Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#operationskinnyjeans or sometimes exercise is not enough

It started on Facebook when a fellow writer and friend Michelle Douglas was bemoaning not fitting into her jeans.
Then when I returned from my Spanish holiday, having eaten too much, and my daughter returned from finishing her Masters and decided she too need to lose her dissertation podge, I knew I had to join in.
So we have been healthy  in the morning, at lunch and for the snack. Supper is whatever my husband makes (this is in the interests of marital harmony) and there is no alcohol. At supper we are not eating (as a general rule) gluten. Special Occasions are by their very nature exempt from this,
I started this method of eating. at the end of September.
The things I have discovered:
1. Yes even if you are exercising, it does make a difference what you put in  your mouth, particularly as you hit menopause.Healthy choices have you feeling better and the excess weight going off.
2. Not having refined sugar or gluten has really helped my lymph oedema. (This is annoying in the extreme. I do like bread, cakes etc)
3. Eating this way is fun and I am not getting as hungry.
4. Spiralizers are fun.
5. Menopause does thicken your waist. Irritating in the extreme. It does become harder to shift from that region.

I have continued with the tomato juice in the morning. It does help with menopausal symptoms, including anxiety. I notice if I decrease it/skip it. And sometimes (like yesterday) I needed to up the dosage to include a glass at night.

I am now fitting into my size 8's again, having given them up as a lost cause when the weight piled as menopause really started to bite.

I have continued on my Tracy Anderson re-do for my exercise but have lowered it to a half hour of the muscular structure and a half hour of the dance cardio 5 x plus a longer session of the dance cardio on the 6th day. It remains challenging but is more do-able than the first go round. Exercising is part of my life now.

So now in the menopausal time, making the right choices with my food does make a huge difference. Prior to the menopause hitting, I was able to be far more liberal with my food consumption as my exercise kept everything in check.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

El Verano del Vikingo

I am super pleased that Summer of the Viking is out in Spain this month, particularly as I had such a good time in Spain last week. It has been a little while since my books were out in this market and I always love their covers.
This time they used the same cover as the UK cover for Summer of the Viking. It works well.


Tenemos el verano, Alwynn, tendremos que conformarnos…
El mar lo dejó malherido en una playa de Northumbria y Valdar Nerison era un forastero en un país extranjero. Tenía un asunto pendiente en Raumerike, pero le debía la vida a su salvadora, la hermosa lady Alwynn, y antes tenía que saldar esa deuda.
Alwynn recelaba de la promesa que le había hecho Valdar de protegerla; al fin y al cabo, los hombres siempre la habían traicionado. Además, a medida que el verano iba terminándose, Valdar tendría que elegir entre volver a su tierra para luchar por su honor o quedarse y luchar por ella...

You can read more about it here 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Slipping through my fingers

My eldest has departed to start the final year of his Ph.d. He will be doing lots of writing.  He has done the research and now is the time to put the words on the paper. Something that I have some experience with. The time went so quickly. It seemed like for weeks we were waiting for him to arrive. He did and now he is gone.
The house feels quieter. It always takes me a little while to get used to it. However, I don't have long to savour as my daughter will be returning for an indefinite stay while she gets to grips with job applications and figuring what she is doing with her life.
I am very grateful to a wise friend  who said to make sure to give them six months as finding a job is hard work. I know I felt tremendous pressure to take the first job when I was first out of university. I want my children to take  the job which seems right for them, knowing that it can (and most likely will) change through out their life span. One person can have many careers.
My time as an active hands on parent has ended. I am an active hands on carer for my father in law. I am an author who is in the midst of changing her focus.  I am about to start something different to take me out of my comfort zone. At the moment the key is to write something which I am happy with and which has a clearly definable market. Anyway I  am enjoying exploring the options and thinking about to write next. The real writing starts after I return from my holiday in Spain on the 28th. Right now, it is about thinking (this always makes me ancy).
My eldest gave me a long lecture on how I had to be focused and not give into the temptations of Facebook or the internet in general. He ALWAYS has the internet off when he writes (the arrogance of youth!)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Today is always the best day to start eating healthy

