Wednesday, September 2, 2015

When You Need to Recharge...

Struggling to find a job? Feeling stomped on by co-workers? Going through marital problems? Family discord. Rebellious children. Financial challenges. Medical issues. Or maybe you just lost a precious family member or friend.

You name it, and we’ve probably all faced it at some point. Pressure gains momentum as a culmination of events and issues take turns with their punches. Or it could be one major incident that knocks us until we’re staggering backward like a fighter in a boxing ring, squeezing the breath from our lungs until our vision blurs, the voices around us fading into oblivion.

We each handle stress differently. Some people thrive on it. Others tug the blanket back over their head and sleep. I tend to...

Run! Not run away because we all know that doesn’t solve any problems. But run to the mountains. 

Peace speaks to my soul here. Whispers that everything’s going to be all right, that life is more than writing and books. That God is in control and that He’s infinitely greater than my paltry problems. Being here brings God more into focus, and the pressure lifts. I can breathe deep again, liberated from the chains of worry that squeeze my chest.

If we can’t break away for a weekend, then this is where I run…

Not quite the same, but it’s nice to escape my desk and the mountain of tasks demanding my attention and slip away for a few minutes.

This year has been crazy busy. While I’m beyond thrilled that four of my books released between May and September, that also meant long hours hunched over my laptop, trying to keep the momentum going with my current work-in-progress and the extra writing related to marketing four books. You know how, at times, events just keep piling on your calendar until suddenly you've lost control? That's me this year, somewhere about April. I definitely needed a recharge, so we headed for the mountains over a long weekend.

It’s the same for hero Burk Harmon in Burk’s Surrender. As Deputy City Manager of fictional Harrison, NC, he deals with stress every day in his job, and as the oldest of the Harmon siblings, he’s been the glue that held his family together since their celebrity father’s tragic suicide. But he has a few weighty decisions to face. Like if he’s willing to risk his family’s emotional well-being with the increased visibility that accepting the City Manager’s position would demand, and moving beyond a decade of being “just friends” with Lacie. When she invites him to tag along with her and fifty elderly seniors to the mountains for a city event, he jumps on the chance to recharge. That, and spend time with her. :)

Where do you go to destress and recharge?

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him,
whose thoughts turn often to the Lord! ~Isaiah 26:3 TLB

He's my yesterday, my tomorrow, my today.
He's my redeemer, my hiding place, my refuge.
He's the grace who covers a multitude of wrongs, the beauty in my ugly, the bridge to forever.
He's the restorer of my soul, the quiet in my storm, the still water of perfect peace.
He's my champion, my hero, my rock.
He's the sweet spot in my day, my reason for being,
my very next breath. ~Dora Hiers

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating spotlights a couple restaurants in Michigan, where we visited for a NASCAR race.

We discovered a gem, the Breakfast Club in Farmington Hills, a home town family restaurant serving up breakfast and lunch to the locals.

I chose the Meat Lovers Bowl. Sausage, bacon, ham, and eggs topped with cheese and served over diced potatoes with a side of sausage gravy and fresh fruit. This breakfast was great! Crispy potatoes, perfectly cooked poached eggs, and a hearty heaping of meat and cheese. I used the sausage gravy for dipping the crispy potatoes.
Meat Lovers Bowl
Dora here. I ordered The Greasy Spoon. Hash browns, melted cheese, caramelized onions, topped with two eggs and served with toast and fresh fruit. Let me say I’m not a huge breakfast fan. I’m usually quite happy with a bowl of cereal. And this was so much food! Everything was tasty and filling, but I could’ve made a meal on the walnut cherry toast. Yowza! Crispy yet chewy, and buttery with bits of fruit and nuts. Delicious! 

