Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Now is the time...

Late in the month, it seems like almost everyone suddenly wakes up and realizes that the deadlines that seemed so very far away are now, like, almost here, man.  Cue panic.  Cue sudden uptick in workload for yours truly.  The problem is that I’m exactly like everyone else.  I’ve been noodling over several pieces of writing and now the deadline is like, almost here, man! 

Now is when the marathon of writing becomes a sprint. Just how fast can fingers type?  We’re about to find out. 

Now is also about the time when back pain and carpal tunnel set in.  Time to start juicing writers!  No, I mean literal juicing.  It’s important to stay hydrated – prevents muscle spasms.  Although, I personally prefer copious amounts of tea, liberally applied, at regular intervals.

Now is the time when the tiny proto-human you’ve been carefully nurturing like a hot house bloom looks up from a coloring book and says, “Sorry mom, work. Four more minutes.”  Gee, wonder where she got that?

Now is the time that my face looks like this:

So wish me luck as I sprint to the end of the month.  And wish my family luck as they get abandoned for fake people that I made up. 


Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, Tales from the City of Destiny and An Unseen Current.  You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.


                                                                                                 by Sally Berneathy

     I’ve always been a huge proponent of Mens sana in corpore sano ever since I first heard it in Latin class in high school. A sound mind in a sound body. Great concept.

    Unfortunately, practical application isn’t always easy.

     I’ve never been athletic. I was the nerdy little kid in grade school who was chosen last in recess sports.

     “You have to take her. I had her last time.”

     “No, you didn’t. You won last time, and you wouldn’t have won if you’d had her!”

     Big deal. So I couldn’t hit a baseball with a bat two feet wide. Couldn’t put a basketball in a hoop right in front of me. Those other kids couldn’t tell stories!

    But I did recognize early on that organized sports were not for me.

    Then running became a popular activity. I could do that! I could get up before dawn and run around the lake, put one foot in front of the other with nobody to criticize that I’d missed the blasted ball again. If sometimes those feet got tangled up and I fell, nobody knew but me! I loved running. I ran three miles a day. I wrote poems about running. I was going to run the rest of my life. Jim Fixx died while running. What a spectacular way to go!

     When I started writing, my running time was also my plotting time. As I ran through the early morning mist, along sidewalks and park trails, past houses and trees, the creativity increased along with the endorphins. I plotted new books, my chapter for the day, how to write out of the corner I’d written myself into. I had found the perfect exercise.

     I had great leg muscles, great lung capacity, great creativity…and bad knees. Eventually I had to have knee replacements.

     Knee replacements do not inspire creativity. Writing while in pain sucks. Writing while on pain meds can produce some very interesting…but not necessarily good…pages. I’m glad I’ve run out of knees to have replaced.

     I can no longer run. I had to find a replacement. On the advice of my orthopedic surgeon, I bought an elliptical machine. Much easier on the knees, especially bionic knees.

     But it’s boring. It sits in the basement next to a wall and never goes anywhere. No trees sprouting new leaves in spring and dropping those leaves in the fall. No houses with people inside, all of whom had stories I could tell. The only saving grace is that I can read my Kindle while spinning endlessly and going nowhere beside the wall that never changes.

     Exercises change but the writing must go on. Adhering to a routine works best for me.
·         Get up around 7:00.
·         Do thirty-minute yoga routine while listening to writing workshop CDs or, if these get boring, there’s always Investigation Discovery to get me thinking of murder.
·         Spend thirty minutes on the elliptical machine.
·         Shower.
·         Have breakfast of bacon, eggs, and Coke. Coke is essential to creativity.
·         Spend the rest of the day happily working on book in progress.
     That’s what I strive for five days a week.

     However, life frequently interferes.
Monday: Take car in for routine maintenance so the damned “Maintenance Due Soon” light will stop coming on every freaking time I start the car.
Tuesday: Take eyes in for yearly exam so I can throw away the reminder card that’s been sitting on my desk for two months.
Wednesday: Make two Triple Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Bunco group because I’ve been going to meetings for a year and eating their desserts and now it’s my turn.
Thursday: Journey across town to chiropractor and then to medical doctor because I mopped the floor after all that baking, slipped, and pulled muscles from shoulder to ankle resulting in so much pain, I couldn’t even catch my breath to curse.
Friday: Thursday’s injury makes sitting extremely painful. Must regularly change ice packs strapped to butt. Nevertheless, soldier on.

