Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!

Monday, August 21, 2017

My New Obsession: Kombucha

Susanne Dietze

Have you tried it?

I've only recently tasted Kombucha. A year ago I didn't know what it was, except that it's a trendy health-food/beverage. I heard a lot of this:

It gives you energy.

It's great for the digestive system.

It stimulates the immune system.

It's refreshing and tasty!

Online, buzz includes taglines like "immortal health elixir." Two of my friends even make their own! But what is it?

If you look it up on Google, it'll say: a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria. Wikipedia says Kombucha: is a variety of fermented, lightly effervescent sweetened black or green tea drinks that are commonly intended as functional beverages for their supposed health benefits. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a "symbiotic 'colony' of bacteria and yeast" (SCOBY). Click here.
Mgarten at the English language Wikipedia. Kombucha brewing with SCOBY. No changes made.'s a fermented tea rich in antioxidants, active live cultures, enzymes, and...stuff. Organic stuff. Including a little alcohol: because of the fermentation, Kombucha contains a small amount. The drink must contain less 0.5 percent alcohol, which is the amount the FDA has allotted as the line between beverages sold as alcoholic opposed to non-alcoholic. (Side note: some Kombucha contains more and should be marketed as such. However, another healthy drink, Kefir, is said to contain 1% alcohol, which is over the legal limit.)

Needless to say, if someone abstains from all alcohol, is expecting or nursing, etc, Kombucha is probably not for you.

But I thought I'd try it. As someone who always craves more energy, better digestive health, a stronger immune system, and yummy drinks, I thought, why not? I deal with GERD and am always interested in ways to help my digestive system find balance, so it was worth a shot for that alone.

It wasn't hard to find Kombucha at Target in the refrigerated "healthy drinks" section, and the brand Kevita Master Brew was on sale! I bought two flavors: Pineapple Peach and Raspberry Lemonade.

I started with the gentlest-sounding of the two: Raspberry Lemonade. I took a sip and immediately got on Facebook.

Kombucha friends! Is it supposed to fizz? Is it supposed to taste like vinegar?

Yes and yes. So I drank down half and shared the other half with my husband. He made a face, too. We drank them down, noted how few calories are in the bottle, hoped for good things, and went on with our days. (Back to the alcohol for a second: I had no clue at this point there could be a little alcohol here. I didn't feel a thing.)

The next day, my husband and I split the bottle of Pineapple Peach. Then something weird happened.

We started to like Kombucha.

We crave the vinegary tang of them. The light fizz. The taste. We both found them to be quite refreshing after a work out.

KeVita's Master Brew Kombucha contains 2 strains of probiotics, 4 billion CFUs, natural energizing caffeine, and 6x the organic acids as other Kombuchas.
From Kevita site
Since then, we've tried several flavors and brands: GT's were all good (Trilogy, Gingerade, and Multi-Green. I'm still looking for Lavender Love to try.)  Brew Doctor's were good, too, and they had the added benefit of being sold in a 6-pack at Costco at a cheaper cost (I liked the SuperBerry and Clear Mind, which has a rosemary taste. Because of my GERD, I give the Lemon Ginger Cayenne bottles to my husband. He digs them.) Other Kevita Master Brew flavors we've tried are Tart Cherry and Ginger.

The Pineapple Peach remains our favorite. But is it worth it?

Does Kombucha give us more energy? Maybe. It's been a busy season in my house, and while we are wrung out. we've kept our heads above water. As part of a healthy diet, exercise, and trying to get enough sleep, they might be helping...or might not.

Has it helped my digestive system? Well, I've felt more balanced and haven't had a GERD episode since I started.

Is my immune system boosted? Perhaps! I can't quite judge that yet.

It's expensive as a daily habit (bottles can run between $2-$4), which is why some people make their own. I'm interested in learning, and one peek at Pinterest can overwhelm you because so many hipsters offer cute memes with recipes for flavors and directions for other uses (Kombucha soap, anyone?). 
DIY Kombucha allows use of this image!
In the meantime, I will definitely indulge from time to time. Kombucha may not be "the immortal elixir," but it is a good source of live cultures and enzymes which are helpful to digestion. I like it, too, and it can be one more tool in my attempt to be all-around healthier.

How about you? Have you tried Kombucha?


Susanne Dietze is the author of a dozen new and upcoming inspirational romances, like The Reluctant Guardian (LIH) and My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca's Plight (Barbour). Lately, she's typed some of them while sipping Kombucha.

Visit her on her website,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who's Watching Whom

A few days ago, I walked into my office and was halfway to my desk when I spotted a Great Horned Owl looking in my window. I deked to the right to hide behind the drapes. A few seconds later, I leaned to the left and peered out to see if it was still was leaning to the right peering back at me.

I snapped back from view and reached for my camera...but I'd left it in the living room!

Since I didn't want to yell, I whipped out my phone and texted Nelson who was also in the house…

Moments later I heard him padding down the hall. I motioned him to stop before he reached the door and jabbed my finger in the owl's direction. Nelson peered around the corner and his eyes widened. I stepped into view, took the camera, and clicked away at the owl. Behind me, I heard Nelson retreat, and then he returned and I heard him taking pics, too. 

