health and social media updates – January 1, 2015

3 comments Written on January 1st, 2015 by
Categories: News

I’ve never been the type to make New Year’s Resolutions, but the first of the year is a good time for backstory and benchmarks. In particular, I’ve been working on my physical health somewhat more aggressively over the past four months, and I’m long overdue for sharing some of the results. So here we go:

Some history: I think my all-time high weight was about 315 lbs. That was about fifteen years ago. In 2000 my father died, and around a year later I was diagnosed with the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. I was already hypertensive, victim to chronic and crippling back pain, and in such poor physical condition that walking a block would leave me breathless and exhausted for the rest of the day. I was also mostly unemployed. I spent the next year making changes in my life. I began walking for exercise, which in turn led to joining a gym as I developed some stamina and working out more strenuously. I lost some 65 lbs. My creative powers took a huge jump forward as well, and I got a part time consulting gig working for the medical center where a former graduate student of mine was CEO. All in all, it was a damn fine year but it had a surprise ending.

After ten years of marriage, my wife asked me for a divorce. I moved out of our house (which we eventually sold for a modest profit). I paid off all of my credit card debt, and I was suddenly single. Despite an amicable divorce, it’s clear in hindsight that the dissolution took an emotional toll on me, which I dealt with at the time by falling back into old patterns. Within a couple years my weight was back up 275 lbs, and slowly climbing. I dated a bit, and in time remarried. Valerie and I have been together now for nine and a half years, and during that span I managed to bump my weight back up to 300 lbs.

A few years ago she lured me to Pilates classes which over time have done tremendous things for my stamina and flexibility, and more importantly rid me of the debilitating back problems that previously would leave me bed-ridden for weeks at a time. The downside of this though was that I had the illusion of feeling great, all the while not realizing that my Diabetes had gotten out of control. My A1c score (a measure of glucose in the blood) was nearing 8.0, and that was with medication. Not good.

Near the end of August of 2014 (let’s call in a month after my 55th birthday), I made some changes again, aided in part though some self-hypnosis work. My weight at that time was fluctuating a bit. For months I’d kept in the 290s, but it could creep up across 300. For purposes of personal logs, beginning the morning I began tracking things I weighhed in at 293-ish. Now, let’s look at where we currently are:

WEIGHT: I weigh-in every morning and while many sources say this is less than an ideal thing to do, I find it works well for me. Today the scale read 266.2, or more than 25 lbs. from where I was last August. In pragmatic terms, I’ve shifted two notches up on my belt (I could do a third, but I thought I’d hold off on that until I hit 265 or less for a few days in a row) and shifted to smaller waist-size in slacks. Shirts are fitting much better. I have more energy.

EXERCISE: I still do Pilates classes, typically twice a week. I also spend several days each week (sometimes six days, sometimes as few as three) putting it at least two miles on the elliptical before I start my day.

DIET: I still eat pretty much whatever I want, but I don’t want the same things I used to, and/or in different quantities and frequencies. I typically limit myself to no more than 1800 net calories (i.e., calories after deducting calories burned through exercise), and usually it’s closer to 1400.

SUGAR: Last summer, the physician I’d had since I first moved to Pennsylvania retired and I went in search of a new doctor. In September, I had my first diabetic check-up with her. My hemoglobin A1c score at that time was 7.6, still way too high in my opinion. A couple weeks ago I had my quarterly follow-up. The new score: 6.4! Technically, that puts me in the “pre-diabetic” range, but that’s also while still being medicated. Moving forward, my intention is to take that down to 6.0 or less, and then begin decreasing my medication. I’ll never stop being diabetic, but through diet and exercise I can get ever more control on the disease and that’s my goal.

That’s the important stuff, healthwise. But as long as I’m here, I’ll update you on the social media stuff too, as I’ve done in the past. Numbers in parentheses are the scores form the last update, back on August 1, 2014:

Followers – 104 (102)
Friends – 2145 (2112)

Tsu (the newcomer on the block):
Friends – 31
Followers – 17

Tweets 4082 (3563)
Follow – 91 (80)
Followers – 590 (547)

Fans – 64 (64)
Friends – 1562 (1558)
2015 Reading Challenge 1 out of 50 (I finished a book this morning)

And that’s where I am on the first day of this glorious new year.

Eating Authors – The Master List – now updated through the end of 2014

No Comments » Written on December 31st, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Eating Authors: The Master List

Back in June of 2011 I started a weekly blog feature, EATING AUTHORS. The plan was simple: showcase a genre novelist — newbie, “big name author,” or anywhere in between — and ask my guest to reminisce about his/her most memorable meal. It’s been a bit of paying it forward, a bit of sneaking a peek at the personality behind the work, and it’s given me an excuse to reach out to friends I don’t correspond with enough and to encounter new authors who had never heard of me. So, pretty much a win-win from Day 1.

After three and a half years, the feature is still going strong. But with coming up on 200 authors it’s easy to lose track as to who’s already been here. And so last summer I began compiling a Master List to help keep track of that information. I’ve just updated that list through the end of 2014, which seems like a good final post for the year.

But know, I’ve got an impressive list of authors and meals already lined up for 2015, and plenty of others that I’ll track down and harangue invite to participate. I hope you’ll join us.

photo credit: “Setting 1″ by Christopher Peplin

Eating Authors: Doranna Durgin

2 comments Written on December 29th, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Doranna Durgin

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! Despite my expectations and intentions of a relatively easy December, things took a few unanticipated turns this month and more than a few of them went a bit… flooey. Fortunately, we have passed through into what I like to call “Dead Week,” the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day during which most people have slumped into food comas, collapsed following the departure of friends and relatives, and/or otherwise succumbed to celebratory overload. This tends to leave folks disinclined to require or expect much from anyone. At least that’s how I spin it. My big accomplishment for this week is this blog post. So, you know, you’re welcome.

Closing out EATING AUTHORS for 2014 is past Compton Crook Award winner Doranna Durgin. With more than thirty books out, including both multi-volume series (e.g., Sentinels at six books, The Changespell Saga at four books with an omnibus volume on its way) and stand-alone singles in universes of her own creation, as well as popular media tie-in realms including Star Trek and the Buffyverse, if you haven’t discovered her work before now then you’ve got a lot of reading ahead of you.

Animal elements are a standard in her fiction, so it should come as no surprise that Doranna has a strong connection to horses and dogs outside of her writing life. Indeed, she almost has me convinced that beagles are superior canines to mutts. Almost.

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Eating Authors: Amanda Downum

No Comments » Written on December 22nd, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Amanda Downum

Hanukkah is one the wane and many folks are getting fat and/or drunk at the office holiday party (more of the former and none of the latter in my case, as my DayJob™ is in the mental health and addictions domain, so parties are typically dry), to say nothing of sending and receiving delicious gifts and treats, or gearing up for that big holiday meal at home. Some of us are busy with last minute shopping, and others are gleefully finding mysterious packages arriving by post or other carrier.

Meanwhile, amidst the other bits of frenzy that is typically associated with December, it’s the start of another week and on this particular Monday I’m pleased to tell you that Amanda Downum has dropped by to share a tale of a memorable meal. She’s a fantasy author perhaps best known for her Necromancer Chronicles (The Drowning City, The Bone Palace, and Kingdoms of Dust).

Amanda’s been shortlisted for the David Gemmell Morning Star Award, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and the Gaylactic Spectrum Award. Her newest book, Dreams of Shreds and Tatters, will be out from Solaris next May.

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Solstice 2014: Celebrate Short Fiction Day

No Comments » Written on December 21st, 2014 by
Categories: Freebies
Tags: , ,

Author, Photographer, and all-around selfless person, Sally Wiener Grotta, brought this to my attention, and now I’m bringing it to yours:

Please join us in marking today, December 21st (or as it’s known in the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice), as Celebrate Short Fiction Day.

Nancy Christie, the founder of Celebrate Short Fiction Day, says, “The winter solstice marks both the start of winter and the shortest day of the year. So why not take advantage of the long winter night to curl up with a good short story?”

Seriously, like you needed an excuse?

All over the Internet, authors and small presses are making samples of their short fiction available to you for free today. Here’s a link to the freebies from Sally’s Pixel Hall Press, and here’s a link to an updated (i.e., better ebook code than the last version) of a short story over on my Freebie Page.

Please help spread the word, and the fiction!

Eating Authors: Brenda Cooper

No Comments » Written on December 15th, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Brenda Cooper

We’re about to the midpoint of the month, or as I like to think of it, the time of maximum shopping frenzy as we mark the final ten days until Christmas. For those of you keeping score, Hannukkah (aka the Festival of Lights) starts tomorrow night. Here at EATING AUTHORS, our contribution to this time of year is to bring you Brenda Cooper, author, futurist, and past winner of the Endeavour Award.

You probably know her from Building Harlequin’s Moon (the novel she co-authored with Larry Niven), or her popular Silver Ship series. More recently she’s written Mayan December, as well as her Ruby’s Song Duology.

But what I want to focus on in this brief intro before she tells you about her most memorable meal is something even more timely: Brenda is one of six authors (the others being Bradley P. Beaulieu, Tina Connolly, Stephen Gaskell, Will McIntosh, and Martha Wells) taking part in an exciting Kickstarter project called Six by Six that bundles together six short story collections by six different authors (most of whom, as you can see from the links above, have been here to share past meals). I think it’s a great idea, authors pooling their talents and their respective readerships to cross-pollinate. It’s a real win-win approach that I heartily endorse, and exactly the kind of thing I look for in a futurist.

And you know, it would probably make a great holiday gift. I’m just sayin’

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25% Discount at – 12/11 thru 12/14

No Comments » Written on December 10th, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Barnes & Noble

I’ve just received a link and checkout code that grants 25% off a single item from Barnes and Noble’s website. This appears to be over and above whatever other discount it’s listed at. Here’s the link and code:

Take 25% Off A Single Item with Code BNFAMILY at checkout, from Dec 11 – 14, 2014

I’ve just used it to buy myself a copy of Umberto Eco’s The Book of Legendary Lands, which has a list price of $45, a regular price of $33.34, and with this link and code came out to only $25 (with free shipping).

Fine print: As you know, Bob, elsewhere on my website I have links to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for my various books. In both cases, I have Affiliate accounts, so that (in theory, though not always in fact) if you click on a link for a book and then buy it, the retailer sends me a few cents on every dollar spent. Because I have these affiliate accounts, every now and then the retailers send me coupon codes. That’s where this one came from.

Eating Authors: Tim W. Burke

No Comments » Written on December 8th, 2014 by
Categories: Plugs
Tim W. Burke

As promised last week, I’m back from the west coast, and if I have anything to say about it I won’t be doing any traveling for at least a month. I’m still fighting off a persistent cold that hasn’t quite managed to breach all of my defenses and lay me out, but nonetheless does have me feeling a bit logy. Extra sleep and fluids are helping, as is a return to my regimen of regular meals and exercise.

This week’s guest is Tim W. Burke, an author I’ve had the great pleasure of working with for more years than either of us is comfortable recalling, but I owe a lot of my growth as a writer to his tireless efforts smacking me in the head in response to some bumble in one or another of my early drafts. As such, I’m really happy to finally have him here on EATING AUTHORS.

Tim is primarily a horror writer of short stories, but he also has a background in writing sketch comedy. The combination has given his fiction both a macabre spin and a tremendous sense of timing. It’s a one-two punch that tends to stun you, time and again, with stuff you weren’t remotely expecting.

Last Spring, Tim’s first book, The Flesh Sutra, came out and posed such familiar questions as “can love transcend death?” as well as the less common “would you mutilate mankind for love?” There are layers and layers to this work, and I had the pleasure of seeing it unfold as each piece of it came through our workshop. I can’t share that experience with you, but I can recommend you head out and read the finished book.

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