It’s Monday! What are you reading? The Kiss of the Concubine






I just finished…

The Kiss of the Concubine

by Judith Arnopp




917aga--6ZL._SL1500_Blurb from Amazon

28th January 1547.
It is almost midnight and the cream of the English nobility hold their breath as King Henry VIII prepares to face his God. As the royal physicians wring their hands and Archbishop Cranmer gallops through the frigid night, two dispossessed princesses pray for their father’s soul and a boy, soon to be king, snivels into his velvet sleeve.
Time slows, and dread settles around the royal bed, the candles dip and something stirs in the darkness … something, or someone, who has come to tell the king it is time to pay his dues.
The Kiss of the Concubine is the story of Anne Boleyn, second of Henry VIII’s queens.


This is the same tale of Ann Boleyn and King Henry VIII we already know, but it’s told from Anne’s point of view, which puts a unique spin on her, personally.  Looking at the story from a different angle was enjoyable, and I couldn’t put the book down. I don’t know what it is about these characters that intrigues us so, but Judith Arnopp fulfilled our desire to know more. Thoughts, yearnings, and motivations are brought to a new light as Ms. Arnopp reveals Anne’s side of the story. Bravo!

Books – 3 to be exact

Just in time for my favorite holiday – Halloween

I put together my three creepy books into one trilogy.

Stuckey’s Bridge, Stuckey’s Legacy, and Stuckey’s Gold are now available as

The Complete Stuckey’s Bridge Trilogy

Release date is October 1, 2014, but you can pre-order at Amazon if you CLICK HERE!!

Available exclusively on Kindle at Amazon

stuckey Trilogy_ smal “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge”
Legend has it, he was so evil, he was even thrown out of the notorious Dalton Gang. Years later, he opened an inn near the river, and on foggy nights, boatmen witnessed him pacing back and forth across the bridge, waving his lantern, offering travelers a hot meal and a soft bed. Those unfortunate enough to take him up on the hospitality were often never seen again. In 1901, the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company began rebuilding a fifty-year-old Mississippi Bridge. In the middle of the project, they began discovering bodies buried on the banks of the river. Would Old Man Stuckey get away with murder?

“Stuckey’s Legacy: The Legend Continues”
The end of Stuckey’s story left only a legacy – one of murder, treachery, and an intense game of cat and mouse. Young Levi left Mississippi with a wealth of gold, but he found his time in the world of the social elite ending quite differently than it had begun. Was she only after his money? Occasionally, it seemed to him Penny Juzan only wanted him dead. Or maybe it was the other way around.

“Stuckey’s Gold: The Curse of Lake Juzan”
With the gold finally in the hands of the Juzan family, will Penelope Juzan break the seventy-year-old curse, or will she suffer the same tragic fate as her forefathers? In the final installment of the trilogy, we may find the victims in the original tales were merely bit players in a story that is far darker and more sinister than one could imagine.

I want to publish my book, too!

As with most of my author friends, I regularly get emails and messages saying, “I want to publish my book, too. Help me.”

The first question I ask is, “Have you finished writing the book?”

The answer I always hear is, “No.”

Well, if you don’t have a finished book, then you’re wasting everyone’s time asking how to publish something that doesn’t exist.

howtopublishabookNevertheless, here’s a rundown for beginners on how to publish a book.

1. Be a writer. You will never make a dollar publishing one book. If you can whip out ten, twenty, or thirty, then you have a slim chance to actually make money. Being a writer is a full-time job. It’s a calling. It’s a passion. Is that you? If so, continue reading.

2. Once your book is written, DO NOT hire a vanity publisher. Here’s how vanity publishers work. The ad says they will publish your book, including cover design, editing, layout, and distribution for the low, low price of $495.00. In return, you get to say you’re published. Such a deal! Here’s the truth. These vanity publishers prey on authors who don’t want the hassle of doing anything but writing. The price is fine until the upsell kicks in. They charge the author for a ‘premium’ cover, ‘extra’ editing, typesetting, etc., running into the thousands of dollars. There will be tons of add ons and extras and will cost you a lot of money. They will send you the cover (you paid for) with a watermark on it so you can’t use it to promote your book. They will send you the formatted PDF version of your book (you paid for) with watermarks on every page so you can’t use it for anything except to look at on your own computer. You cannot use these items to market your book, and they are certainly not going to market your book. They will not care about your ideas for the cover design; you get stuck with what they give you. They will upsell you on international distribution. That’s ridiculous. You can do this yourself for free. They will charge your customers a ridiculous price to purchase your book, setting it so high no one will buy it. You have as much say-so in pricing as you did in the cover design. They will charge YOU a ridiculous amount of money to buy copies of YOUR OWN BOOK. They will make all the profit; you will make pennies, maybe. Keep in mind, they make all their money from you, not from the reading public, so they don’t care if you sell one book.

