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Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, a full service public relations agency specializing in online book promotion agency.

Interview with Mike Hartner, author of ‘I, Mary’

Mike HartnerMike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.

His latest book is the historical romance, I, Mary.

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About the Book:

I, MaryMary Crofter’s first trip on the water was just after her first birthday, when her parents came from her birthplace in Kilwa to Portsmouth. She’s been on several trips from Portsmouth to London and other places since. She loves the water and the water seems to love her. Can she survive on the water? Will people ever take seriously a GIRL as a sailor? Will she ever come off the water? If she does, will the lure of the ocean draw her back?

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Q: Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?

My latest book, I, Mary is the third book in The Eternity Series. This is a series about individual stories and how they connect in this huge world of ours. Think of it as a modern retelling of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales with a global perspective and a time frame that began in 1588 with Walter Crofter’s birth in I, Walter and will continue through until it reaches at least present day.

Q: What fact about yourself would really surprise people?

Perhaps that I am a retired geek. I’ve worked with every stage of networking, and maintaining, computers for close to thirty years.

Q: What scares you the most?

When my wife or son are in danger or sick.

Q: What makes you happiest?

I’m happiest when I’m watching and observing the good person that my son is becoming. I’m even more certain he gets it from his mom.

Q: What are you most proud of in your personal life?

Being a father and husband.

Q: What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

Marketing… in this day and age, marketing.

Q: Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

Paying the bills associated with writing, and having readers who enjoy reading the books.

Q: Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

I, Mary came out in July 2015. It is the third in a series of books called The Eternity Series. I, Mary is the final book in the Crofter Family trilogy, and to my knowledge, is the only family trilogy in the series. It is the story of Mary Crofter.

Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?

Writing more; relaxing my wife; cheerleading my son.

Q: Please tell us why we should read your book?

I believe that my books are making a statement. Not just about characters, but about people and attitudes. I think it’s important to never judge a book by its cover. And I think that statement is evident in the strength of some of the characters in my books.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?

As a friend, Rachel Thompson, would say: “Write what scares you,” and “You don’t need anyone’s permission but your own.” I would add, “Write what you know best.”




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Coke…It’s The Real Thing by Dr. Gabrielle Francis

cocainekkCoke…It’s the Real Thing

By Dr. Gabrielle Francis, author of THE ROCKSTAR REMEDY

Within a few minutes of entering the backstage of this show, the manager gave me the low down. The lead singer had been on a coke binge for several weeks.   It had taken its toll on the rest of the band and the tour. It was now about 3 days since the singer had done any Cocaine, but he was very edgy and having meltdowns on everyone around him.   It was my job to help him relax.

I entered his dressing room and he lay down for his treatment.   He told me that he was extremely agitated and tense all over. His facial muscles were so tight he was worried he wouldn’t be able to sing well.   I started to massage him and could feel the tension.   As I was working, he reached over to his jeans and pulled out a container with some Coke and a Coke spoon. He gave each nostril a little snort and lay back down.   I told him that this would counteract all the relaxation of the massage.   He reported that he was suffering from insomnia on this tour and said he needed just a wee bit of blow and coffee to give him energy for the show.   Hum, I wonder why you are having sleep issues? But what a great remedy…Coffee and Cocaine, the all-natural replacements for sleep!

He made me promise to not tell the band.   He had no idea what was coming for him.

“She don’t lie,

She don’t lie,

She don’t lie…


Eric Clapton

The show was terrible.   He was exhausted and his voice was hoarse. The band was furious with him and laid into him for ruining the concert.   He stormed out of the after party early and went back to the hotel. By the time the band and I arrived at the hotel, he had destroyed his room. Apparently, he got in a fight with his wife on the phone and decided to take it out on the mirror and lamps.   The band was asked to leave the hotel that night and was forced to sleep in the tour buses. The manager and band were furious and began a fistfight with the artist and hotel manager.

I was actually secretly happy. This was the first and only time in all my rock n roll history that I actually saw a hotel room torn up. This really was Rock n Roll! A sigh of relief.

The tour ended after the incident.   A Drug Intervention was held a couple of days later with the lead singer.   He was asked to go into treatment by the band, the manager, and his family.   Surprisingly, he agreed.   He admitted himself into a 28-day treatment program to detox from drugs and alcohol.

The manager asked me to be part of his post treatment support.   After he left the inpatient treatment, I helped him with Acupuncture for the cravings, Detoxification for the years of abuse, and nutritional support to rebuild what was left of his adrenal glands. AA and NA were a great support for him. He took a year off to mend his relationships and get his health back.


About the Author

Gabrielle Francis

Dr. Gabrielle Francis has been practicing natural medicine for more than thirty years.

She is a Naturopathic Doctor, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, and Licensed Massage therapist. Dr. Francis currently practices in New York City as The Herban Alchemist. She also operates Backstage Alternative, which is her natural medicine road show that provides chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal remedies to performing artists on tour.

Dr. Francis received her formal medical training at National College of Chiropractic and at Bastyr University. She has extensive training in Alternative Cancer Therapies, Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Mind-Body medicine, and Bio-Identical Hormone therapies. Following her formal medical education, Dr. Francis travelled extensively to various parts of the world studying medicine with indigenous healers in countries such as China, India, Thailand, Bali, Brazil, Morocco, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, Egypt, and Mali.

Stacy Baker Masand is a health, fitness and lifestyle editor whose work has appeared in magazines such as In StyleMarie ClaireSelfShapeFitnessDuJour and Women’s Health. She’s co-author of New York Times bestseller Your Best Body Now. Stacy is currently developing projects for both small and big screen.

