Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just for Laughs (turn sound on)

Reboot

Reboot - that is what we do when our computers are hopelessly confused and coming up with the wrong answers - or no answers, and churning the same old same old.

So I needed a reboot this morning. Tried the weight machine yesterday - not for me, too awkward, configured for Goldibear, hard to reconfigure on the fly, etc.

And that was a good thing. This morning I did a reboot and picked up The RealAge Workout by Dr. Michael F. Roizen. We have several books on exercise, and I looked at the others, but this one is written for me and my needs. The first thing I discovered is that people in my shape (which is to say - no good shape at all), need to do basic stretches and lots of walking to rebuild "energy supply chain and contractile proteins" before beginning any kind of strength training. Well. I always was an impatient panda bear -impulsive, even.

It turns out strength training must wait until after 30 days of walking and even then, only core muscle groups for the first month. So if I had continued to pursue the weight machine and the areas I targeted, I would have either fallen short of my goal for lack of preparation, or possibly caused myself an injury as well. Patience has its rewards.

Today then is Day One of 30 doing 30 minutes of walking a day, broken down into no less than ten minute intervals. I don't even know if I can hit that target today, but if not, I can work up to it.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Revving Up and Falling Down

Revving up for NanoWriMo, I have decided on the genre (fantasy), and some of the characteristics for world building.

On the diet wars front, I replaced the dead battery in my Omron pedometer today, and started reading The Step Diet by Hill and Peters. And I selected the eleven weight routines that target my problem areas (waist, belly, upper arms and buns).

And then I fell down. After ten aggravating days on a weight loss plateau, I ate four ounces of pistachio gelato - and enjoyed every single teeny, tiny bite.

The weather, which has been warm and sunny nearly every day so far, turned cold and rainy today and for the near future. I can use a treadmill in the gym downstairs for walking. It is the lack of sunshine, the dark days, that affect me. Not a coincidence that falling off my diet is congruent with the beginning of our cloudy, rainy weather. Every winter I fantasize about running away to a warm, sunny island beach.

Probably won't happen this year, but someday... someday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Writer's Cave furnished and waiting

Today Goldibear moved his weight work-out machine, and a large roll-top desk, so that I will have a nice quiet writer's cave, just in time for Nanowrimo'09. My laptop doesn't quite fit on the desk, so a little creative adjustment of the wood with a saw will be happening this weekend.

Not so long ago I mentioned yWriter2 on my list of essential tools for a writer. When I went to update it today, I was shocked to discover that Hal Spacejock is on version 5.1.1.5, and bless his heart, it is still a free download (donations optional).

Today a new/used copy of Roget's Super Thesaurus arrived - a bit dented but still a good deal for only $1.

At lunchtime, our son announced he is doing Nano this year.

Paperback Writer is handing out encouragement and answering questions for writers gearing up for Nano over on blog, and she gave some very good and welcome advice in answer to my question.

Altogether, the indicators are pointing to a super Nano season.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get Ready! Get Set! NANO!

Or NANOWRIMO if you prefer the long version. I's almost that time of year again - National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st.

Do you have a novel in you, just waiting to get written? The majority of people do - so why don't they all write a book? Thinking about writing often amounts to just a plot idea, figuring out the perfect title, and picturing the royalty checks rolling in ever after. And it is all those other hidden steps in between that keep most people from achieving their dream. People who actually write novels do what serious writers do: consider the all the parts to a novel that come after 'title' and 'plot bunny'. They write thousands of words, revise those words, edit those words -- and then start all over again. Because writing, like nearly everything else in life, takes practice to do well. And that is the stopper. How many people that want to write a novel are willing to practice?

That is where NaNoWriMo comes in. Here is chance to practice, and to finish with at least 50,000 words, all with the greatest bunch of cheerleaders and motivators I've ever seen collected in one place. It is easy to get discouraged, reading your own writing and seeing the difference between what you pictured doing and what you actually wrote. Fortunately, writing is a skill that improves with practice and with feedback and direction from people who are further along the road.

Internet sites such as Forward Motion provide online classes (free) and a community of writers who encourage each other and share information on everything from the best latest book on writing to lists of publishers and agents - who to go to and who to stay away from.

Only 37 days left to do plot outlines, character sketches, world building - or whatever you want that isn't actually writing your novel. Or you can do what I did my first NaNo, and just write like crazy and hope it will all come together by "The End". That worked out well until I was about two thirds of the way through, and then my historical novel took a science fiction turn that I hadn't really intended. This year, I want to have a plot outline, one made up of more than three sentences!

