Typing Woes

It’s very difficult (ow!) to type out a (ow!) manuscript if you (ow!) have (ow!) tendonitis. Okay, that might have been an exaggeration, but some days I do experience a nagging pain in my wrist and hand while typing.

This usually happens when I have failed to do my wrist exercises as prescribed by the physical therapist I saw when the pain became really bad. Also the tendons in the wrist tend to be very poor at healing, and get worse with age. http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/sportsmedicine/a/tendonitis.htm Continue reading “Typing Woes”

Healthy Romance Writers Make Better Lovers

I’m about to go to my very first Romance Writers’ Convention. Because there’s no Writers Conventions for Dummies book, I am making some mistakes and scrambling madly to correct them. One is that I need business cards of a certain type. With a picture. Of me. Hell, no – sigh. Okay, maybe.

Another is I needed to be added to the Yahoo loop for the convention so I can print out all the workshop papers that I will need. Yowzer! I expect to take my laptop along, so maybe I will just keep electronic files.

The other mistake is that I just realized the hotel has a pool. And a gym room. So there’s no excuse for me to not get some exercise. I have a bathing suit. They have towels. I have cross trainer shoes. They have treadmills. And I am bringing my resistance band for the upper body workout I need.

I love Jude Deveraux, her writing is fun and imaginative. She is quoted as saying, “Read everything you write aloud. It will help you catch run-on sentences and find the words you’ve left out or mistyped. You’ll hear if your dialogue sounds artificial or stilted. And you’ll help the audio person who reads your book on tape. Rhyming character names need to be changed!

“Also, walk while you read aloud. Most writers get too little exercise and pacing helps build the quota.

“Speaking of exercise, I would highly recommend that you do a lot of upper body weight work. Keep your forearms and shoulders strong.”

Your mind and body are one, and your body is so interconnected, it’s scary. Untreated tooth decay and infections can go right to your heart. Sinus infections can hit your brain. Get lots of rest, hang out with positive people, and do daily exercises both mental and physical.

Take your vitamins, see your doctor and dentist regularly, drink lots of water, get a new toothbrush every month if you can afford it, floss daily, and talk to your relatives about their health issues. Genetics are important parts of your health picture, but you are more than that.

Finally, write things that make you smile, make you cry, and make you excited to keep writing. Put your heart, soul, and liver into your writing. If your work is not exciting you to keep writing, throw in a plot complication. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/03/19/25-turns-pivots-and-twists-to-complicate-your-story/ And be sure to have someone in your life with whom you can research the happily ever after kiss at the end.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday with all the information from the convention.

Why Wait For The New Year?

Today is not only the last Sunday of the month, but also the last Sunday of the year 2014. Over the past couple of months, there have been lots of excuses to behave in less than healthy ways. Most people think they will start living healthier come the New Year. That’s what Resolutions are all about.

Resolutions rarely work. https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/why-most-new-years-resolutions-dont-work/


But what about Cousin Bill who kept all his resolutions? Yes, goal setting works. But they have to be obtainable, measurable, and have time frames. Here’s a great collection of links to articles on the subject, one of which might be just right for you. http://psychcentral.com/newyears/

If you are thinking that the holidays are almost over, you don’t need to worry until next October 31st, let me point out that you no doubt will get invited to a SuperBowl party, will give or receive chocolates for Valentine’s Day, will consume the Required Minimum Dosage of green beer on Saint Paddy’s Day, will eat half your weight in jelly beans on Easter Sunday, and then there are birthdays, weddings, christenings, trips to warehouse-type stores that have free samples of stuff, and so on. Every day, in this culture that revolves around food, you are challenged to stay healthy.

