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Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

Tomorrow we step into 2019. May we all experience true love, faith and hope, with many successes and much happiness, in a world filled with peace and goodwill. God bless us all.

Denise Barker

Monday, November 26, 2018

My Latest Book Is Live on Amazon

It's been two years and one month since I last uploaded a book on Amazon. That's too long in my opinion. While I want to release at least one book a year, I'm shooting for more like one per quarter. However, I do work as a copy editor, and those projects by other authors do take precedence over my own.

While this blog shows my progress on two of my WIPs (both planned to be fiction series), it was my third WIP, another series, but in the nonfiction genre, that just went live.

And, for the record, although Amazon stated it could be seventy-two hours for my book to appear online, it was only five hours and twenty minutes. Thank you, Amazon! The site is getting faster and faster. Amazing.

So here's my cover of my newest series, a menu-planning guide with recipes:

A Freelancer's Almanac-Style Guide to Menu Planning (Month 1, the Basics): Even When Short on Time, Money or Ideas by [Barker, Denise]

And here's my description, showing my purpose behind this goal:

Why I Wrote This Book

I wrote this planned series of books for me first (to gather all my favorite recipes into one collection of various books in both ebook and paperback form to eliminate the paper clutter of loose sheets of recipes in my home), for my son second (to pass down my family’s heirloom recipes), and to share with my readers third (to make your job of menu planning hopefully easier than it was for me).

Why Is It So Hard to Menu Plan? Or at Least It Was for Me …

As both an author and a copy editor, I find it is so much easier to tweak a written document than to create one from scratch. Since nobody’s menu plan will fit everyone’s tastes and lifestyles, it’s a given that any such offering should be personalized. And certainly other people were plagued with this menu-planning task, right?

So here is mine to help you out as you craft one better for you and yours.

NOTE: I am not a medical professional, but I offer my own insights and some findings from various internet searches here in my menu-planning guide in an effort to provide a convenient launching point for others to create their own menu plans. I have also included thirty-five recipes in this book.

Why a “Freelancer’s Guide” to Menu Planning, You May Ask?

From a freelancer’s point of view, it’s all about dealing with the lack of time and/or money when attacking the what’s-for-dinner question. Since I have juggled this time/money issue for over a decade of freelancing, I thought I’d share how I handle this. Therefore, my particular meal planning is flexible, based on available funds.

Why Almanac-Style?

I consider this an almanac-style book because I’ve added in so much more than just a thirty-day menu plan: appropriate quotes, various Top 10 lists, assorted issues (like emotional eating, healthier substitutions, creating convenience foods at home), all of which lend to a sense of diversity in this book. Therefore, being almanac in style.


Just getting this first book done has been freeing, a step toward organizing all my recipes. I had a cookbook in me, but it was so daunting to cull through 7,500+ recipes. And those are just the paper copies I have at home. That doesn't begin to count the saved recipes I have on various online sites.

Baby steps. Who would imagine how freeing this is for me on this one project? And this bit of organizing is infiltrating into other areas of my home. Simply wonderful!

Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the Christmas lights popping up everywhere. Have a great week, everyone.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Today's Quotation to Inspire You

I wrote down this quote to keep it atop my desk (but sometimes it ends up buried underneath my current projects). I ran across it today and wanted to share it with you all.
Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world. Roald Dahl, from Matilda 
Just another reminder that adults, no matter their age, should continue to read children's books, mining for the gold therein.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Friday, October 26, 2018

Two Random Thoughts Which Motivated Me (and Hopefully Will Motivate You Too)

Here they are:

  • Fear and Anger: Both are normally touted as "bad" emotions. But I propose that each have a good side as well. I know, for me, anger motivates me to plunge ahead with a goal, regardless of any perceived fears. Granted, if it pushed me to resort to violence, that would be bad anger at work. Just make sure of your motivation, your goal. And some fears need to be faced to find the silver lining inside. Same with procrastination. What are the top three things you are putting off? Those are the very things that should be the top three items on your To Do list. Once you accomplish them, you'll feel so rewarded, so free, so productive, so happy. Try it. I dare you to spend fifteen minutes on your biggest procrastination, whether decluttering, exercising again, taking a hard look at your finances, whatever. So, like carbs of late, look for the good fears. Look for the good anger. Both should urge you on to success, to finding your purpose in life, to living a fuller life, to experiencing true joy daily.
  • Baby Steps; You Can Do Anything for Fifteen Minutes: These are both sayings oft repeated by FlyLady.net and others. While easily applied to reinstate daily exercise routines, I applied it to my big nonfiction project of assembling a cookbook from the paper copies of recipes in my home. I've got three banker's boxes full, unless I've forgotten/misplaced other such boxes (which is totally possible), with an estimated 2,500 individual recipes in each box x 3 boxes = 7,500 recipes. Not counting those I've saved on individual recipe sites online, like Pioneer Woman and Delish and Yummly and others. Not counting those in my email folder labeled Recipes. Yes, this is a growing addiction of mine, collecting recipes. But last night's insomnia from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. yielded me twenty pages of the start of my favorite recipes book, ones I use often, limited to 100 max. Baby steps in motion here. Now I'm making some traction on this beloved work-in-progress project. Wish me luck.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Today's Lines to Live Your Life By

I read constantly. I have various daily feeds in my email. I read for information gathering, like the ingredients' lists on foods and beauty products, with an eye to create a more healthy version at home. I read owner's manuals for the equipment I buy and also the Terms and Conditions docs before signing up for online services. Not the most fun reads ever but necessary, IMO.

