Cracked Open

Oceanside, CA. I miss you! Photo © Ev Bishop

I’ve just returned from a very restful, inspiring, sun-drenched, sand-filled, saltwater-soaked vacation in Newport Beach, California.

I loved playing in the white sand that was hot under my feet. I adored wearing flip-flops as I tripped along the boardwalk, knowing friends and co-workers back home were in their winter gear, suffering fresh snow and below freezing temperatures. (Sorry guys!) And it was very special to spend do-nothing-but-have-fun family time with my husband, nieces, sister, stepmom, and daughter. The biggest impact of the trip, however, came from the ocean.

I was amazed by her. Awed.

Obviously, living where I do, I’m already familiar with the Pacific—but let me tell you: her waters are very different up in northern British Columbia than they are in southern California.

I spent a lot of time playing in the surf, being knocked down and getting up again, being dragged back into deeper water as the ocean readied to send another wave, and, most fun of all, swimming out over my head, beyond the crash line, where even the hugest waves were just starting as rolling swells. Above me, the sky was so blue and just . . . huge. And all around me, as far as my eye could see, was water. Since it’s California’s “winter” too, there weren’t a lot of locals in the water. Sometimes, for hours, I was the only one.

And maybe it was the salt pulling things out of me, the same way soaking in Epsom salts releases toxins. Or maybe it was because it was the first time in far, far too long where I didn’t have anywhere to go specifically or anyone I had to see, and my mind was deliciously free and uncluttered. Or perhaps it was the sounds of the ocean working to bring the tide in or out, the sea birds calling and swooping about, blotting out any noise in my head . . . But whatever the reason or combination of reasons, something deep inside me cracked open, and I had one of those strange epiphanies, where you can see so clearly where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you want to go next.

Sometimes it’s easy to lie to ourselves, to make excuses for why we’re standing still instead of moving forward, to justify our reasons for sticking with things that are no longer a good fit.

I found that out there, salt-crusted, saturated and awed by the unmitigated power, depth and magnitude of the ocean, it was impossible to be false with myself. I might as well have tried to keep the surf from crashing, or the sand from pulling away beneath my feet in the after effects of the waves. But it wasn’t a negative or self-condemning sort of feeling. I didn’t beat myself up for work not done or goals not accomplished. And it wasn’t merely a giddy, momentary flash of newfound enthusiasm (though I did feel those lovely bursts too). The feeling was a deep sense of readiness, of quiet resolution and surety. A sense that change is coming, and instead of fighting it or being afraid of it, I was going to welcome it and move with it.

I kept waking up my first couple of nights home because I missed the sound of the surf—and I’d only been away eight days. I’ve carried the decision I arrived at in the waves with me, however, and while my suntan’s receding, my resolve hasn’t waned.

I’ll be making some exciting announcements the next two months or so. In the meantime, if you can somehow sneak away to a beach—ocean, river or lakeside—to do some thinking and dreaming, I highly recommend it.

So good for what, if anything, ails you. Photo © Ev Bishop

Author’s Note: I have NOT just returned from a sunny beach vacation, but a photo from the 2015 trip I shared about above just popped up as a FaceBook Memory, plus showed on my website as a “past post you might enjoy.” I can take a hint! I do need to have some ocean time again soon, but for now, this was a good reminder and refresher. . . ahhhh!

And the bit about “having exciting announcements to make in the next few months” is absolutely current too! Stay tuned for a big reveal on April 1st—no fooling!)

Can’t get away for a soak in the sea right now, but still craving a little escape? Look no further than INVINCIBLE SECRETS, a 9-novel set brought to you by me and 8 other bestselling, award-winning Authors’ Billboard authors. Book your getaway now! JUST .99 or FREE on KU.

Sour Cream Fudge Cake

This cake is rich, moist, and chocolaty. I recently baked this Sour Cream Fudge Cake for a special occasion, filling it with Nutella and frosting it with vanilla butter cream icing. Everyone loved it! Give it a try.

Sour Cream Fudge Cake

Ingredients

Sour Cream Fudge Cake

For the cake:

  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup Nutella

For the butter cream frosting:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 cups confectioner sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Spray two 8 or 9 inch round pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, sour cream, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until combined, scraping the bowl occasionally, about 3 minute. Pour evenly into pans.
  3. Bake until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 28 to 32 min. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remove from pans and place on wire rack. Cool completely! If you don’t let the cake cool before assembling it, the Nutella will melt and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
  4. For the frosting: Beat the butter with electric mixing until fluffy. Add confectioner sugar, sour cream, and vanilla, and beat until combined, fluffy, and of spreading consistency.
  5. Place one cake layer on a plate. Spread Nutella over it. Top with second layer, and then cover sides and top with butter cream frosting.

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This month, I am offering my book HER FAKE ROMANCE for just 99¢ for Kindle readers—a $3 savings off the regular price! Julia, the protagonist in the book, is a caterer and this Sour Cream Fudge Cake is something she might bake. Here are a few reviews for the book:

“I loved the emotional build-up with just the right amount of sexual tension.” ~Kindle Reader

“…strong characters, heated passion.” ~Romantic Times

“The author’s style was pure delight, fun and funky. Modern and very entertaining. I never would have thought that a fake romance could be so funny and emotional at the same time. HJ Top Pick!”  ~HarlequinJunkie.com

About the book:

“Mom, get a life!”

Her teenage daughter’s words are daunting. True, struggling single mom Julia Jones hasn’t had a date in over a decade, but she could still catch a man–if she needed to! So Julia, who claims not to want a husband, finds herself entangled in a fake romance.

Ryan Shane is tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome. And he just so happens to need a no-strings date himself. Their plan is perfectly thought out. Until a conveniently staged good-night kiss turns into very inconvenient passion…

This book contains bonus material that includes several delicious recipes! Grab this deal in the Kindle Store.

Happy Eating and Happy Reading!