Author Archives: Joan Marie

Secrets of the Sorcerers: A Quest Fantasy

Book One in the Chronicles of the Library of Sorcery

A vengeful plan. An impossible impasse. When confronted by the magnitude of past deeds, will she be caught in a spellbound standstill?

High Sorcerer Marlys has earned the respect of her colleagues. Twelve years after freezing her ruthless predecessor in time to protect her region, the powerful leader has worked hard to bring about peace and tranquility. But while presiding over a beautiful double wedding, a rival enchantress traps Marlys’s friends with an identical spell in malicious payback.

Denying the intruder’s demand to free Marlys’s predecessor after more than a decade bespelled, Marlys and her companion sorcerers frantically search for a way to crack their adversary’s magic. And with each side refusing to compromise and driven by distrust, they face a mountainous task—to find the legendary Library of Sorcery, which they hope contains the knowledge to restore their friends.

With their opponent also on the passage to the Library, can Marlys and her companions reach their destination first to end the magical deadlock?

Secrets of the Sorcerers is the refreshing first book in a quest fantasy series. If you like strong characters, gentle humor, and action-filled adventure, then you’ll love Joan Marie Verba’s enthralling story.

Join the sorcerers on their quest. Read Secrets of the Sorcerers to break the spell today!

Summoned by Dragons: Fire and Friendship

A voracious predator. A frantic plea for aid. Can she stop a dangerous menace from devouring the dragons’ offspring?

Rhea Monroe has missed her childhood friend. She’s excited when the young dragon she grew up with returns to Earth after years away. Hearing that the dragons are in desperate need, the recent college grad immediately vows to help. But the instant they arrive in the dragon world, they’re tasked with helping to defeat a frightening, formless creature known simply as The Terror.

Teaming up with her boyfriend and other allies both human and winged, the resourceful companions struggle to cultivate a plan to defeat the ravenous attacker. But after a huge misstep awakens the monstrous horror, they’re aghast as two of their own are consumed….

Can Rhea and her friends stop The Terror and prevent a devastating apocalypse?

Summoned by Dragons is an absorbing fantasy novel. If you like compassionate heroine journeys, nuanced characters, and grand new worlds, then you’ll love Joan Marie Verba’s sky-high adventure.

Available in ebook, paperback, and hardcover formats

Twelve: A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses

His love is locked inside an enigma. Can he solve the mystery to make himself a home?

A hidden kingdom. The 18th century. Alden grew weary of battle long ago. And now the honorable soldier seeks to put the horrors of war behind him to settle in a land of peace and start a family. And while an attractive shopkeeper catches his eye, he finds himself caught up in the kingdom’s greatest riddle: the twelve daughters of the king and queen vanish every night and reappear in the morning with their shoes worn out.

Drawn to a shared passion for dancing as he spends more time with the woman of his dreams, Alden can’t avoid a growing involvement with the land’s enchanted magic. And as he does so, he starts to realize that the alluring woman he’s falling for may hold the key to answering the perplexing mystery.

Can Alden unravel a magical entanglement and find his way to happily ever after?

Twelve is a charming fairy tale retelling. If you like upstanding heroes, picturesque romance, and delightful surprises, then you’ll adore Joan Marie Verba’s heartwarming story.

Buy Twelve to expose the realm’s enchanting secrets today!

An enchanting version of a classic story…also a charming love story. – P. C. Hodgell, author of the Kencyrath Chronicles

Cover for upcoming novel, Twelve, updated cover for Revenge, Denied

I’ve settled on a title and a cover for the novel I’ve recently completed, a retelling of the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

I’m hoping to release the novel in late summer or early fall.

I’ve also revised the cover for my self-published young adult fantasy short story, “Revenge, Denied.”

 

Currently working on…

I’m  planning on constructing a website for Twelve. As a web developer, I always find it exciting to start building a new website.

Modern Surprises reissued with the title The Arachne Portal

The Arachne Portal: Same story, different title!

Women scientists having fun saving the world…unless someone kills them first and steals their tech.

Their goal is to make the world a better place. One billionaires’s obsession may turn their altruism into destruction.