In addition I do read for the pure pleasure of it, whether online sites, books on my Kindle, physical books of all genres, plus my work is the most fun of all: copyediting other authors' manuscripts. However, I can't share those lines with you as I guard my clients' words as the intellectual property they are in the prepublication process. After publication, I can choose to share those with you with the proper attribution.

So I run across many words of wisdom throughout my day. Just recently I began saving and organizing them better. My current process is to handwrite them into a spiral notebook daily as I find each one. I plan to review them at month's end and maybe delete the ones which don't withstand the passage of time. Anyway, it's a work in progress that I'll perfect as I go along.

Here are today's lines to live your life by:

You're building the future every single day, whether you do so knowingly or not. Everything you do leaves a trace in the world. What's your life's footprint?

One of the main ideas from this passage is to choose wisely, don't live life by default.

Wanna guess where this gem came from? Bet you'll be surprised to find out these lines are courtesy of today's horoscope for me per Horoscope Friends.

See? You can find wonderful words in various places.

Have a great day, all.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Freelancer's Out-of-the-Box View of Traditional Mortgage Refinancing (Not Just for Freelancers But for Anyone Who Owns a Home)

First, the term "freelancer" should give you several hints. Like, for instance, I don't make $1,000 (or any other figure you may choose) twice a month. I don't have automatic deposits of this fictional $1,000 on the first and the fifteenth into my bank account. Some months I don't make any money. Other months I make enough to cover the next month as well. Most months I make enough to cover my bills for that particular thirty-day period.

Second, sometimes the term "freelancer" is synonymous with "broke." But it's only a temporary state of brokeness. As a freelancer, you just don't know how long that period will last.

You need guts and faith and determination to succeed when self-employed.

I love working for myself and count any financial hardships as part of the job. In other words, I'm not all about the money. Only enough to pay my bills. Even to the point of working a second (and, at one time, a third) job too. So keep that in mind if you wish to follow my lead to become a freelancer.

However, my findings below could be of great help to a homeowner with a traditional day job too.

Third, I'm no financial guru, just a working gal with years of experience in the trenches. What follows is my most recent learning opportunity.

This idea to refi all started with something I saw online about HARP ending this year (not that it can't be renewed for another year but you'll have to check that out for yourself). But I don't qualify for HARP as my current mortgage is a conventional loan, not a Fannie Mae or a Freddie Mac (a government-issued/approved loan).

I then checked out HAMP, but I don't qualify for that either as it seems to be for those "underwater" folks (meaning, their mortgages are upside down, owing more than what the property is currently worth on the market), while I am grossly "overwater" (my own term, BTW; meaning, I owe way, way, WAY less than the current market value of my property, whether going by Zestimate or by my local county tax assessor).

And I want to keep my house in the family, even when I die, passing it on as a hopefully paid-for asset, so what little I know about reverse mortgages doesn't work for me. But, if any of you are interested in that vehicle, you'll need to conduct your own research and due diligence.

So I recently tried to refi my mortgage at my small local bank (not one of the big countrywide chains) to get a much better interest rate and to lower my monthly payment. However, as a freelancer, I couldn't easily qualify, like when I worked as a legal assistant (with consistent and equal income payments), at the time I originally bought this property, as a first-time homeowner. And it seems banks tend to look to refis as debts to sell, mostly to those entities seeking loans which meet the government standards of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac funding.

Therefore, my back-end ratio (based on my current mortgage payment) was excessive and threw me out of consideration for any refi (from any bank at least) even though my front-end ratio (based on any new mortgage payment) was in the barely acceptable range.

Yet I'm shaking my head. Regardless of the ratios, I'm making those mortgage payments that the banks/government deem me unreliable to make. And for the last eighteen years at the same address.


AND, like I mentioned above, my current mortgage balance is way below market value, almost a full one-third of what my property lists for today per Zestimate. Regardless of its market value or its Zestimate valuation, this land is where I plan to live for the rest of my life. Obviously having property as an asset for a mortgage loan is immaterial in the bank's point of view, which is mind-boggling at first glance.

Even the taunt of repossessing my home, should I fail to make those mortgage payments (as predetermined by faulty ratios used by banks) and for seven months in a row (as per a quick internet search into what constitutes foreclosure factors), isn't enough of a lure to induce banks to lend me the money. Even with a $4,000 "hickey" (from my viewpoint) earned up front by the lending bank.

Still shaking my head ...

Which makes me think the banks are more interested in a guaranteed payment of a fixed amount each month.


Kinda like what I would want too in my own business.

Plus, per my local bank  (not one of the big chains either), I would have to double this year's income in order to be considered for a refi to meet those needed ratios.

YET, when I figure out how to pay off this current mortgage in six years (an acceleration for sure), I only need $418 more than my normal payment a month (to start with) to accomplish this. Granted, I should add roughly $1.17 to this principal-only extra payment figure and increase it by at least $0.03 each month to keep in alignment with an online amortization schedule (or so it appears by a comparison of my last three monthly mortgage statements).

In my mind, this converts my current high interest rate on my mortgage into a much more pleasing "net" rate of interest (by saving years' worth of interest payments).

