Posted in daily life, Loosing Weight

I admire fit people

I admire fit people.

dsc_0224-1Not just fit people, but healthy people. Hard working folks. The kind of people who put in a full day’s work building houses, fixing cars, and installing electrical or plumbing. Or soldiers and firemen, who need to keep their bodies in shape so they can do their jobs.

I think I can blame this admiration on my father and grandfather. Both were mechanics by trade, but when they were home, they were farmers. They never stopped moving, never stopped working. Between the two of them, they built the home I grew up in. They chase cows, build fences, bail and haul hay. They could figure out how anything worked and fixed it.

I think if I hadn’t been so afraid of getting hurt growing up, I might have followed in their footsteps. As it was, I distinctly remember being driven to work hard as a teen. Not just so I wouldn’t get fired. But to prove that I could work as hard as any of the grown men around me.

Then I graduated college and I changed. I lost some of my drive. I became more and more lazy, more and more depressed, until I stepped on the scale one day and discovered I’d gained first 40, then 60, pounds since college. To my detriment, I fear.

Since the start of the year, I have lost almost 25 pounds. I’m thirty, but my body doesn’t work like it used to. Pain tags along with me like a naughty puppy, affecting my knees, shoulders and other joints. Scary words like “arthritis” are being thrown around, and I’m not sure who’s to blame for the pain. Was it me, my laziness, or my early drive to keep up with and outshine the hardworking men around me?

Only God knows for sure how much damage I did to myself through my own recklessness and laziness. Only He knows the truth. It may not be my fault. But it also may be.

One thing has not changed about me, though. I still admire fit people. And no matter what the future holds for me, no matter what the doctors say or what more challenges God sends my way, I need to dig out that drive I used to have, dust it off, and apply it to the future.

I may have to adjust my view of the definition of the words, but with God’s help and blessing, I will be healthy and strong again.

Posted in writing

The Difference Between Alpha and Beta Readers

penNo one writes their books perfectly the first time. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did? Then we wouldn’t have to edit.

Unfortunately, most writers do have to make corrections and revisions. It’s a long, drawn-out process that’s a lot less fun than the actual writing. In some ways, though, it’s more important. But not all of us writers are at the point where we have professional editors on speed dial. We rely on a network of self-help books and computer programs, of writer friends and English teachers we bribe with cookies or actual money.

Then we get to the point in our editing process where we need to know how we’re doing.

That’s where alpha and beta readers come into play.

What is an alpha and beta reader?

I recently learned about alpha and beta readers. I already knew about beta readers, but not alpha.

Beta readers are the people who read your story for the sake of reading it, and tell you how you did. Whether they liked it or not, what worked/didn’t work–stuff like that. These people can be one of your writer buddies, but often it’s a member of your audience. Who you are writing the book for. They read your book at the end of the writing and editing process, just before you’d send your precious baby off to the publishers.

Alpha readers are different.

The way I understand it, alpha readers get your story first. They read your rough draft and do critiquing for you. They might be your writer buddies, or someone who knows a lot about grammar. Once they get done with your story, it’s probably bleeding red. You will feel terrible with all that’s wrong with your story, but that’s okay. After all, it’s just your rough draft, and you’re going to do more edits anyway.

That’s the key difference, the way I understand it. Alpha readers get the story when it’s raw, when it still needs lots of help. Beta readers get to enjoy the nearly-finished product.

Without knowing it, I have had both alpha and beta readers helping me write my story. I can safely say that every serious writer needs both kinds of readers to help make the story the best it can be. You may not call your alpha reader by that name–they may simply be your editor. But still, you need someone to help you find the diamond in the pile of rocks you call a story.

If you have more questions, may I suggest clinking on this link.

Posted in daily life

Things I would rather do instead

My life this week has been consumed with three things: one, trying to get book two ready to be written. Two, finding and getting an appointment with a doctor about my legs. And three, trying to stay upbeat and productive when I hurt and don’t have a lick of energy.

I’ve succeeded with the first. Book two is ready to be written. Just as soon as I can get around to it.

I’ve can’t say whether or not I’ve been successful with the third. I’ve gotten everything that had to get done, done. And I’ve slogged through the evenings, when my depression and energy are at its lowest. If that meant I got a few hours extra sleep, that’s fine. But I look forward to sunny skies and having lots of energy again.

However, I can say, without a doubt, I have finally got an appointment with a doctor to see what is wrong with my legs. It was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done. I can’t tell you how much I did not want to go find a doctor. Forget about the impending bills, the doom-laden future my imagination paints, or the indignity of having a body that doesn’t want to cooperate with you.

