Tag Archives: HEALTH

Excerpt Reveal of Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

ABOUT CAMP UTOPIA & THE FORGIVENESS DIET

 

Camp Utopia and The Forgiveness DietTitle: Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet
Genre: Young Adult
Author: Jenny Ruden
Publisher: Koehler Books
Language: English
Pages: 300
Format: Paperback

Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”

 

AMAZON* BARNES & NOBLE

 

“A funny, poignant, emotionally intelligent and beautifully written novel that takes the reader on a journey that is by turns heartbreaking and inspiring. I highly recommend it.”

 

-Alisa Valdes, New York Times and

USA Today bestselling author

 

 

“Ruden’s debut novel is more than merely funny. It skewers our cultural obsession with the superficial, lampooning everything from fad diets to reality television and self-help gurus. And Bethany’s inner journey from bitterness to forgiveness is one that will resonate with all readers.

 

Read it for the laughs, reread it for Ruden’s profound insight into the transformative power of forgiveness.”

 

-Mike Mullen, author of Ashfall

 

“Anarchic slapstick laced with timely truths make this wry, occasionally raunchy debut a standout.”

– Kirkus Reviews

 

AN EXCERPT:

AMERICAN ENVY ENDED without a miracle. No boulder. No cannibal either. There was only an infomercial TJ and I were obligated to view because the couch had sucked the remote under one of its cushions.

The commercial featured a giant fishbowl filled with multicolored scraps of paper. Xylophone sounds tinkled in the background. At first, I thought the commercial was for some kind of craft, like moonsand or a Chia Pet. Then a voice blasted out from the TV:

DO YOU NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT?

I was lifting scratchy cushions, rummaging for the remote. When I heard the voice, I turned around.

HAVE YOU TRIED EVERY DIET AND FAILED?

On the screen that glass bowl glittered again, rainbow swirls of paper spinning around.

I WANT TO HELP YOU, the voice roared

No doubt I had heard various diet infomercials a million times, but never during prime time and never one quite as hypnotic. I couldn’t look away. TJ seemed rapt too. We studied the screen where the fish bowl overflowed with paper like jewels.

PAY ATTENTION. THESE NEXT FIFTEEN MINUTES COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE. 

There was something about this voice. Like a magnet.

“It’s not about food,” a lady wearing a giant sunhat said. She lounged beside a pool, the glittery bowl positioned next to her sandaled feet.  “I weighed two hundred pounds and thought it was about food.”

Then the woman stood, dropped her towel, and twirled in a gold bikini. “But I discovered it’s about forgiveness,” she said.

“Hey!” TJ said. “My boss went on this diet.”

I shrugged. TJ’s boss at Rent-My-Ride went on every diet.

YES, the voice intoned, IT’S ABOUT FORGIVENESS.

That was when the room darkened a notch. It was dusk, and Baltimore had just breathed its last streak of sunlight against the pavement outside. The city’s gutter smells and sounds drifted past the open basement window. I should’ve told TJ to go home. It was getting late. And it was hot—too hot to even have the television on, which seemed to breathe fire. But I couldn’t talk or move. Even TJ didn’t get up to excuse himself and walk to his row house across the street.

Like my sofa had been slicked with paste, we watched this commercial as intently as we had American Envy. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen entire minutes. There were testimonials from people all over the country. Men and women held up size 20 pants, size 24 skirts, 3XL sweats. Then they pirouetted in something slinky, showed off their skinny jeans, patted their flat tummies.

“The Forgiveness Diet,” they all chimed, was how they did it. THAT’S  RIGHT,  said  the  voice.  WITH OUR  PROVEN THREE-PART SYSTEM YOU CAN DROP THAT UNWANTED WEIGHT.  INSTANTLY.

On the screen, a middle-aged guy stood before the ocean.

“Hi, I’m Michael Osbourne, and I invented The Forgiveness Diet. At twenty-seven years old and three hundred pounds, I was carrying too much weight and too many burdens. I decided to write everyone’s secrets on a piece of paper. All mine too. Then I put that paper inside a bucket. Enough, I said to myself. It’s time to forgive them.

“Before I knew it, the weight vanished. And yours will too. You can read about my innovative approach to mercy weight loss in my new book. If you call now, we’ll even throw in your very own Forgiveness Jar to get things started. For free. Free!