Jay Ecklund is desperate to belong somewhere. Rejected by his family and former employer, he really needs this job as a receptionist at an up-and-coming tech corporation. He’s astonished when he discovers the all-woman staff is secretly developing a portal capable of instantaneous transport to anywhere on Earth.

Thrilled to be part of a company designing innovations to help others, Jay is excited when the machine is at last operational. But he worries about it falling into the wrong hands when an ambitious billionaire hell-bent on accumulating power makes a bid to get it…at any cost.

Will the portal be used as a rescue device as intended, or will a relentless manipulator warp it to a more sinister purpose?

The Arachne Portal is an electrifying standalone science fiction novel. If you like fast-paced adventures, phenomenal science, and thought-provoking themes, then you’ll love this compelling story.

Read The Arachne Portal to open a gateway to the future today!

Defying the Ghosts: A Haunted House Story by Joan Marie Verba

A teen without a home. A dangerous residence. Can she survive one terrifying night to secure her future?

Charlene Griffin never thought she’d be without a home. But when she’s kicked out on her eighteenth birthday, she has no choice but to sleep inside an ominous Victorian mansion. And with the owner offering the estate to anyone who can spend a full night in the haunted property, Charlene decides to risk life and limb to get off the streets.

Refusing to heed the warnings of those sent running in fear for their lives, Charlene is confident she can last from sunset to sunrise. But she’ll need all her wits about her to withstand the hours of terror, because these ghosts are determined to get rid of her.

Will Charlene outsmart her supernatural foes and make it to dawn?

Defying the Ghosts is an eerie YA haunted house story. If you like heart-racing action, fearless heroes, and survival adventures, then you’ll love Joan Marie Verba’s thrilling tale.

Buy Defying the Ghosts to explore forbidden shadowy corners today!

Reflections on 40 years of changes, personal

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou

Today, October 28, 2019, is the 40th anniversary of my reaching lifetime status with Weight Watchers. Since that day, I have weighed in every single month (except for a six-month stretch in 1987-88 when I was extremely ill), and I have never been more than 2 pounds above my goal weight these past 40 years.

Not that it has been easy. In that interval, my weight has gone up and down, sometimes for known reasons, sometimes for unknown reasons. Over the course of 2018, I gained 12 pounds. My clothes were getting tight, and by the first week of January 2019, I was one pound away from losing my free lifetime status and my unbroken record. Since then, I’ve reduced the amount of food I’ve been eating, and it has taken me 9 months to lose 10 pounds. I am at a comfortable weight again. (What turned out to be my ideal weight, in my estimation, is 8 pounds under my official goal weight.)

This brings me to a difficult reality of long-term weight loss:

Once you try to lose weight, you can never go back to eating the way you did before (if you want to keep it off).

This is due to the fact that when you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, and never returns to the point it was before you started to lose weight. This is the reason that those who have made multiple attempts to lose weight (example: “yo-yo” dieting) reach a point where they literally cannot lose weight, because their metabolism is at such a low level that in order to lose weight, they would have to take in fewer calories than the number of calories they would need to live. So they’re stuck.

This is the reason that, in 1979, I lost weight at a rate of about 2 pounds a week, and in 2019, I lost weight at a rate of about 1 pound per month. (Fortunately for me, I’ve not made numerous attempts to lose weight only to gain it back again, so that I’m not at the point where in order to lose weight, I would have to eat fewer calories than is necessary for basic survival, but this is still darn slow.) Adding to this is that the metabolism naturally slows over time. As a result, over the 40 years since I reached my goal weight, I have gradually had to eat less and less food in order to maintain my ideal weight. (When I reached menopause, I gained about 15 pounds very quickly. Fortunately for me, I was about 15 pounds below my goal weight at the time.) Again, I wish to emphasize that I’m not anywhere near the point where I would eat less than the basic amount needed for survival.

My weight has not remained stable over these 40 years. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down. Even when I haven’t changed the amount I eat daily. Sometimes I can guess as to the reasons I gained or lost, other times I have no idea.

In 1979, I had the thought that once I lost the weight, I would stay at that weight (there is some evidence for a “set point,” that is, a weight that the body resists going over or under, but I have not found this to be a significant factor for me). Within a week of reaching my lifetime status, that thought was disproved very quickly.