3. There is no harm in hiring someone to do the things you don’t know how to do, as a matter of fact, a professional is often the best choice. But if you’re going to release more than one book, you should learn to do these things yourself.

You need to know how to design two covers – one for print, one for ebook. To do this, you must understand the cover design characteristics in your genre. The first place to look is the Top 100 of your genre on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. What do they have in common? Do that. And keep your font large and simple. The postage-stamp-sized thumbnail on the web should be readable. A pretty font is not your friend. Don’t use Comic Sans, a graphic designer somewhere will hunt you down and kill you. If you would rather have a professional design your cover, call on Elite Book Design. They also create video book trailers.

You also need to know how to use Microsoft Word to format your book. Different book sellers use different formats. Check their websites at the links below for their specifications, and learn how to operate Word like you were born to do it. Start by downloading the Smashwords Style Guide. It’s a tutorial that will walk you through formatting an ebook. Set aside 4-6 hours, pack your patience and a pot of coffee, and go!

The ongoing job you need to know is how to market your book. Build a platform for your topic by creating a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Website, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest, forums about your topic, etc. Understand that marketing is another full-time job, so narrow your platform down to a few specific sites that you can maintain regularly. Create a marketing schedule and follow it like it’s the law. No one will repeatedly visit a page that does not update and change, and no one will buy your book if they don’t know it exists.

Finally, the most important thing you need is help with your story. When it’s finished, send it to an editor for a substantive edit. Then rewrite. Then send it to some beta readers. Then rewrite again. Then send it to a copy editor. No, your cousin cannot edit your book, unless she is a professional editor, but she may be a good beta reader. Find a professional copy editor and be ready to pay them a good amount of money. If someone will edit your book for $0.10 per page, double spaced, 12 font, they are probably not a professional editor. Once your book is edited, get it proofread. Nothing drives readers away faster than errors in a book, and your reviews will reflect each and every error. Don’t ask people to spend their hard-earned money on your book and give them a shoddy product in return. One of the best editors in the business is the Edit Ninja. Be warned: the editing process is more painful than the scathing one-star review.

4. Once you’ve done all these things and released your first book, congratulation! Now, start working on your next book. It’s a never-ending process.


Where can I sell my book? Here is a short list of distributors.

Amazon ebooks – - This site is for Kindles on Amazon and releases around the world on all Amazon sites.

Barnes & Noble ebooks – – This site is for Nook on Barnes & Noble.

iTunes ebooks – – This site is for iBooks on iTunes.

Smashwords ebooks - – This site distributes ebooks to nearly every online retailer, but you can opt out of individual retailers, for example, if you’ve already published on KDP, Nook, or iTunes. In my opinion, Smashwords has a few glitches that are not in its control. The Sony and Kobo sites take months to update product information. Smashwords only pays quarterly and their sales/payment spreadsheet is a bit confusing. But if you have already uploaded your book to Amazon, you might as well make it available to other retailers.

Create Space print – - This is a print-on-demand book printing company (owned by Amazon) that will put your book in print and distribute to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You may also buy copies of your book at a reduced cost.

Lulu print – – This is a print-on-demand-book printing company that will distribute your book to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBook. You may also buy copies of your book at a reduced cost.

Audible audiobooks – – This is an audiobook company (owned by Amazon) that creates (for a fee) and distributes audiobooks to Amazon and Audible.

(Personally, I use KDP for Kindle, CreateSpace for print, ACX for audiobooks, and Smashwords for the rest. Pay attention to KDP’s rules. They are very picky about your book being priced lower anywhere else online, and will unpublish your book in a heartbeat if they see that. KDP also encourages you to enroll in KDP Select. I don’t really understand KDP Select. This program demands your book be exclusive to Amazon, and in return, you can GIVE YOUR BOOK AWAY FOR FREE for 5 days per quarter. Why the hell would anyone want to do that?)