One thing I have noticed is people who intend to diet/lose weight always seem to have a reason why today is not the right day.
I have seen it time and again and indeed I used to do it.
Looking at my calendar, I would see upcoming events and think -- no, I wait until after such and such. One of my big mindshift changes was to start thinking of Special Occasions and deciding that I could be more liberal on my eating. Ordinary days/meals mean that I eat my ordinary food.
I found my body craves nutrients. If I get the nutrients into my body, my appetite decreases. If I don't and stuff my body full of junk, my appetite increases because I wasn't giving my body the appropriate fuel.
I found I had to take a step back from sugar and processed foods. If I eat too many, my tastebuds become dull and I think that I am craving more junk food, when in fact my body really wants the fruit and veg and high quality protein. Once the sugar etc had decreased in my bloodstream, I discovered that I do like beetroot.(When I first started to lose my weight I wouldn't touch it) In fact I like most vegetables.
So it doesn't matter what is up and coming, it matters what you are putting into your mouth today.
It is fine to have planned *falling off the wagons* but when you do, you just get back on at the next opportunity.

Today's breakfast: Victoria plum/banana/Greek yogurt smoothie. The banana provides enough sweetness to cut the intense sharpness of the plums without any extra sweetners being added.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Honey Harvesting

Yesterday for the first time since 2008, we actually harvested our own honey.
Frames of honey, honey extractor all ready
In 2009, we had an attack of mice which destroyed the hives. (Mouseguards not on.) We acquired another hive BUT the cold winter was no good for them. Then 2011 had a cold Spring and 2012 was another cold Spring. I had nearly given up when we decided one last time in 2014 and got some bees. We didn't take off any honey.
BUT this year, we have honey! Hooray. About 40 lbs worth.
I put the Porter bee escapes on on Friday to clear the supers where the honey is stored. Then early, early on Saturday morning before the bees were up, I  went out and retrieved the supers.
One or two bees remained in the supers and were easily brushed off.
At that time in the morning, the bees are not flying. This makes it so much easier and likelihood of getting stung is much decreased.
Then I set up the honey extractor -- which is hand cranked. The wax cappings are taken off to reveal the honey and the frame is put in the extractor. Then the frames are spun round and round. Centrifugal force gets the honey out.
Honey from the extractor pours into the filter
It works well except if there is a high proportion of heather honey. Heather honey is like jelly and very hard to extract. The best way I have found is to crush the frames and melt them -- releasing the honey. The honey melts at a lower temp than the wax. Thankfully though my youngest son has strong arms and the honey was all spun out.
This year's honey is relatively pale. Heather honey also tends to be more amber/caramel in colour. I suspect there is fuchsia. I know there is thistle in there. It tastes absolutely wonderful.
After being extracted, the honey gets filtered to get rid of the wax/dead bees etc. I also put the cappings in and allow them to drain.
Once filtered the honey is bottled.
Heathcliff inspects the jars of honey
Other than bottling  a couple of bottles for my youngest son to take back to uni with him, I am just waiting for the honey to drip through.
The spun supers are put back on the hives so that the bees can clean them out. The bees hate wasting any honey. They will clean everything. It is sort of amazing.
The bees still have time to forage and rebuild their stores. I will give them some Apiguard as a tonic/guard against varroa. And then they will be shut up for the winter.
In Feb time they will be fed on fondant and the cycle will be gin again.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Aviva Tour of Britain prep for 10 Sept

All around the village --  red and yellow painted bicycles have appeared. At  first it was a bit disconcerting, particularly the one at the entrance to the village, chained to a signpost. But it rapidly all became clear -- it is in celebration of the Aviva Tour of Britain which is passing through the village on 10 September. The red and gold are the colours of the Northumberland flag.
On Church Street, the lampposts are festooned with banners and the bunting is up. Further up the North Bank someone who was big into cycling in his youth has painted his front gate red and gold.
And the bicycles are everywhere.
My eldest who is up visiting from Cambridge was not so impressed with the bicycles as he is used to seeing them chained to every possible post there. Personally I think they look cheerful.
On the day, people are supposed to decorate their house etc.
It is a nice idea but I think we will just go out and cheer the racers on. This section is part of the King  of the Mountain timed stretch. And I know how hard it can be to climb the North Bank. The Collies however will be staying inside. I suspect they will be annoyed that they were not consulted about people congregating outside their house and garden.
I suspect most of the visitors will be down in the village. The church is running a pop up cafe (when did they stop being called a coffee morning?) serving teas, coffees and cakes.
The road will be closed for two hours and people living on the route have to ensure their cars are off the road.
 My eldest who experienced the Tour de France last year in Cambridge says that the cyclists flash past and it is all over in a matter of minutes.
Still it will be fun and it is not very often that something like this comes past the front gate.
Afterwards, people will be allowed to cycle up the North Bank without fear of cars for about an hour. (I always see lots of people pushing their bikes when they reach us)
Fingers crossed for a fine day.
It is being shown live on ITV4 in the UK with a highlight edition at 8 pm every day, plus it is also being shown around the world in a number of countries (including in the US)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Life Lessons from being an author

