Starting the New Year on the Right Foot (or maybe the left…)

THAT was a good, long winter’s nap.

If you don’t remember (it’s been a while since I posted, explanation coming up), by mid-December, I was a wee bit of a mess. The book tour was fun, but long, and I got sick as soon as I unpacked my suitcase. This was my body’s way of forcing me to rest. And then my cousin died and …., well, it was awful. I spent the last two weeks of December not working. I cleaned and decorated and cooked and baked and baked and baked and slept and slept and slept and pondered mortality and the snow falling in the Forest.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I even made a Bûche de Noël (a cake made to look like a Yule Log).

Between Christmas and New Year’s we had waves of relatives and friends visit.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is the BH side of the clan.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic When the Halses came to dinner, we put out Christmas crackers that had crowns inside of them. Dad and Mom sported their crowns regally.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic My crown made me look like a dorkoramus, so my sister decided to keep hers on the table, not on her head.

New Year’s Eve was look and full of merry-making. New Year’s Day was sorting and cleaning and preparing new adventures.

I have to come clean on my 2008 Resolutions. They were defeated by the book tour. Specifically, the third week of the book tour. In truth, I rarely averaged running the 20 miles a week I had hoped for. I think it’s going to take a few more years of consistent training until my body can handle that without injury. I was able to write every day up until the first day of book tour that had a 3:30 am wake-up call. Also, I did not win the lottery.

I have learned my lessons.
1. Resolutions need to be reality-based.
2. Book tour is an alternate reality during which resolutions do not apply.

2008 Resolution Tracker Totals
Total Miles Run: 621
Number of Writing Days: 334

So, without further ado, drum roll … LHA’s 2009 Resolutions

I resolve to run 750 miles in 2009. (This is a more realistic goal than last year, but secretly, I really, really, really want to hit the 1,000 mile mark)

I resolve to write every day in 2009. (With the aforementioned altered-reality-during-book-tour clause, above).

I resolve to reduce my use of the word “should.”

On New Year’s Day, BH and I suited up and ran three miles in the snow to start on Resolution #1.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic 747 miles to go!

What are your resolutions?

Sources, Milestones & Goals… oh, my

There is so much spinning going on in the world of American politics, you’d think they’d all be nauseous by now. I know I am.

The one thing that writing historical fiction has taught me is that layers of interpretation can quickly distort a fact into a myth. Add to that the biased media (which swings both ways, folks) and political operatives planting rumor and innuendo in email blasts and via political blogs, and you wind up with a very confused voting public.

I imagine a board room full of the people trying to manipulate us screaming “Yes! That’s the point, you twit!”

Cite your sources. It’s the phrase we hear in school, it’s how you make convincing arguments with friends, and if you’re writing a historical novel and you’re challenged on a point, it’s how you defend your writing. This election I am using to wipe the distortion off of my politics. How are you seeking the truth about this election?

I finally hit a long-sought after milestone while running last night. It’s been a while since I dragged out the Resolution Tracker, so let’s have a look.

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 36 – Miles Run: 12.25, YTD: 501.8
Week 36 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 252

12 days until the Philadelphia Distance Run
42 days until the release of CHAINS and my book tour
71 days until NCTE/ALAN

This is Day 253 of 2008. There are 112 days until the end of the year.

Yep. I’ve run 501.8 miles this year. My original goal was to run 1,000 miles, but the injuries that cropped up this summer proved I wasn’t ready for that. So I adjusted. It’s really hard to find time to run on book tour, so if I can sneak in another 100 miles by the end of the year, I’ll be happy.

How are your resolutions faring? How have you adjusted your goals?

Stumbling and Balancing & WFMAD Day 14

Allow me brief rant about messing up.

Kids do it all the time. Teenagers are the lord and masters of messing up (though it makes them cringe and their face break out). By the time we get to be adults, most of us will do anything to avoid messing up because it’s embarrassing and horrifying.

