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PostHeaderIcon Why this Author Went Indie

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They say writing a book is a solitary experience. Yet, throughout the long, slow process of writing my first novel, Keeper of the Scale, I never felt alone. I certainly wouldn’t have reached “the end” if it weren’t for all the encouragement I received along the way. It really does take a village.

"Keeper of the Scale" is a work of women’s contemporary fiction which revolves around three dynamic women (diet buddies) who unite to form a unique dieting support group, but end up learning more about each other—and themselves—than how to shed some pounds.

Writing the book gave me the opportunity to reflect about society’s obsession with body image, the importance of female friendships, and what it means to have a “buddy.” Personally, I was fortunate to have the support of my dedicated writing group, test readers, and early praise from publishing insiders, including veteran literary editor Chuck Adams and respected literary agent Joanna Pulcini.

Had it not been for such a great support team, I would have likely given up after my own agent was unable to find a home for the book, despite his best efforts. Though editors said they enjoyed reading the novel, they also reported that publishing was going through a major transition—much like the music industry did years before—resulting in new authors having little chance of breaking into the already crowded market of women’s contemporary fiction.

So, like so many authors nowadays, I went Indie and self-published my novel as an E-book on Amazon, which has allowed me to connect with readers directly. I’m so grateful for the growing opportunities today for writers to be able to get their books and messages into the hands of readers as self-published authors.

My hope is that "Keeper of the Scale" will continue to allow me to connect with readers from around the globe, as well as help generate meaningful discussion among women about the roles both body image and friendships play in our lives.  Because, as the book affirms, there is nothing like the age-old power of women uniting, bonding and helping one another. --DC


Debbie Cohen is an Oakland-based writer. This is her first story for Allnewsnoblues.com.

Last Updated (Monday, 10 December 2012 04:35)


PostHeaderIcon Adopt An Angel Grants Wishes

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There are more than 6,000 children in Alameda County who will not receive visits from Santa this year, according to Georgia Butterfield, chairwoman of the Adopt An Angel organization. More than half of those children are under 10 years old and many live in shelters, group homes, foster homes or with relatives in low-income homes. Sadly, there is, quite simply, no extra money for "frills," such as Barbie dolls or Matchbox cars on Dec. 25.

To make matter worse, these youngsters go to school, watch television and play with other children, seeing first-hand the toys, games and dolls Santa won't bring to them on Christmas morning. For 25 years, Adopt An Angel has worked to change that one gift at a time.

Adopt An Angel is a non-profit group of volunteers who are working this month to make the dreams and wishes of at least 650  youngsters come true.

Children subit their three wishes along with their age.

Their wishes are often simple: underwear, shoes, blankets, backpacks, school supplies and pajamas. The gifts go to those who are under the auspices of Alameda County Protective Services and an organization called Terra Firma Diversion Educational Services, a Hayward agency that helps foster children and other people in need.

It has become one of the largest charity drives in Alameda County. Though out the year, Adopt An Angel also collects clothes, stuffed animals, backpacks and school supplies for children and teens that need them.

Want to help?

Here's how:

1. Adopt a child's name and shop for his/her gifts
2. Help wrap the thousands of gifts ( done at a warehouse in
Union City the first part of December)
3 Donate wrapping paper, 2-inch clear tape,
batteries, or gift boxes
4. Make a tax-deductible monetary donation
5. Tell your friends and family about Adopt And Angel  
For more info., call Georgia Butterfield at 510-673-3938

Last Updated (Thursday, 15 November 2012 02:16)


PostHeaderIcon Five Steps to Feel Less Stress

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Are you feeling stuck? Have you been stressed lately? We all deal with adversity at some point in our lives. The key is to know how to manage these moments and still feel good about ourselves. As school gets back underway and the summer vacations fade into memories, we give you this story that was published by U.S. Masters Swimming.

Step 1: Breathe and Get Present

When we’re stressed, we don’t notice that our breathing becomes shallow. Pay attention to how you are breathing right now. Are you letting air get past your neck? This is the simplest step and yet we often neglect it.

Take 10 slow deep breaths right now: Close your mouth, and breathe in fresh air into your nose, letting your belly rise. As you exhale, let your mouth open, jaw relax, and belly fall, releasing tension. Try this three times per day for the next week.

Step 2: Get the Ego/Mind Quiet

The focus on breathing is to help you feel calmer. The next step is to help the mind calm down as well. The ego/mind likes to struggle, worry, and create irrational fears. As you breathe in, say “one” to yourself, or, if you prefer a visual, see the number one. Then, as you exhale, say or see the number two. Continue up to 10. If you notice other thoughts coming into your brain, go back to number one. It might be hard to get to number 10— that is okay! The goal is to become less attached to your thoughts, which will give you the ability to focus when you want to.

