Clean Eating, Dirty Fiction

On the last Sunday of every month, I like to share part of what I have learned in my weight loss journey. To be a better writer, I need to get exercise, plenty of sleep, have good posture, and eat clean food. To me, that means eliminating foods Grandma would not recognize as food. Like Flaming Hot Cheetos ™ or bacon-wrapped Lil’ Smokies ™ Grandma might have enjoyed the bacon wrapped stuff after we explained it to her, but it’s the need to say “This is edible” that is the problem. Continue reading “Clean Eating, Dirty Fiction”

Attitude is Everything

Today is the last Sunday in May and time for me to address health issues for writers. No one can make you change your thinking so you may change your life. You may start eating healthier, exercising, keeping a positive outlook because someone wishes you to do so. But if the desire to change doesn’t come from your heart, you might lose the fat you want to be rid of but have no skill at keeping it off. Continue reading “Attitude is Everything”

Healthy Holidays

My sincere wish is that each of you enjoyed Thanksgiving but didn’t overdo or treat yourself too rigidly. It’s only one meal. The rest of the holiday season is going to be much the same. And not only do you need to budget your money, you need to budget your time. You are only one person. Be careful and thrifty. Know when to say no. Continue reading “Healthy Holidays”

Aching to Write

Writing is my drug. I write a lot of non-fiction just to have something going on. I rarely run out of ideas for blogs, and I love posting things on Facebook. That said, there are days when I am aching to write on my Work In Progress (WIP) and can’t because I need a blog. I guess I have two levels of my drug. One is the write anything but keep writing drive, and the other is the write the characters and get them into trouble drive. Continue reading “Aching to Write”

Everything Is Connected

I have made a habit of using the last Sunday of every month to address issues of health for a writer. The better our health, the better chance we have to get the writing done and get our books published. On the last Sunday of February I was too sick to remember to do that. Preaching is easy, practice takes some work.

There is a particularly strong flu virus going around, so it’s good advice to stay away from crowds. And stay away from children! They carry diseases like adults carry credit cards. If you get sick, stay away from old people and anyone with a compromised immune system. In fact, stay at your computer. That’s the best advice I can give you.

Seriously, if you do get sick, follow the smart people’s advice. Stay home until at least 24 hours after your last bout of fever, drink liquids, use saline nasal spray and throat gargle, and so on. For me, the sleep with an extra pillow does not work. When I start coughing, I won’t stop if I am sitting up or standing. Once I lay down, flat, I get better results. So be sure to adjust the checklist to your own responses.

Now, you will need to decontaminate your house. Get those wonderful antiseptic wipes and clean your keyboard, mouse, cell phone, regular phone, light switches, door knobs, pens, pencils, purses, lap tops, and anything else you touch regularly. You should buy a new toothbrush, wash your sheets with some disinfectant, and become as totally germaphobic as you can stand for a few days. Once you are done with that, you will be so tired, you will want to sleep all day. That’s fine, you can work out lots of plot issues as you fall asleep.

As a prompt, why not think of one of your favorite characters from a book you have read or a book you have written/are writing. Imagine that character getting the flu. Will he or she be stoic? Or complain bitterly and expect to be taken care of. Will there be piles of used tissues everywhere, or an empty tissue box re-purposed for the throw-aways? What happened in the character’s past that creates this type of behavior?

I have and I always will love Fitzwilliam Darcy. He admits to being spoilt as a child, so I imagine he would be somewhat demanding and expect to be taken care of. But I also see that his wife, Elizabeth, would know how to take care of him, and so he could also be stoic about his pain and suffering.

Thanks for reading! Stay well, and I will be back on Sunday.

Goals and Accountability

How would you feel if you asked someone how they could get so much done, and they in turn asked you how you could do so little? That’s a quote from Sir Phillip Adams, a British diplomat. And while it might not be so much diplomatic, it’s true. He goes on to say that people have vast potential, but just don’t make the effort to stop watching sitcoms and DO something. What a terrible waste.

As a writer, it can’t be that hard to write up goals. But Remember, goals have to be measurable, accomplishable, and reasonable. I might have a goal to jump over the tallest building in my town. That goal is measurable, but not reasonable and therefore not likely to be accomplished. If I have a goal to complete a 50,000 word manuscript in a week, well, again it is measurable and might be accomplishable if I do nothing else for a week. But it’s not very reasonable. I’ve always had a goal to lose weight. But without a goal of specific numbers, like two pounds of fat per week released forever, it’s not going to do me any good.

Here I am at the start of a new year, back on Medifast because it worked for me before. However I know me, so I have included some accountability measures this time. I have a notepad in which I write everything I eat each day. At night, my husband can check to see what I consumed. We can discuss how I felt if I went off the diet. He’s not going to chastise me or criticize, and because he wants me to be successful in this goal, he’s going to be positive and encourage me to stay on target.

I have a weight loss support group that meets every week, and is totally free. No one plan is accepted, you can attend if you do Weight Watchers, Medifast, NutriSystems, whatever. The right diet is the one that works for you. The meeting place is in the lobby of a medical building, and we have a scale that is designed for large people. I can chart my weight without having to share it with anyone. But because I want to be accountable, I will share it with my husband.

Writers set goals, that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about. That’s why I am pushing myself to map my stories and chart my daily word count. And soon I will have a quiet place where I can take a laptop without the temptation of on-line distractions and focus on my writing time. The house may look noticeably messier once I start to do that, but that’s not really a bad thing. So set your goals, pick someone you trust to be your Accountability Buddy, and get up out of your computer chair whenever you can. Walk around your yard or parking lot if you can, and be aware and focused. A healthy body will create more. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back touring more states by books on Thursday.

