Welcome to My Book Blog

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Hello, welcome to my blog! I’m so glad you stopped by. I’m a new indie author that loves to read and write. I decided to create a blog to give my books more exposure and to write about my ideas and anything interesting that’s on my mind. I’m a regular person who loves to read and talk about it. I’ve been reading like crazy I was a kid and I haven’t stopped. Reading fiction and non-fiction got me through some very difficult times in my childhood and adult life. I was very into mystery books in my teen years devouring every Nancy Drew book out there. Someone recommended Sue Grafton mystery thriller books to me in my young adult years and now I’m a sucker for romance stories with some inspiration books thrown in there occasionally when I need some emotional uplifting. I recently started delving into the world of writing and self-publishing. It’s an exciting world full of ups and downs but I write because I enjoy it and its’ an emotional outlet for me. I’ll keep writing as long as I keep enjoying it. Check out my books and ramblings by following me. Thanks again for stopping by!

Skye Bailey is the pen name of an author who lives in the United States. She likes to write heart-wrenching, dark romance stories with characters that have gone through hardship and abuse and have survived and become thrivers. The author herself has gone through many struggles in her life and sometimes incorporates those struggles into her stories. Her stories will almost always have HEA endings because the author loves to give her characters hope and happiness in the end after much hardship. You may contact her through her email at sbauthor100@yahoo.com

Patio Gardening for the Brown Thumb

By EMILY LEHMAN

Though I come from a line of excellent gardeners (both my grandmother and my mother can make anything grow) I can’t make a claim to a green thumb of my own. I’m an amateur in the original sense of the word—I love plants and gardening, and often pore over seed catalogues and tiny seedlings. I don’t make my selections with real skill, though, and enthusiasm for plants often leads me into unrealistic purchases; my new green friends sometimes meet early graves.

But my eyes still stray to the colorful displays in front of grocery stores and nurseries—petunias and fuschias, roses and marigolds. And now that plants can be outside (thank goodness!) I’ve put some thought into the form of gardening that fits into almost any lifestyle: planting in outdoor pots. Pots are versatile, interesting, and can even be multi-season (I’ve seen a potted tree brought indoors for the winter), and they can go with you for minor moves. Plus, outdoor pots are pretty low-maintenance: put them outside and, at least occasionally, they’ll be watered for you.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to starting a potted patio garden, complete with the advice of the green thumbs who are helping this little brown thumb along:

Getting started

First things first, supplies. Avoid my fatal flaw as an amateur gardener: your pot needs to have a hole in the bottom. If the pot doesn’t have a hole, the water can’t drain out, and your plants can become waterlogged. I like the classic terracotta pots because they’re inexpensive and pretty. But some experienced gardeners don’t recommend them because they break easily; they can also get moldy because the water seeps into the walls of a terracotta pot. If you’re worried about that, choose something with a glaze that waterproofs the pot. And don’t be embarrassed to just get a plastic pot: they come in pretty styles and colors that can blend into the rest of your decor. Then you’ll need potting soil—potting soil is different from gardening soil because it has fewer potentially harmful bacteria. For this reason, potted plants are less likely to get the bacterial diseases you can run into with plants in the ground. While you’re at it, I’d recommend picking up a cute watering can or two to make watering a fun experience!

If you don’t have a dedicated nursery or garden store near you, both Home Depot and Lowe’s have extensive and reasonably priced garden sections where you can buy pots, plants, and other supplies. You can also try ordering online: Burpee and Gurney’s are well-established seed companies that also stock plants and gardening supplies. What I like about these two websites is their awareness of your geographical location (they tell you what gardening “zone” you are in based on your location). So much about gardening depends on where you are in the world that ordering random plants from a more generic retailer like Amazon could go wrong fast. For that reason the best way to go, if it’s available to you, is to duck into a small local store where a real gardener can give you plant advice!

Picking your plants

This is where the real magic happens. The plants that are right for you will vary widely based on region, but here are a few that can thrive in places as widely different as southern California and the northern Midwest. Traditionally, for a big (say, knee-high) pot, you want three different kinds of plants: a “thriller” to be the center of attention, a “filler” to fill the bulk of the pot, and a “spiller” that will cascade dramatically down the side of the pot. Here are some easy-care options:

Thrillers

Dahlia: These lovely star-like flowers come in a wide variety of colors and will happily steal the show in any pot.

