Month: January 2014

Closing in on the last 20K!

If you’ve been following my progress on Pieces of it All, my goal was 90K. After some plot revisions and discussions with an author friend, I’ve adjusted my goal to 80K. I’m actually reaching for 85K on the final product, but for my nice line moving along in Scrivener, it’s now 80K 🙂

What does this mean? It means that I have LESS than 20K to write! This is so exciting, yet completely overwhelming at the same time. I find myself a slave to my word count. I should not be doing this, but I am. It makes me sick to my stomach when I’ve been writing and writing and look at my final word count and think, “Crap, I’ve gotten in a lot less than I intended.” However, on the flip side of things, it is somewhat helping. 

I had 7 beta readers. They were wonderful. It was comprised of 5 authors and 2 readers. They gave incredible feedback. In fact, the feedback was SO good, that they’re the reason for my struggle. I love them anyway. Why? Because they are making the story better. There was one major story line deleted, another character added, and more time spent on developing another character. The development of this character is what is adding my words.

My story revolves around 2 people. It’s a love story, sure, but it’s also a story about taking all the pieces of your life and deciding who you are and who you want to be. I spent a lot of time on one character on my other drafts. I spent so much time on her, that the readers didn’t like my other character at all. They didn’t know why he was there and how anyone wanted to spend any time around him. I have spent a majority of the last month changing that.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this character. In fact, I think he is becoming my favorite character by far. Go figure.

As I write a little every day, my 80K goal starts to feel farther and farther away. Although, I know it’s not. At the rate I am going, I should be able to do a quick edit mid-February and get this to my critique partner by March. This probably means I’m looking more at a May publication date than April. Don’t fret – it’s a better choice, and because of it, will be a better book!

How Much Time Have You Wasted on Facebook?

I thought this was interesting, for those of you that spend a lot of time on FB as I do as well. If there were a Twitter one, I’m not sure what the results would show. I probably spend more time on there!

Tech

Facebook will celebrate its 10th birthday next week. Created in a dorm room by Mark Zuckerberg and a few friends, TheFacebook.com came to life on Feb. 4, 2004. In its decade of existence, the social network has attracted 1.1 billion users, and all their pokes, wall posts, baby photos and engagement announcements add up to a whole lot of time. Use TIME’s calculator to see just how many days of your life have been lost to this ten-year-old.

[time-iframe url=”http://content.time.com/time/wp/interactives/apps/facebook_time_wasted/test_iframe.html”]

Methodology

Facebook doesn’t publicize data on exactly how often a user logs in, though you can bet that they’ve got that information. In lieu of that measurement, this app runs through the timestamps on every post in your feed until it reaches the earliest one, which it uses as the estimated date that you created your profile. Users who are extraordinarily active on the site may get an estimate…

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Accepting the end of a friendship ….

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I had a falling out with a friend years ago. It has been about eight years since we had spoken last, and every year I would send a letter or a Christmas card hoping she’d make contact with me. No luck. But I never gave up. I knew her dad’s phone number, but was too afraid to call. She wasn’t on Facebook. I just put it in fate’s hands.

Lo and behold just a few days before Christmas this year, I was checking out at a store and saw her walking by. I yelled her name as loud as I possibly could. I probably gained a few stares. Then I ran over to her and gave her a huge hug, falling into tears. I wasn’t sobbing, but was pretty damn close. 

We chatted for about ten minutes. I found out she’s engaged and lives just about five minutes from me. FIVE MINUTES. I’ve spent years trying to connect with her, and here she’s been around the corner. Turns out she is on FB, just her privacy settings made her impossible to find. I got home, found her on FB, friended her and was just beyond belief that she had walked back into my life.

After Christmas, I texted her since we exchanged phone numbers. We “chatted” about the upcoming snow storm and she suggested that we get together for coffee after the New Year. She works in retail and obviously was working a lot of overtime. Great. Sounds good.

