Friday, February 28, 2014

GLUTEN-FREE: Not Just A Fad

Gluten Awareness

I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance over a decade ago.  When I was first diagnosed, there wasn't much out there to help me to understand or transition to a gluten-free life.  I had to do extensive research that included contacting various manufactures directly to get information.
***Gluten can be ingested, inhaled, and absorbed.  That means you have to make sure that non-edible items are gluten-free too.  These products include soaps, toothpastes, lotions, make-up, and fragrances.***
Today, it is easier for people who have issues with gluten.  I'm so grateful for the legislation passed in 2013 that defines "gluten-free" and also enforced full disclosure labeling.
I'm also grateful to celebrities that have drawn attention to the gluten-free life.  Though they seem to do it more as a fad, the attention is leading to further awareness of gluten intolerance and creating more mainstream products to offer gluten-free options.
For those of us with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease, a gluten-free life style is truly about living a healthier life.  Depending on your sensitivity level, you can have reactions to gluten as simple as an upset stomach to something as serious as death.  Many find that their disease gets worse with time and is often associated with other issues to include lactose intolerance, Irritable Bowel Disorder, Colitis, and Crohn's Disease.
Even when you have lived on a gluten-free diet with positive results, managing your disease, it can always escalate.  After time you can become unresponsive even to the strictest of gluten-free diets.

That's what happened to me.
I used to be less sensitive and I would occasionally "cheat" or eat gluten even when I knew I shouldn't.  I would tell myself that a little wouldn't hurt now and then, but the truth is that even a trace amount can cause extensive damage or death.
Eventually, I was too sensitive to "cheat" and ultimately, I moved into a worse condition.  
Eventually, I because so sensitive and my body weak enough that I now have microscopic colitis and a dairy allergy that causes itchy, painful skin rashes.  I'm now Celiac and not just gluten intolerant.
***Please note that oats are naturally gluten-free, but are cross contaminated during harvesting and processing.  You cannot eat oats unless they have been certified as gluten-free***
There are a lot of great manufactures of gluten free items now.  Many items that are gluten free are also dairy and egg free since these are common allergens that associate with gluten problems.
Thanks for new legislation,you can now find clear labeling and the the GF trademark (shown above) on products.  The food is still 3X more costly than normal foods, but at least we have made some strides forward!  Still, there are a lot of hidden gluten ingredients so you need to educate yourself.  You also need to keep a vigil on changes in vendors and ingredients to products, so you must constantly read labels.
Some hidden gluten items are:
mono and diglycerides, natural flavoring, citric acid, distill vinegar, and anything malted.
***Wheat is a heavily used filler for things.  Wheat and hidden gluten ingredients can be found in things you never expect to find them such as gum, cheese, and even processed meats***
Here are some of the companies that I personally like and use:
Here is more information about gluten and what it does to one's body:
http://www.celiac.com/
Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, is a genetic disorder that affects at least 1 in 133  Americans. Symptoms of celiac disease can range from the classic features, such as diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition, to latent  symptoms such as isolated nutrient deficiencies but no gastrointestinal symptoms. The disease mostly affects people of European (especially Northern European) descent, but recent studies show that it also affects Hispanic, Black and Asian populations as well. Those affected suffer damage to the villi (shortening and villous flattening) in the lamina propria and crypt regions of their intestines when they eat specific food-grain antigens (toxic amino acid sequences) that are found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats  have traditionally been considered to be toxic to celiacs, but recent scientific studies have shown otherwise. This research is ongoing, however, and it may be too early to draw solid conclusions.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fuzzy Babies

My Cats Are My Kids Too

When I adopted my kitties, it was the same as if I had adopted a human child.  I saw no difference in taking responsibility for the care of my cats; their lives are just as valued and my commitment is just as deep.
I vowed to go beyond the necessities of food, water, and medical care; I promised a loving family and protective home.
I welcomed my kitties into my life with the intent that we belonged to one another eternally.  There was no mention of conditions, limitations, or expiration.  Furthermore, my heart was not given out of obligation, so my fuzzy babies were not a burden, but a blessing.

