Yesterday I was joking about the things I wanted to give up for Lent: laundry, dishes, that extra 15 pounds….
In reality, I take Lent pretty seriously. It’s kinda like when you’re strength training: you have to make your muscles uncomfortable to get stronger. I think we, as people, sometimes have to do things that make us uncomfortable in order to get better. So I thought about my failings. It took a while. I decided that one of my biggest failings is that I need discipline.* No, seriously. My life is a little too comfortable. I’ve gotten soft around the edges because my schedule is so flexible and because I don’t currently have a deadline. It’s easy enough to procrastinate when you have a deadline, waiting until that monster is breathing down your neck. When you don’t have a deadline, well. . . then it gets really easy to let things go.
I thought long and hard about the things I hate to do but that are good for me. I’m pretty good at getting my exercise in, and I’m improving with keeping track of my calories. I typically get the bare minimum of my writing done each week. My cleaning is, as usual, abysmal, and there are a few too many glasses of wine each week. But when I really thought about bad habits, I came up with one that ties into all the rest: sleeping in.
Y’all. I HATE getting up in the morning. Don’t believe me? Ask my mother. When I was a teenager, we had to institute the rule of 8s. I didn’t speak to her after 8pm; I left a note. She didn’t speak to be before 8am; she made a note. This plan worked brilliantly because we could each write each other cheery notes complete with smiley faces. Alas, the world isn’t fond of my system, so I need to adapt to the world. The world requires that I get up in the morning and get my first child up and off to school by 7:15. The world requires that I get everyone up on a Sunday morning and out the door by 8:00. The world often requires me to get up at 7am–or earlier–in order to make it to a GRW meeting. Instead of complaining about it, I should remember all those jobs that made me get up at 5:30am or earlier–those jobs were purely diabolical.
Now what’s the big deal, you may be asking. How in the blue blazes does getting up earlier help your spiritual discipline? Well, if I had any questions, I found the answer this morning. I got up between 6am and 6:15, addled from the glass of wine I had late on a Fat Tuesday. (Lesson 1: Too much wine and too late in the day. It hampers you. It feeds your sloth.) Getting up early hour meant I could have a cup of coffee and complete my Bible study before I had to get Her Majesty. Having my cup of coffee meant I didn’t lose my temper when I went to rouse her. Having that cup of coffee also meant I didn’t drop twelve things while I was fixing her lunch and cooking her breakfast. I was more efficient, which meant we left for the bus on time. Because we left for the bus on time, Her Majesty had time to stop on the sidewalk and blow me a kiss. Just thinking about that moment makes me tear up a little. That’s one of the polaroids of life, a memory I hope to take with me to the end of my days.
15 minutes early.
15 minutes early, and I even had time to write a blog post before I had to go get The Hobbit.
I wish I could say I would remember this moment and always pop out of bed with purpose, but I think we all know I’d be lying. That said, one day down and 39 (+Sundays!) to go. Here’s to discipline. Here’s to putting a dent in sloth. Here’s to making a difference with the little things, the kind of difference that allows us to be kinder to one another.
*True story: Last night I made the mistake of mentioning that I needed discipline to @DelDryden. She writes about a different kind of discipline. It doesn’t involve getting up earlier or sticking to a schedule, methinks. Maybe I should read one of her books and find out–with all that extra time I’m going to accrue.
P.S. I don’t blame you if you start placing bets as to how long my 15 minutes earlier pledge lasts.
My underwear and I have a checkered past. So, I’m not one of the Strut-Around-Buckass-Naked-Women, but I’m also not one of the Cover-All-Of-Me-Right-Down-To-the-Ankles-Women. I am, as always, pragmatic. I’ve worked out, I need to shower, and I’m thinking about the best way to take as few things as possible into the shower. So, I say to myself, “Self, take off those pants.” In the meantime, I bend over to get my brush and someone behind me chortles.
Yes. I was wearing those frickin-frackin panties that say HOT STUFF.
I half got them as a joke, and I keep wearing them because they actually cover my butt without showing off my panty line to the world. Maybe someday I’ll learn not to wear them in the gym where teenagers can snicker at the woman with the stretch marks–excuse me, battle scars–who has the audacity to wear underwear that says HOT STUFF.
At that point, what can you do? I grinned at her then shrugged before strutting my HOT STUFF self to the shower.
Wanna know more about my problems with underwear? (Probably not, but I’m going to give you the links anyway)
Here’s an old blog post I wrote about never being a SURE THING. It’s actually heart felt.