Their latest book is the health/wellness/rocknroll book, The Rocstar Remedy.

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About the Book:

The Rockstar Remedy

Title: The Rockstar Remedy
Author: Dr. Gabrielle Francis with Stacy Baker Masand
Publisher: HarperCollins Wave
Pages: 330
Genre: Health and Wellness/Rock n Roll
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook

Known as the “Rock n’ Roll Doctor” to some of the most famous bands in the world, Dr. Gabrielle Francis shares her unique holistic prescription to achieving health and balance—even when you don’t live like a saint!

As a Holistic Doctor to the music industry’s elite, Dr. Francis has helped rock stars repair, recover, and refuel from the demanding schedules and occasional overindulgences that come along with the rock star lifestyle. Being overscheduled, sleep-deprived, overeating, drinking and managing physical and mental stressors aren’t lifestyle habits unique to the music industry; they are the same challenges faced by all of us, every day.

In The Rockstar Remedy, Dr. Francis shares her unique strategies designed to be incorporated into your hectic lifestyle. Her programs are customized to meet you where you are at, whether an experienced health enthusiast or a beginner. Completing the 21 day detox will give you a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for life, while looking and feeling your personal best. She explains how health is not a destination, but exists on a spectrum, and the simple act of making better choices every day—even if they’re not the best choices—helps us achieve balance in both mind and body. With tips for improving energy levels, easy food guidelines and a simple no-starvation detox, Dr. Francis offers a simple, effective plan for staying healthy and happy amid the chaos of our daily lives. Her popular “Harm Reduction Techniques” and “90/10 Rule” make it easy to celebrate life with occasional indulgences while maintaining good health. This is not a temporary fix; this program brings long-lasting, life-changing results.

Now you can reach for the stars too!

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Book Excerpt:

The year is 1984. I was fresh out of massage school… a ripe 19 years old. My cousin worked for Belkin productions, the company that promoted Rock Concerts in Cleveland. One day she called me and said, “ Cuz, such and such, the biggest name in rock n roll at the time, is coming to Cleveland and they want massages. I volunteered you.”   I was in a state of shock, but gladly accepted the offer. Weirdly enough, I was not nervous or overly excited.   I felt I would be great for the job.

I arrived at the coliseum with my massage table in check, but I was secretly looking forward to the massive parties back stage.   To my dismay, the backstage seemed quite quiet. All the artists were in their private dressing rooms and keeping to themselves. I was taken to the catering hall and noticed that there was a completely organic and vegetarian spread.   In those days this was very rare and unheard of. Whole Foods was not a household name. I also noticed there was not an ounce of alcohol backstage. The most intoxicating beverage I could find was Coca-Cola. Wives had taken the place of the groupies. The Myth was shattered!

The first artist I worked on was the Saxophone player. He had the spiritual name, given to him by his Guru, on the dressing room door instead of his real name. When I entered his dressing room, I felt I had entered a Temple. It was lit with candles, incense permeated the air, and a picture of his Guru stared at me throughout the entire massage. I worked with most of the band that night just doing massage to get them ready for the marathon show. There was a medical doctor backstage giving them B12 shots to boost their energy for the big performance. Each artist was so thoughtful and down to earth. I was taken by their humility and realness. It was an ego-free zone.

They put on a super 4-hour show that night. I watched from backstage and I could see what an amazing dynamic a rock concert was. The band gives energy to the audience. The audience gives love and more energy to the band. The band gets high on the energy from the crowd. And it seems like it can go of forever. The only thing that made the band come off the stage was the venue saying that they had to go.

I will never forget that night as I saw the power of music to elevate the energy of a theater to a higher vibration.   It is no wonder that some people feel that going to a concert can be like a religious experience. I decided Rock’n’Roll would be one of my religions too! It would blend very well with my Catholic upbringing. Catholics revere saints. So, why not add a few like Jimi Hendrix, Patron Saint of the Wa Wa Pedal; Santana, the Archangel of Long Instrumental Grooves; Keith Richards, Holy Father of the Rhythm Guitar: and of course Our Lady Madonna.

After the show, that band asked me to tour with them as a massage therapist. I had to say no because I was very committed to the idea of finishing medical school.

I regretted that decision for a very long time. Luckily, I had the chance again almost 17 years later…




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The Crumbling Pageant Book Blast – Win $25 Amazon Gift Card!

This Crumbling Pageant banner

We’re happy to be hosting Patricia Burrough’s book blast today!


This Crumbling Pageant

Title: The Crumbling Pageant (Volume One of the Fury Triad Series)

Author: Patricia Burroughs

Publisher: Story Spring Publishing

Pages: 607

Genre: Dark Young Adult Fantasy

The people of Ordinary England are unaware of a hidden magical England existing alongside–the world of the Magi. Their cathedrals are temples to the old gods. They are ruled not by poor mad George, but by the ailing King Pellinore of the House of Pendragon. The wars of the Magi, however, are no less deadly.

The Furys are known for their extraordinary music, their powerful magic, and their historic role as kingmakers. But the Furys have their secrets as well, none so dangerous as the Dark daughter whose Shadow magic spills from her unchecked. Unless Persephone Fury’s powers are concealed, she’s marked as a target for those who would use and abuse her power.

But these are desperate times, and this frightening daughter must make a good marriage. On the night of her debut, her world crumbles around her when she is abducted from the man she loves by the man she most loathes.

Evil powers circle, calling her to the destiny foretold at the moment of her birth, drawing her to the source of her power, to the one place she can finally be free. That can only happen, though, if she embraces the Dark magic within her.