So lets begin with parties. http://www.zonya.com/healthtips_party_survival.html If you are going to a pot luck, bring something healthy that you know you can eat without guilt. A chicken and quinoa salad, maybe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/asian-chicken-and-quinoa-salad-recipe.htmlA tip I learned from Dr. Nick Yphantides http://www.healthsteward.com/MyJourney.htm is to be adventurous when you eat at parties. Don’t waste your calories on mashed potatoes and gravy. You know what that tastes like. Try the proscuitto-wrapped mango bites. http://www.southernliving.com/food/healthy-light/healthy-appetizer-party-recipes/healthy-food-recipes-proscuitto-mango-bites

A healthy life-style includes not only healthier food, but daily, regular exercise. A minimum of 4 days a week, 30 minute sessions, and then as much activity as you can manage the rest of the week. Weights and resistance bands are great ways to exercise while watching a movie at home. Once you get the blood circulation going, I bet you will remember the plot of the movie longer.

As a writer, I spend a good part of my day sitting in a chair. This is one of the worst things a person can do. Add to it that I am overweight and diabetic, and I might as well be smoking 2 packs a day. Well, recently I had the pleasure of attending a group session led by Bo Beauchamp, a personal trainer with Fitness 19. He taught us how to use a chair as the start of our exercise routines. First of all, sit up straight. You won’t believe how much that alone will help you strengthen core muscles.

Here’s a chair warm up and cardio that is wonderful. http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/videos-detail.asp?video=38 And follow with the sit to stand exercise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj0lQeps4R0 Yeah, sorry about the elderly bit, but if you are someone who hasn’t exercised regularly, then you need to start slowly.

So start this now, today, immediately! Don’t wait for January 1st, that’s silly. Eat healthy every day, look for tips that will help you do so, and plan your day around your exercises. Writers are successful when they schedule their writing time and actually track number of words written. Exercise is successful for you when you plan it and track how much time you put into it. You can do this! I’m cheering you on from my chair.

I’ll be back on Thursday.

A Balanced Life

When I woke up on August 10, 2011, I knew I had 190 pounds of ugly, limiting, aging fat to lose. I started on Medifast, and lost 71 pounds in two years. Then life threw me a curve ball or two. I’m still down by 50 pounds from my starting weight, and I do my best to stay low-carb and high protein. The biggest change has been in my physical activities, and that’s what I need to focus on the most.

Because I simply needed cheap, filling foods, I allowed myself to add fruit, 1 slice of bread, a bite of sweets, a sip of beer, hello slippery slope! My runaway food is peanut butter. My second runaway food is sugar-free chocolates. I have placed myself on strict portion control with peanut butter, and will have to do the same for chocolates soon.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, in a few short days, my dream of being a full-time writer is going to come true. I am retiring from my day job, and the pension is enough to allow me to not work elsewhere. There are red flags all over the place. Sitting is a dangerous way to spend your day. I want to live a long time and get as many of my story ideas written out as possible. I know the Creator will help me in this if I do my part.

Last year at this time, I had lots of activities that I enjoyed. I walked during the weekdays at work, and sometimes when I got home. My husband would walk with me, and we’d meet the same neighbors out with their dogs or just walking. Then the weather turned too hot, right about the time Mike got a full-time job. Understandably, after a long stretch of unemployment, he wasn’t up to walking after work. But he enjoys his job and has lost weight just from working. He is not as hungry and doesn’t eat as much as he used to. Stress eating is a thing of the past for him.

I also had to give up walking the sweet dogs at the local humane society, because we couldn’t afford the gas to drive out there. Now that I want to get back in, the society has merged with another and the rules are different. I need to go through the training again and there just hasn’t been time.

More carbs plus less exercise for 6 month to a year equal 20 pound of fat back in my life. Finances are much better, but still subject to fluctuation. Mike finished his 90 days of probation, and became eligible to health insurance, a huge factor in my ability to retire now. But the pay increase that was expected will come along shortly. Still for a month, we have been a little short at times.

Once all the dust settles on the money picture, I will be back on Medifast. Once I stop commuting, I will be less stressed. And once I have my own day to plan out, I will be writing and exercising and volunteering for fun things I want to be doing. And I want to reward myself when I reach my goal weight with getting to learn to ride horses, for one thing.