Recently I had a conversation with my eldest who is about to start writing his PhD thesis. He said -- people have said it is impossible to write 80k before Christmas.
I had to bite my tongue. Although I write in a different genre than he does, I know it if it is August, and you have done all your research, it is indeed possible to write 80k of a first draft. You have to be determined, disciplined and have the desire to get it done. You also have to persevere. You need to be focused.
But then I am a woman who once wrote 80k in 3 weeks because I had a deadline and had thrown out the previous storyline as being unworkable. Actually I have done it twice. Luckily once I got over a hurdle, the words did flow and it became oddly enjoyable (but not something I'd really care to repeat)
My job is writing. My current manuscript is 112k (give or take). Over the years, I have learnt that I can write 5k every so often but my brain implodes if I try to do it on a regular basis. I am far better somewhere between 1.5k -3k. It means when I go back and edit, I don't have to change as much.
It also means that I am less sympathetic when my children be moan writing several thousand words.
It is about the discipline of getting the words down.
I am confident that my eldest will achieve his goal. He has the skill to do it and really less than 1k a day when it is your main task should be achievable. But the ability to be ruthlessly focused has be maintained.

And there is my daughter who had a mini meltdown about her Masters dissertation. I know next to nothing about karst hydrology. But I was able to draw on my experiences of brain storming with various over the years and what worked for me. Generally making considering noises and allowing me to find the logical solution works. I found that if certain editors had too much input early on, I went into editor-pleasing mode and often the story didn't work as well as I'd hoped.
And I now understand why sometimes editors -- say oh just get me something, even if the author knows it will be rubbish. The act of getting the words on paper and sending things off (plus writing and rewriting a synopsis) can really help.
It was great to use a skill that I didn't know I have. And I am thankful for all the editors who talked me back from various ledges.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The current Cultural Iconoclasm

What is happening to Palmyra makes my soul ache. It is a place I had always wanted to visit (once the situation calmed down). My husband went years ago when he did an overland expedition in the mid 1970s. It all seems so senseless as what have the stones done to the so-called Islamic State.
I had a short conversation with an archaeologist friend and he had said -- we have been here before. Think about the Reformation for instance. The destruction of monasteries. Or going further back, when Christianity really took hold and various pagan temples were destroyed. Think the Library of Alexandria's destruction.
And I thought. Sometimes history can really hold up a dark mirror to today.
 And then there is the monastery of St Catherine's in the Sinai which I visited a few years ago. Its library has been the source of many books, books and icons which survived the Byzantine iconoclasm by sheer virtue of its remoteness. It is now surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists. \i fear it won't survive.
This is not something new and only Islamic. But rather a peculiar madness which infects people, particularly people of a fundamentalist religious bent. A fury. And while it is happening, it destroys everything in its path.It becomes a whirlwind. And hopefully after a few years, it blows itself out but society is changed forever.  From the dissolution of the monasteries to the Restoration when knowledge and reason were once to the forefront took over a hundred years though. A blip in humanity but generations of humans.
I don't know the answer. Wholesale cultural destruction is never right.  All I know is that I still weep for  the Library of Alexandria and all the knowledge which was destroyed there. I now weep for Palmyra.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Rise of Dark Ages for TV

The Dark Ages aka the Anglo Saxon period/The Vikings/ per-Norman Conquest is experiencing a revival in the popular conscience. There are no fewer than 3 major television dramas currently set to explode on the small screen in the coming months.
First is The Last Kingdom, an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's best selling series.  Cornwell was of course responsible for Sharpe. The Last kingdom stars Alexander Dreymon and follows the first book of the current 8 book series. It is due to be shown on BBC2 in October and starts on BBC America on 10 October. It is produced by the same people who did Downton, so I am expecting a quality production.  This the  trailer:

Then there is Beowolf: Return to the Shieldlands for ITV which is due to premiere in January 2016. multi award winning actor William Hurt (Humans, Kiss of the Spider Woman), acclaimed actress Joanne Whalley (Wolf Hall, Jamaica Inn), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), David Harewood (Homeland, Blood Diamond), Ian Puleston- Davies (Coronation Street), Lolita Chakrabarti (My Mad Fat Diary, The Casual Vacancy), Elliott Cowan (Cilla, Da Vinci’s Demons), Ellora Torchia (Indian Summers), Gisli Orn Gardarsson (Spooks and Spirits), Susan Aderin (The Last Detective), Kirsty Oswald (Ripper Street), Laura Donnelly (Outlander), Edward Hogg (Indian Summers), Alex Price (Father Brown), Jack Rowan (Silent Witness) and Itoya Osagiede (Okora: The Prelude).
Kieran Bew Beowolf:Return of the Shieldlands
This is a retelling  of the Beowolf Story complete with dragons. It stars Kieran Bew as Beowolf but boasts of such actors as
You can read more about the cast here.
In short ITV are spending a bob or two on it. It is currently filming in the North East until early October.
Then there is the  14th century epic The Bastard Executioner about the Marcher lords and the Anglo-Welsh borders for FX Networks. This the trailer for  that series:

Of course there has already been Vikings.
And then  there is  Game of Thrones which operates in a quasi- Dark Ages world.
So why now?
Among other things, the Dark Ages was the last time Northern Europe experienced the ravages of a barbarian horde. Historical fiction does hold a dark mirror up to society and by examining the Dark Ages, it is possible to examine what happened when there was a clash of civilizations. Also we are now in a post-Christian world. It is therefore  to look at the Dark Ages from beyond the prism of Christianity brought civilization. It is possible for pagans, if you will, to be good. And then there is the stirring of the break up of the United Kingdom. The Dark Ages is when the Four Nations were formed. Understanding the reasons for the formation and what went before is something people are curious about. And besides, it is a chance for a rollicking good adventure.

My fingers are crossed that others continue to realise the potential for this time period. I am currently hard at work on my Anglo Saxon queen trilogy and am hoping that it will be well received once it is published. Until the tenth/eleventh century, women welded power in a way that has not been appreciated. Elfrida's reforms of the church, in particular her insistence on the seclusion of nuns contributed to a decrease in political power for women.

Anyway, I am excited to see the television and therefore  popular public conscience is turning towards the Dark Ages. It is ironic that  ten years ago Publisher's Weekly published a piece saying that they thought Vikings were a time period that would never return.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Scoring a win

Yesterday, I managed to sort out my father in law getting into respite care. As a carer, I am entitled to a week's holiday a year.  I contacted Social Services a while ago and we have now jumped through the requisite hoops and it is a go!
My father in law continues to get frailer. He has given up on his daily walks, preferring instead to tend his flower pots. He times his tending so that the postman is due to arrive and often has a few seconds of chat. It is a shame  because when he used to go out for his walks, he would encounter other people. And although I have offered to take him to various meetings etc, he always refuses. Once I had arranged everything so he could go to the Retired Men's Club but he apparently sat up most of the night worrying so that ended that.  Going to a care home will force him to interact. I do worry about him becoming a shut in and mostly only talking to me! But you can't force people.
And he had to be gently guided to admit that yes he does need help. He sometimes forgets the little practical things that are done for him -- such as his towel being put pout every morning, his clothes being washed, his meals prepared etc etc. So the man from  the SS and I went through it and we detailed everything. It was the first time I heard my fil admit that he knew  he couldn't cope with his old house and had no idea what to do. Last year when it was being sold, I was treated to the *I just don't want to sell* speech many times. It had to be sold to fund my mil's care and my fil can't live on his own.
I made the point that it is only respite care. He is coming back. The SS get v nervous as they often think it is code for  -- we want him in a care home permanently.   But after doing all the hopes, the answer is yes, he can go for respite.
Anyway, it feels like a victory. And I felt that someone was on my side for a bit.
And my daughter will be looking after the house and animals -- recovering from her dissertation.

Central Spain beckons in a few weeks time.

