Spotlight – November 2015 – J.R. Ward

Teen girls had the Twilight series – an exploration of first loves, heartbreaks, and the ongoing conflict between vampires and werewolves all wrapped in a glittery package.”Under-sexposed” women had Fifty Shades of Grey – a slightly darker, and much more inventive, look into the world of sex, love, and unattainable billionaires. Both were considered a phenomenon in the book (and then film) industry.

What about those of us that fall somewhere else in the spectrum? We’re too old for Edward (figuratively speaking) and want more out of a love story than pages and pages of exhausting sex scenes. What about those of us that want a good storyline, passion, developed characters, raw sexual power, and lovers that satisfy our complex fantasies?

For that, we have #1 New York Times Best Selling Author, J.R. Ward.

Our first introduction to J.R. Ward’s talent was with her most popular series – The Black Dagger Brotherhood. She is the writer we were looking for; the one that delivers more than just a beginner’s writing style and constant sex. She delivers complex storylines, complete with character development, intricate relationships, and tons of personality. The Brotherhood series alone has been thriving for about a decade and we continue to reap the benefits. She has since branched out to other series, such as Fallen Angels, and, more recently, The Bourbon Kings, which is good for readers who aren’t into the supernatural genre.

Like her hundreds of thousands of followers, we too have been captivated by her incredible attention to detail. Her stories keep us guessing while developing into what feels like a parallel universe that you wish you were a part of. It satisfies our need for adventure; but most importantly, STRONG women are supported in her series. There are no “damsels in distress” here, people. Even a female character that seems demure and helpless at first can go toe-to-toe with her lover; firing back a smart-ass one-liner to show that she is an equal in a relationship with a strong, dominant man. Let me not leave out that Ward sure does know how to write a sex scene. All I’ll give away is that I will never look at a bathroom sink the same way again… and the hubs ENCOURAGES my reading every time a new book is released. #NuffSaid

NotSo30’s is proud to spotlight J.R. Ward and her addictive storylines; and we are thrilled to introduce you to her series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood, which releases its latest installment on December 1st, 2015. If you’re looking for a series packed with alpha-males, bad-ass females, drama, fantasy, and sexy scenes that’ll keep your man wondering why you’re blushing at a book, then this is the author for you. Join us and her legion of fans who salivate at the thought of a new book release; but keep in mind this series is a decade in the making… so you should probably keep your Kindles charged up because you’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

JR Ward Photo used with permission from The Berkley Publishing Group. Photo Credit: Jan Cobb

JR Ward
Photo used with permission from The Berkley Publishing Group.
Photo Credit: Jan Cobb

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I Wonder…

Dont Give Up

Have you ever wondered what your full potential was/is? I do, especially this morning. I wonder where I would be if I stopped making excuses and settling with my health, my fitness, my career and my day-to-day life. Sometimes you realize you have wasted time in your life. That’s OK, as long as you open your eyes and move forward! Be better! You are capable of achieving any goal you set, as long as you stick to it and put in the work!

The Struggles of Losing Weight When Extremely Overweight

 

There is a 45 pound and a two and a half year difference between these two pictures.

There is a 45 pound and a two and a half year difference between these two pictures.

I am extremely overweight. According to the BMI scale I am considered to be obese. I have never been thin. My weight has fluctuated over the years. The last time my weight started with a 1 was either in high school or my first year of college. I honestly don’t even remember anymore. In middle school and high school I knew I was overweight. Compared to my classmates I wore bigger clothes and had the bigger body. I was extremely self-conscious and uncomfortable in my own skin. I never wore shorts. (I still don’t.) I never wanted to go to the beach with friends because I did not want to be seen in public in a bathing suit. I shied away from my crushes, since I thought they would have no interest in a “fat girl”. I never weighed myself since I didn’t care to know the number. No matter what, in my head I was fat.

I didn’t know what a healthy lifestyle was and I had no idea how to learn. I grew up in a house with obese women. Food was a way to bond and celebrate. Food was also how we dealt with emotion.  My breakfast was usually a high-sugar cereal with milk. Lunch at school was either pizza or fried chicken tenders and fries with a soda. Dinner was the worst part. Nightly, our meals were white rice, black or red beans, some type of fried meat, and more soda. There was also always junk food and sweets in the house.

When I went off to college and was on my own I ate only what I thought I could afford. Inexpensive fast food, junk food and processed food. Every year I gained more weight and more weight. Then I started realizing I was making myself incredibly unhealthy. When I had to start shopping in specialty stores like Lane Bryant and wearing size 22 jeans I FINALLY started accepting how unhealthy and overweight I was.

The problem now is, I spent 20+ years living an unhealthy lifestyle. Poor food choices and zero activity have caught up with me. It is NOT easy to break myself from a lifetime of bad habits. I have cried over my body shame. I have cried over how ugly I have felt. I have cried over not having clothes that fit properly.

Now, I look back at my high school pictures and I WISSSSH I looked like that NOW.