Fast forward to last Thursday. I text her to suggest we get together soon. No reply. Okay. That’s fine because I didn’t really pose a question. It was just a suggestion. Yesterday, I texted her and said “Hey, it’s Tracy” just in case she didn’t have my # plugged in and had no idea who the first text was from. I asked if she would like to get together for coffee next week.

No response.

In a word, I’m crushed. 

Eight years. Eight years apart over the stupidest little argument. We’re in our 30s now. She was such an important part of my life. She even stood up in my wedding. I was so excited and shaking when I saw her. I called my mom in tears, just overjoyed. I’ll admit, I imagined her coming over, hanging out, getting to know my family, going to her wedding, spending some time over the holidays together. I was back into best friend mode 8 years ago.

I’ll give it a few days. Maybe she’s busy. Maybe she’s out of town. 

Or maybe she was just humoring me by giving me her contact information. False hope.

I’m 34 and don’t know how to accept this. I don’t know how to deal with her walking back into my life and then disappearing. Part of me wants to let it go. It was nice to run into her, maybe I will again some day, and move on. The other part of me wants to text her and ask her why she suggested a month ago to get together if that was never her intention.

A lot of people will say to just let it go. I get that. But it’s hard. How do you do that? I feel like I never had closure the first time we disconnected. And now here we go again.

I guess the only solution I know, is to write ….

Don’t Judge People Based Upon What They Read

“What do you mean reading is fun?” 

As a reader, how many times have you heard that in your life? I’ve lost count. I know a lot of people that don’t read books for fun. Their idea of a good time is not losing themselves in the pages of a paperback (or swipe of a Kindle or Nook). They’ve got other hobbies that I particularly wouldn’t enjoy either. But as a reader, do you find yourself mocking what other people read? Or judging who they are based upon what they read?

I have a relative who does not want to show anyone her Kindle because it’s all historical romance. SO WHAT? That’s what she likes. Reading these books takes her into a fantasy world and all her stress melts away. That’s wonderful for her and she should be proud. I don’t know if she thinks people will judge her because of that. I don’t know what type of conclusion one could draw from it anyway? 

There is another person in my life that judges almost every book I read. I get a little laugh or a smirk in a way to put down my reading choices. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never read Little Women or Anna Karenina or even the entire Harry Potter series. Does this make me a bad person? If you’ve read the entire collection of Classics or every Stephen King book out there, does that put me in some category that isn’t up to par with yours? Tell me. Because I’d really like to know.

I LOVE TO READ. There is no doubt about that and everyone in my life knows this. They know this to the point that I probably annoy the crap out of them. Whatever. Reading and writing are my passions. I lose myself in both. I read all types of books, and there are certain types I won’t pick up. That doesn’t mean that if you read the books I won’t, that you’re better than me or vice versa. We just have different tastes.

Fifty Shades of Gray. Where do I start with this? First, I know there’s the group of people that LOVED this series and couldn’t get enough of it. They’ll be in line for the movie as soon as it comes out. Then there’s the group of people who despise it stating that the writing was simply crap and how can someone read it? The last group is the people who are indifferent. They could give a flying …. well, you know.

Fifty Shades of Gray did for many adult women what Harry Potter did for kids. It got non-readers READING. Why should we put that down? Why should we judge the group of women (and I’m sure men!) who have read this series (me included.)? I think that so many people are in the group of non-readers that if a particular book or series sparks that interest, why the hell not? I love to see people with a book. I am so nosy I always have to find out what it is. If a particular title sounds interesting, I’ll make note of it and may que it up on Goodreads. If it doesn’t, I don’t roll my eyes because their choice is not mine.