And here’s one about the time I wore the wrong drawers to hot yoga. In fact they’re the same HOT STUFF pair. I’m beginning to see a pattern. . .
Oh, and apparently, I can’t stop myself because I’m really thinking I might need a pair of these…
This is my first cover reveal–be gentle, please–and I couldn’t be happier to share covers for my agent buddy Kennedy Ryan’s new books with Forever Yours. It goes without saying that I can’t wait to read these bad boys! (And don’t forget to follow Kennedy at @kennedyrwrites on Twitter!)
Here’s cover number 1…
WHEN YOU ARE MINE (June 17, 2014; 9781455556816) introduces the story of Kerris Moreton, a foster child who has thrived despite her circumstances and is ready to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal. Unfortunately, the only thing missing in her would-be-fiancé Cam is the passionate connection he believes is overrated but Kerris craves. Lucky for her, she meets a man who lights her up like the Fourth of July.
Walsh Bennett is one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, and Cam’s best friend. He’s used to plenty of female attention, but lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Kerris is the soulmate Walsh never thought he would fine, but too bad his best friend found her first.
But wait…there’s more!
LOVING YOU ALWAYS (October 17, 2014; 9781455556861) is book two in The Bennett’s Series. We don’t want to spoil anything, so you’ll just have to wait to see what happens with Kerris, Walsh and Cam in WHEN YOU ARE MINE first!
Wanna know more about my agent buddy and Georgia Romance Writers compadre?
Author Kennedy Ryan has had several signs that she would be a writer, and finally circled back after years of gainful employment. She is a mom to a wonderful son living with autism. This is her debut novel and a percentage of her royalties are donated to families living with autism through her personal foundation as well as through TACA, Talk About Curing Autism. You can learn more about Kennedy Ryan at herWebsite, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Jamie Wesley tagged me on this and called it the equivalent of getting a chain letter on your car windshield. She has a way with words. I think she should look into being a writer. . . but I digress. Usually, I don’t do chain letters. I don’t know if I like living on the edge or have an unhealthy dose of that oppositional defiance disorder thing with a deal, but today I cave. Just for Jamie. (P.S. If I meet a horrible death, it’s because I refused to share that picture of that ghost woman who’s now going to come get me. P.P.S. I do love Jesus even though I didn’t repost that one either.)
All right, here’s how it works. I gotta answer some questions and then I gotta pick some
victims, er volunteers to keep this ball a rolling. I’m going to follow Jamie’s format because it was so pretty and professional and other “p” words that don’t often apply to me.
What am I working on
Um, yeah. Er, stuff. I’m kinda waiting on edits at the moment so. . . stuff. I’ve got an outline for book four. I’m rereading book one to double check my timeline and create the character bible I should’ve made from the get go. I’m writing a chapter for a round robin novel project some of my folks at Kennesaw State created. I’ve started two novellas, written an essay and a short story (both of those shot down), trying to stick to my blog schedule of one a week, AND most recently I’ve been working on a piece to read at the Listen to Your Mother Auditions on Saturday. Oh, and I’m mentally working my #AmtrakResidency application even though they haven’t made an application yet. I really, really wanna ride that train (and ride it. . . come on ride that train. . . it’s a choo choo train. . . but I digress again. At least this time it was a song.)
How does my work differ from others of its genre
This is a good question. With the first book, I hope I hit a sweet spot among literary, romance, and inspirational. The one thing you can say is that it’s clearly
southern fiction. I’m not the biggest fan of unhappy endings–that is simply not how I roll. I do have quirky characters, but I hope I treat them with respect. Also, I think my stories tend to go a little working class whereas a lot of southern fiction tends to skew either impoverished or upper middle/high class. I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this question, really. BEULAH LAND is what I like to call my Eff it book. I’d been chasing trends and trying on all sorts of hats as a writer but couldn’t seem to get anywhere. One day I said, “Eff it! This is the kind of story I want to write and I don’t care if anyone wants to read it or not!” Not surprisingly, it’s the story most people want to read. What can you do? You gotta write your Eff It Book because it’s the book that nags at you. You dismiss it as impractical, but that impracticality is probably what makes the story unique.
Why do I write what I do?
Aside from my Eff It Epiphany, I write because it’s fun. I write because that zenlike state is good for me and I get cranky if I don’t. I write because I read and because I fell in love with words a long, long time ago. In almost everything I’m a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. With writing, I get to dabble here and there and then use those experiences in a book. I believe in happy endings and a Higher Power–that’s going to assuredly be a part of what I write. I also believe that heroes come from unexpected places, and I think those are the stories I feel compelled to tell.
How does my writing process work?
