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Health Fitness, Wellbeing & Visor

 

A Conversation With Helen Barer Author Of Fitness Kills

Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of http://Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Helen Barer author of Fitness Kills.

Helen is a native New Yorker and has spent many years as a writer of non-fiction ranging from cookbooks to television documentaries.

Norm:

Good day Helen and thanks for participating in our interview.

Helen:

I'm delighted to have been invited.

Norm:

How did you happen to write a book about a fitness ranch in Baja and co...

writing books, author interview, mystery, thriller, book writing, writing tips, publishing, books

Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of http://Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Helen Barer author of Fitness Kills.

Helen is a native New Yorker and has spent many years as a writer of non-fiction ranging from cookbooks to television documentaries.

Norm:

Good day Helen and thanks for participating in our interview.

Helen:

I'm delighted to have been invited.

Norm:

How did you happen to write a book about a fitness ranch in Baja and could you also tell us a bit about Fitness Kills?

Helen:

I'm a big fan of fitness spas - I've been going to one or another for more than 20 years. About 12 years ago, while struggling through an aerobics class at a spa in Baja California, I looked around and thought it was like being on a cruise ship. We'd all arrived on a Saturday, would leave the following Saturday, and in the meantime got to be ‘intimate acquaintances.'

Fitness Kills is the story of Nora Franke,, a New York City food writer who having broken up with her boyfriend, and having gained weight as a result, accepted a temporary job as food consultant at such a fitness spa. She is befriended by a group of regulars, and is caught up by their pain and loss as one, and then another, of the friends die. Nora's primary employer back in New York assigns her to write an article about the deaths at the Health Fitness, Wellbeing & Visor spa, and she becomes invested in solving the murder (and keeping herself alive!).

Norm:

What attracted you to the mystery genre?

Helen:

I like stories with a beginning, middle and end. As well as those with a strong central character - preferably a woman - that have something to say about how we live today and what our values are.

Norm:

What do you believe are the essential ingredients of a good mystery novel?

Helen:

Suspense! And caring about what happens to the characters. Which means, of course, that you have to know the characters. Believability is also essential. This is not a fantasy genre.

Norm:

Is your work improvisational or do you have a set plan?

Helen:

It starts off with a plan. Actually, I'm meticulous at the beginning. I have a summary page, a chapter-by-chapter outline, and know how it ends. But the middle...that's the real mystery! As I established the characters' voices, I found they led me in unexpected directions.

Norm:

Helen, this was your first mystery fiction writing project. Did you enjoy the process? How was it different from your typical format?

Helen:

I'd never written fiction before. It was like re-inventing the wheel. I found it very clumsy until a writing teacher at the New School, in a class I'd found called "Starting Your Novel," suggested I switch to first person. All of a sudden I found my voice! Slightly smart ass, New York City, and vulnerable. I loved it. The dialogue came very naturally to me; it was the plot I struggled with.

Norm:

Can you tell us how you found representation for your book? Did you pitch it to an agent, or query publishers who would most likely publish this type of book? Any rejections?

Helen:

I did pitch it to many agents, all of whom said ‘very well written, but not right for us - it's not hard-boiled enough/sexy enough/ complicated enough/ straightforward enough...' take your pick. It was more than discouraging, But I'm in a terrific writing workshop, and two of the authors were published by Five Star, an imprint of Thomson Gale that publishes mystery novels. I queried Five Star directly, sent the book to them as an attachment to an email, and they accepted it almost immediately.

Norm:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Helen:

I'd had no idea how to write fiction; it was like learning a foreign language. I read a lot - other mysteries, writers about writing, etc. -- and went to mystery conferences. Joining a writing workshop was a major step. Talk about challenges! They pulled and pushed me into writing and rewriting.

Norm:

Was there anyone who really influenced you to become a writer?

Helen:

My mother. She was never without a book, nor was I. She encouraged me to write even as a little girl; my first significant piece was a fourth grade project called "My Life in the Wilderness." It got an A.

Norm:

Many writers want to be published, but not everyone is cut out for a writer's life. What are some signs that perhaps someone is not cut out to be a writer and should try to do something else for a living?

Helen:

Don't give up your day job! I actually waited until I was nearly retired to write full time. Otherwise there's so much pressure. It also helps to have a thick skin.

Norm:

What are your upcoming projects? How can readers find out more about you and your endeavors?

Helen:

I'm almost halfway through writing my next Nora Franke mystery novel, while promoting this one. Check out my website, http://www.helenbarer.com/.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Helen:

I can't imagine. You've been so thorough.

 

Book Review Of Fitness Kills By Helen Barer

Food writer, or Foodie, as they are known in the trade, Nora Franke is overfed and overwrought over a recent breakup with her long time boyfriend. "We need a break" he tells her, Nora decides that spending some time away from the bustle of New York is just the tonic she needs. Her solution is to take a temporary job as recipe consultant at a ritzy and very exclusive Spa in Baja. Nora is ecstatic, three months in a beautiful location and able to combine her love of food with t...

murder mystery, books, reviews, authors, writing, publishing

Food writer, or Foodie, as they are known in the trade, Nora Franke is overfed and overwrought over a recent breakup with her long time boyfriend. "We need a break" he tells her, Nora decides that spending some time away from the bustle of New York is just the tonic she needs. Her solution is to take a temporary job as recipe consultant at a ritzy and very exclusive Spa in Baja. Nora is ecstatic, three months in a beautiful location and able to combine her love of food with the ever pressing need to shed the results of too many gourmet adventures in New York.

