M.C. Pearson's Blog

March 1, 2016

My Thoughts:
CIA intrigue, terrorists, a comet! What's not to love? With the current events of near-Earth asteroids and terrorism, John Szeker's book rings only too true. His life experience with missile defense adds believable scenarios as well as exciting characterization. I adore the accents of various people, especially the Irish brogue. John doesn't hold back with the Christian spiritual warfare either. I love the 'visions' that one of the main characters keeps having. Wonderful job answering some scary 'what if' questions. Great read!

John P. Szeker
and the book:
Countdown: Cannon Steel FIRST Wild Card Press (March 1, 2016)


John Szeker holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from Santa Clara University and a B.S. from Manhattan College. He retired after a thirty-five year engineering career with Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Company, and continues as an internationally recognized expert in missile guidance and simulation. His missile system development, battle management, and war gaming experience provides accurate technical realism to his writing. He and his wife of fifty-five years have four daughters, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


The U.S. is under siege. 
Middle Eastern terrorists.
 Russian renegades. 
A comet. 

A lone man recognizes the danger signs as the president creates Cannon Steel, a task force to deal with these imminent threats.

Paperback: 438 pagesPublisher: FIRST Wild Card Press; Revised edition (March 1, 2016)Language: EnglishISBN-10: 0692588418ISBN-13: 978-0692588413


     Disaster. Huge, heavy hailstones fell relentlessly from the sky. As the deadly ice missiles hit the city, they created large craters into which cars and buildings collapsed. Fire engulfed everything that came in its way. Screaming people ran panic-stricken in all directions. In the midst of the horrific destruction, an old man prayed. He was all in white—white beard, thick, white eyebrows, and a pure-white robe. He looked sad, yet resigned.