How much should I charge for my book? 

Obviously, paperbacks are more expensive than ebooks because of the material, production, and shipping involved. Personally, I think your ebook should sell for 70-80% less than your paperback. An average indie paperback sells for under $15, most under $10. Most ebooks sell between $0.99 and $9.99, with the average indie ebook selling for under $5. It depends on the length of the book and the popularity of the author. Do your homework. See what other indie authors are selling for. Do that.

Welcome to the publishing world of the indie author. If all this information hasn’t scared you off and you still want to publish that book, go back to step one and finish writing the darn thing.

It’s Monday! What are you reading? A Difference of Purpose




I’m currently reading…

A Difference of Purpose: A Novel of the American Civil War

by Terry Soileau







816r0GNpUaL._SL1500_Anything to do with the Civil War pulls at my heartstrings, and I got this book for free from the author’s Kindle giveaway. I’m about halfway through and find it a quick read. The book opens with a list of the cast of characters, which puts me off just a bit, because I know at that point the character development will be lacking. As I read, I began to see the story is not told in a novel style or an historical fiction style, but more as an historian delivering just the facts. The tale is interesting, but I wish the book was told as a true drama. There is a bit of dialog, but the writer seldom indicates who said the line, leaving the reader to figure it out on his own. That being said, it is a very good story, and would have been a lot better with a substantive edit.

Blurb from Amazon

A DIFFERENCE OF PURPOSE is a civil war novel that tells the story of 12 year old Jonathan Berkeley, a Confederate drummer boy serving with the famous Orphan Brigade, and his uncle and Godfather, Alexander Wythe, an abolitionist lawyer and captain serving in the Union army. They wrestle with God and their own inner demons as they confront devastating personal tragedies and search desperately for faith, love, and meaning in a torn and tragic world of civil war. Captain Wythe is forced to question his faith when confronted with the loss of loved ones, including his wife, Amanda Wythe, and with the human suffering, inhumanity, cruelty and chaos of the American Civil War. This story of loss, sorrow, faith and redeeming love takes the reader on a fast paced journey to the bloody battlefields of Fredericksburg, Stones River, and Chickamauga, and through a tragic world of division and heartbreak. Also, featured in this novel of love and war are Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, the abolition of slavery, the mistreatment of American Indians, and the largest mass execution in American history

Saturday Snippet – Culpepper Chronicles Preview

I usually post blogs about books that are already finished, but I’m having such a good time with my work in progress, I’d like to share a piece of the rough draft. Please keep in mind it is filled with errors and will undoubtedly change immensely before it’s released next year. The Culpepper Chronicles will be four books about one of my ancestors named John Culpepper.

culpepper book 1 cover ideaJohn was born in England in 1606. As a young lad he was trained as a lawyer, but he decided to be a merchant instead. He bought a ship and sailed back and forth between the colony of Virginia and England, delivering immigrants to the colonies and bringing back cotton and tobacco. His life wasn’t spectacular, but the cast of characters surrounding him were pretty intriguing, the political and religious climate of his homeland was so volatile, one could lose a head if one wasn’t careful, and the vast expansion of the new world set the stage for quite an amazing adventure. I haven’t decided on titles yet, but I know the first installment will be about his childhood, the second about the English Civil War where King Charles I was executed and the Loyalist Culpepper family scattered like rats, the third about his adventures in Virginia looking out for his niece during Bacon’s Rebellion (his niece was Lady Frances Culpepper Berkeley who was married to Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia), and the final story will be about his son causing the Culpepper Rebellion in North Carolina and being charged with treason (good thing daddy was a lawyer!).

culpepper book 2 cover ideaI’m considering the title “I, John Culpepper” for the first book. Let me know what you think.

All that being said, here’s a bit of the opening scene, the day John was born….


“Master Culpepper! Master Culpepper!” the boy shouted over the bells clanging from the church steeple. He pushed his way through the throngs of people gathered on the banks of the Thames.