I just hate having to figure out how to do something new and uncomfortable. And I really also hate having to call someone who’s not among my friends, family or acquaintances. For whatever reason, the idea of having to call someone I don’t know and have no experience with just gives me with the willies. The fact that I finally did it should tell you something.

How much do I hate it? Well, I came up with a list of things I’d rather have done instead.

What I’d rather do instead of calling the doctor

  1. Total my car. I’ve done it twice in my life. I lived through it.
  2. Plan my wedding. As stressful as that was, I think this is more.
  3. Live with my hurting legs. Who knows if this is a problem that can actually be solved? I’d rather just live with them than go through this kind of stress.
  4. Walk to Arkansas. Okay, maybe just to my mother-in-law. She lives about 15 miles away. It would be torture, but infinitely less stressful.
  5. Go to the dentist. Some would consider that stressful. I don’t. Even though I’d have to find a dentist first before I can go there, dentists hold no fear for me.
  6. Get my hair cut. I find looking for a stylist almost as stressful as finding a doctor, but I’d rather just walk into a random beauty parlor and get a bad haircut. My hair will grow back.
  7. Go to the gym and lose 20 pounds. Wait, I did do that.
  8. Go through labor. I’m not pregnant and have never been, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather have that baby than find a doctor.

So? What is that one thing you absolutely hate to do? What would you rather do instead of it?

Posted in daily life

When you wish real life was a fantasy

When you have nothing to write about

lost-in-a-book-2You know, I wanted to write something significant today. Something that would make people say, “yeah,” or “wow,” or make people think. Something to elicit an emotional reaction.

I wanted to write something about writing. I mean, I’m a writer after all. You’d think I’d have more to say about the craft of writing than I do. But no. All I can say there is practice, listen and learn from the experts, and have fun. That’s about the sum of my writing advice.

I wanted to write about something I read. It’s been a while since I critiqued a book. Unfortunately, I haven’t really read anything different–though my husband just finished reading Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books. All of them. Now, watching that was fun! But plenty of people have read and critiqued his books, and he doesn’t need me to do it again.

So where does that leave me? With what’s been going on with me?

Well, let’s start with Jim Butcher, shall we?

You watch someone else read books

My husband is not a big reader. At all. He’s a computer guy. Would much rather play computer games.

However, he is into big, ridiculous plots, grandiose characters, and puns. Harry Dresden has all of that.

So I managed to convince him to read the series. He did.

And it was so much fun watching him read a series of books I’d always loved and enjoyed. He’d read them when he was supposed to be working. He’d stay up to two AM to finish reading one. Every twenty minutes he’d laugh at something Harry said or did, and come running down stairs to tell me about it. He acted like a cross between a kid in a candy story and a kid at a comic convention. It was great to watch. For his birthday, I got him a Dresden t-shirt. Polka never dies.

And that got me to thinking.

And you wish your life was a fantasy

My knees hurt. Have been for months. Don’t know why because I can be a stubborn lady and haven’t gone to the doctor yet. I’ve been working out at the gym. Trying to lose weight. Succeeding, to my surprise. Lost 20 pounds. Legs still hurt.

It’s not the only things in my life that hurt. We’ve been trying to get some land. Bank approved our loan. We were all ready to sign the dotted line, when the appraisal came in and said, “land’s not worth that much. You’re going to pay too much.” So we’re back at what feels like square -20, waiting for the appraisal to go through. So the bank knows how much to lend us. So the seller knows how much he can sell it for. So we know what the price is going to be. And we’re stuck with no one talking to each other and no one knowing what is going on. And our contract has been extended twice and I can’t help but think, “we’re going to lose the land through no fault of our own!” And we have no idea what’s going to happen.

Through all this, my husband and I decided we want to have kids. Been trying for a year. No baby. We’re telling each other, “it’s okay. You got time. There’s nothing wrong with you.” But we look around and all we can see are kids. Cute kids, pudgy kids, screaming kids. Kids playing baseball. Kids in Halloween costumes. And they’re all so cute and precious . . . and not one of them is ours.

And this is why

If our lives were a fantasy, then our problems could be solved overnight. I could get bitten by a radioactive spider and be gifted with super-powers. Overnight I’d get buff and healthy and my legs would stop hurting. If I ever did hurt, it’s because I decided to go out and be a punching bag for someone.

Insta-heal. Insta-health. It’s the superpower everyone wants. Too bad it’s a fantasy.