     Stan Smith opened his eyes to the familiar sight of his study walls. He had been seeing these disturbing images for weeks, which first occurred as dreams during the night but now had begun to intrude into his daytime life.He looked at his watch. “Oh, no,” he muttered, remembering that his wife, Rachel, had invited guests for dinner. He dried his sweat-soaked hair, quickly cleared the mess from his desk, and then locked the door. Luckily, his home was only a few miles down the road, a ten-minute drive away.
     The phone rang, startling Pete Strong out of his self-pity. Don’t tell me—another editor calling, I’ll bet. He turned off his laptop and swiped the phone off its cradle.     “Hello, Pete?” a deep, confident voice inquired.     “Yes. Who is this?” Pete said, rolling his aching neck from side to side while stroking his unshaven chin. It couldn’t be. Not after all this time.     “Mark. Come on, good buddy, you couldn’t have forgotten that easily.”     Pete turned and looked at a picture midway up his wall. “Mark? Mark McKendrick?” He grinned as he stared at the photo of Mark and him, taken outside CIA headquarters in Washington. They had been young, virile thrill-seekers back then, handsome and debonair—one, a crew-cut blond, and the other, dark and wavy-haired—a very long time ago. He wondered how his old friend had fared over the years. “My gosh, I thought you’d lost my phone number. Where are you calling from?” Pete asked.     “Washington right now. Say, I’m going to be in the San Francisco Bay area for a few days. Can we get together for lunch?”     “Sounds great to me, Mark. How about Ming’s Chinese in Palo Alto? You do remember how to get there, don’t you?” Pete said, perking up at the chance to get together with his old buddy.     “You kidding? I haven’t lost my memory—just some hair. How does tomorrow sound? I fly in at 0730 for an early meeting, but the rest of my afternoon’s free.”     “Roger that. Man, I can’t wait to catch up on old times. See you at noon.”       As he stood to hang up the phone, his eyes caught the movement in the mirror. He turned and stared at himself. How much had he changed over the years? He glanced toward his wedding portrait and gently traced the outline of his estranged wife’s face. All it did was rekindle the guilt about his failed marriage.
     “Pete, over here!” Mark waved at him from what used to be their favorite table. If it weren’t for that greeting, Pete doubted that he’d have recognized his former comrade-in-arms. From a slim Harrison Ford look-alike who’d had no problem attracting women, Mark now looked noticeably older and considerably wider.     “Mark, you old son of a gun, good to see you.” Pete squeezed Mark’s hand and pounded his back.     “Sit down, buddy.” Mark gave his friend the once-over as he sat. “You look great. I’m impressed.  Did you shave just for me?” he asked.Pete’s hand went to his smooth face. Not wanting to give him the upper hand, he ignored the question. “You still with the CIA—or are you looking for a job?”     “I’ll have you know that I am now special advisor to the Director of the CIA…” Mark took another sip of tea as if to let that one sink in before adding, “John Stanton.”     Stanton had been their boss several years back, when they had both been agents.     “John? Jeez, they put him in charge?” He laughed.     “Well, if he could control you, he can easily deal with President Nelson.” Mark joined Pete’s laughter, interrupted only by the approach of the waiter.After ordering, Mark asked, “What’s your story, Pete? Where have you been hiding yourself?”     “I haven’t been hiding. But there are other things in life besides always dashing into danger.” Pete’s mood turned uncharacteristically solemn, and he looked down at his napkin.     “Whoa, partner. No offense.” Mark held up his hands in surrender.     With perfect timing, the waiter arrived with their food. Pete realized his emotions had gotten the better of him. “Oh, brother. Mark, I’m sorry. I know you didn’t mean anything. It’s just…I…I don’t know.”     “That’s okay, bud. What’s wrong? Is Marilyn all right?”     Pete shook his head. “We’re getting a divorce. I thought I knew what she wanted. The Agency was so all-consuming that I thought if I quit, our marriage would fall back into place. But I immersed myself in the new job instead and didn’t spend the time to repair the old damage. Just caused a whole new set of the same old problems.”     “I’m sorry, Pete. I thought that new job would have given you more time for the family.”     “Well, so did I, Mark, but the aerospace industry turned out to be just as demanding.” Pete speared a pot sticker.     “How did you end up in aerospace anyway? That’s some jump from secret agent to writing government proposals.”Putting down his chopsticks, Pete replied, “Well, remember hearing about the surveillance events prior to Desert Storm?”     “Oh, yeah. That was the last time we were here at Ming’s. Stanton told us about the time that he had been assigned to get the specs on the enemy’s weaknesses in their underground bunker system.” Mark’s eyes lit up in remembrance. “They needed a large, accurate weapon that would penetrate to pay dirt.”     “Marlock Aerospace put that system together in less than a month’s time. That’s what made me want to work for them, Mark,” responded Pete, finishing his green tea. “Want dessert, by the way?”     “No, thanks, Pete,” Mark patted his already oversized waistline.     For a brief second, Pete was reminded of the old days, when he and Mark used to fly at a moment’s notice to unknown parts of the Middle East with assumed names and blank airline tickets. Only their boss knew where they were going or why. He still missed those times. He had never been able to find another partner like Mark. They never had to explain things twice to each another. Kindred spirits like that were hard to find.    Their meal finished, they sat and stared at each another in awkward silence. Pete realized this meeting was more than just a let’s-reminisce-about-old-times dinner.    Mark broke the silence. “Pete, I know you don’t work for the CIA anymore, but I need your opinion...it’s got to stay confidential, though.”     Pete gave a tentative nod.    Mark lowered his voice. “We can’t talk here. Can you come to my hotel room later tonight?”    “Sure. Just name the time.”    “Room 104. Holiday Plaza. Eighteen-thirty. Okay?”    “I’ll be there.”
   Mark sat reviewing his notes, when he heard a knock on his hotel room door. After checking through the peephole that it was indeed Pete, he opened the door and gestured him in.   “Always were right on time, Pete,” he said. “Pick a seat. Would you like a drink?”  “Sure. Got a beer?” Pete spread his lanky frame on one of the uncomfortable motel room chairs. A pop-hiss of escaping air was his answer, and Mark handed him the open can before seating himself in an equally uncomfortable chair.     “Pete, what I’ve got to tell you is top secret. I can’t go into much detail tonight, and unless you agree to be briefed on the subject, I can’t even give you the gist of it,” Pete’s mouth was still open when Mark continued, “your clearance level is Top Secret, right?”     “Of course.”    “You’re also deeply involved in national missile defense—weapon systems engineering, isn’t it?” he asked, looking at his notes. Pete nodded in affirmation, but looked a little disgruntled. “Hey, you’re not bent out of shape about the background check we ran on you, are ya?”     Pete smirked. “Give me the CliffsNotes version, Pete. Where are we on missile defense?” He already knew the answer. The government had led aerospace contractors down a roller coaster path for some time now. Most of the technology to perform the NMD job had already been developed, but the United States had not yet deployed an anti-missile defense system. However, he wanted to hear Pete’s response.     “Mark, you know as well as I do that we don’t have one. We obviously have the offensive nuclear missile deterrent. But a covert surprise attack on the U.S. would wipe us out.”     “And that’s the reason you’re here, Pete,” Mark settled into his chair and lit up a cigar, “but as I mentioned earlier, I can’t tell you why at this point. You’ll have to trust me.” He and Pete exchanged sharp glances before he continued, “Can you come to Washington for a while?”     Pete avoided the question momentarily. “I do have a job, you know. Why in blazes is the CIA heading this up and not the Department of Defense, Mark?”     “I can’t tell you that either, Pete.”     Pete sighed. “Can I let you know tomorrow, after I sleep on it some?”     “Time is of the essence...” Mark caught himself, as Pete lifted both eyebrows. “...so go sleep on it, Pete. Or if you can’t sleep on it, toss and turn on it.”
     As Marilyn Strong folded her daughter’s clothes, her mind wandered to the meaning of life—well, at least her life. More specifically, the part of it that had felt empty since she and Pete had separated. She paused in front of the mirror. She was still a vibrant woman, still able to attract men, but without him, she felt a gaping hole. The ringing kitchen phone interrupted her reflections. Pete. Speak of the devil, and there he appears.     “Marilyn, something’s come up that I need to discuss with you right away.” His voice tensed. “It’s important.”     Annoyed at Pete’s lack of warning, she responded, “Pete, I already have plans for tonight.”     “Lyn, I know it’s last minute, but please...”     She sighed, brushing her long, blond hair behind her ear. “All right, Pete. I’ll call Phil and cancel if it’s that important.”     He ignored the reference to her boyfriend. “How about our place up in the Santa Cruz Mountains—the Shadowbrook Restaurant?”     “Boy, that will bring back some memories,” she said, not knowing if they were memories that she wanted dredged up right now.     “How about if I pick you up at five?”     Marilyn glanced at the clock on her stove-top. “I’ll be ready.”
     While Pete drove to his ex-wife’s house, thoughts ricocheted through his mind. I hope Marilyn won’t ask me about church. Why on earth did God allow this break-up in the first place? Dating? How could she be dating already? Well, at least she’s talking to me again, but is our relationship doomed forever if I go back to the CIA?     As he pulled into the driveway of the two-story, Spanish-style home where they had lived for many years, memories flooded his brain. Softball games. Swimming pool parties. Birthday barbecues. He waved to his former neighbor, who returned the greeting. Marilyn answered the doorbell immediately. He couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. She had on the same dress that she had worn on their last anniversary, a beautiful blue sequined affair with a lace collar. Her slim figure still attracted him.     “Marilyn, you look beautiful.” Yanking on his sports coat, he added, “I guess I’m a little under dressed.”     She shook her head and guffawed. “If you weren’t, I wouldn’t know you. Let’s go.”     The drive to the restaurant was refreshing as they chatted pleasantly. Marilyn brought him up-to-date on his daughters’ goings-on while Pete tried to share several hopeful glances. This was where Pete had proposed to Marilyn some fifteen years ago. As the couple entered the restaurant, Pete tried to ignore the heads of men turning to eye his beautiful wife. Her elegant figure and her flowing blond hair still attracted the male of the species, who often paid with bruised shins from their glaring wives. Escorted to their special table by a stiff, officious waiter, they sat quietly for a few moments, both obviously immersed in reverie.     Noticing a small tear in her eye, Pete asked, “What is it, Lyn?”     Her voice had softened, but she avoided looking at him. “Oh, it’s just...the last time we were here, Pete. That was the happiest time in my life.”     Pete gently caressed her hand, not saying a word.     “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to feel that way again.” Marilyn focused her gaze on him, her eyes full of paralyzing pain.     He nudged her hand, trying to change the subject. “Let’s order, Lyn. I wonder if the prime rib is as good as last time.”“It could never be as good as last time, Pete,” she said, as she jerked her hand away from his, “but, sure, let’s order.”     Pete took a deep breath. “Marilyn, I need to talk to you. I don’t know how it’s going to affect us and—” he began.     Her expression changed to that old look of dreadful anticipation. “What is it, Pete?”     He focused his eyes on his bread plate. “It’s Mark McKendrick. He wants me to help him out on some secret project, but he won’t tell me what it’s about, just that it’s a matter of national security.”     “Yes, go on, Pete,” she said, in a barely audible voice.  “It’s a temporary assignment only—two, maybe three months—in Washington.” He began to feel a little more at ease. At least she hadn’t exploded yet. He folded his menu and stared at the cover. “Please, Lyn, I really am struggling with this decision. But I won’t do it if you’re against it.” He slowly looked up at her.     “Pete, we’re separated,” she reminded him, looking away. “I don’t want to influence you one way or the other. It’s up to you.”     He decided to confess the real reason for this dinner. Summoning his courage, he said, “Marilyn, I guess I’ll have to say it. I love you, and I don’t want to hurt our chances for reconciliation.”     She slowly returned her eyes to his, “I can’t commit to anything, Pete,” she said, with a hint of resentment. “I still have feelings for you, but also a lot of reservations. You always said, ‘It won’t be long, honey. Only a few months, and we’ll be together again.’ Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? How many months does it take to make a year, then two, then five? You were gone for the birth of our first, then our second child…how many ball games, recitals, broken hearts were you there for? I had to be both mother and father to our girls. They don’t even know you—I don’t even know you anymore. I used to love that James Bond mystery thing, and I know you still do, but I can’t do it anymore. I can’t take the thought of you dead who-knows-where.”     She turned her glance back toward the wall, and her voice broke. “I just can’t take it, Pete.”     “I’m not saying that I’m joining the CIA. It’s just an emergency assignment,” he promised. “Please, Lyn, can’t you accept it? I’ll be back here after it’s over.”     “When will there not be a national emergency, Pete?” she asked. “Anyway, I’m not going anywhere. Go save the world. I’ll talk to you when you get back.”     For a brief instant of time, the couple looked at each other in the same exciting way that they had when they were courting. They had unfinished business and the frustration that accompanied it, but they also had more than a hint of hope.
     After dropping Marilyn back home, he phoned Mark to confirm what he suspected his friend already knew.     “So, what about Marilyn?” Mark asked.     “I can only hope she’ll be here when I get back, Mark…but I’ve got to do it.” Pete’s hands sweated because he secretly suspected that this decision would affect his life for a long time to come.     “It’s late now,” said Mark. “Can you go to Washington this weekend? Monday at the latest?”     “That soon? What about Marlock?”     “Tell them you have a family emergency. That’s all anyone needs to know.”     “Okay. We need to make travel arrangements.”     “Already done. I knew you’d go. I’ll e-mail the itinerary to you. See you at the airport, pardner.”     As they hung up, Pete felt a strong sense of their old camaraderie again.
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Published on March 01, 2016 14:36 • 3 views

January 28, 2013

What I Thought: I love the Juice Lady, Cherie Calbom. She has such great recipes, and she is such a great motivator. What a witness! I want to get healthy again, and Cherie has wonderful ideas on how to do so. Check out some of the juice recipes below. Make sure to click the photos to see the recipes better!

  It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
Cherie Calbom
and the book:
The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies Siloam (January 8, 2013)
***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***
Cherie Calbom, MS, is the author of The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet, The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution, and Juicing for Life, which has nearly two million books in print in the United States. Known as “The Juice Lady” for her work with juicing and health, Cherie has taped HealthWatch for CNN and scores of TV and radio shows and has appeared in Shape, First for Women, Women’s World, Men’s Journal,Vogue, Quick & Simple, Marie Claire, and Elle Canada. Cherie earned a master’s degree in nutrition from Bastyr University, where she now serves on the Board of Regents, and has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington.