I plan to use the last Sunday of every month’s blog to write about The Balanced Life. I make myself accountable to my readers to share my weight and my emotions, my progress and my road blocks. You are very important to me in this endeavor. And if you want to share what worked for you, please do!

I’ll be back on Thursday with more story fun.

Creative Writing is Like Surfing

No, I didn’t hit my head or fall through a rabbit hole. I was looking for a photo of someone waxing a surfboard, for a presentation at my place of employment. And I found Surf Science. The first thing I noticed was the similarity in articles there to those at help for writers web pages.

Avoid Surfing Mistakes for Beginners, the 10,000 Hour Rule, How To Turtle Roll: http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfing-tips/beginner-tips/

Eleven Tips for Beginning Writers: http://www.magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/eleven-tips-for-beginning-writers/

The 10,000 Hour Rule: http://www.wisdomgroup.com/blog/10000-hours-of-practice/

How to submit a query letter: http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

There are a few things on the surf page that SHOULD be on the writers’ pages, like good nutrition: http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfing-lifestyle/life-as-a-surfer/surf-nutrition and exercise: http://www.surfscience.com/topics/surfing-tips/advanced-tips/indo-board-workouts-for-surfers/

I searched good nutrition for writers, and got places to submit articles on nutrition. Sigh. Exercises for writers just brings up prompts and writing exercises.

Currently, people who need to lose weight want meals with high protein and low fat, and very light on the carbs. http://www.activebeat.com/health-news/9-benefits-of-a-high-protein-diet/?PageSpeed=noscript Well, that should go for writers, too. But wait, athletes burn lots of calories, so they can get away with more carbs! http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/nutrition-tips-athletes So the key isn’t just what you eat, it’s also what you do for the day.

Sitting in front of a computer like I am doing now has been linked to many serious health issues. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20140407/sitting-disease-faq My nutritionist says that sitting is the new smoking, it will cause the deaths of more and more inactive people. Luckily there’s no such thing as second-hand sitting. But I do have a load of writing to complete, some of it with deadlines. Look what I found: http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-While-Sitting-at-Your-Computer The key here is that if you drink lots of water as well as do these exercises, you’ll be up and walking to the restroom every half hour or so. Here are more, slightly advanced exercises to try: http://www.theactivetimes.com/best-seated-exercises?slide=7

The tip on that last page about tightening your abs and glutes and holding it for a time throughout the day, that’s going to strengthen your core muscles, and make an improvement in many things you do. Did you know that muscles are fat-burning factories? The reason athletes can load up on carbs is that they have muscles that will burn those off. You can exercise and build your muscles, and lose weight from ramping up your fat-burning capabilities.

While you have been reading this, did you get any ideas for stories? Maybe a hero who needs to get back into shape, and meets a physical trainer who puts him through the wringer for his own good? Maybe a restaurant owner who wants to improve the quality of food in her establishment, and hires a whole foods consultant who also happens to be a surfer? Taking a break from your regular routine is always good for the brain, as well as the body.
And guess what? Regular activity is good for your creativity! How cool is that? You can become a healthier person and finally figure out the plot twist you need to become a best-selling author! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/exercise-creativity-physical-activity_n_4394310.html

Well, I think that’s my weekly quota of exclamation points. I’ll be back on Sunday.

Art Imitates Life

Being chronically obese is something like being a shape changer. I’ve often joked about over-inflating my feet when it’s hot. Just one of the outside influences that impact my shape.

Here are things that contributed to my weight issues:
*Raised in a low-income home
*Raised without a father
*Genetics, mostly from my mother’s side
*Tonsils out at age 2
*Molested, 3 separate incidents
*Felt unloved
*Afraid of close contact with men

I gave myself permission on my birthday to eat pretty much what I wanted to eat. The next day, I jumped back on the health wagon. Did really good for four hours. Then I had a clear feeling of fighting an entity that wants out, much like a werewolf or wild cat or dragon. Leashing the beast is what my life is all about. Well, that and writing.

