Catching Up

Sorry for the quiet blog last week. I know it's hard to believe, but I really couldn't think of anything to say!

I wanted to write a blog titled, DON'T BE STUPID, but I thought it had too much negativity going on with the connotation of the word stupid, plus the negative of don't. This blog popped into my head when I received a generic thank-you note for judging a contest by the contest coordinator. The note was in Arial 10, while my name was in TNR 12. The whole point of that blog would have been to keep the font the same. I would have felt a little better about my judging efforts if the coordinator had taken the time to use the same font. As it is, I didn't feel appreciated or special because it was too obvious that it was generic. 

This goes for sending queries to editors/agents. Keep the font the same. 

Look, editors/agents are well aware that you are sending out mass queries. You'd be crazy not to, but have a little bit of professional in the manner you query them. 

  • remember to change the addressee's name
  • find out if you are querying a male or a female (Mr vs. Ms)--and yes, I have screwed this one up
  • make sure you are using their LAST name instead of their first name in your query--ditto on screwage.
In other words, double check everything before hitting the send button.

On Saturday, my daughter had her first Long Course swim meet since last year. It was a mixed meet with under 12's swimming along with the seniors, which meant my daughter swam a couple of events that don't even count for her age group (50 breast and 50 back), but it's a good practice. Long course is a relatively short season, but it's intense. If you've watched the Olympics, you've seen the distance that the kids swim in Long Course. Just stand at one end of the pool and look. It's a long way to swim 50 meters, without the turn. 

She did well, qualifying for Age Groups with 100 Free and 200 Medley. Both of which were BB times. She had a good swim with the 100 Fly (a B time), but was still a few seconds from qualifying with OAG's.

The one thing I noticed with the long course swim, is that the stroke technique is pinnacle. If you swim a 50, there are no turns, just a dive and a sprint. With a 100, there is one flip turn. So if you lose time, it's due to small issues with your stroke. 

I told her to swim hard, but I don't think she swam 100% all out in all the events, maybe 80%. The indicator is how hard she's breathing when she gets out of the pool. Breathing hard = gave it her all. Not breathing hard = 80% effort. 

Just saying. 

And, I hate to say it, but I'm not surprised that the pool guys still haven't plastered our pool. I've lost track of all the times I've heard, "You're next on the list." for the last THREE weeks. With the Oklahoma wind blowing dust, pollen, and tree crap around, this is what our pool looks like now. They had to chip the plaster away from around the fixtures and the tile, along with putting holes everywhere. Believe it or not, they had acid washed this three days ago in preparation of plaster. 

Once they plaster the pool, we can't swim in it for a month. I'm starting to wonder if we will be able to swim in it at all this season! 

I'm almost finished with this next afghan. It was made from a bunch of my leftover colors, with the exception of the border, which is dark green. I'll see how it looks when I finish piecing it together and crocheting the border, but I'll probably donate this one to Brenda Novak's Auction. Since it had so many different colors, I have to put it on the floor to see if I've managed to mix it up enough. 

I try to post more this week, but I'm finally writing on the Mystic Elements stories and want to crank out as many words as possible. Another goal I have for this week is to update this blog, fixing my links, and updating the blurbs on the stories now that I know what the stories are all about! 

That's it for today. Later, Peeps!


Writing 101 -- Telling a Story vs. Storytelling

Yesterday I met my friend Margaret and we went on a long walk followed by a quick trip to Starbucks before we had to go our separate ways. We talked about numerous things, but eventually when we settled down with our coffees we talked books.

Margaret was telling me about an autobiography she was reading about a cowboy's life in the late 1880's to the 1920's. I don't think she told me the name of the book, but this cowboy was more than just your average cowboy. She loved the way he told the story: his descriptions and the dialect. She said she could just picture everything he talked about and could visualize him as he told his tale.

This is where I pipped in with one of my rare gems of wisdom. I said, 

"Because he storytelling and not just telling a story."

Yes, my friends, there is a difference, a big difference.

In my opinion, every writer should strive to become a storyteller because the base of every good story is all in how it is told. Our job is to use the right words to tell our tales, but it goes much deeper than that. We need to be like the spider that snares a reader, hopelessly snagging them in our sticky thread until they are unable to escape our storytelling web.

Ever read one of those books that you couldn't stop reading, and stayed up until two AM to finish reading it?

How about a book that you can remember the story and the characters for years after you return it to the library or pack it away?

Those writers are storytellers.

But a writer has to remember that not every book will garner the same response with every reader. The key is to get an emotional response no matter what.

Learning the craft of writing isn't just about grammar and punctuation, it's learning how to inject storytelling into your characters, plot, and dialogue.