If our lives were a fantasy, I could go to a mystic or psychic or the local wise woman, and she’d be able to tell me exactly why it’s taking so long for us to buy our land.  She could also give me a glimpse into the future, tell me exactly when we’ll sign the dotted line, when the wait will be over.

Speaking of waiting. While she’s giving us predictions, she could tell me about my future kids. Will I have them? How many? Boys or girls? One, two, five or ten? And if her answer is no, then I could ask why? Is it not in God’s will for me to have kids? Is there something with me? My husband? Is it a problem that could be fixed?

And because my life is a fantasy, of course the problem could be fixed–maybe with a magical healing potion. Or maybe with a deal with a crooked fairy or something. And then I’d only get my kid at the expense of half my soul or something horrible like that.

Which is why life isn’t a fantasy. And why fantasy isn’t life. Real life is worse–and better–than fantasy. Because real life has God in it. God is the ultimate problem solver. I just gotta remember that.

So never ask God to give you patience. He just might give you a bushel of trouble instead.

Posted in daily life

Things only adults do

Have you noticed there are certain things you do that feel very ‘adult’?

Your First Real Job

And I’m not talking about your summer/weekend job you had as a teen. I’m talking about that full-time job you work all year long. The one you’ll either love and do for the rest of your life, or the one you’ll hate but endure because something has to pay don't want to workthe bills.

Paying Bills

Speaking of. You didn’t do this when you were a kid, did you?

Leaving Home

Ah yes. The ultimate sign that your an adult. Leaving home to make it on your own in the big, wide world. You now have a job, a house, and maybe the hand-me-down car. You are now able and qualified to live on your own. Congratulations. Now the real adult things start.

Getting Married

cabin 2There’s nothing much more adult than hitching yourself up to another person for the rest of your life. It’s takes a lot of maturity and work to make a marriage last. It’s a shame people don’t take it seriously. I wish I could put Sex and Kids on this list, but let’s face it–if there’s something people take less seriously than marriage, it’s sex and kids. That won’t change your life, but getting married will?

Buying Insurance

Now here’s one you won’t see coming. For the entirety of your life, you’ve been on your parents’ plans. Now you’ve outgrown them and have to get some of your own. Who do you get? Do you go with what your job provides. Hopefully they do, and hopefully it’s good. If so, congratulations, the pain is done once you’ve filled out the appropriate forms. If not, then maybe you’ll go with what your parents used. If not . . . then I’m sorry. Now you’ve got to shop around and see what’s best for your family. And heaven forbid you make the wrong decision, but in today’s world of Obamacare, trust me–you won’t be able to switch easily. Even if you wanted to.

Doing Your Taxes

What’s more painful than handing your hard-earned money to someone else to use/misuse? Having kids? Passing kidney stones? Dying? I’m not sure. Let me know if you think of anything.

Shopping for Doctors

doctor-shoppingIf there’s something worse than shopping for insurance, it’s shopping for doctors. At least with insurance, you’re limited to a handful of companies, depending on what kind of insurance you need. That’s not the case with doctors. If you’re lucky, you’ll just use the same doctor your family has used for generations. Or maybe you live in a region isolated enough that you only have one or two choices when it comes to choosing who you go when your sick. But if you move to a big city where you literally have hundreds of options, all taking your insurance? Personally, I found it easier to plan my own wedding than choose who I want to be our family doctor. Totaling my own car was less painful. How do you make a decision? Chose the closest one to you, and the first on the list? Go with what everyone recommends? Go with the one with the most medals and credentials to his name? Go with the one in the private clinic because he’ll spend more time with you than the one in the hospital? Gah, just shoot me now. I’ll endure my bum knee for the rest of my life, thank you very much.

Setting up your own doctors appointments

Now that you got your own doctors, you have to call in your own appointments. Tooth hurts? Guess what, your mom’s not going to call it in. You are! Welcome to adulthood, where you have to do all your own dirty work yourself.

Posted in writing

I Plan to Participate in Nanowrimo

penNext month is November. For most everyone, that means Thanksgiving turkey and travel time. For writers and aspiring writers alike, November is National Novel Writing Month. Nanowrimo for short.

During November, writers of all skill levels put pen to paper, hunker down, and try to write as many words as they can. 50K works is the goal. Basically, write a novel in a month.

It’s been a few years since I’ve participated in Nanowrimo. For the past few years, I’ve been too busy with other things. But I’ve just finished re-editing my current story, and I want to get started on book 2 as soon as I can. Nanowrimo is the perfect time to do that.