Fuschia: These little blooms look like elegantly-clad ballerinas! They will elevate any pot.

Geranium: Geraniums are sturdy container-gardening classics that come in a wide variety of types and colors.

Fillers

Coleus: I’m always fascinated by the kaleidoscope of coleus colors at the garden store. Low-profile and easy to care for, these leafy plants come in a variety of colors and patterns and will happily fill the empty space in a pot.

Dusty Miller: This silvery, dusty-looking plant is a very happy filler for zones 7-10 (that means you want to be in a warm climate for this one). I love the unusual color of Dusty Miller plants and their intricately-sized leaves.

Lamb’s Ear: Another silvery plant, this one is fun because it feels fuzzy and soft (like a lamb’s ear!) It’s a nice alternative to Dusty Miller for slightly cooler climates (zones 4-8).

Spillers

Sweet Alyssum: I love alyssum because one little plant bursting with tiny white-or-purple flowers can turn into a huge frothy waterfall before the summer is over. It’s an easy-to-please plant with a fresh scent.

Million Bells: These are lovely if you want a more traditional flower shape to your spiller plant; it has pretty little petunia-like blooms.

Trailing Lobelia: Lobelia’s quirky little blossoms range from a beautiful blue to purple and make a lovely spiller plant. Make sure you get the “trailing” version.

Or, do it the easy way

If the thriller/filler/spiller combo is just feeling like too much, there’s always the easy way out: a one-plant showstopper. The easiest way to do this is to buy a Supertunia or other petunia. Petunias are virtually indestructible and give you a lot of bang for your buck. Colorful and vivacious, they’ll brighten up any patio garden in full sun and will gladly take over a huge amount of pot real estate. Or try a smaller pot with any of the “thrillers” above for an easy-maintenance, simple pot.

If you want to be practical, there are various vegetables that can be grown in pots: try tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, or even some versions of zucchini and cucumber. A variation on that theme is companion planting: two complementary vegetables planted in the same container can help one another thrive. A small potted herb garden can thrive on your windowsill even as summer eases into fall.

Don’t be afraid to do what works for you. A friend of my grandma’s plants her vegetables directly in the bag of soil. There are plenty of herb gardening kits that give you everything you need but water. And you’re still a real gardener if you pick up one of those pre-planted hanging pots at the grocery store! The health and psychological benefits of gardening can be reaped by everyone—green thumb or brown. 

Emerald: A Dark Mafia Romance (Colors of Crime Book 5)

I enjoyed reading this book very much. At first, it seemed like it was going to be like all the other mafia books about sexual dominance, but I was pleasantly surprised that even though it did have dark elements, it wasn’t always about dominance and control. I usually never read mafia stories because the same story line tends to get boring after a while, plus I like the Hs to be good for the most part, not killers. I ended up liking both the H and h. He was a family man who protected his own and she was a strong minded, kick ass chick who knew how to take care of herself. I liked that the H didn’t try to break her and control her. He saw her as his equal and asked for her advice. That was awesome and a breath of fresh air! I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author.

5 Ways to Deal With Sensory Overload During the COVID-19 Crisis

By Dorothy Vu 

A few weeks ago, I was unnaturally calm in the midst of panic and uncertainty. I laughed at coronavirus-related memes with my friends, questioned the behavior of those who were hoarding food and refused to believe our lives would soon be turned upside down. I used humor and denial as coping mechanisms for my underlying anxiety about the pandemic and its growing impact on our communities. It was only when the number of infections, warnings and closures increased that reality started to settle in.

I began receiving memes at a more rapid pace, along with news alerts, emails of reassurance and a flurry (more like blizzard) of texts from friends and family. As a highly sensitive person, I could feel the rush of tension rising up and engulfing me in information overload. I absorbed everything from social distancing tips and donation opportunities to rising unemployment numbers and epidemiological predictions. I empathized with the most vulnerable and imagined all the ways lives were being disrupted and shattered by the outbreak. I had difficulty sleeping and concentrating on menial tasks as I worried about the world around me.