Service was quick and friendly, and hubby’s late special order of a poached egg rather than scrambled didn’t upset. Actually, the waitress responded that they take care of their customers. And that was obvious with the chocolate covered strawberries that come complimentary with the checks. YUM! What a sweet way to start the day. And we can certainly understand why this restaurant is a local favorite.
Complimentary chocolate covered strawberries
We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

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The next day we scouted out a local pizza place. Buddy’s Pizza in Livonia, with their deep dish offerings, sounded right up our foodie alley.

Be warned, though. Don’t wait until 7 PM on a Friday night and expect to get right in. This place was jammed!

Their pizzas come in squares of 4 or 8. We opted for 2x4’s, a Meat Deluxe with pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, bacon, and seasoned ground beef, and a Pepperoni. Both pizzas were outstanding, not greasy, and full of flavor.
4 sq pepperoni
4 sq Meat Deluxe
Dora here. I confess that I tend to be somewhat of a pizza snob. I don’t like pizzas smothered in sauce or cheese, and my fave is thick and doughy. These pies were not doughy, but crispy and not too cheesy or saucy. Surprisingly awesome, and I can definitely understand why they were packed! Slice out a wedge of time, though, because the pies took forevah!

We rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

6 Tips when Faced with Difficult Decisions

Isn't it crazy how you can read a Bible passage several times and then one time it suddenly speaks to you? Not just whispers, but actually roars? 

Lately I've been camping out along with Moses and the Israelites as they contemplated entering Canaan (Num 13-14). 

God promised this land to them. Actually led them to it and gave them a green light. Moses sent a posse of twelve to spy out the land and report back. Only two of the twelve recommended that they move forward. Really? 

God promised. God delivered. God was with them, but they refused to go? Mind boggling!

But, what a fabulous road map for us today. Here are six tips to consider when faced with difficult decisions:

Ask God to lead. I cannot imagine traveling this life journey without Him.

Research. Moses picked one leader from each tribe to explore Canaan. The scouts were tasked with finding out how many people occupied the land, how strong the people were, security measures, whether the land was fertile and the types of crops grown there. 

Report. Ten scouts voted no, afraid of the giants that lived in the land. Caleb and Joshua voted yes, confident that God would keep His promise.

Evaluate. Will fear hold you back or will you step forward in faith?

Decide. Focus forward, on the blessings that await, not on your past. Act with confidence, and stamp out negativity. Ten men influenced the entire camp, and they all paid the price. 

Accept consequences. Because of their lack of faith, God banished the Israelites to wander the wilderness for 40 years. Only Caleb and Joshua would actually enter the land that God intended all of them to enjoy. 

Lord, forgive me when I don't step out in faith, when I turn and hide. 
Help me choose obedience and blessings over doubt and fear because You are so worthy of my trust. Amen.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to the Northlake Mall area and to Fox and Hound Pub & Grille
This tavern features typical sports bar food, including chicken wings, fish n chips, and burgers.
Dora here. Early birds again. Instead of closing the bars, we open them. :)

Because of that, service was attentive and the food arrived before I guzzled half my iced tea.

The Biergarten pretzels, two baked and salted Bavarian-style pretzels with a side of queso were soft, not overly salty, and the queso kicked in a good way.
Biergarten pretzels appetizer
I ordered the Blackened Fish Tacos, cod fillets with coleslaw, cilantro-lime sour cream and pickled red onions. 
Blackened Fish Tacos
These tacos were great. The spices on the fish and the freshness of the coleslaw caused the whole taco to work together. My only regret with these tacos is the cilantro-lime favor should be more prominent. 

Dora here. I. Love. Chili. So if a restaurant offers chili nachos on a menu, I'm all over it. But these Nacho Muchos were mucho on the cheese, slim on the chili. No layers of flavor, in some spots globs of cheese. Cheese lovers will be in heaven with this nacho platter, but I prefer a bit more...beef. I salivated over tasting the lime sour cream, but that didn't materialize. Overall, good nachos, but didn't quite quench my chili taste bud.  

Nacho Muchos Platter
We rate this restaurant 3 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving good food.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rejection...NOT the end of your dreams!

