New Alien Roads Sample

I am pleased to announce that Alien Roads, the second book in The Dominion Over the Earth series, is finally finished! This is futuristic fantasy geared to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. Here is a short description of the series:

The empire of an alien anti-Christ has claimed dominion over the Earth. Those who follow God’s true Light suspect they have the power to overthrow it, but will they be willing to pay the price?

If you haven’t read Fall to Eden and don’t want spoilers, then stop right now and go read that. It’s free and available in several formats, so there’s no reason to wait! I haven’t put the complete Alien Roads into various reader formats yet, but I have created a new  description and sample:

In the aftermath of the alien attack that destroyed Star Force and threw the inhabitants of Earth into chaos, the new emperor Arulezz Zarr has two priorities: Rebuild Star Force and get a spy into one of the mysterious pockets of light that emerged to protect the capital cities of Earth from the invaders. He believes that Earth native David Pierce, chosen by Tohmazz Zarr himself to be the consort of noblewoman Myri Zarr-Vahro, is the key to achieving both goals. Arulezz manipulates Myri into accepting the assignment to go into the Kansas City light community to seduce David into marriage and allegiance to the Zarrist nation.

Betrothed to Myri since childhood, the emperor’s brother Prince Jahnzel struggles to convince Myri to reject her new assignment and fails. While Myri prepares to go to Kansas City, Jahnzel commands his four-ship fleet to check on the Eden Colony during a trade mission. With the destruction of the Zarrists’ Control Colony by the rebellious planet-spirit who calls herself Tempest, Jahnzel’s critical command to maintain communication silence remains unknown to the surviving colonies. When Sara Alexander Carroll and her team send a distress signal from the planet, they set in motion a chain of events that will cripple the Zarrist nation and change their own prospects forever. Read the sample.

The Dark Trench Saga: A Star Curiously Singing, The Superlative Stream, and Freeheads

The Dark Trench Saga, by Kerry Nietz (Evangelical science fiction)

A Star Curiously Singing

A Star Curiously Singing

“Sandfly is a debugger. He is property, bought and paid for in an Earth under sharia law. All faiths but one have been banned. And the rule of the great Imam is supreme.

“As a debugger, Sandfly has an implant in his head that connects him to the world’s technology—and doles out mental shocks to keep him obedient. All he wants is to fix bots and avoid shocks.

“Now he’s been called into Earth orbit. The masters have a new spacecraft—one capable of interstellar flight. On its maiden voyage, the only robot on board went mad and tore itself apart.

“Why? Better question: does it pose any risk to humans?

“When Sandfly reviews the bot’s final moments, he perceives something unexpected. Something impossible.

“As Sandfly pieces together the clues, a trap spreads beneath his feet. If he solves the mystery, he may doom himself. And if he fixes the robot, he may shatter his world.

“Suspenseful, unique, and awash in cyberpunk jive, A Star Curiously Singing presents a bleak future that might be closer than we think.”


The Dark Trench Saga is Evangelical science fiction at its best—the setting is unique and well-executed, and the faith-based aspect of the story is perceptive and complex enough to inspire thought. Nietz brilliantly uses a continuous digital “stream” of information as a symbol for the knowledge of God that flows to humanity from Heaven. This “superlative stream” provides a flow of light and truth to those who are spiritually prepared to receive it—sanctifying power that “reprograms” the person’s mind and heart. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 6: The Book I Wish I’d Read Sooner

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

To read the fourth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40,” please click here.

To read the fifth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 5: Cookbooks,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I talked about that in the fourth post of this series.


The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation

The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation

The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, by John A. Widtsoe and Leah D. Widtsoe (LDS non-fiction)  

“The Word of Wisdom, a code of health dealing primarily with human nutrition, was promulgated as a divine revelation in 1833 by Joseph Smith, the ‘Mormon’ Prophet. It is a part of the religious system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which declares that the care of the body is a sacred duty; and it has been practiced measurably by members of the Church with very favorable results.

“Three objectives have been kept in mind in the preparation of this book. First, to make clear the meaning of the Word of Wisdom in terms of modern knowledge. Second, to show that the learning of the last century confirms the teachings of the Word of Wisdom. Third, to furnish some information for the guidance, through proper nutrition, of those who seek to retain, improve or recover their health.”

Biographical note: John A. Widtsoe graduated from Harvard University with a degree in chemistry and went on to earn a Ph.D. in physiological chemistry (biochemistry) from the University of Göttingen. In 1921 he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leah D. Widtsoe was a renowned home economist.