Some doctors are finally taking the issue of obesity seriously. There’s still a widespread belief among too many physicians that all one has to do to lose weight is to have the amount of calories eaten to be less than the amount of calories expended, but it isn’t that simple, and it never was. Doctors admit that they have very little training about weight issues in medical school. Some say that it amounted to maybe 1-2 sessions. It is absolutely the truth that the average Weight Watchers (now WW) leader knows more about weight loss than the average doctor. (WW gives hours and hours of training in the latest scientific research about weight.) Once or twice when I was a Weight Watchers leader, I was approached by a member who told me that her doctor asked her to ask me about a weight loss issue. I have witnessed other members approach other leaders with queries from their doctors.

My view is this: yes, the reason that the weight loss experience is such a horrendous one is that humans evolved for millennia in an environment of food scarcity (and the human body will strongly resist any attempt at weight loss), and the evolution of the human body has yet to catch up with an environment of food abundance. Therefore, my opinion is that if doctors want everyone at a certain BMI, they need to stop lecturing people about eating less or referring people to weight loss surgery, and concentrate on finding a way to artificially compensate if there’s ever going to be progress made. [I am not holding my breath, however, that this will be done anytime soon.]

As a result of this, some are taking charge of the issue independently of the medical profession. Some individuals are just fine with their current weight, and feel they don’t need to change that. Good for them.

I am in favor of the “body positivity” movement. People need to be comfortable with how their bodies look no matter how much they weigh. Getting rid of the social stigma of being overweight would NOT encourage people to overeat; it would, however, greatly enhance their mental and emotional health. There is a rising movement which feels that it isn’t necessary for everyone to be thin. I understand where they’re coming from.

I felt it was necessary for me to get to what I felt was a reasonable weight, and I feel that choice is also valid. That’s the reason I went to WW, and was an employee for a time.

For that reason, I feel I need to say a little more about Weight Watchers (WW). I lost weight on the Weight Watchers program in 1979. I was an employee of Weight Watchers from 2000-2009. Since then, WW has not only changed its name, but has stopped calling its sessions meetings (they are now called workshops), and calls its locations “studios,” both of which are positive developments, in my opinion. They have also changed their approach to emphasize healthy lifestyles (which were always a part of the program, but are now more prominent) as opposed to centering on weight loss.

I follow individuals who are part of the body positivity movement on social media. I don’t comment on their posts, I just read them. A couple have said that WW is part of the problem, as opposed to being part of the solution, and moreover, that WW has indulged in body shaming. I have never witnessed this in my 40 years of association with WW. I can tell you that, as an employee, I was told never to read a weight number aloud, and not to give my own weight, because there would be individuals around who would never get to that weight, and comparing their weight to mine could be a problem for them. That made sense. If I, or any other WW employee, had “fat shamed” anyone, we would have been given a reprimand at the first instance, and be fired upon repetition. (When I was an employee, I read the employee message boards daily, and on rare occasions there were reports from other employees witnessing WW receptionists giving disparaging remarks to members. So I know it happened. But I never witnessed it myself, it was never company policy, and I know those who did it were in danger of being fired.) Company policy has always been, and is now, to have WW be a welcoming place for everyone and a shelter from the outside, fat-shaming, world.

[I will say that the situation was different when I joined WW in 1979. The scale was in the middle of the room, we all lined up and were weighed. The weigher told us our weight aloud (in a conversational tone, not shouted across the room). This did not bother me in the least. I know it bothers many individuals, however. The point is, however, that weighers had stopped saying one’s weight aloud by the time I joined WW as an employee in 2000.]

Going further….

The word “fatphobia” has come into use. The definition I found online is “fear or dislike of obese people or obesity.” I believe that is a real thing.

For me, I have never defined a person’s worth (mine, or anyone else’s) by their weight.

I lost weight because I felt uncomfortable and wanted to do something about it, and didn’t know how to lose weight in a healthy manner. I think that WW has a place for those of us who want to lose weight in a safe, healthy way. Nothing I ever experienced at WW, either as an employee, or as a member, has shown a fear or dislike of obese individuals.

