Watch Out For this Common Sugary Kids’ Drink

I heard a TV report on the health dangers of giving kids sugary drinks. But what is one of the things they recommend instead? Another dangerous, high-carb sugary drink: fruit juice.

Think about this. Many parents are mislead into thinking a big glass of fruit juice is something healthy for a young child. But a big glass of juice contains the sugars 4 or so oranges. With the pulp and fiber removed. Could you get a young child to eat 4 oranges at a sitting? Most can’t finish even one!

Doctors in the know about low-carb nutrition often warn their patients about the hazards of fruit consumption. It is not a ‘free food’ that you can consume in any quantity.

Juices are particularly dangerous. An insulin-dependent diabetic is often advised to drink juice to bring up low blood sugar quick. If your blood sugar is too high anyway, why do you want it to get even higher quickly?

Medical reports say children in the US are suffering more obesity, which leads to the development of Type 2 diabetes in children. These things are a result of excess carbohydrate consumption. Switching from sodas to juices and ‘juice drinks’ does not help. Carbohydrate consumption and processed food consumption need to go down.

Many families are learning more about nutrition and feeding their kids less carbs through a low-carb, me to or Paleo diet. This is more natural for humans than the fast-food and soda diet so many families refuse to question.

What should kids be drinking? Skim milk and chocolate milk are right out. Healthy whole milk must be rationed, rather than allowed in unlimited amounts. Milk substitutes commonly available— soy, almond, even the ‘coconut milk’ that doesn’t come in cans— usually have added sugar.

Children can learn to drink water— home filtered or distilled water, not flavored water bought in stores. Older kids can learn to drink plain tea or black coffee (decaf). Children should learn that you don’t have to consume carbs or calories to get hydrated!

Make a low-carb/ketogenic bread substitute

Fix that Author Blog! #blogging #writing

blogging #FixThatBlog  So many of us authors have this problem: we’ve started an author blog with high hopes, we’ve posted stuff, we’ve spent time, effort, and perhaps money on it— and nothing happens. We have created the equivalent of an Old West ghost town in cyberspace.

Can a ghost town blog be fixed? I think so. I’ve been dealing with the problem for years, and applying what I have learned I think my current blog is slightly livelier than a ghost town. My current effort is to learn more, share it with you readers, and so improve my blog and yours.

First, let’s look at some easy little fixes. They won’t make your blog into a viral superstar overnight, but they will make it a little bit better.

Your Topic is too Narrow

If you decide your blog is JUST about you-as-author, or, worse, just about your current book, your blog will run out of gas very fast. Broaden the topic! What else are your potential readers likely to be interested in? A genre? Other authors that you enjoy? Pictures of your cat? Look at other, more visited author blogs for ideas.

You Blog only Rarely

I used to participate in a monthly blog tour for Christian science fiction and fantasy books. I got to see a lot of author blogs and writer blogs that way. But some months I would visit other blogs and find the author hadn’t blogged since the last month’s blog tour!

Regular posting is a must if you want visitors on your blog. Once a month or once a week won’t cut it. Posting regularly not only encourages returning readers, it convinces Google to take you seriously. You need Google to take your blog seriously!

You Don’t Share Each Post on Social Media

I only got started on social media in order to get more traffic to my blog. Being on social media adds more work, and can end up being a time sink. My current blog on makes it easier – every post is posted to Twitter and to my Facebook author page.

You also have to tend your social media accounts — following interesting people and sharing their stuff, unfollowing those who won’t follow you back and who aren’t the president or the pope or James Woods, and similar things. After all, if you share every blog post on Twitter but only have three Twitter followers, it won’t get you more blog visitors.

You Don’t Edit Your Blog Posts

I usually compose my blog posts on my Scrivener software. When I finish the post I can re-read it and make corrections and improvements. I can also adjust posts that come out too short (less than 300 words) or that are long and rambling.

This also ensures my breathless blog posts are available on my computer for repurposing into books or articles at some future date. That’s a win, even if you are not currently planning to reuse your posts that way.