You don't give your loved ones away when they "outgrow their cuteness."
You don't turn your back on your dear ones when they are suffering.
You don't abandon those in your charge when it is inconvenient.

 Family is forever!



Jury Duty

Something I Bitch About, But Wouldn't Give Up!

Everyone makes jokes and complains about Jury Duty.
Some of us actively try to get out of our obligation to serve on a jury.
Others understand the importance of participating in this vital element to our judicial system.
Though I am not completely comfortable with serving on a jury, I know if I were in the position of the plaintiff or defendant then I'd value the gift of a jury.
This is a constitutional right that is complained about, but one that is important; a foundation of our country and our American culture.
I was summoned for jury duty for the second time in my life.  I wasn't thrilled when I got the mail that day, but I knew how important it was for me to commit to my civil duty.
I thought about how I felt.  I realized that I was excited to be involved in such an essential part of our democratic government, but I was just really uncomfortable with the whole process.  I don't like waiting around to see if I am even needs because I want to spend my time in a worthwhile manner.  I don't like being locked in a crowded room and then wondering if I will be rejected...  or worse; selected for a jury.
I think that jury duty is difficult because you never know what to expect.  Plus, I think about how subjective "truth" really is, especially in a court of law.
The level of the court you get assigned to will alter "truth" - well, your perception of who's "right" and who's "wrong" at the very least.  By this, I mean, how you look at the evidence will be dictated by the guidelines given to the jury.  This will depend on if the case if civil or criminal and how they are classified within those choices.
I realized today that the stakes of a case and the degree of evidence could and would alter my opinion.  The two cases I've been involved in showed me why the different levels exist and how they are used.  It was an interesting experience for me and one I'm not sure I like.
I don't like having to decide someone's fate.  I don't like feeling like I might be missing something important that might influence my opinion or definitively prove a case.  I don't like worrying if I'm wrong in how I interpreted things or understood the data given to me.
In the case I was in today, a proper verdict dictated 5 of 6 juror to agree.  We had a lively debate about the evidence and "facts" of the case.  We all clearly saw the mistakes made on both sides of the table and how their lawyers influenced the mood of the trial, but our job wasn't to find a conclusive winner, but to chose who had less fault.  As one juror pointed out, our job wasn't to decide "beyond reasonable doubt" as in a criminal case; it was about "preponderance of evidence."  
This definition allowed us to look at the evidence in a new way.  We all agreed that if it was "beyond reasonable doubt" then we'd all decide differently, but in the end, it was about a perception of events and not a judgement on doubt. 
Overall, the case was ridiculous and none of us felt like it should have escalated to the point that it was brought to the court room.
The whole situation today caused me to have a profound epiphany; something that made the whole "jury duty" issue take on a new connotation for me.  I realized that this annoying life disruption is a right all our citizens have.  It doesn't matter how small a situation, we all have a right to our "day in court" and a "jury of peers."
It's a right all Americans are blessed with and something that not all peoples of the world have.
I will still joke about "not being smart enough to get out of jury duty, but the truth is that I don't want to.  I am honored to uphold this civil right and to serve my community; nay, my country!
 Yep, I just used the word "nay" in a sentence!

Embrace your civic duty with thankfulness!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Personal