This seems more feasible to me, and I am currently researching flexible online work to accomplish this (consider this my second job) which still allows me the time I need to focus foremost on copyediting projects (my first job). I have also reframed my mind-set as to this second-job search about being something to help me get out from under my mortgage faster.

Like I wrote in my last blog post, seek those long-term fixes (paying off your mortgage as early as possible) over the short-term (a refi, with fixed fees of about $4,000 added in from the very first, per my bank anyway). That $4,000 figure was enough to dissuade me from any refi option. I have worked too hard to pay down my mortgage to have this much added back in.

No. That doesn't work for me, not with my situation. Neither does a second mortgage. So, if you ever consider a refi, rethink your options as to paying off your current mortgage earlier.

Such are the random thoughts of this freelancer as to the traditional refi process in the States.

Not having a mortgage payment would be a big boon to any freelancer or to any 9-to-5 worker alike. Granted, I'll still have to pay insurance on my home. I'll still have to pay property taxes. But I'm paying them anyway. And I'll save much more money by paying off my mortgage.

Wish me luck.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Financial Backup Lessens the Stress and Worry of Freelancing

As a freelancer, I find my worries and my stress are greatly lessened when I have a financial backup. If single, one way is to live with a roommate, who will share in all living expenses. This could be with another freelancer (hoping your slow months are not the same but weathering them all the while). And/or you can get a "day job" (even if a part-time position at nighttime or an online gig).

Another way is to have a credit card for those slow months where you need a couple hundred bucks to tide you over until the next freelancing project comes in. While I hesitate to offer this suggestion, keep in mind that the best way to use a credit card is to never use it. The second-best way is to pay it off monthly (or at least before the 0% interest expiration date). Don't take cash advances as the interest rates are exorbitant.

Remember: look more to long-term solutions than to quick fixes (or at least a mix of the two).

For some freelancers, PayPal's line of working capital might work for them. It doesn't for me. I'm a service provider, not attending conferences or making purchases of costly equipment or with any employees to pay. So those big-ticket items (seemingly covered by an injection of capital) aren't involved in my business as a copy editor.

Just like decluttering your house can ease back on those interrupting and nagging to-do/should-do thoughts, having a financial backup can lessen those distracting worries and disabling stressors, keeping you working and focusing on more productive endeavors.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by Florence. God bless you all.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Computer Running Slow, Hanging Up? Here Are Some DIY Tips

I visited a friend of a friend to get my computer running faster. It worked. Enormously. Thanks Liz and Don.

MY NEEDS: I'm not a gamer or a photographer. I'm a copy editor using Word to Track Changes in my clients' soon-to-be-published manuscripts, using online Webster's to double-check spelling, using the online version of The Chicago Manual of Style to double-check grammar, plus doing some fact-checking via the internet, along with accessing three email addresses to connect with my author clients. Yes, it should be just one central email hub in hindsight, but I was tracking how I got their attention.

Also I have a cloud backup program. I've found that I need to see that little icon appear in my taskbar before everything else speeds up. While that icon seems to be the last to show up, it only takes a couple minutes max. In my downtime, once I've stopped working for the day, I do watch movies on Netflix and YouTube on a second laptop while in bed.

MY SYSTEM: I'm on Windows 10, using 2010 Word, with a wireless laptop (no wired-in desktop computer).

INTERNET MODEM: My service provider is AT&T, and they are wonderful. We finally got them in my neighborhood, and (1) I was happy to switch. They are cheaper than my previous provider (who was the only game in town for years). They provide faster service. They are rarely down. In fact, they seem to run two underground lines from my house to the pole in my backyard. Like my neighbor said, if the system goes down, it's only for about five minutes, as the second line kicks in to keep me connected.

My router/modem is installed in the first bedroom that initially served as my office. However, years ago I had moved my office to the second bedroom, some one hundred feet apart, with many twists and turns and walls and doors in the way. (2) I bought an internet booster that you sync with the modem and then plug in somewhere between said modem and the computer. That helped even before I switched internet providers.

Prior to my visit to the local computer guru, I found two videos on YouTube: (3) one to double my RAM and (4) a clean batch file to clear out the temp files and the prefetch files. I run it every morning to delete the junk. After all that, I then (5) uninstalled computer programs, notably all but two browsers. [I had been checking other browsers to see if they were any faster than Google Chrome.] Google Chrome is my current default, with Microsoft Edge as my alternate, in case I need to see if Google is down.

My new friend, the local computer guru, also checked for software programs that could be deleted, suggested I check for more software that I did not need and was not using that could be deleted. NOTE: I suggest you make a list and speak to your IT tech first before deleting/uninstalling any unknown programs to you, or you could search the internet to confirm what those programs do as well before uninstalling something really important that you need. My computer guru also asked about how close my router/modem was to my computer, asked if I was wired-in or wireless (discussed above).

But his best advice was priceless: (6) Set up a second work laptop strictly for checking my three work-related email addresses. My primary work laptop was restricted to working on my clients' Word docs and doing related internet research. Luckily I have a graveyard of laptops that I had not yet recycled at my local BestBuy, as I resurrected one for my bedroom for movie-watching (nice big screen for a laptop with great audio and video), another one to serve as a second work-related laptop for my office to segregate said three email addresses via two email programs from my other business-related needs.

Once I set up that secondary work-related laptop for checking emails throughout my day, magic happened. My primary work-related laptop no longer froze up every ten minutes (or less). My computer boots up/shuts down in five minutes or less (instead of thirty minutes to an hour or even more).