     If I’m lucky, I manage one ideal workday a week.

     Writing isn’t always convenient. It’s not always fun. But because it is as essential to me as breathing, somehow it always happens.

     By the way, I’m writing this while waiting at the chiropractor’s office.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Coming out of my comfort zone

I’ve recently attended my sixth Malice Domestic Convention where I had a great time. I came out of one comfort zone when I first attended this conference and stuck like glue to my friend who convinced me to attend. Also, I was traveling all alone to the unknown where I only knew the one person. Six years later, I’m all over the place and I like it.

The following year, I attended my first Bouchercon in St. Louis and once again, I was going into the unknown, traveling to a city I’ve never been to and knowing only a few people. I had a good time and there were moments where it got overwhelming with the crowd that I had to escape to my room. Again, coming out of that comfort zone.

At the Albany Bouchercon, I was asked if I wanted to be on a panel and my immediate answer was “no.” Going forward one year and at the Long Beach Bouchercon, not only was I sitting on a panel, but I was also moderating a panel for the first time. Talk about double anxiety. I was a nervous wreck right up to me sitting on the panel and then moderating one the following day. Again, coming out of that comfort zone.

When I attended Bouchercon Raleigh, there was a comfort zone I was not sure I could do and I’m happy that I didn’t have to address that one.

In February, I headed to Phoenix to attend my first ever Left Coast Crime convention and once again, I was moderating a panel and sitting on a panel and yes I was nervous, but once again, I’m coming out of my comfort zone.

And early in the month, I moderated my first panel at Malice Domestic and yes, I was nervous, but I was better prepared for all that needed to be done and it helped that I had met most of the panelists at other author events. Once again, coming out of that comfort zone.

Next year I tackle another comfort zone, traveling direct (11 hour flight) to Hawaii and I’m thinking I want to wade in the waters in Hawaii. If that is accomplished, that is a BIG coming out of my comfort zone.

So readers, have you come out of your comfort zone and done something you never thought you would?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Surviving Fitness Stuff


This month, Bethany challenged all of the members of the Stiletto Gang to think about and possibly write a post revealing our thoughts on “Author Fitness.” She specifically asked: “What do you do to keep yourself in shape for writing?  Anything physical (running, meditation, secret wrist stretches) or mental (journaling, daily free writes, writing by hand) that you do weekly or daily to keep you on your writing game.”

Because Linda has been ill with a nasty bug this past week, I’m posting for her.  I think it is a safe bet to say none of the above would be Linda’s response this week. Consequently, before I write my response, join me in wishing Linda a speedy recovery by leaving a comment.

My answer also is nothing.  It’s not that I haven’t tried.  I tried water aerobics with a trainer a few years ago.  When she said, “Raise your right arm,” I complied. Although I felt a sharp pain, I attributed it to being out of shape not to having just torn my rotator cuff. I pressed on with exercising for several weeks before an examination revealed a tear necessitating surgery.  Perhaps the morphine helped my creative thinking at that point in time.

Earlier this year, I signed up for a F.I.T. class.  Let me give you the entire perspective of this class.  It
was taken at a new gym that my husband and I recently had joined.  Previously, we were members at two different gyms, so we thought it would be nice to consolidate and actually go to the same place when we exercised.  Two of our friends accompanied us to the try-out afternoon.  As she and I were ambling on two of the many treadmills, my friend leaned over and whispered, “I don’t see our kind of people here.” She was right.  Everyone in our line of sight was buff, handsome, beautiful, and able to wear spandex without it clinging to their bodies.  Still, my husband and I joined and I even coughed up extra for the F.I.T. class.  When I arrived at my first session, I looked around at the other women and realized “I had found my people.” Even with their comfort and support, I washed out after a few months when I got dizzy jumping from pushups on the floor to jumping jacks and then dropping for ten more. 

Next, I tried a personal trainer.  He was kind, he was smart, and he quickly realized I wasn’t going to be one of those people who strives for a marathon or high intensity exercise level. I was assuring him my goal was merely to be healthy by losing some weight when I did a sit-up and something in my back popped.  Between epidurals, physical therapy, and plain old doctor visits, I didn’t have time (or permission) to exercise. 

Now, I’m back in the pool, but with my signing schedule for Should Have Played Poker being so crazy, who knows what calamity exercise might induce?  I’m not sure, but I’m not going to take any chances.