Call now to find out more about this amazing opportunity. Come on, what do you have to lose?” The corners of his mouth lifted as if attached to strings. “Except weight.”

He turned and ran out into frothy surf.

A phone number flashed across the screen. “Maybe you should buy the book,” TJ said shyly.

“Why?” I asked, still staring at the television.

“Because my boss lost mad weight. And fast!”

I rolled my eyes. TJ’s boss was always trying to thrust TJ onto better things. Like herself.

He nudged me gently. “If it worked you wouldn’t have to leave for camp tomorrow. You could see me graduate. Watch me audition.”

“You mean you don’t want me to go either?”

“I mean you could stay here. Just buy the book.” “I don’t have a credit card,” I said.

“What about PayPal? Order the e-book.”

“No e-reader.”

The fish bowl, on the screen again, brimmed with folded pa- pers. fat people walked up to the jar, kissed their papers, and dropped them inside. As they skipped off it appeared they lost the weight before our very eyes.

“You can do that,” said TJ. “Just write down the names of people who have pissed you off.”

“I’m sure the book has some kind of specific directions. There must be more to it than that.”

“Maybe not,” said TJ. “My boss said she just had to for- give her boyfriend for cheating on her and forgive her fingers for stealing change out of the rental cars, and she lost like ten pounds.” TJ stared at his Converse. “Bee, you have a lot of people to forgive. Maybe all that pissiness is stuck inside you making you big, like that voice said. It makes sense in a way.”

I bristled. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

TJ removed his glasses and rubbed them on his shirt, a ritual he only performed when something bothered him. “You could make it like a bucket list. Write everything down like in those long letters you used to write.”

“Those letters sucked. You’re crazy.”

“Your letters were amazing. Just write it true. Then put it in a Cool Whip container.” he replaced his glasses. “You could start with that night, you know. When we almost—”

“Shut up, TJ.”

“What?”

“It will never work.”

TJ sighed. “It worked for all of them,” he said, nodding toward the television.

YOU CANNOT FAIL the voice bellowed. GUARANTEEDThen the commercial ended.

“I mean you don’t want to go to fat camp, right?” TJ asked. “This might be your only hope.”

“But it’s just an infomercial,” I said. I looked back to the television where a woman discussed a very absorbent paper towel. I dug around behind the sofa, felt the hard plastic of the remote, and pushed the rubber button. The television buzzed off. “How am I supposed to get thin by tomorrow?”

TJ walked to the basement stairs and sat on the third step. Behind him moonlight dripped in the window. It had to be one hundred degrees in my house, yet there was no sweat on his forehead. TJ never sweated. When he opened his mouth, he spoke slowly, as if I were retarded.

“Look, Bee. Remember that guy who levitated on American Envy last season?”

Here we go, I thought. “How could I forget when you bring it up every other day?”

TJ’s eyes darted around the room, and he lowered his voice, conspiratorially, “Well, I finally figured out his secret.”

“Yes, TJ. It’s called Hollywood. It’s called camera tricks.” he stood up on the step and spread his arms wide. Then he brought them together in front of him like he was praying. He put his chin down near his collar and prepared himself for what looked like a swan dive directly into the coffee table.

“It’s called the Balducci levitation. You stand at an angle,” he said, rocking on the balls of his feet. “So from where you’re sitting it looks like I’m floating, but really, my foot is just on my ankle, see?”

We had that American Envy episode on DVR. For weeks TJ was over my house pausing it, flipping his head upside down in front of the television, trying to determine if the contestant had some sort of fan contraption crammed in his pants.

TJ stumbled off the step and landed, face down, on our shag carpet, which was the exact color of a tennis ball.

“Didn’t it look like I was floating a little?”

“No.” I said. Then, “Well, maybe slightly.”

He studied his shoes like they were to blame. “I’m still practicing,” he explained. “My point is that instead of trying to figure out how the Levitator couldn’t do it, I tried to work out how he did.”

“I don’t understand how writing down secrets and forgiving people will make me thin.”

“You don’t need to understand how it works.” TJ stood and stepped closer to me. “You only need to know that it’s possible.” When he reached behind my ear, I expected he would flick out a silvery coin or, if he was feeling mysterious, a gardenia. But he didn’t. He smoothed my hair back behind my ears and looked directly at me.