Goldibear is moving furniture so that I have a quiet, private nook for writing, and I just updated my personal page for NaNo'09. If you decide to do NaNo this year, please stop and say 'hi' to me there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Learning to love Rutabagas

I never thought I would learn to love a diet consisting of baked rutabaga with apple, grated raw beets soaked in orange juice, baked fish on a bed of spinach, snacks of almonds and oranges, and other healthy dishes, but that is what I've been eating for the past six weeks.

And I have lost twelve pounds.

But my doctor and friends all tell me I'm looking healthier and younger, so it is a good thing. Dr. Randolph, in his book From Belly Fat to Belly Flat, postulates a theory that many fat people are simply estrogen dominant, and need to balance their hormones with the appropriate diet and supplements. After six weeks, I can't answer for other chubbies, but the results speak for themselves as to the cause of my fat belly, which is shrinking away nicely.

I have followed the recipes and food lists and supplements recommended in the book diligently. There is only one supplement I have used differently: Chitosan. Instead of starting with the 3,000 mg per day advised in the book, I started with one 500 mg capsule at dinner. After the first week, I added one 500 mg capsule at breakfast, and increasing by 500 mg steps until reaching 2,000 mg per day this week. The reason is that Chitosan has been known to have adverse affects on some people, and I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to adjust to it.

I dislike some of the recipes in the book, and have made my own choices using the food group lists and other guidelines. I have been careful to include MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) in most menus. They are used in Dr. Randolph's book, and I found a detailed explanation and guide for using them in the Flat Belly Diet Pocket Guide by Liz Vaccariello (of Prevention magazine). It is no sacrifice - who wouldn't love to add dark chocolate, avocados, pecans, etc. to their daily diet? The secrets of what to pair them with, how much to use per serving, etc. are laid out in the Pocket Guide.

Although Vaccareillo's book, and also Ultra-Metabolism by Dr. Mark Hyman, recommend soy in various guises (edamame and other versions) I have to ignore that portion of their books because soy can aggravate low thyroid, (which Dr. Hyman acknowledges on pages 183-184). There are so many other good foods that is not a problem. Even McDonalds has menu items that agree with my diet plan these days.

The three things I have loved best about this diet is that I am never hungry, and I never have to gain back the weight, because this is a food plan I can follow the rest of my life. Also I don't have food cravings the way I used to, which makes it easier to stick to the menus.

A bonus is that my favorite clothes are still waiting for me in my closet and I'll be able to wear them by Christmas.

This is not an easy diet plan to follow. I made a computerized chart just to sort out the various recommended supplements and when and how much to take. The foods and recipes are not from your average gourmet restaurant.

With sufficient motivation, it is workable, and success is its own reward.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Writers are like the Postman

This has been the longest week, stretching out until there is no more snap left in it. There is a saying, "Through rain and snow, the mail must go through." I think writers are like the postman, and must keep writing through thick and thin, or through the virtual storms of life.

The Muse must not be so delicate that only summer days and warm breezes will inspire her to let go of her talent. Else how would the great - if sometimes rather dark - literature of the world be done? But writers must slog on through the buffets and breaks of living, and embrace more fervently their talent however small, as the chill of grief and winds of worry blow through.

The destination is greater than the trials of the journey. To have created something out of self, to have shaped and pummeled words and thoughts into story and prose, is to live generously. The more circumstances might flatten hope or comfort, the more urgent is the need to open wider the funnel of spark and flame, and pour with gleeful abandon thoughts into the cauldron, to boil down into plot and characters, purposefully releasing the Muse rather than clutching her tight.

Life may occasionally cause us to hold our breath, but sooner than later we must let go, and just breathe.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Led Astray by the Mother of Ducks

So I was cruising Marina's blog the other day, and she blames Glenda Larke. Granted, she did give fair warning - small print, up all night, burning eyes, but it sounded so enticing to read a whole new fantasy online I just ignored her cautions. Instead of staying far away from what might cause such discomfort, I rushed to see what would make Marina stay up all night!

The Last Stormlord, by Glenda Larke is indeed worth a little suffering. Not that I intend to suffer for the upcoming sequels, because I've seen that Larke is a writer I want in my permanent collection.

And I'm still waiting for Robin Hobbs Dragon Keeper: Volume One of the Rainwilds Chronicles to be released in the USA January 2010.