Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of Something - The Start of Something New?

I've spent the better part of this past year editing a three book, 887 page, YA dystopic fantasy novel. The author had approached me during NaNoWriMo 2010 and, since it was a paid gig, I dropped working on my manuscript and started working on his.

We're nearing the end now and the author just wrote to ask if I thought it was feasible to finish the whole thing before the end of October so he could reach his goal of having the whole thing polished and done by the end of November.

Of course I can, I said.

It's actually perfect timing. With NaNoWriMo 2011 fast approaching, I'd begun to think about getting back to my own writing. I haven't even looked at the Ana & Paul manuscript since I abandoned it last year. I started getting back into it by bringing a portion of Chapter 1 to my writing class this past Wednesday, letting them know that there were many things I liked about it and many things I hated and that I was counting on their feedback to get the manuscript where it needs to be. I've also been reading through the rest of the chapters, now a year distant from the story - and I really like it. I'm glad.

I've also got an outline worked out for this year's NaNoWriMo based on a crazy incident that happened in Vegas. I can't stop thinking about it, speculating what went wrong, or what makes a person do the things they do. I'm really excited to start it.

So, it just so happened that - the author and I are on the same page. We're both ready to be done and we're both ready to move on. Isn't that scary? His project is the biggest project I've ever worked on - including anything I've ever written myself. I've become so close to it, to the story and to his characters. I've worked so hard and loved every minute of it.

Of course I can, I said. I feel so, so sad that I can.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How To Really Lose Weight Without Dieting - Week Five

Weight: 154
Down: NO

A week with no guidance wasn't the greatest thing. And having no clue what my second portion size should really be had me wandering off the path more often, though I was still very aware of when I reached 'full'.

This next chapter is about letting yourself snack - and so, starting yesterday, I introduced small, healthy snacks throughout the day. We'll see how that goes and if it helps with the persistent hunger I was feeling last week.

I really need the next step to kick this up a notch so that I feel motivated again. Unless hovering around 153 is just where I'm supposed to be for my ideal body weight... but I kind of doubt it.

Can you tell I'm feeling discouraged?

Purchase Now from Amazon:  How To Really Lose Weight Without Dieting

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writing Class & Memoir

I had my first writing class this week and it was really very interesting and fun. And AMAZING to be in a room with writers and readers again. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was there, critiquing other's pieces and having my own critiqued.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I'd worked on a memoir for this week. I was encouraged to write it by a co-worker who also attends the class with me.

I thought I'd share some of their favorite excerpts first:

It's amazing, really, what stays with you and what disappears over time. If I close my eyes and try to conjure your face or your voice - all I get are snippets, like overexposed slides. Brief. Fleeting. I can't quite grasp it. Can't make you stay no matter how hard I will myself to remember and to hold on. But sometimes - and it doesn't matter when. It isn't a 'when the moon is full,' sort of sometimes, or a 'when the rain falls on a summer's day' sometimes. Just sometimes, I can hear your laugh. High and clear. And happy. That laugh.
Six years now. Six years since you tried to die. Six years since that week we waited, hoping that seven minutes without oxygen wasn't actually seven minutes too long.
It was.

But suddenly, your mother was standing in front of us, looking nothing like the woman I’d known my entire life. She started to speak and her words hardly made any sense. How it couldn’t have been over something so silly, she always told you that you could talk to her. She didn’t know why you did it. How could you have done it? She wandered back into the family waiting room as abruptly as she had come, leaving those words echoing through my head.
Done it? Done it?
Done it. Done it with the rope from the tire swing we played on as kids. Done it over a girl you’d screwed over at least five times before. But when she was finally through with you, you decided you were through with life. Done it because you’d pushed us all away over the past year but was poisoned by your own depression into thinking that it was us who pushed you away.

Their constructive feedback:

- Describing why I was at the hospital that day: I go on for a little too long giving the background of why I was even at the hospital that day. (I had gone to be with my dad while he had a routine surgery.) I talk about my mom and about being home from school and it being the summer before my senior year. I talk about the kind of surgery he's getting. The feedback was that all this backstory really isn't necessary. I can mention my dad going in for routine surgery and my deciding to take him and move on. One sentence. Otherwise, this paragraph follows the "It was" from the excerpt above and so interrupts and takes away from the flow of the story.

