absolute awesomeness addiction Adversity An Uncommon Whore angels animal rescue animal welfare Anne Kane anxiety aquamarine author corner bad angels bad weather Barbara Elsborg BDSM bdsm romance belinda mcbride BelindaPalooza Belindapendence Belle Starr beverages bisexual bisexual romance Black Planet Blacque/Bleu blog hop Broken Cancer CAPA changeling press characters cherise sinclair China chronic pain Coming Out contests cooking courage craft creativity culinary competion custom art cyber punk Dark Haven deadlines Deeply blog demons depression dog shows dogs Doms of Dark Haven Dos Lunas Dragon's Blood drawings druids election embarrassment EPIC Winner erotic romance erotica expressive writing faith family fantasy fear femme domme fiction Film fire firefighters France free reads full moon futuristic genre hopping ghosts goldenwolfen grand prize greco-roman culture halloween happiness haunted mansions head/desk health heroines hide my head in shame Hong Kong human trafficking Iditarod Inspirational jessica freely Jessica Freely jianne carlo Kate Roman KC Burn Lance Mackey las vegas Last Call Europe lena austin lex valentine LGBT lifestyle linda suzane Lisabet Sarai little Dragon Little Dragon Little Foxes loose Id lost pets love scenes lucky in red lynn lorenz m/m m/m romance Madly martial arts martini mary winter meditation menage romance menege mental illness My Birthday mythology NaNoWriMo New Concepts Publishing new release New Year's Giveaway News nutrition overcoming pack politics paranormal paranormal romance Paris Passion in Print passionate plume pearls personal pet peeves PETA PL Nunn positivity procrastination Rainbow book awards real life release dates Review Risk romance save the quiet kitty science fiction Sele selena illyria shape shifters Sheri Lewis Wohl shunga siberian husky sidhe sierra cartwright slavery smoke snow snowfire: chrysalis space opera speculative fiction St John and St Thomas stupid mistakes succubus survival Suzanne Rock Tara Lain terrorism The Next Big Thing The Romance Reviews Tiger Eyes time off TMI Tony Leung travel Truckee Wolves Truly urban fantasy valentine's day vampires vampiropolis weight weight loss well being werewolves When I Fall wicca wildlife witches wolves World building world events writer's block writer's health writers block writing writing habits yacht

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Regardless of where you are, who you are with or what hardships you are facing, take a moment to find that one thing in life that shines, and send a little prayer of thanks to the Universe.

I'm thinking of my mother's classic BMW touring car. It was a 2002 Tii model and only a handful were imported to the US. She drove that car for well over 20 years. When she and my father divorced, she got it in the settlement and my father was furious. 

Eventually, we were rear-ended by a truck and while the damage wasn't that bad, the insurance company totaled it. Cretins.

A physical therapist at the clinic Mom went to was familiar with the car knew just what a gem it was. Mom wrangled with the insurance company to sell it to him rather than scrap it, and Bryan spent a couple years restoring it. Finally, we got to see the Beemer. He'd changed it from the ugly stock orange to gleaming white and had rebuilt it top to bottom. It was his pride and joy. I wish I have a photo of what it looks like now.

Losing that car was brutal. Mom and I had divorced our respective husbands within months of each other and we'd marshaled our forces to raise my baby girls and get back on our feet. Neither of us saw any alimony and in my case, no child support either. The car was once repossessed and we scrambled to bail it out. The engine blew, we paid to repair it. It was our symbol of winning. Surviving. Even though we scrounged change from the couch cushions to buy milk, Mom still had that car.

But life is about change. We lost the Beemer. But when we saw that car restored, Mom knew she'd made the right decision about letting it go. It was a burden we didn't realize we were carrying.  Not only financial, but emotional.

Both my girls came home from the hospital in that car. I can still remember the their car seats in the back, and scrubbing dried milk and pulverized cereal out of the leather cushions. We'd take the little ones to Taco Bell and eat cheap tacos while sitting by the Sacramento River. It took us from one end of the state to the other, camping, on road trips and vacations. When I was little, I rode in it while my brother drove, tearing down the highway at over 100mph while I hung on, terrified and exhilarated. 

I remember how nasty my father was about that car. (he picked the orange color) He wanted that car and my mother got it.

