Getting To Know Aila, Self-Care

The Yellow Plague

Yellow Plague

It’s springtime in The South. If you aren’t from here, you might not know what that means. In some parts of the country, it’s still quite cold. Snowing, even. In other parts, it’s already hot as blazes, as my grandmother would’ve said.

So, what is springtime like in The South? And by The South I am referring to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee…the states to which I can speak of with experience.

The mornings are sometimes freezing, followed by uncomfortably warm afternoons.

Sometimes the mornings are uncomfortably warm, followed by chilly afternoons.

Sometimes the mornings are chilly, followed by equally chilly afternoons.

Sometimes the mornings are uncomfortably warm, followed by even warmer afternoons.

The one thing that is consistent is the inconsistency of it all…except for one thing:


There are a lot of nice things about pollen.

Yellow Plague (1)

Its absence would be devastating.

But for allergy sufferers like myself, its presence is devastating.

Yellow Plague (2)

In fact, this blog post is the first thing I’ve written in three days because of the cloudiness in my head, the burning in my eyes, my nose. @&$^#+! pollen! 

Couple the thick blanket of the devil’s yellow dust with the unpredictability of the weather, and you’ve got yourself a fine equation for feeling like absolute shit.

Allergy attacks can quickly mutate into ear and sinus infections. It turns people like me, people who love nature and being outdoors into damn near cave-dwellers inside our homes, venturing out only long enough to go to work or to the grocery store.

Or the freaking pharmacy. Again.

As a longtime allergy sufferer, I’ve learned a few tricks beyond taking allergy medications, and thought I’d share them:

1.| Change Your Clothes. When you come in from the yellow-dusted outdoors, it’s imperative that you change your clothes. As soon as I come in from work, I get those clothes off and into the wash. That pollen gets tracked in on our clothing and invades our poor, unsuspecting homes.

2.| Use Pet Wipes. There are these between-doggy-bath wipes you can get—use them! Just like our clothes can trap pollen and bring it inside, our pets get coated in it every time they go out. It might surprise you how much yellow stuff is clinging to your pup’s coat. (Please only use products designed and tested for domesticated animals.)

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3.| Use a Saline Spray. Every day, actually. A few years ago I had near back-to-back sinus infections during allergy season and the third doctor I visited told me I would need to use a saline spray every day, especially during allergy seasons. They work best if you use them before you show any symptoms. They help afterward, loosening up the gross junk…but you don’t want it to get to that point.

My favorite is Arm & Hammer Simply Saline.

4.| Spicy Foods. If my throat is sore, I skip this. But, spicy foods can really help open you up, even if only for a few minutes at a time. One of the things that works best for me is mixing Sriracha sauce into ketchup.

But beyond spicy, spicy foods, think spice. I know, sounds like my allergy fog is still in full swing, but hear me out. There are a lot of different spices out there that can help your congestion. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne. Personally, I like to add some turmeric to my chicken noodle soup. I eat pickled ginger on its own.

5.| Avoid Dairy. I’ve been told this isn’t an issue for everyone else, but for me and several people I know, having any dairy products makes congestion so much worse. There is one time I break this rule, though. If my allergies transform into a full-blown sinus infection and I require antibiotics, I will try to have some yogurt. Antibiotics are great at ridding bacteria, which can sometimes kill off our good bacteria. It can cause thrush in your mouth, gastrointestinal problems, etc. So yogurt might prevent all those nasty issues.

6.| Essential Oils. Some people think me a snake oil salesmen when I start talking about essential oils, so if you don’t think they’ll work for you, don’t try it. Simple as that. They work well for me, though. My go-to concoction for allergy/congestion is lemon and eucalyptus. Sometimes I just sniff the vial, other times I add a few drops into grape seed oil and rub along my throat and across my sinuses.

This is essentially the same thing as using a mentholated rub. (There’s a lot to be said for using that on your feet!)

If you’re interested in essential oils, I get mine from Piping Rock.

7.| Hot Beverages. Yeah, yeah. This isn’t a secret. But…it is. I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times about drinking hot tea with honey and lemon…but have you heard about drinking hot jell-o? It’s true, this is not a vegan-friendly option, but if you aren’t vegan, this trick passed down to me from my mother may work nicely for you. The theory she has is the flavor is pleasing, the sugar helps to give a little burst of energy, and the gelatin helps soothe the throat…the same benefit marshmallows provide to a sore throat.

When I started writing this post, I was sipping on some warm strawberry jell-o. I mix a few tablespoons into a standard coffee mug with hot water. There’s no exact ratio, though, play around with what tastes and works best for you.

And about hot tea: It’s soothing while you’re drinking it, for sure…but be careful of overdoing the tannin. It can dry out your throat.

