My First Audiobook Has Launched!!!

I’m over the moon thrilled to announce that my first audiobook has launched. For news about it, a fascinating interview with the amazing narrator, Lisa Reichert and some fun contests, check out my latest newsletter:

Jo-Ann’s June Newsletter

Writing = Weight Gain? #Mondayblogs

Standing on the scale can be a horrific experience. The truth is many of us watch our weight rise as we spend more time at the keyboard.  A sense of helplessness and guilt plagues us, and worst of all, having another chocolate doesn’t help.

Does it have to be this way?

I usually refrain talking publicly about my weight loss adventures, because it’s so personal. I think you know what I mean. Who wants to talk about something that makes them feel like a total loser? Or should I say gainer?

My History

I was an athletic, skinny kid, the kind who could eat anything and did. Around twenty horizontal-2071320_1920 my body changed, and started storing weight. What a traitor!

At twenty-four I had my first baby. I gained fifty pounds, because estrogen loves me that way.  I didn’t think I’d have any trouble losing it. Wrong. I never lost it. At twenty-six I had my second child. I didn’t gain as much, but my body never went back to its maiden form.


In my late thirties I adopted an eating/exercise program that involved severely limiting calorie-intake and walking for an hour a day. It felt great to see the pounds slide off. I looked younger and felt proud.

But the weight came back.

I didn’t give up walking, but I found the low calorie diet too difficult to sustain. In my forties I tried the Weight Watchers plan, which involved counting points assigned to certain foods, which mostly related to calories. I lost 25 pounds. I thought I had finally won the battle! I was eating healthy and losing weight.

But it came back.

I think our culture and media plays a factor in our weight and self-perception.

Next I tried the South Beach diet, which is a high protein and fat, low carb regime, similar to the Aiken’s diet. It amazed me how quickly the first ten pounds dropped. In total I lost twenty pounds. I kept telling myself I loved it, but the low carb diet frayed my nerves and slowed me down.

And the weight came back.

Next I went to the L.A. Weight Loss Diet, a low calorie regime focused on eating well-balanced healthy foods in small quantities. This one was, to my mind, the most successful. I lost forty pounds and felt great, and I learned the most about good eating habits. The low calorie part got to me yet again.

And the weight came back, with a vengance.

I retired from my day job and started writing. Weight gain became even more of a problem. I exercise regularly, but it doesn’t keep it off. I try to eat right, but it doesn’t make much of a difference.

I told you weight-loss stories are boring. They start with hope, middle with hard work and determination and end with a predictable punch line: the weight came back.

This  brings me to now.

My Latest Venture

I’m trying the IF lifestyle. They don’t call it a diet. IF stands for Intermittent Fasting, but 51+D-QqWP+L._AC_US218_I like to call it by the name of a popular book on the subject: Delay, Don’t Deny. Yes, I’m going to intermittently starve myself. Why?

It makes sense. Yes, I know the others did too, but listen to the science of it and tell me if it intrigues you. Please, excuse my over-simplification. I’m not a scientist.


51hhpJJxocL._AC_US218_Low Calorie Diets Don’t Work because: “The message of eighty years of research on obese animals is simple and unconditional … obesity does not come about because gluttony and sloth make it so; only a change in the regulation of the fat tissue makes a lean animal obese.” (Gary Taubes, Why we Get Fat, p. 103)

Insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose, is at the center of the weight gain drama, but the hormones ghrelin and leptin also factor in.

“In order to lose weight successfully, you need to figure out how to lower your insulin levels so that your body can access your stored fat efficiently.” (Kim Stephens, Delay, Don’t Deny, 15% on my Kindle)

The IF people believe that, “When your body becomes adapted to fasting …you become a fat burning machine during the fast.” and best of all, “Your metabolism does not slow …” as it does with low calorie diets. It allows your cells more time to get rid of waste and it allows your hormones to balance out. So goes the theory.

Intermittent Fasting can be done in many ways. The variations fall into two categories: ones with eating windows and ones that require the person to eat some days and not others. I’m trying the 8/16 eating window option.

What Does an 8/16 Lifestyle Look Like?

I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want for a set eight hours. Currently it’s 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. The rest of the time I’m fasting. I drink water and green tea.

I’ve been on this plan for just over a week. I haven’t killed my husband yet, though I admit to grand moments of hanger.

On the plus side, I’ve experienced: greater mental clarity, extra energy, body warmth. the bumps on the back of my arms are gone, and best of all I feel full after meals. I can’t remember the last time I felt full. That alone could lead to success. I hope.

On the negative side: I have had my hanger moments and the occasional headache, but they say that passes within the first two weeks. My weight has fluctuated up and down by three pounds.

Will it work for me? I’ll let you know.