The crowd had been gathering for two days to witness the departure of the magnificent ships. The boy stopped for a moment to glance at one of them. It took his breath away. It was an enormous castle-like structure, at least eighty feet in length, its belly bulging at the side where cargo was being loaded in. The deck above was much narrower, and he imagined that’s where the passengers stayed. He stared for a moment in amazement as he had never seen anything like it before. A dog barked nearby and brought his attention back to the present. Suddenly, he remembered why he had come. “Mastah Culpeppah!” he yelled over the din of the crowd as he spun around and around looking for the man, weaving in and out of the people, between horses, carts, trunks, women in embroidered, velvet skirts and men in long cloaks adorned with colorful silk threads.

Since the formation of the London Company in April 1606, the plan to settle the new colony had been quickly set into motion. The aristocracy had funded the expedition, and the ship’s passengers would sail to the new colony of Virginia to settle the land, so they could send back the riches the new world surely held. The massive ships had been loading supplies for the last couple weeks, and this morning, they would set sail down the Thames, into the English Channel, and cross the great ocean. Not only would they bring proper religion and piousness to the land which was said to be inhabited by wild Indians, they would also bring riches beyond imagination back to the shareholders. One of those shareholders was none other than Johanes Culpepper, who had come down to the docks to witness the beginning of his new-found fortune.

“Master Culpepper!” the boy cried out again.

“Who are you searching for, lad?” a man in a ruffled collar asked.

“Master Culpepper,” the boy replied, removing his hat and folding it in his hands.

“Johanes or Thom?”

“Johanes Culpepper, sir.”

“They are both down by the front ship, the Discovery. They’re standing right on the dock.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The boy nodded, replaced his cap, and shoved through the multitude of people toward the front ship. As he passed them, he looked at the names written on their bows and sounded out the letters. He couldn’t make any sense of the Susan Constant but he could read the Goodspeed and he wondered if the Goodspeed was true to its name. He thought he would rather sail on the Goodspeed and get there quicker. From what he understood, it was a three month voyage if the weather was bonny, four months if they ran into rough seas. He had once been in a small fishing boat and instantly became green with sickness. He didn’t think he could survive the time it would take to sail to the Virginia Colony. It didn’t matter anyway. He would never be the class who did such amazing things. He was a servant, a gift from His Majesty James I to Master Johanes Culpepper. He would always be a servant, but perhaps someday he would serve the King. Even though Master Culpepper was very good to him, he would like someday to live at court and be somebody. At least he had the slim chance. His sister had been placed in the kitchen at some manor house in Wales. She would never be anything more than a scullery maid. Women did not have a place in high society. Women hadn’t been invited on this voyage either, only gentlemen and adventurers. He looked up at the front deck of the Goodspeed as he ran passed and witnessed a young lad about his age. The boy dripped with sweat, even in the chilly and foggy morning air, as he pulled at ropes and folded sails. What a great adventure it would be to sail to Virginia.

He hopped up and down, unsuccessfully trying to look over the crowd. “Master Culpepper!”

A man turned and pointed. “Culpepper is right over there, son.”

“Thank you.” He ran in the direction of the Discovery, and when he pushed through a couple gentlemen chatting on the dock, he saw him. “Master Culpepper!” He ran up behind him and patted the back of his arm. “Master Culpepper!”

The man turned. “What is it, boy? And why are you making such a racket?”

The boy panted, out of breath from running. “Master Culpepper, m’lady is havin’ the baby, sir!”

He glanced around to see if anyone was listening and placed his hands on his hips. “Very good, William. You run along home. I’ll be there soon.”

The boy didn’t move. How could his master not be excited about this news?

“Go on. Run along.” He waved the boy off with a flip of his fingers.

“Yes, m’lord.” The lad backed up, keeping his eyes on his master. He finally turned and ran back in the direction which he had come.

Thom patted him on the back. “Congratulation, brother, hopefully another fine son.”

Johanes grunted. “I wouldn’t count on it.”

Thom laughed. “Oh, what’s bothering you? You should be happy.”

Johanes didn’t respond.

“Do you want to head home and see how Ursula is doing?”

“No.” He shook his head. “I want to stay here and guard my investment. These ships need to set sail and bring back the treasures of the colony. It doesn’t matter if I have a son if I don’t have anything to leave to him when I die.”

“But you already have young Thomas. He will inherit your lands and manors.”

