We’re thrilled to be hosting Martina McAtee’s CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS Book Blast today!
Title: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
Author: Martina McAtee
Publisher: Martina McAtee
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
17 year old Ember Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.
They take her to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird. She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing between her and death.
As Ember’s talents are revealed so are the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.
For More Information
- Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things is available at Amazon.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
She went lightheaded as the enormity of her words hit her, “Oh, God. This is like the part in the movie where you try to kill me, right? You are going to try to kill me and I feel too crappy to even try to run.”
She was talking more to herself now. She leaned back against the rusted mausoleum gates behind her, enjoying the cool metal against her skin. Her head was swimming, the stars above blurring in the sky. No, not now, she thought. It was happening again. Whatever had happened earlier in the cemetery was happening again. She could feel it rising up in her, that weird feeling like her insides were melting and liquefying while she could do nothing to stop it. Was this a panic attack? Could a panic attack cause what happened in the cemetery earlier? Maybe this was some kind of fight or flight adrenaline response.
She felt caged, trapped by her own body. It was all in her head. The ground wasn’t vibrating at her feet. There was no way she was really burning up in forty-degree weather. Even in her haze she could see him watching her. Maybe if she just held still, he would be quick about it.
Her head lulled on her shoulders. She was going to pass out. It would serve him right. Then he was just there, in her space, fingers cupping her face. She moaned at the feel of his cold hands against her overheated flesh. “And if it is, Luv? If this is the part where I try to kill you? What then? Are you going to pass out and take all the fun out of it? Or will you fight back?”
There was no mistaking the threat of his words, but he was close enough to whisper them against her skin like a promise. She couldn’t think straight. Her head filled with a sound like angry bees. She pitched forward, dropping her forehead to his shoulder, eyes drifting closed.
He was so cold; even through the layers of his clothes; his body seemed to emit this pleasant icy radiance that soothed her feverish skin. She wrapped herself around him, locking her arms. She buried her face against his throat, nose rubbing against his skin.
She felt his body go rigid in her arms. She didn’t blame him, on some level she understood sane girls didn’t try to cuddle their killers. But nobody ever accused her of being sane. She was the girl who played in cemeteries and talked to the dead. She was the girl with three therapists before she was twelve. She was the girl in flames and he was ice water; if she was going to die, she was going to have this first.
They stood there, bound together by her forced embrace. Those strange vibrations increased, building inside her like a living thing, a burning energy trying to melt her from the inside out. She could hear his ragged breath panting against her ear, could feel him writhing in her grasp, but she refused to let go. Could he feel it too?
She clung to him, knowing if she let go this peculiar energy would overwhelm her. She breathed him in, letting him anchor her as it kept building and burning, growing until it thrust from her with the force of a sledgehammer. He groaned like he’d received the physical blow, he may have fallen had she not been holding him to her. Finally, the world seemed to right itself. Her blood ceased to boil and the vibrations stopped. When her mind quieted, she became very aware of what she was doing.
She let go, shoving him back. Despite his size, he stumbled, blinking hard. They stared at each other, his confusion mirroring her own.
“What are you?” she whispered. “What are you doing to me?”
He rushed her, shoving her against the concrete hard enough to knock her teeth together, “What did I do to you? What game are you playing? What are you? What was that? What did you do?”
She whimpered, feet scrambling for purchase as she realized he’d lifted her from the ground. Her heart thundered in her chest. He was fit but not big enough to haul her off her feet like that. She shoved at him uselessly. “Put me down.”
Her descent was abrupt, her heart lodging in her throat. His eyes narrowed, his hands tangling in her messy hair, tilting her head to the side. “Come on, Luv, you can tell me. I’m sure it’s eating at you, keeping this secret.”
He was insane. She opened her mouth to say so but her brain short-circuited as his nose traced along the column of her throat. “I promise, things will be so much easier if you just tell me,” he purred, his lips pressing the words into her skin. She moved closer to him. In her defense, she’d never been this close to a boy before; especially not one who looked like he did.
“We can do this one of two ways,” He inhaled her scent, pressing his mouth to the shell of her ear as he said, “I promise one is infinitely more pleasurable than the other.”
Ew. Oh, God. What was she doing? What was he doing? Seducing her for information? Threatening her? It really bothered her that she didn’t know the difference.
She needed to get it together. Her breath hitched in her chest. This was not how she saw herself dying. She’d had a plan. She’d written it down obituary style for a morbid ninth grade English assignment. She was supposed to die of obscenely old age in her enormous but tastefully decorated plantation home surrounded by her beautiful and ungrateful grandchildren.
He huffed out a laugh and she realized she’d said all that aloud. She was too scared to be embarrassed. Instead, she slapped at his hands ineffectively.
He stepped away so abruptly she staggered, pacing before her, “You’re seriously not going to tell me? You’re only hurting yourself on this one.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she told him, “You’re crazy.”
