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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

PRESS RELEASE: Alabama Authors Jeremy Hicks and Barry Hayes to Debut First Novel, The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers, at Decatur Book Festival over Labor Day Weekend


Local Authors Debut First Novel at Decatur Book Festival

PIEDMONT, ALABAMA, August 17, 2013–Local authors Jeremy Hicks and Barry Hayes will debut their first novel, Finders Keepers, the initial installment of a fantasy series called The Cycle of Ages Saga at the Decatur Book Festival this Labor Day weekend near Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the festival’s website, this event is the largest independent book festival in the country. Following opening ceremonies, speeches, and author readings on Friday, August 30, authors from around the country will be selling and signing their books on Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, September 1. Authors Hicks and Hayes will be sharing Booth 432 at Decatur Book Festival with Tennessee author Teal Haviland, 2013 UtopYA award winner for her inaugural novel, Inception (the first book of her Reaping Chronicles series).

A native of Alabama, Jeremy Hicks spent several years working as a field archaeologist throughout the Southeast before teaming up with his longtime friend and coauthor, Barry Hayes, to realize a shared creative dream. They created an original horror-fantasy environment (Faltyr™), wrote a screenplay to introduce it, and then started a company (Broke Guys Productions) to promote it. While seeking a buyer for their screenplay, they adapted it into a novelization of the same name. As a result, their first novel, The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers, was published by Kerlak Publishing (Dark Oak Press and Media) at the end of July 2013.

For more information on the Decatur Book Festival, check out www.decaturbookfestival.com.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Best Ways to Have a Great Day

These are axioms that I use to have a great day each day. Hope some of this list prods you along this path as well. Add specific ones for your lifestyle and delete any that don't resonate with you. But keep on trying to have great days.

  1. Believe in yourself.
  2. Inspirational books guide your dreams. Tonight's dreams determine tomorrow's actions. Tomorrow's actions create your reality.
  3. Avoid negative people. Especially those related to you. They'll squeeze your dream right out of you.
  4. Get motivated. Books, mentors, quotes, pictures, audios, movies, the Bible are all great motivators.
  5. Visualize your perfect day, perfect career, perfect mate.
  6. Take action. Daily.
  7. Forgive others. It has nothing to do with releasing them from their consequences. It has everything to do with not poisoning yourself.
  8. Write down your goals. The writing down helps you achieve them.
  9. Get quality sleep each night.
  10. Help someone else.
  11. Laugh.
  12. Eat healthy foods like fresh raw veggies and lean protein.
  13. Smile. A lot.
  14. Exercise more.
  15. Breathe deeper.
  16. Get outside and absorb some Vitamin D.
  17. Drink clean water. Shower in clean water. Cook with clean water.
  18. Take time out for you, even if only the first fifteen minutes of each day. You'll feel less like a martyr.
  19. Stretch more. Even if you interrupt your work every twenty-five minutes or so for five side bends to the right then left, it'll do your body good.
  20. Relax more. I have downtime each night except for those rare occasions where I pull a twelve-hour day of marathon copyediting.
  21. Don't take life too seriously.
  22. Dance. Even if it is alone in your kitchen.
  23. Have fun.
  24. NEVER give up on your dreams or yourself.
May many successes fill your days.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cheese Is My New BFF

My scale went down again today. Of course the numbers may be off (I've discussed my wonky scale before) but the downward movement is confirmed by my jeans. All good news.

And I can easily give up bacon if I can have some applewood cheese. It's all about substituting, finding what I most want. And eventually, when I want bacon, it will be a rare treat with no cheese that day, I guess. Maybe even organic to get rid of the sulfites. Haven't tried uncured bacon but that's a possibility too.

Here's to our greater health.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm Eating Cheese and Still Losing Weight

Yes, technically I've only eaten cheese for two days (after about thirty-five days without), but on this morning of the third day, my scale confirmed I'd lost a couple more pounds.


I can find so many ways to add cheese to my day. Just be sure to read the labels and stick to generally the zero-carb versions, adding in the one-carb types mindfully. And remember that fat satiates; therefore, your body will tell you when to stop eating cheese.

So here are examples of my cheese indulgences. Of course, my fave applewood cheese stands alone as a snack.  Add a pinch or two of any cheese (don't go heavy-handed here) into omelets. If the cheese is soft enough to spread, fill some celery stalks and get the added benefit of fiber. I mentioned yesterday my affinity for caprese salads. Top with fresh basil. Yum!

Today chicken parmesan is on my menu (but without the bread crumbs in the crust). I plan to plate it on a bed of arugula.

I'm also craving my ex-MIL's homemade pimento cheese, stuffed in celery. But I will need to make my own mayo. The prepared kinds have soybean oil (my body cannot tolerate soy) and the addition of HFCS. I may search for a mayo recipe later today.