This book was originally published in 1937 and is full of health information that was “modern” for its time. Eighty years have passed since then, and nutritional science has progressed by leaps and bounds. That being the case, how can this be the one book about health that I wish I had read sooner?

From the time I was a little child, I’ve been taught the Word of Wisdom. If you aren’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as I am and would like to know what the Word of Wisdom is, here is a link you may find helpful. The Word of Wisdom provides a template that is flexible enough to accommodate all sorts of dietary patterns, cuisines, and individual health needs. Because it is so flexible, members of the Church often feel confused about how to follow all aspects of it. I am no different from others in this respect. I’m old enough to remember many health trends—both mainstream and obscure, and both helpful and harmful—and everything in between. I’ll admit that I’ve followed misguided health information. I’ve also followed reasonable health information that appeared to support the advice of the Word of Wisdom in many respects and discovered that what I was doing (or not doing) wasn’t going to work for me indefinitely. Sometimes I’ve simply misunderstood or misapplied good information. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 5: Cookbooks

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

To read the fourth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I talked about that in the fourth post of this series.


I’ve acquired many recipes over the years from multiple cooks and books, but in this post I will share the cookbooks that I have used the most in my health quest or anticipate using more in years to come. All but one of the books—which wasn’t designed to be a “diet” book—aim to provide lighter alternatives to common American foods. The techniques and ingredients they use to meet that goal, however, are often very different. I’ll confess that I dislike non-fat dairy foods and salad dressings and don’t use them, even when the recipe calls for them, which changes the nutritional statistics of many recipes for me. I do use reduced-fat items.

The first on the list is a companion book to the eating program designed by Dana Thornock, which I introduced in the second post of this series. As such, it provides low-fat recipes that emphasize fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, with small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Most of the recipes don’t contain much added sugar either, and when they do, many contain instructions for substituting fruit juice concentrates for the sugar. None of these recipes call for low-calorie sweeteners or items that contain them. They often use canned foods and other convenience items, and for that reason, most of them are simple and easy to make.

Dana's Cookbook

Dana’s Cookbook

Dana’s Cookbook, by Dana Thornock © 1995

“Your complete guide to healthy eating . . . even on a very busy schedule.”

As you gradually begin to increase your high-quality food calories and decrease your junk-food calories, your energy level may markedly increase as your metabolism quickens. You may experience an increase in lean muscle tissue, fat-burning enzymes, and body hydration. You may begin to look and feel vibrant, healthy, and full of vitality. . . .

You’ll be excited to know that as you live your new Lean & Free Lifestyle, your entire body chemistry will change, including your taste buds. Many people who used to absolutely relish junk food and hate veggies, experience a gradual and complete reversal of these preferences.

The nutritional statistics listed with each recipe in this book only contain the number of calories and fat grams per serving, plus the fat percentage. For many years I used the book more for the information it contains for putting meals together and altering recipes than for the recipes themselves. I ultimately found other cookbooks that contain recipes that I and my family like better. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me. The information in this post is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. I’ll tell you a little about my experience working with a dietitian in this post. Please keep in mind, however, that the advice I have received from her has been based on my individual needs. I don’t know what particular advice she gives to her other patients, but some of the general advice she gives can be found here.


In early April 2016, I met with the dietitian for the first time, committed to follow the advice she gave to me. She urged me to continue to use the My Fitness Pal (MFP) application, but she wanted me to customize the calorie and macronutrient goals. To my surprise, she didn’t suggest I lower my caloric intake and, in fact, wanted me to stay in the 1800–2000 calorie range I was in as long as I continued to lose weight at that level. She did, however, want me to pick a calorie goal and stick with it every day, whatever exercise I did. I decided on a goal of 1900 calories, since this was the number that MFP routinely gave to me.

I’ll tell you about some of the other advice the dietitian gave to me as I list books that have supported me in incorporating that advice. These books don’t mirror the dietary structure and information I was given exactly. They do, in fact, contradict each other on some points. The thing the first three books have in common is that they all advocate restricting high-carbohydrate foods, much in the same way that The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, which I told you about in my last post, does.


The dietitian advised me to eat more protein, particularly in the morning, and to eat fewer carbohydrates than I had long been accustomed to eating. I’m not supposed to eat more than two to three servings of high-carbohydrate food (roughly 30–45 g of carbohydrate) with every meal and no more than one serving of high-carbohydrate food (roughly 15 g of carbohydrate) with each snack. This dietary structure is similar to the one suggested in a book I had already read years ago:

The Insulin-Resistance Diet

The Insulin-Resistance Diet

The Insulin-Resistance Diet, by Cheryle R. Hart, M.D. and Mary Kay Grossman, R.D. © 2001

“Discover if insulin resistance is the culprit for those extra pounds.