He sighed heavily, his tone shifting as if speaking to a rather stupid child, “I’ll figure it out eventually.” He told her, pointing at her, “You don’t smell like a witch. You certainly aren’t a shifter.” Then he was back before her, gripping her chin, turning her head side to side, like he was examining livestock, “But you most definitely aren’t human.” Tiny hairs rose along her skin at his touch, “You’re trying my patience. What the hell are you?”
She pushed away from him, head throbbing with his words. “Stop with the grabby hands,”
She needed to think. He was clearly unhinged. She had very few options. She could run but she doubted she could outrun him. Her gaze raked across broad shoulders and a flat stomach, he looked like he did a lot of cardio. She could scream but there wasn’t anybody to hear her. Instead, she did what she always did when she was nervous…she babbled.
She’d watched a million documentaries on serial killers and the mentally ill. She could figure this out. Netflix was her friend. She wracked her brain, if he was a killer she had to make him see her as a person, tell him about her life, say her name a lot, make him believe people cared if she died, even if it was a lie.
But what if he was schizophrenic? He thought she wasn’t human. What was she supposed to do?
Orient him to reality? Play along with his fantasy? She should have paid more attention.
“What’s your name?” she heard herself say, voice breathless.
He arched his brow, tsking softly, expression bored. “I’m asking the questions here,”
“Just tell me your name,” she demanded, panic creeping back in.
“Mace,” the answer tumbled from his lips unbidden. He looked mystified, like his own mouth had betrayed him. He absently rubbed a spot on his chest.
“Mace,” she repeated, with a nod. Okay, it was a start. “So um, here’s the thing, Mace. I’m only seventeen and I don’t want to die.”
He gave her a look and a ‘fair enough’ shrug and gestured for her to continue, clearly amused by this turn of events.
She frowned, but soldiered on, “You can’t be much older than me so let’s just think about this for a minute, okay?” She raked a hand through her damp hair, “I’m not really sure why you want to kill me but my life has pretty much sucked up until now. Like so much suckage. I can’t even explain the level of suck, but I feel like, statistically speaking, that’s gotta change. I’m not trying to sound like a motivational poster but it’s supposed to get better. I’d very much like to have a pulse when it does,”
He narrowed his eyes at her, brow furrowed. He stepped forward.
“Stop,” she held up her hand, palm out, “Just listen,”
He stopped, looking at his feet then at her again.
“I’m a nice girl,” she told him, before frowning, “but maybe you don’t care about that. I mean, if you’re, like, a murderous psychopath, you probably aren’t super interested in my feelings, but what about yourself?” She reasoned, gesturing spastically to all of his…self, “You seem like the kind of guy who thinks a lot of himself.”
He cocked an eyebrow but said nothing. She was in turbo babble mode now, “If you kill me your life is over. You will definitely go to jail. I mean, look at me.” She gestured to her face, “I look like an ad for facial cleanser and girls who eat yogurt. Juries eat that stuff up. You’d probably get the chair.”
He looked a little dazed. “You make a passionate yet confusing plea, Luv,”
Her heart sank as he took a tentative step towards her, then another. He grinned as he advanced.
“Come on. I’m sure you don’t want to go to prison.” She whined, “You are way too pretty for prison. You’d make a lot of the wrong kind of friends in prison.” Stop saying prison, Ember, she begged herself. “Do you want those kind of friends? Of course, you don’t. We could be friends?” she finished lamely, face flushing with shame. Maybe he should just kill her. It would be less embarrassing.
He blinked at her, cheek twitching, “Aw, are you asking me to be your friend? One might question your judgment.”
Her hands fell to her hips, swaying on her feet. “Wow, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve only seen you twice and both times you were here,” she gestured to their surroundings. “You hang out in cemeteries because you have so many friends? Is this were your book club meets?”
“I can see why you have no friends,” he told her drolly.
She squinted as something glinted in the air above his head.
“I-” was all he managed before the object made contact with his head, sounding like a hammer hitting an overripe melon. He hit his knees with a groan, whatever he was going to say dying on his lips.
She looked at his crumpled form, unreasonably disappointed.
She’d really wanted to know what he was going to say.
About the Author
Martina McAtee lives in Jupiter, Florida with her teenage daughter, her best friend, two attack Chihuahua’s and two shady looking cats. By day she is a registered nurse but by night she writes young adult books about reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. When she isn’t working, teaching or writing she’s reading or watching shows that involve reapers, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Her debut novel Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is set to release on August 31st, 2015. She is currently working on the second book in the series, Your Soul to Take, due to release in 2016.
For More Information
- Visit Martina McAtee’s website.
- Connect with Martina on Facebook and Twitter.
- Find out more about Martina at Goodreads.
- Visit Martina’s blog.
An After-50 Dating Memoir…or Eight Years, around Eighty Men, but not nearly Eight Thousand Kisses.
There I was. Approaching 50, widowed for 15 years, alone for all that time, except for two kids, one dog, a full-time legal career, a house, a mortgage, some dear friends…and a wish. I just wanted to feel like a woman one more time. Not “Mom.” Not “Your Honor.” Not “Sis.” But, a desirable and desired woman.
