Monday, January 9, 2012

Take a Non-Coffee Break with Guest Blogger: Miriam Newman

Welcome best selling author
Miriam Newman to the Book Boost!

Here's what she had to say...

This past July, I had a bit of a shock. Now entering my sixties, I’ve always been an active, outdoorsy kind of person. Weight was never an issue; in fact, when I was younger I was on the thin side, probably due to my ceaseless physical activity. Then the writing bug hit. Many long hours at the computer. Lots of coffee. Not a lot of sleep. Sound familiar?

Things kept cropping up. First I was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes. The eye doctor said it was due to sun exposure. It made using the computer screen a real pain, but I plugged on. Next it was a relatively minor injury to one ankle which turned out not to be so minor. One blood clot, surgery and some physical therapy later, I realized it had taken six months to heal.
OK, I said, this is not normal.

Diabetes runs in my family and although I wasn’t having the usual symptoms, I was suspicious. So off I went to the doctor, asking to be tested even though it wasn’t “time.” When she called me from home on a Saturday morning, I knew the news was bad. My glucose level was three times normal. She couldn’t believe I was still walking around. Well, I was…but not enough, apparently.

The writer’s life was doing me in.

It was time to reorganize that life, if I wanted to keep on having one. Weight gain and inactivity are deadly enemies with this disease, which the Centers for Disease Control says is becoming a worldwide epidemic, and I came out shooting. I learned to balance my carbohydrates and took off 25 pounds in a hurry. No more pizza and Dr. Pepper (sob).

Fortunately I’ve always loved my fruits and veggies, milk, fish and whole grain products. Good thing, too, because that’s pretty much all I ate. Next I got reacquainted with my neighborhood by walking…yes, walking…through it every day, rain or shine. In between chapters, I walked, as much as three times a day. I was putting in about six miles daily.

Free, relatively convenient and surprisingly social. There are a lot of other people out there doing the same thing. My blood sugar dropped over 200 points. I could see again. When the doctor tested me three months after the diagnosis, the test that measures blood sugar levels over the previous three months (which ought to be below 7) was 6.6. It started at 13, mind you (oops).

What WAS I thinking? In a word—writing. It’s the essence of my being, but…and this is a big but…not at any cost. We can joke about the coffee and the chocolate, the flashes of inspiration that keep us up till 5 a.m. writing something that just has to come out, skipping meals and then shoveling in the food because you’re starved, sending out for pizza because you’re on a roll and don’t want to take time to cook. But you know, it’s not a joke. It’s your life.

So don’t take that BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hand of Keys) thing too literally. Walk. Jog. Take your dog for a spin—he or she will love you for it. Buy a bike…you know, the kind with pedals. Go meet your neighbors on lovely clear mornings; you might be surprised at what they have to share with you.

Watch the sun rise. Check out the stars at night. Rediscover 7-grain waffles with fresh raspberries…apples with natural peanut butter…tilapia broiled with sugar-free marmalade and grated fresh ginger on top…beets roasted in the oven just like a potato . Salads. Seltzer water instead of soda. You may not be eating as much, but by golly you’ll treasure everything you eat.

And it’s so, so nice to get back into old clothes—like a whole new wardrobe you didn’t realize you had.

Fresh organic food—maybe $70 a week. Doctor’s visits—around $90 a pop. Not dying early of preventable complications—priceless. Take care of your body. If you don’t, where will you live?

A Note from the Book Boost: So glad you're doing better now, my friend. You know how I live with diabetes daily as my daughter has Type 1. Unfortunately, she can't control hers by diet and exercise alone but I hope I've instilled good habits in her at an early age nonetheless. Thanks for sharing your story and I'm so happy that you joined us today. Please tell us more about your latest book.


An ambitious young Norman knight, Neel, is seriously wounded at the Battle of Hastings and nursed back to health by a Saxon girl, Rowena. For her, it is only a matter of Christian duty and she is shocked to receive his proposal of marriage in return. She dares not refuse, but how can she love a Norman?