Great Horned Owl, Front View. Source: Nelson Draper

Great Horned Owl, Looking to side. Source: Anita Mae Draper

Great Horned Owl, Looking Back. Source: Nelson Draper

The owl checked out the place for a minute or so, and then turned and hopped away to another branch. This last photo of the owl looking back at us reminds me of a 1950's chenille bedspread due to the unique feather placement. However, when I look at its extended back and down to its feathered legs and sharp talons, I'm reminded more of a wary cat than a comfy bed. As usual, I'm amazed at God's creativity when I see something as special as a Great Horned Owl. By the way, the use of the word, horned, refers to its ear tufts.

Here's a short clip of the owl before and after it had hopped to another branch. If the video doesn't work, you can find it at: 


Of course, this owl encounter has given me ideas about including the scene in a story, similar to how I included the cranes in my novella, Sweet Love Grows. I enjoy adding wildlife to my stories and hope the readers can see that.

Do you have a favorite owl, whether real, virtual, or fiction? Have you had an encounter with one? Care to share? 


Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details.  Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience.  Discover more at:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fear Is the Problem

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear. ~ Ghandi

The last few days have been yet another painful reminder that our nation is in crisis. As I watch news stories where armies of young Americans march in the streets with torches, spewing hateful rhetoric that’s as wicked and evil as anything coming out of North Korea, I wonder how we got here again.

Is it because we’ve ignored the ugly lessons of history? Is it because we’ve allowed ourselves for several generations the luxury of blaming others—in and out of our country—for our problems? Is it because our politics and our preachers have promoted this “you deserve better” attitude that has created an atmosphere of churning discontent any time things don’t go our way? Is it because the corporate oligarchy that controls everything from what we watch to what we read to what we eat has figured out that if the masses are enmeshed in constant struggles with each other they won’t notice that the oligarchy grows fatter and fatter by the day? Is it because over the course of the last generation we’ve allowed “freedom of speech” to become the freedom to abuse, attack, accuse and basically say any crazy thing we want no matter the consequences?

It could be any or all these things, and a thousand more possibilities, but when it comes down to it, I think the underlying problem is fear. Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of the future. It doesn’t matter what kind of fear it is, fear feeds hatred.

It’s tempting to jump on the nearest bandwagon and give in to the fear… but that’s not an answer.
It’s going to take a concerted effort on the part of every sane person to neutralize the fear that has gripped our nation. How do you neutralize fear? The Bible says “perfect love casts out fear.” We need to speak the truth in love. We need to demonstrate love to one another. And we need to set examples of love—the unconditional kind—for our children and our children’s children.  

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Niki Turner is an author, newspaper publisher and editor. You can find her at or visit her Facebook page at All her books are available on Amazon at

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Best Book on Writing?

Okay, we all know it. There are a LOT of great books on how to write, how to be inspired, how to be organized, how to promote your book, how to research it, how to get an agent or publisher to notice it, and on and on and on.

But what if you want to have just one book? One that you can sink your teeth into and use over and over again with every book you write? I’m sure different people have different books they would deem essential, but for me there is only one: James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel from the Middle.

Here’s what the description says:

A powerful secret, and a fresh approach to writing bestselling fiction!

What's the best way to write a "next level" novel? Some writers start at the beginning and let the story unfold without a plan. They are called "pantsers," because they write by the "seat of the pants."

Other writers plan and outline and know the ending before they start. These are the "plotters."

The two sides never seem to agree with each other on the best approach.

But what if it's not the beginning or the end that is the key to a successful book? What if, amazing as it may seem, the place to begin writing your novel is in the very middle of the story?

According to #1 bestselling writing teacher James Scott Bell, that's exactly where you'll find your story's heart and heat. Bell's "Mirror Moment" is the secret, and its power is available to any writer, at any stage of the writing process.

Bringing together years of craft study and personal discovery, Bell presents a truly unique approach to writing a novel, one that will stand the test of time and serve you all your writing life.

Now Mr. Bell has written many books on the craft of writing, and I have yet to find one that wasn’t excellent, but this one is my favorite. Here’s why:

1. It’s short. It doesn’t mess about with lots of filler. It gets right down to the how-to in easy-to-understand-and-implement instructions.

2. It works for any kind of writer, pantser, plotter or (like me) the hiker who knows where he’s going to start and where he’s going to end up and maybe three must-see sights along the way.

3. It assures me that my books will have good structure each and every time.

It took me eleven-and-a-half years (that’s years) to write my first book. Now I have commitments to write six books by March of 2019. I obviously have to have a plan and stick to it if I’m going to get everything done on time. My plan is to use Bell’s fourteen-point list from Write Your Novel from the Middle in order to plot my books quickly and efficiently. I have a blank template with each of the fourteen points on it. When I’m ready to start work on a plot, I start filling in that template and soon I have a story. Yes, there is still a lot of work to do and the story changes as I start uncovering more and more about it, but again, I end up with a supportable structure and don’t waste my time staring at my computer screen, wondering what to write.
    I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I’ve used it to plot my last five or six stories, and they have been faster and far less painful to write than the ten that preceded them.

Give it a try!

How about you? Do you have a favorite book or method for getting a story put together?