“Yes, but I need a spare in case anything happens. That boy has been weak and sickly his whole childhood, and after Ursula gave me a daughter last time, I’m not getting my hopes up. I want to stay here until the ships have sailed.”

Thom nodded. “Very well, brother, we shall stay.”

Not another word was said about the coming child as the brothers watched the great ships cast off their lines, hoist their sails, and float down the Thames. The crowd watched in awe until they were out of sight.

On This Day in 1936

On This Day in 1936, my great uncle Howard Benjamin Pickett died following a car crash at the age of 19.

Eula Keene Pickett with Howard and AzaleaHoward was born November 19, 1917 to Benjamin Berry Pickett and Eula Ouida Keene in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. He was the eldest of three children. A sister Margaret Azalea (my grandmother) was born in 1919, and a sister Fleta Clarise was born in 1921. Fleta Clarise died of pneumonia in 1923. Howard was six. Here he is pictured with his mother and sister.

Meridian Star
Howard Benjamin Pickett, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Berry Pickett of 308 Fifth avenue, Meridian, who was injured in an automobile crash near Newton on Highway 80, died in a Newton hospital late Thursday. Miss Hazel Brasfield, 15, also of Meridian, remained in a critical condition Friday morning. Pickett, who was said to have been driving the automobile when it crashed at 5 a.m., received internal injuries. He never regained consciousness. Miss Brasfield is suffering from a crushed thigh. Other occupants of the machine were Jim Edwards, Billy White, Neva Ezell, Jack Ward, and Geneva Burt, all of Meridian. All were slightly injured but were able to return to Meridian soon after the accident. Pickett is said to have rented the automobile from a 630 taxi driver at 7 a.m. Wednesday, stating he intended to go to Jackson. The crash occured when a tire blew out, causing the machine to leave the highway, overturning several times before striking a stump. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Friday from the Eight Avenue Baptist Church. Surviving are his parents: Mr and Mrs. Benjamin Berry Pickett and one sister, Azelea Pickett, all of Meridian. The Revs. Ed Grayson and Rev. Blanding Vaughan will officiate at the funeral. Interment will follow in Fisher Cemetery. Active pallbearers: Maurice Covington, Torris Brand, Billie White, Purvis Taylor, Jack Elkin, and Selbie Snellgrove. Honary pallbearers: A.L. Talbert, Mr. Keaten, Mr. Snider, Ermer Brown, J.B. Brown, Grady Brand, Mr. Lawerence, H.C. Webb, Edwin Cochran, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Connell, Howard Meyers, Jamie Harden, Marion W. Reiley, G.L. Walker. James F. Webb Funeral Home in charge. 

pickett howard benjamin headstoneHoward and I share the birthday of November 19th, along with his maternal grandmother (my 2nd great), Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Brown Keene. His dad’s mother was a Fisher, and he is laid to rest with his parents and siblings in the Fisher Family Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi.

This blog brought to you by On This Day at Amazon.

Food Pyramid Categories…and what the heck they mean

September 1st, I posted a blog on a book I was reading that teaches a person with any chronic illness how to heal their body using nutrition. You can read that here. As I was doing my morning walk, I got to thinking that a lot of us could use some help understanding health and wellness BEFORE we get to the point of chronic illness, so being a certified nutritionist and a personal trainer who used to own a couple gyms, I decided to post a blog on the components of the food pyramid, which so many people don’t understand. Below is the pyramid broken down for beginners and forgetters.

Disclaimer: Please see your doctor before starting on any nutrition program as this may not be right for you. This diet contains all food groups and does not take into account any allergies, diet restrictions, or vegan/vegetarian choices.

USDA_Food_PyramidThe following nutritional program is based on the USDA food pyramid and in my opinion and experience is the easiest and best way to good health. I have followed this plan strictly three times in my life; once to lower my 200 cholesterol to 140, which I did in six weeks; once to lose 30 pounds of baby weight, which I did over three months; and recently, to control my borderline diabetes. I haven’t had my sugar checked recently, but I feel 100% better and coincidentally lost a quick ten pounds. Yay! We are using the lowest serving numbers in the pyramid diet, as the largest serving numbers should be saved for 230-pound male body builders who work out six times a week. By the end of the blog, you should understand the number of servings you need.

