As a writer and avid book reader, I’m often asked who my favourite author is, or whose work influences me the most, or what my favourite book is. All are difficult to answer as I read many genres, many authors, and many books have stayed with me throughout my life. I grew up in a household where books and reading were encouraged at an early age, indeed our mother taught us to read long before we first went to school. She read us exciting bedtime stories, fairytales told German and herself read all kinds of novels. With six of us in the family, the choice and quantity was large and books passed around as we grew older … Read on Over the Backyard Fence.
Many may recall how last year, I set about losing weight in a sponsored slim to help send my little great-nephew, George, to America for a life-changing operation to help him cope with cerebral palsy. The operation was a major success and I will bring you an update on his progress very soon. I managed to lose 2 stones. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, particularly as there are many food groups I cannot eat a lot of, and some I have to avoid altogether. I’m still very much overweight. I never used to be, I was a skinny child, as my family can testify; I only had issues with my weight following the birth of my daughter some 40+ years ago. But this post isn’t about me; it’s about someone I wish I had met twelve months ago, if not before.
Four years ago she was morbidly obese, barely able to walk a few yards, and experienced many indignities only us big people can. She’s happily married with three lovely children, two of whom have serious medical conditions. It was her love and concern about them that finally persuaded her to do something about her weight once and for all, otherwise she wouldn’t be about much longer to care for them.
So she devised an eating plan, something that was easy to follow, didn’t cost a fortune in expensive or special foods, with recipes which provided nourishing home-cooked meals that all the family can enjoy. And the weight started to fall away. It was only after having lost a considerable amount of weight that Justine could start to exercise, mainly walking the family dog regularly. But what a difference now – Justine now does regular exercise and with her husband runs marathons, fundraising to support the two charities that have helped her in the care of her children, and are running in the London Marathon this April. I certainly will be supporting and sponsoring them.
Justine loves to cook and bake cakes, something that doesn’t help when trying to lose weight. As the weigh fell, her confidence and courage grew, so much so she applied to appear on one of the reality cookery shows on TV, taking part in and going on to win Michael Winner’s Dining Stars in 2010, culminating in cooking a dinner party in Michael Winner’s home for guests Sir Roger Moore and Lady Moore, Andrew Neil, Giorgio Locatelli, Christine Bleakley and Kym Marsh. Wow! This led to several further TV appearances on Harry Hill’s TV Burp and on GMTV.
Spurred on by this and praise for her chocolate brownies, Justine set up her own bakery business online (Brownies by Justine Forrest)and supplying outlets and restaurants in her region. Having tasted these brownies, I can assure you they are heaven. My husband’s comment after eating one was, “Tell her she should sell them online, they’re fantastic. Best I’ve ever eaten!” They are. You simply must try them! Justine now gives regular talks at food shows and on radio and demonstrates regularly – just this week appearing at the Ideal Home Show in London. She also appears regularly at the Wellbeing Farm in her home region.
Justine is so full of enthusiasum for what she does, it rubs off; it certainly has on me, with a zest for life she wants to help others in the position she was in. In her own words (no ghost writer for Justine!) she has written an honest, moving and heart-warming account – Justine’s Journey – of how and why she achieved such a weight loss, as well as telling what goes on behind the scenes of a reality TV show. She tells of the many heartbreaking moments in her life, told with such open passion and raw emotion, it made me cry in places, along with many ups and the downs along the way. In the book shares her “Plan”.
This isn’t just another diet book, it’s a way of life full of tasty, easy to follow recipes, lots of tips and hints, and so full motivation and inspiration it can help anyone achieve a complete change in their life. It’s certainly encouragement enough for me to lose some more weight. If Justine can do it, so can I.
But you know what is even more encouraging in all this, Justine’s Plan allows for cake. Yes, cake! What’s not to like about following her Plan? Give it a try. I’m on it now!
Buy Justine’s Journey (available at all Amazon sites)
I have Linn B Halton joining me over on Showcase as she reveals the cover to her new novel Never Alone. Pop on over and have a look – there’s also two rather dishy fellas there too! Click here to read more:
Listen up, everyone. I’ve glad tidings of great joy with a tale that proves sometimes, if you wait long enough, things really can have a happy ending. So cue trumpets …
It gives me great pleasure to announce that at long, long last my novel Every Step of the Way is finally being published and set for release 14 April. It’s turned into a double whammy as it’s being published not only as an ebook by one publisher, but also in paperback by another.
It’s taken many years and many false hopes and starts to reach this point and I had decided to self-publish as an ebook and be damned. Have made that decision, I then found ThornBerry Publishing. ThornBerry only publish in ebook form. They are a new UK publisher and my book will be the first they have produced. The guinea pig. But, hey, I don’t mind. They all have to start somewhere.
But the story doesn’t end there. Shortly before Christmas 2011, a fortuitous email crash landed in my inbox offering me the opportunity to have my book published as a paperback through an Arts Council funded scheme if I submitted it before February 2012. I looked into the matter and decided yes, that is what I’m going to do. To see my long-suffering baby in print, proper print, was a dream I thought I would never see some come true. ThornBerry Publishing raised no objection to this, so hey presto and cue the fanfare: Every Step of the Way will be launched in paperback form on an unsuspecting world this April, hopefully to coincide with the ebook launch.
Extract from Every Step of the Way
Terry raised Beth’s chin with his finger until he was looking directly into her eyes. “If your grandmother left that money for you and Mike, then your mother’s right not to use it. It couldn’t have been an easy decision for her to make, but I admire her for it. She has your interests and future at heart. That’s important. Look, let’s go grab a drink before the pubs shut, and see what we can come up with. There has to be some way to sort all this out.”
She fell into step with him as they turned their backs on the river. He surprised her a few steps later by pulling her round into his arms again.
“You could always marry me, you know. Solve all your problems.”
“Was that a proposal or another of your silly jokes? Because either way, it doesn’t help.”
“I mean it, Beth. I’m in love with you. We could run away to Gretna Green.”
She pushed him away. “Don’t be stupid! I’m far too young. And I hardly know you, Terry Gibbs. Plus, neither of us can afford to get married. And then there’s Mum to consider. I couldn’t leave her and—”
“I can wait, Beth, but… well, there’s nothing to stop us getting engaged, is there?”
“Yes. My dad, for one thing. He’d kill me.” She shrugged off his arms, half-laughing, half unsure if he was in all seriousness asking her to marry him.
He pulled her back to him, lowered his lips to hers and whispered, “Kill me, more like.”