Now I'm a happy camper. Granted, my system is not as fast as what is depicted on TV with hackers able to do anything in seconds. Is that even possible in real life? I'm no hacker, but I am envious of their computers. However, just doing each of the above-noted tasks has vastly improved the frustratingly slow computer problems that I had been dealing with earlier.

Hope this helps someone out there as well.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lost Your Status Bar in Microsoft Word?

Don't waste hours like I did trying to resolve this problem. Microsoft Word's Help did not address this issue. Repairing Word did not fix this issue but probably needed to be done as I'm still using the 2010 version.

Here's how to recover your Status Bar in Word:

  • Click the View tab in the main menu.
  • Click Arrange All.
That's it! When searching Google, this tip did not appear on the first page load of results. I found it via a Microsoft Edge search.

Now I can get back to work effectively and efficiently. Have a good one, all.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Thursday, May 24, 2018

GDPR Compliance

With the new standards introduced by the European data protection law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), I appreciate the added privacy protections. 

I am all for keeping data safe. I understand my Blogger/Blogspot site is owned and/or run by Google and has a GDPR Compliance Notice already posted for review by my European visitors.

BUT, just to be safe, I'm posting this notice as well.

I have no control over these tools or Google's Blogger/Blogspot's operations nor am I affiliated with Google's Blogger/Blogspot beyond using its services as described, and I do not collect any data as a result of this usage. Google may collect and/or process your data in these circumstances. If you have any concerns regarding Google's use of your personal data following use of these related tools, you may read Google's policy   here and here.  

Google's Privacy Policy may also be found by  searching for the Google Privacy Policy .

My Living the Dream Publishing blog relies on its legitimate interests to process any sign-up/subscription data so that I can keep you up to date with further blog posts as added herein. I make no other use of this data.

I respect your personal data (whether you live in European countries or elsewhere in the world). 

I have never and will never sell your personal data to third parties.

My subscribers are in control and can opt out at any stage. 

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Sci-Fi Book Recommendation for Your Summer/Beach Reading: J. W. Garrett's Remeon's Destiny

Remeon's Destiny, Book One of J. W. Garrett's sci-fi Realms of Chaos series, releases on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, on Amazon. It's available for preorder now at this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CK5MF2X/ref=pe_385040_112047530_TE_DP
He is the key to a world's survival.
Here's the cover art and the Amazon description to lure you into this wonderful read:

Remeon's Destiny (Realms of Chaos Book 1) by [Garrett, J.W.]

A boy seeking adventure … A world that's dying … A war that may have no winners …

Thomas longs to escape the drudgery of farm life, dreaming of adventure and running away from his demanding parents.

Planet Remeon is on the brink of destruction, fighting a crippling disease that threatens to wipe out their civilization.

Thrust into their world, Thomas is caught in the middle of telepathic mind games between the Day Watchers and the Night Dwellers.

Alliances will be broken. Thoughts will be controlled. Will anyone survive?

* * *


Denise Barker

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Need Some Midweek Motivation? Here Are Four Inspiring Thoughts for You

I love quotes. I've been collecting them my whole life. I have four volumes of quotations uploaded on Amazon to date, each one containing about 2,500 entries. I find them helpful as writing prompts. I find them soothing. I find them inspirational. Each time I read them, I get a new insight from several.

In short, quotes are amazing and can transport us to new and different places, to new and different insights, to new and different mind-sets.

So, for today, here are the four resonating most with me:

Choose based on your highest good.

Do what you can
With what you’ve got
From where you’re at
Be fearless in your pursuit of what sets your soul on fire
I’m not telling you it will be easy. I’m telling you it’ll be worth it.

Fill your mind predominantly with thoughts like these, and just imagine where you could go, where you could end up. Enjoy the trip.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Saturday, April 14, 2018

BookBub Offers Marketing Articles and Services

I subscribe to BookBub's daily email with free and low-priced books. It's like Christmas every day, IMO. But also BookBub offers marketing articles.

Here's one promoting their marketing services: https://insights.bookbub.com/launch-book-using-bookbub-marketing-tools/

Here's another on a free way for authors to engage their readers: https://insights.bookbub.com/recommendations/

Check out BookBub.com for more info.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Book Cave Has Great Articles

Not only do I enjoy their daily offerings of books on sale or for free, Book Cave has some really great articles.

The current one is the "23 Benefits of Reading," and I love the catch-all quote that starts off the article:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.—Joseph Addison

Here's the link for your reading pleasure.



Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Thursday, April 12, 2018

My Wonderful Local Writing Group and My Foremost Advice to All Authors

I met with my local writing group this week. It was wonderful. Having a home away from home that nurtures your writing addiction and fosters your creativity and encourages your every step, as well as your leaps and bounds, is priceless, folks. So find one for you in your area.

But this post is about something else.

I have over two thousand e-books on my Kindle, waiting to be read. I hope to read more when I'm "retired," whenever that is. Since I'm a serious workaholic, I don't see me retiring. Regardless, even though I am a copy editor by day, by night I'm a reader. It's not uncommon for me to read two hundred books in a year, on top of the sixty or so copyediting projects that I handle each year (which I read through twice completely, doubling the original document's word count). I read a lot. All the time.

And those two thousand or so e-books on my Kindle are a sort of safety net for me.