You Don’t Use Pictures

It seems dumb, but having a photo on each blog post makes a difference. It makes more modern blog themes work better. It makes your blog posts shared on social media look more attractive and generate more reads and shares.

It is best to use photos that belong to you. Even if you have to use a photo of your cat on a post not about cats. I also use photos of an old typewriter on many writing posts. I intend to create some new topical photos for this blog’s use once I get back home. (I’m currently in a rehab center because of a stroke.)

Have you been having difficulties with your blog? What do you need help with? Or have you improved your blog in a way that may help me or other readers? Give details! And don’t forget to share your blog URL!



3 Aspects of the Christian Rosary #prayer #rosary

IM001380While most of us grew up thinking of the rosary as an exclusively Catholic thing, the fact is that the devotion predates the Protestant movement and the resulting division between Christians. Christian use of the rosary is not just found among Catholics, but survived among some Anglicans and Lutherans, and has also been revived, often under names such as Christian rosary or Lutheran rosary, in some Christian communities.

Since the rosary is in common Christian use, it is well to think seriously about it. What is the rosary, anyway? There are three aspects of the rosary we might need to study to achieve full understanding.

The Beads

A rosary is a physical set of beads used to count prayers. Many cultures have something similar to a rosary. In Eastern religions, a string of 108 beads is used to count repetitions of a mantra, or religious phrase. In the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, a prayer rope is used to count repetitions of the Jesus prayer.  Muslims are said to use beads to count the many names/attributes of Allah.

A forerunner of rosary beads in the Western church was Paternoster beads, which were used to count repetitions of the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer. These were used by Christians who could not read, or could not afford a Liturgy of the Hours prayer book, which is a devotion based on the Psalms. Repeating the Our Father, and later, the rosary prayers, was a substitute.

The Verbal Prayers

The rosary is also a set of verbal prayers to be recited. They were prayers regularly taught to young Christians at the time the rosary was created. Besides the Our Father and the Hail Mary, they include the Glory Be to the Father, the In the Name of the Father, and the Apostles Creed.

I knew all these prayers, except the Hail Mary, from when I was a Protestant. We sang the Glory Be in our Presbyterian church every Sunday. The Hail Mary prayer can be a stumbling block, but the older version of the Hail Mary is made up of two Bible verses, and the longer version just asks Mary to pray for us. To God. The same way we ask our friends to pray for us. It’s not a form of worshipping Mary, which would be a serious sin. For those who worry, the short form Hail Mary or the Jesus prayer can be used in place of the full Hail Mary.

The Life of Christ Meditations

There is a third factor to the rosary. It is a series of 15 events and topics from the life of Christ that we are to think about while reciting the verbal prayers. Much later, Pope John Paul II added 5 more events, called the Luminous Mysteries. Protestants may use these extra Mysteries or not, as they choose. All are Bible stories known to Protestants, anyway.

The meditations add depth to the rosary devotion and keep us from just mindless and thoughtlessly uttering the verbal prayers. They are the heart of the devotion. There are many Catholic leaflets, books and videos that help us keep these meditations in mind when praying the rosary. I don’t know that there is much of this nature made for various sorts of Protestants, but if you can’t find anything, adapt something Catholic!

The Lutheran Rosary

Martin Luther and the Lutheran Hail Mary


Deniers or Heretics? #lchf #health

JimmyMooreJust discovered that my favorite health podcaster, Jimmy Moore, has been added to a list of ‘cholesterol deniers.’ Along with other respected names like Dr Jason Fung, Gary Taubes, and Tim Noakes.

I guess this is the latest in pseudoscience. When the research doesn’t come out the way you like, turn it into a dogma and go to war against the heretics. Who you have to call ‘deniers’ if you want your dogma to sound like a sciency dogma.

Actual science doesn’t work like that. Science doesn’t have dogmas. We are welcome to question any scientific idea, theory or law. The ideas that win are the ones with the most proven facts on their side.

Of course, individual scientists are only human. They can hang on to a pet theory for years after research has failed to come out with the evidence they hoped for.