Visit the author's website.

Juice and smoothies are sweeping the nation! Why? They’re fruity, delicious, easy to make, and packed with powerful nutrition. It’s no wonder everyone is enjoying the convenience and great taste of these healthy meal and snack alternatives. Bring your blender or juicing machine into the twenty-first century with the most updated versions of Cherie’s recipes to be found anywhere—more than just refreshment, these recipes enhance your energy and boost your mental and physical health.

Product Details:
List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162136030X
ISBN-13: 978-1621360308


The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies


MORE AND MORE celebrities, athletes, and people of all ages and walks of life are turning to juicing and green smoothies to lose weight and to improve their overall health. Why? Because they have found that juicing is changing their lives—giving them more energy, better sleep, stronger immune systems, brighter skin, and a younger appearance. It’s even helping their bodies heal from a variety of ailments. Below is a testimony I received recently from someone who has read my books and come to me for counseling.

It’s been about a month since you last spoke with me. You may not remember me because you talk with so many people. But I will never forget you. I told you about the more than fifty pounds of fluid I had retained. Using both natural and medical prescriptions, I had not been able to get rid of that fluid. I have also not been absorbing my food. You told me not to worry about my diet because I already had a healthy one but to add a green juice drink with every meal. About three weeks before I spoke with you I started drinking pure cranberry juice every day, and that was helping with the fluid. Over the three weeks I lost fifteen pounds, but I would bounce back and forth with my weight. When I added the green juice drinks, it put my body in high gear. I have lost thirty pounds. The water weight is literally just falling off of me.

You have no idea how much better I am feeling. I have energy and can physically work. I have not had energy or felt good since my last baby was born twenty-five years ago. I have not been able to push my body to work for the last five years. Now I am splitting firewood and stacking it. I  shoveled rock for our drainage system in our yard. I can  clean my own house again. Yesterday I cleaned house and stacked two cords of firewood. If you haven’t stacked  firewood, let me tell you, that’s a lot of wood. And I can walk again. For the last two years I have been fighting just to walk up and down my short driveway, feeling totally exhausted  and in pain afterward. Now I am easily walking a mile and have energy to burn. I feel great and have no pain when I’m  finished. And my fibromyalgia pain is almost gone.
For the last five years I have been fighting to stay alive.
 Now for the first time in years I feel alive. I am no longer on Lasix and have cut back most of my nutritional  supplements. I was taking over $500 worth of supplements a month, and it was bankrupting us. Last year my doctor told  me to apply for disability because my body was dying. I  could no longer function. The naturopathic physician I used  to work for told me that my husband and I needed to accept  the fact that my body was dying. He told us to purchase  better health insurance and prepare for the worst. I wish he  could see me now.

Long story short, Cherie, I am so grateful to you for taking  the time to talk with me. I know you probably hear stories  like mine all the time, but for me it’s new and life saving.  Thanks for pointing me to the path of life. You have been  one of God’s blessings and a lifesaver in the most literal  sense of the word.

 I hope her story encourages you to juice every day. With more than four hundred delicious recipes, The Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies can help you change your life, just as juicing has changed the lives of thousands of people who have adopted this plan for themselves—people just like me. My life changed years ago when I discovered the healing, vitality-producing power of freshly made juices and raw and whole foods.

Sick, Tired, and Completely Toxic

I sat by the window in my father’s home in Colorado staring at the snow-topped mountains in the distance, imagining that people were enjoying the hiking trails; perhaps someone was climbing the mountain that day. It was early June and a beautiful, sunny Colorado day. I wished I had the strength to just walk around the block. But I was too sick and tired—I could barely walk around the house. I had been sick for a couple of years and just kept getting worse. “Would I ever be well again?” I wondered.

I had to quit my job when I turned thirty. I had chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia that made me so sick I couldn’t work. I felt as though I had a flu that just wouldn’t go away. I was lethargic and constantly feverish with swollen glands. I was also in nonstop pain. My body ached as though I’d been bounced around in a washing machine.

 I had moved back to my father’s home in Colorado to try and recover, but not one doctor could tell me what I should do to improve my health. So I browsed around some health food stores, talked with employees, and read a few books. I decided that everything I’d been doing was tearing down my health rather than healing my body. When I read about juicing and whole foods, it made sense. So I bought a juicer and designed a program I could follow.

I began my health program with a five-day vegetable juice fast. On the fifth day my body expelled a tumor the size of a golf ball. I was totally surprised that in five days this amazing result could take place. I never did have the tumor tested because I was too taken back and overwhelmed by the event. I just flushed it away.

I then continued to juice every day and ate a nearly perfect diet of live and whole foods for three months. There were ups and downs throughout. On some days I felt encouraged that I was making some progress, but on other days I felt worse. Those days made me wonder if good health was an elusive dream. I didn’t realize I was experiencing detox reactions—no one had told me about them. I was very toxic, and my body was cleansing away all the stuff that had made me sick.

But one morning I woke up around 8:00 a.m., which was early for me, without an alarm sounding off. I felt like someone had given me a new body in the night. I had so much energy I actually wanted to
exercise. What had happened? This new feeling of good health and vitality had just appeared with the morning sun. Actually, my body had been healing all along; it just had not manifested fully until that day. I felt such a wonderful sense of being alive! I looked and felt completely renewed.

With my juicer in tow and a new lifestyle fully embraced, I returned to Southern California and my friends a couple weeks later to finish writing my first book. For nearly a year it was “ten steps forward” with great health and more energy and stamina than I’d ever remembered. Then all of a sudden I took a giant step back.

The Night I’ll Never Forget

The Fourth of July was a beautiful day like so many others in Southern California. I celebrated the holiday with friends at a backyard barbecue. That evening we put on jackets to insulate against the cool evening air and watched fireworks light up the night sky. I returned just before midnight to the house I was sitting for vacationing friends, who lived in a lovely neighborhood not far from some of my family members. After such a full day I was in bed shortly after I arrived at the house.

I woke up shivering some time later wondering why it was so cold. I rolled over to see the clock. It was 3:00 a.m. That’s when I noticed that the door was open to the backyard. “How did that happen?” I thought as I was about to get up to close and lock the door. That’s when I saw him. Crouched in the shadows of the corner of the room was a shirtless young man in shorts. I blinked twice, trying to deny what I was seeing.

Instead of running out the open door, he leaped off the floor and ran toward me. He pulled a pipe from his shorts and began beating me repeatedly over the head and yelling, “Now you are dead!” We fought, or I should say, I tried to defend myself and grab the pipe.

Finally it flew out of his hands. That’s when he choked me to unconsciousness. I felt all life leaving my body. In those last few seconds I knew I was dying. “This is it, the end of my life,” I thought. I felt sad for the people who loved me. Then I felt my spirit leave. It felt as though it just popped out of my body and floated upward. Suddenly everything was peaceful and still. I sensed I was traveling through black space at what seemed like the speed of light. I saw what looked like lights twinkling in the distance.

But all of a sudden I was back in my body, outside the house, clinging to a fence at the end of the dog run. I don’t know how I got there. I screamed for help with all the energy I had. It was my third scream that took all my strength. I felt it would be my last breath. Each time I screamed, I passed out and landed on the cement. I then had to pull myself up again. But this time a neighbor heard me and sent her husband to help. Before long I was on my way to the hospital.

Lying on a cold gurney at 4:30 a.m., chilled to the bone, in and out of consciousness, I tried to assess my injuries, which was virtually impossible. When I looked at my right hand, I almost passed out again. My ring finger was hanging on by a small piece of skin. My hand was split open, and I could see deep inside. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled off to surgery. Later I learned that I had suffered serious injuries to my head, neck, back, and right hand, with multiple head wounds and part of my scalp torn from my head. I also incurred numerous cracked teeth, which led to several root canals and crowns months later.