I fear running out of good books to read.

Now that is my main message here.

So, as I told the four new attendees (yay!) at our writing group meeting last night, don't hesitate to write what is on your heart. Go with your gut. It doesn't matter what the latest booming genre seems to be, as that will change. It doesn't matter what the best-selling authors may write about. As they change too.

I believe each author has its own designated readership in the world, just waiting for those books to be written, to be published, to reach their eager hands. No one author appeals to every person on this planet. You only need your particular readers to find you, to read your stuff. So don't worry. I believe the appropriate matching of the readers to authors happens over time. So just write. And write some more.

Write YOUR message, YOUR story, YOUR voice, YOUR soul, YOUR uniqueness.

That's today's message, which my own intuition pushed me to write about in this post. And this message is for authors at all stages of your career, whether just starting out or long into this wonderful and sometimes maddening profession.

That's all for now. Gotta run. I have copyediting projects awaiting me, akin to the unread books on my Kindle, which are both like Christmas every day, with packages for me to open to see what lies within.

Have a great week/weekend, y'all!

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Welcome to My World, Where Every Day is Saturday


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

My Homemade Sweet Cream Cold Brew Recipe

This is pretty close to what I can get from Starbucks. I still get it there when I'm out and about. What can I say? I'm addicted to sweet cream cold brew. Here's my recipe:

I recycle a Starbucks Trenta-size to-go cup for my homemade version. Fill it to the top with ice. Pour in concentrated cold brew to the topmost line of the two marked on the cup (a little more than halfway) or your own cold brew concentrate. But I like mine strong, especially when the ice starts melting and diluting the ratios. Fix yours how you like it. Just make note if the cold brew you purchased is concentrated or not. Don't dilute those that don't say "concentrated" on the label. Add in water, with about 1" left for the final additions.

Top off with:

  1. I don't like mine overly sweetened, so just two little squirts of Walmart's Great Value brand of Liquid No Calorie Stevia (NO CARBS TOO).
  2. One tablespoon of Natural Bliss's new Sweet Creme Coconut Milk Creamer (I LOVE this). This is 3 grams of carbs well spent, IMO.
  3. Two tablespoons of half-and-half. That's 1 more carb.
Total carbs = 4/serving!

The Starbucks's nutritional info for a Trenta Sweet Cream wasn't available the last time I checked online. But for a Grande, it was 5 carbs. I figured, for a supersize Trenta, it was more like 15 carbs. So my homemade version saves me beaucoup carbs.

I love it. And I have it often at home.


Denise Barker

Seeking Balance in My Freelancing Life: My Ketogenic Experiences

This post has been nagging at me this morning, so let me get this down and uploaded so I can get to work.

As a freelancer, I just paid the IRS my balance due on my 2017 taxes today and yesterday my first quarter 2018 taxes. I have a huge smile on my face at this quite grand accomplishment. It was a big chunk of money (for me), but that just means I had a good 2017 year and seem to be repeating it this year. I'll be better prepared when I do my 2018 taxes next April. Thank you to all my wonderful authors who I am honored to work with year in and year out.

Another part of my freelancing life involves much time spent seated before my computer. I'm sure you've heard that sitting is the new smoking. But I've also heard that good health is more about the meals than the treadmill. I hope so since I haven't exercised in ... forever. Unless you count weekly forays into my yard (the mowing, the weeding, the tree trimming, etc.). Here in the DFW area of Texas, I can mow ten months out of the year. Love being outside in my yard.

Yet I tend to be a workaholic. Gross understatement here!

ANYWAY, this year my focus has been more about balance. While I still work every day of the calendar year (yes, holidays, weekends, my birthday, etc.) whenever I have projects in my queue, I've always been good about having some downtime afterward. This year I'm eating better with an eye toward hitting those hiking and biking trails in my area. Haven't done the hiking trails yet, but it is spring now, and weather.com has taken out all those rain days in our local forecast. So there's hope I'll get to that too. Can't wait.

In the meantime I've been on a keto lifestyle plan since 12.05.2017. DISCLAIMER: I am no fitness expert. These are my individual findings, as you will surely experience your own. Keep a daily food journal. Maybe you can see patterns that will help you better tailor any plan to your body and your life.

Here are some random thoughts from my experience:

  1. I've had MONTHS where I was stalled (per the scale) but continued to lose inches (per the measuring tape), so if you are currently there too, don't despair.
  2. Note: I weigh daily (and try to not get discouraged). I do wish my scale gave me my body fat numbers. Oh, well. I measure monthly.
  3. With the carb-cycling element in play in some keto diets (and seems to be favored for women with their particular hormone mix), I never feel like I failed at any time to follow the keto "diet." That's a huge plus because I'm not entertaining negative thoughts that could derail my progress. Any success begets more success, right?
  4. Don't ever get a hysterectomy. I never had a weight problem until about ten years afterward. And the change in hormones doesn't help with losing the pounds. Listen to me here.
  5. This isn't a diet to me. It's an eating plan. A true lifestyle. One I feel I can easily follow for the rest of my life. And have been for the last four months. Successfully through Christmas, Valentine's Day and now Easter. Wow.
  6. I started out strict (25 carbs or less daily; I even had one day where I had 0 carbs!). However, I've found I don't need to be that strict every day to still lose weight/inches.
  7. For me, I seem to lose weight/inches when I stay around 35 to 50/60 carbs a day.
  8. I was a major sugarholic, have been my whole life, yet I'm getting by with Stevia. Watch out for any Stevia sugar substitutes that may have 0 calories but HAVE CARBS.
  9. I am not eating fruits, and I am missing them at times. But, with my restricted carb limit, I find I'm spending my carbs on my homemade sweet cream cold brew (recipe coming up in next post) and veggies. I love a basic fajita combo of sauteed bell peppers and onions (added to eggs, chicken, beef), but those have carbs, folks! Even the red bell pepper has more carbs than the green. So sign up to MyFitnessPal.com or check carb counts online for EVERYTHING you eat.
  10. Same thing goes for checking labels. My local Aldi's (with their own brands) has condiments and sauces that are much lower in carbs than can be found among the selections available at my local box store. It's great because these are Aldi's everyday brands (not their organic line), and they are less expensive to boot.
  11. As a very general rule, you can have an abundance of green foods (leafy greens for a salad or sauteed, plus green beans) without running up much of a carb count. It's those colorful veggies that have carbs. Watch out for them. Be diligent in counting your carbs.
  12. I was a major carboholic too, have been my whole life, yet I'm easily controlling them. Never thought I'd say that. It's like the daily addiction has been cured. I do indulge when the craving sinks in deep and nags at me (which is occasionally). Hey, I'm a Deep South gal. Food is my life. Ha!
  13. Just to clarify, I don't believe in counting calories. Look at anybody on a high-fat diet who is losing (or has lost) weight to confirm that. Immediately I think of Dave Asprey, Bulletproof CEO and guru. Plus there is the whole element of "bad v. good" calories, just like "bad v. good" carbs/fats/proteins. Keep that in mind too.
  14. I can have pasta, rice, grits, french fries, soft pretzels and the like on this plan. I just must be selective and parse those out. Any of those options are about 40 carbs for 1 cup. But don't go by my rough estimate here. Look it up to confirm. But that's what I have in my head all the time when I'm thinking about what I can eat in one day without going over the 50-carb to 60-carb mark. You'll learn what your favored foods end up being and how to integrate them occasionally into your life too.
  15. I thought I was a major sugarholic. Yet my cravings/splurges are more related to savory carbs. Surprising.
  16. And then my mind jumped to ice cream. If you haven't tried Halo Top ice cream, you're in for a treat. One-half cup of the Vanilla Bean flavor is 11 net carbs. You're welcome.
  17. I find I have better results when I skip breakfast. Almost every single day. I know. I know. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yeah, I've heard that too. But have you seen the more recent findings about how you can eat the same number of calories in one six-hour period instead of one sixteen-hour period and yet lose weight? It's minifasting. Do some online research and decide for yourself. This is the only kind of fasting I seem able to do.
  18. Now, if I'm hungry when I wake up, I eat. Usually scrambled eggs (cooked in lard/bacon fat/olive oil/butter/noncoconuty-smelling coconut oil) with green onions and cheddar cheese and a fresh chopped tomato slice added at the last minute or fried yellow/purple/white onions on the side (like a hash-brown substitute). Or I'll eat a whole avocado and nothing else. Although I do like my scrambled eggs with avocado too. Yum. The point is, if you can't talk your body out of being hungry by distracting it for the next few minutes to an hour later, feed it! Try to offer it something that is on the better end of the food spectrum, if you can.
  19. So I normally eat two meals a day. I eat when I'm hungry. I usually push it to when I'm really hungry (like my first meal may be at 2:00 p.m. or later, and my second and last meal may be at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m.). I may eat the same two meals if I made a big roast in my slow cooker. Or I may eat the roast and roasted veggies (onions, bell peppers, carrots, NOT potatoes) for one meal and a big plateful of salad for the other (substituting any croutons for sunflower seeds). I go by what my body wants. Our bodies are pretty smart when we don't interfere with their normal processes.
  20. I start my day with coffee. While I love a Bulletproof coffee with added Brain Octane Oil and grass-fed butter, sometimes I opt for fresh-brewed hot coffee with cream in the wintertime. I'm known to drink sweet cream cold brew all throughout the year. Sometimes I need lemon water and will go through gallons of it in one week. Other times I want lemonade with Stevia.
  21. I prefer a dribble or two of heavy whipping cream in my hot coffee, but I thought maybe my keto plateau was due to that (even with an organic cream), so I switched to half-and-half, which I like a lot too. Remember though, the heavy cream has no carbs while the half-and-half has 1 carb per 2 tablespoons. Yet I started losing weight again. Go figure.
  22.  I had a thought earlier this week that I should add more good fats to my meals. Get more Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil. I'll record what happens with that and share it later.
  23. Today my interest is piqued about BHB (keto salts). I'll let you know if I go that route and what happened for me.
Okay, that's it for now. Feel free to share any words of wisdom with me regarding the keto lifestyle.

Have a good one!

Denise Barker

Friday, March 9, 2018

Author Highlight: Phil M. Williams

Want your reading to be informative as well as emotional? A fictionalized account of what happens in the real world? Phil M. Williams's novels will show our society at work, both the good and the bad. Pick up his two nonfiction books regarding permaculture and landscaping to help make our planet a better place for future generations.