For Neel, Normandy is only a bad memory. His future lies in Rowena’s land and her bed, but he is not welcome in either.

From pastoral Sussex to the furthest reaches of Wales, he will seek to make her his own.


Fumbling at the gaudy tie, she drew out a necklace of stones like the eyes of a cat. Carefully drilled and strung on a fine wire, they slid through her fingers smoothly.

“They are called topaz,” Neel explained. Stunned, Rowena had neither moved nor spoken.

“They are the color of your eyes. I have given Bryna a gown for you, too. And a head covering.” He smiled at her. “I think you will like ours better. All I ask is that you wear them for Christ’s Mass.”

She remained obdurately silent, but she could not…dared not…refuse. No doubt the gown was Norman. He called her “little Saxon,” yet did not wish her to appear to be one. And perhaps, if Ralf had spoken truly, he was correct and she wasn’t one at all.

“Here,” Neel said as if her acceptance was a given. “Sit beside me and I will put it on you.”

Still mute, she perched rigidly on the edge of the mattress she had shared with him in perfect comfort when he was unconscious. This time he was awake and aware and so was she-- jolted by every nuance as he touched her for the first time.

He was efficient, raising her wild hair with a hand holding its weight, parting it and dropping it forward over both shoulders so that he could fix the clasp of the necklace. She felt the cold, rich stones against her collarbones and heard the tiny snick of the clasp as he put his claim on her.

He lifted her hair back carefully, not catching it in the necklace. But he did not take his hands from her shoulders after he had done it.

She fell back upon manners, drilled into her by Bryna. “I have nothing for you,” she said faintly.

“Then give me a kiss.”

There it was--the trap she had sensed. She could wrest her body from beneath his hands and bolt for the door and he couldn’t stop her, but that was only postponing the inevitable. Slowly, she turned her head to the side, not moving towards him but not moving away.

“Come,” he said softly, inching closer. How was he doing that…hurt as he was?

“Be careful,” she said, ambiguously.

“It’s just a kiss.”

It would be capitulation…unspoken acknowledgement of his ownership. But just as the needs of the body had drawn her to offered food, other needs tempted her, too. Trapped not by his hands but by her own indecision, she made no move to resist as he turned her within their circle, now at her waist. It was an awkward position, though, leaving her in imminent danger of falling off the side of the bed.

“Better hold on,” he said, the devil incarnate. She did, twining her hands in his fine tunic as he spread his palm against her back to support her. The other hand cupped the back of her head. Infinitely gentle, he lowered his face to hers, teasing at her lips.

“Very sweet,” he murmured. It was nothing like she had thought a kiss would be. She had imagined Ralf plunging his tongue into her as Leofric had done…pictured him groping her breast, hurting her, gross and fetid.

It was not like that at all. Neel’s tongue traced the outline of hers lips, slow and enticing, not a bit revolting. When his lips nudged hers gently she opened her mouth, sighing. He kissed her slowly and deeply, a silken invasion that set her heart pounding. Her hold on him increased, involuntarily, and she felt his response in the strength of his hand on her back, fingers splayed, supporting her. Guiding her. He drew her against his chest until she could feel her breasts taut and aching against his warm flesh and started to resist. Immediately, his grip slackened and he lifted his face from hers.

“I’m only playing, little Saxon,” he whispered.

Want More Miriam?

Visit her website here.

Watch the exciting trailer! Click here.

Pick up a copy today! Click here.


Miriam Newman said...

Thanks, Kerri. I'm unfortunately well aware of your little daughter's Type I diabetes and of course you are right--diet and exercise alone will not work. For us older folks, however, it's often the key. Now that I've joined the Type II club, I'm amazed at how many writers seem to have this disease. Occupational hazard? I don't know. But I hope my post might serve as a wake-up call to someone else. Oh--and by the way--that's a very good book you put up for me today, my first venture into writing a straight historical and I loved it.