Photo Sources: for photos, for creating the meme

Information Sources:

Taubes, Gary. Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes. First Anchor Books, 2010 (note he doesn’t talk about IF, but he does talk about insulin and how it effects our weight gain.

Stephens, Kim and Power, Kenneth. Delay, Don’t Deny,





I Lost my Snap and Crackle

I’m sure if you’re past the age of five you know what I mean. Some days it’s darn hard to find the fizzle.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a blessed life and I am grateful for every part of it. But I won’t lie to you, writing is a difficult passion.

So what’s got my dander up this time? Take your pick:

  • they cancelled Shadowhunters (an amazing urban fantasy TV series based on Cassandra Clare’s novels). While it is fantasy it tackles many of our cultural issues: LGBTQ, racism, feminism. And it has magic. The writing and acting is amazing and yes, I know I already used that word. I’ve been retweeting #saveshadowhunters, but it’s not looking good. They say it is too expensive to produce.
  • my latest release tanked and I know I could have done an umpteen-million things differently, but still it tanked and that hurts. The market is busy. People are rushing to buy FB and Amazon ads, but I haven’t heard many of the little-guys like me getting good results. I used to purchase small adds with Fussy Librarian etc. but they added up and the ROI (i.e., return on investment) wasn’t great. I figure I can take my cash downstairs and put it through my paper shredder and have as much success. There was a time when writing the next book was enough. Now they say “Market, market market, and by the way for a small fee we will tell you how.”
  • my current story sucks. I know I’m at that second draft stage, a time when I always think my story stinks, but it’s harder to push through knowing my last book isn’t getting the response I wanted.
  • I’m blogged out. When I write a post I feel like King Sisiphus, whose punishment for thinking himself as clever as Zeus was to push a rock up a hill for all eternity. Readers come and go, my focus meanders, I’m lost in a sea of words.
Sisyphus by Titian, 1549

So what’s my next step?

Whenever I hit a wall, that’s what I ask myself.

I’ve decided to finish my current series with the story I’m working on. I’ve learned a lot from the Abby series that I can take into my next project. So I’m plugging away at that.

But boy that bolder feels heavy today.

Photos: The Gorilla is from Pixabay and Sisphus is from Wikipedia


The Creative Ink Con 2018

I had a great time at The Creative Ink Conference in Vancouver this year.

I attended two outstanding sessions: one called, “Writing Fight Scenes” with a panel of writers (i.e., Kevin Hearne, C.C. Humphreys, Tyner Gillies, JM Landels and TG Shepherd, and moderated by Kristene Perron) discussed the mechanics of writing good fight scenes; the other, “Blue Stories: How to Get the Law Enforcement Details Right in Your Fiction,”  was a Q and A with Surrey policeman and writer Tyner Gillies. I learned a lot about both topics, too much to fit into one blog post.

I also participated in a panel, “Romancing the Monster” with Kate Austin, and Chloe Cocking, moderated by SG Wong. The thirteen people in the audience (12 women, 1 man) were actively involved in the conversation.  As you can see in the picture there was a lot of laughter. The panel kicked off the session by briefly talking about their writing projects and the “whys and hows” of romancing beasts. We discussed the trope of Beauty and the Beast and LGBTQ representation in a larger conversation with the audience.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to attend and participate in the conference, and am thankful to Sandra Wickham, the coordinator, and her league of volunteers.

Here are two photos taken by Kristene Perron. You may have seen them already on FB, but I thought I’d share them here, because I know not all of you are on FB.

Creative Ink1

Creative Ink2

J. C. McKenzie (my daughter) and me. VIPA stands for Vancouver Island Paranormal Authors

The best part of the weekend for me was attending the conference with my daughter and visiting my other daughter and her family who live nearby. I am so lucky.

My Blooper Weekend

You know what they say about “the best laid plans.”

I’m sitting here at my booth at The Creative Ink Festival in Burnaby (a suburb of Vancouver, B.C.)

Getting organized to be in a ferry line up for 7:30 rattled my brains. At least I figure that’s my best excuse for creating an ad with the wrong dates.

Yes, I did.

I put out a newsletter today, which you can see here. In it I have an ad for the book I’m putting on sale for this weekend. Sounds good, Right?  The best laid plans … I put the wrong month on it. Oh yeah, I’m looking really professional. Feeling it too:)

Anyway, it is a big sale. My anthology of ghost stories is free. I’ve never put in on sale before and to be honest it was hard, because it is four stories, months of work, sweat and laughter.

But if you are interested … Cheating Death is available May 18-20th at all Amazon outlets for free.

A New Release and Newsletter

A new release, a free book, a contest, audio book news and more …

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April Newsletter

My latest news, a rafflecopter contest and a free book …

You can read my April newsletter here.