Friday, August 28, 2015

4 Years of the Tracy Anderson Method

I started doing the Tracy Anderson Method on 25 August 2011. First her bootcamp and then her metamorphosis.  Currently, I am redoing her continuity, having completed Y3. I didn't go on to  4.1 because I didn't want more weight on my back and many people said that it was just plain tough. I have enough dvds.  While Tracy would like all her clients to graduate to her Streaming, I have issues with it.I know it works for many people but I want to re-do.
I have the dvds and I want to see what is going happen. I figure my body won't remember the moves.

I have completed 1.2 which is where I started with my re-do.  Meta is v beginning and 1.1 is advanced beginner but I had memories of 1.2 being hard.
And so it proved. L3 with is its same side collasping plank  has probably the hardest plank of all continuity.There were bits I didn't remember at all. However, I was able to do all the exercises from day one. I added weights because I am used to wearing ankle weights now. On the two levels where TA wears the lighter weights, I wore my heavier ones. I am sweating far more and my form is far better. I find I do ache.
And I am now doing 1.3 with the ball. Level 1 is in some ways an easy level BUT it is also a subtle level and I find I have to concentrate to make sure my leg is turned in the right direction etc. It does make a difference.
There is a myth that TAM has constantly new moves all the time. It has variations and the sequencing is never the same (the sequencing is hugely important).  1.2 has many of the same moves that I encountered in Y2 and Y3.  The shock and ow level & for example is the first time you meet many of the moves which will be common place in 2.3 and up to Y3. I can do the moves so I can now really concentrate on the fine detail, rather than on clinging on my fingers nails for the first four - six days and then improving by the 10th.
Am I changing still? This is hard to say -- I am in menopause. My metabolism went south suddenly last winter. What has helped increase it has been going  back to drinking a pot of green tea (4-5 cups) and taking the tomato juice twice a day. Things seem to be getting under control but I can no longer eat what I want when I want and trust TAM to keep my weight down. Bad habits had developed.
And fueled by the low level anxiety, I began to eat. There are reason why I am grateful for the tomato juice.
So at the moment, I have banished all snacks and really scaled back on the portion sizes. I have started drinking the green tea again. Thus far my tinnitus doesn't seem to be returning (I had given up on all caffeine to control the ringing in my ears). This seems to be getting my metabolism moving again.
 After a bout with cellulitis at the beginning of the month, I have started rebounding. Rebounding is supposed to be excellent for the lymph system. I have a compromised lymph system which manifest itself as lymphoedema on my left arm. This was the first time I had cellulitis since I discovered the problem/condition. So after a course of strong antibiotics (I managed to avoid the hospital by the skin of my teeth) I am taking a course of probiotics, increasing my magnesium and calcium intake and generally taking care of my arm better.

I started TAM for very shallow reasons -- I wanted to lose weight and I have kept the vast majority of the weight off. I continue doing it as it makes me feel good. I like exercising -- the stress relief is immense. And yes I like looking good in my clothes but I am never going to be perfect. I had 3 children and am 51 for goodness sake. Why would I want to look like a 23 year old model? I like how I look.

Personally because I am enjoying the re-do, I don't see any need to pay more money for the streaming (even though I know  lots of women find it amazing). We shall have to see what I think once I get further into my redo.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Life of an outsider

Caught on the inside, looking out
I realised that come 5 September I will have lived in the UK permanently for 27 years, basically all of my adult life. My memories of the US are stuck back in the Reagan era, pre-internet. Yes I have visited family and friends since moving over here but I haven't live there. I have lived in the North East. And yet every so often, someone says to me -- you are not from around here.
My accent is somewhere over the mid Atlantic, so I don't sound like a Geordie or even posh Northumbrian. To someone who isn't British, I sound British. To someone who is, they can hear the American. In that sense, I am not from around here, but the statement still galls.
I have lived in this house for 19 years. Small saplings have grown into trees. I had all my grown children at the local hospital when it still had a functioning maternity ward. I can even remember when they had a pediatric  ward.  I can even remember the Hexham Mart and when where Tescos at Hexham is now was just a small nursery (we still have the green plastic watering can I bought there). My children were all locally educated.
And yet, when people say things like you are not from around here, I nod my head and inwardly cringe. Because deep in my heart  I worry...maybe I don't belong. This is nonsense of course. I do. And to be fair, I have had friends who were from Devon who have had the same treatment -- of you are not from the North East. Some people are just insularly rude.
But I am American. I have just the one passport. I still celebrate American holidays and love lots about America -- even if at the moment I have no intention of going back there to live. I am part of the 8 million migrants who now reside in the UK. I am here legally. My husband and I jumped through many hoops 27 years ago to get me my visa and right to reside here permanently. I do believe migration should be managed and have little time  for illegal migration. I like to think I made and continue to make a contribution to the local area.
Maybe I just like the life of an outsider. I am not sure but what I am sure of  is that I am not going apologise for it any more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Anxiety and menopause

