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December 2013 Newsletter

Dear Readers:  


With the holidays upon us, I'd like to offer you a unique gift for your loved ones - a personalized first edition hardback of THE OMEGA PROJECT. After you buy the book, email me at [email protected] with the name of the person who the book is for and I'll email you back a personalized holiday bookplate with my signature for you to print and paste into the book.


I'll have two books debuting in hardback in the summer of 2014. My comedy, DOG TRAINING THE AMERICAN MALE will be released in hardback in July (under my pen name L.A. Knight) and SHARKMAN will follow in August. Both books will be published by Rowan-Littlefield.


Have a safe and joyous holiday.

--Steve Alten

Freakish species rises from depths                            

Not a MEG, but a neighbor. Many thanks to Heath McKnight for sharing this.


To read the full article click here 


Door to Hell? Could it be GRIM REAPER II?                         

Very creepy.

 To read the full article click here 

Coming in August - SHARKMAN                        
SHARKMAN is a  fictional thriller geared for shark lovers of all ages, and the first in a new series by N.Y. Times best-selling author Steve Alten. Teenager Kwan Wilson was a former basketball star at his old high school in San Diego until one fateful morning. Texting while driving, he hit a tree, killing his mother who was in the passenger seat. He woke up, paralyzed. His father, Admiral Douglas Wilson sends him off to live with his maternal grandmother in South Florida. His new principal tells him about an internship at a genetics lab in Miami working with shark stem cells that are being tested on rats to cure cancer and spinal injuries. Kwan passes... until he learns the beautiful Anya Patel is an intern at the lab. The good news is that the stem cells are curing their rat subjects; the bad news - it alters their DNA before killing them. When a promising breakthrough is made, Kwan decides to risk his life - altering his destiny and the lives of millions in the process.
MEG MOVIE UPDATE - Coming in January!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water...


Write down 5 guesses and you'll still be wrong!
Indian Sanju Bhagat's belly was so bloated that he looked nine months pregnant and could barely breath when he was taken to the hospital in 1999. Doctors rushed the 36 year old into surgery believing that the tummy bulge was a tumor. Can you guess what they found! Click here to find out more...

Living Tips #1: Good and bad foods for the brain             
In a 2012 UCLA study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers found that a diet high in fructose over time can damage your memory and learning ability. Beyond the harm to your brain, it's well known in the research world that a high fructose diet can also cause insulin resistance in your body over time, and possibly lead to type-2 diabetes and extra body fat.  If that's not enough, a high fructose diet also detrimentally affects your triglyceride levels in your blood as well as small dense LDL particles that cause plaque in your arteries.Note that many sports drinks, even though marketed as "healthy", can have large amounts of corn syrup or even crystalline fructose as their main sweetener.  These sports drinks can be equally as bad as a soda for your body and your brain.  Don't be fooled by the clever marketing showing pictures of pro athletes guzzling this stuff.

Also note that agave syrup (aka, agave nectar) which is marketed as a "healthy" sweetener as well, is one of the most concentrated forms of processed fructose in sweeteners as well.  I personally stay away from agave sweeteners as much as possible unless the amounts are very small.

Last thing to note about fructose... Yes, natural whole fruits do contain fructose, but generally contain MUCH smaller quantities of fructose than you would consume in a sweetened juice drink, soft drink or sweetened junk foods.  Also, the phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that's contained in most whole fruits counteracts any negative effects of fructose.  I personally try to keep fruit intake to no more than 1-2 pieces a day due to the sugar and fructose content of larger amounts of fruit.

Here's a trick:  Did you know that limes and lemons contain virtually zero fructose, and only 3-4 grams of total carbs in a whole lemon or lime, whereas a typical orange contains 6 grams of fructose and 25 grams of total sugar per fruit.  I squeeze lemons and limes daily into either water or teas for a healthy flavorful drink. Fresh lemon juice has even been shown to control blood sugar response from a meal...another bonus!

You probably already know some of the harmful health effects of these foods, but long term effects on your brain are yet another...

Trans fats -- strongly inflammatory in your entire body including damage to cell membranes throughout your body.  Avoid hydrogenated oils in processed foods and deep fried foods.

Mercury -- studies show that mercury from pollution (coal burning plants are the biggest source of mercury pollution to air and water) and from fish that are high on the food chain such as tuna, shark, swordfish, tilefish, etc can possibly cause long term negative effects on your brain.  Limit these types of fish to a couple times a month and focus more on fish such as salmon, trout, and many other types of smaller fish to reduce your mercury load.

