Sunday, May 29, 2011


Writers spend a lot of time sitting at the computer. The most important tool you can have is a chair that fits your body and supports your back. If you have back problems, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't have back problems, protect your healthy back. You don't want to have problems down the road. Trust me on this one.

It may help you to set a timer to remind you to get up and move around once in a while. What seems like five minutes can easily be a couple of hours when you are on a roll.

Dr. John J. Triano, DC, PhD from advises the following when purchasing a desk chair:

1. Elbow Measure: First begin by sitting comfortably as close as possible to your desk so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Rest your hands on your work surface (e.g. desktop, computer keyboard). If your elbows are not at a 90-degree angle, adjust your office chair height either up or down.

2. Thigh measure: Check that you can easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the leading edge of the office chair. If it is too tight, you need to prop your feet up with an adjustable footrest. If you are unusually tall and there is more than a finger width between your thigh and the chair, you need to raise the desk or work surface so that you can raise the hight of your office chair.

3. Calf measure: With your bottom pushed against the chair back, try to pass your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your office chair. If you can't do that easily, then the office chair is too deep. You will need to adjust the backrest forward, insert a low back support (such as a lumbar support cushion, a pillow or rolled up towel) or get a new office chair.

4. Low Back Support: Your bottom should be pressed against the back of your chair, and there should be a cushion that causes your lower back to arch slightly so that you don't slump forward or slouch down in the chair as you tire over time. This low back support in the office chair is essential to minimize the load (strain) on your back. Never slump or slouch forward in the office chair, as that places extra stress on the structures in the low back, and in particular on the lumbar discs.

5. Resting Eye Level: Close your eyes while sitting comfortably with your head facing forward. Slowly open your eyes. Your gaze should be aimed at the center of your computer screen. If your computer screen is higher or lower than your gaze, you need to either raise or lower it to reduce neck strain.

6. Armrest: Adjust the armrest of the office chair so that it just slightly lifts your arms at the shoulders. Use of an armrest on your office chair is important to take some of the strain off your neck and shoulders, and it should make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair.

Dr. Triano also says that no matter how comfortable one is in an office chair, prolonged static posture is not good for the back and is a common contributor to back problems and muscle strain. He advises moving around for at least a minute or two every half hour, even if only to stretch or go get a drink of water.

Twenty minutes of walking will help even more by promoting healthy blood flow that brings nutrients to the spinal structures.

Another consideration when choosing a chair is to look at ergonomic chairs, such as a Swedish kneeling chair.

After reading this, I can see that I need to make some adjustments in my own office. How about you?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Hectic Schedule

The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy. My house is a huge mess because of it and I suddenly realized that May is almost over. Well time flies when you're having fun. Am I having fun yet?

I'm working on marketing and building sales on The List Maker, plus writing another book with a friend that I'll tell you more about later. It's a light fun book that I think lots of you will enjoy. I also have a new project that is too new to talk about, but hopefully will be fun and informational for children.

With all that's going on, I went to Office Depot and found a really cute wire file holder in a Gothic arch design. I had been saving these gorgeous black and white file folders and some black pencils for the day when I became a working author. You all know how I like things to match and look pretty. If you weren’t aware of that aspect of me, check out Organization clears your mind for more important things and beautiful organization makes it even better.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The List Maker

The List Maker by Karina Russell is a story of a woman who had it all and lost it all in the blink of an eye. Never one to wallow in self-pity, Catherine Palmer stands tall and determines to make a new life.

Along the way she finds a new old home that turns into an historic restoration and a labor of love that helps the healing begin. But her heart keeps pulling her backwards until one fateful event allows her to surge forward into a new life and an expanded family whose love covers all the old wounds. The List Maker's inspirational story shows how we can all move past our hurts and with God by our side, become whole and happy again.

e-book Available at in the U.S.; in the UK; and in Germany.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The List Maker's Beef Bourguignon

In The List Maker, Catherine pulls out of a horrific year by making a meal in her new surroundings. In her previous life, as she calls it, she was known for her cooking skills. She makes a special meal for someone very special: Beef Bourguignon. This is a man pleasing dish.