Of course, writing that many words in a month is hard, and if I want to accomplish that goal, then I need to prepare first.

Preparing for Nanowrimo

The first thing I need to do–after finishing editing book one (I got maybe a week’s worth of work left on it)–is brainstorm. I got ideas about what my story is going to be about, but I need to write them down before I forget them. Organize them into something resembling a plot. If I’m lucky, I’ll hammer out the plot of book three while I’m at it.

And that’s it.

Ok, it doesn’t look like much, but believe me, having only two weeks to brainstorm and hammer out an outline for an entire, 100,000 work novel? That’s a lot of work for two weeks. A lot of time to waste on self-doubt and double guessing. More than enough time for my muse and inspiration to get drowned out by doubts and fears.

Thankfully, that’s one thing Nanowrimo will be good for. Writing 50,000 words is hard, especially around Thanksgiving. I plan to be too busy writing those words to let doubt cloud my judgement. Or my book.

So, to everyone else planning on doing the same as me next month, good luck. You’re going to need it.

Posted in daily life, Loosing Weight

People You See at the Gym

golds-gym-logoI joined Gold’s Gym about two months ago, not sure whether or not I’d like it. In my experience, gyms tend to be hot places with not enough air flow. I sweat and get hot when I exercise. But this one was brand spanking new. I hoped it would be different.

It was.

I’ll go ahead and get the glowing review out of the way. The people who work there are pleasant, fun, and encouraging. They have programs for every level of fitness–from the “I’ve never exercised a day in my life” people to “I could bench press cars” fanatics. I wouldn’t have lost the weight I have without them.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

I’m writing this post to tell you about the kind of people you see at the gym.

All kinds of people go to gyms. All kinds. A lot go in the hopes they’ll look buff and lose weight in just a day or two with minimal effort. There are people, I’m sure, who could do that. Yahoo for them.

But the ones who are there every day? They are the real interesting ones. The kind that might get immortalized in one of my books one day.

The Fashion-Challenged Exerciser

We’ve all seen this person. Could be guy or girl. Any level of fitness. But they seem to go out of the way to wear the most unfashionable outfit possible. And this is saying something, considering people at gyms tend to wear whatever is comfortable. I mean, they aren’t there to win beauty pageants–they’re there to get sweaty.

There’s this one guy my husband calls “Shorty Shorts Guy.” I haven’t seen him, but apparently, not only are his shorts short, but they bulge two inches past his waist, like he’s stuffed them with Styrofoam or something. And no, I’m not talking about the crotch area. I’m talking about his thighs. Why would anyone want to wear poofy shorts? And tuck their shirt in to boot?

Madam Marathon Runner

I can’t tell you how many older ladies–and gentlemen–I’ve seen exercising at the gym. Most, I will admit, are just trying to stay healthy. But there’s always one or two there who look like they could bench press their teen-age grandchildren. Then go run a marathon. You know, just by looking at them, that they’re just as serious about what they eat as they are about exercising.

I’ll admit these old ladies really impress the heck out of me. They’re in better shape than I could ever hope to be. I’ve seen them do pull-ups. Pull-ups, people. If I could do half of what they do, I’d be ecstatic. But let’s face it–I’m too lazy and like to eat too much to put that much energy into being that healthy.

Mr. I Can Bench Press Cars

There’s this one guy I see all the time. Don’t know his name. But I’m pretty sure he lives at the gym. He doesn’t work there, but he could probably teach any class. If he doesn’t, I’d be seriously surprised.

This man, he looks like he’s in his late 50s, and his hair used to be blond. His muscles are bulging and sculpted, and he wears tight fitting clothes. This morning, I saw this man doing pull-ups like it was no big deal–then pause in the middle of a pull-up, point his toes, and then lift his feet over his head. He pointed his feet to one side of his head, then the other. This lasted for like thirty seconds.

I have no idea what that exercise is called, but it’s got to be the hardest, most impressive thing I’ve ever seen a person doing at a gym.

Mr. Strange

Every now and then you see someone that, for whatever reason, just looks weird. It could be what they’re wearing or some other feature, but you look at them and think, “what?”

There’s this guy who, I swear, looks like a black version of Bane, the super-villain from Batman. He’s big, he’s buff, and he wears a mask that covers half his face. He sounds like Darth Vader when he breathes. I haven’t seen him cart an oxygen tank or a funky backpack with tubes coming from it–but it’s the kind of mask that looks like it should. I have no idea what it does, but I would really like to know.