It’s interesting because the same can almost be said about writing. When I leave reviews, I am so careful because while I may not have enjoyed a book, that doesn’t mean someone else may not enjoy the same one. Again, it ALL comes down to personal preference. There are a lot of authors that have been recommended to me based on their writing style. Authors that people simply worship and can’t gush enough about how poetic their writing is. I’ve tried these books and HATED them. But I know others LOVED them. Same with Fifty Shades of Gray. A lot of people put down how amateur her writing was and it’s a bestselling novel. First of all, everyone starts somewhere. You’re telling me that if you found a novel from your favorite author that was among the first that it would even closely compare to a novel they wrote today? In E.L. James’ writing, I see growth from Book 1 to Book 3 in that series. While Book 2 was my favorite, I still enjoyed seeing her grow as a writer.

All opinions differ. Go check out your favorite author on Amazon. Do it. RIGHT NOW. Type in one of their books, then click on the one-star reviews. You won’t believe what you read. Go to Goodreads. Type in the Bible. I’m not kidding. Read the reviews. People judge EVERYTHING. But this does not make them bad people or the choices of what they make bad.

Just different.

Slowing Down – A Guide to Success?

As you know, my goal for 2014 is to get healthy. And stay there. After a successful weight loss a few years ago, I focused so much on my writing in 2013, my lack of exercise and eating right caught up with me in the form of 9 or 10 extra pounds on the scale. I know, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. However, to me it is. I don’t have any major problems with my self-image. I know that when I hit my 20s, my body changed, when I had children, my body changed. And it will continue to change. I don’t have aspirations to be a size 6 with flat abs and a six pack with arms like Jessica Biel or Cameron Diaz. My goal is to fit into my jeans so I am comfortable and be able to help my husband move the furniture around instead of just pretending to lift it.

I love to eat. I mean, really, who doesn’t? My biggest pitfall is probably macaroni and cheese.Yes, I am 34 but I can shovel in an entire box of mac and cheese if I didn’t have any self control. Don’t worry, I love my fruits and vegetables too. When it comes to self control, I remind myself of the phrase “It’s only food.” I need food to fuel my body. That’s it. It needs it to survive. My body doesn’t require a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream. It’s damn good, though. So when I want to binge on food, I think about what it’s worth. It it worth a few extra pounds and the frustration it will cause when I try to put my pants on to have this sundae? Or would it be a better choice to have a few almonds?

Let’s be serious, though. Right now I am eating taco dip. The sour cream, the seasonings, the tomato, lettuce, black olives and dipping into it with tortilla chips. It’s not exactly the best lunch. It was quick, already made, and if it wasn’t eaten today, it’d have to be tossed. So I went for it. And I don’t feel about about it at all. Why? Because I’m pacing myself.

In the past (and by past I mean just a few weeks ago), I would eat so quickly that I’d always have a second helping. Always. It wasn’t necessarily everything on my plate, but it was something (usually mac and cheese!). My weight gain has a lot to do with these second helpings. If I’d have just paced myself, I would have been full longer. I used to eat my lunch in five minutes. FIVE. It’d be down the hatch. An hour later, I was finishing off something left around by one of the kids, or going through the cabinets for chocolate. This all adds up. So I slowed it down. Now instead of five minutes, I take anywhere from twenty to an entire hour. I may open up the iPad and play some Candy Crush or read a book while I eat to occupy myself and put the fork down.

How does this relate to my writing? In November, I participated in and won NaNoWriMo. I speed wrote. In about 24 days I wrote 50K words. Basically, a novella. When I go back to edit it, I will basically be starting over from scratch. A complete rewrite. That’s fine. November was fun and I get a 50K outline, really, out of the entire ordeal. But I would never let you read what I wrote in November. It’s crap. Total crap. That’s what November is for. Quantity NOT quality.

