago, maybe longer, one guy at the gym did these massive pull-ups I’d never seen with my own eyes in person. He was using the regular squat/pull-up rack in the gym, minding his own business, but with a forty-five pound weight chained to his waist. After a couple reps of those, he went and added to the pull-ups, where he extended his arms down, above the top of the metal rack, shoving his body closer to the sky. That move is known as a muscle-up.
I blinked several times after I saw this the first time, wondering if anyone else at the gym noticed it, but around me the treadmills continued to buzz and the lifters by the weight racks studied the ground by their sneakers. (They were not turquoise.)
Another day, I took to the treadmills in my warm-up and, across the room, this bar lined with multiple forty-five-pound discs begins raising off the ground, the black steel bar itself beginning to bend in the middle. I counted I think eight of those discs plus some smaller ones. I don’t math, but then saw who was owning that bar. And nobody else in the gym even glanced up. He continued deadlifting that grimacing bar, but those hands stayed steady.
I just had to find out what motivated this guy to get up, show up, and lift up. What do you tell yourself when you’re lifting hundreds of pounds? How do you continue to shove against the grain of the earth when all it’s doing is trying to knock you down?
I think I asked him, “How much weight was that?” and he simply shrugged, non-committal, with a, “That was only four-fifty” or something to that effect. What. And then I have no idea what came out of my mouth because math… and I’m intimidated by most humans, especially ones who can lift four times my weight with a shrug. But then he said, essentially, “How you handle the gym demonstrates how you handle life.”
And I knew that my friends and readers needed to hear his story and perspective.
Need some motivation? Go find Travis Cadenhead on Facebook and Instagram at CadenheadKinetix. He’s a personal coach who offers online nutrition and fitness programming. Travis has worked with the elderly, special needs kids, the average gym goer, and pro athletes.
If you’re intimidated about those first few hesitant steps to bettering your life and wellness, then take a moment to rush forward. Success and victory aren’t as far away as they seem.
Here are just a *few* of his recent resume triumphs:
2014—Texas Raw bench press record of 402lbs at 198lb bodyweight. (U.S. Powerlifting Association)
2015—Pig Iron Classic Powerlifting meet. 1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
2015—Bend the Bar (USPA) Powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
2015—Unleash the Beast (MSA) Powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class and best overall lifter.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
2016—Clash of the Barbarians (USPA) powerlifting meet.
1st place in weight class, best overall lifter, and a top 30 total pounds in the Nation and Top 4 in Texas.
Includes raw lifts of a 705 lb squat, 440 lb bench press, and 672 lb deadlift. 1819 lb total.
Qualified to compete at IPL world powerlifting meet.
Has your jaw hit the floor yet? I know! How does someone become a champion like this, and stay hungry yet humble? I think it has to do with the shoes. And probably also the commitment to persevere.
1) How did you get into Powerlifting/lifting heavy?
I started lifting during Junior High School for athletics although I didn't take it seriously until I was a senior in high school. It was an outlet for me; I could let out all the energy and aggression I had in the weight room versus somewhere else. I’m confident I would not be where I am today if I had not found weightlifting. I am an adrenaline junkie (fast cars/bikes or whatever to get a thrill) and quickly got addicted to the adrenaline factor of heavy lifting. It may seem crazy to a lot of people, but I love the mentality of "100% effort, give it all you got, get it or die trying." I believe the attitude I, and many others, have developed in the weight room transfers to other aspects in life also.
2) What motivates you to keep lifting heavy? When you’re at the bar, and the weights feel like they are too much, what do you do mentally or physically to continue working?
I always strive to be the best athlete I can be. I hype myself up by trying to do more reps or weight than before. I don't want to be normal and never wanted to be. If a thought comes into my head that I cannot do something, I remember the last time I had that thought, kept trying and accomplished the goal. Fear is not something God created us to have, so I bring that to the table when I am training.
3) What approach do you take to fitness and nutrition and mindset?
Fitness is very important not just physically for me but mentally. It’s been a part of my life for over a decade and I would be lost without it. I do set schedules for specific exercises/training depending on my goal at that time. I train to be a well-rounded athlete. I am always thinking about what I need to do to get better; that includes weightlifting, calisthenics, gymnastic movements, running, jumping, agility, conditioning, and martial arts.