Persephone is ruthless, devious, and clever, but when confronted with the truth, she must make horrifying choices. Can she defy destiny and seize her own fate?

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Book Excerpt:

Inside this rustic cottage she heard nothing but—

Her heart stopped.

She was not alone.

Whoever was with her was as still and watchful as she. Her fingers longed to flex in defence, but she kept them still. Was it someone she could overcome? With her magic tingling in her veins and her rage at what had been perpetrated upon her, she knew she could. She could overcome anyone who dared stand in her way.

She allowed her eyes to open completely and, after a moment, saw beyond the feeble light from the small window and into the gloom of the dark corner. Another blink, and shape emerged. Long legs stretched forward. Elbows were planted on the arms of a chair. Long, pale fingers steepled and glittering black eyes stared over them at her. A predator, watching. Waiting.

She shot up, the pain in her right shoulder tearing through her. “How dare you!”

His wand flicked out, aimed at her heart, though beyond the movement of that one agile hand, the rest of his body remained as still and dangerously relaxed as before. “Quite easily,” he purred.

Her purple gown, once a source of horror and then of wondrous pride, now was ripped open with a bandage and too much skin showing beneath it. She covered herself with both hands, enraged. “What sort of blackguard watches a young lady sleep?” she demanded, her heart pounding. “And… and…” She found herself unable to voice her shock and alarm at being faced with a wand again, much less the sort of man who would possess one.

A shudder of revulsion rippled through her.

“I’ve not been watching you sleep. I’ve been watching you awaken.” The wand twitched. “Consider carefully any move you make, because if I even suspect that you are about to attack me again, you will be chastened. Again.”

Chastened? Was that what he called it?

His voice was silky and menacing in the gloom. “Unless you’d like a wound in your left shoulder to match that on your right?”

She drew back in fear, despite herself.

“Ah, so we have an understanding.”

He twirled his wand through his slender, nimble fingers and then back into his palm again.

About the Author

Patricia Burroughs

Patricia Burroughs had insomnia throughout her entire teen years. This meant she read books in the middle of the night, and slept during class in the middle of the day. Unless, of course, she was hiding a novel inside a physics textbook. Who needed physics? She believed in magic. Eventually she turned her propensity for daydreaming and scheming into storytelling, which manifested in award-winning screenplays and books. She still can’t sleep at night, but now it’s her own characters keeping her awake.

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Giveaway Details:

Patricia is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins November 2 and ends November 2.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on November 3.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!


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First Chapter Reveal: Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off! by Lisa Tillinger Johansen + Win $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Stop the Diet 2Title: Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!
Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
Publisher: J. Murray Press
Pages: 350
Genre: Nonfiction/Nutrition/Health

The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?

Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts. With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.

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  • Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off! is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


First Chapter:

The idea for this book began at a wedding.

Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The clothes, the flowers, the romance, the food…

Ah, the food. As we moved into the banquet hall, the culinary feast was on everyone’s minds. It was all anyone seemed talk about. But for some reason, guests weren’t conversing about the dishes being served; they were swapping stories of diets they had heard about from friends, magazine articles, even celebrities on talk shows.

I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science and years of clinical and health education experience. I’ve counseled thousands of patients and clients on all of these diets. But hearing the guests only momentarily distracted me from my horrible faux pas of wearing white (gasp!) to a friend’s wedding.

“I’m on the Blood Type Diet,” said a woman with an impossibly high bouffant hairdo. “You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? It’s the one where you choose your foods based on your blood type. I’m an AB, so I’ll be having the fish.”

“Really?” her friend replied. “I swear by the gluten-free diet. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it, and my granddaughter’s on it.”

I happened to know her granddaughter was six and didn’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Then there was the stocky guy who was trying to impress one of the bridesmaids. “I’m a paleo man myself,” he said, piling his plate high with beef kebabs. “It gives me more stamina, know what I mean? It puts me in touch with my inner caveman. There’s a restaurant near my apartment that’s paleo friendly. Maybe we can grab a bite there sometime, or…Hey wait, where are you going?”

And there were three Weight Watchers sisters who typed furiously on their phones and argued over their meals’ point values. Apparently there was some discrepancy between their various apps, and the sisters’ discussion was becoming more heated by the moment.

I’m past the point of being surprised by the wide range of weight-loss strategies—

some worthless, some crazy, some quite reasonable—being tossed around. In the past few years, there has been a tidal wave of diets washing up on the shores of our nutritional consciousness. Celebrities prance across our screens, promoting a variety of weight-loss schemes on talk shows and infomercials. Medical doctors star in their own syndicated television programs, exposing millions to weight-loss techniques, often unsupported by medical research. Other diets get traction on the Internet, racing all over the globe in social media posts, YouTube videos, and annoying spam e-mails. It’s hard to walk past a shopping center vitamin store without being approached by salespeople trying to pitch the latest weight-loss supplements. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie; the American diet industry tops $60 billion annually.

It’s classic information overload. You can’t blame people for being confused by all the diets out there, even as crazy as some of them may sound. I didn’t speak up to my fellow wedding guests that day, but it occurred to me they would benefit from some hard facts about the diets they so ardently follow.

So during the toasts, I thought to myself, I should write a book.

I counsel clients on these matters each week, giving them information they need to make the best choices for their health and waistlines. I find that all too often there’s nothing to the diets that are presented to me in my counseling sessions and classes. They just plain don’t work, particularly over the long term. And some of them are harmful, even potentially lethal. But it’s also unhealthy to carry extra weight on our frames. So how do we separate good diets from the bad?