April 1, 2014 is the tentative publication date for my new novel, Pieces of It All. It began as a NaNoWriMo book in November 2012. I wrote the 50K in 30 days and set it aside until January. Last year I rewrote it at least two times. I am now going through it and changing an entire story line and adding many scenes. With NaNo, I just wrote as quickly as I could to get as many words on paper as I was able. In this final writing of Pieces of It All, I am taking my time. There are moments I HATE how slow moving this is. I have friends publishing books left and right. Maybe not, but it feels that way. I have to remind myself that they took just as long to write their books. They may have just started before I did. Or they are more committed and disciplined with their writing time. I’ll finish it. Gosh, now that I have a deadline of April 1st, I sure hope so. I don’t want to push that back. With these edits, though, I am writing each scene more slowly, like I’m lifting the fork, taking a small bite, and setting it down while I process it. As I reread these new scenes or edits of previous ones, I know that they are so much better because I’m slowing down.

Slowing down doesn’t just pertain to food, or writing. It’s everything. We’re in such a hurry these days. Slow down. Take your time. Enjoy the ride.

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2014: Lifestyle Changes

Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions. People resolve to lose weight, save money, quit smoking, and many more. If I had to guess, I would estimate less than 10% achieve their goals. Much of that has to do with setbacks. The person trying to lose weight has a bad day eating, so they quit. The person trying to save money bought an expensive shirt, so what’s another shirt? One cigarette at a social outing? Well, that person might as well just keep smoking.

That’s not how it’s done. I’ve made my share of New Year’s Resolutions. And I have failed. I think that it has to do with commitment, obviously, but I also believe that people need to recognize it as a lifestyle change and not a resolution. Through years of failure, people have come to look at New Year’s Resolutions as laughable because no one keeps them. Everyone’s pants are on fire.

In 2013 I wanted to write consistently. It was hard work, but I write almost every day now. Almost every day for a year! I’ve written two books in the past year. Granted, neither of them are done yet, but I have kept up with writing daily. I knew the importance of committing to it. I had to make it part of my lifestyle. I have days that I skip. Some days, I’ll admit, I just don’t feel like it or I’m sick or too tired. But I don’t QUIT. That’s the difference. Many authors would say it shouldn’t matter and no matter how I feel, I should write every day. Everyone is different. This works for me.

In 2012 my husband and I went on Weight Watchers. After a successful P90X round in 2009, we started to lax again on our eating and working out habits. I started Weight Watchers in February 2012 and my husband joined me a month or so later. I lost about 22 pounds or so and worked out five days a week. He lost a little over 30 and did the same. In July 2013 he added running to his habits and was running 3 days a week. He has woken up at 5 AM every day since July to work out Monday – Friday. I believe he even does a small workout Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Me, on the other hand, well I’ve gained about 9 pounds back of what I lost. The problem was commitment. I focused so much on my writing, especially in November during NaNoWriMo, that I pushed my health to the back. Over the holidays, I stuffed my face. You might as well have called me the Cookie Monster.

I look at my husband every day. I love the way his body looks. He has come so far an he has SO MUCH to be proud of. It made me start thinking about 2012 when I was on Weight Watchers. I was eating healthier and I loved working out. The feeling I had after a workout was incredible. I felt great about myself and sexy. I could have spent every day in a tank top and yoga pants. I was no supermodel, but I FELT like it.

So in 2014, I am changing my lifestyle. I LOVE my writing. It is a passion I have had since I was young. I plan to keep writing. Daily if I can. I plan on putting out a book this year and finishing a first draft of another, and participate (and win!) NaNoWriMo in November. But first, my health. I need to be healthy. I need to feel good about myself. I’m not fat. But I’m not thin. And I’m NOT healthy.

As I started out this morning, my stomach was rumbling. I know from when I did Weight Watchers, that’s just my body adjusting to not grabbing a handful of pretzels every hour or a Tootsie Roll. I’ll get used to it. I also plan on (trying) to cut out my afternoon coffee. We’ll see how that goes.

All I can tell you is that if I view it as a lifestyle change and I commit to it – I CAN DO IT. I’ve done it before. And I have to stick with it. Chances are, by becoming more healthy, I’ll even write better!

In case you’re wondering, I already did my workout today 🙂 And it was AMAZING.