My inner-eating-dragon isn’t the only one I battle, either. There’s my inner couch potato, inner sex addict, and inner gaming nerd.

By the way, my inner sex addict is an introvert. Writing about sex is fine, acting it out with my husband is wonderful, but just thinking about doing anything with strangers? Let’s eat some chocolate instead.

Now I have this idea that probably isn’t new, but so many shape shifters belong to packs and families, all of the same animals, all life long. My idea – and I’m cool with sharing it here, there’s no way I will get all my stories written out. So if you resonate with this idea, go for it! – is a shape shifter who is a loner, and can become any of 4 or 5 different beings. And each of those creatures “lives” full time in the person’s brain.

There was a television show some years ago, Manimal, that went with a similar premise. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085051/ But it was a crime drama and not a lot of attention was paid to how he got that way, were there others like him, etc. Lois McMasters Bujold looked at multiple personalities is an awesome way with Mark Vorkosigan’s disturbing evolution in Mirror Dance. Not about shape shifters, but still exactly what I am thinking of. Ms. Bujold is an amazing writer, and the glimpse of many personalities in one brain is as smooth as silk and eye-opening. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_Dance

So I just need some demon bane to be successful at my diet and exercise. I need to fine the valve to deflate strategic areas. And I need some good crowd control moves to keep the brain characters in order. See you on Thursday.

Do You See What I am Saying?

In the fun and wacky movie, The Fifth Element, a future slang term for things being good is green. What do you see if I write green? You picture, probably, your favorite shade or least disliked shade of green.

When I add a modifier, an adjective, and write dark green, do you picture nearly black? Forest green? Pine needles?

For the rest of this blog post, I’m using the verb “say” to mean both written words and spoken words. Writers hear what they write, and most readers hear what they read, so those verbs are interchangeable here.

Imagine a tall man. With long hair. And a tattoo. How tall? If you are lacking in height yourself, perhaps anyone 5’7” and up is tall to you. My husband is 6′ tall. To him, 6’2” isn’t very tall.

How long is long hair? If you like military cuts, then hair that sweeps the man’s shirt collar is long. Growing up in the sixties, shoulder length hair was normal. Hair long enough to be put in a pony tail is long, and yummy.

Tattoos not only need more description but also imply things about a character or person. You might be hard pressed to find anyone under 30 who doesn’t have a tattoo. Body ink is more common and acceptable now than ever. “A tattoo” conveys nothing. My dad was in the navy as a young man. He has an eagle tattoo on his upper right arm. But just search Pinterest for tattoos and you’ll see Everything and anything, anywhere, and everywhere.

Personally, I think too much ink loses impact, and one perfectly placed art piece is best. My naval captain hero will no doubt have a tattoo of some sort, no doubt on his arms.

At one time, tattoos were associated with drugs, guns, tough guys and hard chicks. Bikers and people you wouldn’t want to invite home to meet the folks. Money has been made in tattoo laser removal services.

I’ve had the hardest time as a writer to use adjectives sparingly but not too sparingly, and not vague words. I describe most of my heros as tall. But added in one story that he stood taller than any other person she knew. In another, he’s always ducking when walking through a doorway. Yet another retrieves his hat constantly when it’s knocked off by overhead obstructions that do not impede anyone else.

Hair length and color and curl or lack of it all need to be conveyed in sharp, short sentences. Clothes, my weakest point in description, has to include style, weight, color, fabric. Other senses need to be included, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Writers often overuse description of visuals, but those are important. Remembering how things smell and sound takes a bit of practice.

Conveying a scene with one character or a thousand, describing each blade of grass or each heart beat, all things need to be exact and not leave too much to the imagination. Here are more opinions on the subject:




Chew on that for a while, and I will be back on Sunday.