UPDATE: Per his website, here's his affiliate link info:

The above link is a Genius link, that will route you to the appropriate Amazon store regardless of your location around the globe, and it contains my Amazon affiliate info, so your support goes to me.
I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

My particular number one favorite of his offerings is Sedition. It's a raw emotional read that you won't ever forget. Suggested for mature audiences only.

And, if you haven't gone to Amazon yet, here's his cover art to tempt you further:

Stone Lake The Propaganda Project Initiation Sedition No Conscience Cesspool Fire the Landscaper: How Landscapers, HOAs, and Cultural Norms Are Poisoning Our Properties Against the Grain Farmer Phil's Permaculture Against the Grain YA Edition


Denise Barker

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Author Spotlight: Raymond L. Weil

Here's another prolific author for you to dive into: Raymond L. Weil.

To date, he has written nine different series, sharing his captivating sci-fi stories online since 2011, although his Dragon Dreams series appears to be more fantasy than sci-fi:

1. Dragon Dreams (a three-book series)
2. Star One (a two-book series)
3. Moon Wreck (a three-book series)
4. The Slaver Wars (a seven-book series)
5. Galactic Empire Wars (a five-book series)
6. The Lost Fleet (a five-book series, also a Slaver Wars novel)
7. Star Cross (a five-book series)
8. The Originator Wars (a three-book series)
9. Earth Fall (newest series, with Book 1 released on January 19, 2018)

Check out his Amazon Author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Raymond-L.-Weil/e/B00288AOB2/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

I'm sharing some of his cover art to tempt you further:

Earth Fall: Invasion : (Book One) The Originator Wars: Conflict Unending: A Lost Fleet Novel The Star Cross: The Vorn! Galactic Empire Wars: The Beginning Books 1-3 The Slaver Wars: Books 1-3 The Lost Fleet: Galactic Search: A Slaver Wars Novel Moon Wreck: Fleet Academy (The Slaver Wars Book 3) Star One: Tycho City Survival Dragon Dreams: Dragon Wars

Set aside a few days, even your whole vacation week, to get into just one of these series. You'll be hooked.


Denise Barker

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Author Spotlight: Dale Mayer

SEALs of Honor: Ryder

Eye of the Falcon: A Psychic Vision Novel (Psychic Visions Book 12)

Dale Mayer is a prolific author, creating twenty-nine new titles in 2017 alone, with over 150 ebook offerings at Amazon. Her books cover various genres. My particular favorites are her Psychic Visions series and her Broken Protocols series (set in the future) and her Broken but ... Mending series (a raw emotional read). Of course I adore any of her SEALs series. She has four: SEALs of Honor,  Heroes for Hire (former SEALs), Sleeper SEALs and her newest, SEALs of Steel.

Her Design trilogy and her Biker trilogy and her Time Thieves novel are on my Read Next list.

Dale Mayer's vampire series and her paranormal fantasy series I have yet to read. (So many books, so little time.) Plus she has various romance collections where you can read her contribution among many other authors. The paranormal fantasy romance anthology looks tempting too, entitled Ancient Blood of the Vampire & Wolf.

And there's more. Check out the witch anthology, entitled Every Witch Way but Wicked. And the Darlings of Urban Fantasy collection. There are several fantasy collections, BTW. See also the Vampires, Werewolves & Zombies collection too.

Here's the link to her Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Dale-Mayer/e/B001JPADOI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1519314662&sr=1-1

This list of her books below is incomplete, as it doesn't show any of her four SEALs series, but it's enough to whet your appetite:

By Death: Books 1-3

Books by Dale Mayer

Psychic Vision Series
Tuesday's Child
Hide'n Go Seek 
Maddy's Floor
Garden of Sorrow
Knock, Knock...
Rare Find 
Eyes to the Soul
Now You See Her ...
Into the Abyss
Seeds of Malice
Eye of the Falcon
Itsy Bitsy Spider - Preorder for July 24, 2018 release

By Death Series
Touched by Death - Part 1 - Free
Touched by Death - Part 2
Touched by Death - Full book
Haunted by Death
Chilled by Death

Second Chances...at Love Series
Second Chances - Part 1
Second Chances - Part 2
Second Chances - Full book

It's a Dog's Life- romantic comedy

Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy
Broken Protocols #1
Broken Protocols #2
Broken Protocols #3
Broken Protocols #3.5

New adult/adult crossover books 
In Cassie's Corner
Gem Stone (a Gemma Stone mystery)

Design Series
Dangerous Designs 
Deadly Designs 
Darkest Designs

Family Blood Ties Series
Vampire in Denial
Vampire in Distress 
Vampire in Design
Vampire in Deceit
Vampire in Defiance


Denise Barker

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I Wanna Live in Bear Grass Springs, a Fictional Town Created by Author Ramona Flightner

Granted, this is a fictional town in 1880s' Montana, and I'm a Deep South gal living in 2018 who wants to hug the shorelines, so it won't work in reality.

But this small town draws me in. Meanwhile, the bad guys are evil, and the good guys are put upon. Yet the community still holds this Come Ye All Who Are Downtrodden vibe.