My right hand sustained the most severe injuries. Two of my knuckles were crushed to mere bone fragments and had to be held together with three metal pins. Several months after the attack I still couldn’t use my hand. The cast I wore, which had bands holding up the ring finger that had almost been torn from my hand and various odd-shaped molded parts, looked like something from a science fiction movie. I felt and looked worse than hopeless. The top of my head was shaved, and my eyes were totally red and swollen. I had a gash on my face, a weird-looking right hand, terrorizing fear, and barely enough energy to get dressed in the morning.

I was an emotional wreck. I couldn’t sleep at night—not even a minute. It was torturous. I was staying with a cousin and his family, so there was no need to worry about safety from a practical point of view, but that made no difference to me emotionally. I’d lie in bed all night and stare at the ceiling or the bedroom door. I had five lights that I kept on all night. I’d try to read, but my eyes would sting. I could sleep only for a little while during the day.

But the worst part was the pain in my soul that nearly took my breath away. All the emotional pain of the attack joined with the pain and trauma of my past to create an emotional tsunami. My past had been riddled with loss, trauma, and anxiety. My brother died when I was two. My mother died of cancer when I was six. I couldn’t remember much about her death—the memories seemed blocked. But my cousin said I fainted at her funeral. That told me a lot.

I lived for the next three years with my maternal grandparents and father. But Grandpa John, the love of my life, died when I was nine. That loss was very hard. Four years later my father was involved in a very tragic situation that would take far too long to discuss here, but to sum it up—it was horrific. He was no longer in my daily life. I felt terrified about my future. My grandmother was eighty-six. I had no idea how much longer she would live. The next year I moved to Oregon to live with an aunt and uncle until I graduated from high school.

As you can probably imagine, wrapped in my soul was a huge amount of anguish and pain—it felt like gaping holes in my heart. It took every ounce of my will, faith, and trust in God; deep spiritual work; alternative medical help; extra vitamins and minerals; vegetable juicing; emotional release; healing prayer; and numerous detox programs to heal physically, mentally, and emotionally. I met a nutritionally minded physician who had healed his own slow-mending broken bones with lots of vitamin-mineral IVs. He gave me similar IVs. Juicing, cleansing, nutritional supplements, a nearly perfect diet, prayer, and physical therapy helped my bones and other injuries heal.

After following this regimen for about six months, what my hand surgeon said would be impossible became real. My hand was fully restored and fully functional. He had told me I’d never use my right hand again, and that it wasn’t even possible to implant plastic knuckles because of its poor condition. But my knuckles did indeed re-form primarily through prayer, and my hand function returned. A day came when the surgeon told me I was completely healed, and though he admitted he didn’t believe in miracles, he said, “You’re the closest thing I’ve seen to one.”

It was a miracle! I had a useful right hand again, and my career in writing was not over as I thought it would be. In the end it seemed my inner wounds were the most severe and the hardest to heal. Nevertheless, they mended too. I experienced healing from the painful memories and trauma of the attack and the wounds from the past through prayer, laying-on of hands, and deep emotional healing work.

I call them the kitchen angels—the ladies who prayed for me around their kitchen tables week after week until my soul was restored. It seemed I cried endless buckets of tears that had been pent up in my soul. It all needed release. Forgiveness and letting go came in stages and was an integral part of my total healing. I had to be honest about what I really felt and be willing to face the pain and toxic emotions confined inside, and then let them go. Finally, one day after a long, long journey—I felt free. A time came when I could celebrate the Fourth of July without fear.

A New Beginning

When I look back to that first day in the hospital after many hours of surgery, it’s amazing to me that I made it. My hand was resting in a sling hanging above my head. It was wrapped with so much stuff it looked like George Foreman’s boxing glove. My face had a big cut running down the left side, and my eyes were red—very little whites. A maintenance man came into my room for a repair and did a double take. He asked if I’d been hit by a truck! He was serious. I felt like I had. As I lay there alone with tears streaming down my face, I asked God if He could bring something good out of this horror. I needed something to hang on to.

 My prayer was answered. Eventually I knew my purpose was to love people to life through my writing, juicing, and nutritional information— to help them find their way to health and healing. If I could recover from all that had happened to me, they could too. No matter what anyone faced, there was hope.

Juice Recipes for Health and Healing

In the pages that follow, you’ll discover a wide variety of juices for every possible need and occasion. I have basic juice recipes for those who are getting started and want something simple. There are yummy fruit juice recipes for those with picky palates who want the sweet taste of fruit. Green juices are my favorite and offer the most nutrition; you’ll find a big selection of green juice recipes to choose from.

Check out the chapter on juice remedies and rejuvenators for juice combos that address what ails you. And I think you’ll really like the gourmet juice chapter that has a lot of unique combinations and delicious drinks. There’s also the green smoothie chapter with one hundred smoothie recipes and great combinations. And I also included my old favorites from The Juice Lady’s Turbo Diet and The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution. Have fun trying some new and unusual combinations. There’s a lot to choose from with more than four hundred recipes.

And if you’re struggling with your health, there is hope for you, no matter what health challenges you face. Never, ever give up. There’s a purpose for your life, just as there was for mine. You need to be healthy and strong to complete your purpose. To that end, The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies can help you live your life to the fullest. My hope is that this book of delicious recipes will truly inspire you to juice each and every day and that you will experience firsthand the healing, rejuvenating power of fresh juice and green smoothies.

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Published on January 28, 2013 21:00 • 303 views

December 5, 2012

In celebration of my book, F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire, winning the Bronze Medal for Readers Favorites in the Christian Fantasy category, I am offering free downloads for Kindle for THREE days!

Starting at midnight on Dec. 6th and going through Dec. 8th, 2012 you can download F.A.I.R.I.E.S. for FREE!

Please let everyone that you think may like it know. Share this on your page if you like. The more the merrier!

I also made corrections to the Kindle version: the German for the yeti's name is now correct AND the annoying question marks have been removed. Yay!

Go HERE at midnight to download it for FREE!
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Published on December 05, 2012 22:15 • 83 views

November 30, 2012

Hello everyone! This month I went to The Miami Book Fair International for an Awards Ceremony for Readers Favorites. My book, F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire won the Bronze for the Christian Fantasy/Sci-Fi division. Here are some of the photos. I had a blast and a half!
Mimi at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi with Debra Gaynor, CEO of Readers Favorites at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi at the Readers Favorites booth
My parents at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi at the Readers Favorites booth
Mimi with Debra Gaynor, CEO of Readers Favorites at the Readers Favorites booth
The Miami Book Fair International 
The Miami Book Fair International 
Mimi at The Miami Book Fair International 
Mimi at The Miami Book Fair International 
Readers Favorites Award Ceremony (My parents are in the lower left corner)
Readers Favorites Award Ceremony (My mom is in the lower left corner)
Readers Favorites Award Ceremony
Mimi with  author and actor, Paul Michael Glaser, best known from his staring roll on the TV series "Starsky & Hutch" at the Awards Ceremony
Mimi with  author and actor, Paul Michael Glaser, best known from his staring roll on the TV series "Starsky & Hutch" at the Awards Ceremony

Author and actor, Paul Michael Glaser, best known from his staring roll on the TV series "Starsky & Hutch" at the Awards Ceremony
Mimi accepting her Bronze for F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire 
Mimi accepting her Bronze for F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire 
Mimi accepting her Bronze for F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire 
Mimi accepting her Bronze for F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire 
Mimi accepting her Bronze for F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire 
Mimi accepting her Bronze for F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire 
Mimi with fellow FIRST member and writer, Paulette Harper (she won the 2011 Silver Award for Chiristian Non-Fiction)
Mimi with fellow FIRST member and writer, Paulette Harper (she won the 2011 Silver Award for Chiristian Non-Fiction)
Mimi with fellow FIRST member and writer, Paulette Harper (she won the 2011 Silver Award for Chiristian Non-Fiction)
Mimi with fellow FIRST member and writer, Paulette Harper (she won the 2011 Silver Award for Chiristian Non-Fiction)
Mimi won the 2012 Bronze for Christian Fantasy/Sci-Fi for .A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire
Mimi with her parents, John and Syl Szeker at the Readers Favorites Award Ceremony in Miami

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Published on November 30, 2012 12:45 • 1 view

October 10, 2012

What I Thought: 
I thought the premise for this book was ideal, and since I know and have worked with kids with Asperger's Syndrome, I thought that I would truly love this book. As I read, I couldn't help thinking that this was written more like a screenplay than a novel. It also felt like a book report instead of a novel...like a detailed book report that stays just far enough away from the action that it reads more like a summary. When I looked at the author bio, I realized that I was smack on about the screenwriting. She is a screenwriter. It also had poor editing. Writing in present tense and using universal point of view doesn't always work in novels. This one is one of those novels. I did like the story line and the whole idea of it. But the writing just wasn't right. Most of all, I do wish that Karen had shown me the story instead of telling me it. You may know that axiom, 'Show, don't tell'. If you don't know what I mean, here's an example of the way she writes...I'll put in the same paragraph idea rewritten to show action:
Karen wrote: 

Elliot merely grunts in response and heads into his bedroom. Amaryllis follows her nephew into his room, which she’s surprised to see is immaculate. It’s a bit of out of place compared to the chaos of the rest of the house. 