“You never believe what’s right in front of your face.”

“I believe in you,” I said.

He leaned in. “Don’t believe in me,” he whispered. I could see the red indentations his eyeglasses had pressed into his nose. “Believe in you.”

TJ dropped his hands from my face. When he brought them up again, they held a crumpled ball of paper. I started at it curiously, then I touched it with the tips of my fingers.

“Open it,” he said.

Once in a while, he could still surprise me with a magic trick. “Go on,” he urged.

I slowly uncrumpled the paper.

It read: I forgive my dad for not seeing me.

 “Where did you get this?” I asked, my voice tight.

He shrugged. “It was behind your ear.”

“TJ!”

“You’re full of magic, Bethany.”

“Tell me how you did this. Seriously.”

But TJ had slipped into illusionist mode where every movement was choreographed and every smile insincere. He might explain later how he’d managed to write this on a restaurant napkin when I wasn’t looking. He might cop to how he’d found purple ink, my favorite, and how he’d made the handwriting look identical to mine. Exactly like mine. Maybe he’d admit to somehow crawling into my future ahead of me, but not now. Now he only kissed my forehead, lustlessly. The way you would kiss a cat.

“You could forgive him,” he said, referring to the slip of paper, “your dad, for ignoring you at Chuck E. Cheese’s.”

“Stop,” I said.

He plucked the paper from my fingers. “You could forgive me too,” he continued, “for everything. You know. Last year.”

I could, I thought, but I won’t. Leave it to TJ to present it like an option. An option about as viable as a diet based on forgiveness.

“So if you won’t try the diet then will you at least write to me every day you’re gone?” he asked as he readied himself to leave. “Not just texts, e-mails too. Long, epic ones.”

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and read the text he’d somehow sent when I wasn’t looking. you my girl.

He’d never told me how he’d managed that trick either.

Not that it mattered. Tonight, just like every other night, I’d fall for him all over again. I’d believe I was his girl. I’d accept that someone so extraordinary could have a thing for me—someone so ordinary.

And fat.

So fat.

___________________________________________

ABOUT JENNY RUDEN

 

Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She does a flawless impersonation of a normal person. Don’t be fooled. She’s a writer.

 

TWITTER *FACEBOOK* WEBSITE*GOODREADS

 

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Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips by Elle Erikkson, RHN Book Blitz – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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Top Ten Best Ever Weight Loss TipsTitle: Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips
Author: Elle Eriksson, RHN
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 122
Genre: Health and Wellness
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

We all know that being slim does not always mean being healthy. In Top Ten Best-Ever Healthy Weight-Loss Tips, Elle Eriksson offers you sensible, effective ways to shed those unwanted pounds while improving overall health and wellbeing.

Blending personal wisdom with professional training and experience, Elle shares her insight and provides strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Also included in these top ten tips is “a little food for thought” as the author explores some of today’s concerns around food quality and production.

With a variety of options for all body types, Elle guides you toward successful weight loss, using a whole-foods diet and realistic steps to attaining an active, balanced lifestyle. This easy-to-use guide includes a 21-Day Food/Weight/Fitness Journal along with real-life weight-loss success stories.

 

amazon

 

Elle Eriksson, RHN, is a registered holistic nutritionist, nutritional  consultant, urban gardener, and cooking instructor. In her passionate concern for both the planet and animal welfare, she incorporates these issues into her down-to-earth approach to food, health, and weight loss. Elle lives with her family in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 

Elle 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 or Paypal Cash.
  • This giveaway begins June 2 and ends on June 14.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, June 16.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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PUYB Blog Tour: A Conversation with Robert Henry, author of ‘Age Re-Defined’

Robert F. HenryRobert Henry, age 56, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, and a Certified Wellness Coach. His awareness of fitness and nutrition began at the age of 29. When Robert first started to exercise, it was mostly for the purpose of increasing body weight through the addition of lean muscle mass. However, more than 20 years later, at the age of 52, after years of being lean and enjoying good health, Robert’s experienced an undesired increase in body fat and his health profile changed in the wrong direction The loss of that body fat and the reversal of new and undesirable trends in his health profile became Robert’s new exercise goals. By re-booting his exercise regimen and further “tweaking” his nutrition, he successfully accomplished his new goals and, as he likes to say, discovered his “inner athlete”.