I knew I wouldn’t, couldn’t fall in love again. My heart was buried in a grave in Brooklyn. But, I could offer a sense of humor, big blue eyes and intelligent conversation. I wasn’t sure about kissing or anything else; it had been a long time and I was not sure that sex was like riding a bike (which I could no longer do, given a bad knee and too many extra pounds). I was willing to try. Would anyone be interested?
To my surprise, the cyber-world was full of men like me; men who were looking for a second chance at love or lust, with a real woman, a woman just like me.
Cocktales is the true story of my adventures and misadventures in the world of online dating. It is full of practical advice (never wear knee-high hose on a first date, NEVER), giggles, groans and my growth as a woman. I cried a few tears, I made plenty of mistakes, but I also made many friends. I even fell in love.
Join me on my journey. It is a roller-coaster ride I think you will enjoy.
For More Information
- Cocktales: An After-50 Dating Memoir is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Right before my forty-ninth birthday, I asked my husband if he minded if I had sex with another man. He didn’t answer me, so I persisted.
“Listen, I’m almost fifty years old, I know. Who would want me? I’ve had two kids and a hysterectomy. I’ve got stretch marks, scars and cellulite. And I know I need to lose at least fifty pounds.”
“It’s been a long dry spell, you know. Almost fifteen years. I think I’m entitled to at least one more orgasm that doesn’t come from something powered by a nine-volt battery.”
“Okay, then, I take your silence to mean I am on my own in this. You don’t have an opinion one way or the other. Right?” Silence.
It was March and the Yankees were still in Spring Training so I knew so there were no distractions from current league standings or the pitching staff. His side of the bed was ghostly quiet. And empty. He had been dead for almost fifteen years.
I talked to him all the time. Not every minute of the day, but an ongoing dialogue in my head where I kept him informed of the day-to-day minutiae of our lives. I announced major developments then I waited for an answer. Call me crazy, but there were times when I heard his response in my head as clearly as if he had just spoken directly in my ear.
Sometimes, like now, there was nothing. Figure it out for yourself.
So, I turned out the light and sent a silent prayer Heavenward. “God, just once before I am over fifty, let me have sex with a man who wants me, let me remember how to do it. And let me feel. Amen.”
Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents.
His latest book is the historical romance, I, Mary.
For More Information
- Visit Mike Hartner’s website.
- Connect with Mike on Facebook and Twitter.
- Find out more about Mike at Goodreads.
About the Book:
Mary Crofter’s first trip on the water was just after her first birthday, when her parents came from her birthplace in Kilwa to Portsmouth. She’s been on several trips from Portsmouth to London and other places since. She loves the water and the water seems to love her. Can she survive on the water? Will people ever take seriously a GIRL as a sailor? Will she ever come off the water? If she does, will the lure of the ocean draw her back?
For More Information
- I, Mary is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Mike. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
I am multi-published. I, Mary was released on July 14, 2015, and is the third book in The Eternity Series.
Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
I started with self-publishing because the first three books were part of a series called Hartners in America about my family genealogy, and that was not mainstream. I stuck with self-pub when I began The Eternity Series.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
My first book in The Eternity Series was I, Walter. This was the first book that I had written specifically for the public, and it had been edited and vetted by some of the best people in the industry. I was very pensive about how the public would react, and it took me several weeks before I, Walter’s were pinchable … i.e. I believed they were real.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
With I, Walter I tried many things with promotion. I tried Facebook posts, tweets, virtual blog tours, news release wires, radio promotions, an the list goes on.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
I think that I’ve been growing into my own as an author, and trying new things. I, Walter was 90% male voice, and I think I did a good job of getting his story told. But when I, James came last year, his story necessitated a 50/50 male-female voice. And now, Book Three,
I, Mary was an attempt at a 90-10 female voice. It’s probably closer to 70-30, but Mary is the first attempt to write from the female perspective.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
The publishing industry is in flux right now. It’s opening to allow indie publishers, and self-publishers. And because of that, there are a lot of people that are watching their livelihood become much more difficult to justify. I think this cycle of change will be with us for the next ten or more years, and watching the iterations is the most amazing, because it teaches us how industries and people evolve.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
Listening to the reviews and the comments from people who have read The Eternity Series.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Write, write, write. Write what you are passionate about. And in the words of a friend and author Rachel Thompson: “Write what you want. You don’t need to justify your writing to anyone.”
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE
trickled down Jess’ nose. Her
sodden boots plodded along, squooshing the mud with each step.
her face raised in lament to the sky. The hood of her rain poncho slipped off.
The empty forest around her offered no answer, just a steady rain. Then, far
above the treetops, she glimpsed a bolt of lightning streaking toward a nearby
mountain and heard an answering boom of thunder. She cringed and scuttled
faster down the trail.
whispered its urgency through the leaves, and the raindrops began to fall, Jess
had been hiking through the thunderstorm with no place to stop and dry off. No
place to get warm. No offer of coffee or a dryer where she could heat up her clingy
socks. She walked alone on the Appalachian Trail.
she didn’t want to give birth after all, Jess could not turn back. Well, she
could turn back, but she would find only more of the same — woods and rain and
an endless trail.
was all Andi’s idea. As Jess trudged through the forest in the unrelenting
rain, she blamed her best friend and hiking companion, Andi, who had pushed the
hike as a great way to lose weight. And, when Jess’ teenagers took off for the
summer leaving a big gap where the role of mother used to be, she thought a
hike with Andi might fill that space. Andi, who, with her long legs, strode
ahead, maybe miles away by now, claiming she had to hurry to the nearest
shelter to keep the tent dry. Andi had tucked Jess’ poncho around her pack
before presenting her back for Jess to return the favor.