Not very well. No, just kidding. I’d been muddling through forever until I finally came up with something that works. In the beginning I thought a work of fiction had to be pantsed (i.e. not planned out before written) or it wasn’t a real work of art. This was kinda funny considering my elaborate process for writing an essay which required tons of research, a week’s worth of thinking, starting the outline about 7pm before the paper was due, agonizing over said outline–including pertinent quotations–until 10, writing longhand until midnight, typing until 1 or 2, cat nap until 5:30, print and revise, correct and reprint until 8:30, turn in at 9. I don’t recommend this system. Kids, do as I say, not as I do.
So I pantsed all of the stories I wrote in high school as well as my first four novels. I did a halfass outline for five and then won a seat in Dianna Love and Mary Buckham’s Break into Fiction workshop. By that time, I was finally acquainted with Deb Dixon’s GMC and at least filled out those charts before starting, but I hadn’t thought about thoroughly plotting a story before I wrote it. I used BIF for BEULAH LAND. Now, I didn’t stick with the process completely, but it definitely helped. Skeptical? Let me assure you I had characters routinely surprise me as I wrote the novel. Since my biggest problem is conflict avoidance, sitting down and planning out that conflict helps me to have one. I have read just about every book on story structure I can get my hands on, and I’m still working on my own method, but BIF and GMC were GREAT starting points.
Other than that, I have my week broken down into all of the things that need to get done. I know when I’m supposed to run, how much I’m supposed to write, when I’m supposed to do errands, and what housework I’m supposed to do but will probably ultimately ignore. My general goal is 3000 words each working day. I’ll take 1-2k if that’s all I get. I know, I know. All the super successful people write every day. Well, I gots kids and a husband. I figure if I aim high and hit half of it, that’s better than getting nothing done at all. Like most folks, I tend to get more writing done when I have a deadline looming over me.
Now that I feel pretty good about the plotting and the drafting, I’m working on editing strategies. If you’ve got good ones, I’m always happy to hear them.
The next episode
Now I have to tag 3 people to carry on this tradition next week, that being the week of March 3rd. Hmmm. Let’s hear from Anna Steffl since she has a new book out, Seeking Solace. It’s got futuristic nuns, two handsome warriors, a love triangle, a relic–good stuff, people. And Nicki Salcedo who’s written the heart-wrenchingly gorgeous All Beautiful Things and always has the best answers to questions like these. Um, let’s see. . . and Katie Oliver since I’d like to see how my agent buddy harnesses that charming voice of hers. She has TWO books out, Prada and Prejudice and Love and Liability–and yes those books are just as fun as they sound.
Thanks for tagging me, Jamie! I had fun. Now let’s hope Anna, Nicki, and Katie are still speaking to me now that I’ve passed the chain letter on to them!
I can’t be the only person who feels that subtle lifestyle changes should add up a little faster and count for more over time.
I mean, when I was younger I ate all the fried foods. I didn’t eat salad until I went to college. I drank sometimes as many as 4 Dr Peppers a day. When I was in high school, I had a caramel donut and a Dr Pepper for breakfast, for heaven’s sake! Shouldn’t I get some credit for tossing my Fry Daddy, cutting out the cokes, and making sure I eat protein each morning?
In short, no.
This is why I’m avoiding my food log. Twice I’ve managed to get down to a svelte size–still not what SOCIETY thinks a 5’4″ woman ought to be, but a svelte size. Twice I’ve let my love of food pack on the pounds again. Why? Because I HATES it, Precious. You have to count every freaking calorie, every fat gram, every protein gram. (And, yes, I tried Weight Watchers. That’s worse than New Math.) And you get practically no credit for the yay moments. Every time I walk in, someone should say, “Good job, Sally! You didn’t subsist on nothing but chocolate croissants, coffee, wine, and Dove chocolate today! Yay!” Instead, I’ve heard comments like these in the past:
“I’m glad you’re eating salad, but you need to switch from ranch to a vinaigrette or Italian.” (Oh, good. Then my salad can be even more sour. I’ll be able to really taste that lettuce then.)
“You’ve done so well with Phase One (2 meats, 2 dairy, 3 veggies, 3 carbs, 2 fruits, 2 fat) but now you’ll have to switch to Phase Two–you can maintain that, right?” (1 meat, 1 dairy, 2 veggies, 2 carbs, 1 fruit, 1 fat) (No. Are you unaware of the fact I’ve been starving myself for the past three months? That diet plan can suck it. Where’s a damned donut?)
“You lost weight eating barbecue? That’s not possible!” (I did. It is. Don’t take my barbecue from me.)