I have seen a couple of things online. First, details such as keeping a food diary, or counting calories/points, or phrases such as “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels” have bothered some. I can understand the view that such things can become obsessive, but writing down what I ate and weighing and measuring everything was important to me because I did not know what a reasonable portion size was and I had trouble keeping track. Now, I am obsessive about some things, granted. But I have not been obsessive about keeping track of food or weighing and measuring things. And, once I reached a stable weight, I stopped doing those things, because by then, I knew what a reasonable portion size was and what amount of food was appropriate. As with anything else, these actions can be taken to extremes. But I don’t believe calorie counting causes eating disorders; I think that eating disorders can cause obsessive calorie counting. As for phrases such as “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels,” I have no problem with avoiding that phrase if it bothers anyone.

Second, there’s been criticism of WW for introducing a plan for teenagers. In 1979, there was a plan for teenagers (and pregnant individuals, for that matter). By 2000, there was not, and I was told that pregnant individuals and teenagers could not join WW unless they had a doctor’s note. WW has recently re-introduced a plan for teenagers, which they call a healthy eating plan and maintain that it’s not a weight loss plan. Still, I can see that this is problematic. Certainly teenagers should be taught good nutrition (I was, in school). On the other hand, I definitely see the point that it’s better to wait until adulthood before making a choice as to whether or not to lose weight.

Another thing I’ve seen online is labeling “before” and “after” pictures as fatphobic. I’ve taken mine down because of that, even though I don’t see that display as equivalent to saying “see how pathetic I was before and see how wonderful I am now” because I don’t think in those terms. I was not pathetic when I was overweight and I am not any more or less wonderful now than I was then. But I can see how someone might interpret it that way.

I’ve learned other things in the past 40 years as well. After I left WW as an employee, I wrote a book about my weight loss experience, sure that people would want to know my weight loss story. They didn’t. The book didn’t sell many copies. After a couple of years, I realized that what I wrote might come across as pompous and rewrote the book. Still didn’t sell much. Since I rewrote it, I learned a lot more about weight loss. In particular, I’ve learned that no one weight loss program works for everyone, and that different individuals need to try different methods before finding one that works for them. Therefore, my experience may be entirely worthless to many. I don’t promote the book anymore; I can see that it may still come across as pompous. There are reasons it would be difficult to take it down (due to contracts with the suppliers) until 2021. Then I will remove it from circulation. (Fortunately, again, I rarely sell copies of it.)

After I left WW as an employee, I published a couple of food journals. Those remain in circulation because there are lots of reasons that an individual might want to track food aside from weight loss (carbs, salt, etc., which there is space for in those journals), and I feel they serve all those functions.

In this blog, I have previously published thoughts related to weight control. As I’ve stated above, I’ve learned a lot more about weight issues since then. I may delete those posts because of that. Or I may leave them to show the evolution and changing of my thought process over the years. I haven’t made a decision on that yet.

I am continuing to learn about these and other health issues, and about the impact these issues have, and continue to do my best to be sensitive to them.

Meanwhile, I do continue to share articles (such as those referenced below) on my Twitter account @joanhealthynote and my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JMVHealthyNote/ if anyone is interested.

References:

“…the body adjusts to weight loss. It quickly decreases the number of calories it needs to maintain its new, lighter size, says Corby Martin, PhD, director of the Ingestive Behavior Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. That means weight loss slows down over time.”
Mysteries of Weight Loss http://wb.md/1mCgspm from @WebMD

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After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight http://nyti.ms/1O9EG21
“Researchers knew that just about anyone who deliberately loses weight — even if they start at a normal weight or even underweight — will have a slower metabolism when the diet ends.”
“What shocked the researchers was what happened next: As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower….”
“Their experience shows that the body will fight back for years.”
“Slower metabolisms were not the only reason the contestants regained weight, though. They constantly battled hunger, cravings and binges.”
“Dr. Proietto said. ‘The body puts multiple mechanisms in place to get you back to your weight. The only way to maintain weight loss is to be hungry all the time.'”

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One Weight-Loss Approach Fits All? No, Not Even Close http://nyti.ms/2hfeix1