I would correct it as something like this: 

Elliot grunted as he headed into his bedroom. Amaryllis followed him but stopped short at the doorway. "Oh, my! Do you clean your own room?" 

Elliot looked at her. Why does she always make those faces? Is she mad? Confused? Happy? He shrugged and said, "Of course. Mother didn't come into this area. This is my area. You can come in, but don't touch anything." 

Amaryllis cleared her throat. "I mean, um, why isn't the rest of the house like," she waved her hand, indicating his immaculate room, "this?"

Elliot sighed. Maybe she's just stupid? "I told you. Mother didn't come in here."
I do hope that Karen keeps trying. The idea was wonderful...but I also hope that she reads a bit more about writing for novels. It is very different than screenplays.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
Karen Mueller Bryson
and the book:
The Mustard Seeds CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 26, 2012)
***Special thanks to Karen Mueller Bryson for sending me a review copy.***

 Dr. Karen Mueller Bryson is an award-winning/optioned screenwriter, produced playwright and published novelist. Karen has been writing since she learned to read and fell in love with books! When she's not at her computer creating new stories, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds. Karen is the founder of Short on Time Books, fast-paced and fun novels for readers on the go. Karen is also an Associate Professor of Psychology and Human Services at Ottawa University.

Visit the author's website.


After his mom’s sudden death, Elliot White, a 16-year old musical savant with Asperger’s Syndrome, is forced to leave his performing arts high school in New York City when he relocates to Winslow, Arizona to live with his eccentric aunt, and must attend a school with no music program.

Product Details:
List Price: $6.95

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 26, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1478189746
ISBN-13: 978-1478189749


Sixteen-year-old Elliot White wriggles in an ill-fitting black suit and adjusts Buddy Holly-like glasses as he stares at a sign in front of him. It reads: Discount Funerals (Includes Free Lunch Buffet). Although it should be a somber occasion, all he can think about is his recital later in the afternoon. He finally gets to play the solo piece he has been painstakingly practicing for months. Why did his mom have to die right before his big show?Elliot’s aunt, 38-year-old Amaryllis Long, adjusts the straps of her black sundress then straightens the substantial crucifix around her neck. She’s not sure she’s ready to bury her only sister—her only sibling. Now she is truly alone in the world. Well, except for Elliot. Amaryllis takes a deep breath, then grabs her nephew by the arm in an effort to lead him into the shabby funeral home.Elliot flinches as soon as Amaryllis touches him. Touching is not something he prefers to engage in. The act feels painful and foreign. He avoids it whenever possible. It’s one of the many things he avoids because they overwhelm his delicate sensory system.Inside the funeral home, Elliot and Amaryllis take seats in two of the few folding chairs in the back of the small room. They both stare silently at the closed pine casket, which takes up most of the front part of the room. Finally, Elliot clears his throat. “I have to get back to school in one hour. I have a solo in the spring musical extravaganza.” “Your mother always did have awful timing,” Amaryllis replies.
A short time later, Amaryllis and Elliot make their way into the auditorium of his elite performing arts high school. It’s one of the best in New York City. Amaryllis feels very out of place amongst the instrument-toting teens and their well-dressed parents. She hasn’t stepped foot in a high school since her own graduation twenty years ago. And she certainly doesn’t make many trips out of the Arizona desert.Amaryllis takes a seat in the packed audience and listens contently as the orchestra plays a rousing medley of classical favorites. In the middle of the final piece, Elliot, still in his funeral attire, stands and plays a stunning solo on his viola. She is amazed at the talent of her own flesh and blood. Although she hasn’t seen him in at least 10 years, her only nephew holds a special place in her heart. And now that her sister’s gone, Amaryllis will be his guardian and caretaker. She shudders slightly at the thought. What does she know about raising children? Or raising any living thing, for that matter. She can’t even keep a houseplant alive.At the conclusion of Elliot’s solo, the audience erupts in applause and gives the young musician a standing ovation. Elliot simply bows and takes his seat with the rest of the orchestra.Once the performance is over, there was a small reception for Elliot in the school’s foyer. Elliot finds himself standing awkwardly under a sign, which reads: Farewell, Elliot, We Will Miss You. Next to Elliot is a small folding table with a punch bowl, papers cups and a small tray of butter cookies. Mr. Grubb, the school’s portly orchestra director, stands on the far side of the table, rubbing sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. Both Mr. Grubb and Elliot wait patiently for well-wishers but none are forthcoming. Finally, a little boy with a red Kool-Aid mustache runs up to the table and giggles. He snatches several cookies, shoves them into his mouth and dashes away. Mr. Grubb holds out some hope when a group of teens carrying instruments approaches and it looks like they might stop at the table, but the kids continue down the hallway laughing amongst themselves.Mr. Grubb glances over at Elliot, who was now picking lint from his suit jacket. “We’ll certainly miss you,” he says warmly.“I know,” Elliot responds without making eye contact.
The next morning, Amaryllis and Elliot, each carrying several packing boxes, approach a shabby-looking brownstone row house with a FOR RENT sign in the front window.When they enter the home, Amaryllis is shocked to find the living room in complete disarray. She was not aware of the extent of her sister, Iris’s, mental illness or the fact that she dealt with major depressive episodes for most of Elliot’s life. When Iris got depressed, she holed herself up in her bedroom, sometimes for days at a time, and Elliot was forced to fend for himself.“You can pack whatever’ll fit in these boxes,” Amaryllis says matter-of-factly. “The rest’ll have to go to Goodwill. The landlord, bless his soul, said he’d get some friends from church to help him clear the place out.”Elliot merely grunts in response and heads into his bedroom. Amaryllis follows her nephew into his room, which she’s surprised to see is immaculate. It’s a bit of out of place compared to the chaos of the rest of the house.Elliot immediately opens his desk drawer and fills the first box with sheet music that packs the bottom drawer.“What is all that?” she asks.“My music,” he says and snorts.Amaryllis raises an eyebrow.Elliot continues, “I have to have my music.”She watches curiously as he moves to his bookshelf, removes a miniature viola and carefully places it in his second box. She opens the small closet next to her and notes the few shirts and pants hanging there. “Don’t you think we should pack these clothes?”Elliot snorts in response. He grabs a framed photo of his mother and him and stares at it for a moment.“She’s in a better place,” Amaryllis says as she glances at the photo.Elliot grunts again, then places the photo in his box.On their way out of the house, a book lying on the sofa catches Amaryllis’s eye. It’s titled Asperger’s Disorder: A Beginner’s Guide. She grabs the copy as they head out the door.
 They carry filled boxes toward her beater pick-up and load them in the truck’s cab. Amaryllis gets into the driver’s side and Elliot hops into the passenger’s seat. He places a black urn containing his mother’s ashes in his lap and the two began their trip across the country.“So, what did my sister tell you about me?” Amaryllis asks, trying to make conversation.“My mother? She never said a word about you,” he replies.“No surprise there.”After an awkward moment of silence passes, she says, “Your mother mentioned something about Asperger’s Syndrome.”Elliot snorts in response.“Is there anything I should be aware of?” Amaryllis knows even less about the disorder than she does about raising teenagers.Elliot tugs nervously on his earlobe then says, “I’m not like everyone else.”Amaryllis shrugs. “Neither am I.”“Aspies’ brains are wired differently. We think differently than neurotypicals.”“Neurotypicals?”“That’s everyone who’s not on the autism spectrum. Which are most people.”Amaryllis nods. She certainly understands what it feels like to not be like other people. Since she finally has Elliot talking, she tries another question. “Arizona should be quite an adventure for you.”“I don’t like adventures,” Elliot replies flatly. He turns and looks out the window as the big open country passes by.Amaryllis realizes the moment has passed and the conversation is now over.
It takes several days, but the pair finally makes it to the Arizona border. Amaryllis gives a little hoot as her pick-up rambles past a sign that reads: Arizona - The Grand Canyon State. As they drive through the barren land of northern Arizona, Elliot watches as a lone tumbleweed blows by. His first time out of New York is not yet proving to be eventful.“We should be in Winslow in no time,” Amaryllis says, breaking the silence that has lasted since Colorado.“Everything looks dead,” Elliot notes.She chuckles. “Welcome to Arizona.”
As Amaryllis’s truck rambles down Second Street, she breathes a sigh of relief that they are finally back home. The tired old town of Winslow has seen better days, but its familiarity is a welcome site. As they drive past the ‘Standin’ on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona’ site made famous by the Eagles, a haggard man with a collie walks by a life-sized male statue marking the place for tourists.“There it is,” Amaryllis says as she gazes out the window. “The famous corner.”When Elliot looks out the window, he sees the haggard man’s collie lift his leg on the statue. Elliot looks puzzled. “What’s so famous about that corner?”“I guess you’ve never heard of the Eagles.”“The birds of prey?”“The rock band,” Amaryllis replies, immediately feeling older. “Standin’ on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. That doesn’t sound familiar to you?”Elliot shakes his head.“And you say you’re a musician,” she teases.Elliot remains stoic and Amaryllis wonders if he is able to take a joke.
About ten miles out of town, Amaryllis pulls into the Desert Dream Trailer Park. Seven well-worn double-wides mark the otherwise desolate landscape. One of the double-wides also serves as a make-shift office. A sign over it reads: Welcome to your Desert Dream.She pulls her truck up to her trailer and they hop out. They both take a much-needed stretch after the long ride.“We made it,” Amaryllis says.
Elliot just stares at the sight of his new home. It’s a big step down from his mother’s row house.“I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s paid for,” she says. “We best get your stuff unpacked before nightfall.”Inside, Elliot glances at the well-worn furniture. He notices religious iconography surrounding the room’s centerpiece—a massive velvet Jesus painting. Even though his mother never took him to church, he loves to read about the world’s major religions.Amaryllis points to a small room off of the living area. “That’ll be your room. Used to be my sewing room.”“Where will you sew?” Elliot asks.“Austin’s got some space for me.”He looks puzzled. “Austin is one thousand twenty miles from here.”She gives her nephew a huge grin. “Nope, right next door.”As if on cue, 45-year-old Austin Young, a burnt-out hippie, enters the double-wide. “Did someone mention my name?”Amaryllis leans over to Elliot conspiratorially and says, “The walls have ears. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”Elliot quickly glances around the small room looking for signs of ears on the walls. How could a wall have ears, he wonders? So far, Arizona is an extremely confusing place for him.Austin puts out a hand for Elliot to shake, but the young man seems oblivious to the gesture and does not reciprocate. He tugs on his earlobe instead.Austin tries another tactic. “How was your trip?” he asks.When he doesn’t respond, Amaryllis pipes in, “Tiring. Elliot must be exhausted.”“I’m not tired,” Elliot interjects a little too loudly. “I slept for 22 of the 35 hours we traveled and I slept in both of the motels in which we stayed. Day one was a 14-hour trip with two gas breaks and a lunch break. Day two was similar. Today, we only had to travel for 7 hours.“That’s precise,” Austin says with a smile at Elliot. Then he says to Amaryllis, “You’re welcome to come by my place for dinner. I’ll fire up the grill.”“I think we’ll take a rain check.” She pats her friend’s arm. “Elliot has to get ready for school tomorrow.”“Gotcha. Dinner’s an open invitation.”“I know,” Amaryllis says, giving Austin a warm smile.Austin heads for the door, but turns back before exiting. “I’ve got a new recipe for chipotle steak sauce. Bet it’d taste awfully good with those baby potatoes you love so much.”“Good night, Austin,” Amaryllis says as she lovingly nudges him out the door. She smiles as the door closes behind him.
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Published on October 10, 2012 22:40 • 68 views