With the nationwide move towards staying home and relying on devices for communication, I knew I had to come up with a way to maintain connectedness while minimizing overstimulation from all the noise. In the past two weeks, I’ve tested out five strategies to help reduce sensory overload and create a better space for me mentally.

1. Social Media Distancing

I’ve done social media detoxes in the past, and I’ve always come out of them feeling like I hit a mental reset button. But once I log back in, I get sucked into the same old habits of mindlessly scrolling for hours on end, feeling restless with each post I take in. With the rise of coronavirus updates and the need for social distancing, we’re glued to social media now more than ever before. To avoid excessive screen time and information overload, I’ve decided to delete several apps from my phone and practice social media distancing. While I still need to use social media for work (which specifically deals with COVID-19 crisis engagement), I’ve been logging in through my laptop and limiting the amount of time I spend on personal channels via phone. (Tip: On Instagram, there’s a setting that tells you if you’ve reached your maximum time spent on the app for the day. If you have an iPhone, you can monitor your app activity on there as well.)

2. Managing Notifications

I normally set my phone to silent or the “do not disturb” setting because ringtones and text tones make me cringe, especially if the sound frequency is too high. This often leads to missed calls — and slightly annoyed friends. To help alleviate this problem, I’ve been trying out ringtones that are more soothing and familiar, like movie theme songs (my ringtone is currently Hedwig’s theme from “Harry Potter”). Banners, badges and other notifications for new and unread items can also be overwhelming, especially when I see too many at once. I’ve turned most of these off for nonessential email inboxes and apps, and have set aside time to view updates as needed.

3. Exploring Alternative Ways to Get the News

Scrolling through news can take me down rabbit holes. I could be reading one article about the number of COVID-19 cases in my county, and then spend the next hour reading 15 articles about the lifespan of the virus on different surfaces. With the rise of coronavirus-related articles and clickbait headlines, I’ve decided to turn off news alerts and stop reading news feeds. To stay updated, I’ve been listening to podcasts every morning and evening, and sticking to only two to three news sites for actual reading.

4. Engaging in Device-Free Activities

Exercise, meditation, cleaning and cooking have been the main activities that have helped me stay mindful, present and calmer in the face of the pandemic. Before catching up on news and emails, I start every morning with a guided meditation. When it’s nice out, I’ve been going on walks (at a safe distance away from others) to get a change of scenery, fresh air and natural sounds. And while virtual workout classes require a device for casting, they’ve been taking me away from the small screens and helping me stay healthy. I struggle with cleaning and cooking the most, but I still try to do both when I have the energy and motivation. When I can’t get myself to be more productive, I spend my time napping, reading, snacking and binge-watching TV shows, which I still consider necessary activities given everything that’s going on right now.

5. Establishing Boundaries With Friends and Family

I left my phone for only 15 minutes recently and came back to more than 30 text messages from a group chat. It’s important to check in with loved ones, especially now, but the increase in messages can be too much to handle at times. For me, there’s a constant struggle to either maintain a running conversation or respond to several unread messages at once. To confront this issue, I started muting group chats and setting aside a few times throughout the day when I can check these messages. I’ve also set expectations with my friends and family to let them know when I’m busy, and when would be the best hours to reach me. To take a break from messages, I’ve scheduled more video chats, which a lot of us have found to be the best way to stay connected with others as we stay home.

So far, all of these strategies have helped me clear my mind and ease some of the anxiety I’ve been feeling from the uptick in sensory engagement during this crisis.

Hello, I have ARC’s available for my latest book, Hungry Eyes: A Contemporary Novella.

“She shouldn’t want this. She shouldn’t be feeling like this. Something about the mountain man seemed familiar to her. He kissed her with passion and desire. He kissed her like there was no tomorrow; like he’d been hungry for her.”