That’s how the flawed cholesterol-heart hypothesis became current medical dogma. Read Gary Taubes’ book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ to understand how that happened, and how, in the United States, government played a role in the adoption of the flawed theory and the ignoring of facts.

I guess I am just a little prejudiced on this topic. Learning some true science from the works of Dr Robert Atkins, Dr Jason Fung, Jimmy Moore, Dana Carpendar and others helped me control my T2 diabetes without drugs and lose over 60 lbs. The approved dietary dogmas, on the other hand, are what helped me gain the extra weight and get the diabetes. They never got me anything but hunger and guilt.

In our current culture, arguers love to use the word ‘science’ to silence an opponent, but few even know about the scientific method, let alone use it. But we need to start questioning those pseudoscientific dogmas in our head. Why do people think that? What was their evidence for starting to think that way? Are there other theories with more evidence? Are there studies that need to be conducted to find more facts?

Science is a wonderful tool, though it cannot do everything. But pseudoscience, especially the kind that calls all dissenters, ‘deniers’, cannot do anything but lead you astray.

Jimmy Moore can be found on Facebook at: https// 

How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?

bloggingWhether you have an author blog, a topical blog or a personal blog, the question comes to mind— how long should a blog post be? Is 2000 words too short? Is 300 words too long? What should we be aiming for?

The internet reader isn’t looking for a long read, for the most part. Not only do they want a brief article rather than an epic, they like white spaces and subheadings to make it seem less dense and scary.

Too short is not good, either. Search engines ignore blog posts of less than 300 words. We need that search engine traffic, so make 300 words your minimum.

In the book ‘How to Blog a Book’ by Nina Amir, she suggests individual blog posts of 300 to 500 words. A blog post of 700 words, she suggests, might be better split in two, giving you two days of blog posts.

Of course, these blog posts should be concise and to the point. Wordy posts need to be edited to make them more concise. Let your reader feel they are getting something of value in exchange for their reading time. That’s how you build relationships with your readers that can make them into regular blog readers or buyers of your books.

There is one exception to the 300-500 word post rule. That is for Evergreen posts. An evergreen post is one that covers a topic more thoroughly than a shorter post can. It is called ‘evergreen’ because if you do it well, new readers will keep discovering the post for years to come. An evergreen post can be over 1000 words and still get readers, provided it is concise rather than wordy, and gives good information.

Your blog can do with an evergreen post or two, but the meat of your blogging work will be 300-500 word posts, posted regularly and shared on social media.

Currently I am still in a rehab center as a result of a small stroke, and blogging using my Kindle instead of my home computer. Which is difficult. I will be coming home next Wednesday.

Bad Novel Ideas for New/Young Christian Authors


Can you spot the kitten sleeping in this boot?

When you are young and/or new to writing, you may go through a phase where you are not sure what kind of writing ideas to have. Some of the early ideas are sure to be bad ones.

If you are also some sort of Christian, you may feel you need to write ‘Christian fiction,’ whether you have ever read ‘Christian fiction’ or not. One problem with that is that most of us think of Evangelical Christian fiction when we hear the words ‘Christian fiction.’ If you are Catholic or LDS or even a non-evangelical Protestant, Evangelical-style fiction likely won’t be right for you.

The common bad writing ideas will trip writers up no matter their denomination. They are ideas lots of Christian writers have that few Christian readers will buy. Since many naive Christian writers self-publish these novels anyway, you will have much competition for a tiny share of readers.

Retold Bible Stories – Have you ever met someone who was just dying to read the story of King David from his favorite goat’s perspective? Or the life history of Hosea’s wife? Maybe if you are a noted Biblical scholar whose Bible commentaries are traditionally published and well-known, you could do this without boring or offending all potential readers. For the rest of us, we need a better idea.

Allegories – The famous book ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is a Protestant allegory about the Christian life. I read it when I was a Protestant, and liked it. But that didn’t mean I was raiding the bookstores for more allegories to read! The Narnia series contains allegory, but also has a lot of content that isn’t direct allegory. But even this less-allegorical type isn’t an easy sell to Christian publishers or readers. If your planned story has a Jesus-character in it, like Aslan, perhaps you should think again.