In the chapters to come, we’ll take a good, hard look at the various weight-loss plans out there. I’ll pull no punches in my professional evaluation of some of the most wildly popular diets, both bad and good, of the past few years. And along the way, I’ll explore tried-and-true strategies for losing weight, based on my years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars, and community outreach efforts. More often than not, the best answer is not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but instead a few easy-to-follow guidelines that I’ve seen work in literally thousands of cases.

Enough is enough. It’s time for the madness—and the diets—to stop.


Dieting…Who Hasn’t?

“I feel like banging my head against the wall when I am asked what I think about the HCG Diet, Grapefruit Diet, or the Atkins Diet. Have we become so naïve as to believe that taking some homeopathic HCG drops will fix 20 years of poor eating? The sales say we have.”

—Josh Hodnik, staff writer for VPX sports and Muscle Evolution

Holy cow, I’m fat! I’ve turned into a completely out-of-shape blob. I’m standing here looking in the mirror, and some stranger is staring back at me. Surely that’s not me. Maybe if I put my glasses on…No, I’m still the same tub of lard. Bummer.

I don’t know how this happened, or maybe I do a little bit. But it just doesn’t seem possible. I feel like just yesterday I was slim and trim, but now I can’t button my pants. Aha, now I know why I’ve become so fond of stretch pants, baggy shirts, and sweaters…and Spanx.

This weight crept up on me, and now no matter what I do I can’t get rid of it. I don’t feel good about myself or like the way I look. And I think my health may be suffering because of it. I’m so depressed. I think I’m just going to go eat cake.

Sound familiar? Could that be you talking? If it is, join the club. A club, by the way, with many members. It’s ever expanding. For some of us, this may be a scary first experience. You’ve been at a healthy weight all of your life…until now. Or you’ve had to watch what you eat, but still managed to maintain a comfortable weight. For others, this isn’t your first go-round with this type of self-talk. There are many of us who’ve been up and down this path more than once. You might be in that vicious circle we like to call “yo-yo” dieting (a dieter’s carousel, if you will)—repeated weight loss through dieting followed by a regain of the pounds lost. A 2012 study found the following:

  • 26 percent of dieters in the United States adhered to their diets for less than a month
  • 36 percent followed theirs for a period of one to six months
  • 11 percent stuck to their diets for seven months to a year
  • Only 27 percent stayed the course on their diet plans for over a year

And it’s not a surprise that almost 40 percent of Americans make their New Year’s resolution about weight. And it’s not shocking that only 8 percent keep it.

Weighty Matters

Dieting. It’s almost easier to count those who haven’t been on a weight-loss regimen sometime in their life than those who have. Have you ever gone on a diet? How about two, three, four, five, or more? I know that more than a few of you are nodding your heads vigorously. Or perhaps you’re shaking your head in frustration. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The word diet means more than just what we do to lose weight. It also refers to what we eat and drink every day. It includes a prescribed diet, such as what a doctor or dietitian recommends for someone with, for example, diabetes or hypertension. And, of course, diet also means changing and/or cutting back on our regular food and drink habits in order to lose weight. We’ll talk about all of these definitions in this book.

Just because I’m a dietitian doesn’t mean I’m not human. I come from a family where many of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight. It definitely takes work for me to do so. And as I’ve aged, it has become harder. If I’m not diligent, I seem to expand almost overnight.

So, I’m in the weight management game with all of you. I know how you feel and the questions, challenges, and concerns you face. And with a master’s degree in nutritional science and my licensure and experience as a registered dietitian, I know what works. I can help you.


Recently I had quite the unpleasant shock. I have a doctor’s scale at home. The weights weren’t set correctly, and I thought I weighed seven pounds less than I actually did. Ouch! I knew my clothes were a bit snug, but I’d chalked it up to a combination of temporary bloating and shrinking clothes. If only…



Weight-loss plans and diet products are a huge business in the United States. In 2012, Americans spent approximately $60 billion in their quest to lose pounds. Yes, you read it correctly. We spend a lot of dough in our effort to avoid being doughy. And over half of Americans (63 percent of females and 48 percent of males) would rather lose $1,000 of their own money than gain twenty pounds.

The desire to lose pounds and maintain a healthy weight isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it’s a really good one. But we don’t always choose the best route to achieve this often elusive goal. Consequently, many of us are unsuccessful in our weight-loss attempts. Let’s look at some statistics:

  • Three in ten Americans (25 percent of males and 32 percent of females) are currently trying to lose weight. About 55 percent of males have attempted to lose weight an average of four times each, while 73 percent of females have tried to shed pounds on average around seven separate times.
  • A 2011 Gallup poll reported that about 52 percent of all US adults were successful at losing weight sometime in their life.
  • In Britain, the average forty-five-year-old has already been on sixty-one diets.
  • And while 62 percent of Canadians in one survey reported losing five or more pounds over a five-year period, most didn’t maintain it; 70 percent of those who were overweight or obese gained back all, or sometimes more, of the pounds they shed after their initial weight loss.

So many of us go round and round on the diet wheel. Do you remember when you weren’t on a diet? Has it become a way of life for you? And how many different diets have you tried? Are you already looking for the next new thing? Perhaps you’re one of the 35 percent of “occasional dieters” who move on to what’s been termed “pathological dieting,” or disordered eating. If that’s you, aren’t you tired of it?