- Clarity is sometimes a problem within the memoir. I've always had trouble writing memoir because I feel too attached and too close to the subject. I can't determine what's part of the greater story and what isn't, because I feel like ALL of it needs to be jammed in there. And then there's the problem of the things that I know that I think other people MUST know too. For instance, I use "she" when referring to the person that is the first to call me and alert me to the fact that my friend is in the hospital. My only description is that when she calls, I recognize her voice and I don't use a name. However, in the paragraph prior, I'm describing being confused by having seen my friend's mother crying. It's easy to think that maybe I'm referring to her and not a different person.

I heard a woman wail and my eyes moved to the door. She was blonde, her hair a curly mass, tied to the top of her head. The people she was with placed their hands gently on her arms and carefully led her out the door. I couldn’t be sure from just the back of her head – Mrs. Leh…?
My phone rang. This time, I recognized the voice.
“Did something happen to Dave?” she sounded worried. She was our director, our teacher – our good friend.

How do you guys feel about writing memoir? Is there anything about it you find difficult?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How to Really Lose Weight Without Dieting - Week Five

Weight: 153
Down: 0

This is just a brief update as I don't start the next phase of the program until next week. I've gone to the lower portion, but I'm having a lot of trouble with it, which is why my weight is probably still remaining steady (though my pooch - excuse the term - seems to be considerably smaller than usual.). I do REALLY well all day, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But I find that I'm still incredibly hungry after dinner. Like - stomach protesting loudly type hungry. I drink a lot of water and try to ignore it, but then end up snacking. Still hungry. So more snacking. Last night, after my pasta dinner (about a 1.5 cups of pasta with butter, garlic and thyme) I had a pudding cup and then 1/4 of Chef Boyardee Spaghetti & Meatballs - a leftover nonperishable courtesy of Irene. We are a little tight on cash right now, hence nothing better to eat. Luckily the Chef Boyardee was nasty, so I ended up putting most of it in the fridge for the boy to devour.

Anyway, I hope Week 5 introduces something to help me combat this need to eat everything in my kitchen right before bed so that my number can start to drop again.

Purchase Now from Amazon:  How To Really Lose Weight Without Dieting

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Listening to Audio Books on Roadtrips is Awesome

The only audiobook I've owned up until a few weeks ago was Harry Potter Book 7, Deathly Hallows. I've listened to it 3-4 times already. My hometown is 3.5 hours from where I live now and instead of spending most of my drive time trying to find new radio stations to listen to (I lost my iPod, or it was stolen, a while back and I refuse to buy a new one), I like to spend my time with Harry & Co.

A friend of mine recently gifted me Book 6, Half Blood Prince on CD. I went home this weekend and brought it with me. 7 hours of Harry Potter = awesome.

Now, I've read each book in this series more times than I can count. But there's something about having it read to me that helps me to pick up on certain things that I may not have noticed just reading through.

Like when Slughorn tells Harry that he has his mother's aptitude for Potions and I realized one of two possible/likely things:

1) Snape tutored Lily in Potions (I mean, we knew that already, right - from the flashbacks in 7?)
2) Snape's notes in his book were written with Lily in mind (since he was older) and she also used the HBP's text in Potions class.

I travel to Long Island again this weekend for my cousin's 13th birthday and I plan on having Harry accompany me again. I hope to have many more awesome revelations.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How To Really Lose Weight Without Dieting - Week Three

Weight: 153
Down: stayed the same
Waist Size: 32 3/14
Difference: 1 1/4 inch

How have I done with each of the goals?

1) Portion Control: I've stuck true to cutting down my original serving to my Weeks 1-2 goal. Doing this has helped me pay more attention to my body's hunger signs. There's been times when I've realized I'm full BEFORE even finishing my new portion! That spells success to me. And the one day this week (Fantasy Football Draft Day) that I went overboard because we had a bit of a chili and beer party - I felt so gross after overdoing it (mind you - the NEW overdoing it, not the old, during which I probably would have scoffed down A LOT more) that I became more mindful of what I was eating for the remainder of the week. However, I've not yet eaten outside of the way I'd normally eat. I'm making/ingesting the same foods, perhaps bulking them up with veggies a bit - just controlling the portion size. At no point during this program did I ever feel like I was depriving myself of anything I wanted. Even icecream. You know, instead of eating the entire pint in one go, I made it last over 4-5 servings.