Let’s talk quickly about calories. The easiest way to decide how many calories you need is by the weight you want to be. If you want to be 140 pounds, multiply 140 by 10. You need 1400 calories per day. If you want to be 150 pounds, 1500 calories per day. Easy! This amount should be adjusted up or down by your fitness and exercise level. If you want to be 140 pounds, but are inactive, then 1200 calories would help you lose weight. If you want to gain weight from 140 to 150 and you run marathons, you may need 1800 calories. Adjust your numbers accordingly, understanding that 3500 calories equals roughly one pound (body fat and lean muscle tissue are different numbers, but that’s a good estimate.) If you consume 300 calories less than you need and burn 200 calories a day with exercise, that’s a 500 calorie deficit per day or 3500 calories per week. You should lose just over a pound per week. In contrast, if you overeat by 50 calories per day, you’ll gain six pounds per year. Not hard to do. We’ll discuss calories more at the end of this blog.

Let’s talk about measuring. It’s a pain in the rear to pull out a measuring cup to get a perfect serving of one cup or one tablespoon. Measure things the first couple times, always using the same cup or spoon or plate, then you can eyeball it for the rest of your life. Of course, when you buy new dishes, you’ll have to measure again. My new soup bowls are flippin’ huge!  :)

Ready to feel better? Ready to have more energy? Ready to learn what’s good and what isn’t? Let’s go!


For the record – the white-faced beauty in the photo is my girl Lucy. Freckles is behind her.

Dairy – The first thing to know is the USDA recommends two-three servings of dairy per day. You need calcium for healthy bones and vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. A serving size is 8 ounces of milk or yogurt. That’s it! (Cheese looks like its included in the dairy category, but it actually has more protein than calcium, so we’ll include it later in the protein section.) If you currently drink whole milk, this week buy 2%, then 1%, then finally skim. You’ll get used to it, I promise, and soon you’ll wonder how you ever drank milk that was so thick. FYI: If you add a pat of butter to one cup of skim milk, you get 1%. Another pat will give you 2%. Two more pats will give you whole milk. Try that little exercise just for fun and see if you can drink it. Eww. Those fats are saturated fats and clog up your arteries and your heart. Also understand that your yogurt should be sugar free, fat free, and fruit free. Bummer! Don’t worry, we’ll fix it later.

Diet Plan – Enjoy one cup of skim milk with breakfast. You do eat breakfast don’t you? If not, just drink the milk. Enjoy one cup of skim milk or yogurt later in the day as an afternoon snack between lunch and dinner.


Fruit – Fruit contains natural sugars and tons of vitamins. They will give you spurts of energy and feed your organs in spectacular ways, aiding in fighting off colds and helping in digestion and elimination. The USDA recommends two-four servings of fruit per day. A serving of fruit is quite simple. In most cases, it’s a piece that you can hold in your hand. Orange, apple, pear, peach, kiwi, plum, etc. In some cases like watermelon, that measurement is not available, so keep in mind that you should still be able to hold the serving in your hand. One cup of watermelon or cantaloupe, 15 grapes, a box of raisins or dried cranberries, 1/2 grapefruit, 1/2 cup of berries, 1/2 cup juice, etc. If you’re not a big fruit eater, try the dried raisins or cranberries on your salad, cooked on top of your meat, or added to your morning cereal. Do not substitute a fruit serving for what’s in the bottom of store-bought yogurt. That’s too much added sugar. If you want fruit in your yogurt, add your own fresh fruit. If fresh fruit is not available, buy frozen fruit. If that’s not available, buy canned fruit that’s packed in water or light syrup. Avoid the extra sugar of heavy syrups whenever possible. Note: if you have blood sugar issues, you should eat your fruit with other foods. When eaten alone, fruit can cause a spike and a quick drop in sugar levels.

Diet Plan – Enjoy two fruits per day. Add one to breakfast and one later as a mid-morning snack. NOTE: Make one of them a citrus (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, pineapple) which covers your proper vitamin C intake for the whole day.

Culmination – You should enjoy a dairy and a fruit with breakfast (or as breakfast, try yogurt with fresh blueberries), a fruit as a mid-morning snack, and a dairy as an afternoon snack.