There are certainly good reasons to lose weight. Carrying too much weight on our frames isn’t healthy, but that’s not stopping a lot of us from packing on the pounds. Obesity is also a negative trend we’re seeing around the globe. The highest rates are in Oceania and the Middle East. Oh, and in the United States two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. It’s a very dubious distinction. Here are the top-ten heaviest countries in the world, based on their 2013 overweight and obesity rates:


#1 American Samoa (94 percent)

#2 Kiribati, Central Pacific (82 percent)

#3 French Polynesia (74 percent)

#4 Saudi Arabia (73 percent)

#5 Panama (67.4 percent)

#6 United States (66.9 percent)

#7 Germany (66.5 percent)

#8 Egypt (66 percent)

#9 Kuwait (64 percent)

#10 Bosnia and Herzegovina (63 percent)

Kudos to the eight countries in Asia that have the lowest worldwide obesity rates. They are Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore.

The obesity epidemic is a problem that must be dealt with. In 2013, the American Medical Association took a major step by labeling obesity as a disease. While this brought on some controversy, it should result in a change in how health care providers look at and treat obesity in individuals. That’s a good thing.

Fad or Fallacy

Carrying extra body weight can be quite bad for our health. It puts us at risk for a variety of diseases such as prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, joint problems, heart disease, sleep apnea, certain cancers, and more. Who wants that?

So what do so many of us do to combat our expanding girths? We go on a diet, often what would be termed a “fad” diet. And we’ve been doing this for a lot longer than you might think.

Fad diets go back to at least 1087 when William the Conqueror came up with the alcohol-only diet. What was he thinking? Maybe he was too drunk to construct a more balanced one. Not surprisingly, this diet didn’t work out for William. He died a year later after actually gaining weight.

The fad diet as we know it today arrived on the scene in the nineteenth century, when Sylvester Graham came up with the Graham diet. It focused on caffeine-free beverages and vegetarian meals. Not a bad idea, but it gets a bit weird. Part of the diet actually included eating graham crackers (go figure), as not only a way to assist in weight loss, but also to inhibit masturbation and the supposed blindness it caused. I’m not making this up.

In 1876, Englishman William Banting introduced the low-carbohydrate diet. A lot of us are familiar with this one. He lost fifty pounds with his plan and wrote the Letter on Corpulence discussing it. His weight-loss plan became so popular that in Britain the word banting became synonymous for dieting. A later version of this, the Atkins diet, would become very popular and is still being followed today.

Other early fad diets included Horace Fletcher’s Great Masticator diet, which in 1903 suggested people chew their food thirty-two times. After doing this, they weren’t to swallow it, but had to spit it out. That was certainly a low-calorie diet. And a lot of work for nothing.

The year 1928 gave us the Inuit diet, where followers could choose between eating either meat or the fat from it. Not both. There was also the bananas-and-skim-milk diet. And as recently as the late 1960s, Herman Taller, MD, advanced the “Calories Don’t Count” diet. Before you embrace this concept, read on. It involved eating whatever you wanted and not worrying about quantity. The important aspect of this diet was that after you ate, you drank vegetable oil as a kind of chaser. Yuck. I’m sure that worked out well.

There are a lot of diets out there. Some are good. Many aren’t. I’ll talk about a lot of them throughout this book. I’ll be your guide to choosing a healthy eating path and will give you the tools to navigate it. What I won’t do is steer you toward a fad diet. In fact, I recommend you turn your back on them.

Fad diets are temporary and can be unhealthy. Very often they’re restrictive. And many times they are, let’s face it, a bit crazy.

People are drawn to fad diets because of the allure of quick results, which they sometimes deliver. But typically the weight loss can’t be sustained long term. We’re then faced with the disappointment and adverse health effects of reverting back to our prior weights. Or perhaps we may carry a heavier burden…on our bodies.

Close to 60 percent of adults in the United States want to shed at least twenty pounds.

It would be fantastic if we’d go to sleep one night and wake up the next day twenty pounds lighter. That’s a good dream. But it’s not realistic. So many of us want it to be true, and we try a lot of weight-loss programs with the hope that we’ll be proven right. Optimism is high at the beginning. Some do have success that’s maintained in the long term. Most don’t.

Fad diets can be very difficult to adhere to for life. Even following them for months can be hard. We can also suffer ill effects from them such as headaches, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, hair loss, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, bad breath, loss of muscle, and more. Not fun.

Diets also affect the diseases we have. People with diabetes, kidney disease, and other conditions need to take care that these diets don’t aggravate their conditions. More about health risks will be discussed in chapters to come.

Here’s a crucial question: What’s a fad diet? Some are easier than others to spot. Let’s review some of their characteristics:

  • They promise a quick result.
  • Statements are made about them that seem too good to be true or realistic.
  • Simple conclusions are taken from involved studies.
  • They take information from studies that haven’t been peer reviewed. (Peer review and duplication of results is an important aspect of drawing reliable conclusions.)
  • Statements of fact may be based on only one study. Again, results need to be tested and replicated to determine their quality.
  • They rely on studies that don’t have a large research group, or use those that look at only one segment of the population, such as African American males between the ages of thirty and forty-five or Caucasian women ages sixty-five to eighty.
  • Assertions are made that highly regarded medical- and science-based organizations refute.
  • Their statements or recommendations are used to try to sell us their products.
  • They promote “special elixir” type foods or specific food combinations.
  • They suggest that food can affect body chemistry.
  • Foods are identified as either “bad” or “good.”
  • They eliminate foods or food groups.

Do any of these ring a bell? Have you researched or tried a diet with one or more of the above characteristics? Who’s nodding? Here are some of the fad diets you might’ve explored:


3-Day diet

Apple-cider-vinegar diet

Atkins diet

Beverly Hills diet

Blood Type Diet

Cabbage-soup diet


Coconut-oil diet

Dukan diet

Grapefruit diet

hCG diet

Hollywood Diet

Paleo Diet

South Beach Diet

Zone Diet


My husband is on the brown diet. It’s a simple one. If it’s brown, he eats it. This isn’t healthy, as it’s filled with items like fried chicken, french fries, and pizza. He’s getting better, though. I got him to get rid of the fryer he had in his bachelor days. But he’s still a work in progress.