Although he had worked out for more than two decades, the journey he experienced in his early fifties ignited something within Robert and he voraciously sought to increase his knowledge and his credentials. It was then that he earned his numerous certifications and set about to share his passion for health and fitness with others.

Robert’s background extends beyond fitness. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University and worked for many years as an attorney. He also discovered a love of aviation early in his life and, while still a teenager, became a Commercial Pilot and a Certified Flight Instructor. After law school, he went on to become an Airline Transport Pilot and eventually earned three jet ratings. Now in his fifties, he values his health, fitness, and wellness very highly, and seeks to inform and inspire others.

Robert’s latest book is the health/fitness/ motivational book, Age Re-Defined.

Visit his website at www.RobertHenryFitness.com.

Connect with Robert:

TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 —————————————–

Age Re-DefinedQ: Thank you for this interview, Robert. Can you tell us what your latest book, AGE RE-DEFINED, is all about?

It’s about getting “younger”, not “older”. It’s about rejecting negative stereotypes for ages 40+ and 50+, especially in the areas of health and fitness, although readers of all ages can benefit. A premise of the book is that your state of health, how you feel, and how you look are more within your control than you think. The subjects include exercise, fitness, nutrition, and the mind-body connection. I share parts of my own journey and the positive results I have achieved through my own commitment to exercise and nutrition.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

People over the years – over decades, really – have repeatedly told me that I look much younger than my chronological age, which will be 57 on April 30, 2013. At ages 51 and 52, I put on some unwanted body fat – not that noticeable to the casual observer, but I knew it was there. At 52, negative changes in my usually good health profile caused me to re-boot my commitment to exercise and nutrition. A doctor said to me, “You’re not getting any younger”, as if that was an explanation of or a justification for the health changes. I refused to accept that. Within a matter of months, I emerged healthier and with higher levels of fitness than before. I detail this in the book, but that’s a synopsis of the causal events.

Age Re-Defined banner

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

My research included studying for four fitness and wellness certifications in the three year period immediately preceding the period of writing the book, taking a Sport and Exercise Psychology course during the writing of the book, working with my own trainer, my personal experiences – including more than 20 years as a fitness enthusiast – and my own journey, consulting with an amazing Registered Dietician, sports nutritionist, and nutrition author during the writing  (we even have a few of her recipes in the book, along with many other contributions from her), many hours of online research, and reading some additional books, as well. 

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Be proactive about your health, your fitness, and your wellness. The results are priceless.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Okay, so a new me emerged in my 30s and 40s and was still there on my 50th birthday (in 2006). I had a lean, toned physique and good general health, and I looked and felt younger than what someone my age was “supposed” to look or feel like. In my 30s, my weight slowly increased (from the addition of muscle mass) from 148 to 153 to 158 and into the 160s. I weighed about 170 when I turned 40 and remained in the 170s throughout my 40s.

Fast forward to 2007 and 2008: A combination of factors led to what was for me an unprecedented gain in body fat (and weight, but from fat, not muscle) at the ages of 51 and 52. (I don’t have any pictures, but, trust me, the extra pounds were there.) I believe this was due to the long-distance commute to my job at the time (which, in L.A. traffic, often took hours a day away from my free time), the staleness of my exercise regimen (which some weeks had gotten down to twice a week of not-so-high-intensity weights and no cardio), and paying less attention than I should have been to my late-night carb intake. In addition to my work as an attorney (which involved the long commute), I was also on call part-time as a co-pilot on jet charter flights. My passion for flying aside, this further disrupted my workout schedule at times.

Eventually, my weight reached about 194. My waist was inches larger than it had been two years before, and in fact bigger than it had ever been.

So, in October 2008 when I visited the doctor for a routine blood workup, I expressed my concern about my unprecedented body fat.

The blood workup showed some adverse changes in my health profile. The doctor said, “You’re not getting any younger.” My reply: “I refuse to accept that.”

The doctor went on to recommend more Omega 3 in my diet (no argument from me there) and said, “Lose five to ten pounds. Your numbers (triglycerides, blood pressure) should go back to normal after that.”

That alarm, that wake-up call, that unprecedented need to lose body fat

and the statement “You’re not getting any younger” (to someone who had always looked and felt younger than he was “supposed” to, and who always had a lower body fat than the general population) ignited something within me.