They Say To Write What You Know

To be a good writer, you need to create from your heart.  You need to look inside yourself and draw from your hopes, aspirations, dreams, fears, nightmares, and failures.  You need to be a part of the soul of the book you write and be willing to be vulnerable to your audience.  If your story isn't important or personal to you then it'll never be good enough for your readers.  You need to smudge the ink with your tears and bleed your essence into your art.
Your writing should be intimate to the point that you are almost embarrassed to share it.  Your words should have a truth that exposes you; making you feel naked to your readers.  Your work should be crafted with so much love that it's like your baby - you just want to nurture, develop, and protect it.
Your desire to see your story succeed should excite you and encourage you.  It should drive you to produce the best product you can.  Your fear of seeing your story fail should be almost painful because it is your soul laid out in the pages of your book.
Your words should be a part of you.  A piece of you lies in every character no matter how different they are from your overall person.  Everything they are is something you have envisioned.
Though they are completely separate and individually unique, they should still be an extension of something inside you.  They should be expressions of your fears, regrets, mistakes, hurts, pleasures, hopes or dreams.  It should be hard to completely separate yourself at times because you should know your characters that well.
Though words are just words, the ideas, the emotions, and the overall picture is the writer's creation.  It is art from the soul. 
You should write what you know based on the feelings you have experienced; real or unreal.
Real from your actual experiences and observations.
Unreal because you can always build a whole world using your imagination and experience or observe through this mindfully fabricated universe.
The life in your books comes from your own!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Warning; May cause Irreversible Changes!

PROCEED WITH CAUTION!

"Knowledge is power!"  Who hasn't heard that before?
Information is where we get knowledge and that is communicated through language.  Books contain the written form of our language; hence, our knowledge.
Have you ever heard of the Library at Alexandria?
Did you know it burnt down?
What if it hadn't burnt down?  What if all those ancient scrolls survived?  What knowledge was lost?  How could that information have changed the world today?  Could things have been better; worse?
In times past, not everyone was allowed an education.  Most people were illiterate and communication was stunted.  Today, we take our education and books for granted.
It's sad to me that people don't value knowledge the way they should.  Whether you get your information from newspapers, computers, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, or paperbacks is irrelevant.  What counts is that you share the knowledge and hence, the power.
Some people feared allowing the masses to have the written word because of the power it holds.  It has the power to plant an idea into not just one person, but all people.  It has the ability to build and destroy; to change societies, people, and individuals.  Once you learn something, you will be irreversibly altered.  You will always be something other than what you were and that is the true power of knowledge!
It allows thoughts to grow and minds to expand.
This is a scary enterprise because you never know what will come from free-thinking people!  The power is in the unlimited possibilities that thoughts, ideas, and communication create!
Don't just encourage reading, enjoy it; experience the written word and bask in the gift of knowledge!  Reading and writing is the foundation of civilization.  It is the power that lifts our people!

New Eyes

A Book Is Always Read With New Eyes!

Each reader brings a new perspective to a book.
They see the characters, plot, and events through their own eyes; based on their individual hopes, fears, and understanding.
Every person projects their values into a story.  Each reader lives the adventure based on their own life experiences.  They use their personal feelings to comprehend what they're reading, making it their own.  This is why no two people will ever read the same book!
Furthermore, you yourself will never read the same book twice!  Honestly, you won't!  You'll grow, develop, and mature.  These changes will cause you to interpret everything in a new way.  
You can read something when you're 8 years old, 18 years old, and then again when you're 28 years old only to find that it's not really the same story.  It's different; you as the reader are different.
Though the words aren't changed, you are.
It is a magical experience!  It's why books are so dear and valuable.  It's why we consider the written word so power.
Our ability to read a book with new eyes is exactly why books are able to come alive for us!

What stories have you seen through new eyes?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Language of Love