The online pharmacy found that 71 percent of women had tried a fad diet. Here’s the breakdown of the diets they tried:

Laxatives: 47 percent

Fasting: 45 percent

Cabbage soup diet: 39 percent

Liquid diet: 35 percent

Body wraps: 29 percent

Cereal diet: 26 percent

Baby food diet: 26 percent

Raw food diet: 24 percent

Small plates: 18 percent

Eating foods known to make you sick: 14 percent

I question more than a few of these diets. Do you? If not, you should.

It’s Not a Clique, It’s a Group

Restrictive, low-calorie, and other types of fad diets aren’t only challenging to follow, they can also be nutritionally unbalanced. For example, cutting out entire food groups or a significant portion of them may result in not getting adequate calories, vitamins, minerals, and more. Or we may get an overabundance of something. This can cause health issues for some, like potential kidney problems from excessive protein. Too little or too much of something isn’t a good thing. Our bodies like balance.

Protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and healthy fats should all have a place in our diets. Our bodies use all of these for a variety of things. Making the more nutritious choices out of these groups is, of course, important. And each of them does have healthy members. When we cut out a food group or a significant part of it, we’re short-changing ourselves. We’ll talk more about the food groups later on.

Knowledge Is Power

Another key component of weight loss and maintenance is gaining the tools we need to manage our eating for life. It requires knowledge and behavior change. The former isn’t likely difficult for most of us, although there are a lot of less credible sources out there. The latter can be a seemingly impossible task. This book will help you tackle both.

We’re so lucky to live in a day and age in which books, magazines, journals, newspapers, websites, blogs, and more are so readily available and abundant. The Internet has expanded our horizons and our learning ability to such an amazing degree. Practically any information we want or need is just a keystroke away. But we must make sure that what we’re reading, even relying on, is quality and expert.

When I first went to college back in the day, personal computers didn’t exist. I know, can you imagine? All research had to be done at the library. And we had to use card catalogues to find our material. It was slow going.

I’ve thought about this often while writing my books. It’s certainly quick to tap into my own knowledge, which I do extensively. But when I want to look something up, I’m happy that it’s easy and convenient to find.

When looking for nutrition information on the web, I recommend perusing the sites that you know are science-based. Medical and government websites such as and are reputable. So are sites like and You can also go to registered dietitian sites like mine at You have a question? I’ll answer it. For other online sources, please review appendix Afor more sites that I like and trust.

Experts in the field can be great sources. Registered dietitians are a fantastic go-to for information about nutrition. But there are so many other people out there, including celebrities, who have their own diet plans or champion them. It’s important to note that these people often don’t have the training necessary to assess and recommend an appropriate diet plan. Tread lightly there. Designations like RD, RDN, RN, and MD signify experts in health care, including diet and nutrition.

In Britain, 47 percent of people who are watching their weight will try a diet because a celebrity is on it.

I counsel many people each year regarding a variety of health issues, including weight management, prediabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, malnutrition, and more. Many of them are well-versed in self-care and have solid facts and plans to achieve and maintain good health. Others could use some help.

Television shows, magazines, books, our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, personal trainers, vitamin store personnel, and others often share advice. Many of us take that and run with it. Sometimes we shouldn’t.

It’s essential that we use a filter and common sense when sorting through the barrage of information that comes our way. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. The promise of five pounds of weight loss in several days or ten pounds in one week, for example, isn’t healthy or advisable. It’s tempting, I know. But in this case, slow and steady wins the race.

So what do you need to get started on a healthy eating plan for you? A great beginning is to understand the pros and cons of all the major diet plans out there. Having reliable facts and figures, determining your desire and willingness to change, and setting some goals are important. Knowing recommended portion sizes and the balance of the food groups is essential. The contribution of physical activity and the effectiveness of using measuring and benchmark tools help round out a powerful weight-management arsenal. I can help you with all of these, and there’s no time like the present. It’s time to stop the diet and get on with a long-term eating plan for life.

So let’s get off the dieting merry-go-round. Our healthy weight lies ahead.


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Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things Book Blast!

We’re thrilled to be hosting Martina McAtee’s CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS Book Blast today!

Title: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee
Publisher: Martina McAtee
Pages: 450
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.

They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.

As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.

For More Information

  • Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

She went lightheaded as the enormity of her words hit her, “Oh, God. This is like the part in the movie where you try to kill me, right? You are going to try to kill me and I feel too crappy to even try to run.”

She was talking more to herself now. She leaned back against the rusted mausoleum gates behind her, enjoying the cool metal against her skin. Her head was swimming, the stars above blurring in the sky. No, not now, she thought. It was happening again. Whatever had happened earlier in the cemetery was happening again. She could feel it rising up in her, that weird feeling like her insides were melting and liquefying while she could do nothing to stop it. Was this a panic attack? Could a panic attack cause what happened in the cemetery earlier? Maybe this was some kind of fight or flight adrenaline response.

She felt caged, trapped by her own body. It was all in her head. The ground wasn’t vibrating at her feet. There was no way she was really burning up in forty-degree weather. Even in her haze she could see him watching her. Maybe if she just held still, he would be quick about it.

Her head lulled on her shoulders. She was going to pass out. It would serve him right. Then he was just there, in her space, fingers cupping her face. She moaned at the feel of his cold hands against her overheated flesh. “And if it is, Luv? If this is the part where I try to kill you? What then? Are you going to pass out and take all the fun out of it? Or will you fight back?”