Conflict-free Historicals – Prairie romance and Amish romance are popular escapist forms of Christian fiction. Many Christian readers want to escape from their current woes where they get mocked at work for being a Christian. But Amish and prairie stories have to be realistic enough to show real conflicts. Conflict is the life blood of fiction. Even escapist fiction.

The best thing the would-be Christian novelist can do is read within the genre. Find out what books are selling well, and read them. If you are not Evangelical, look for authors from your own faith background and read their books. If you can’t find any sort of Christian fiction that you like and that inspires you with writing ideas, maybe you should consider secular fiction. There ARE Christians who write for the secular market, like Dean Koontz. That might be what you are called to do.





Being a Writer without being a Total Bitch

Sometimes being a writer involves seeming a little self-centered. We write in genres WE like, not in ones other writers prefer. We choose a story idea based on what WE think is good. Even if we are in a writing group, we still use our own best judgement.

But the side effect of being an independent writer type is that we can take the ego thing way too far. There is a long cultural history of egomaniac writers that no one wanted to be around in person. And with the advent of the Internet, we can offend and drive away mass quantities of potential readers. But we don’t want to do that.

One example of a too-bitchy writer is Stephen King. In the early years he won over a lot of Christian and conservative readers with his novel ‘The Stand. ‘ Most of us were willing to give King a chance.

But then the internet came along. King was free to express his political opinions online. And when those opinions were not just different from my own but included hatred and contempt for people like me…. Well, I no longer buy Stephen King novels. I like authors Declan Finn and Jon Del Arroz better anyhow.

Writers do well to try to be decent human beings, or at least do a good job of faking it. Be civil to strangers, even ones who are unkind to you. Don’t beat your wife, kids or dog. Don’t poison your rival writers, or even use the ‘poo’ emoji when mentioning them.

We live in a society where a lot of people think being nasty is the way to get ahead. But it’s also a way to utterly sink yourself. If you gain a rep as being always civil, even kind, to others, you may not win the respect that deserves, but you will at least avoid alienating those you need to win over.

Writing Better Male Characters for Young Male Readers

ChuckNorrisReading is becoming less of a thing, and for 1/2 of the potential reading population, there is an obvious reason. Writers are taught to write ‘strong female characters’ for the sake of young female readers. Since that might be hard, it’s considered good enough to have compliant feminist female characters who spout current feminist slogans periodically.

But how does that affect the young male reader? By the time a boy has learned to read, most boys have internalized the idea that boys and men are evil, sexist pigs who are always wrong unless they strictly obey the nearest feminist. And even then they will never be as right as a feminist woman, unless of course they become one….

Reading has become a hostile space for boys. The genre of science fiction, once fun for boys, is now full of spunky women and token gay male couples— things that the average young boy won’t like reading about. Boys’ adventure fiction has been replaced by girly fiction— after all, girls tend to be more enthusiastic about reading, why give mere boys any thought?

But boys are humans, too. Shouldn’t we want boys also to have enjoyable fiction? After all, as a teen I enjoyed books meant for boys as well as ones with ‘strong female characters’ and was the better for it.

How are some ways we can make our fiction more boy-friendly? First, drop the feminist jargon. Boys don’t need to hear that men are pigs or that one should always believe a woman who accuses a man…. Let the boys grow up into strong men before we tear them down.

Second, tone down the emotional content. Men and boys are less comfortable talking  about their emotions than women are. Boy readers won’t enjoy emotion-centered stories. It’s something most boys aren’t really able to deal with yet.

Another factor is to have a strong male mentor character for your boy hero. Many boys suffer from carelessness these days, and others may be estranged from their dads. A good male character can help a young man with such needs. Think a character that could be played by John Wayne, rather than a metrosexual.

The thing about mentor characters is that they tend to disappear when the boy hero is ready to stand on his own. And boy heroes are very early ready to stand on their own. They never feel quite ready, when the mentor dies or disappears, but they always are, if only just.