Love Is Expressed In Many Ways

Love transcends all things.
Love is intimate and every person has a different way of showing their love.  Every couple has a different love language.  What may seem like nothing to you might be very important to someone else.
Ways to show love and intimacy:
  • Giving each other space - whether you are showing you trust one another by accepting each others needs for separation or you simply understand that everyone needs time to hang with their friends, giving one another space can help build intimacy.  For some, it is a sign of love because it shows you love their independence, support their interests, encourage them to grow, and that you have faith in them as well as your relationship.
  • Sharing Affection - maybe you show you love through your physical expression.  Perhaps it is a tender look, a small touch, an adoring smile, a loving kiss, a nurturing embrace, or sex.  All of these have important places in relationships.  Some people are not good at saying what they feel or mean; some are better at showing it; which leads me to...
  • Offering gifts to one another - Gifts can mean many things for many people and couples.  What is a really personal and thoughtful gift to one may not have the same level of affection to another.  Furthermore, a gift doesn't have to be something concrete or materialistic.  Gifts can be honesty, friendship, or time just as easily as flowers, a meal out, or going to an event.  It is about the meaning of the gift; the gestures value is in what the gift represents.
Love is the outward expression of one's feelings.
Love is as simple as just being in each other's company or as complicated as intense passion.  It's expression is beyond words and even physical bounds; it is spiritual.
Love is total acceptance of one another, no matter what mood you're in and the safety to allow each other the ability to express all moods.  Love is sharing the simple things as well as the big and standing together whether it is in good or bad times.
You don't have to understand or define love; it just is what it is.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Words Can Wound

Beware Of The Word!


When we were young, most of us heard our mother's say, "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all."  We didn't realize this common saying was a profound warning.  I doubt any of us really took it seriously.
As I got older, I came to understand this phrase more.
I learned that when we are angry or hurt, we will say things that we don't mean.  They may be true, but we will say them in a cutting manner with the pure intent on damaging the person to whom our words are directed.
We will all say and do things we regret or wish we had handled differently, but we don't need to exasperate bad situations by being mean.
Whether written or spoken, remember that words are powerful.
They can create and destroy in a second; a second that cannot be taken back.

Words Are Powerful

Whether Written or Spoken,
Words Have Strength


Words help us to communicate.
They convey thoughts, feelings, intentions, ideas, and opinions.
They can influence you in ways you don't realize and never expect.
Words make our language and binds all people.
They help to develop our young, educate the masses, develop technology, and create a society.
Words have power; hence, the old adage:
"The pen is mightier than the sword."

Adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy.


More Reviews for FEARS OF DARKNESS

Thank You To All My Readers!


I wanted to share the current reviews that have been posted
to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I hope you continue to support me by continuing to purchase my work as I release it and encouraging your friends/family to do the same!
THANK YOU!

Define Horror

What Does "HORROR" Mean To You?


How do you define horror?
Does it mean something that chills you to the bone?  Is it something supernatural?
Is it a person or situation that traps you in a terrifying scenario?
Is it gore or ghoul?

definition from dictionary.com

Horror means different things to different people, just as the term "monster" does.
To me, horror and monster can be one in the same.
Often, both are disguised in a package we find appealing.  That's usually how we get drawn in and caught in the trap.  The "devil" is attractive; danger's exciting.

What if its more than you think?  I mean, what if "horror" isn't just defined by a single thing or an particular action, but a behavior; a state of mind?
What if a "monster" isn't a demon, a ghost, or alien?
What if it's something more mundane than a creature from one's imagination?  What if it's someone close to you; a killer, a psycho, or an abuser?

Read FEARS OF DARKNESS to see what kind of monsters hide in the shadows!
Keep watch for A PRISONER WITHIN to see what horror means to me!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Expand Your Mind

READ SOMETHING!

It doesn't matter if you like books, eBooks, articles, newspapers, magazines, or blogs.
Reading and writing is a great way to exercise your mind, expand your vocabulary, grow your knowledge, and communicate with your fellow humans!
When you find the media format, the genre, and the characters that speak to you,
it's like magic!


Heroines

Heroines Come In All Varieties!