There was no mistaking the threat of his words, but he was close enough to whisper them against her skin like a promise. She couldn’t think straight. Her head filled with a sound like angry bees. She pitched forward, dropping her forehead to his shoulder, eyes drifting closed.

He was so cold; even through the layers of his clothes; his body seemed to emit this pleasant icy radiance that soothed her feverish skin. She wrapped herself around him, locking her arms. She buried her face against his throat, nose rubbing against his skin.

She felt his body go rigid in her arms. She didn’t blame him, on some level she understood sane girls didn’t try to cuddle their killers. But nobody ever accused her of being sane. She was the girl who played in cemeteries and talked to the dead. She was the girl with three therapists before she was twelve. She was the girl in flames and he was ice water; if she was going to die, she was going to have this first.

They stood there, bound together by her forced embrace. Those strange vibrations increased, building inside her like a living thing, a burning energy trying to melt her from the inside out. She could hear his ragged breath panting against her ear, could feel him writhing in her grasp, but she refused to let go. Could he feel it too?

She clung to him, knowing if she let go this peculiar energy would overwhelm her. She breathed him in, letting him anchor her as it kept building and burning, growing until it thrust from her with the force of a sledgehammer. He groaned like he’d received the physical blow, he may have fallen had she not been holding him to her. Finally, the world seemed to right itself. Her blood ceased to boil and the vibrations stopped. When her mind quieted, she became very aware of what she was doing.

She let go, shoving him back. Despite his size, he stumbled, blinking hard. They stared at each other, his confusion mirroring her own.

“What are you?” she whispered. “What are you doing to me?”

He rushed her, shoving her against the concrete hard enough to knock her teeth together, “What did I do to you? What game are you playing? What are you? What was that? What did you do?”

She whimpered, feet scrambling for purchase as she realized he’d lifted her from the ground. Her heart thundered in her chest. He was fit but not big enough to haul her off her feet like that. She shoved at him uselessly. “Put me down.”

Her descent was abrupt, her heart lodging in her throat. His eyes narrowed, his hands tangling in her messy hair, tilting her head to the side. “Come on, Luv, you can tell me. I’m sure it’s eating at you, keeping this secret.”

He was insane. She opened her mouth to say so but her brain short-circuited as his nose traced along the column of her throat. “I promise, things will be so much easier if you just tell me,” he purred, his lips pressing the words into her skin. She moved closer to him. In her defense, she’d never been this close to a boy before; especially not one who looked like he did.

“We can do this one of two ways,” He inhaled her scent, pressing his mouth to the shell of her ear as he said, “I promise one is infinitely more pleasurable than the other.”

Ew. Oh, God. What was she doing? What was he doing? Seducing her for information? Threatening her? It really bothered her that she didn’t know the difference.

She needed to get it together. Her breath hitched in her chest. This was not how she saw herself dying. She’d had a plan. She’d written it down obituary style for a morbid ninth grade English assignment. She was supposed to die of obscenely old age in her enormous but tastefully decorated plantation home surrounded by her beautiful and ungrateful grandchildren.

He huffed out a laugh and she realized she’d said all that aloud. She was too scared to be embarrassed. Instead, she slapped at his hands ineffectively.

He stepped away so abruptly she staggered, pacing before her, “You’re seriously not going to tell me? You’re only hurting yourself on this one.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she told him, “You’re crazy.”

He sighed heavily, his tone shifting as if speaking to a rather stupid child, “I’ll figure it out eventually.” He told her, pointing at her, “You don’t smell like a witch. You certainly aren’t a shifter.” Then he was back before her, gripping her chin, turning her head side to side, like he was examining livestock, “But you most definitely aren’t human.” Tiny hairs rose along her skin at his touch, “You’re trying my patience. What the hell are you?”

She pushed away from him, head throbbing with his words. “Stop with the grabby hands,”

She needed to think. He was clearly unhinged. She had very few options. She could run but she doubted she could outrun him. Her gaze raked across broad shoulders and a flat stomach, he looked like he did a lot of cardio. She could scream but there wasn’t anybody to hear her. Instead, she did what she always did when she was nervous…she babbled.

She’d watched a million documentaries on serial killers and the mentally ill. She could figure this out. Netflix was her friend. She wracked her brain, if he was a killer she had to make him see her as a person, tell him about her life, say her name a lot, make him believe people cared if she died, even if it was a lie.

But what if he was schizophrenic? He thought she wasn’t human. What was she supposed to do?

Orient him to reality? Play along with his fantasy? She should have paid more attention.

“What’s your name?” she heard herself say, voice breathless.

He arched his brow, tsking softly, expression bored. “I’m asking the questions here,”

“Just tell me your name,” she demanded, panic creeping back in.

“Mace,” the answer tumbled from his lips unbidden. He looked mystified, like his own mouth had betrayed him. He absently rubbed a spot on his chest.

“Mace,” she repeated, with a nod. Okay, it was a start. “So um, here’s the thing, Mace. I’m only seventeen and I don’t want to die.”

He gave her a look and a ‘fair enough’ shrug and gestured for her to continue, clearly amused by this turn of events.

She frowned, but soldiered on, “You can’t be much older than me so let’s just think about this for a minute, okay?” She raked a hand through her damp hair, “I’m not really sure why you want to kill me but my life has pretty much sucked up until now. Like so much suckage. I can’t even explain the level of suck, but I feel like, statistically speaking, that’s gotta change. I’m not trying to sound like a motivational poster but it’s supposed to get better. I’d very much like to have a pulse when it does,”

He narrowed his eyes at her, brow furrowed. He stepped forward.

