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Three and a half years ago I became vegetarian. Three and a half weeks ago, anticipating a certain health diagnosis at any time, I also gave up all added sugar in my diet. My mother is of a certain generation and, although a very good cook, struggles to know what to offer guests with specific dietary restrictions. She once had a vegetarian and a coeliac for dinner at the same time, and nearly lost her reason! So, the idea for this blog was born. Every recipe that features here will be vegan (and, obviously, vegetarian), gluten free, sugar free, lactose and dairy free, and suitable for people on a low sodium diet. That's right, you read that correctly. Even if you have guests with each of these restrictions coming to the same meal, everything here is safe for them. And, before you expect weird and wonderful ingredients to make an appearance, everything I'm using can be bought in larger branches of all major supermarkets - you don't even need to visit health food stores. Try the recipes and tell me what you think!

So What's This Tweet Treats Thingy All About?

Watch the brilliant 30 second trailer below and all will become clear!

Tweet Treats Trailer from Catherine Ryan Howard on Vimeo.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Results Not Typical - A Blog Tour! And An Awesome Thing

You might remember a few days ago I promised you all a very cool thing indeed. Well, here it is - a fantabulous book trailer for Tweet Treats!

Tweet Treats Trailer from Catherine Ryan Howard on Vimeo.

And who is this Catherine Ryan Howard who made this fabulous trailer, I hear you all ask? Well. Not only is she a rather good writer, she's also a whiz at the whole self-publishing thing and pretty darn tech savvy, to boot! 

Catherine's first novel, Results Not Typical, has just been released and she's kicking off her blog tour right here on Tweet Treats! And to make things extra lovely, the Tweet Treats blog tour is starting today on... you guessed it... Catherine, Caffeinated :) So read on about Results Not Typical (which I highly recommend) then go here to catch the start of the Tweet Treats blog tour. Don't forget to read all the way to the bottom for a giveaway! 

About Results Not Typical:

The Devil Wears Prada meets Weightwatchers and chick-lit meets corporate satire in the debut novel from Catherine Ryan Howard, author of the bestselling memoir Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida. Through their Ultimate Weight Loss Diet Solution Zone System, Slimmit International Global Incorporated claim they’re making the world a more attractive place one fatty at a time. Their slogans “Where You’re Fat and We Know It!” and “Where the Fat IS Your Fault!” are recognised around the globe, the counter in the lobby says five million slimmed and their share price is as high as their energy levels. But today the theft of their latest revolutionary product, Lipid Loser, will threaten to expose the real secret behind Slimmit’s success...The race is on to retrieve Lipid Loser and save Slimmit from total disaster. If their secrets get out, their competitors will put them out of business. If the government finds out, they’ll all go to jail. And if their clients find out… Well, as Slimmit’s Slimming Specialists know all too well, there’s only one thing worse than a hungry, sugar-crazed, carb addict – and that’s an angry one. Will the secret behind Slimmit’s success survive the day, or will their long-suffering slimmers finally discover the truth? 
Available now in paperback and e-book editions. 

Catherine, what compelled you to write a book about the slimming industry? Anyone would think you had vast experience of same.

Well, after ten years of trying to be an internationally mega-selling, filthy rich, highly-acclaimed author, I figured out that the main obstacle between me and my dreams was the fact that I hadn’t written a book yet. Turns out that’s kind of crucial. Further pondering revealed that the reason I hadn’t written a book yet was because I didn’t have any good ideas for one, and so my goal became to find one, and find one quick.

Around the same time, I had the misfortune to cross paths with a “behaviour modification clinic” who specialised in weight loss. As I specialised in eating, I signed up, handed over an alarming amount of money and embarked on what could only be described as twenty weeks of senseless torture: protein shakes, meals and bars, mind molestation and – worst of all – no caffeine whatsoever. (Nooooooooooo!) You weren’t even allowed cough syrup or throat lozenges because their sugar content was too high. I could go on and on about the horrors of it, but what stands out in my mind was their breakfast prescription: a bowl of not-completely dissolved feet-flavoured protein flakes in hot water. They claimed it was porridge and when I complained about the taste – it was so bad I’d gag on it – my appointed consultant said it was because I was used to porridge loaded with milk and sugar and so didn’t know what porridge actually tasted like. But of course, the problem was that I was used to ACTUAL PORRIDGE.

At the time I was working in an office, and when I’d tell the girls at work about I was dealing with it at the clinic, they’d fall about the place laughing. They couldn’t believe that it was even true, but I knew that it was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Ridiculous Ways to Lose Weight. Then it dawned on me: that might be a good idea for a novel...

I've just started back to Weightwatchers after years of eschewing any and all product-driven slimming plans. Reading Results Not Typical is not helping! What do you have to say for yourself?

I think Weightwatchers is great, because they don’t want you to do anything stupid, they promote healthy eating and exercise and their product lines are only intended to help you – you don’t have to live off them, and in fact can do the entire program on real food.

My point about dieting is really this: all diets work if you do them, because all diets basically boil down to a low calorie intake and increased activity. But if you’re like me and were absent the day your brain learned how to deal with food the way a slim person does (i.e. only as fuel, not a reward, a way to pass the time or tasty Prozac), then it’s extremely difficult to stick to any diet plan. So you don’t and either stop doing it, or just about manage to do it and then put weight back on again later. Soon your body doesn’t know what’s going on because it’s had periods of feast, famine and healthy eating, so your metabolism slows. Maybe your blood sugar’s out too. Now, it’s easier to put weight on and harder to lose it. You start another diet, and the cycle of yo-yo dieting continues. Result: dieting makes you gain weight in the long run. I mean, if I was the weight I was when I first seriously undertook a diet back in 2002, I think it was, I would be deliriously happy. Now Me can’t even understand what Back Then Me was even doing dieting in the first place, because she perfectly slim. 