“Only about three miles farther.”
minutes, an hour if she stopped to window shop. Here, in the mountains, it
could last days as she climbed up peaks and descended into valleys. Oh, who was
she kidding? She would never walk three miles in the city. She would get in her
car and drive.
spiky greenery of a large fir tree. She could take cover under the tree, be a
little bit sheltered. Even as she considered taking refuge, she stumbled past
the tree, walking, walking.
trapped. No exit ramps in sight. She could only continue to walk.
slippery stones that had been placed to form stairs. At the top, the wind gusts
grew stronger and tried to push her back down. She hurried on along the ridge.
Her walking poles dug into the mud that edged the rocks along the path.
and rain and lightning. Rhododendron bushes lined the trail below, but the only
plant that dared to peek through the crevices on this crag was a lone sycamore
tree. If Jess could escape this bare slope, the trees ahead would provide an
arching umbrella across the trail. As she started to descend with the trail,
her boot slid across a slick stone, and she toppled backward in slow motion.
She wheeled her arms, trying to right herself, but could not stop the plunge
until her backpack hit the ground, and she landed – thump – on top of it.
was supposed to be a diet plan, not a death sentence, she thought, lying on her back like a turtle
on its shell, her arms and legs sprawled helplessly at her side. I may drown. The downpour pummeled her
full in the face, but she lacked the
energy to sit up, free herself from the 30-pound pack, heft it onto her back,
and start the hike again.
arm from her pack and turned onto her side, away from the sky. For just a
moment, she allowed herself to rest, curled into the fetal position beside her
pack. A tingle began in her spine, and, in the moment she pondered why—everything
Paulita Kincer is the author of three novels, The Summer of France, I See London I See France, and Trail Mix. She has an M.A. in journalism from American University and has written for The Baltimore Sun, The St. Petersburg Times, The Tampa Tribune, and The Columbus Dispatch. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-for-family-olivia-hardin/1121415829?ean=2940151691710
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE
the carpet. “Whew … there’s a reason big girls shouldn’t wear heels.”
beside her, this time reaching down and taking her feet to pull them up into
her lap. She made a face as if she would protest, but when he began circling
his thumbs into the arches of her feet, she leaned back against the arm of the
couch and moaned. “Oh, that’s nice. Do they teach that at earl school?”
and her toes brushed a feather’s touch against his thighs. Damn, but the woman
could get a reaction from him almost without warning. He continued rubbing,
then slipped his fingers between her toes.
pull away from him. “Ticklish.”
grin. He tugged her feet back to his lap, and when he did, the skirt of her
dress hitched up almost past her knees. She immediately took hold of the hem
and tried to push it back down.
slid them upward along her calves, kneading the muscles of each leg as he went
depths that it was hard to figure what she was feeling. Fear? Embarrassment?
Excitement? He pushed one of her legs to the side until it slipped off the
couch, then he scooted forward into the open space between her thighs. With one
ankle still in his hand, he lifted it so that he could sweep his lips across
the creamy smooth skin of her calf, working his way upward.
cover up, but the hypnosis of his stare had her. She never once looked away
from him as he made his way higher. When he nipped his teeth to the tender spot
at the crook of her knee she flinched, then sucked her lip into her mouth.
up to smother her body with his and claim her mouth. But he didn’t. Instead he
let go of her leg and then took her hands, loosening the tight hold she had on
her hemline. The satiny material dropped, sliding down her thighs to bunch at
her waist. Under she had on tight nude-colored shapewear, which she was clearly
cheek. Her fingers stretched long, tentatively touching his lips. When he
sucked two of them into his mouth, she moaned and closed her eyes.
away and to her lap where she once again tried to hide herself under folds of
question. Maybe it won’t be with me, but one day, you won’t have to wonder why
a man would worship you and your body.”
About The Author
When Olivia Hardin started having movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long, the writing bug had bitten her, and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is, until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again.
Olivia has attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term “road scholar,”’ and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She’s also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic.
A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny and their puppy, Bonnie.
The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?
Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts. With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.
For More Information
- Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off! is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
WATCH THE TRAILER!
The idea for this book began at a wedding.
Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The clothes, the flowers, the romance, the food…
Ah, the food. As we moved into the banquet hall, the culinary feast was on everyone’s minds. It was all anyone seemed talk about. But for some reason, guests weren’t conversing about the dishes being served; they were swapping stories of diets they had heard about from friends, magazine articles, even celebrities on talk shows.
I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science and years of clinical and health education experience. I’ve counseled thousands of patients and clients on all of these diets. But hearing the guests only momentarily distracted me from my horrible faux pas of wearing white (gasp!) to a friend’s wedding.
“I’m on the Blood Type Diet,” said a woman with an impossibly high bouffant hairdo. “You’ve heard of that, haven’t you? It’s the one where you choose your foods based on your blood type. I’m an AB, so I’ll be having the fish.”
“Really?” her friend replied. “I swear by the gluten-free diet. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it, and my granddaughter’s on it.”
I happened to know her granddaughter was six and didn’t have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Then there was the stocky guy who was trying to impress one of the bridesmaids. “I’m a paleo man myself,” he said, piling his plate high with beef kebabs. “It gives me more stamina, know what I mean? It puts me in touch with my inner caveman. There’s a restaurant near my apartment that’s paleo friendly. Maybe we can grab a bite there sometime, or…Hey wait, where are you going?”
And there were three Weight Watchers sisters who typed furiously on their phones and argued over their meals’ point values. Apparently there was some discrepancy between their various apps, and the sisters’ discussion was becoming more heated by the moment.
I’m past the point of being surprised by the wide range of weight-loss strategies—
some worthless, some crazy, some quite reasonable—being tossed around. In the past few years, there has been a tidal wave of diets washing up on the shores of our nutritional consciousness. Celebrities prance across our screens, promoting a variety of weight-loss schemes on talk shows and infomercials. Medical doctors star in their own syndicated television programs, exposing millions to weight-loss techniques, often unsupported by medical research. Other diets get traction on the Internet, racing all over the globe in social media posts, YouTube videos, and annoying spam e-mails. It’s hard to walk past a shopping center vitamin store without being approached by salespeople trying to pitch the latest weight-loss supplements. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the pie; the American diet industry tops $60 billion annually.
It’s classic information overload. You can’t blame people for being confused by all the diets out there, even as crazy as some of them may sound. I didn’t speak up to my fellow wedding guests that day, but it occurred to me they would benefit from some hard facts about the diets they so ardently follow.
So during the toasts, I thought to myself, I should write a book.
I counsel clients on these matters each week, giving them information they need to make the best choices for their health and waistlines. I find that all too often there’s nothing to the diets that are presented to me in my counseling sessions and classes. They just plain don’t work, particularly over the long term. And some of them are harmful, even potentially lethal. But it’s also unhealthy to carry extra weight on our frames. So how do we separate good diets from the bad?
In the chapters to come, we’ll take a good, hard look at the various weight-loss plans out there. I’ll pull no punches in my professional evaluation of some of the most wildly popular diets, both bad and good, of the past few years. And along the way, I’ll explore tried-and-true strategies for losing weight, based on my years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars, and community outreach efforts. More often than not, the best answer is not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but instead a few easy-to-follow guidelines that I’ve seen work in literally thousands of cases.
Enough is enough. It’s time for the madness—and the diets—to stop.
“I feel like banging my head against the wall when I am asked what I think about the HCG Diet, Grapefruit Diet, or the Atkins Diet. Have we become so naïve as to believe that taking some homeopathic HCG drops will fix 20 years of poor eating? The sales say we have.”
—Josh Hodnik, staff writer for VPX sports and Muscle Evolution
Holy cow, I’m fat! I’ve turned into a completely out-of-shape blob. I’m standing here looking in the mirror, and some stranger is staring back at me. Surely that’s not me. Maybe if I put my glasses on…No, I’m still the same tub of lard. Bummer.
I don’t know how this happened, or maybe I do a little bit. But it just doesn’t seem possible. I feel like just yesterday I was slim and trim, but now I can’t button my pants. Aha, now I know why I’ve become so fond of stretch pants, baggy shirts, and sweaters…and Spanx.
This weight crept up on me, and now no matter what I do I can’t get rid of it. I don’t feel good about myself or like the way I look. And I think my health may be suffering because of it. I’m so depressed. I think I’m just going to go eat cake.
Sound familiar? Could that be you talking? If it is, join the club. A club, by the way, with many members. It’s ever expanding. For some of us, this may be a scary first experience. You’ve been at a healthy weight all of your life…until now. Or you’ve had to watch what you eat, but still managed to maintain a comfortable weight. For others, this isn’t your first go-round with this type of self-talk. There are many of us who’ve been up and down this path more than once. You might be in that vicious circle we like to call “yo-yo” dieting (a dieter’s carousel, if you will)—repeated weight loss through dieting followed by a regain of the pounds lost. A 2012 study found the following:
- 26 percent of dieters in the United States adhered to their diets for less than a month
- 36 percent followed theirs for a period of one to six months
- 11 percent stuck to their diets for seven months to a year
- Only 27 percent stayed the course on their diet plans for over a year
And it’s not a surprise that almost 40 percent of Americans make their New Year’s resolution about weight. And it’s not shocking that only 8 percent keep it.
Dieting. It’s almost easier to count those who haven’t been on a weight-loss regimen sometime in their life than those who have. Have you ever gone on a diet? How about two, three, four, five, or more? I know that more than a few of you are nodding your heads vigorously. Or perhaps you’re shaking your head in frustration. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
The word diet means more than just what we do to lose weight. It also refers to what we eat and drink every day. It includes a prescribed diet, such as what a doctor or dietitian recommends for someone with, for example, diabetes or hypertension. And, of course, diet also means changing and/or cutting back on our regular food and drink habits in order to lose weight. We’ll talk about all of these definitions in this book.
Just because I’m a dietitian doesn’t mean I’m not human. I come from a family where many of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight. It definitely takes work for me to do so. And as I’ve aged, it has become harder. If I’m not diligent, I seem to expand almost overnight.
So, I’m in the weight management game with all of you. I know how you feel and the questions, challenges, and concerns you face. And with a master’s degree in nutritional science and my licensure and experience as a registered dietitian, I know what works. I can help you.
Recently I had quite the unpleasant shock. I have a doctor’s scale at home. The weights weren’t set correctly, and I thought I weighed seven pounds less than I actually did. Ouch! I knew my clothes were a bit snug, but I’d chalked it up to a combination of temporary bloating and shrinking clothes. If only…
Weight-loss plans and diet products are a huge business in the United States. In 2012, Americans spent approximately $60 billion in their quest to lose pounds. Yes, you read it correctly. We spend a lot of dough in our effort to avoid being doughy. And over half of Americans (63 percent of females and 48 percent of males) would rather lose $1,000 of their own money than gain twenty pounds.
The desire to lose pounds and maintain a healthy weight isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it’s a really good one. But we don’t always choose the best route to achieve this often elusive goal. Consequently, many of us are unsuccessful in our weight-loss attempts. Let’s look at some statistics:
- Three in ten Americans (25 percent of males and 32 percent of females) are currently trying to lose weight. About 55 percent of males have attempted to lose weight an average of four times each, while 73 percent of females have tried to shed pounds on average around seven separate times.
- A 2011 Gallup poll reported that about 52 percent of all US adults were successful at losing weight sometime in their life.
- In Britain, the average forty-five-year-old has already been on sixty-one diets.
- And while 62 percent of Canadians in one survey reported losing five or more pounds over a five-year period, most didn’t maintain it; 70 percent of those who were overweight or obese gained back all, or sometimes more, of the pounds they shed after their initial weight loss.
So many of us go round and round on the diet wheel. Do you remember when you weren’t on a diet? Has it become a way of life for you? And how many different diets have you tried? Are you already looking for the next new thing? Perhaps you’re one of the 35 percent of “occasional dieters” who move on to what’s been termed “pathological dieting,” or disordered eating. If that’s you, aren’t you tired of it?
There are certainly good reasons to lose weight. Carrying too much weight on our frames isn’t healthy, but that’s not stopping a lot of us from packing on the pounds. Obesity is also a negative trend we’re seeing around the globe. The highest rates are in Oceania and the Middle East. Oh, and in the United States two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. It’s a very dubious distinction. Here are the top-ten heaviest countries in the world, based on their 2013 overweight and obesity rates:
#1 American Samoa (94 percent)
#2 Kiribati, Central Pacific (82 percent)
#3 French Polynesia (74 percent)
#4 Saudi Arabia (73 percent)
#5 Panama (67.4 percent)
#6 United States (66.9 percent)
#7 Germany (66.5 percent)
#8 Egypt (66 percent)
#9 Kuwait (64 percent)
#10 Bosnia and Herzegovina (63 percent)
Kudos to the eight countries in Asia that have the lowest worldwide obesity rates. They are Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Singapore.
The obesity epidemic is a problem that must be dealt with. In 2013, the American Medical Association took a major step by labeling obesity as a disease. While this brought on some controversy, it should result in a change in how health care providers look at and treat obesity in individuals. That’s a good thing.
Fad or Fallacy
Carrying extra body weight can be quite bad for our health. It puts us at risk for a variety of diseases such as prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, joint problems, heart disease, sleep apnea, certain cancers, and more. Who wants that?
So what do so many of us do to combat our expanding girths? We go on a diet, often what would be termed a “fad” diet. And we’ve been doing this for a lot longer than you might think.
Fad diets go back to at least 1087 when William the Conqueror came up with the alcohol-only diet. What was he thinking? Maybe he was too drunk to construct a more balanced one. Not surprisingly, this diet didn’t work out for William. He died a year later after actually gaining weight.
The fad diet as we know it today arrived on the scene in the nineteenth century, when Sylvester Graham came up with the Graham diet. It focused on caffeine-free beverages and vegetarian meals. Not a bad idea, but it gets a bit weird. Part of the diet actually included eating graham crackers (go figure), as not only a way to assist in weight loss, but also to inhibit masturbation and the supposed blindness it caused. I’m not making this up.
In 1876, Englishman William Banting introduced the low-carbohydrate diet. A lot of us are familiar with this one. He lost fifty pounds with his plan and wrote the Letter on Corpulence discussing it. His weight-loss plan became so popular that in Britain the word banting became synonymous for dieting. A later version of this, the Atkins diet, would become very popular and is still being followed today.
Other early fad diets included Horace Fletcher’s Great Masticator diet, which in 1903 suggested people chew their food thirty-two times. After doing this, they weren’t to swallow it, but had to spit it out. That was certainly a low-calorie diet. And a lot of work for nothing.
The year 1928 gave us the Inuit diet, where followers could choose between eating either meat or the fat from it. Not both. There was also the bananas-and-skim-milk diet. And as recently as the late 1960s, Herman Taller, MD, advanced the “Calories Don’t Count” diet. Before you embrace this concept, read on. It involved eating whatever you wanted and not worrying about quantity. The important aspect of this diet was that after you ate, you drank vegetable oil as a kind of chaser. Yuck. I’m sure that worked out well.
There are a lot of diets out there. Some are good. Many aren’t. I’ll talk about a lot of them throughout this book. I’ll be your guide to choosing a healthy eating path and will give you the tools to navigate it. What I won’t do is steer you toward a fad diet. In fact, I recommend you turn your back on them.
Fad diets are temporary and can be unhealthy. Very often they’re restrictive. And many times they are, let’s face it, a bit crazy.
People are drawn to fad diets because of the allure of quick results, which they sometimes deliver. But typically the weight loss can’t be sustained long term. We’re then faced with the disappointment and adverse health effects of reverting back to our prior weights. Or perhaps we may carry a heavier burden…on our bodies.
Close to 60 percent of adults in the United States want to shed at least twenty pounds.
It would be fantastic if we’d go to sleep one night and wake up the next day twenty pounds lighter. That’s a good dream. But it’s not realistic. So many of us want it to be true, and we try a lot of weight-loss programs with the hope that we’ll be proven right. Optimism is high at the beginning. Some do have success that’s maintained in the long term. Most don’t.
Fad diets can be very difficult to adhere to for life. Even following them for months can be hard. We can also suffer ill effects from them such as headaches, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, hair loss, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, bad breath, loss of muscle, and more. Not fun.
Diets also affect the diseases we have. People with diabetes, kidney disease, and other conditions need to take care that these diets don’t aggravate their conditions. More about health risks will be discussed in chapters to come.
Here’s a crucial question: What’s a fad diet? Some are easier than others to spot. Let’s review some of their characteristics:
- They promise a quick result.
- Statements are made about them that seem too good to be true or realistic.
- Simple conclusions are taken from involved studies.
- They take information from studies that haven’t been peer reviewed. (Peer review and duplication of results is an important aspect of drawing reliable conclusions.)
- Statements of fact may be based on only one study. Again, results need to be tested and replicated to determine their quality.
- They rely on studies that don’t have a large research group, or use those that look at only one segment of the population, such as African American males between the ages of thirty and forty-five or Caucasian women ages sixty-five to eighty.
- Assertions are made that highly regarded medical- and science-based organizations refute.
- Their statements or recommendations are used to try to sell us their products.
- They promote “special elixir” type foods or specific food combinations.
- They suggest that food can affect body chemistry.
- Foods are identified as either “bad” or “good.”
- They eliminate foods or food groups.
Do any of these ring a bell? Have you researched or tried a diet with one or more of the above characteristics? Who’s nodding? Here are some of the fad diets you might’ve explored:
Beverly Hills diet
Blood Type Diet
South Beach Diet
My husband is on the brown diet. It’s a simple one. If it’s brown, he eats it. This isn’t healthy, as it’s filled with items like fried chicken, french fries, and pizza. He’s getting better, though. I got him to get rid of the fryer he had in his bachelor days. But he’s still a work in progress.
The online pharmacy UKMedix.com found that 71 percent of women had tried a fad diet. Here’s the breakdown of the diets they tried:
Laxatives: 47 percent
Fasting: 45 percent
Cabbage soup diet: 39 percent
Liquid diet: 35 percent
Body wraps: 29 percent
Cereal diet: 26 percent
Baby food diet: 26 percent
Raw food diet: 24 percent
Small plates: 18 percent
Eating foods known to make you sick: 14 percent
I question more than a few of these diets. Do you? If not, you should.
It’s Not a Clique, It’s a Group
Restrictive, low-calorie, and other types of fad diets aren’t only challenging to follow, they can also be nutritionally unbalanced. For example, cutting out entire food groups or a significant portion of them may result in not getting adequate calories, vitamins, minerals, and more. Or we may get an overabundance of something. This can cause health issues for some, like potential kidney problems from excessive protein. Too little or too much of something isn’t a good thing. Our bodies like balance.
Protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and healthy fats should all have a place in our diets. Our bodies use all of these for a variety of things. Making the more nutritious choices out of these groups is, of course, important. And each of them does have healthy members. When we cut out a food group or a significant part of it, we’re short-changing ourselves. We’ll talk more about the food groups later on.
Knowledge Is Power
Another key component of weight loss and maintenance is gaining the tools we need to manage our eating for life. It requires knowledge and behavior change. The former isn’t likely difficult for most of us, although there are a lot of less credible sources out there. The latter can be a seemingly impossible task. This book will help you tackle both.