Wheat-based foods -- In the groundbreaking book, Wheat Belly, Dr William Davis makes a very convincing argument that wheat has addictive properties in the brain.  Wheat contains compounds termed "exorphins" that have an effect in your brain similar to opiate drugs.  This explains why people have such a hard time giving up their beloved breads, cereals, pasta, and muffins because these foods are mildly addictive.

I know personally from past experience that if I have have a pasta dinner, I'll go back for seconds and thirds as I just can't seem to stop eating the stuff.  And then hours after dinner, I'll get cravings for more carb-based foods or sweets.  But if I pass on the pasta and just have meat, veggies, and salad, I find myself totally satisfied after dinner with no cravings later at night.

So, what superfoods, herbs, and spices can protect your brain and your other organs?

Turmeric is one of the highest antioxidant spices that also exhibits brain-protecting effects. In India, where curry containing turmeric and other spices is eaten daily, rates of Alzheimers disease is among the lowest in the world, proving some of the brain-protecting effects of turmeric.In addition, the powerful DHA and EPA omega-3 fats in fish oil has been proven in countless studies to protect your brain from damage over the years.
Living Tips #2: Foods that Reduce Knee Pain
Boy, do I need these!
Joke of the Month
A young blonde woman is distraught because she fears her husband is having an affair, so she goes to a gun shop and buys a handgun. The next day she comes home to find her husband in bed with a beautiful redhead. She grabs the gun and holds it to her own head. The husband jumps out of bed, begging and pleading with her not to shoot herself. Hysterically the blonde responds to the husband, ''Shut up...you're next!''

Doc, I can't stop singing the 'Green Green Grass of Home'. He said: 'That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome'. 'Is it common? I asked.  'It's not unusual' he replied.

IF YOU HAVE A JOKE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE, please e-mail to me at [email protected]  Put JOKE in the subject line.
Recipe of the Month: Pecan Pie Rugelach


1 cup all-purpose flour
teaspoon salt
cup unsalted butter (1 stick) cut into 8 pieces
cup cream cheese (4 oz)cut into 4 pieces
2 cups shelled pecan halves
cup unsalted butter ( stick) cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cup corn syrup
cup dark brown sugar
Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Special equipment:
Electric hand mixer
Plastic wrap
2 cookie sheets
Parchment paper
Rolling pin
Pizza cutter(not essential)

Let butter and cream cheese sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes, so that they are still cool but slightly soft. Combine flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on a low speed just until combined. Scatter butter and cream cheese pieces over the top of the flour mixture, and beat on medium speed until dough is the texture of cottage cheese, still slightly crumbly. Use your hands to divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a ball. Flatten each ball into a disk about 1 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter, then wrap each one separately in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours, up to 1 day.
Using a knife, finely chop pecans and put in a medium mixing bowl. (Do NOT do chop the nuts in a food processor. You want the pecans to be chopped but still coarse, and a food processor will turn them into nut butter.)  In a small saucepan over medium heat, brown the butter by adding all 4 pieces at once and constantly stirring with a heatproof spatula until completely melted. Continue to stir or swirl the pan as butter starts to bubble and foam. When the foam subsides slightly and butter turns a light brown color, take it off the heat immediately and add the it to the chopped pecans. Add vanilla extract, corn syrup, and brown sugar, and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Beat egg yolk with the tablespoon of water and set aside. When dough is chilled, unwrap one disk onto a lightly floured surface, and roll with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle. It is important to have an even, symmetrical circle, so trim any excess. If dough gets too soft during rolling, lay it on one of the lined baking sheets and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes, until slightly chilled. Once the dough is rolled out, sprinkle half of the pecan mixture on top of the dough, all the way to the edges of the circle, making sure the mixture is evenly distributed. With a pizza cutter (or a knife), cut dough into 16 equal slices. Roll each slice from the outside in (starting the wide end and rolling towards the point), placing each roll onto the cookie sheet as you go. Repeat this process with the other disk of dough. Use a pastry brush to coat the top of each cookie with the egg-water mixture. Bake rugelach for 20 minutes until golden, turning the cookie sheet halfway through baking.Cool completely before serving.

*IF YOU HAVE A RECIPE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE, please e-mail to me at [email protected]  Put RECIPE in the subject line.

Stay well, stay safe... and know this author really appreciates you. 


 -Steve Alten, Ed.D.