12 books. That's how many inspirational romances I have contracted and/or published with Pelican Book Group. Twelve. 

Over the last year or so, I have alluded to a tug to write mainstream romance, stories minus a distinct faith element. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the middle of the rope in a tug-o-war. Each side jerks my arm in their direction with equal intensity. 

So, last year I dived in to clean and wholesome romance. No sex scenes, no cursing, no need to hide the books from your kids or grandkiddos. But definitely a tad more heat than most Christian books.  

I finished the first book in the Kester Ranch Cowboys series, Roping the Cowboy, and sent it to four mainstream publishers and two agents. Nine months, four rejections and two no responses later, I finally acknowledged defeat. 

Rejection is NOT the end of your dreams!

Because after reading through the story again, I deserved the rejections. Yes, the romance lacked fullness. Long sentences slowed it down. The first kiss came too late in the story. The heroine wasn't likable. I could go on...

One publisher cited a detailed list of where it fell short, and awesome crit partners offered critical input to strengthen the story...

If I was willing to invest the time and sweat equity.

Was I? 

We're not just talking a few hours of edits. This involved a total remodel and would take an entire month, probably more.

At this point, some writers toss their manuscript in the recycle bin or hurl it into the deep recesses of their closet, and wave the white flag. Others sob buckets and fling fiery insults toward the publisher/agent who rejected them. 

Not me. I am forever grateful!

Because their valuable input...

1. Pointed out serious flaws in my manuscript and offered the chance to fix them before throwing my baby out into the world.

2. Provided the impetus and lit a fire for me to go indie.

3. Proved that I can do this. That I'm in this writing gig for the long haul. That sometimes the old way is not necessarily the best way for me. That rejection isn't necessarily a bad thing...

Rejection is NOT the end of your dreams!

God uses our negatives, our perceived failures, and creates something beautiful, life-changing, and totally mind-blowing.

Like a new author name for my non-inspirational titles. And why not a publisher, too? 

Roping the Cowboy by Tori Kayson
Coming OCT 1 with
Grace Legacy Publishing

More on my new name and the steps to create a business later. For now, just know that rejection does NOT have to mean the end of your dreams. It could be the beginning!

You can do this!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes us to East Charlotte to Mily & Lalo Peruvian Restaurant. 
Mily & Lalo Peruvian Restaurant

The last time we visited a Peruvian restaurant, we really enjoyed the food, so it was an easy choice to try another one. We weren’t disappointed.

Dora here. The empty seats alarmed us, but we visited on Sunday after our early church service, and figured we beat the crowd for lunch.

For starters, all guests receive a complimentary basket of Yuca bread. This bread was great, much like a yeast doughnut without the sweetness, very light and melt in your mouth.
Yucca Bread
Dora here. Yuca bread? What a surprise! We've eaten Yuca on several occasions and especially enjoy it fried like french fries. Loved it served this way. But see that sauce? Mercy! That fire burns all the way down! Don't dip your bread in that sauce. Phew.

For my meal, I chose the Arroz Con Mariscos, yellow rice with seafood and a blend of spices, sometimes called Peruvian paella. This dish was very good with just the right amount of spice and loaded with seafood. Adding a gravy for moisture would've nudged this dish to great.
Arroz Con Mariscos
Dora here. The Milanesa de Pollo...Yum! The fried chicken breast, tender and moist, takes up plenty of real estate on this plate, doesn't it? I didn't touch the fries, tucked under the chicken, and only nibbled on the rice because I ate every bite of that juicy chicken! Even if they served gravy or butter and brown sugar on their rice like I prefer, I probably would've skipped it in lieu of the chicken. Delish!
Milanesa de Pollo

All that food (with leftovers!) and the bill was less than $28, including tip. Definitely budget friendly, and the service, attentive and quick.

We rate this restaurant 4 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving great food.

What's the most unusual bread you have you tried?
What's the last food you were surprised to find out what was in it?

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