We’re so lucky to live in a day and age in which books, magazines, journals, newspapers, websites, blogs, and more are so readily available and abundant. The Internet has expanded our horizons and our learning ability to such an amazing degree. Practically any information we want or need is just a keystroke away. But we must make sure that what we’re reading, even relying on, is quality and expert.
When I first went to college back in the day, personal computers didn’t exist. I know, can you imagine? All research had to be done at the library. And we had to use card catalogues to find our material. It was slow going.
I’ve thought about this often while writing my books. It’s certainly quick to tap into my own knowledge, which I do extensively. But when I want to look something up, I’m happy that it’s easy and convenient to find.
When looking for nutrition information on the web, I recommend perusing the sites that you know are science-based. Medical and government websites such as mayoclinic.com and cdc.gov are reputable. So are sites like eatright.org and choosemyplate.gov. You can also go to registered dietitian sites like mine at consultthedietitian.com. You have a question? I’ll answer it. For other online sources, please review appendix Afor more sites that I like and trust.
Experts in the field can be great sources. Registered dietitians are a fantastic go-to for information about nutrition. But there are so many other people out there, including celebrities, who have their own diet plans or champion them. It’s important to note that these people often don’t have the training necessary to assess and recommend an appropriate diet plan. Tread lightly there. Designations like RD, RDN, RN, and MD signify experts in health care, including diet and nutrition.
In Britain, 47 percent of people who are watching their weight will try a diet because a celebrity is on it.
I counsel many people each year regarding a variety of health issues, including weight management, prediabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, malnutrition, and more. Many of them are well-versed in self-care and have solid facts and plans to achieve and maintain good health. Others could use some help.
Television shows, magazines, books, our families, friends, neighbors, coworkers, personal trainers, vitamin store personnel, and others often share advice. Many of us take that and run with it. Sometimes we shouldn’t.
It’s essential that we use a filter and common sense when sorting through the barrage of information that comes our way. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. The promise of five pounds of weight loss in several days or ten pounds in one week, for example, isn’t healthy or advisable. It’s tempting, I know. But in this case, slow and steady wins the race.
So what do you need to get started on a healthy eating plan for you? A great beginning is to understand the pros and cons of all the major diet plans out there. Having reliable facts and figures, determining your desire and willingness to change, and setting some goals are important. Knowing recommended portion sizes and the balance of the food groups is essential. The contribution of physical activity and the effectiveness of using measuring and benchmark tools help round out a powerful weight-management arsenal. I can help you with all of these, and there’s no time like the present. It’s time to stop the diet and get on with a long-term eating plan for life.
So let’s get off the dieting merry-go-round. Our healthy weight lies ahead.
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We have duties which are perilous.
and scarce any man hath enough of it.
the threatening presence of the insidious Black Guard
two of his trusted men to secure it for me. They will take it to
the cottage of the nursemaid Elnora and secret it there. We only
hope they can avoid discovery.”
upon it. If noticed at all, a covered table will arouse less suspicion
than a royal trunk.” The Queen of the Eastern Islands paused and
lowered her head for a moment. Then glancing up at the servant
girl, she said, “If evil befalls both Lady Elnora and me, reveal the
trunk’s whereabouts only to a trusted friend. Perhaps my son
Loren still has breath somewhere in this dim world and will come
thither to claim it one day.”
hurt you!” The girl began weeping. Queen Maybella took her by
the shoulders, fighting back her own tears.
kingdom. Weep not for us. If we perish, we shall go to the
White City. Weep for those who remain here in this place.” The
lady’s voice became intense. “You must flee the palace if we
are . . .removed. This wicked Usurper will come to his undoing
some day. Yet as for you, without my protection, you will be. . . .
Please, you must flee. Trust no strangers, Dianna. Aryel the
White Knight will return. Be strong until then.”
his Black Guard had rendered the king and his advisors only
figureheads. The royal family were little more than prisoners in
their own palace. Fear of the attacks of a horrible dragon had
spread like an epidemic over the citizens of the Eastern Island
Kingdom of Ajar. In as much as it seemed only the Lord Regent
had power over the fearsome beast, they had capitulated. Kneel
or perish was his mantra. They were a free people no more. The
few citizens who rebelled were killed, and so the underground
resistance was born.)
When the soldiers came to take the trunk, it appeared to be a
bench or table adorned for a summer tea. Several hours later,
there came shouts and then screams from the royal family’s
quarters. King Elmern’s voice was commanding, but to no avail.
“Do not harm my sons! Take me only!”
destroy you, why then would I leave an heir!” Following a tortuous
silence, the Black Guards’ boots stomped through the
halls. Then they paused behind the chapel door. The door shook
from their pounding blows. The maidservant yet stayed by her
Judy Carlson is from St. Paul, MN. She and husband Tim have six children and 20 grandchildren and reside in Missouri. Judy has a BA in English from Trinity International University. Her lifetime passion for literature and writing and the works of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien has permeated this novel with their characteristic sense of wonder. She wrote her first story at age nine, and has been the grand storyteller to her children and grandchildren.