Here are my top favorite heroines:
1.    MARY MAGDALENE Mary Magdalene (also known as Mary of Magdala and The Magdalene) is an important woman in Christianity. “She is usually thought of as the second-most important woman in the New Testament after Mary, the mother of Jesus.”  (quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Magdalene)
2.      AYLA – Ayla is the main character in the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.  http://www.jeanauel.com/characters.php
3.      Katniss - Katniss Everdeen is the main character in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katniss_Everdeen
4.      Bella - Swan Isabella Swan is the main character of the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyers.  http://twilightsaga.wikia.com/wiki/Bella_Swan
5.    Mulan - “Hua Mulan is a legendary figure from ancient China who was originally described in a Chinese poem known as the Ballad of Mulan (木蘭辭).”  (quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hua_Mulan)
6.    Merida – Merida is a princess who’s also the main character in the Disney/Pixar animated film, BRAVE.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_(2012_film)
7.      Nightshade – A character found in several of the books that comprise of The First North Americans Series by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear http://www.gear-gear.com/ 
When I originally composed this list, I forgot to put Hermione Granger.
She is the lead female character in the Harry Pottery books.
I cannot leave her out as she is a fierce, intelligent, and kindly heroine whom I love very much.  
http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Hermione_Granger  
And, of course, my favorite of all favorites:
The main character in my novel, FEARS OF DARKNESS
DAKOTA

Reading or Writing

What's Your Story?

Generally, writer's are also avid readers so I will just say:
If you're a reader, what's your story?
What's your favorite genre?
What do you look for in a hero?  What characters speak to you most?  Does gender make a difference?
Whatever your story is, embrace it fully!
Check out FEARS OF DARKNESS; available now!

Protecting Yourself

The Best Protection Against Guns Is Training & Awareness

Weapons can be made out of anything, so I don't understand the "war on guns."
A gun is just a tool and like any tool, it's purpose and use is dependent upon the person wielding the tool.  If you don't have a gun, you will find another means to accomplish your goal.  A weapon is a weapon and not specially any one thing.
Unless you want to consider the person as the real weapon!
Banning guns won't solve the problem.  Like the temporary abolition of alcohol, it will only make things worse.  People will go to the underground to ensure they have guns, so the only people who will lose access to firearms would be the citizens who don't intend to use them for evil.
Good examples: prostitution, crack, heroin, and stealing are all illegal.  Has that prevented people from incorporating them into their lives?  So how do you think banning guns will prevent problems?  It may stop some gun-related crimes, but honestly, it will just make people find a new vice to use instead.
Children only get hurt by guns because they're not taught about them.
Children who have been taught that guns are not toys, shown house to handle the weapons, and what happened when they're fired will respect the tool.
You need to be responsible with the care and storage of your guns, as well as, the education of your family in regards to them.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just Sharing

*original photos found on Google though I modified them

As The Story Grows

The Process Is A Journey As Much As The Story

As I sit here watching The Twilight Saga: ECLIPSE on television, I'm thinking about how much I love the books.  I could read the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer again and again.  Just as the characters grow and mature, I feel like the story line and Stephenie's writing does as well.  It is an amazing journey.

I feel that way about FEARS OF DARKNESS.
I hadn't planned to make it a series, but I'm moving in that direction.  The story is growing, maturing, and taking shape in my mind.  The characters speak to me and I feel like there is more to share.  The whole process is new and interesting to me.

Of course, just like my reading style, I tend to work on multiple projects at once.  Though I am researching and forming the story for the prequel to FEARS OF DARKNESS, I'm continuing to work on other stories.  I'm thrilled at how A PRISONER WITHIN is turning out and I'm excited to get it released to you.  I cannot wait to see what you all think of it!

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Facebook Pages for Readers

Reading Is An Expression Of Life

I liked the photo and I like the Facebook page, I Love Reading, so I shared this post.
I shared it on my author J.M. Northup Facebook page, but ultimately, I decided to share the post on my blog.  I just felt like it was something that needed more attention.