“Stop,” she held up her hand, palm out, “Just listen,”

He stopped, looking at his feet then at her again.

“I’m a nice girl,” she told him, before frowning, “but maybe you don’t care about that. I mean, if you’re, like, a murderous psychopath, you probably aren’t super interested in my feelings, but what about yourself?” She reasoned, gesturing spastically to all of his…self, “You seem like the kind of guy who thinks a lot of himself.”

He cocked an eyebrow but said nothing. She was in turbo babble mode now, “If you kill me your life is over. You will definitely go to jail. I mean, look at me.” She gestured to her face, “I look like an ad for facial cleanser and girls who eat yogurt. Juries eat that stuff up. You’d probably get the chair.”

He looked a little dazed. “You make a passionate yet confusing plea, Luv,”

Her heart sank as he took a tentative step towards her, then another. He grinned as he advanced.

“Come on. I’m sure you don’t want to go to prison.” She whined, “You are way too pretty for prison. You’d make a lot of the wrong kind of friends in prison.” Stop saying prison, Ember, she begged herself. “Do you want those kind of friends? Of course, you don’t. We could be friends?” she finished lamely, face flushing with shame. Maybe he should just kill her. It would be less embarrassing.

He blinked at her, cheek twitching, “Aw, are you asking me to be your friend? One might question your judgment.”

Her hands fell to her hips, swaying on her feet. “Wow, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve only seen you twice and both times you were here,” she gestured to their surroundings. “You hang out in cemeteries because you have so many friends? Is this were your book club meets?”

“I can see why you have no friends,” he told her drolly.

She squinted as something glinted in the air above his head.

“I-” was all he managed before the object made contact with his head, sounding like a hammer hitting an overripe melon. He hit his knees with a groan, whatever he was going to say dying on his lips.

She looked at his crumpled form, unreasonably disappointed.

She’d really wanted to know what he was going to say.

About the Author

Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack Chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. By day she is a registered nurse but by night she writes young adult books about reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing she’s reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is set to release on August 31st, 2015. She is currently working on the second book in the series, Your Soul to Take, due to release in 2016.

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In the Spotlight: Let’s Talk About Tickling by Veronica Frances

Let's Talk About Tickling 2Title: Let’s Talk About Tickling
Author: Veronica Frances
Publisher: Blue Note Books
Pages: 240
Genre: Non-fiction/Erotic Literature/Self Improvement
Format: Kindle

Let’s Talk About Tickling is an honest, straightforward discussion about tickling. Discover the many different aspects of tickling—the fantasies, the realities, the many paradoxes of the tickling fetish and how to come to terms with ones own sensuality.

A refreshing and very welcome find, Let’s Talk About Tickling is for anyone who wishes to expand their awareness of tickling and other related fetishes. This book will be of great interest to anyone who wants to get in touch with their sensual self, whether they have a tickling fetish or not.

Author Veronica Frances offers her readers the chance to improve their relationships in and out of the bedroom by shining a light on the powerful significance of tickling. She reminds us that tickling is not merely the whisper of a feather on the flesh. It is an echo that calls us from deep within, beckoning us to listen and respond.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

Now let’s face it, tickling can be the conduit for many things.

It can make us surrender, whether we want to or not. It can be held against us if we are being interrogated by people who choose to use it to get us to talk. It can be used to reprimand us and put us back in line. It can be an unpleasant form of torture, even to the point of bringing us some slight pain. It can make us scream for mercy, buck up and down, laugh until we pee in our pants. It can humiliate us, yet make us continue laughing while in the midst of our own humiliation. It can demoralize us by forcing us to laugh and twitch against our will.

It can also make us wet in our most hidden erogenous zones. It can arouse us nearly to death. It can lead to many things and is the gateway to one of the most intimate journeys known to man.

Tickling is the magic bridge that hovers above our rivers of sexuality. Tickling is most definitely the gateway to sex.

Sometimes you won’t even know that tickling is leading you down its slippery erotic slope until you are in somebody’s arms and feeling that ticklish little poke at your libido.



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Release Day Blitz! A Peach of a Pair by Kim Boykin

A Peach of a Pair Release Day Blitz banner

We’re happy to be hosting Kim Boykin and her A PEACH OF A PAIR RELEASE DAY BLITZ today!

About the Book:

A Peach of a Pair 2

Title: A Peach of a Pair
Author: Kim Boykin
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Berkley Books
Genre:Southern Women’s Fiction

Purchase at Amazon

“Palmetto Moon” inspired “The Huffington Post” to rave, It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Now, she delivers a novel of a woman picking up the pieces of her life with the help of two spirited, elderly sisters in South Carolina.
April, 1953. Nettie Gilbert has cherished her time studying to be a music teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, but as graduation approaches, she can t wait to return to her family and her childhood sweetheart, Brooks in Alabama. But just days before her senior recital, she gets a letter from her mama telling her that Brooks is getting married . . . to her own sister.
Devastated, Nettie drops out of school and takes a job as live-in help for two old-maid sisters, Emily and Lurleen Eldridge. Emily is fiercely protective of the ailing Lurleen, but their sisterhood has weathered many storms. And as Nettie learns more about their lives on a trip to see a faith healer halfway across the country, she ll discover that love and forgiveness will one day lead her home.

About the Author:

Kim Boykin

Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of A Peach of a Pair, Palmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley/NAL/Penguin; Flirting with Forever, She’s the One, Just in Time for Christmas, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

Her latest book is the southern women’s fiction, A Peach of a Pair.

Visit her website at

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