November Potpourri

Really looking forward to the chapter meeting this month. Not only is Brenda Novak the featured speaker for both sessions, but there will be the annual baskets drawing for lots and lots of great stuff. I love putting together things for the event, too. I have a cappuccino basket in the works, a tea time basket, and a couple of my potscapes. I mix some figurines with plants, sometimes do a whole scene, but more often just a bit of succulents around a cute dog or squirrel. Creativity, I has it.

Winter Blahs
I thought retiring right before the holidays was a great plan. No need to get out on cold mornings and shiver until the car heater warmed up. (Give me a break, I’m a California native and 65 degrees F seems freezing to me. Let alone when we actually have frost in February or March) But I’m thinking it’s likely I’ll start hibernating any day now. Luckily our daytime temps are in the low 90s. If I start early, I can get some work done before the day gets too hot, and then an hour or so in the afternoon before it gets too cold and dark. I wonder now why weather and temperatures don’t figure more often in my stories. I guess after you mention everyone sweated through their Regency gowns or naval uniforms, you get back to the interesting stuff.

Waiting Room of the Mind
I mentioned before that I have a mental image of a waiting room in my head. There, all the characters from stories and ideas that ever dawned in my brain are waiting for their turn. There’s the alien warrior and her POW love interest, there’s the contemporary romance homeless man and the woman whose life he saves, there’s the rescued dog who tells the story of his owner and her love interest, there’s my Captain Kit Dash and the farm girl who sells supplies to his ship, there’s the hydroponics farmer who falls in love with a basalt harvester – okay, I’ll stop. But it’s really, really crowded. At least I got my shape shifter jaguars out for NaNo.

If it’s not BROKE!
I mention Scribophile frequently, because it’s the place where I talk to other writers and hang out with fun people. Sometimes I post a work or a chapter, and wait anxiously for critiques. Right now there’s a change going on that makes me nervous. It impacts those who post more works for critiques than I do. To put it simply, prior to the change, you had to pay 5 Karma points to post anything. A poem, short story, novella, chapter, etc. Some people thought that unfair. And I understand, if you post a poem, and then are expected to read your first critiquer’s 5,000 word novella in exchange, AND it cost you both the same amount of Karma to post them, you might feel miffed. Squeaky wheels just got oiled. Now it cost 5 Karma points for the first 3,000 words, and a pretty stiff increase for every 500 over that. For those who write longer pieces, Scribophile may have just jumped the shark in terms of usefulness to us. And it’s not a democracy, it’s the place where one person makes the rules because, hey, he invented the thing. Stay tuned for more, because reactions are just starting to boil to the top.

Inspirational Music
I’m out of touch with current music hits in any genre, so when thinking of a good song for one of my two shape shifters, I seem to come up with Peter Gabriel or James Taylor or even the Beatles. I guess it’s not a big deal, since no one will be hearing the music except me and my characters. The female is from Panama. So I really need to look into some salsa and Latino trends. Who knew NaNo would require so much research?

Thanks for reading. 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.

It’s Gutenberg Enough for Me

Last Sunday, I shared my thoughts on lending books, ebooks, and so on. That reminded me of the Gutenberg Project. Named for printer Johannes Gutenberg, who was the first European to use moveable type. He didn’t invent it, but he invented enough added details to deserve being a historical person of note.

The Gutenberg Project is an all-volunteer effort to put every surviving printed work into a computer and make it available, as meets with copyright laws, to anyone with computer access. The founder and dreamer, Michael Hart, passed away a couple years ago, but the project is so well organized and has such forward momentum that it’s still running strong.

The official name is the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. I can’t imagine a more noble and wonderful way to spend available volunteer hours. It’s like the burning of the library in Alexandria in reverse. Here’s how to contact them:

Another wonderful project comes to mind, speaking of burning libraries. Burning Man. Once a year, a city springs up in the Black Rock dessert in Nevada, not far from Reno. It’s a massive week-long event of “radical self-expression and radical self-reliance.” I am not much tempted to participate, it’s much more of an event for younger, tougher folks, and those whose art is a bit more visual than writing.

The connection for me with Burning Man and Project Gutenberg comes from the book Homeland by Cory Doctorow, where the main characters attend a Burning Man and visit a library that is intended to be burned by the desert community at Black Rock City. The library is set up and staffed by Project Gutenberg volunteers.

I searched the Burning Man files to see if the library is a real thing, but can neither confirm or deny its existence. There is a Burning Man Book Mobile where you can take any book, for as long as you like, you can keep it, or can return it some day. The Burning Man community idea is to create continuity not boundries and rules.

So Cory Doctorow is the perfect person to be writing about this. He’s a major cheerleader for removing DRM (Digital Rights Management) from ebooks, because frankly, even if someone pirates a copy of your book to read, they are still readers! They might be fans soon, and might buy a copy just to have to read or pass on to another fan. You can’t stop the signal! (I heard that somewhere once.)

At Mr. Doctorow’s blog, Craphound, you can find the cities he is visiting in his current tour, and ads for t-shirts which have the entire text of some of his novels on them. Yes, you read that right. A shirt with the entire text of Little Brother or Homeland on it. I have enough trouble with people reading some of my t-shirts, I don’t have time to stand still while strangers read the novel. Then again, it would be a great way to pass the time in line at Comic Con. Too bad I couldn’t put my “friend’s” short erotica on a shirt. I am sure I would make lots of new friends, and possibly new readers, that way.

I’ll be back on Thursday.