I had engaged the services of a personal trainer during my first year of working out, and again for six months during my eighth year of working out in 1994. Both of these trainers were great, but we lifted weights (free weights or machines) inside the gym and did not cross-train.

In January, 2009, I hired another personal trainer, who I had met months earlier at the gym. I said to her, “Take me outside. Make me climb stairs. Make me run. And show me some new stuff in the gym. The doctor said to lose five to ten pounds; I want to lose at least fifteen and be more fit than ever.”

And so, at age 52, I began this leg of my journey: the discovery of my inner athlete, my renewed and greater-than-ever commitment to my health and fitness. I reminded myself that I had flown a plane as a teenager, that I had always done well in school, that I had drawn upon my inner strength when my parents died less than four months apart when I was 21, and that I had gone on to complete law school and pass the California Bar. This was my health, dammit. This mattered more than anything.

My trainer and I started working together in January 2009. I climbed stairs. I ran track. I sprinted and performed various outdoor drills. We tweaked my diet and added to my gym regimen. By April, the weight was off.

In terms of waist size, I had been buying waist size 33 for several years before the weight gain. Fifteen to 20 years before, in my early to mid-30s, I bought size 31 and 32. In late 2008, my waist size was approaching 35. In April 2009, I bought some 33s as I had before the weight gain, only to find that they were too big. I began buying waist size 32, which fit comfortably. So, in terms of waist size, we had turned the clock back fifteen to 20 years in less than four months.

But this wasn’t just about waist size. I was more fit than ever, and more committed to and passionate about fitness (and nutrition) than ever. Mission accomplished. (For my 53rd birthday on April 30, 2009, I did a strong outdoor stair session by myself in the afternoon, adding push-ups as well, and then I lifted weights in the gym that evening. Celebrating fitness was the best way to celebrate my birthday that year. The more standard dinner celebration had already taken place a couple of weeks ahead of time.)

As I write this is September, 2012, I have just received blood test results which indicate a very significant decrease in “bad” cholesterol, a very significant increase in “good” cholesterol, and a very significant decrease in triglycerides when compared to my blood workup of October 2008. The 2012 numbers are as follows: HDL (“good” cholesterol): 52; LDL (“bad” cholesterol): 75; total cholesterol: 138; triglycerides: 57 (the 2008 number was 270). These numbers are reportedly very good for a 56-year-old male, and were achieved through diet and exercise, without any medications. These numbers are not the only measurements of interest. Body weight, waist size, body-fat percentage, blood pressure, and other data are relevant, too. However, these numbers are one group of data to look at, and they have shown dramatic improvement since that doctor’s appointment in October 2008. (My 2012 results also indicated the lowest possible results for the C-Reactive Protein test, which was not performed in 2008.)

This book is for people who have never exercised but would like to start; for people who would like to know more about good nutrition; for people who exercise but have not seen results; for people whose fitness level has declined and who want to re-ignite their fitness quest; for people who choose to be proactive about their own health, fitness and wellness; for people interested in the mind-body connection; and for people who reject negative self-talk and self-limiting stereotypes about life after the age of 50.

Because I’m well into my 50s, and because of my own recent history, in writing this book we have focused on persons over the age of 40. However, my own fitness awareness began at age 29 and continued to evolve throughout my 30s, 40s and 50s, and is still evolving. Fitness, good nutrition, and wellness benefit people of all ages. So, even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re welcome to come aboard and to keep reading.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

My book is self-published through a publishing company. This is my first book (or eBook, to be more precise), so I have no basis for comparison. However, I notice that most reviewers and most blogs and such seem to be preoccupied with fiction. I’m biased, but in my opinion, good fiction provides transient entertainment. Good non-fiction can effectuate positive and long-lasting changes in readers’ lives. My category certainly has that potential.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

Atypical. I mean, my recent past includes employment or self-employment as an attorney, a jet pilot, a personal trainer, and an author. But I can say this: I make it a priority to eat right every day and I exercise most days.

Q: What’s next for you?

I would love to do more writing, more communicating in all forms including video, and do more in health and fitness, including working with individual clients. Flying jets remains a simmering passion, so that could re-surface to some extent, as well. But health and fitness is the sine qua non.