When the car was gone, the memories stayed, but the burden lifted.

Life is about change. Sometimes good and sometimes bad. We have to be brave enough to accept change when it comes and humble enough to recognize that sometimes something painful is necessary, and even beneficial. I will always miss that car, and I'll always be thankful that so much of my life revolved around it. And I'm very grateful to know that its the pride and joy of someone who appreciates it.

But at the end of the day, its a car. Just a car. 

I still have my mother, my sister and my children. I have a grandson and another grand baby on the way. That is what I'm truly thankful for.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and if you're not in the US, take a moment to think on something that gives you joy, and send your thanks out to the Universe. :)


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pets in Space! New Anthology!

The Pets Are Back!

"Hot sexy heroes, heroines who know how to take care of themselves,
and the pets who bring them together.”

Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s
leading Science Fiction Romance authors, brings you a dozen original
stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords
of Valdier by SE Smith to RITA Award-winning author, Susan Grant’s
Star Series world, to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for
stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA
TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant,
Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones,
Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van
Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share action-packed SFR stories
and help out [1], a charity that supports our veterans!
The contributing authors are dedicated to supporting US Veterans, and
have committed to donating 10% of the first month’s profits to [1], an organization that raises and trains service dogs
and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of
life and restore independence.
Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 is available from these


Barnes and Noble—



Google Play —

Hero Dogs:

Hashtags: Please use #PetsInSpace in your social media so we can join
in the discussion!

As a vet, the daughter of a vet, and the mom of an active duty service
member, Susan enjoys writing stories about those who serve. Her
contributions to last year’s Pets in Space 1 and this year’s
Embrace the Romance, Pets in Space 2 are so special she wrote them in
support of a project she feels very strongly about, Hero-Dogs. Her
story in Pets in Space 1 tackled the difficult topic of how the
struggles of PTSD affect not only the vet but the people around them.
This year, her contribution is lighter in tone but still focuses on
those serving in the military and the sacrifices they make. Just as
they did in 2016, the authors of Pets in Space 2 will donate 10% of
the first month’s sales to Hero Dogs, which places services dogs
with vets free of charge.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part Two

Food is fuel. Food is nutrition. Food is medicine.
Food is not love or acceptance or a drug. It doesn't soothe loneliness or stress or depression. It can become a crutch or a habit or a compulsion. The best way I deal with it is to become analytical (which admittedly drives people crazy when I do that.) But when I approach food as a tool, as something necessary, I can separate myself from obsessive behavior. I have to teach myself again and again to be mindful in what I eat, and to eat when hungry. Right now, I'd love some popcorn, but my stomach is full. So I'm sipping on green tea instead.
Some of the best eating programs are just common sense. I was once put on a diabetic diet and I've never felt so much natural energy in my life! Spark People is an online tool where you can track your daily calories, and it also analyzes your nutrition. For free. Its got a great community and a lot of support. I'll be heading back there soon. Weight Watchers teaches portion sizes and accountability. These are tools you can use, and there are more out there.
I'm not a nutritionist, but I worked with a slew of them for five years when I was with Public Health. My daughter is a chef who specializes in medical diets and my other daughter is a dental hygienist, and had to study nutrition for her degree. 
Here's some of what I learned from my experience, and from their expertise:

  • Don't skimp on protein. If you remove protein from your diet, your body will rob from your muscles. 
  • Don't cut out grains unless you are intolerant. Without the B vitamins and omegas that whole grains provide, you are robbing your brain. 
  • Don't fall into that "Fruits and Vegetables are just sugar" trap. They are higher in carbs, but they are complex carbohydrates. Go easy on juice, as its doesn't have the fiber that is necessary to slow digestion. 
  • Do fill your plate with color. Seek out vegetable proteins to take the place of animal proteins. On another note, fruits, vegetables and fiber are your best weapons in the fight against certain cancers. Use them.
  • Don't go on starvation programs, extended fasts, detox programs or fad diets. (I remember in the '70s, my sister used to go on crash diets. Ugh.) And for God's sake, don't try to put yourself into a state of ketosis. I don't care what Atkins said, its not safe for most people.
  • Drink water. Keep hydrated. Your skin, kidneys, liver and digestive tract are your detox system. Treat them well. Water is your friend. And fiber...
  • Avoid "white" foods: processed sugars, flour, bread, pasta. Look for whole grain, unprocessed alternatives. Generally, white foods are processed and are simple carbs. Whole grain, unprocessed foods are complex carbs. I suspect when people lose weight by going gluten free, its largely because they are cutting out simple carbs.
  • Do indulge. There's no harm in treating moderation. I love pizza. I can eat one slice as a meal. When I was seriously losing, I allowed myself two Hershey's Kisses a day. Unfortunately, two turned into four, then eight, then a dozen...LOL!
  • If you're going for a real lifestyle change, cut or reduce one unnecessary item at a time. For me, I totally eliminated soda and alcohol. I had about an ounce of Coke the other day and that was enough. Likewise, I'll have one drink at an event...maybe four a year. At this point, I'll be halving the sugar I put in my tea and getting a grip on my candy compulsions. Sugar is my devil and must be wrangled back under control.
  • Don't hurry. The optimum amount of weight you should lose...for permanent loss, is one to two and a half pounds per week. Sometimes you might lose nothing. Sometimes you might drop quite a lot. Bodies are weird that way.
  • Be realistic in your expectations. Calm down. Meditate. Journal your feelings. By the time I lost about 40 pounds, my appearance changed so drastically that I went through a true emotional crisis. I couldn't look into a mirror because I didn't know myself. I reached out to others who'd lost a lot of weight and found that wasn't unusual.
  • Take care of yourself. Love yourself and accept yourself, even as you are making changes.
  • Exercise. Ugh. Yes. It helps. Take three ten minute walks a day, or whatever gets you to that thirty minutes. FYI, I have a gym membership I've never used. LOL! But someday I will!
There's a reason nutritions and dietitians study "food science." Its complicated and is rooted in chemistry. They are the experts. I used to have a doctor that urged me to live on apples and cheese sticks. Really. If you're having problems or need expert advice, try to find a practice that will refer you to a nutritionist.
Sometimes you can get away with a short term diet plan, but unless you alter your lifestyle, that ten or fifteen pounds will come back. For me, and for so many people, losing, and then managing weight is a total lifestyle overhaul. Don't fall prey to depression or despair. Earlier today, I was literally down on my back, thinking about how my world sucked. Then I found those old pants. And they gave me a reason to be cheerful.

Me in my happy place (Bath, UK) and at my happiest weight. Take note, that wasn't when I was at my thinnest, just my most comfortable.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part One

So I'm going to share a soul-searching, very personal experience. When this photo was taken, (about 4 years ago) I knew I was overweight, but I honestly didn't realize HOW overweight I'd gotten. This came onto my timeline and I literally dropped my jaw.

At that time, I'd developed a severe problem in my foot, and then for the first time ever, I was turned away from donating platelets because my BP was too high. I have a genetic disposition to gastric ulcers, and those were kicking in again. I was crippled with sciatica and horrid back pain. One day I was driving and had to pull over because I was dizzy. My blood pressure had spiked dramatically. That's when I became acutely aware of my mortality. I hadn't been to the doctor in years, had no clue how much I weighed, and didn't even own a scale.
I have people who depend on me. I have children and now I have a grandson. I have my DOGS for goodness sake! I have a good life and so many more stories to tell. According to my physician, I was morbidly obese and every pound was stealing my life...and my quality of life.
Well, I lost weight, about 85 pounds. Maybe more. I didn't want to be thin, just normal and healthy. It wasn't easy but when you're afraid for your life, you get things done. The foot got better, ulcer issues faded, back mostly got better, all my bloodwork was great...and so on.
But last spring, I started gaining again. Slowly, but surely. Then November happened and as Zam says, I began to eat my liberal outrage. LOL! I've been feeling pretty blue because I still don't own a scale, but I've gone up a size...maybe two. And I've had to buy some new clothes. Which didn't make me happy. Being unhappy taps into my love affair with Lindor Truffles...and my guilt...and more chocolate...
My foot started hurting again. And my back. And my stomach. My clothes don't fit. So I ordered my protein powder again and I'm trying to gently make peace with my chocolate cravings. No real progress yet, but its never easy. Still, I feel like I'm starting all over at the beginning. OMG. So much weight to lose again.
Tonight, I was cleaning and found a pair of pants I wore before I lost weight. I held them up and they swallowed me. They were enormous and I felt much better. I'm not even close to where I was. So yes, I gained, but not as much as I thought. I still have to go to the doctor soon, get weighed in and face that number, but it won't be near what it was at the time this photo was taken.
So here's the deal. If you're trying to lose weight, reduce BP, reduce pain ,whatever, so much is involved in nutrition. Don't do anything faddish or extreme. Focus on what actually goes into your body. Try to understand food, what works for you and what doesn't. Learn about portion size. Experiment. I love milk, but I can't tolerate it, so I get my calcium elsewhere. I've always hated avocados, now I'm becoming more accepting of them. Maybe kinda liking them...
Yes, food is pleasurable. For some people like me, there's a deep psychological component to eating. I have compulsions that are rooted in OCD behavior. Its my manifestation of addictive behavior, and frankly, I'm the lucky one in my family. Everyone else is addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco. But the difference is, one of my siblings spent a year in rehab getting off opiates. Now that she's clean, its not a problem because they aren't part of her daily life. Food...well, we need it to stay alive. Its in our faces every. single. day.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two. Getting back under control.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Positives and Negatives