Veggies are easy! The USDA recommends three-five servings per day. A serving size in one cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked. Bam! You know what veggies are, but I will tell you what they are not. They are NOT potatoes, corn, or beans (except for green beans). Potatoes, corn, and beans contain more starch than fiber and are placed in the grain/starch category which we will go over below. So, your veggies are anything leafy and green, squash, zucchini, pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes (which are super high in vitamin C), brussel sprouts, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, radishes, etc. If you can grow it in your garden, it’s probably a veggie. The easiest way to keep track of your veggies is to eat one for lunch and two for dinner. Slice a tomato to go with your sandwich, add chopped veggies to the top of your pasta, salads are always good. If you’re on the go and simply don’t have time, try a small can of sodium-free V8 juice. You can chug it in one second.

Diet Plan – Enjoy three veggies per day, one with lunch and two with dinner. NOTE: Make one a dark leafy green (kale, broccoli, spinach, romaine, etc.) which covers your proper iron intake for the whole day. Iron is good for the blood.

Culmination – Enjoy a dairy and a fruit with breakfast, a fruit as a morning snack, a veggie with your lunch, a dairy as an afternoon snack, and two veggies with your dinner.


Protein – The USDA food pyramid recommends two-three servings of protein at three ounces per serving. Three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards. Just like the fruit or vegetable, it’s something you can hold in your hand. Proteins include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, etc. It also includes all seafood, but with seafood, you can eat double because it’s lower in calories. Eggs are also included in the protein category. One egg equals one ounce, so a three egg omelet is good. The pyramid states cheese is in the dairy category, but they’ve gone back and forth with this for years. Here, we’ll keep cheese in the protein category, but make sure it’s a hard cheese like parmesan. Soft cheeses like American and Feta are super high in fat (that’s why they’re soft). Buy soft cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar that say “part skim.” That has a lower fat content. Don’t get me wrong: Fat is not bad, but we don’t want the saturated fats found in cheeses, we want healthy unsaturated fats, which we will learn about below. Although legumes, peanut butter, nuts and seeds are high in protein, they contain more starches and fats than protein, so are categorized in other places which we’ll discuss below in fats and grains. So, basically your protein is meat, seafood, eggs, and cheese. Make the most lean choices you can when choosing your meats, keeping in mind the farther away from the bone, the less fat. This means a steak is better than ribs, a breast is better than a leg. And processed meats such as sausage, bacon, and lunch meats should go far away. They are filled with sodium and fat. Avoid them if you can.

Diet Plan – Eat one serving of protein at lunch and one at dinner. (You can change your protein serving to breakfast if desired.)

Culmination – Our diet is expanding into eating five meals per day: Breakfast – one dairy and one fruit; Snack – one fruit; Lunch – one protein and one veggie; Snack – one dairy; Dinner – one protein and two veggies.


Fats – There are two kinds of fats: fats that come from animals are saturated fats, and fats that come from plants are unsaturated fats. Your body needs fats, but your heart doesn’t need the saturated kinds. The USDA recommends fat intake be kept to a minimum. You can add up to three unsaturated fats daily, one at each meal. A serving is generally a tablespoon. Fats include oil, grease, butter, nuts, seeds, and strangely, avocado. Watch where your fats come from. If it’s from an animal, find a vegetable substitute. Margarine is better than butter, Canola oil is better than Crisco, sunflower seeds are better than bacon. If you have to eat bacon (which I LOVE), one slice is a fat serving. The best way to use fats is to cook in olive oil, make homemade oil and vinegar dressing for your salad, and add some walnuts, almonds, or peanuts to your breakfast cereal.

Diet Plan – Keep in mind that all fats are optional and may be adding extra calories you don’t need. You may add one serving of fat to each meal.

Culmination – You should be eating five times per day and using the following in your diet: Breakfast – one fruit, one dairy, one fat; Snack – one fruit; Lunch – one protein, one veggie, one fat; Snack – one dairy; Dinner – one protein, two veggies, one fat.