I have, however, started changing my mentality over the last few months. I’m no longer going to be a victim of my lifestyle. I am no longer going to be down and depressed about my body and weight. I have the power to change myself. I have the power to make myself healthier and to live a healthier lifestyle.

I have met some AMAZING people who just want to encourage and share positivity. I have met one woman who is “plus size” like me, but doesn’t let it define her. She works out and lives life. She walks around with joy. I have not met her in person, only via social media, but her positivity is infectious!

I also have people around me who can help make me a better person just by their support. Support and understanding are so extremely important when an extremely overweight person is trying to lose weight. I know from personal experience that it is very hard to believe that a very thin trainer can really understand what an overweight or obese person are going through. I know I have felt like I couldn’t connect with some thin trainers and coaches in the past. I had wondered if they are judging me. I had wondered if thought less of me because I had allowed myself to get to the weight I was at.  Going to the gym was a similar experience. I always felt self-conscious. I felt as if people were looking down on my for being so overweight. As if I was beyond help. When a person is extremely overweight, it is hard to stay motivated. It is hard to barely see any changes.

All of those doubts and that shame were part of the reason I was never able to stick with a weight loss plan. I also never knew how to properly deal with emotion and how to truly take care of myself. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not infallible. I am not some healthy and fitness fanatic right now. I am just someone who is realizing that there is ALWAYS a chance in life to make yourself a better person. There is always a chance to take care of yourself.

I want to be a healthier person. I don’t have the illusion of being a size 2. If my high school pictures weren’t boxed up I would post a picture of myself back then. I would love to just be healthy and more energetic. I want to feel comfortable and confident in my skin. Confidence. That is something I’m not all too familiar with. I would love to put on an outfit and just feel GREAT. Inside and out.

I hope this blog and this post reaches ONE person and let’s that person know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am JUST like you. I understand. Don’t be ashamed. Stop beating yourself up. If you EVER need someone to talk to who understands, I am here. No judgement. If you ever need someone who you can vent to, someone who understands, someone who can cry with you and someone who can encourage you – EMAIL ME. I want to help. I also want to help you set goals and reach them. As much as I want to support you, having someone to support only gives me more motivation and encouragement.

My journey is yours.

Positive Thinking: Packing…

Packing

When I started the mortgage approval/home buying process 9 months ago, I never thought it was going to be easy… The NACA program helped my fiance and I learn to budget, save and eventually become approved for a mortgage. The day we found out we were approved I cried. I was so happy and felt such a sense of accomplishment…

After a day of letting the joy sink in, it was time to get real.

The real estate market is PERFECT if you are selling a house, not if you are buying! People are starting to buy homes again. Foreign investors have CASH to buy homes. Competition is high. Prices are rising. It also doesn’t help that I live and am house hunting in South Florida. Values are rising again.

The house hunting process is stressful. Each week I learn more and more, but as of right now I have not found a home. Tomorrow makes four weeks since my fiance and I were approved. I didn’t think I would find a house right away, but now I really want to feel the success of putting an offer on a home and having it accepted.

In the next 36 hours my fiance and I are scheduled to see between 5 and 8 homes. Last night, I became a bit antsy. I grabbed an empty box and started packing. I decided to have a new motto: “If you pack, the house will come.”

Yes, it is very Field of Dreams-ish. (A fantastic movie by the way. Doesn’t hurt that I have always had a crush on Ray Liotta.) What is important it the hope and positivity in that statement. There are no buts, ifs, maybes, or hopefullys. It is a definite statement. I’ll keep the positive attitude, and I’ll keep packing…

Following Through… My Reason for Prior Failures.

In every endeavor I have taken on, I always have the best of intentions… As hard-headed and stubborn as I am, I always want to succeed and show people that I can do something in which I was not expected to excel.

My repeated failures have always been in the same “department”. Weight loss. This post is NOT about excuses. This post is a self-reflection. Why is it that after so many strong starts, I never make it to the finish line? This blog is a great example. I started it with the best of intentions. A tool to help me organize my goals and make myself a better person by the age of 30. Well. It has been just over 9 months since I last posted on this blog. I have no excuse. Life happens and everyone else learns to balance. Why can’t I? I need to start sticking to some of my ideas. As I think back at every attempt to lose weight, work on my personal growth, and organize myself for future success, I am realizing… I haven’t been following through.

When I get an idea in my head, I’m ALLLL over it. I tell my friends about it, I even convince them to join me! I organize, plan, prepare… Meal plan charts? GOT IT! Write down my ideas? DONE! Game plan? ALLLL DAY! Set goals? YES!

I always start off great! I’m motivated. I’m encouraged. But at some point, I falter. I make an excuse here. I make an accommodation there. I don’t stick to my guns. I find reasons for excuses. This is utterly UNACCEPTABLE. The only person responsible for me is ME. Although I have a wonderful support system, I can’t rely on them to make my decisions for me. I can’t expect them to keep me on track. That is all up to me. The follow through. That is ALL me.

So here I am… With another opportunity… Another great start… Time to show myself that I can follow through. That I can succeed.