Life at a Health Fitness, Wellbeing & Visor Spa is much like life on a Cruise Ship, time becomes compressed, most of the guests are only there for a week. Friendships that would normally develop over weeks or months, develop in minutes, alas also do animosities. Nora finds herself more accepted by the guests than the staff, and is quickly drawn into a group of loosely connected friends that come to the Spa every year for a few days of relaxation and reflection. This group of opulent and seemingly wealthy friends readily accepts Nora as if they have known her since kindergarten.

The setting seems idyllic for something bad to happen, and Helen Barer is just the author to do it! Helen herself is no stranger to the world of writing, she has a number of cook books to her credit, but this is her first foray into the murder mystery genre.

The first cracks in the Louis Vuitton luggage occurs the next morning when the body of Alan is found, in what appears to be a climbing accident on a nearby mountain. What Nora notices is the different reactions from the members of the group, from grief, to indifference, to maybe something more sinister. In the 50 years that the exclusive retreat has been in existence this is the first death the ranch has ever experienced, sprained ankles, and a mild heart attack from over exertion held the previous record.

There is a second death, one that can not be explained away as an accident. Now Nora is pulled into the web of deceit, what is going on, and who is responsible for these two deaths?

Nora is on the scent! She has no investigative training, just a dogged thirst to find the truth. Of course this may not be the best 'recipe' for a long life!

I liked this book a lot, I think this is a very fine first time effort, small enough at 200 pages to be a quick read, but long enough to develop the characters well. I suspect that we will be seeing more of Nora Franke in future books by Helen Barer. If you are looking for a fun and fast murder mystery I can recommend that you try Fitness Kills.

Fitness Kills is the first in a series of cozy mysteries by Helen Barer. Helen spent many years as a writer of non-fiction material, ranging from cookbooks to television documentaries. She is presently at work writing her next Nora Franke mystery.

 

Become Health Fitness, Wellbeing & Visorier, Become Fitter

A look at why being fitter is better for you.

If truth be told most of us want to be a lot fitter then we are. It is something we should all be aiming for, a better level of fitness. So where do we all start. Well a quick internet search reveals too many pages to provide a good and reliable source of information, and there is a great deal of in formation provided on the TV channels, books, newspapers and countless fitness DVDs. To be honest there will always be something out there that will help, or maybe you can take a little information from each one to build your own fitness regime.

Are there any benefits to being fitter? Guess what the answer is. Yes, fitter is better. Fitter equals less body fat as this is something that is burnt off during exercise and exercise is how to become fitter. You could just diet to become slimmer but your chances of loosing weight will be much greater if you exercise as well as diet.

A fitter person has a lower heart rate which improves your well being and as you will be breathing harder during exercise this will increase your lung function so you will enable your body to absorb more oxygen to feed your brain and muscles.

If you have hypertension, being fitter can help to lower this and can positively affect both diastolic and systolic levels. This has helped me recently as I am suffering from hypertension and one of the side effects of my medication has been to lower my heart rate. A lower heart rate means less oxygen circulating round my body, and less oxygen means less brain food. This explains why some days I have been slightly confused and somewhat forgetful. I decided to raise my overall fitness level and have been working out for several months now. My confusion has gone, my weight is down, my excess body fat is dropping and my hypertension is much better.

Being fitter can also have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, reducing LDL cholesterol, (which is good), yet helping to raise the HDL level, (which I understand is also good). Greater fitness can also help your heart and lower the chance of having a stroke. I used to smoke which wasn’t good for my heart and found exercise very hard. I decided to stop smoking and coupled with a fitness regime I now feel much better and a lot fitter.

My stamina and strength has increased greatly since working out and this is even more important to people as you get a little older.

A great way of developing a fitness regime is to seek help and your local gym should have a personal trainer, (or you can find your own). These will advise you on the best way to become fitter and remember they are the experts. A personal trainer knows the things we don’t and it is sensible advice to listen to their advice. They will not set up a fitness regime that is so strenuous that it will kill you on day one. A personal trainer will help you build up your strength and stamina by developing a sensible program of exercise. To develop a sensible fitness program we need to consider 4 important areas.

Aerobic exercise is a form of exercise which is low in its intensity but lengthy in its duration. Put simply this means not too hard but goes on a long time such as walking, swimming and aerobics on your own or in aerobic workout classes.

Another way of getting fitter is to pull weights which is known as resistance training. My experience of this training is limited but to do it sensibly start with low weights and build up the weight as your fitness builds up. Remember, be sensible and don’t over do it as you can damage your body easily with unsupervised weight training.

You could take up a fitness regime involving flexibility exercises such as yoga. Remember though you still need to eat a properly balanced diet of sensible foods as part of your fitness program.

Getting fitter can be easy, just do easy exercises a little at a time and then do it properly and intensively. To get fit quick though, consider being advised by a specialist fitness trainer, either a personal one or one based in a gym. They will help you find out what is best for you. Books and web sites can give you guidance as to how to get fitter and this is what a personal trainer will do, but a book or a web site cannot tailor the advice to you and your circumstances. A personal trainer can, and will, do this. Another thing they can do, which is usually something I need, is they can help to motivate you in order that you can develop your own fitness regime. Becoming fitter takes time and time is something that many of up are short of in today’s modern world. Just remember that you need to keep working at a fitness regime to develop a better level of fitness. Fitness is not something you can buy at the supermarket. In order to become fitter you just need to take things steady at first but there has to be a first, you have to start somewhere. Just look at me. I used to be a heavy smoker and drinker; I was grossly overweight and had hypertension. Now, I am much fitter, can jog miles without problems, the hypertension is much more controlled and my waistline has shrunk. How, well I started a fitness program which was easy at first, and just built up from there. Start small and build up to a more developed program. Good luck. I did it and so can you.




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