Beef Bourguignon
6 servings

6 small beef filets, bacon discarded.
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 package smoked bacon, 5-6 slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 large onion, chopped
10 carrots cleaned and cut into 1" thick slices
3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Salt and pepper the filets. Discard the bacon wrapped around them. Saute in hot oil 2-3 minutes on each side. They will be rare in the middle. Remove filets and cook bacon in the same skillet. Remove bacon and drain all but a couple of tablespoons of the grease. Cook garlic in oil for thirty seconds.

Pour in wine and cook on high for a minute, scraping the bottom of the pan to bring up all those little browned bits. Add beef broth, tomato paste, thyme, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. papper. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to medium and let it cook for 7 or 8 minutes. Add onions and carrots. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and vegetables are cooked, about 20 minutes.

Mash 2 Tbs. softened butter and flour into a paste. Whisk it into the sauce and simmer 3 minutes to thicken.

In a separate pan saute the mushrooms in 1 Tbs. butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil. Cook until they are browned and tender.

Add the filet and mushrooms to the pan with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and heat on low for 5-10 minutes. Do not overcook it or the beef will become tough. Season and serve.

Seriously Interesting Sites

I posted this on my other blog, but I thought it had merit here as well. Authors are parents too.

These are seriously interesting websites where you can stay entertained and learn a few things too. My advice: Write these down. With summer coming up and the kids out of school, they will tell you they are bored. Sign on to one of these sites and let them browse. There is sure to be a ton of things that will interest them.

Library of Congress: - Currently they have an exhibit of Thomas Jefferson's library. He was one interesting fellow, interested in horticulture, architecture, as well as politics. You can learn about Mayan culture, watch videos, find lesson plans, and LOTS more.

National Archives: - This site has a lot of information, including some that could help you with your family tree exploration. They have a gift store with reproductions and new items and, seriously, who doesn't want a coffee mug showing Elvis shaking hands with President Nixon?

Smithsonian Institute: - The Smithsonian has a mind boggling amount of information, artifacts, and things to see. There are several museums all together, so if you are into history and are ever in the Washington D.C. area, it would be worth your while, though I understand it could take days to see it all. The site has a video tour conducted by Ben Stiller. For some reason I couldn't open it, but I think I may be missing the latest and greatest software for this.

I've mentioned this before regarding summertime and keeping the kids busy. If your children find a certain topic that interests them, build on that. Take them to your local library and check out books and videos on that subject. Help them make drawings, papier mache items, or other crafts that pertain to the subject. They will have fun and learn something, plus it will keep them busy and keep their minds active over the summer months.

Here's an example of what I mean. You can see the actual Gutenberg Bible online. Get some alphabet stamps (available at almost every craft and toy store). Find a saying or bible verse that your child appreciates. Check out a book on illuminated manuscript and talk about how they were done in the "olden" days. Let them stamp the verse on a piece of paper and then draw and paint or color in designs around the edges like illuminated manuscript. Mat it with construction paper and display it on your refrigerator or frame it. You just kept your kids busy, they learned about illuminated manuscript, they will now have an appreciation for the process and the history of it all, and your child has something to show for what they learned and did all summer. This project might take a couple of days, so you can do several different projects during summer vacation. They may get the bug and want to visit museums or other places of interest for more ideas. If that's too artsy, watch the video of the Wright brothers's first flight at Kitty Hawk. Let them build a model airplane. Or teach them to cut a perfect star in one snip. Then show them America's first flag and let them applique a star onto anything - a pot holder, a tote bag, a shirt. Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.

I'm a firm believer in teaching them early and fertilizing their minds so they have a desire to gain knowledge for a lifetime. It's like exercising your muscles - and you don't want to neglect that either. Help them keep their brains in shape and they'll do better when school starts in the fall. It's infinitely more valuable and fun than watching tv or playing video games.

For more on this subject, check out the parenting articles at for ideas for the summer months.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


For years a story knocked on my brain. Once in a while, I let it in and listened. Finally one night, I sat down at the computer and began typing. I typed all night and was hooked on writing from that point on. The story simmered, bubbled, and built until it was a finished book.

My journey from ordinary citizen to writer is probably not that unique. Writers come from all sorts of careers and backgrounds. Mine is in visual arts, so writing is a natural extension of describing it in words rather than in pictures or colors. I have a degree in Art and have been decorating houses as long as I can remember.

I try to learn something new each day about the craft, the process, and the business of writing. Thanks for dropping by.