If you've followed my blog long enough, you'll know that I like judging writing contests. I'm not looking to break someone down or steal their ideas, I want to be enchanted by a story. Sometimes it happens, but most times it doesn't. I was lucky with this last packet to get one that took my breath away, but I also had one entry from a new writer, and one entry that was technically 'perfect', but was perfectly forgettable. Seriously, one day after I read the submission, I couldn't for the life of me remember the title, the plot or the characters.

Some writers seem to hit it out of the ballpark their first time up to bat. They somehow manage to become 'overnight' superstars. What most of us don't realize is that they've been honing their craft for YEARS.

And then you have the writers who gritch and groan that their first book is "the book of their heart" and there will be no others.

Well, my friends, I have to say that EVERY book you write should be the book of your heart. If you don't enjoy writing a particular book, why do you think a reader would enjoy reading it? That isn't to say writers love their stories ALL the time, because sometimes we hate the characters, hate the plot, and hate editing the same darn thing for about the 25th time, but deep down we LOVE the story though it is taking us on an angst-driven ride.

So how do we become storytellers instead of simply telling a story?

That, my friends, is the answer you will have to figure out for yourselves.

There is no magic elixir, or one perfect answer, just like no two authors will write the same story in the same way. Finding the answer to this question is part of your writing story, not mine.

Gotta go, because I'm finding my urge to write again.

Later, Peeps!


Oklahoma Spring

Other parts of the country have fared worse than we have with the never-ending winter, but there are a few signs of spring popping up in my backyard.

Happy Daffys

back corner under Loblolly pines, Phlox, daffodils, and Pampas grass (don't know if this survived the winter)

Sprouting Plants
Crepe Myrtle tree, Batik Iris on the left, Moonlight Scentsation Rose in the center, Daylilies on the right. In the back, Peonies

Hungry Fish
The floating stuff is food. 

The yardwork never stops. This weekend, I need to transplant my roses so the hubs can dig a hole for the bubbler. Then we need to fertilize and mulch, but we were hoping the pool would be plastered by this weekend. Surprise! That's not going to happen. I almost fell into the deep end yesterday when I was taking picture. Scared the bejezzers out of me! A broken neck is low on my bucket list of things to do before I die.

Time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature!

Later, peeps!


Weighty Wednesday -- Everything is Cyclic

Today's blog will be a mish-mash of observations concerning weight loss.

The good news -- I'm down a pound. Yay!

The bad news -- I ate really, really poorly after my weigh-in.

Which led to a hot flash last night, and made me think, "Huh, I haven't had a hot flash since we came home from skiing."

And then I put two-and-two together and actually got four.

Okay, here's the dealio:

These next few comments are simply my observations of the last eight months or so. There are no scientific facts to support my observations. And if there are are scientific facts, then I didn't use them to come to these observations.

  • Last night I ate poorly: 1/2 of an A-1 Thick-n-Hearty Whataburger and fries, chocked full of fat, salt, and probably a ton of preservatives. I had a hot flash. 
  • I had been interested in the concept of the Paleo diet, which led me to look up the idea of Paleo diet on Wikipedia--because you can find everything on Wiki. 
  • Paleo diet concept is very, very similar to WW Simply Filling concept, which is basically . . .
  • Food in its natural state is better for you
  • Raw fruits and veggies are better because your body has to work internally harder to break the product down into micro-nutrients to be utilized for energy. 
  • I had been having off-and-on hot flashes since last September, when I started gaining weight again, but didn't seem to care.
  • The previous week, I had been following WW Simply Filling technique. The interesting part about this is that it allows an unlimited amount of certain types of food: lean meats, fat-free dairy, fruits and most vegetables. No hot flash.
  • Processed or refined food is easier to eat and digest, which makes you 1) eat more of it to become satisfied, 2) is usually filled with preservatives, fat, sugar or salt, which in turn, 3) causes you to eat more of it. Therefore . . . 

  • Eating healthy for me foods will decrease my hot flashes
I think I'm onto something, what do you think?

Later, Peeps!


Smile for Me

My hubby thinks I'm weird--okay, there's no need to go into detail here, but he married me, therefore he is stuck with me!

Back on topic: When I go on my 4.25 mile daily walk, I tend to greet the people on the walking path: walkers, joggers, and bikers. Usually I give a small wave--raising my hand-- and a 'good morning' said with a smile. I don't want to interrupt their workout, but I want there to be an awareness and an acknowledgment that I saw them, therefore they saw me.

My theory is that if my cold, dead body is found, they will think, "Hey, that's that weird lady who wears a red sweatshirt and insists upon intruding into my la-la world by being cheerful."

Then again, there are theories that people who are targeted are those who won't make eye contact, or are so into their tunes they don't know what the heck is going on around them.