I know a lot of us were hit hard by the election and went into tailspin. I saw anxiety, sleeplessness and despair in my friends. Like some, my anxiety eating went into overdrive, so much of the weight I worked so hard to lose has returned. I"m not a substance abuser, but members of my family are and that's spiked.

This sounds extreme, but let's face it. This wasn't a normal election or a normal outcome. And ironically, the people I've seen who have emotionally snapped were on the winning side, which tells me they're also afraid, but suppressing that fear and anxiety even more.

Here's a good tip on how to cope: its called Negative Writing. Twice a day, write your innermost feelings and thoughts. Do it in detail and really did deep. My biggest fear at the moment? I'm facing a lot of pain related to a long ago assault, to be honest. And in spite of the hours in therapy, I still harbor a lot of the residue of that event. I'm still angry, and now that my hips and back and foot are giving me more trouble every day, the more angry and afraid I become. And then I hurt even more. I do my best to hide it, to not limp, to walk even when my foot or my hip is screaming and to power through headaches till I'm physically ill.  My whole body hurts so much I was just getting ready to go get screened for Fibro, which my sister has.

I think positive thoughts, I do my guided meditations about fields of daisies and white fluffy clouds, and my positivity becomes sour and another source of anxiety.

The other night, I was driving home and listening to a book review/interview on NPR. The guest was a wildlife expert, who'd been horrifically injured on the job and left with chronic pain. The book they were reviewing and discussing was Back in Control by Dr. David Hanscomb. The core of the method the guess used was a practice of Expressive/Negative writing and mindfulness. I was intrigued, so I went to the website.

After reading about Expressive Writing, I started writing "Letters to Pain." And I let it all come out. I write about the pain and the fear, the guilt and the gloom and doom. I do it before bed, and when I'm finished, I tear the letter into tiny bits and throw it away. The first night I did this, I slept like a rock and when I woke, I felt calmer, refreshed and my pain was receding. But partway through the day, I crashed and fell asleep on the sofa... with the TV on and the dogs and KJ doing their thing. When I woke up, I felt less groggy and nasty than I generally feel after a nap. That night, I started working on sanding the wood floors in my living room. That's a task I'd put off for a couple years. I worked an hour and quit. Not much progress, but damn, a little every evening is getting it done.

Every day is a little better. My anxiety level is backing off. My binge eating is easier to resist. I'm doing tasks I dreaded and my mood is lighter. And yes, the pain...its about 50% down. I'm stunned.

Give it a try, I think you might be surprised. And it costs nothing. Here's another article by Dr. David Hanscomb:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

State of the Belinda

Hey all, its been awhile! In fact, its been so long that I actually got locked out of my blog...yikes! LOL! But here I am, rolling on into 2017.