Amber Polo said...

Yes, being a writer is both a joy and a danger! After researching for my book Relaxing the Writer I learned just how many ways it can be bad. Writers (and readers) need to take precautions and make adjustments in their offices and lives to stay healthy. For tips I'm doing a blog series on the Writer's Butt.

Miriam Newman said...

Excellent idea, Amber. Excellent title, too! Writer's Butt. You made me laugh with that one.

derekd said...

After a scary time, I am so glad you have gotten a handle on your health, Miriam. We don't want to lose you, or see you diminished.

Balance is the word you used that jumped out at me. It is so easy to get focused on the things that energize us to the exclusion of the things that keep us healthy. Thanks for the reminder that none of us are bullet proof and we all need to take good care of the only body we have.

Miriam Newman said...

Thanks, Derek. As I said, I was amazed at how many writers--how many people, for that matter--are coming up with this condition, and not all of them are even in the age range I've reached or have the family history I do. It is concerning and I don't know whether people like myself speaking out will help to change anything, but we can try. With more people glued by the hour to their computers, health habits suffer. Simple exercise and a whole foods diet have worked wonders for me. I hope they will for others.

Adele Dubois said...

Excellent post, Miriam!

I'm so glad you've gotten your illness under control. You're 100% right about the need for exercise and healthy eating, especially in the business we're in. Sitting at a computer all day can be deadly.

I've learned to walk long distances regularly, eat organic foods, and keep my weight under control. The result of healthy living will, I hope, mean better writing and better books for my readers.

Loved your book THE COMET! Outstanding story! A+!

Stay well.


Sarah Hoss said...

Miriam, I am so glad you are doing better. You have to becareful. We want you around for al ong time.

My mother has had diabetes for awhile, but is just now taking insulin shots for it. I watch myself closely.

Love the excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

Miriam Newman said...

Thanks, Adele and Sarah. I'm glad you two are taking care of yourselves. I want you around for a long time, too!

Anonymous said...

Hi Miriam and Kerri! I enjoyed the blog today and commend you Miriam for getting the diabetes under control before it gets out of hand. It's definitely not an easy thing to do.
As the both of you know, my husband has been considered a brittle diabetic for close to 40 years and I saw my mother suffer with the disease. So anyone that is on that "borderline" - as you already discovered, you don't want to cross that line.
Excellant advice and yummy meal suggestions Miriam!

Just wanted to wish both of you much success with your new releases! Patty

Cathy S. said...

Oh, Miriam! So glad you are doing so much better. What a wake-up call that is for all of us. I, too, get bitten by the 'get it on the page' bug, and I will remember your words.
I also liked your food suggestions- need to rethink the grocery list.

Miriam Newman said...

Thanks, Patty and Cathy. Yes, I'm doing much better these days, but think I'll limit my hours on the computer to something sane and remember to eat sensibly. And weather permitting, I am really enjoying my walks. I plot as I go and it's surprising how often I come up with something..

Dana Rodgers said...

Thank you Miriam for sharing your story. I commend you for taking action to control your diabetes. It is difficult to always eat the right thing and to make the time for exercise everyday. I wholeheartedly agree that as writers and readers we need to take our health seriously and strive for balance.

I really enjoyed The Comet and I wish you the best of luck with it.

Miriam Newman said...

Thank you, Dana. I guess my attitude towards taking charge of my diabetes is that if I can do it, anybody can. Nothing is more sad than a life cut short, especially when it is unnecessary. I hope people will love themselves enough to keep that from happening. There's nothing wrong with being your own best friend. :)

Pat McDermott said...

Can't even begin to say how much I enjoyed "The Comet" and several others of Miriam's books. Miriam, keep plotting on those walks. We demand more stories, and we want you around to write them! Best of the best to you, my friend.

Miriam Newman said...

Thanks, Pat. Plotting walks are a lot of fun, so I plan to keep them up till the snow flies--and maybe beyond!