8.| Local, Raw, Unfiltered Honey. You might’ve heard of this one, and if you have that’s great. I’m not going to apologize for repeating it. The thought process behind the honey being local is that the pollen collected to make the honey will consist of the plants you are allergic to. Using the honey may help you build up a tolerance for it, therefore reducing your allergic reaction to it. Use it in your hot tea, on your toast, or mix it with…

9.| Honey, ACV, and Cayenne. Use your local, raw, unfiltered honey and mix it with an equal part of unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar and 1/4 part cayenne pepper. I take a tablespoon of this whenever I’m sickly. This is especially handy if you’ve got a cough and you’ve taken all the cough syrup you can and it seems like an eternity until it’s time for your next dosage.

It’s a strong flavor, be forewarned.

My doctor.

10.| Don’t Ignore Your Body. 
Allergy attacks can make you feel crummy. But don’t forget, they can develop into full-blown sinus or ear infections, so if you don’t start to feel some marked relief after a few days of taking anti-histamines and one or more of the above suggestions, then you might want to see your doctor.

The last couple of days I’ve had a marathon with my doctor. 😉

I hope you are well and enjoying your springtime. If not, I hope some of my suggestions help you feel better.

Please excuse my absence from social media as of late…the pollen got to me.

You know what isn’t affected by the yellow dust of face-death? My giveaway. There’s still plenty of time to enter! Click below!


See you next week, friends. xoxo


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Announcement, Getting To Know Aila, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, Writer's Life, Writing

Sex, Love, and Formalities : Launch Day


First things first, there is still time to enter the giveaway above. The lovely Vania Rheault is hosting this giveaway on her blog, and you can find my interview with her here, where you can find out how to enter the giveaway. (If I may say, one of the teas I selected for this giveaway is so good I had to buy extra so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep it all for myself!)

On to the ugly author confession: I didn’t have a blog post for launch day.

That must be breaking one of the Writerly Ten Commandments. Whoopsie! *sigh*

What can I say? It’s difficult being a full-time worker by day and a writer by night…especially for someone like me who often times comes home thinking about the day I’ve had and planning for the day I hope to have tomorrow.

I didn’t exactly rest on my laurels, though. I was an active participant in my launch day because if I’m not, who will be? (Aside from my #1 cheerleader, Vania!)

This particular book launch was much different than my first. How? I’m glad you asked.

1 – I wasn’t stressing the eBook layout issues I had with the first one. This time there was no other company trying to hijack my book through some weird back door. (Pulling your eBook off the digital shelves on its launch day is a horrible feeling–one I hope I never feel again.)

2 – I already had a reader base. A small one, mind you, but a reader base nonetheless. I went into this launch day knowing I already had sales lined up. This was an interesting feeling. I was excited because I knew a few people were excited to read the continuation of Brie and Liam’s love story…but I’ll admit I’m also a little petrified because I hate to disappoint people. At the end of the day, I wrote the book I wanted to write, told the story I wanted to tell…and I think that’s lovely.

3 – I realized that by publishing book deux I obtained something I didn’t have before: The beginning of a back list. Since book two wouldn’t really make sense unless folks were familiar with book one, I decided to make Sex, Love and Technicalities free for the first five days of Formalities’ launch. THIS WAS A HUGE HIT….


And I really…



Wish I had a drum roll to play for you.

Let’s pretend! Badadadadadaddadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadaadadaa….

Sex, Love, and Technicalities made it to #14 on the Amazon Best Sellers List (free books, mind you) for Women’s Fiction > Crime!!!


I cried. I did. I really shed a tear or five-hundred. Now, I know this isn’t going to make me famous and I know that I didn’t even make a dime from it because they were free books… But to see your title on a best seller’s list is…I can’t even.

Then my husband told me I made it onto two additional best seller’s lists simultaneously! I was on three separate Amazon Best Sellers lists. (As of this post, I’m still hanging on to the Top 20 in Women’s Fiction > Crime!!!) I may not have made a penny, but it made me feel like a million bucks.

Point number three on this list was a long one. A good one, but a long one.

4 – Amazon apparently hiccuped while setting up my paperback title from IngramSpark. It’s technically listed…just not functioning. This is a letdown on launch day, yes, but I only know of about three people who had intended on ordering the paperback on launch day, and they don’t seem to be too peeved. I’ve spoken with Ingram and they’re confident it’ll be fixed within 24-48 hours. Fingers crossed!

5 – The people in my personal life seem to take me a little more seriously as an author now that there is an official book two. People who more or less smiled and nodded whenever the subject of my writing came up are now actively GOOGLING me. For instance here’s a couple questions I’ve been asked this week: “Did you know you had a 5-star rating on Amazon?”   “Oh my God! Since when was your book available on Barnes and freaking Noble?!”

Yes, I could even hear the interrobang.

