Category Archives: non-fiction

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)

PJSharon_OvercomeYourSedentaryLifestyle_eCover_800[1]

 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

PJSharon_StandUpForLife_Logo_1LG_900x2300

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

Ingredients:

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)

 Instructions:

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?

A Day in the Life…

So, I’m a day late with posting to the Scribes, but when I’m through, you’ll see why. PJ Sharon here, and I thought it might be fun to share the short list of to-do’s in the days before indie-publishing two projects at once–Christmas week.

Box set cover1) Complete third and final round of edits for SAMI’s CHRISTMAS WISH LIST, a holiday novella releasing on December 19th as part of The GIRLS of THOMPSON LAKE box set. (Done)

2) Format box set prior to sending off for professional formatting. (I don’t want any surprises!) The box set includes HEAVEN is for HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and PIECES of LOVE, which means I had to go through all three novels, combine them into one document, and assure that formatting was consistent throughout. Being that my brain is in edit mode, you can imagine I was catching things right and left that needed fixing. (Done)

3) Final round edits for HEALING WATERS, Book Three in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael Trilogy. (Done!)

PJSharon_HealingWaters_8004) Prepare/format HW for final upload to Amazon by…um…tonight. (In order to offer pre-orders, the final product must be uploaded ten days prior to December 23rd release.) (In-progress) If you pre-order it now, you’ll have it on your Kindle on release day! 

5) Set up FREE run for WANING MOON, Book One in the trilogy. December 22-26th. (Includes listing book on as many FREE e-book sites as possible…there are probably hundreds these days. This takes hours and requires a personal assistant or an all-night spree in the next few days. (In-progress)

6) Ordered print proofs/advanced copies for Goodreads giveaway. They arrived today. Yay!!! So cool having the book in hand. If you want a chance to win a signed ARC, you still have a couple of days to enter. Giveaway ends December 15th. (Done) Mail signed ARCs to winners on December 16th.HW Arc pic

Oh, and did I mention, I’m participating in a group blog hop from December 12-31st? My Addictive Reads friends and I are chatting about a “Few of our Favorite Things.” You can read mine here. We also want to show our appreciation to our readers by offering $50, $20, and $15 gift cards, and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire HD Tablet that we’ve front loaded with a bunch of our books, including PIECES of LOVE. Estimated value $239! Check out the EVENT page, fill in the rafflecopter, and visit each author’s site to find more goodies.AR-2014-Giveaway

Once I’m done uploading HEALING WATERS tonight, I’m determined to take tomorrow off to breathe and hang out with my CTRWA writer pals at our annual Margarita Awards Holiday Party. This year’s bash includes a luau and a pool party. I can see some margaritas in my near future! Maybe even of the “awards” variety.

The one part my multi-project launch I haven’t been able to manage (secondary to limitations in time, budget, and brain cells) is preparing a release party or setting up any major advertising. Since past efforts (FB parties, paid ads, and social media blitzes through blog tours and such), have all shown minimal success, this time, I’m focusing on getting the books out. Now that I have the third book in the trilogy completed and I have the box set to work with, I’ll take a bit of time off from new fiction projects and focus my first quarter efforts on promoting.

2015 promises to be an exciting year. I have a non-fiction project in the works and plan to teach some workshops at conferences. I’ve already been invited to appear at the New England RWA chapter’s April conference. I’ll be presenting a workshop on Self-Care and Ergonomics for writers entitled…”Is your writing killing you?”

Yes…I am an expert, LOL.

Miraculously, I seem to be able to juggle all of this and plan a little time with family and friends, despite my slight grumpiness and fatigue. If you’re wondering if there are two of me, there aren’t. But it is on my Christmas wish list.

Best to you all through the holidays! Wish me luck.

 

 

 

Kindred Spirits

Greetings Scriblings! PJ Sharon here.

I had the good fortune of attending a few days of the 2014 IWWG Summer Conference this week. If you aren’t familiar with this acronym, it stands for International Women’s Writing Guild. Despite the fact that I’ve been heavily involved in the romance writing community for several years, I’d never even heard of this organization.  Here’s why.

Romance writers and literary writers tend not to associate or travel in the same conference circles. Whether this is due to some misconception that one is better than the other or that the two are diametrically opposed, I can’t say, because my experience with this incredible group of amazingly talented women was nothing but educational, inclusive, and uplifting–not to mention well organized and fun. These ladies write everything from poetry to memoir, creative nonfiction to essays. A few write fiction as well, and many are published, either traditionally or Indie.

Workshops included a study in Metaphor with the fabulous Susan Tiberghien,  a chance to make “mischief” with Kelly Dumar, where we explored our childhood prankster selves and acted out stories of our misspent youth.  I learned some new plotting strategies from the excellent Chris Eboch in the workshop, What I Learned from Nancy Drew,  and Dr. Dixie King’s extremely helpful Nourishing the Writer Within was an eye opener! Dr. King took us through a step by step guide of smart goal setting and challenged us to pinpoint the barriers and limiting beliefs that hold us back from achieving our goals. I was only able to attend two days of the five day conference, but I felt so welcomed and appreciated by the group that I felt as if I’d met some kindred spirits.