2) Light Exercise: I've been every [sunny] day with my friend at work. It's about a mile and it really gets our hearts pumping in the middle of the day. I've also been trying to get up off my butt more frequently, talking to people in person rather than calling or e-mailing. I also moved my car further out in the lot so that I have a longer walk in the mornings/afternoons.

3) Fruit: I've been trying to find ways to sneak it in and so far, so good - with fruit juices, pears eaten for breakfast, and dried fruits when I'm snacking. I would like to include smoothies, but they seem to be so calorie rich, no matter where you go to get them.

4) Water: I've always been a heavy water drinker, so no problem there. Chapter 4 involves methods for tricking your body into thinking it's already slightly full before you begin your meal. I've been doing that by drinking a couple full glasses of water to give my stomach that heavy feeling. Chapter 4 has other really awesome suggestions as well.

So, now. What does Chapter 5 and the kick off to Week 3 entail?

Not sure, really. This chapter got a little vague. It's really a pump it up chapter, don't get down on yourself for indulging. Don't decide to eat an entire package of cookies just because you slipped an had a couple. Indulging isn't failing. That sort of thing.

I'm also supposed to start my new, new portion size. Except the book doesn't go into detail on how exactly I find my new portion size. So I'm going to go ahead and make my own assumptions as to what it should be.


1) More water/tea.
2) Pump up the exercise a bit. I had started a pushup, curlup challenge a little while back that I sort of abandoned once a physical trainer gave me a routine to do to help my back pain. Guess what? I abandoned that too! So I think I'll just get going on all of that again. Requires 3 days a week.
3) Small portion size
4) Keep up with more fruits and veggies

I don't start Chapter 6 until Week 5, which is when the second part of the program begins. I honestly thought I'd have lost more weight by now, but I was really happy to see that my stomach changed an inch and a 1/4.

Purchase Now from Amazon:  How To Really Lose Weight Without Dieting

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Sleuth - Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Found via my boss, during our Labor Day reading discussion
Published by Scribner

My boss thought it was great, that he'd learned alot that he didn't know about that time period and thought I might like it a lot. Any other opinions out there?

Purchase Now from Amazon: Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What I'm Reading Weekly Roundup

Thought it was time to bring this ol' gem back.

In Blogs

An Awesome Quote on Writing by Nabokov
Game of Thrones House Posters my favorites are House Stark, obviously. But I really like House Baratheon as well. There's something about that image and the words - ours is the fury - that gets me.
This is Major Tom to Ground Control having my kids grow up on Bowie is a must.
A Selection of Great Books to Read when you're BROKE which I am.

In Books

Drowned Sorrow Vanessa Morgan
Feast for Crows George R.R. Martin

In The Pile
Under the Tuscan Sun Frances Mayes
The Three Weissmanns of Westport Cathleen Schine

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Sleuth - Legend of a Suicide

Found via The Millions
Published by Harper Perennial

Anyone who follows me via Google Reader may have caught the post I deleted sometime last June, regarding the five year anniversary of my good friend's suicide. I was pretty hammered when I wrote it, which is why I deleted it almost immediately after. We'd just all been out together sharing our memories of him and I got home and decided it might be a good idea to watch this videotape I'd made our last summer before college, in which he features prominently. It wasn't poorly written or anything, it was just... incredibly raw and heartfelt.

Luckily, the post still showed up on my feed and I was able to save it and turn it into a short story I'll be sharing with my writing class in a few weeks. Once I do, and once it's been critiqued and edited, I'll share it with you.

But anyway, I have thought a lot about writing a memoir of sorts, containing a series of short stories about my most vivid memories with this group of friends. It would just be snapshot after snapshot of our years together, all coming together to describe our different relationships with this passed friend and how we all handled the hurt and the anger. I don't know.

That's why this book caught my eye.

Purchase Now from Amazon: Legend of a Suicide: Stories (P.S.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Sleuth - Ten Thousand Saints

Found via Baby Got Books
Published by Ecco

I'm anxiously awaiting the review on BGB - but has anyone else read it?

Purchase Now from Amazon: Ten Thousand Saints
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