What we put in our bodies is everything. I believe a lot of the diseases nowadays is from the Western type diet most Americans eat. Instead of eating foods with anti-inflammatories and plenty of micronutrients, the American diet is loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats which cause inflammation in the arteries, have insufficient micronutrients, vitamins/minerals, and cause diseases like diabetes and heart disease, etc. I believe eating foods loaded with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, micronutrients, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, along with exercise, will help prevent and reverse a lot of these diseases.
4) What is your strategy for setting goals? Do you set specific numbers and work toward them or how do you decide what your results will be?
I like to set extreme goals. I am either all in or not at all; I have no in between. When I have a goal that is very extreme and hard to achieve, that is what drives and motivates me to keep moving forward.
5) For the regular person who’s afraid of stepping inside the gym, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer?
Don't be intimidated. Not everyone wants to be extreme in the gym or a competitive athlete. Everyone has different goals and levels of fitness. Starting a consistent fitness regimen is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions you can make in your life. It is never too late to start. As you get older fitness training will help you keep your muscular structure, it will make everyday functional activities more manageable, and you will be able to do more desirable activities (hiking, biking, playing with kids, etc..).
6) What is one piece of advice you’d give your teen self?
I would tell myself to learn more about functional training rather than just getting bigger. Bodybuilding like most young men want, without functional training in their routine is not practical. You will look the part but will probably lose athleticism.
7) What is one thing you’d like to leave as your legacy?
I want people to remember me as a Godly man. I want to help people live a more positive life physically, mentally and spiritually.
8) What kind of personal training do you offer, and to whom?
I offer online nutrition and fitness programming. I have worked with the elderly, special needs kids, the average gym goer, and pro athletes. I desire to work with anyone who wants to live a healthier more functional lifestyle, to athletes who wish to increase their athletic performance.
How you act in the gym demonstrates how you act outside the gym. I wasn’t raised in the gym and didn’t start loving the place until I was a mother of two littles and lost my connection to the outside world, and gained a lot of baggage in the process. What about you? Are you ready to feel better inside and out?
By pushing the limits, by digging in harder every time, the reps get easier, the reps simultaneously get harder, and also get more enjoyable. The reps equal results. You want to be the champion? Want to move freely, to do the good work you need to do? Hang in there. Don’t give up. Put in the reps to do your work, and continue pressing on regardless of outcomes, regardless of conflict, regardless of the weather or how you feel about them. If you’re hitting a wall, try aiming for a new one. Reps equal progress. The progress may be slow but all progress counts every single time.
How much do you want it?
Go get it.
And go check out Travis' Insta for inspiration and making new strides toward your tomorrow.
Connect with Travis online:
Facebook: Travis Cadenhead-CadenheadKinetix
The lovely Rae Eckman, manager of the blog A New Look On Books invited me to share a guest post the other day. I wanted to make sure you saw it! I randomly do guest posts but this one in particular came straight from my passionate little heart. Here's a little introduction, and a link to the blog. I hope you'll read it, especially if you're feeling down, frustrated, or stuck.
Happy reading, friends!
Fiction shows us how to handle our non-fiction. We enjoy these characters’ stories, see their pain, feel their journey, and tremble as their spirits quake. We get invited into their space and see the world with its conflicts, heartache, and power. Fiction’s miraculous. Fiction offers a gift of escape, of courage, of grit, of shuddering through temptation with the hero. Are you facing some serious shadows? Are you hearing the grinding of bones in the distance? Just like the heroes in our favorite stories, every person meets a point of deciding who to be and what to do.
Where are the heroes? A friend of mine recently said she wondered where the heroes were. The current trend for stories is that they often feature a strong heroine—and while I am all about a strong heroine, and inspiring girls to believe in themselves—I also believe we need to encourage everyone to protect, to serve, to lead humbly, to explore, to create, and to forget stereotypes. The time has arrived for all of us to rise up as heroes to wrestle the shadows.
Read the rest here, with a fabulous acronym to remind you how to get the job done: https://anewlookonbooks.com/2018/06/18/guest-post-kadee-carder-talks-fiction/
Feel free to share it if it lifted your spirits. Now go be a hero! <3
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