Personally, I think the only way to stop the cycle is to figure out what’s happening in your head that made you overeat or eat the wrong things in the first place. Otherwise you’re just treating the symptoms. Problem is, I have no clue what that is in my case – despite me watching every episode of Oprah since 1999 AND having the 18-hour, 20th anniversary DVD box-set. Answers on a postcard, please...

Results Not Typical is very funny, cynical, tongue-in-cheek. Are you ever serious?

I wrote Results Not Typical as satire just because I felt like that was the best way to do it. Us dieters have enough to deal with without reading misery food memoirs or sad-sack fat camp tales – and if you want to read those things, there’s plenty of them out there already.

The fact that it’s not serious is one of the reasons I couldn’t get it published, actually. But I’ll get to that in the next question...

I am occasionally serious if the occasion calls for it. Why, just yesterday I chaired a family meeting about how Hellman’s Mayonnaise is mayonnaise, and that thing Aldi calls mayonnaise is, in fact, NOT. It’s some sort of icky salad cream thing, and anyone would know just by comparing the consistencies. It’s, like, obvious.

And thank you for saying it’s funny. (Consider that secret contractual obligation involving a fiver and the postal service we discussed duly fulfilled.)

Why did you decide to go down the self-publishing route again? 

Results went to some editors at some very big publishing houses here in Ireland and the UK, and while they all had positive things to say about my voice and the writing, they felt the satire/comedy lacked the underlying “meatiness” that would make it suitable for the Irish/UK market. Right now, what’s doing well in women’s commercial fiction are books that make you laugh, but have real emotion behind them. (Some seriousness, if you will.) Therefore, they didn’t want to publish Results because they felt it wouldn’t do well enough to warrant them publishing it – and I completely understood.

But for me, there’s no financial risk, really, in self-publishing a book. I can generally recoup my upfront costs in about 500 sales. And when I self-publish, I don’t just sell to Ireland and the UK – I sell globally, mainly to the US. So taking into account the fact that I’ve already established a readership, online platform, etc. I decided to self-publish Results.

For traditional publishing houses the numbers didn’t add up but for me, they did. Let’s hope it’s not just because I’m bad at maths...

Is it still your ambition to be published traditionally, or have you decided you really like doing it completely your own way?

It is absolutely my ambition to still be published traditionally. That’s always been my dream, and it continues to be. I enjoy self-publishing and I’m thankful for all the opportunities it’s brought me but essentially, it just pays the bills. It may sound strange but it doesn’t satisfy any “I want to be a published writer” desires even though technically it should. I’m currently working on a novel that’s completely different to Results that I plan on submitting to traditional publishers next year. Here’s hoping!

You've brought out four books in just over a year! That's a hell of an achievement. Are you proud of yourself?

I am downright smug.

And also, my fingers are like claws. Claws, I tell you!

You've become such a dab hand at this self-printing lark, have you ever thought of setting up your own publishing company? Everyone knows publishers are filthy-rich gatekeepers who keep out people with genuine talent, wouldn't you like to join their numbers? ;)

Good God, no! I’m only self-publishing because I have to – I am ready and willing, pen poised, to sell out to Publishing’s Corporate Overlords as soon as the opportunity arises. And I think everyone else should be too. Trust me: I’m not one of these precious types who’s all, “I prefer self-publishing because I have control over all aspects of how my book is packaged, etc.” Someone once told me that they self-published because they didn’t want to do readings in public, the implication being that their (mythical) publisher would force them to do that. I couldn’t even formulate a response. It’s like wanting to be singer and not auditioning for X-Factor because you don’t have space on your shelves for a Grammy. SPARE ME THE HORSE FECES.

Also if I did start a publishing company I would have to recreate the Black Gates of Mordor in my office because as you said, everyone knows publishing is an evil club that meets once a week to drink pig’s blood and laugh about all the aspiring writers they’re keeping out, and I imagine that would be expensive.

If you had just one piece of advice to pass on to new writers who are trying to figure the whole industry out, what would it be?

Don’t. This will save them years of heartache, headaches and a third thing that starts with “h” that I can’t think of right now, and – added bonus – reduce my competition.

If they insist on doing it though, I’d say you have to find your own path, to figure out what’s best for you and your work. The internet is full of evangelists who see everything in black and white – you’ll make a million self-publishing, print books are dead, agents are horned demons, etc. etc. – but the reality of the situation has many, many shades. What’s worked for me mightn’t work for you, but maybe something that hasn’t worked for me will.

(Or something. That was a very confusing sentence!)

Oh, and buy this.

So what's next for you? Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Between now and Christmas I’ll be focused on finishing the first draft of the More Serious Novel. Then just out of curiosity, I’m going to price those Black Gates... 

Catherine has also told me about a giveaway: if you visit here you can enter a giveaway to win one of five paperback copies of Results Not Typical. Open for entries from September 30th-October 31st. Open to all countries.

About Catherine:

Catherine Ryan Howard is a 29-year-old writer, blogger and enthusiastic coffee-drinker. She currently lives in Cork, Ireland, where she divides her time between her desk and the sofa. She blogs at

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