“Steak? You’re eating entirely too much red meat. You need to eat more chicken.” (If I eat any more boneless-skinless-flavorless chicken breasts, I’m going to sprout the feathers that bird no longer has!)
“Wine? You can have one glass. That’s it.” (But…but…it’s Friday night…just got paid. Okay, fine. Ryan just got paid. Whatever.)
Just ugh. Remember the last time I had a donut? Me, neither but that just isn’t enough thanks to my almost 40-year-old metabolism and a childhood of things made with lard. (As an aside, I’m pretty sure the biscuits in heaven are made with lard. I’m hoping for a replica of my Granny’s kitchen, long chats with her, and tea cakes and biscuits and chicken and dressing and…I think we can see what my problem is.) I swear the rebel within just THINKS about what I’m going to have to do to get below the 150 bar and decides it’s time for beer and wings…STAT. Or cookies. Or a cupcake. Or something, anything.
See, here’s the problem. No matter what I do, I always see myself as this:
Even here, I see the stomach rolls (which most people have when they’re crazy enough to sit criss cross applesauce with poor posture) and I SHOULD see how happy I am to play with my baby boy:
This picture isn’t even the thinnest I’ve been (can’t find that one from being 24 and weighing 124) but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers. The only problem? See the comments above.
So here I go again. (On my own…going down the only road I’ve ever known…oh. Sorry. Blog post. Back to that.) I’m not going back to 124 and less than 18% body fat. That ain’t happening. I might have looked good, but there were some levels of miserable there that you’ll have to ply me with MORE THAN ONE GLASS OF WINE to get out of me. In the meantime, I hope for balance and healed plantar fasciitis because the only thing worse than trying to lose weight while exercising? Trying to lose weight when you aren’t.
P.S. Yes, I should’ve stopped with the Glamour Shots post. No, I can’t leave well enough alone. Why? Because this blog exists to talk about what amuses and/or bugs me at any given moment. Thanks for bearing with me.
P.P.S. Don’t EVEN give me that business about nothing tasting better than being skinny. If you believe that, you’ve been living a sheltered life. Let me introduce you to high end steaks, beignets, and a nice red wine blend.
So about a month ago I took some boudoir photos. My dear, sweet husband got me a voucher for Glamour Shots and said they were to “capture my hotness forever.” I thought, hey, why not? (Remember: this is the woman who took pole dancing lessons)
I’m not going to share all of them with you because a) they aren’t for you, b) I now know one should NEVER take photos immediately following the holiday season, and c) they aren’t for you. That said, I’ve worn less clothing when wearing a bikini so if you’re sitting on the fence, then go get those photos, girl! Ain’t none of us getting any younger.
Here’s the deal: they do your hair and makeup for you. If you’re a total clutz like I am, then this is a good thing. Although, me being me, the air brush makeup applicator only reminded me of how they use that same kind of machine in some funeral homes. But I digress.
The makeup artist worked her magic. My photographer was cool about the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure he knows more about fashion than I do. I think I may have disappointed him. Oh well. At any rate, I donned four different outfits including some casual shots that I could use for author photos. (And I have the handy-dandy sheet that says I own the copyright–you’ll want to do that if you get author photos)
This all went swimmingly except for the part when I got hungry. I managed to sneak out and get a sandwich before having to talk prices. Dude. The top package was $1000. After the voucher. Yeah. No. I don’t think so. You don’t have to know me very well to know I did NOT pay that. I may need to pay Gretchen now for the work she did a couple of years ago. Heck, Gretchen, this could be a very lucrative line of work for you.
So I’m headed home and confronted with the fact that Her Majesty still has a cold. I call the doctor and snag an appointment and my Bonus Parentals were kind enough to bring her to the doctor to meet me. Then, before my very eyes, a restless Her Majesty started what looked to my now experienced eyes like a practice boudoir photo shoot. PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I DID NOT COACH THIS CHILD IN ANY OF THESE POSES. I TOOK OUT MY CAMERA AND STARTED SNAPPING HER INABILITY TO SIT STILL.
Seriously. Take a look and see what you think.
I don’t think I ever did this pose…
But I may have done this one…
No comment on this one…
Oh, and just for being kind enough to read along, I’ll let you see my game face. This is supposed to be sexy. Maybe it’s sexy because I’m not wearing pants. I know I feel sexier when I’m not wearing pants. But I digress again.
So, Glamour Shots. That happened. Don’t worry. I’m not going to pull a Samantha from Sex and the City and put a picture of my derriere in the foyer. No one needs that.