“Learn the easy Link-and-Balance Eating Method for losing weight permanently.

“Shed unwanted fat while enjoying the foods you love—even carbohydrates!

“Enjoy good health without fad dieting.”

Think of a balanced meal as a level seesaw. You want to make food choices that will keep the seesaw in balance every time you eat whether it’s a meal or snack. . . . Don’t let it tip to either side. (p. 35)

The eating plan described in this book contains a macronutrient ratio of 45% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 25% fat. The authors recommend eating no more than two high-carbohydrate servings of food (or roughly 30 g of carbohydrate) with every meal and snack, although unlike my dietitian, they don’t count milk and beans as high-carbohydrate foods that need to be restricted, but use them as protein foods to balance out the carbohydrates, along with meat, eggs, and cheese. I, like the authors of The Insulin-Resistance Diet, was accustomed to counting milk and beans as primary protein foods. Taking the dietitian’s advice to count them as high-carbohydrate foods instead was a difficult—but critical—adjustment for me. That alteration, combined with limiting my high-carbohydrate foods and spreading them throughout my day, forced me to resolve several of the long-standing issues that had contributed to my obesity—issues I didn’t even know existed. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series.


In the spring of 2006, less than a year after moving to an inner suburb of Washington, D.C., I bought a bicycle and, with my husband and children, began riding it on the wonderful park trails that were now easily available to us. We generally got out at least once a week when the weather was good, and I was able to build from 2–3 miles in the beginning to 15 miles within a few months. That, combined with my inconsistent adherence to the health program designed by Dana Thornock that I described in my last post, enabled me to drop another 15 pounds easily.

Katherine Padilla at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Katherine Padilla at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

The next book on my list was the first one that clued me in on the fact that what I had long been taught were “healthy” fats weren’t, perhaps, as healthy as I had believed. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series.


I didn’t discover the next book on my list until the year 2000.

Lean & Free 2000 Plus

Lean & Free 2000 Plus

Dana Thornock’s Lean & Free 2000 Plus, by Dana Thornock © 1994

“Eating well above 2000 delicious, normal calories a day, Dana dropped from 204 pounds and a size 18 to a size 4. . . . She has read virtually every reputable book, article, and program about nutrition, wellness, and weight control. . . . Unlike diets, the Lean and Free 2000 Plus program doesn’t deprive, it provides! You’ll be free to enjoy favorite foods. But most of all, you will experience a life unhampered by the worry of excess body fat or ever getting fat again.”

While you’re in a life-and-death struggle with your own body, it’s impossible to find complete contentment or joy. (p. 103)

***

In this program you will reverse everything you’ve been told about losing weight. You won’t diet your way to an unhealthy, starved body. You will eat your way to health. . . . You’ll look great, you’ll feel great, and you’ll have the abundant vigor that frees you to be of service to all around you. (p. 4)

Dana Thornock’s dietary advice—with its emphasis on complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains, and fruit—is similar to that recommended by the authors of How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat, which I told you about in my last post. Her program, however, addresses lifestyle issues in a more comprehensive way, such as motivation, goal-setting, daily meal-planning, eating out, and managing healthy eating when the family is resistant to the changes. The macronutrient ratio of her plan is 65–80% carbohydrate, 10–15% protein, and 10–20% fat. She recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 5% of total calories, although she recognizes that many people don’t have bodies that are “resistant to fat loss” and can lose weight quite well without eliminating sugar. I fell into that category at the time, so I never felt a need to restrict sugar too much, as long as I balanced my other food choices in the way she suggests.

Dana Thornock, like the authors of How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat, recommends an hour of aerobic exercise a day for fat loss, along with other exercises. During this period of my weight-loss journey, I was never able to progress past the aerobic aspect of the fitness advice. I began with walking on a level surface for 7 minutes, pushing a child in a stroller, which, at the time, was quite strenuous for me. I built it up to 45 minutes a day, several days a week. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds,  Part 1: Introduction 

Photo compliments of pixabay.com

Photo compliments of pixabay.com

At first glance, the topic of losing weight has nothing to do with Zion. In my own life, however, my decades-long quest to lose weight has paralleled and strongly influenced my quest to attain Zion, both as an individual and in my relationship to the larger community. The reason for this is simple: If I want to become holy, my spirit needs to be in control of my body, and if I want to live a life consecrated to God, I need the physical and emotional strength and stamina to live a life of service.