After that, I started to think about how difficult it is to be a self-published writer.
There are a lot of great tools out there to allow a writer to publish, but not every author is able to pay for advertisement.  Social networking is the way to address a larger audience and to try to get your work known.  Unfortunately, that means there are times that you will share your posts about your work without prior authorization or knowledge from the page owner.
It feels bad to have to solicit your work this way.  I personally prefer to have the "okay" from the page owner, but in most cases, there isn't any way to contact them.  This sucks, but I don't know any way around it.  If you do, I am all ears!
With that being said, there are some great pages that are designed to help writers reach a larger audience and to share their work.  There are amazing sights that encourage the sharing of literature and who's pages are very informational, inspiring, and entertaining.
In appreciation of these pages and Facebook, I decided to do a blog that shared some of these awesome connections with you:

I Love Reading Books We Love Reading, We love Books! Join this page to share our love and passion for readingThis page has been very inspirational to me plus I just enjoy reading the posts!

This is a page that puts out a newsletter about literary topics.  They have been very supportive and kind.

Book Lover Reviews Love promoting books for authors through reviews. Please check out my blog for my review policy! www.booklover2reviews.wordpress.com
The own of this page was very kind and their page offers a lot of support for new and indie writers.

Ebooks GROW on TREES We give you the latest eBook sales! Interested in advertising with us? Check out:http://www.ebooksgrowontrees.com/#!advertise/c16fm
This page is for a service that can offer good solutions for advertising.  They were very encouraging and didn't yell at me for posting on their Facebook.

Reading Books Makes You Better Everyone has something wonderful to share. Our collection of Inspirational stories, Inspirational articles, Motivational articles and poems are about lessons we have learned along the way about ourselves or others.
This page is designed to share ideas and talk about your work.  They are super nice and they have a great page!

A Book Lovers' Review A Book Lovers’ Review promotes, reviews and boasts about books we love! We have lots of fun post like character interviews, challenges, cover reveals, blog tours and mega giveaways. If you are wondering what book to read next come check out our site but, be warned. You may be adding more than just ONE book to your TBR pile. We are also the Founder of The Walking Dead BlogNation and Official Blogger/Promoter for Authors After Dark Convention. Reading is our passion!
I am just starting to explore this page, but definitely recommend it for all adult readers and writers.

Books Rock My World Books Rock My World is a community of people who come together to share their love for literature. Run by admins from all over the world. Join us!
This is a very cool page.  It is full of ideas and is really a good place to discuss your love of literature.

Thank you to all of the page owners who support reading, writing, the distribution of knowledge, and a love for all forms of art!



Monday, February 17, 2014

What Book Speaks To You

Enjoy The Pleasure Of Reading

Whether you enjoy paperback or an eBook format, find the book that speaks to you.  Get entranced by the characters, be thrilled by the journey the tale takes you on, and get immersed in the adventure.  Find the book that speaks to you and enjoy the pleasure of reading!

Are You Excited

I'm Almost Done with A PRISONER WITHIN!

I am working diligently to get my final revisions done on my new manuscript, A PRISONER WITHIN.  I'm working to get it edited so I can get the final product released to you sometime in March 2014!
Please subscribe to my blog (www.jmnorthup.blogspot.com) or my author Facebook (www.facebook.com/authorjmnorthup) for updates on my current and future projects.
I am very excited with how this story is evolving.
It is completely different from FEARS OF DARKNESS and SOUL SEARCHING.
At first, I was worried about writing and releasing such a dark tale, but my daughter wanted me to write a horror-type story.  This story has the scariest kind of monsters I can think of in it, so I hope it satisfies her request.  Despite the lack of supernatural creatures, it certainly is a tale of horror; at least in my estimation!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Just To Make You Smile


What Will Your Story Tell?


Everybody Has A Story


Every life is a journey and has meaning.
Every life is valuable and has a story to tell.
Though not all variables are known or controllable in real life, you have to remain an active participant in the plot and movement of the tale.  Just like you have rules when it comes to grammar, syntax, and language, you have constraints in life.  There is only so much you can do by yourself, but you're still the one creatively designing your own story.
You are the author of your own destiny; what will your story say?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day to my hubby

I Love My Husband Deeply

I pray everyone finds the love I share with my husband!
Dusty is my best friend and truly, the other half of me!