Just follow the link below:

https://booksprout.co/arc/32480/hungry-eyes-a-contemporary-novella

Choosing, not waiting, to live

By KATIE HERZING

As I walked into St. Peter’s Basilica, I couldn’t help but feel small, enveloped by the Church. I was finally there! After first making a stop at the confessional to prepare my soul, I was ready to receive the graces the Lord has in store for the next two weeks during my pilgrimage. I was ready to experience Italy: visit churches, venerate relics, eat a lot of pasta, learn the history of Rome, eat gelato, and explore Assisi where Clare and Francis lived.Sitting in St. Peter’s Basilica at the tomb of St. John Paul II on the first full day of my pilgrimage, I couldn’t help but think about how I got there. Eighteen years earlier, I had waited hours for Pope John Paull II to arrive in Toronto for my first World Youth Day. Now I was sitting there, 5,000 miles from home, at his tomb in the church all Catholics call home. But in those moments before Mass began, I asked the Lord, “Why did it take me so long?”I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in my early 20s because that’s where the Church who finally hired me was located. I thought, “This’ll be the place. This will be the Church where I thrive as a youth minister and meet my husband. This will be the place to raise my family.” So I settled in, worked hard and waited for my real life to begin. I didn’t buy furniture I liked or go on trips I wanted to because I was waiting for the guy who would choose to do that with me.

Unsurprisingly, I was unhappy. I began attending daily Mass — a habit I still have more than 10 years later that is the anchor of my spiritual life — and pleaded with the Lord: “I’m doing everything you’re asking. Why can’t you just do this one thing I’m asking?”A few years later, I thought a move across town to a new parish with a new job would bring me the happiness I sought. I interviewed and was offered the job a week later, so I considered it God’s will and plan for my life — the step I needed to take to finally get started on my real vocation. The parish was a great fit for me, and the youth were just what I needed in my first High School Youth Ministry job. I had a new roommate who became my “gym buddy,” which started me on a journey of physical fitness. Everything was great, but I was still waiting. Still alone, feeling forgotten by the Lord.I was offered a promotion and a friend told me, “This is exactly what you need. A job with regular hours that suits you. This is your year, I can feel it. This is the year God is going to have you meet your husband.” I took the job and continued to wait.As I was preparing to turn 30, I kept thinking about all of the expectations I’d had for my 30-year-old self when I moved to Charlotte. I expected to be a wife and a mother by then, not working so I could stay home with my kids. Yet, there I was, doing a job that I was good at but didn’t particularly like. On top of that, I was living alone for the first time. After another roommate had left to get married or join a convent, I decided I was done, so a few months earlier, I had purchased a townhome.

Looking at my life, I made a decision. I was going to lose the expectations I’d set for myself, the ones others and society put on me, and the lies I had started to believe about my worthiness because I was still single. Over the course of a few weeks leading up to my birthday, I wrote them all down and placed them in a bowl on my kitchen table. On the night of my 30th birthday, Friday the 13th, I invited my best friend over. We prayed over the bowl of lies, and I burned them.I decided I was done waiting. I was going to start living.A week later I was offered a new job out of the blue that perfectly suited me. Since then, it has turned into the most fulfilling experience of my life. I began to take my personal growth seriously by seeing a licensed counselor who has helped me work through the lies I’ve believed about myself for decades. I learned to make decisions based on the life the Lord has given me today, not the one I might possibly have in the future.

I’m not waiting in loneliness for my life to begin. I’m living the life I’ve been given.I’ve always wanted to visit Italy to see Rome and Portugal to see Fatima. So I found a time that worked in my schedule, purchased a ticket, joined a tour group led by a guy I follow on the internet, and set off for the adventure of a lifetime. The week was filled with all the things I imagined the first day: seeing the bones of St. Peter, venerating the pillar where Our Lord was scourged, enjoying gelato for dinner, praying in the four basilicas of Rome where thousands of saints have prayed before me, eating delicious pasta, admiring the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, walking where Francis and Clare walked, having Mass where Francis lived, and so much more.
Though I prayed for my future vocation at each Church visit, even in front of the arm of St. Jude, the patron of impossible causes, my heart was full after my journey to Rome. My next stop was Fatima, Portugal, truly on my own. I’m choosing to live, not to wait. To go where the Lord is leading without expectations, already considering where I’ll be going next.