Step 3: Reframe Your Thoughts

Once you’ve done the number exercise, you might have some self-talk going on that is not so encouraging, like “Gosh, I can only get to two before my mind starts talking,” or “I was thinking about what I was going to have for dinner.” If you’re good about beating yourself up, realize you can change this habit.

When you notice yourself doing this, STOP. Then, smile and tell yourself or write down a few things that you can reframe in your mind and feel good about. They can be as simple as: “I took out the trash this morning and made my bed.” or “I didn’t want to do swim in the cold pool, but did it anyway, and feel better because of it.” Or even, “I was stuck in a conflict, but I summoned the courage to have that conversation with that person.”

Step 4: You Are Okay Just as You Are—Appreciate You

Keep practicing Step 2, with the knowledge that there is no magic number, answer, or award. It is about starting to be aware, experience each moment, and appreciate wherever or however you are, in the moment. Step 4 will help you counter negative self-talk.

Write down three things that you can do to show appreciation for yourself. It can be a simple as looking in the mirror and saying “I love you” or “I love that I have committed to taking care of my health by swimming five days per week,” (or eating at least one piece of fruit per day, or getting a check up, etc.). Give yourself an appreciation day, buy yourself flowers, take a bath, or make a nice meal. What is something that you can do for you, today?

Step 5: Choices and Creating Positive Changes

It’s easy to get comfortable beating yourself up and recreating the same patterns. Maybe you keep telling yourself that you’re a great workout swimmer but not a good racer, and thus have difficulty racing at a meet. How can you change this habit? You can choose to see what is possible. You might try a different warm-up, or pretend warm-up is just another practice, which may help calm your mind. This may give you the clarity or courage to just go for it in the race.

Use these five steps to help you relieve stress and treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Whatever your issues are, you get to decide that you are worthy, and that you deserve to feel good, even if you’re not used to it … yet.-- KR

Katrina Radke, an Olympian and USMS world record holder, is a motivational speaker, therapist and coach. She is the author of "Be Your Best Without the Stress,” (available at amazon and other online stores)" and co-producer of 7 Ultimate Fitness Routines, both available at www.katrinaradke.com and wecoach4u.com.


Last Updated (Thursday, 06 September 2012 03:20)


PostHeaderIcon Novelist James Rahn at the Purrfumery

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Mark your calendar and save the date for a visit to Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery to meet Philadelphia novelist James Rahn in the lush El Cerrito garden of Laurie Stern.

Rahn's new book, "Bloodnight" has recently hit the streets and the novelist will spend an afternoon at the Purrfumery, where he’ll read a few pages from his gritty past.

The June 30 event runs from 1-4 p.m with the reading at 2:15 p.m. Copies of "Bloodnight" will be available to purchase and the Purrfumery will also be open for business. Light refreshments will be served. The Purrfumery is at 727 Sea View Dr. in El Cerrito.

Overlooking the Golden Gate, the perfumer's garden features pink jasmine, spearmint, peppermint, lavender, honeysuckle, gardenia and many other aromatic plants that Stern uses to craft a unique line of perfumes, body frostings, floral waters, and  bath salts. She also uses beeswax from her own bees in her products.

But on the afternoon of June 30, it will be the place to listen to the street-wise story of growing up in a fictionalized Atlantic City circa 1970.

"Bloodnight" transports readers to a Jersey shore resort town that was a violent and volatile place. By 1970, tourists who once loved the town were traveling to newer, trendier places. As tourist dollars dwindled, the locals lost their jobs. They unleashed their frustration on their kids. Kids, in turn, punished each other. Growing up meant hustling, and learning to be tough.

"Bloodnight" is Rahn's first book. His stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications and he has taught fiction at the University of Pennsylvania for 15 years. He and Stern are old friends, she said.

In addition to writing his novel, Rahn also leads the Rittenhouse Writers’ Group in Philadelphia--a series of acclaimed fiction workshops. He founded the group in 1988. Since then more than 1,200 people have participated.  It's considered one of the longest-running independent fiction workshops in the nation. Many members have gone on to publish short stories, novels, and nonfiction books, and have received fellowships from places like the Pew Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, among other organizations

To learn more about Bloodnight and Rittenhouse Writers’ Group go to "http://rittenhousewritersgroup.com/" --GG  

Last Updated (Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:58)


PostHeaderIcon Food for Thought: Eat Right for Health

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Nutrition is a vital part of your physical well-being, however, there’s more to it than just following the food pyramid or eating your spinach. Studies have shown that how, when and what you eat, can actually change your brain function and improve your mood, impact your appetite and stabilize your blood sugar, sleep habits and behavior.