I'm aware. I see them.

In other words--I could identify them in a line-up. :-) **bwahahaha**

Anyway, I've been doing this for a couple of years now. Sometimes people glare at me. Sometimes they smile. Sometimes they lift their hand in greeting, but they catch themselves wondering why their hand was up. And, of course, many times I'm ignored . . . especially by women when they travel in pairs.

Go figure. Like I'm a threat to their womanhood. *sheesh*

Every now and again, I hit gold.

One was an older gentleman by the name of Ron. I usually see him walking M-F on the trail, and mainly in passing as we are headed different directions. Sometimes, if he's ahead of me, I'll play catch-up to push myself harder to see if I can make up the distance to chat with him.

Another gentleman was Kenyon who I passed as he jogged. He's a slow jogger and I'm a quick walker. I haven't seen him in awhile, but his workout hours might not be the same as mine.

Then there is the lady jogger who stopped to alert me to a bobcat in the area . . . she didn't alert the next two walkers as I followed her along the path, just me. I don't know her name, but she recognized me as I greeted her numerous times while we worked out.

And just this last Saturday, I met Jacob.

Jacob is a serious biker--he wears the spandex bike clothes and he's riding seven days a week. Usually all I have time for is "Morni--" and a hand wave before he zooms away. As I said, I don't want to interrupt anyone's workout, but I do want to greet them.

But this Saturday was different when Jacob stopped his bike to introduce himself.

I'm still smiling about it.

I'm not doing much, just greeting the people I meet along the way. And I like to think that my greeting makes them smile just a little and approach their day a little differently.

Over the years, I've noticed that nastiness is contagious. But then again, so is cheerfulness. Why not spread a little joy along the way?

Later, Peeps!


I Got a Rock

I got a rock this weekend. It's slightly over a foot wide and two and a half feet long. This type of rock is called Cathedral rock, due to the holes in it . . . I think.

The smaller hole near the top is the drilled hole, but we discovered a couple other natural holes which might be fun. The front left one cascades like a waterfall.

What did you do?

Hubs has been pestering me to let him put a rock bubbler in the backyard. I finally gave in, especially when I might be able to raise some bog plants, namely Venus Fly Traps. I need to get rid of those pesky 'squitos, don't I? I haven't had much luck attracting bats, so I'll go the carnivorous plant route now.

As it's springtime and my roses are just starting to grow, I need to get them transferred soon, which is why we bought the rock.

This is the location. It runs along the edge of the pool.

It's no hardship relocating my roses since I've lost about six minis over the last few years. And I have six to move.

I'll post a picture when the rock is in place and ready to bubble. It might be a couple weeks since we need to wait on the basin to arrive.

Later, Peeps!


Weighty Wednesday -- It's hard, but worth it

If you saw my Monday blog post, you'll realize that I went skiing last week. I had really good intentions of staying on the weight loss track. I . . .

  • packed healthy snacks for the car (sliced apples, baby carrots and cheese sticks)
  • packed a tortilla roll-up for lunch in the car, instead of a hamburger and fries along the way
  • planned all our dinner meals, which included salads
  • planned healthy, protein-filled breakfasts
  • planned to eat salads for lunch up on the mountain
I did great on the drive and the first night. But things fell apart when I ate salad on the mountain on Monday . . . I had a very, very unpleasant Tuesday. 

I tried to eat well. Really, I did.

But it didn't happen as I envisioned it. 

We got home on Friday night and I weighed myself of Saturday AM. 

I do believe the words, "Holy Moly!" erupted from my mouth . . . or it could have been some other words that aren't PG rated, but who am I to say??

So, I focused. I planned to eat as many unprocessed foods as possible. I did cut most carbs out of my diet. 

*on a side note: Carbs are not evil. In fact, WW stresses the need for whole grains in one's diet. But carbs don't like me--I retain water when I eat them, plus they tend to make me feel dumpy/frumpy and all around blimpy, so I try to stay away from them. 

And I started my two-a-day walks. These double walks don't happen every day, but if I can get three a week, then I'm good.

And on Tuesday, I had weigh-in.

I LOST 1.8 pounds from the previous week's weigh-in, prior to the skiing debacle.

But if you count the weight I was the day AFTER vacation, then I lost 4 pounds.

Look, I hit my goal before, but as I've mentioned, life doesn't stop when you hit your goal weight. It's a constant challenge to maintain the correct weight for you.

And I had let myself go.

It happens. I have a long way to go to get back to my goal weight (16 pounds), but I'm on the right track.

If you've hit a bump, or mountain, on your weight loss road don't give up. Giving up will just make matters worse.

It's time to fight.

It's time to get back to basics.

If I can do it, YOU can do it.

Later, Peeps!