 

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Blog Tour + Interview: Whitney Stewart, author of ‘Give Me a Break: No Fuss Meditation’

* * * * *

Whitney Stewart began writing young adult biographies and meditating after she met and interviewed the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books, and lived with a Tibetan family in India. For her next biographies, she trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in Nepal, interviewed Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in her Rangoon home, and climbed along China’s Great Wall to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong. In 2004, Stewart published a picture book about the Buddha, which contains a foreword and a meditation suggestion from the 14th Dalai Lama. In addition to nonfiction books, Stewart has published three middle-grade novels. In August 2005, Stewart was trapped in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and evacuated by helicopter from a rooftop. She returned home and volunteered as a creative writing teacher in the public schools. She discovered that her students suffered from post-Katrina stress. Using meditation, improvisation, and word play, Stewart taught her students to write about their lives.

Her latest book is Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation.

You can find more about Whitney Stewart at her website at http://www.whitneystewart.com.  Follow her at Twitter at www.twitter.com/mindfulneworlns and www.twitter.com/whitneystewart2 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/New.Orleans.Kids.Author.

About Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation

Whitney Stewart’s straightforward, non-denominational guide makes meditation simple. It covers the basics in a concise thirty-three pages: Why meditation is good for you, how to sit, how to let your mind rest, even what to do if you feel weird or uncomfortable during meditation. Most important, it provides sixteen accessible, useful meditations you can easily learn at home. Age ten to adult.

Stewart’s top reasons to meditate:

*To focus inwardly

*To slow down internally

*To develop awareness

*To understand your mind

*To increase tolerance

*To experience “BIG MIND”

* * * * *

Q: Thank you for this interview, Whitney. Can you tell us what your latest book, Give Me a Break: No-Fuss Meditation, is all about?

My ebook is a simple, nondenominational guide to meditation. I include a short introduction and sixteen meditation practices that will help focus the mind. I also include answers to common questions people have about meditation

I wrote this book to communicate the benefits of meditation to anyone who wants to reduce stress, improve health, develop inner wisdom, lead a happier life, and experience a natural state of mind.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I have been a meditator for over twenty-five years, and I see how it has changed my life. During Hurricane Katrina, my son and I were trapped in a building in downtown New Orleans. We had to wait five days for helicopters to rescue us. During that time, I used meditation as a means of staying calm, alleviating fear, and being mindful. When I returned to New Orleans, I volunteered as a creative writing teacher in a public school. I discovered that my students were often stressed, unhappy, and frightened every time the weather turned stormy. They could not concentrate on their work. I taught them to meditate before we did our creative writing exercises. Many of them told me how much they loved to meditate at the beginning of class. This gave me the idea of writing a nondenominational meditation guide that was easy enough for children and detailed enough for adults. My guide is meant for beginners.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

I first learned to meditate when I was in high school. And then in 1987, I joined a meditation center and studied with several Tibetan Buddhist teachers. That led me to taking multiple trips to Tibet, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Japan, and India where I practiced meditation with teachers. I also have a full personal library on Buddhism and meditation.

I have written two children’s books on the 14th Dalai Lama, which were based on interviews with him. In one interview, he suggested a meditation technique that was simple enough to teach children. I included this technique in my picture book Becoming Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha. Readers asked me for more techniques like that one, so I wrote this book, in part, because of their request.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

That meditation is a path to discovering your relaxed, open, natural state of mind.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Why Meditate?

Let’s face it. Life knocks you around. One minute

you’re happy. The next you want to scream. You don’t get

everything you want, and you don’t want everything you get.

You need a break. Meditation could be the answer.

Meditation calms you down. It helps you find your own

wisdom. It settles your nerves and fills your mind with

space.

 

Lots of people meditate——athletes, actors, dog

trainers, writers, and people like you. They do it wherever

they find a quiet spot——in the living room, in the back

yard, under a tree, in an empty classroom, in the library,

in a tent, on a mountaintop. You don’t have to join a

religious group to meditate. And you don’t have to change

anything about yourself. Meditation is about accepting

yourself with all the bumps and bruises.

 

So go ahead and see for yourself. This book gives you

different meditation exercises. You may not like them all.