The actual process, however, has been complex and isn’t finished. Losing 100 pounds is an enormous milestone in this quest, and because so many people I know have asked how I did it, I’m going to deviate from my normal posting style for the next few months and share brief information about books that have significantly helped me, along with quotations from some of them that particularly struck me when I first read them and have stuck with me ever since.

None of these books promote popular commercial programs. None of them offer gimmicks or quick fixes. None of them advocate eliminating entire food groups on a permanent basis. All of them advocate eating healthy foods in balanced amounts. Some of them allow for more modern convenience foods than others. Some of these books are out of print, and some of the information in them is out of date. Instead of telling you how information in any of the books may be out of date, I’ll provide the copyright year of the book for context. Where the books most differ is in the macronutrient ratios they recommend, and for that reason, I will give those facts for every applicable book if they are available.

As I share these books, please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series. Continue reading

The Scarlet Pimpernel and Sequels

When I saw that one of my favorite LibriVox readers recorded The Scarlet Pimpernel and two of its sequels, I decided to listen to them. The Scarlet Pimpernel isn’t great literature, but it’s fun, and I’ve been in the mood for light reading.


Read by Karen Savage

Read by Karen Savage

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

“Armed with only his wits and his cunning, one man recklessly defies the French revolutionaries and rescues scores of innocent men, women, and children from the deadly guillotine. His friends and foes know him only as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the ruthless French agent Chauvelin is sworn to discover his identity and to hunt him down.”


Read by Karen Savage

Read by Karen Savage

The Elusive Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy

“In this thrilling sequel, the terrorist Chauvelin devises a vile plot to eliminate the Pimpernel . . . once and for all.”


Read by Karen Savage

Read by Karen Savage

El Dorado, by Baroness Orczy

“The still-raging French Revolution continues to claim lives, and the shadow of the guillotine draws ever nearer to the young Dauphin, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. No one dares to attempt to liberate the little prince—no one, that is, but the . . . Scarlet Pimpernel.”

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, by C.S. Lewis (fantasy)

“Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary novel, to retell their story through the gaze of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Disfigured and embittered, Orual loves her younger sister to a fault and suffers deeply when she is sent away to Cupid, the God of the Mountain. Psyche is forbidden to look upon the god’s face, but is persuaded by her sister to do so; she is banished for her betrayal. Orual is left alone to grow in power but never in love, to wonder at the silence of the gods. Only at the end of her life, in visions of her lost beloved sister, will she hear an answer.”


After Psyche is banished, Orual returns to her people and determines to “go always veiled.” She does this to hide her face from her people, herself, and from the gods. She also veils herself—although it’s not clear she realizes it—to mimic what she sees as the silent and inapproachable nature of the gods. As time passes, she realizes the power that the veil gives her:

Veiled Lady

Veiled Lady

From the very first . . . as soon as my face was invisible, people began to discover all manner of beauties in my voice. At first it was “deep as a man’s, but nothing in the world less mannish;” later, and until it grew cracked with age, it was the voice of a spirit, a Siren, Orpheus, what you will. And as years passed and there were fewer in the city (and none beyond it) who remembered my face, the wildest stories got about as to what that veil hid. No one believed it was anything so common as the face of an ugly woman. Some said (nearly all the younger women said) that it was frightful beyond endurance; a pig’s, bear’s, cat’s or elephant’s face. The best story was that I had no face at all; if you stripped off my veil you’d find emptiness. But another sort (there were more of the men among these) said that I wore a veil because I was of a beauty so dazzling that if I let it be seen all men in the world would ran mad; or else that Ungit was jealous of my beauty and had promised to blast me if I went bareface. The upshot of all this nonsense was that I became something very mysterious and awful. I have seen ambassadors who were brave men in battle turn white like scared children in my Pillar Room when I turned and looked at them (and they couldn’t see whether I was looking or not) and was silent. I have made the most seasoned liars turn red and blurt out the truth with the same weapon. (Part 1, Chapter 20)

This description of the people’s reaction to the veiled Orual becomes a symbol for humanity’s relationship to God, who really does veil Himself to us. When all is said and done, however, Orual is a real woman under the veil—not “a spirit, a Siren, Orpheus, or what you will.” By the same token, God is a real personage under a veil, and it doesn’t really matter what we think He is, He is what He is.

Of the things that followed I cannot at all say whether they were what men call real or what men call dream. And for all I can tell, the only difference is that what many see we call a real thing, and what only one sees we call a dream. But things that many see may have no taste or moment in them at all, and things that are shown only to one may be spears and water-spouts of truth from the very depth of truth. (Part 2, Chapter 2)

Continue reading

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