Granted I'm only on day three adding cheese back into my diet but have noticed no side effects. Since I've never experienced constipation, I have no worries about that. I am watching for nasal congestion overnight and for any dreaded MSG reactions (which are harsh and happen within thirty minutes for me), as both were present before and I had linked them with dairy (most likely half-and-half and cream for my coffee).

When I have ingested cheese over a week or two with no bad results like mentioned above, I may add in organic half-and-half or cream again for my coffee to avoid those awful MSG reactions.

Note also that I am not purchasing organic cheeses, although my favorite applewood cheese comes from England and, in my mind, with the UK's higher food standards, makes it a better candidate over an American brand. Just my opinion here.

I hope my trials and experiments help someone else out there to better define their lifestyle eating habits.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Michael Alvear's How to Sell Fiction on Kindle. Marketing Your Ebook in Amazon's Ecosystem: A Guide for Kindle-Publishing Authors

I recently added three marketing books to my Kindle. I'm not gifted in that area. I've read the first two and still have the third to conquer. But I can tell you already that this book, its long title in my blog post caption above, is awesome, great, motivating. I highly recommend it.

The other marketing book was good and had some points that urged me to do a few things differently. But it was too heavy into repeatedly "massaging" sales. That's why I love Alvear's book. It's about making wise choices from the beginning, and then you just monitor your royalties and tweak when necessary. Plus it has nothing to do with social media (another skill not in my repertoire or part of my basic leanings).

The price of the Alvear book is well worth all the info imparted, much of which I highlighted. Also he shares some links that most authors would thoroughly enjoy and use often, especially a bonus feature of a massive amount of research Alvear and his team have done to help the Kindle-publishing author. This huge compilation makes his listed sales price doubly fantastic.

For all you Indies out there, this is the marketing book you need. Much success to everyone.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Day Thirty-Five

Day thirty-five without sugar. Well, except for those oopsies. Did you know that some brands of bacon are cured with salt and sugar? Not the maple syrup kind but the hickory smoke version? I guess I was thinking meat was carbless, regardless of its form. My deli black forest ham has less than 2 percent dextrose (sugar) in it. The turkey smoked sausage in my freezer has corn syrup in it which accounts for the less than one gram of sugar on the label. Those are now on my verboten list. Not forever but certainly not for right now.

So that explains why my weight was stalled as I went into a heavy meat-eating mode, mostly pork as you can see, over the last week or so. Plus I did try having popcorn a few times. That didn't help either. At least I didn't gain weight while in this mode.

Well, lesson learned and my scale is no longer stopped for a long layover but is now moving downward once more. And today I heated up my kitcheneven though the Dallas area has had over one-hundred-degree tempsbut it was for a good cause: to roast beef and veggies. After this sating of my roast beef craving, I'll stick to chicken, fish, salmon, tuna.

I do love the colorful plates of food that come with this new eating lifestyle. My hot slice of roast beef is atop a bed of arugula to wilt it just a bit. Then the red, yellow and orange bell peppers roasted among mushrooms, bok choy and onions are just as beautiful as well as tasty. I bought fourteen bell peppers off the reduced rack for four dollars this morning at my grocery store. Three I set aside to have raw. They were still in good shape if I eat them soon.

I bought cheese thinking its fat would be better for me than the pork fat mentioned above. I love the Ilchester British golden applewood cheese. It's like a soft cheddar but the flavor is amped. Just amazing. And zero carbs and no hidden sugars. This is an experiment to see if it stops my weight loss. I'll let you know.

Also I got some fresh mozzarella on sale. Love it for caprese salads (slices tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and all drizzled with EVOO). Again, no carbs and no hidden sugars.

Otherwise my diet remains largely the same: mostly (1) unbreaded (whole not ground) meats and (2) nonstarchy veggies. My daily staples are mint green tea (going through almost a gallon a day), avocados (sliced raw or in guacamole), tomatoes (alone or topped with tuna and EVOO and sliced green onions), nuts/seeds (pecans, almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds) and a raw bell pepper or two. Off and on I go through an egg phase (deviled with no mayo but EVOO or scrambled).

I am looking forward to having some cheese as a snack later today, probably with a raw bell pepper. If I can handle that addition to my daily selection over the next couple weeks while still dropping weight, I may add in a few berries come August 25.

It's all a work in progress. And we each have our little individual quirks that we have to cater to when dealing with our bodies. I'm finding out mine. Like eggs are okay for me, but I should watch out for pork (and I love bacon). Oh, well. Better to have it occasionally and be at my perfect-for-me weight than to sabotage my health.

Here's to better health for all.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor