Category Archives: Family

Back on the Wagon!

Healthy holidays to you and yours!

I hope this end of year post finds you all healthy, happy, and looking forward to a bright new year–that time when we make a fresh start, set those goals, and forge on with determination that this year…we’ll do better about sticking with the plan.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of thinking that gets us off track every time. Setting goals is helpful and necessary, and planning for the future is a great habit. But when we put off making better choices until tomorrow, we subconsciously give ourselves permission to cheat like crazy in the meantime. It’s easy to say I’ll get back on the scale on Monday, or I’ll start that new exercise routine after New Year’s, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires developing daily routines you can’t live without–all year long. Healthy LivingI’m not saying you can’t enjoy a ham dinner and have a piece of pie, but the holidays shouldn’t mean that we get to go completely off the rails and then pay for it later.

This “life on credit” belief system is a toxic cultural mindset that is at the root of many failed diets, unsuccessful exercise programs, and even the outrageous credit card debt that most Americans live with these days.

Developing healthy habits is never easy–especially when we’re faced with constant temptation. We all tend to over-indulge at the holidays and we are conditioned by years of tradition to do so. But when splurging becomes the habit rather than the occasional exception, it’s much harder to get back up on the wagon and be good. And we all know it’s easier to give in to temptation than it is to fight it. It doesn’t help that there are layers of emotional, social, and physiological reasons why we over-indulge. These issues need to be addressed as well if you want to achieve lasting results in your weight management and healthy living goals. I recognize how challenging it is to get on, and stay on, the right track, but it most certainly can be done–even through the holidays.

Real change begins with the belief that we can change.  We must convince ourselves that we CAN eat moderately on a regular basis and still enjoy an occasional splurge in moderation, or a day off from our exercise routine. It simply takes training. Or in most cases–retraining.

The thing is, habits are created through repetition. If you have–like most people–developed the habit of making excuses and procrastinating on making necessary changes, your first order of business (if you want your goals to mean more than words on a page), is to work on developing a NOW attitude. Don’t wait until after New Year’s to start an exercise program. Start today! Never start a diet on Monday. Often, people gain weight on diets when they habitually practice the “I’ll start on Monday” mantra, since this gives their subconscious mind the green light to eat all the goodies in sight over the weekend.

Change starts NOW!

I know Christmas has passed, but with New Year’s Eve right around the corner and Valentine’s Day nipping at its heals with an abundance of sweet temptations, now is as good a time as any to grab the reins and take back control.  Follow these simple rules and I promise, you’ll leave your holiday dinner feeling satisfied, not stuffed… and grateful, not guilty.

  1. Micro-portion control. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your belly! Since there’s likely a feast of foods to choose from, literally take a bite or two of each food onto your plate. Same with desserts. A sliver means three bites. Trust me, if you do this one thing, you won’t overeat, and you’ll feel satisfied rather than overly stuffed. Just remind yourself that there will be leftovers and you can enjoy the meal again the next day–in another round of small portion-sized servings.
  2. Skip seconds. This probably echoes rule #1, but less is more at the holidays and more isn’t always better. Meals should be social times, but the more we associate eating with a feeling of love and belonging, the more we will use food to care for our emotional needs–which leads to habitual overeating. Instead of going for seconds, pour a second glass of water or make yourself a cup of aromatic tea and sip that while people are still eating. Enjoy the conversation and focus on how grateful you are for the loved ones in your life. Remind yourself that love is NOT about food and that you want to stay healthy and fit for them as well as for yourself.
  3. Choose wisely. With all the food and beverage choices we have to make through the holidays, and the abundance of sugary delights, it’s no wonder the entire nation doesn’t suffer a diabetic coma by New Years Day. Egg Nog–spiked or otherwise–is loaded with sugar and saturated fat. Consider the light version and “water” it down by mixing it with skim milk. It’s still plenty sweet and creamy, but it isn’t so filling or calorie laden. Be mindful of how much alcohol you’re consuming and keep track of the calories ( a 5 oz. serving of wine is about 106 calories). Practice the trade-off method, as in…trade-off the second glass of wine for a sliver of pie, but know that indulging in both will probably put you way over your daily calorie count. Think about how hard you have to workout to make those treats go away. In other words, choose consciously and choose wisely.

Making consistently positive choices about diet and exercise is the only way to achieve lasting fitness and succeed with weight management goals.

Visit my website’s Overcome your Sedentary Lifestyle page to get started on the new you, and for more tips on Fighting the Battle of the Bulge or Making and Breaking Habits, pre-order the e-book copy of my upcoming release and have it delivered straight to your Kindle on January 12th.

(Print copies will also be available!)

Overcome Your Sedentary Lifestyle

(A Practical Guide to Improving Health, Fitness, and Well-being for Desk Dwellers and Couch Potatoes)


 I hope you’ll join me in celebrating on January 10th and get your signed copy ahead of everyone else.

You’re Invited to the book launch party!

1-4 p.m. Refreshments, book signing, and Q&A

January 10, 2016 (SNOW DATE: Jan. 17th)

Granby Yoga Studio

29-B Hartford Ave. Granby, CT


If you live in the New England area, I hope to see you there. In the meantime, have a wonderful rest of 2015 and make your first goal of the new year adopting a NOW attitude!

What’s your new mantra going to be this coming year?

PJ’s Pantry and More Fun Stuff

Hey Scriblings,

It feels like ages since I’ve posted here. I missed last month entirely! That’s because I’ve been working diligently on finishing my non-fiction book, OVERCOME your SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE (A Practical Guide to Improving Health, Fitness, and Well-being for Desk Dwellers and Couch Potatoes). I’m finally done with the first draft and working on revisions…yayyy! The book should be available for preorder in November and will release in January, 2016. PJSharon_OvercomeYourSedentaryLifestyle_eCover_800[1]Although writing non-fiction is easier in some ways than novel writing, it still requires a tremendous amount of research to get the facts straight. After all, I’m not just making it up as I go along and people are counting on me to get it right.

Another hold up was that I had written several sections and then decided afterwards that they weren’t quite right for this particular book. One such section was a chapter at the end of the book I was going to call PJ’s Pantry, listing all the healthy foods I stock in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. But once I started researching all of these “healthy” foods, I was shocked–and more than a little disappointed–that some of them were not as healthy as I had thought. With “hidden” chemicals and unhealthy additives, my list quickly grew shorter and shorter! In good conscience, I couldn’t put them in the book without adding all the research I’d done as well.

Since information about which foods are healthy and which are not seems to change daily, I decided instead, to put PJ’s Pantry on my website rather than have it in the book where it would be more difficult to update and change as new information arose. Feel free to stop by and check it out. I’m sure you’ll find some helpful tips on stocking a “healthy” pantry and you may find some interesting tidbits on foods you thought were good for you, and why they may not be.

Eat your heart out, Headless Horseman!
Eat your heart out, Headless Horseman!

In other fun news, I’ll be signing books at the Granville Harvest Fair again this year. If you’re in the New England area and looking for a fun place to hang out with the kids Columbus Day weekend, I hope you’ll stop by. There will be the usual yummy food vendors, pies, crafts, face painting and scarecrow contest, as well as the magnificent quilt display at the old meeting house. And you’ll definitely want to visit the Noble and Cooley Drum factory museum, built in 1854 and still making drums for today’s musicians. I’ll be down next to the library where they’ll be having a huge book sale (all the books you can fit into a bag for $5). You can swing by my tent and grab a book mark and say hi on your way out, LOL. We had wonderful weather last year, so hopefully the sunshine and warmth will be in our favor again.

I’ll leave you all with one of my favorite smoothie recipes.

Green Choco Monkey Smoothie

Inspired by my addiction to the Coco Monkey Smoothie from the Granby Village Health Food Store in Granby, CT., I’ve adapted their recipe and added a few twists.Choco monkey smoothie


1 cup Silk Chocolate Almond Milk

1 tbsp. Almond butter (or organic peanut butter)

1 frozen banana (peeled and cut into pieces)

1 scoop Green’s Organics Superfood (Amazonian Chocolate) powder. (According to the label, 1 scoop has the nutrients equal to 7 servings of fruits and veggies!)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

(I also add a tsp. of Maca powder for an extra energy burst)


Blend all ingredients on high (Smoothie setting on Blendtec) for 45-60 seconds until smooth. Drink and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe you’d care to share?


Today is my younger son’s birthday. I’m away at a conference in Florida and so won’t celebrate with him this day.

Yesterday, someone said to me that he ought to write his memoirs.

Shouldn’t we all?

Or, as writers, don’t we, already?

How many times have you written an incident that’s happened to you? Or used a trait of a relative to define a character? Or made the neighbor next door a peripheral character in a book?

Come on, confess. I’ll start. I made my in-laws major characters in one of my early books. Here’s the thing. Members of my family read the book and nobody recognized them.

Really. There was also a cousin, a neighbor, people I’d worked with — not so you’d recognize them, but I’d written to their personalities or family history, or something in their current livesused

My husband and sons — I won’t go there. Maybe, maybe not. But the cat — I featured our Calico cat in one of my books because I promised her, before she died.

And aunts and uncles — fair game, where I could reorder life with them to my taste and say what I should have said thirty years ago.

Writing, as it were, pieces of my biography entwined with fictionalizing them.

I shouldn’t write my memoirs. I should say, read my books. There, you’ll learn all about me.

Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart is available now as a Pocket Star eBbook.

My Three-Year Journey to the 10K Cake Club

spice-cake-su-1673099-lIf you’ve never heard of the 10K Cake Club, it’s the name given to that elusive group of authors who reach the milestone of selling 10,000 copies of their book(s). Now, given that statistically, most authors will never sell more than a hundred copies (no kidding), reaching this milestone is an amazing feat. But we all know how numbers and milestones are relative, and our own expectations can often derail even the most wonderful achievements.

PJ Sharon here, celebrating with you, my dear friends, my three years as an independently published author. I released my debut novel, HEAVEN is for HEROES in September of 2011. (In celebration, I’m giving away an audiobook copy of HIFH over on my website blog. Stop by and leave a comment to enter and feel free to share the post with friends on FB or Twitter. Contest ends September 30th at midnight. )HIFH_audiobookcover (2013_06_07 00_53_00 UTC)

Now, I recall being asked, while on a panel of Indie authors, what my sales goals were as a newly self-published author. At the time, self-publishing was on the rise, Indies were on fire, and sales were through the roof for newcomers. Being the ambitious and overachieving sort, I replied with confidence that I wanted to sell 10,000 copies a year, netting me about a $20,000 dollar a year paycheck from my writing–what I saw as realistic and an amount that would make all the hard work worth the effort.

This was a reasonable goal, but one that I soon found was more or less beyond my control to achieve. I did not foresee the effects of market saturation, the need for endless promotion, or the ever-changing Amazon algorithms that would make it nearly impossible to gain traction on the discoverability front. Basically, I could not have predicted the “luck” factor.

When, in the first year, I sold over 5,000 books (I had three titles out by then), I was not unhappy with my results. After all, goals are merely guidelines…a star to shoot for. But in the second year, when I had the brilliant idea to switch from Contemporary YA to writing a Dystopian trilogy, and sales dipped to half of what they did the first year, let’s just say I was less than thrilled with the results of my ongoing efforts. I shuddered to consider my hourly wage as a writer and decided it was best to stop looking at daily sales reports, screaming into the wind about my books, and beating my head against a wall trying to figure out what the heck the secret to success actually was.

My third year hasn’t been any more profitable than the previous two, despite the fact that I–at the suggestion of Indie superstar Bella Andre no less– went back and wrote another Contemporary YA. In fact, I’ve spent more on covers, editing and formatting on PIECES of LOVE than I have on any of my others simply because I’m trying to compete in the market and feel that others do a better job of these things than I can do myself. Added in is the cost of producing a theme song for POL (thinking that this might be a novel idea and help with sales, but has as yet, not appeared to make any difference at all). With production costs up and sales down (thanks to Kindle Unlimited and the insane amount of new product coming into the market), I’ll be lucky to recoup my costs over the next year.