September 18, 2012

WHAT I THOUGHT: I want to tell anyone that is looking to self-publish: READ Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing and an Insider's Look at a Misunderstood Industry by Michele DeFilippo. Seriously. It gives some great pointers, especially about things that vanity press leaves out. For example: Interior Layout...Most self-published books that I've seen never ever think about this aspect. It looks like they just copied and pasted it out of a Word document. In Publish Like the Pros, Michele gives advise on finding typesetting designers. There are so many great tips inside this little book. Do yourself a favor if you are planning on self-publishing, buy this book first and read it. You'll be glad that you did. Seriously glad.


Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing is a must-read for new authors who want to get it right when self-publishing their books. Self-publishing is a perplexing and ever-shifting landscape; it's easy for authors to get taken in by self-publishing companies that promise the moon but don't deliver. In just 88 pages, Publish Like the Pros takes the confusion out of self-publishing and gives authors the six steps to publishing quality professional books that don't scream "I'm self-published!!" The self-publishing author will find everything he or she needs to get started, including cover design, book titles, typesetting, editing, and proofreading, and a special chapter on book distribution, pricing and marketing.

Written by a book designer with years of experience working with both first-time authors and seasoned publishers, Publish Like the Pros speaks directly to new authors who want to publish a book that they can feel proud of and that sells!

...Industry leaders praise "Publish Like the Pros":

DeFilippo has written a complete overview of the book industry and the publishing process that will allow both authors and self-publishers to make their way through the self-publishing process quickly and successfully. I was amazed at the up-to-date insights and money-saving advice in this book! Want to do it right? Want to avoid a lot of the mistakes that plague first time self-publishers? Read Publish Like the Pros and call 1106 Design.
—Amy Collins, owner of The Cadence Group and New Shelves Distribution, http://ww.thecadencegrp.com/distribution

Traditional self-publishing has been hijacked (I should know!). Authors who follow the “do-it-yourself” approach recommended by self-serving POD publishers soon discover that plain covers do not attract buyers. In Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing, Michele DeFilippo explains how quality books have always been created—with an eye to the future. Armed with this advice, authors can take full advantage of today’s unprecedented opportunity to distribute and promote their books without middlemen, and successfully compete in the book publishing industry.
—Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual

As a book shepherd who turns unpublished writers into well-published authors, I'm constantly guiding authors away from cheap junk and toward choices that create a book that looks and sounds as good as or better than anything coming out of the big publishers. DeFilippo's pleas for professionalism will be very helpful in convincing my clients that it's much better to self-publish the right way—if you want to create a book that will sell copies and influence people.
—Shel Horowitz, book shepherd and book marketing specialist, http://shelhorowitz.com
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Published on September 18, 2012 19:38 • 55 views

August 31, 2012

I'm an award winning author! I received the Bronze award for Christian Fantasy-Sci-Fi from Reader's Favorite: http://readersfavorite.com/2012-award-contest-winners.htm

Here's the 5-Star Review:

Book Review
Reviewed by Linda W. for Readers Favorite

This is a fantasy tale of good versus evil through the eyes of a young teenage girl, Mellie. Running from her sisters’ taunts, she finds herself caught up in the world of the F.A.I.R.I.E.S, where she will learn the world of spiritual warfare against the I.M.P.S. as she attends the F.A.I.R.I.E.S. academy and learns of the One–the light who always overcomes the darkness.

The unbelievable characters become a part of your life, as you learn of their ways. The military academy is tough, yet most of the classes are enjoyable and instructive. Plenty of humor is there, though some is lost in interpretation! I enjoyed the characters of Mellie, Spike, Lizzy, GroBe, and many others. They are rich, descriptive and eccentric. They are truly fantastical beings! What a super delightful book with deep spiritual meaning. The spiritual aspect is what makes the book so great, as it pertains to each of the characters and to us as well. I loved it. Your kids will, too!

This would make one extra-special birthday, Christmas, or any special occasion gift for some young girl or boy! Your child(ren) will learn truths that are pertinent to their lives. Pick one up today! Superb, intricate writing. Christian fantasy at its best! I am rating this a 5 out of 5!

I’m so excited as I never used to like books like this, let alone loving this one! This should become a classic for years to come!
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Published on August 31, 2012 21:23 • 4 views

June 30, 2012

Wahoo! My book is a finalist in the Reader's Favorite 2012 Award Contest! Go here to see the list. Winners will be announced on September 1st. (My book, F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is listed under Christian - Fantasy/Sci-Fi.)

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Published on June 30, 2012 18:58 • 77 views

June 15, 2012

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
Mark Hyman, M.D.
and the book:
The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now!  Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.*** 

 An internationally respected physician, researcher, educator, activist, and five-time New York Times best-selling author, including The Blood Sugar Solution (also a PBS special), The UltraMind Solution (also a PBS special), The UltraSimple Diet, UltraMetabolism, and UltraPrevention (winner of the Books for a Better Life Award), Dr. Hyman has dedicated his life and career to ensuring optimal health - UltraWellness - for all individuals. His new book and PBS special, The Blood Sugar Solution, will be released March 2012 to address the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular and other related diseases.

His revolutionary "secret" to achieving UltraWellness? Dr. Hyman is the world's leading pioneer and practitioner of a ground-breaking and emerging approach to medicine that treats our system, not our symptoms. This new health paradigm is a systems-based, patient-centered method (called Functional Medicine) to preventing and treating disease and promoting health that works on two intertwined platforms: identifying and addressing the underlying causes of disease instead of just managing and masking symptoms and employing emerging trends in science and medicine, and integrative medicine.

Visit the author's website.


In the new #1 New York Times bestseller, The Blood Sugar Solution (Little, Brown and Company February, 2012), Dr. Mark Hyman - Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine and founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center - reveals the secret to losing weight and preventing diabesity. According to Dr. Hyman, a staggering one in two Americans suffers from diabesity, the condition of metabolic imbalance and disease that ranges from mild blood sugar imbalance to full-blown diabetes. Diabesity is one of the leading causes of chronic disease in the 21st century, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer, and the numbers of sick people keep growing. One in three children born today will have diabetes. We are now raising the first generation of Americans to live sicker and die younger than their parents.
Genre: Health & Fitness

Product Details:
List Price: $27.99

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031612737X
ISBN-13: 978-0316127370


IntroductionDiabesity: What You Don't Know May Kill YouWhat's in a name: insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, syndrome X, obesity, pre-diabetes, adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes. These are all essentially one problem; some vary by severity but all can have deadly consequences. The diagnosis and treatment of the underlying causes that drive all these conditions are actually the same.
Diabesity is a more comprehensive term to describe the continuum from optimal blood sugar balance toward insulin resistance and full-blown diabetes. If you answered yes to any of the questions in the quiz on page xxi, you may already have diabesity.
Nearly all people who are overweight (over 70 percent of adult Americans) already have “pre-diabetes” and have significant risks of disease and death. They just don't know it. Even worse, while the word “diabesity” is made up of the concepts of obesity and diabetes, even those who aren't overweight can have this problem. These are the “skinny fat” people. They are “underlean” (not enough muscle) instead of “overweight” and have a little extra weight around the middle, or “belly fat.” Currently there are no national screening recommendations, no treatment guidelines, no approved medications, and no reimbursement to health care providers for diagnosing and treating anything other than full-blown diabetes. Think about that. Doctors are not expected, trained, or paid to diagnose and treat the single biggest chronic disease in America, which, along with smoking, causes nearly all the major health care burdens of the twenty-first century, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and even cancer. But here is the good news--there is a scientifically proven solution that I have mapped out for you in this book.
Our current medical practice has not caught up with our knowledge. In 2008, the American College of Endocrinology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists gathered twenty-two experts and reviewed all the scientific data on pre-diabetes and diabetes. They heralded a wake-up clarion call for individuals, the health care community, and governments around the world.1 Their conclusions were as follows:The diagnosis of pre-diabetes and diabetes is arbitrary. A fasting blood sugar over 100 mg/dl is considered pre-diabetes, and a blood sugar over 126 mg/dl is considered diabetes. However, they found these cutoffs don't reflect the whole spectrum of risk-- including heart disease, cancer, dementia, stroke, and even kidneyand nervedamage--whichstartsat much lower numbers, numbers most people consider normal.The DECODE study of 22,000 people2 examined the continuum of risk measured not by fasting blood sugar, but by blood sugar after a big sugar drink (the best way to diagnose the problem). The study found that even starting at blood sugar levels that were perfectly normal (95 mg/dl), there was a steady and significant risk of heart disease and complications well below the accepted abnormal of less than 140 mg/dl for pre-diabetes and long before people reached the diabetic cutoff of 200 mg/dl.
Bottom line: Even if you have perfectly normal blood sugar, you may be sitting on a hidden time bomb of disease called diabesity, which prevents you from losing weight and living a long healthy life. Insulin resistance is the major cause of aging and death in the developed and most of the developing world. This book will help you identify and reverse this explosive situation for yourself. It also lays out a comprehensive action plan for greater collective action to solve this problem individually and collectively by getting healthy together.

Part IUnderstanding The Modern PlagueFor this we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague.-- William James,“The Laws of Habit,” The Popular Science Monthly (February 1887)It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.-- Mark Twain1a Hidden epidemic: The United States of DiabetesDiabesity, the continuum of health problems ranging from mild insulin resistance and overweight to obesity and diabetes, is the single biggest global health epidemic of our time. It is one of the leading causes of heart disease, dementia, cancer, and premature death in the world and is almost entirely caused by environmental and lifestyle factors. This means that it is almost 100 percent preventable and curable.
Diabesity affects over 1.7 billion people worldwide. Scientists conservatively estimate it will affect 1 in 2 Americans by 2020, 90 percent of whom will not be diagnosed. I believe it already affects more than 1 in 2 Americans and up to 70-80 percent of some populations.
Obesity (almost always related to diabesity) is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world. Gaining just 11-16 pounds doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes, while gaining 17-24 pounds triples the risk. Despite this, there are no national recommendations from government or key organizations advising screening or treatment for pre-diabetes. We are becoming the United States of Diabetes.
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in America has tripled since the 1980s. In 2010 there were 27 million Americans with diabetes (25 percent of whom were not diagnosed) and 67 million with pre-diabetes (90 percent of whom were not diagnosed). African-Americans, Latin Americans, and Asians have dramatically higher rates of diabesity than Caucasians do.1 By 2015, 2.3 billion people worldwide will be overweight and 700 million will be obese. The number of diabetics will increase from 1 in 10 Americans today to 1 in 3 by the middle of this century.
A Childhood ProblemPerhaps most disturbing, our children are increasingly affected by this epidemic. We are raising the first generation of Americans to live sicker and die younger than their parents. Life expectancy is actually declining for the first time in human history.Here are some startling statistics:One in three children is overweight in America.Childhood obesity has tripled from 1980 to 2010.There are now more than 2 million morbidly obese children above the 99th percentile in weight.In New York City, 40 percent of the children are overweight or obese.One in three children born today will have diabetes in their lifetime.Childhood obesity will have more impact on the life expectancy of children than all childhood cancers combined.
A Global ProblemDiabetes is just as widespread in other parts of the world: In 2007, it was estimated that 240 million people worldwide had diabetes. It is projected to affect 380 million by the year 2030, about 10 times the number of people affected by HIV/AIDS.2 Sadly this is a gross underestimate. Estimates in 2011 put the worldwide total at 350 million. In China alone, rates of diabetes were almost zero 25 years ago. In 2007, there were 24 million diabetics in China, and scientists projected that by 2030 there would be 42 million diabetics in China. However, by 2010, there were 93 million diabetics and 148 million pre-diabetics in China,
Special Note: Childhood Obesity and Diabetes --The Blood Sugar Solution for ChildrenThe biggest tragedy is the global spread of childhood obesity and “adult”onset or type 2 diabetes in little children. We are now seeing eight-year-old children with diabetes, fifteen-year-olds with strokes, and twenty-five-yearolds who need cardiac bypass. While The Blood Sugar Solution is a program mostly for adults, it is also powerful and effective for children. The whole family must be part of the solution, and we have to make our homes, communities, and schools safe for our children.
The Blood Sugar Solution includes many child-friendly recipes. And when it comes to supplements, there is something for everyone, even infants and children. In fact, any child over twelve years of age with diabesity can follow the basic Blood Sugar Solution plan. Children younger than twelve or those who qualify for the Advanced Plan should work with an experienced functional medicine practitioner. See www.bloodsugarsolution.com for how best to support your children's health if they are overweight or have type 2 diabetes.
almost all of whom were previously undiagnosed. Imagine if we had 148 million new cases of AIDS overnight in one country.
Sixty percent of the world's diabetics will eventually come from Asia because it is the world's most populous region. The number of individuals with impaired glucose tolerance or pre-diabetes will increase substantially because of increased genetic susceptibility to the harmful effects of sugar and processed foods. Interestingly, people in this Asian population (who are uniquely susceptible to diabetes even though they may not be obese) are increasingly affected as they adopt a more Western diet. Weaker environmental laws and regulations also expose them to increasing levels of toxins, which, as we will see later, are a significant cause of diabesity.3