The most prominent offender in our diet is refined sugar in various forms, as an average American consumes 158 pounds of sugar annually or equal to about 50 teaspoons per day.

Dr. Michael Lara, Belmont psychiatrist, psycho-pharmacologist and lecturer (at right) is recognized for his use of evidence-based theories to treat the whole person, including a lifestyle defining approach that incorporates the role of nutrition. 

Dr. Lara was inspired by Jack LaLanne, the late fitness guru who at age 41 swam 1.5 miles from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. During his 80 years as a fitness guru came to believe that the country’s health depends on the overall health of its population. 

He had a simple yet profound message: take responsibility for your own life through exercise and nutrition.

Understanding how food works in your body is a first step in making food work for you.
The three major neurotransmitters, internal messengers in communication with mood, memory, appetite and the sleep/wake cycle, are made up of amino acids, essential proteins in dietary food sources. 

Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates the sense of well-being, happiness, sleep and appetite, is synthesized within the body from the amino acid, tryptophan, and is only obtained in the diet.   Some natural serotonin boosting foods are those rich in vitamin B:  whole grains, brown rice, green leafy vegetables, avocados, mushrooms, tomatoes, legumes, nuts, meat, eggs, bananas, papaya and dates.

When serotonin is low, it can cause depression, carbohydrate cravings and lack of impulse control.  

Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, play a significant role in enhancing the production of serotonin along with exercise and meditation for stress reduction. Long-term stress and sleep deprivation are known to deplete serotonin levels as will chronic consumption of stimulants, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, refined carbohydrates and sugar. Skipping meals leads to mood swings.

Good news prevails:  chocolate in moderation serves as an emergency rescue food when a quick pickup is needed for a feel-good mood. The food rich in tryptophan, which has been found to regulate “melatonin” in the body, for restful sleep, is turkey.

A second neurotransmitter, dopamine, triggers pleasure and reward sensations, signals goal attainments, and acts as a driving force in extroversion, mania and psychosis at high levels. Low levels of the neuro-chemical are associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s, depression, addictions and introspective behavior patterns. 

A balance is needed for harmony, like the instruments in a synchronous symphony. 

Dietary sources of note include fish, chicken, turkey, almonds, avocados, cheeses, yogurt and pumpkin seeds. Benefits of a healthy balance are found during physical performance, periods of stress or sleep shortage and when there is a need for sharp cognition.

The neurotransmitter, norepinephrine (NE) requires dopamine as a precursor, and like adrenaline, is part of the sympathetic nervous system, serving multiple functions as a hormone as well. 

Activated during the “fight or flight response,” it triggers the release of glucose from the body stores and increases oxygen supply to the brain.  NE acts as an endogenous anti-inflammatory agent, mediates alertness, long-term memory, decision processing and dreams.  Like dopamine, NE has a role in ADHD and when in excess in the body causes anxiety, fears, aggression and schizophrenia.

The complex interaction of the neuro-regulatory system to enhance or impair virtually all body and mind functions is on a continuum of ebb and flow, mediated by stimuli to that part of the body’s nervous system that reacts with automatic reflexes

Endogenous opiates, endorphins, developed within the body, are released during exercise, eating, sex, excitement and pain.  The sensation known as “Runner’s high”,  is well-known as an addictive sensation of well-being that is produced during strenuous exercise. Conversely, the stress hormone, Cortisol, chronically released during adverse conditions, is responsible for elevated blood sugar leading to Type II Diabetes, a compromised immune system, increased cravings for sweet or fatty foods and the accumulation of visceral fat, deposited around the abdominal organs and belly. 

The rationale for the presence of high levels of Cortisol may be related to loss of sleep, excessive exercise, psychological stress or restrictive dieting.  Anti-stress nutrients are an option in regulating the effects on mental health and brain function, making proactive choices and taking control.
Chronic inflammation as a connection to mood disorders, from depression to Alzheimer’s disease, has been identified as pertinent to various kinds of plaque formation within the body and inflammatory signals from stress-related mid-line fat.   Refined sugar and other inflammatory foods are:  processed and refined white flour, pasta, rice and pastries.  Healthy selections for body and mind are natural foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, soy and lean protein.

The key to optimizing mental health, sleep and awareness is found in a nutrient balance that provides for anti-inflammatory foods, Omega 3’s, green tea, spices such as ginseng, garlic, turmeric, cumin, with red wine and chocolate in moderation.
For further interest, contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .-- KRB

Karen Balch is a retired nurse, freelance writer and expert on staying healthy in all stages of life. She is a regular contributror to allnewsnoblues.com.  Reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Thursday, 17 May 2012 22:26)

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