More to Nicaragua than

low-cost living

Regarding your April 28 article "US seniors go south - way south": Pleased as I am with the idea of an article pointing out the increasing number of people finding the new Nicaragua a perfect place to retire, I cannot hide my disappointment for the unfair portrayal of Nicaragua.

Every year hundreds of retired professionals from the US, Europe, and elsewhere move to Nicaragua to enjoy their retirement. They do not choose our country only because of a relatively low cost of living and natural wonders, however. More important, perhaps, they choose Nicaragua because they trust our government and have confidence in our future. Ours is a nation of warm and welcoming people, with a growing economy and a serious commitment to peace and democracy.

As we are working hard to improve the living conditions of all Nicaraguans, it would have been useful to read a little more about our efforts to overcome poverty and solve our problems, instead of being presented with what sometimes looked like an outdated caricature of life in the developing world.
Salvador Stadthagen
Ambassador of Nicaragua to the United States

Self-publishers can find success, too

Your review of Jim Fisher's book "Ten Percent of Nothing" (" 'We're looking for new authors!' " April 27) contains a couple of substantial inaccuracies and misperceptions in its penultimate paragraph that deserve notice. Although it's true that most agents don't and shouldn't charge a fee to read a manuscript, and that most publishers "pay you to publish your book," it is not true that if you hire a reputable vanity or subsidy publisher "your book will not be sold in bookstores and not reviewed by newspapers."

As founder of a well-known writers' center, a career author, and a big fan of self-publishing, I can say with authority that a lot has changed in just the past couple of years. Authors who choose to self-publish through reputable companies do in fact have their books listed with about 200 online booksellers. Self-published authors are increasingly finding shelf space at their local bookstores. Furthermore, the traditional review press is increasingly reviewing worthy self-published books.

There are hundreds of examples of successful self-published authors. I can tell you that when a writer's expectations are realistic and he or she uses reputable editors and printers, there is no more satisfying experience than seeing one's work between covers and being able to share it with others, even if it doesn't end up on anybody's bestseller list or "Oprah."
R. Foster Winans
Doylestown, Pa.

Chairman Emeritus, The Writers Room of Bucks County

America's 'terrible food fight'

The tragic consequences of our expanding waistlines can't be dismissed as easily as your April 28 article "Those extra pounds..." suggests. America is engaged in a terrible food fight, and so far, the food seems to be winning. The grim result: Obesity is expected to pass tobacco use as the leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a nutritionist, I know that unhealthy eating habits play a key role in this epidemic. Americans consume a high-fat, meat-heavy diet that packs on the pounds and increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The healthcare cost attached to our fried chicken addiction can be debated endlessly. But one thing is clear: Our eating habits are killing us.
Amy Joy Lanou
Washington Nutrition Director, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

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