Grains and Starches – These terms are used interchangeably, though technically, starches are grains, fruits, and veggies, and grains are just grains. Whatever, for the sake of this menu, we’ll pretend they are the same thing. This is the hardest category for people to master because it includes fried and sugary things such as cakes, pies, chips, and french fries. Ugh. The most important thing to keep in mind about grains is to ALWAYS choose a whole grain. Those fried and sugary items listed above are NOT whole grains. A whole grain is: whole wheat, barley, rice, corn, rye, etc. Read the label of your bread this week. The first ingredient should include the word “whole.” If your bread contains the words “enriched” or “bleached” then put it back down on the shelf. Enriched means they process the crap out of it until it has no more nutritional value, then add chemical vitamins and minerals back into it. Your body can’t break down those chemicals, so the “enriched, bleached” wheat bread you’re eating is just useless calories. Read the label!! A grain/starch is 80 calories. You can find that information on the label also. Generally, a serving of grain is one slice of bread, english muffin, pita, tortilla, small bagel, or one cup of breakfast cereals, but make sure they are “whole” and have minimal sugar. Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Total, pretty much anything by Kashi, is good. Natural grains such as one cup of oatmeal, grits, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta are perfect. The last part of grains include one potato, one ear of corn, or one cup of beans (not green beans, those are a veggie). Those are all starchy veggies and have been placed in the grain/starch category. Make good whole-grain choices for this category. Don’t waste it on processed chips and french fries. The USDA recommends six-eleven servings per day. The difference there is 480 calories to 880 calories. Yikes! Generally, five or six work for women, and six to ten work for men.

Diet Plan – You should add one-two servings of grain/starch per meal.

Culmination – Your pyramid meals should look like the following: Breakfast – one grain, one dairy, one fruit, one fat; Snack – one fruit; Lunch – two grains, one protein, one veggie, one fat; Snack – one dairy; Dinner – two grains, one protein, two veggies, one fat. This is a 1200 calorie diet. See “Calories” below to adjust your caloric intake by adding grains, veggies, and fruits.

CALORIES – We discussed calories at the top of the blog, but now that you have a better understanding of food groups, let’s break it down further. A dairy serving, a fat serving, and a grain/starch serving are each 80 calories. A fruit is 60 calories. A veggie is 40 calories. Protein is 150 calories. If you are adjusting your calorie intake, keep in mind we never adjust dairy, protein, or fats, because we don’t want to increase cholesterol or saturated  fat levels. Add calories by adding fruit, veggies, and grains. Don’t get lazy and add grains that aren’t healthy.

SNACKS – Besides the regular snacks on this diet, sometimes we just need something sweet, crunchy, or chocolaty. Count these snacks as your grains/starches. A sugar-free fudgecicle has 45 calories. You can have two in place of a grain! – Try your veggies raw and dip them in two tablespoons of hummus (70 calories = a grain). Just as satisfying as any sour cream or ranch dip. – If you find yourself surrounded by birthday cake or Thanksgiving pie, take the smallest piece and trade the calories out for your grains. – Alcohol is also 80 calories per a proper portion and counted as a grain, but use in moderation while getting your diet on track. Nothing can blow a diet faster than a late night alcohol binge. – Popcorn is a great TV snack and is 80 calories per three cups. Lay off the butter, try some popcorn sprinkle mix instead. The store carries great flavors like cheddar and jalapeno.

FREE STUFF – You can use up to three free items per day. These items include fat-free sour cream (perfect for that baked potato), ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, non-dairy coffee flavorings, low-fat mayonnaise, and of course, add herbs to everything. I always have fresh chives in the fridge. Diet sodas are free, but be warned they are very high in sodium, and new studies are coming out daily condemning aspartame. Tea and coffee is always free.

WHITE DEATH – Anything white needs to be used in great moderation. They include: sugar, salt, flour, rice, bread, pasta. Substitutes include: brown sugar or molasses, sea salt, whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole grain bread, and whole wheat pasta.

SHOPPING - Plan your menus in advance so you have everything you need when it’s time to eat. Don’t randomly throw dinner together with whatever is in the fridge. The best way to shop at the grocery store is to go around the outside walls. Everything you need for health is along those walls – fruits, veggies, dairy, meat, read the labels for the best grains, buy healthy fats. Everything in the center aisles needs to be approached with great caution. If it comes in a box, it probably doesn’t have much vitamins or minerals left in it, but it still has plenty of the calories, salts, preservatives, and sugars.

Eat balanced, eat fresh, eat healthy!