Want to know more? Here's Ramona Flightner's Amazon Author link:


Check out Ramona Flightner's first series, Banished, and her latest series, Bear Grass Springs. Here's the cover art and description for Bear Grass Springs (Book One), Montana Untamed:


Montana Untamed (Bear Grass Springs, Book One): Bear Grass Springs, Book One by [Flightner, Ramona]

A passionate embrace ruined her reputation. A moment of desire forced him to break a vow. Will they find love in a marriage of convenience?
Annabelle Evans arrives in Bear Grass Springs, Montana Territory, in 1884 hoping to reunite with her long-estranged sister. Expecting to attend her sister's wedding to Cailean MacKinnon, she is shocked at Cailean's pronouncement. With his "I'm not marrying a whore" echoing in the General Store, Annabelle discovers that her hoped-for reconciliation will not be as she had imagined. Not one to retreat from a challenge, Annabelle opens her own business, intent on remaining near her sister to repair their damaged relationship and succeeding without the support of a husband.

Cailean Mackinnon swore off marriage twelve years ago when he fled the Isle of Skye in Scotland. A successful livery owner, he is determined to focus on his work and his siblings, adamant that he has no room in his life for love. However, he cannot suppress his fascination for the resourceful and determined Annabelle who, in turn, cannot avoid a reluctant admiration for the strong, virile, loyal Scot. A fateful kiss witnessed by the gossiping town busybody forces their mutual attraction into the open.

Annabelle's independent spirit precludes a man in her life, and Cailean's closed-off heart refuses to allow any woman in. Will Annabelle and Cailean overcome their fears for a timeless love?  
Order today to immerse yourself in the world of 1880's Montana!

Bear Grass Springs Series:
Montana Untamed (Bear Grass Springs, Book One)- Available now!
Montana Grit (Bear Grass Springs, Book Two) March 2018
Montana Maverick (Bear Grass Springs, Book Three) April 2018
Montana Renegade (Bear Grass Springs, Book Four) May 2018
With More To Come!
clean, historical western romance novel, standalone, no cliffhanger ending
For fans of Debra Holland and Carolyn Fyffe comes a new historical western romance series by the author of the Banished Saga.

Book Two, Montana Grit, releases 03.13.2018. You can preorder it now.

Montana Grit: Bear Grass Springs, Book Two by [Flightner, Ramona]

An interrupted wedding. A deceitful bride. A devastated groom. Will they forgive each other and allow their love to rekindle?

After fleeing her past and settling in Bear Grass Springs as the schoolteacher, Leticia Browne has no intention of falling in love with the charming liveryman, Alistair MacKinnon. The pioneer town was to be her refuge. Survival and peace were her goals, not love. She never thought to marry. Never again.

Alistair MacKinnon is a patient man, slow to anger and quick to forgive. He’s waited three years to marry Leticia and his wedding day is upon him. When the door to the church bursts open, interrupting his wedding, he realizes nothing is as it appears. Now, he must face his worst fears , the town’s ridicule, and his hardest challenge yet. 

Battling despair at her treachery, Alistair must fight to regain his trust in Leticia while fending off the courtship of a desperate woman. Leticia, now a shunned woman in town, must find a way to survive by her wits alone while evading an unwanted suitor. Will Alistair allow the interloper to destroy his dreams or will he fight for Leticia and their love?

This is a stand-alone, clean, western historical romance with no cliff-hanger ending.

Books in the series:
Montana Untamed (Bear Grass Springs, Book One) 
Montana Grit (Bear Grass Springs, Book Two)
Montana Maverick (Bear Grass Springs, Book Three)
Montana Renegade (Bear Grass Springs, Book Four)


Banished Series, Banished Love (Book One)

I’m suffocating under the weight of others’ expectations. If I have to sit through one more afternoon tea, listening to my simpering stepmother extoll the benefits of traditional roles for women, I fear I’ll scream, “The world is changing. It’s 1900!” 

I want more from life than she can imagine.

If she knew of my interest in Gabriel, she’d have a fit of the vapors. She’d bemoan his humble beginnings and lack of wealth rather than recognize his integrity or his loyalty to his brothers. If she saw how he stares at me, as though I’m a puzzle he’s trying to solve, she’d lock me in my room. He fascinates me, as no one has since that awful day.

How can we surmount society’s prejudices and allow our love to grow?

Banished Love- Book One in the Banished Saga has a cliffhanger ending. This is book one in a proposed nine-book series.

Novels in the Banished Saga:
Love's First Flames (Banished Saga, Prequel, Book 0.5)
Banished Love (Banished Saga, Book 1)
Reclaimed Love(Banished Saga, Book 2) 
Undaunted Love, Part One (Banished Saga, Book 3, Part One)
Undaunted Love, Part Two (Banished Saga, Book 3, Part Two) 
Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book 4) 
Unrelenting Love (Banished Saga, Book 5) 
Escape to Love (Banished Saga, Book 6)
Resilient Love (Banished Saga, Book 7)

With more to come in the Banished Saga!

Banished Love- Book One in the Banished Saga- romantic historical fiction; a clean romance.

FYI: Set mostly in Boston, MA, in the early 1900s. Here are all the currently available titles in this series:

Love's First Flames (Banished Saga, 0.5): Banished Saga, Prequel Banished Love (Banished Saga, Book 1)  Reclaimed Love: (Banished Saga, Book 2)
Undaunted Love (PART ONE): Banished Saga, Book 3 Undaunted Love (PART TWO): Banished Saga, Book 3.5 Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book 4): Banished Saga, Book 4        
Unrelenting Love: Banished Saga, Book 5 by [Flightner, Ramona] Escape To Love: Banished Saga, Book 6    Resilient Love: Banished Saga, Book 7


Denise Barker