I’m hopeful that once I finish the Dystopian trilogy, add a boxed set or two to my cybershelf, and get back on the promotional wagon in 2015, that I might see some real return on my investment.

Lest you think that any of this is sour grapes on my part, think again.

I went into this with eyes open that it would be a LOT of hard work, gave myself five years to turn a consistent profit (this is typical for any new business), and expected that there would be a steep–and ever-changing–learning curve. I’ve had to adjust my expectations for financial success, but am hopeful that with perseverance, the pay-off will be worth the continued effort. This is, after all, my retirement plan, and being that I have another fifteen years until retirement, I’ve got plenty of time to make it happen, right?

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that success is measured in many ways. Positive reviews and happy readers who are excitedly awaiting my next release are priceless in the grand scheme of things. Knowing that over two and a half million readers have enjoyed SAVAGE CINDERELLA on Wattpad thrills me beyond words. And the awards and accolades for my books tell me that I’m doing something right. Reader reviews continue to average 4.5 stars across the board.

Another important lesson for me–one that continues to be challenged daily–is about finding balance. I worked around the clock that first year and a half, typically putting in 80 hours a week between my two jobs. I finally decided this past year to set myself a schedule. Knowing that I need to work my day job at least 20-30 hours a week to earn a  guaranteed paycheck to cover expenses, I set a limit on my writing/publishing time to 25-30 hours a week. Perhaps that’s partially to blame for the decrease in sales numbers, but I will say, I’m much happier and healthier these days. Time with family and time to take care of myself are far more important to me than sales figures and financial gain. If I’m in this for the long haul, that’s the way it has to be. I’m good with that.

It’s taken me three times longer than expected–and I’ve stopped comparing myself to others who have done it seemingly effortlessly–but I’ve finally made it into the 10K Cake Club.

Cake and ice cream all around! And perhaps a bottle or two of wine…

What milestone can you celebrate today? I hate to eat cake alone.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

Suze here, wishing you the happiest of St. Patrick’s Days.  Am I Irish? Yup. Some of the names in my family tree are Higgins, McBath, Kearns, and Morrison.  But of course it doesn’t really matter. No matter your background, St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating with the ones you love–even if it means drinking green beer!

Beltany Stone Circle, photo courtesy of
Beltany Stone Circle, photo courtesy of

So today, in honor of Ireland’s most famous little round thing that grows underground, I thought I’d share a recipe with you. Enjoy!

Suze’s Mashed Potatoes

  • 6 Medium Size Potatoes–My favorite is Yukon Gold, and yes, the type of potato really does make a difference. You want a waxy potato, not a baking potato like a russet.
  • 1/4 to 1/2  cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or cream cheese (lite versions are fine, but don’t use the fat free stuff–yuck!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and quarter potatoes, rinse with cold water, and place in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover with fresh cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until fork tender. This will probably take around twenty minutes, but keep checking them. Drain the potatoes immediately–don’t leave them sitting in the hot water or they’ll turn to mush.

Return potatoes to hot saucepan (off the heat). Mash the potatoes with your favorite mashing tool, then add the remaining ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup of milk that you’ve warmed in the microwave along with the butter. Mash everything together, adding more warm milk if necessary to make a creamy consistency.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve hot with more butter and gravy if you have it. This ain’t lo-cal. Get over it, LOL!


  • Add a cup of grated cheddar cheese during the hot mashing process
  • Sprinkle cooked potatoes with crumbled bacon and chopped scallions (Bacon? Did somebody say bacon?)
  • Drain a can of corn and mix into potatoes along with ground beef or turkey that has been browned with some finely chopped onion and drained. Place mixture into a casserole dish, cover with shredded cheese, and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Leftover potatoes? Place in a saucepan the next day and stir in chicken broth until your desired soup consistency is reached. Season with a bit of thyme and some more freshly ground pepper.

How will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? I’ll leave you with a classic Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields  and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

And may you all find your pots of gold!