Join Me at the OC Book Fair in Costa Mesa This Saturday


This upcoming Saturday, March 26, 2016, I’ll be one of 30 authors participating in the Orange County Writers Book Fair. Fun! 🙂 Click to find out more about who will be there. We’ll have fiction and nonfiction authors, and books for children and adults.

We’ll be at The Lab Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa, CA, from 11am to 4pm. I’ve never been there, but it looks really cool. Kind of artsy and eclectic. And it’s outdoors so it should be perfect at this time of year. (Right now, the weather is supposed to be a gorgeous 73 and sunny!)

If you live in the Orange County area, I’d love to see you on Saturday!

Spring Fling Romance Readers Club Giveaway TODAY

Happy woman with tablet in the park

Guess what I’ve got for you today? Romance Readers Club is doing a Spring Fling Massive Ebook Giveaway today only!

Click the link and scroll through the list of over 100 free romance books. Download any or all of them today! 🙂 My romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, is one of the free books, and free through tomorrow.

There are a variety of subgenres, heat levels, and book lengths. Most are novels, some are novellas, some may even be short stories (I don’t know for sure.) Some of them are free every day, but most of them are free today (and maybe tomorrow) only.

And if dozens of free books aren’t enough to start your spring off right (or your autumn if you’re Down Under), scroll to the bottom of the list of books to see how to have multiple chances to win a Kindle Fire HD6.

Hurry! The giveaway ends in a few hours at midnight Pacific. 🙂

My Public Display of Dieting – Week 11

RESULTS: Gained 1 pound for a total loss of 12 pounds

Walking at sunrise

Walking at sunrise

I spent the past week in Vegas on a writing retreat with my friend Elena. It was awesome! I wrote the most number of words I’ve ever written in a week! By far!

The other awesome part was that Elena is a great cook, and I ate really well at every meal. That is not how I’m used to eating on a writing retreat! I usually eat yogurt and PB&J sandwiches, whatever it takes to have the most time for writing. 😉  Elena made a ziti casserole and chicken picatta and all kinds of delicious foods. Yum!

When I came home on Sunday, it was to the family March birthday party (including mine! 🙂 ) and a lot of planned overeating. LOL!

So…yup, I gained a pound over the last week. But considering what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been trying, I’m perfectly fine with it. Haha! And I did do quite a bit of my usual exercise – I’ve got the aching abs to prove it – so I didn’t fall off the wagon completely.

With my birthday and Easter coming up, I may or may not lose any weight this week either. But I’m still going to count calories, exercise, and work to not overeat much.

I hope you all have a fabulous week! Happy Easter to you!

My Public Display of Dieting – Week 10

RESULTS: Lost 2 pounds for a total loss of 13 pounds!

Writing SmileyI’m so excited! I was super busy last week getting ready for a writing retreat that I’m on this week, and I managed to lose 2 pounds by Thursday! Hurray!

I’m particularly happy because this week my good friend – who happens to be Italian – is cooking all week, so I’ll need that extra cushion of weight loss. Haha!! The last couple days have already been delicious!

Meanwhile, lots of writing and a little bit of exercising this week so I don’t become a brain on top of a blob of flesh. Haha! See you next week!

My Public Display of Dieting – Week 9

RESULTS: Lost 1 pound for a total loss of 11 pounds!

Kitty crossing the finish line at one of the half marathons I ran in Sydney

Crossing the finish line at one of the half marathons I ran in Sydney

Short post this week – I’ve been pretty busy with writing and teaching, but I’ve stayed on track with eating and exercising. The habits are getting easier to keep!

On Friday, I finally felt healed enough from a string of colds since mid-December to start running again. Hurray! Due to the last two months of exercising and losing weight, I was in better shape than three months ago, so I ran longer and with 2-pound hand weights. Awesome!

It felt so good (though I desperately wanted to take a nap by Friday afternoon) that I got up early Saturday to do it again before the rest of my activities. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of getting back into running races. 🙂

My Public Display of Dieting – Week 8 – 20% to Goal!

RESULTS: Lost 1 pound for a total loss of 10 pounds!

I’m excited to share that I am 20% of the way toward my goal of losing 50 pounds in 50 weeks! And in only 16% of the time I gave myself. So exciting!

Garmin banner logoIn addition to tracking my calories with My Fitness Pal, I’ve also been tracking my steps with a Garmin Vivofit bracelet. I love that a red line appears at the top of the screen after an hour of inactivity, and it gets longer for the next 45 minutes. I have to walk about 200 or 250 steps to make the line go away. (Mine looks like the bright blue one in the picture.)

I’ve been walking probably about five days a week – I try every day but sometimes things come up. My current walk is 2.5 miles around the neighborhood, which is something over 5000 steps. I started out the year walking with my 2-pound hand weights, moved to the 3-pound ones, and last week started carrying the 5-pound weights.

Holy cow! I never wished for a 4-pound weight until now! Going from 3 to 5 pounds, you can really feel that it’s almost double the weight. It’s really slowed down my walk – from 38 minutes at the fastest to 40:30 or 41 minutes doing arm exercises with the 5-pound weights. But my arms haven’t looked this good in a couple years! 🙂

The other thing I really noticed this past week is the fact that I’m now carrying the weight that I lost and it’s heavy! And I lost that much! That’s so cool!