Male readers demand more action. Don’t have your characters sitting around talking about doing stuff. Have them do the stuff! That’s actually a good rule in fiction for either sex— less talking, more doing.

Finally, learn to trust your male characters. Don’t think of them as potential sexist or male pigs. Let them just be guys. You don’t judge your female characters by how well they conform to male social patterns. Treat your male characters the same way— with respect for their differences.

For my regular readers— I am still not home yet, am in a rehab center near my home recovering from a small stroke. Am carrying on, blogging using my Kindle and trying to stay active on Facebook. 


“How Do You FEEL About Your WIP?”

writeitUnuseful writing advice: in several how-to-write books I have, the authors suggest you worry about how you feel about your current writing project. With some people, feelings are everything these days. But here is a truth: feelings don’t last. The writing project you are in love with today will feel like dreck in a week or two. Feelings aren’t enough to carry a writing project to the finish line.

What does help is finding logical, rational reasons to pursue this WIP. If you have been a big science fiction reader for years, and your current WIP is science fiction, that’s a logical reason you might be the right writer for the project. If your book is set in a place you actually lived, or your book touches on an issue that you or a family member has lived through, those are also logical reasons to continue the project.

Your logical reasons can help you keep going when your emotions about the project wane. It actually can help you generate new positive emotions for the project, or it can help you keep writing when every word you write seems awful and in need of immediate deletion. (We all have writing days like that.)

If you do have strong emotions about a prospective WIP, does that mean you have to give it up for something more practical? No, no, no! Too many would-be writers are trapped writing the wrong WIP because they think it’s practical. Instead, think about your feelings. Are there logical reasons to favor the loved project? If you feel very strongly, you can probably think of some. And those reasons will help keep you writing, each day and every day, until the project is finished— including the rewrites.

I have noticed that the feelings-based writing advice mentioned above was written by women authors. It would of course be a violation of feminism for me to mention it. Which is why I mention it. Because the feelings-based approach lets so many of us down. We often need something stronger to carry us through.

I am writing this on my Kindle today, as I am in a rehab center after a stroke. I can’t do as much on this blog as I like to do, so if some kind readers would consider sharing this to their social media, I would be most grateful.

Never Do Gender-Switch Writing Exercise

DexterA lot of older how-to-write books suggest various gender transforming things as writing exercises or practices. One of them is switching a character or real person’s sex.

For example, if you want to base a character on your Aunt Mabel, including her quirks and her life experiences, you are told to switch Aunt Mabel into Uncle Milton. That way the real Aunt Mabel won’t take offense.

These days, that is bad and unusable writing advice. How can you change the sex of a character when society forbids us to notice any difference between the sexes? Except of course that males are prone to evil and sexism and must be replaced by obediently feminist women.

The sad thing about this increasing feminist ideation in our society is that actresses can’t be happy about the parts they can get unless those parts were written for men. So we have to suffer through female remakes of good movies, which are dull, but good for us since they will remove some of our brain cells and turn us in to better feminists.

So the sex-change writing exercise is out for today’s writer. What can we do instead? Make a character significantly younger or older. What will your YA sixteen-year-old heroine be like at 75? Write a page or two about it.

Changing a character’s race is as problematic as sex. If you actually change the character because of a race change, you are guilty of racism. You can change character ethnicities, though. From Italian-American to German-American, for example. Or you could change a character’s region– from Texan to California girl. Or social class— make the son of a farm worker into the son of a university professor.

One thing all of these switching exercises require is knowledge. Otherwise you are just switching character stereotypes, or showing off ignorance. We don’t want to do that.

If you are going to make a character older, know what real people of that age are like. Don’t be like that very young writer who made his 30 year old character old and feeble! Older writers have the advantage here, having lived through a number of life stages already.

The same with ethnicities and regions. You are probably going to have to stick to the ethnicities/regions you know best– your own, and those of your lifelong friends.

Do you have any tricks to help transform your characters— to make them more unique, or less like a real person you know?