Ponder this: From 1983 to 2008, the number of people in the world with diabetes increased sevenfold, from 35 to 240 million. In just three years, from 2008 to 2011, we added another 110 million diabetics to our global population. Shouldn't the main question we ask be why is this happening? instead of what new drug can we find to treat it? Our approach must be novel, innovative, and widely applicable at low cost across all borders. Billions and billions have been wasted trying to find the “drug cure,” while the solution lies right under our nose. This is a lifestyle and environmental disease and won't be cured by a medication.
Diabesity: The major cause of chronic disease and decreased life expectancy.Diabesity is one of the leading causes of chronic disease in the twenty-first century, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.4Consider the following:One-third of all diabetics have documented heart disease.5It is estimated that nearly everyone else with type 2 diabetes has undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.People with diabetes are four times more likely to die from heart disease, and the rate of stroke is three to four times higher in this population.Those with pre-diabetes are also four times more likely to die of heart disease.6 So having pre-diabetes isn't really “pre” anything in terms of risk.There is a fourfold increased risk for dementia in diabetics.7 And pre-diabetes is a leading cause of “pre-dementia,” also known as mild cognitive impairment.The link between obesity and cancer is well documented and is driven by insulin resistance.8Diabesity is the leading cause of high blood pressure in our society. Seventy-five percent of those with diabetes have high blood pressure.Diabesity is also the leading cause of liver failure from NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), also known as fatty liver. It affects 30 percent of our general population (about 90 million) and 70-90 percent of those who have diabesity. Those with fatty liver are at much greater risk of heart attack and death.9Diabesity is an important cause of depression and mood disorders. Women with diabetes are 29 percent more likely to develop depression, and women who took insulin are 53 percent more likely to develop depression.10Nervous system damage affects 60-70 percent of people with diabetes, leading to a loss of sensation in the hands and feet, slow digestion, carpal tunnel syndrome, sexual dysfunction, and other problems. Almost 30 percent of people age forty or older with diabetes have impaired sensation in their feet, and this frequently leads to amputations.Diabesity is also the leading cause of blindness among people ages twenty to seventy-four.Diabesity is the leading cause of kidney failure --accounting for 44 percent of new cases each year.People with poorly controlled diabetes are three times more likely to have periodontal or severe gum disease.
A recent remarkable study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examining 123,205 deaths in 820,900 people found that diabetics died an average of six years earlier than nondiabetics and 40 percent of those did not die from heart disease or the usual diabetes-related causes.11 They died from other complications not obviously related to diabetes, complications most wouldn't necessarily correlate with the disease. Yet it makes perfect sense given that diabesity is the underlying cause that drives most chronic illnesses.Diabesity: A major global threat to economic development.Direct health care costs in the United States over the next decade attributable to diabetes and pre-diabetes will be $3.4 trillion, or one in every ten health care dollars spent. Obese citizens cost the U.S. health care system 40 percent more than normal-weight citizens. In a sample of 10 million commercial health plan members, those without diabetes cost $4,000 a year compared to $11,700 for those with diabetes, and $20,700 for those with complications from diabetes.
Diabesity places a large economic burden on our society. The direct and indirect costs of diabetes in America in 2007 amounted to $174 billion. The cost of obesity is also significant, and amounts to $113 billion every year. From 2000 to 2010, these two conditions have already cost us a total of $3 trillion. That's three times the estimated cost of fixing our entire health care system!12
Are we getting our money's worth? Is our current approach winning the battle against these completely preventable and curable diseases? Clearly the answer is no!The Impact of Diabesity on Developing NationsDiabetes is not just a problem for rich countries with too much food; it is also a disease of poverty13 that is increasing in developing countries as well.14 In India, diabetes carries a greater risk of death than infectious disease. In the Middle East, nearly 20-25 percent of the population is diabetic. When I helped in Haiti (the poorest country in the Western hemisphere) after the earthquake in 2010, I asked the director of Haiti's main public hospital what the major medical problems were prior to the earthquake. His answer surprised me: heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes--all caused by diabesity.
By 2020, there will be fewer than 20 million deaths worldwide from infectious disease, but more than 50 million deaths from chronic preventable lifestyle diseases--heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These are all fueled by the same preventable risk factors: high blood pressure, overweight, physical inactivity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and smoking. But strikingly, 95 percent of private and public efforts and funding focus almost exclusively on combating communicable or infectious disease.15The Solution: Take Back Our HealthThere is a solution available, one that is accessible and scalable, one that is available to everyone and prevents, treats, and reverses diabesity at a fraction of the cost. This book provides that solution for individuals, communities, and nations. It will require significant change at all levels, but each of us has the power to transform this problem.
In addition to curing diabesity on an individual level, we need a movement. I call it Take Back Our Health, and in Part V, I explain how we can all join this movement so we can get healthy together. It starts with the individual, but moves into families, communities, workplaces, schools, and faith-based organizations and filters through us to government and corporations.
In the next chapter, we will look at the true causes of diabesity, and why current treatments aren't working.
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Published on June 15, 2012 09:44 • 76 views

April 14, 2012

I love Jill Williamson's fantasy series. I am a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction. That said, although I did enjoy reading her sci-fi book, Replication: The Jason Experiment, I didn't find it as well thought out or presented as her Blood of Kings trilogy.

The idea of clones in an underground facility intrigued me. What a great concept! The question about clones being 'real people' (should they have rights?) also made me excited to read this book.

The main clone character, Martyr, had me pulling for him every step of the way. He had a great depth, and Jill wrote him well. On the other hand, the main girl character (I cannot recall her name--probably because I want to forget her as fast as I can), made me want to pull out my hair and run screaming from the book. She drove me nuts. Her 'pros' and 'cons' lists just about made me stop reading. I didn't like her at all. I didn't care if she got caught or punished, except that I didn't want Martyr to be hurt in the process. She was a judgmental snob and never changed.

The ending was also too Disney for me...as well as a tiny bit confusing.

I give the story itself a 4/5 star rating...the male character a 5/5 star rating, but because of the girl (whom I believe was supposed to be the over-all main character), I have to rate this a 3/5.

Product Details:
Cost: $15.99
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (December 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310727588
ISBN-13: 978-0310727583

*A review copy was provided to me by Zondervan in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Published on April 14, 2012 21:54 • 60 views