So, again…I’m feeling inspired by the hundreds of tiny victories I’ve had over the last eight weeks. Here’s to another week of tiny victories! I hope you have dozens, too!

Book Marks: My Name is Mahtob – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

My Name is Mahtob book coverMy Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody

Goodreads Summary

The daughter at the center of the international bestseller and film Not Without My Daughter finishes the story that captivated the world: held hostage in Iran, escape over the mountains, growing up in fear of kidnapping, battling deadly disease, and leaning on the sustaining power of God’s goodness.

Two decades ago, Not Without My Daughter (a global phenomenon made into a film starring Sally Field) told of the daring escape of an American mother and her six-year-old child from an abusive and fanatical Iranian husband and father.  Now the daughter tells the whole story, not only of her imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Iran: living in fear of re-abduction, battling recurring nightmares and panic attacks – all under the menacing shadow of her father.

This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness.  Moving from Michigan to Tehran, from Ankara to Paris, Mahtob reveals the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by her faith in God’s goodness and his care and love for her.

My Thoughts

My Name is Mahtob is a companion book to Not Without My Daughter.  Mahtob Mahmoody shares her experiences in her own words.  She writes about her feelings, thoughts, and experiences while being held captive in Iran and even afterwards when she made it home.

I actually haven’t read or watched Not Without My Daughter but that didn’t make My Name is Mahtob any less interesting.  I enjoyed reading this book and I definitely plan on reading and watching Not Without My Daughter now.

I do have to say that after about the first half of the book it got pretty slow.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t quite as interesting as the first half of the book.  It got a little confusing at times because it wasn’t necessarily in chronological order.

Mahtob Mahmoody did discuss her faith but not to an extent that it was overly religious toward any certain religion.  She is Lutheran but this book isn’t offensive to readers of any religion.  It is just an autobiography of her life and faith and it is a lovely book.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Carrie Kurtz


Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews.

My Public Display of Dieting – Week 7

RESULTS: Lost 1 pound for a total loss of 9 pounds!

My Fitness Pal appThis week I managed fairly well except for one day. I caught a cold last Sunday and sometimes having a cold gives me the munchies. My friend Kathleen suggests it’s probably a comfort food thing. That sounds about right. So Thursday I mashed up an avocado and had chips, avocado, and sour cream for dinner. Yup. That’s all. I went nearly 700 calories over that day!

Now I’m not the kind of person who likes keeping a food journal. I like counting nearly everything in my life, but I don’t like trying to keep track of calories on paper. It’s a total pain in the butt and the few times I tried to do it, I quit after a week or two.

But a few years ago I found the My Fitness Pal app and I love it! You can download it onto your smart phone, and you can also use it on the website. It has a humongous database of food with calorie counts, and the number of grams of protein, carbs, fats, sugars, etc. (I use the free version. It’s more than enough info for me, but you can get even more information and features from the Premium version.)

You can enter food you bought at the grocery store as well as food you ate in restaurants (if the restaurant is a big enough franchise to be in the database). You can also enter all the ingredients from a recipe and note the number of servings, and it gives you the calories, etc. for each serving of the recipe. That’s how I found out one of my brownies is 166 calories, and a 1/8th slice of my meatloaf is 250 calories.

When you enter your age, gender, weight, and weight loss (or gain) goal, it will calculate how many calories you should eat each day to make your weekly goal. I chose to lose one pound per week for my goal, so the app says I can eat 1670 calories per day. (As I lose weight, I would guess that it will lower my calorie ceiling, but I don’t know yet.)

Last night we went out with our friend Dwight to Panda Express. I know that food is high in calories so I tried not to eat much the rest of the day, and I only ate half my meal when I was there. The app told me how many calories everything would be so I could plan accordingly for my breakfast and lunch so I didn’t go over at dinner.

I can add my exercise, too, and it calculates the number of calories it thinks I used for cardio exercises, but it doesn’t calculate how many calories I burned doing strength exercises. Still, it’s a place to track all my exercise. The app connects to my Garmin Vivofit bracelet and to my Map My Run app, as well, so there’s not much double-entry.

It’s a pretty great app! And it only takes me a couple minutes at each meal to keep track of the food, and just a minute or so to track the exercise. If you aren’t using it, give it a try! 😀

My Public Display of Dieting – Week 6

RESULTS: Lost 4 pounds for a total loss of 8 pounds!

Smiley face with thumb upWhew! I was pretty sure (mostly) I would lose last week’s 3-pound gain, but I didn’t know if I could lose an additional pound as well. But I did it! Thank you, God! 😀

I think the exercising is really affecting the weight loss. While I’m not doing a ton of strength training, I’m doing more than I have in years and it’s showing. Today, I moved from walking with my 3-pound weights and doing arm exercises on the walk, to taking my 5-pound weights. Wow, that’s a big difference! I could feel myself walking slower and of course I couldn’t do as many sets of each exercise.

But I was also thinking – whoa, I’m carrying 10 extra pounds with me, but I’ve lost 8 pounds, so this slower, heavier pace is how I was walking normally less than two months ago!

Every bit of forward momentum – and maybe even more so the forward momentum when I had a step back the previous week – is really motivating me to keep going! I’m excited to see where I’ll be in another six weeks. But even more so, what will I look like when my 50-week journey is over??!!  😀