Archive for January, 2013

For a couple of years I chewed a lot of gum and noticed that one of the listed ingredients was phenylalanine. At the time, I figured it probably wasn’t something healthy but didn’t think about it too much. However, is it actually something unhealthy, or is it harmless?

According to the Mayo Clinic website (, phenylalanine is harmless for most people but can cause problems for those who have a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria. Phenylalanine is naturally present in many foods that contain protein, but foods that contain aspartame–like many brands of gum–also have phenylalanine in them. Aspartame can cause many health problems in any dosage size, but if you consume too much aspartame, it can raise the level of phenylalanine in your brain quickly. This situation can be detrimental to your health if you are on certain medications, have anxiety problems, have a sleep disorder, or have the disorder tardive dyskinesia (with tardive dyskinesia, you cannot control certain facial movements, like a protruding tongue or making faces–see

So, basically, phenylalanine is considered “safe” for most people.


I know organic fruits and vegetables tend to be more expensive than non-organic ones, and often I tend to buy non-organic due to the cost factor. However, I’ve found that the times I buy organic produce, it genuinely does taste better than non-organic. Besides the better taste, organic produce doesn’t have nasty pesticide residues on it that can add to your body’s toxin load. If you’re trying to buy organic but can’t afford to buy all organic produce, here are a couple of charts that might help: One chart lists the fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticide residue (and consequently, are the ones that you should buy organic), and the other chart lists the “Clean 15”–the non-organic fruits and vegetables that contain the least amounts of pesticide residue.

This Thursday I will be teaching a class called “Why You Should Consider Self-Publishing” at 7 p.m. at the Ransom District Library in Plainwell, Michigan. I’ll be talking about several different self-publishing companies, telling about what I experienced publishing Illegally Innocent through Mill City Press, and sharing marketing ideas for selling your books. I thought I would give you a small glimpse of the type of information I will be covering in the class. (If you want to come to the class but already have other plans for this Thursday, I’ll be teaching it again on February 18 at 7 p.m. at the Otsego Library.)

One of the self-publishing companies I have been researching is Lulu has a wide range of book sizes available and can even publish calendars and photo books. If you want to self-publish a children’s book, you may want to check out Lulu. Their book package prices start at $729 and go up to $4949. You can publish for FREE on Lulu, but if you choose to publish for free, your book will only be available for sale on, not on or or any other websites. However, if you do decide to pay, your book can be available for sale on other websites.

If you choose to create an eBook on, it will not be available in the correct format for the Amazon Kindle, but it will be available to download in the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble Nook Bookstore, and the Lulu Marketplace. eBook publishing packages on Lulu range in price from $219 to $379.

Hope this information has been helpful for those of you researching self-publishing companies! I will be sharing more about and other self-publishing companies in “Why You Should Consider Self-Publishing.” Hope to see you there!

In the final version of Illegally Innocent, Grace’s last name is “Hampton.” However, in the original manuscript, her last name was “Hollingsworth.” I changed it because someone (I don’t remember who it was for sure, but I think it was my fiance) thought “Hollingsworth” was a weird last name. I’m glad I changed it.

Illegally Innocent was originally named Smuggling.

As I was doing a few final read-throughs of the manuscript before submitting it to Mill City Press last winter, I realized I had named three different minor characters “Tom” and had to re-name two of them. If you’re writing a book, make sure you check it for repetitive naming!