It was my turn to smile and nod. 🙂

There you have it. Five things about my book launch I’ll file away to remember for the next one…I’m hoping for late Spring 2018. New year, new book, new lessons. I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of looking to the future, I really do intend on making blogging a much more regular feature on my agenda. And by agenda, I really do mean that. In order to help further organize my life, I bought an Erin Condren LifePlanner, and I am working out a blogging schedule that will hopefully work out better for myself.

In the meantime, if you are interested in reading Sex, Love, and Technicalities, the eBook is available for free on Amazon until December 1st, and you can find that here.

The sequel: Sex, Love, and Formalities, can be purchased on eBook here.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway where you could win a signed copy of each!

I’ll leave you with the book trailer for SLF. I’m so proud of it! xoxo

Getting To Know Aila, Tips, Writer's Life

Ten Writerly Lessons

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
-Benjamin Franklin

There are only FIVE days until the release of Sex, Love, and Technicalities. That’s… terrifying. I thought I would take this time to share with you ten things I’ve learned over the course of this past year—the good, the awful, and the ghastly.

1. | HOLY CRAP BALLS – WRITING IS HARD. Okay, so not physically hard. Unless you think sitting in a chair for long stretches of time is a strain. (For the record, I know several people who actually do find this difficult.) But, a lot goes into writing a full-length novel, and sometimes I want to pull my hair out.

2.| There are more tools than MS Word. I can hear some of you snickering, but this isn’t something that had ever occurred to me before I got serious about writing. I’ve dabbled with several programs and Scrivener is just amazing. Even if you want to stick to Word, I highly suggest using ProWritingAid instead of relying on Word’s less than stellar grammar help.

3. | Patience is key. I am not a naturally patient person. I get that from my father. But take it from someone who is admitting to this embarrassment: Being impatient can be costly. I started buying promotional items before the second redraft. Yep. I did that. You know what happened shortly afterwards? I changed the name of the book. And pushed back my release date. Anyone want a useless, highly inaccurate bookmark?

4.| The writing community is a vast, packed, and lonely place. I had an idea of how large the writing community was, but it wasn’t until I dipped my quill inside the well that I realized just how massive. I’ve met some incredible people, forged some priceless friendships… but there are a lot of people to compare yourself to. And for me, a naturally negative person, sometimes the very beauty of this community can leave me breathlessly lonesome.

5.| Build your brand before you type “Once Upon A Time…” If you’re serious about becoming a published author, by any means necessary, it is essential for you to build your author brand. I claim no expertise on the subject, I just know it is something you have to start early.

6.| Ideas will pop up at the worst times. I sort of knew this before. But before I got serious about writing, I could let go of these story ideas without much of a second thought. After all, I assumed I’d never use them. Oh, but now! now these precious gems of ideas crop up and I’m finely tuned into them. It doesn’t matter if I’m just drifting to sleep or in the middle of a conversation. Not getting to jot these ideas down is almost blasphemous.

7.| Doing bad things to my characters actually hurts. I revealed this tidbit to a non-writer friend, and they just couldn’t understand. “You do know they’re fictional, right?” Yes. But they’re my creations and I have just turned their world upside down and dumped a bucket of shit on top. Doesn’t mean I don’t fully understand that I have to do this, but sometimes after writing some particularly heavy scenes, a girl just needs to watch Doctor Who.

8.| Browsing Barnes and Noble becomes difficult different. Don’t get me wrong, I still do this on the regular, but once you are knee deep in publication decisions, you start to analyze books for things other than just their content. Oh my God! I LOVE that font! Where can I get *that* font?! Others in the vicinity will notice that you’ve adopted Gollum’s stance and are stroking a particularly pretty book and… well, you get the idea.

9.| I get insanely excited for my writer friends’ successes. There is nothing I like more than to see my writer friends achieving their goals. I’m not necessarily talking about publication, either. I like seeing them blow past a word count record, tackling and defeating a difficult chapter, getting the guts to query agents. It’s all worth celebrating. I love when someone sends me something to read. It makes me giddy! Which brings me to…

10.| Writers are without a doubt some of the brightest, loveliest, and bravest people on the planet Earth. You offer pieces of yourself up on the page for people to scrutinize. You want to change the world with your ideas. You give encouragement and hope with your words. You create your own worlds and realities and shine light on important subjects. You are amazing.

That’s ten things, of many, I have learned over the past year. Thank you all so much for being the awesome, crazy, amazing, badass people you are.

If you’re interested in getting your own signed copy of Sex, Love, and Technicalities, I am hosting a sweepstakes giveaway on Viral Sweep, and I am SUPER excited! There is no purchase necessaryWIN, but unfortunately it is only open to US residents. There are multiple ways to earn extra entries! I do hope you will enter to win—and share with your friends! (Actually, that’s one way of earning extra entries!) For entry and the full details please see either the ViralSweep site or my website. Thanks in advance!