It is one of those things that creeps up on you on cat's paws, softly and without warning. Some of it I am sure is down to most women's situation during the change of life.  For me, my children are grown and are busy flying the nest. Like all fledglings, they do return and demand feeding, care and attention. One day, every soon though, I know they won't come back or only for brief little visits.
It is why I tried to cherish all the moments when they were growing up. Sometimes I did it better than others. My daughter takes  delight in reminding me of occasions when either I was a good mother or a very bad one. She also reminds me of various rants I have had and why I have to keep on my present course.

Then there is the situation with my in laws. Although my mother in law is in a care home as her dementia progressively worsens, my father in law has moved in with us. Some days it works better than others. The Social Services phoned this morning to say that we do qualify for respite care so he will go away to a home for a week while I am on holiday. I have become his principal carer. And the emotional upheaval of all this really knocked me.

And with the change of life added in, I found myself becoming less and less sure. When I was angry, I would want to curl up in a little ball and do nothing. In years past, when I was angry, I would write. The curling up in a ball came on gradually and I just thought it was something that was gone. However, once I start drinking the tomato juice, I found when I was angry, I wanted to write and the words flowed. I could put my anger to a productive use.

One of the reasons I have avoided writing single title is the necessity of finding an agent. It is just easier to have one. Yes, I know publishing has changed in many ways but it is still good to have someone in your corner. And it is hard to find the right agent. The Crows of Doubt really sound loudly every single time I try.  I tried before I was published. I tried a few years ago but then got busy fulfilling my contract. But now that I have written my Anglo Saxon queen story, there is nowhere to hide.  It has to be done. So I have started to send out queries. This time, I am taking my time -- one per week. And I an not curling up in a ball or feeling like I should be scurrying back and writing another HMB. (Yes I know people like my HMBs but my daughter thinks my Anglo Saxon queen is far better than my Vikings -- it is good to have her in my corner.)

I looked back a few years on the blog and was surprised at how much I used to write. Somewhere I forgot about it and so I plan on trying to update the blog a bit more.
It is getting that can do attitude back. I am amazed that drinking the tomato juice has helped in this way.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tomato juice smoothie to help with menopause

Sometimes it gets boring drinking tomato juice in the morning. I am continuing with my tomato juice to keep the hot flushes at bay. And thus far, I haven't had another. My anxiety has really decreased which is good.
The other day I decided to jazz the tomato juice up a bit. I combined --  8 oz tomato juice with half a cucumber, an apple (cored and sliced)  and half a lemon (pips removed, skin washed).  Blitz in a blender. It is quite thick but then I like it being thick. If too thick, you can add water. It tastes very fresh.  It is basically a meal in itself. I felt very full afterwards.
The apple does make a difference and adds the sweetness to counter balance the lemon. The second time I made it, I forgot the apple and it wasn't nearly as pleasant. You could add a stick of celery and/or a handful of spinach to the mix and really get your nutrients up for the day, but I like it as it is.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Tomato juice, menopause and me

I have reached that time of life. Menopause or at least peri-menopause is upon me at 51. There are a number of annoying factors like my metabolism going south and feeling lethargic. Hot flushes. Difficulty focusing. Wanting to curl up into a small ball and tell the world -- stop I want to get off.
I have a Mirena coil which is supposed to help alleviate the symptoms in any case (except for hot flushes and boy when they come, they really do come)
I am looking forward to being through this whole thing and getting on with the rest of my life.
So when I read about  tomato juice helping symptoms of menopause. (Yes I know it is a Daily Fail article)  I thought it worth a go. This was  on about 10 June 2015 so I have now done  8 weeks. And you know what? It does work.It took about a week and then things became much better.
My hot flushes are practically gone. I find when I am annoyed or upset, instead of curling up into a small ball, I can actually write. Life is suddenly easier again. My anxiety has decreased.
Is it a placebo effect? I am not sure. All I know it is working. Tomatoes are rich in lypocene and it has a bunch of antioxidents.
There is another article about here: 
The fact is that the research was only released in early June.
It is working for me and I figure that it is better than a lot of things.