That’s fine. Try them and see which ones work for you.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

Yes, it is hard to get any book published by a reputable publisher. I started publishing twenty years ago. I researched what publishers wanted and submitted selectively. I also researched my books thoroughly. I started by writing biographies of Nobel laureates and adventurers. If they were still alive, I interviewed them and people who knew them. I tried to find both a narrative hook and a marketing hook; I wanted to give my readers something they had not read before.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I wake up, meditate, and exercise (yoga and cardio) in the early morning, and write for the rest of the day, every day. Sometimes I take short meditation or movement breaks while I am writing, but I don’t answer the phone or chat with friends until my day’s writing is done. I work at home and often have to wear headphones and listen to ambient music to block out the noise of construction and lawn mowers in the neighborhood.

Q: What’s next for you?

I just finished revising a middle-grade novel set in New Orleans and sent it to my agent. It’s the story of a 14-year-old boy who is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. I look forward to the sale and publication of that book. I also have a picture book coming out with Windy Hollow Books in Australia. It’s a companion book to my Becoming Buddha and will be illustrated by the same illustrator, Sally Rippin. Last Spring I started writing an edgy young adult novel, and I hope to return to that manuscript in January.

Thank you so much for this interview, Whitney.  We wish you much success!

 

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A Conversation with NeonSeon, author of “Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness”

About NeonSeon

Creating Shouty Mack as a comic strip for a high school newspaper, NeonSeon developed Life of Shouty as a book series for children in 2010. NeonSeon grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park community and currently resides in Atlanta. Honors include a Mom’s Choice Award for Life of Shouty: Good Habits.

For more information, visit www.SHOUTY.com.

The Interview

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

My ability to relate to others and see life through multiple perspectives.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

I can be too critical of myself.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” attributed to Robert H. Schuller. I love this quote because it frees me to think about a wide-open future.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

I’m most proud of my ability to learn new things and acquire new skills year after year.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing?

My home was filled with positive and motivational books, and these themes are found in the Life of Shouty Series. My upbringing was also very creative, and without that, I probably wouldn’t have volunteered to be the cartoonist for the high school newspaper, and thus create the comic strip Shouty Mack.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Certain books gave me so much joy that it was natural to want to elicit that in others through writing. I read Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in eighth grade and it blew me away.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote short stories for fun when I was younger, and I had several writing internships in college. I was an English major so I was always writing papers. I have always enjoyed writing.

How long have you been writing?

The Life of Shouty Series came out in 2010, but I’ve been writing since I was able.

When did you first know you could be a writer?

I’ve always known I could be a writer.

What inspires you to write and why?

The human condition inspires me, and the journey of growth. Laughter. Play.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Non-fiction comes easiest but rhyming is fun.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My character, Shouty. I knew I had to write and develop a series for him. He is relatable, lovable and imperfect.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?

I like to let the story unfold so I would say it’s more of a stream of consciousness process guided by rhyme. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron helped to get me out creative blocks, as well.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

What has helped me the most over the years is looking at other people’s edits or suggestions of my work. For that moment, I get to see how their brains work and in so doing, it expands the possibilities I see in the act and process of writing.

What made you want to be a writer?

I didn’t necessarily want to be a writer or set out to be one. I just wanted to tell a story and bring a character to life, and writing was the medium I chose.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Getting over your own doubts to realize the project and developing a good arc for the story.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

I’ve struggled with making healthy choices most of my life and writing Life of Shouty: Food & Fitness taught me you can still contribute something of value in an area you’ve yet to conquer.

About Life of Shouty: Food and Fitness

Life of Shouty Food and FitnessShouty returns with a new challenge: his health. The second book in the Life of Shouty™ series by award-winning author and illustrator NeonSeon shows Shouty’s ups and downs on the path to wellness.

Like many of us, Shouty places a premium on being a productive person, and crossing items off his daily to-do list. While healthy food and fitness don’t make his list of priorities, Shouty is unaware of the impact this has on his declining health. Over time, Shouty becomes painfully aware that he must make lifestyle changes to improve his health, quality of life, and self-esteem.

Touching on themes of overeating, obesity, and inactivity, Shouty’s journey is illustrated in a way that captures his despair, as well as his ultimate triumph.

Debuting on Child Health Day, it is NeonSeon’s hope that this book affirms the importance of making healthy choices in one’s life and helps readers envision healthier versions of themselves. If you’ve ever found yourself on either end of the health spectrum, or are making your way somewhere in the middle, Shouty hits several notes on his path that will surely sound familiar.

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