 The big news? Well, the big news is that there's no news. Which is disturbing, but not too unexpected, right? Last year at this time, I was sweating because I was being unproductive, feeling guilty, feeling frantic. I was working on books that simply weren't ready to go into the queue because they're not Belinda McBride books, but Bel Branigan books. (More on that later) I should be working on the sequels to Tenth Muse and the fourth Uncommon, and DESTINY. Poor girl, she's been through the wringer and I'm on the third incarnation of her story. But I hit that rock bottom for writers, landed on my feet and realized that even though I wasn't making money anymore, I'm still creative and still have so many stories to tell. There's just some healing to finish.

 As probably everyone knows, my mother had a period of illness that lasted about 3 years. For most of that time, she had a surgery almost every 6 months, requiring a lot of my time and emotional energy to deal with her recoveries. At one point, she broke her hip, walked on it for several weeks before we realized how bad it was. So another surgery and 6 weeks in the hospital. The worst was the year of the hallucinations. My. God. I think that's really what broke me, not only emotionally, but physically. Mom shifted in and out of lucidity on a random basis. Sometimes there were children playing in the room with her, other times she had ants under her skin. I spent a year sleeping in the living room so I could prevent Mom from going outside to "play."

 To cut this all short, I'm not one of those people who can channel my pain and put it into my writing. Instead, I sleep poorly, eat my angst and my body starts hurting. I get chronic migraines and digestive problems. I am a caregiver for a disabled niece, that's a full time gig itself. I'm isolated, only seeing friends on rare occasions. My exercise comes when I can slip out to go shopping and then I make a few rounds of the store. My social life is online.

 This kind of thing damages the psyche. It damages the body. It damages the very heart and soul, and while everything is as stable as I can hope now, I feel as though I've lost my voice. Not my writer's voice, but my ability to put words on paper in a coherent fashion. And this isn't the first time its happened to me. Its a bad place to land. I'm not in that  dark place anymore, but my healing process is slow. I know, because this isn't the first time.

I try meditation, self-hypnosis apps, brainstorming, rest, isolation...whatever it takes. And really, it just takes time and eventually something stimulates my writer's brain and here it all comes.

 I think I"m there. Thank God.

 In February, I committed to two multi-author projects. I then panicked, but remembered back when I was writing a couple novellas a month. And last week, I decided to start a brand new project from scratch. And I returned to doing research on a historical. In two days, I've written 6ooo words. Not too shabby.

 What have I learned from this? Mainly, don't stop writing. Even though I may not be creating, the skills get rusty when they go unused. I've been journaling this year, which is helpful. I've been drafting ideas. Writing letters to the editor which I never send. Putting words to paper is imperative, even if its not creative. Keep writing, even if its a nasty reply on a Yahoo article that you end up deleting!

 So, what's open on my computer? Here's a sampling. I don't have any particular priorities for these:

  Herma: the sequel to Tenth Muse. Its Hermaphroditus and Erik. A m/m urban fantasy romance.

Destiny. You probably already know about this. :) The final Doms of Dark Haven linked book will go into my Truckee Wolves world.

  Uncommon 4 is in development. But things are getting real for the guys. And Deirdre is getting real too.

  Mankiller: a 3 book historical series with a paranormal edge. This is the one I'm researching.
  Crest of a Knave: another historical, about a French emigre in post Revolutionary London.

 Re-releases: Three more Black Planet books will be revised for release this year, plus (possibly) one more to wind up the loose ends. Devil's Advocate, Black Wolf, Siberian Husky - I want to play with these, I'm going to revise them and move the series to Edinburgh. I totally love this universe and want to write a little more.

 What's set to the side for now?

 Arcada (Sorry!) I will return to it, I just don't have any burning ideas

Belle Starr: same situation as above, though I may do a Cali Polis novella

Artifacts: same as above, this is a short series I want to write for Tess. (Prince of Faith)

  Death Speaks: You've never heard of this, so don't worry about it. LOL!

And what's this Bel Branigan thing all about? I decided its time to split off into another pen name. Its not secret, but several of the books above (Mankiller, Crest, Death Speaks) aren't romance, and not erotic, so they're really going to a different market. That's all. :)

So watch this space, sign up for my newsletter, I'll keep writing, try to improve my sleeping and eating habits and take back my voice.

For now, Happy Tails!

Love you all!