I am still keeping up with my exercise (redoing TAM and now rebounding -- good for the lymph system)

So if you are feeling overwhelmed and are in menopause or peri-menopause, you might want to try tomato juice  twice a day. It is simple and effective (or at least for me)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway for Summer of the VIking

I am trying something a little different with my Goodreads giveaways for Summer of the Viking. There are going to be three,
First one goes live today.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Summer of the Viking by Michelle Styles

Summer of the Viking

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends May 17, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to Win

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Excerpt from Summer of the Viking

This is a small sneak preview from Summer of the Viking

“I would defend you to my dying breath,” he said.
“Our people are enemies, Valdar. Enemies,” she replied.
“Are we enemies, Alwynn?”
“We are certainly not friends.”
“We were lovers.”
“That is in the past.”
He went over to her, magnificent in his nakedness. “It will never be over between us as long as I have breath in my body.”

Friday, March 06, 2015

WH Smith blog about the enduring power of Romance

W H Smith have published my blog for them about the enduring power of Historical Romance or why I love Historical Romance as part of their Celebration of Romance season.
You can read it here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Romance Unlaced: Spinster Heroines

TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN had a nice mention in the USA Today blog Romance Unlaced blog. The subject was spinster heroines.
You can read the blog here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feburary Good reads giveaway for TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Taming His Viking Woman by Michelle Styles

Taming His Viking Woman

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends March 09, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, February 02, 2015

Taken by the Viking out in Brazil

One of the great joys of being published with Harlequin is its global reach.
This month marks my books being published in a new country -- Brazil!
The book in question is Taken by the Viking and I am thrilled.

Um ataque viking… Um invasor honrado… Uma nova vida como amante dele!


Eles haviam dito que vieram em paz, mas logo Lindis farne estava em chamas. Annis de Birdoswald tentou fugir, porém não conseguiu escapar dos guerreiros do Norte. Haakon Haroldson, o viking sombrio e arrogante, sequestrou-a e a afastou de tudo o que ela amava. Agora, Annis precisa escolher entre continuar uma prisioneira ou viver uma vida de prazer ao lado desse poderoso invasor.

You see the full entry here

 If you go on the Brazilian Harlequin website, Taken is up on the rotating banner and says firdt in a series. So fingers crossed that they will do more of my Vikings!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Harlequin now provides longer excerpts.
So if you want to read the  full first chapter of TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN you can do so here

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Goodreads giveaway for Taming HIs VIking Woman

Because Taming His Viking Woman comes out on 20 January 2015

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Taming His Viking Woman by Michelle Styles

Taming His Viking Woman

by Michelle Styles

Giveaway ends January 20, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, January 05, 2015

Out with 2014, in with 2015

The end of 2014 flew past. Instead of being on the computer, I rediscovered the joys of doing a jigsaw puzzle with my children. Very therapeutic.

It has been a year since my fil decided to take an overdose and thereby ended up living with us. My mil had been taken into a care home a few days earlier. At first I thought it was remorse but knowing my fil better, it was just that his empire had crumbled.

My fil continues his hermit ways. Despite my asking, he showed no interested in attending any parties or events to do with Christmas or New Years. Of course my dh and I were the ones who were look at strangely when people asked why he wasn't there. I am learning to just smile and wave.
This morning, after taking him to the village to his *supplies* -- various sweets and crisps (he is 81 after all), I was treated to a tirade about elderly men and the way they move slowly and waste the shop assistant's time.
It was all my daughter and I could do to keep straight faces.

He at least now has tins to keep his supplies in. This was after my youngest dispatched a mouse who was discovered sheltering behind the bookcase in the hall. He wants the supplies in his room in case he feels hungry. He now realizes that mice get hungry as well.

Over Christmas I read Bede which has helped with the latest project. Context is everything.
And I have been exercising. It keeps me sane.