IWWG conf. 2In addition to the wonderful workshops and new friends I met, the food was outstanding and the venue at the Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT was absolutely lovely. I even walked the labyrinth at sunset and spent some time in meditation, which is an area of my life I’ve been neglecting and was sorely needed.

IWWG Conf. 6There was an opportunity to showcase my books at the book fair and take center stage to share from one of my stories.  I was completely floored by the quality of each and every writer’s work that was shared. Poignant stories of family,  deep inner journeys, and prose that gave me chills and had me laughing and crying within the same three minute reading. These women are powerful and brilliant, I tell you!

Regardless of genre, we were all writers and all women–sisters of the pen–there to support each other. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this group if only for a couple of days. It gave me just the shot in the writer’s arm that I needed. I learned some important things about myself in the process and hope to meet these lovely women again in the future. My eyes are open a little wider and my heart has been touched by the gift of their words. Thank you IWWG!

Here’s a little about the organization:

The IWWG, founded in 1976, is a network for the personal and professional empowerment of women through writing and open to all regardless of portfolio. As such, it has established a remarkable record of achievement in the publishing world, as well as in circles where lifelong learning and personal transformation are valued for their own sake. The Guild nurtures and supports holistic thinking by recognizing the logic of the heart–the ability to perceive the subtle interconnections between people, events and emotions- alongside conventional logic.

Have you stretched your wings and made some new friends lately? When was the last time you just wrote for fun? Because if you aren’t having fun, what’s the point, right?

End of Year Check Up…

Hi there, Sugar here. 2012 is almost over and I hope it was a good year for you. I hope you accomplished the things you wanted to. Writing-wise I accomplished a lot. Writing-wise it was a pretty awesome year for me. But it was a long year full of ups and downs and roller coaster emotions. Most of you know that I managed to snag a three book deal  with  St. Martin’s Press. In hindsight it seemed like everything happened so fast but when I was living it everything seemed to go excruciatingly slow. Here’s what my past year looked like.

December 2011

Started querying. Mostly rejections. One request for a full.

January 2012

Rejections, rejections, rejections. One more request for a full. One request for a partial.

February 2012

Rejections on partial. Rejections of queries. Some cursing. One request for a full. Two partial requests.

March 2012

Querying fatigue setting in. More rejections on queries and on partial. One request for a full. Two rejections for partials. Waiting for word back on the then four full manuscripts I had out.

April 2012

Rethinking this whole being a writer thing. I was tired of waiting. I was tired of rejections. The doubt monster had me in a nasty choke hold. One more request for a full. One offer of representation. Another offer of representation. SQUEEEEEE!

May 2012

Agent ,who I ADORE, asked me to cut down my manuscript from 100,000 words to 90,000 to make it more sell-able. (Grumble, grumble.) I went out on submission to the ‘BIG  6’ and romance giant Harlequin. Got my first rejection ON MY BIRTHDAY! Got two more rejections. Starting rethinking this whole being a writer thing again.

June 2012

I got a surprise offer from a smaller but still kick-ass publisher. Screamed like an idiot when I got off the phone with my agent. Two days later I got two offers from two of the ‘Big 6’ and was informed that I would be going to auction the next day. Was in shock. Was shaking. Was also at work when I found out. Kids in my class thought I was having a stroke. St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan) offered me a three book deal. I actually met my editor at CTRWA’s Fiction Fest long before I even thought about writing my book. It must have been fate because I don’t remember a single other editor that was there that year beside her.

July 2012

Contract negotiations. PM announcement.

August 2012

Contract negotiations

September 2012

Edits arrive. Rethinking this whole being a writer thing again. Contract negotiations finally finished!

October 2012 

Book 2 was due. Edits for book 1 due. Super hard. Super proud when I finished both of those things.

November 2012

MUST WRITE BOOK 3. Advance check came! Advance check went! But no more student loans!!!!!!!!! (Do you have any idea how expensive college is?)

December 2012

GOT A RELEASE DATE!!!!!!! Dangerous Curves Ahead will hit shelves on August 27, 2013.

Got my author photos taken. Probably a bad idea right after Thanksgiving, but they came out pretty good.

Tackled this whole social media thing. Amazon author page. Check.

Website updated again. Now it looks kinda professional. http://www.sugarjamison.com/

Got my Facebook page done. Please like me!

Got my cover art! Check back here soon for reveal.

Oh an I won my very first award!

Phew… That was a very long year. What did yours look like?

Me with the very prestigious MARGARITA!
Me with the very prestigious MARGARITA!