We hide our mistakes, we blame others, we bury the shame by swilling beer, chowing down seven-layer dip, partaking in illegal substances, watching American Idol or Real World marathons, and pulling our hats down to cover our eyes. Because we feel bad when we mess up. We feel stupid and worthless.

But to be human is to mess up a lot.

So the choice is this – you either acknowledge that you are not human, which means you are an Immortal, which means you should feel like crap if you miss a day of writing or forget to change the oil in your car or blow off a date with your best friend. You’re Immortal – go back in time and fix it! And stop whining!

If you’re human, then you get a little break. The trick is to be honest with yourself, get up, dust yourself off, and go at it again.

Have you missed a couple of writing days this month? Had you planned on being published by now? Were you convinced that not only would you be published by now, the movie of your book would be out and you and JK Rowling would be taking your kids to Chile to go skiing in August?

Nothing wrong with that. Dreaming is the first step. But if you’ve fallen a little short of your goals, do not reach for the seven-layer dip and the remote. Dust yourself off and admit what’s not working. If the goal is really important to you, set another milestone (perhaps one that is a shade more realistic) and go back at it.

I have fallen way short of my running goals recently. I overtrained for the Lake Placid half-marathon and wound up with pissed off tendons and muscles in my calves and feet. I’ve taken almost a full month off from running to recover and I’ve spent about nine-tenths of that time yelling at myself. Which is ridiculous.

I”m going to try and start running again this week, but I know I need to be more balanced about my exercise. (Balance = a concept that eludes me; I usually go at a project a hundred miles an hour, then I crash and burn and wonder what went wrong.) I just bought a bike so I can crosstrain more and so my legs and feet will forgive me. I’d like to run another half-marathon in the fall, but I’m not going to obsess about it. The goal is to try and get in some kind of exercise every day, just like I write every day.

Me geeking out on my new ride.

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes without scolding self.

Today’s mindset: balanced.

Today’s prompt: Take a couple of minutes to evaluate how you’re doing on your writing goal for the year and if you need to recalibrate. “Write every day from now until December 31” is a reasonable, achievable goal. “Get an agent, score a four-book, six-figure contract based on this really good idea I have” is not reasonable.

Extra prompt – freewrite descriptions of clothing worn by your characters. Push for exquisite specific details about those jeans or that suit or her bra strap that tell us as much about the person as the clothes.


Counting raindrops and boxes on the calendar

Happy is the gardener who gets her plants in the ground and her tools put away before the rain starts.

I couldn’t help myself. I jumped the gun this weekend. The broccoli I planted will be fine when the temperatures drop below freezing later this week. It won’t bother the pansies either, though the hollyhocks are already trembling. The lettuce and peas I sowed are hardy enough to push through snow.

But I fear for the tomatoes. I put them out several weeks too early in a fit of blind optimism and while hallucinating about fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella sandwiches. Maybe I could build them little bonfires or quick knit them all a blanket. Stay tuned….

Besides gardening (in a cloud of punkies so thick I had to work with a shawl wrapped around my head), the other fun thing this weekend was our nine-mile run around Cazenovia Lake with our Team in Training teammates. I’ve reached my fund raising goal and my Beloved Husband is 80% of the way therehe only needs another $485. Our bribery offer of free books and other goodies still stands if you donate (scroll down the linked post for the details.)

Several important dates are sprinting towards us:
48 days until the Lake Placid Half-Marathon
60 days until ALA
146 days until the Philadelphia Distance Run
176 days until the release of CHAINS and my book tour (I got a preview of the tour plans last week, but I can’t talk about it until the details are finalized.)

Looking backwards now:
2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 16 – Miles Run: 14.5, YTD: 329.25 (gone through another pair of sneakers!)
Week 16 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 118

This is Day 119 of 2008. We’re just about one-third of the way through the year. Does that seems possible?

weekend away

I love my kids, just love them.

We snuck off to PA for the weekend to see Daughters #1 and #3, as well as do some research and speak to some college classes. We ate a lot of good food, hung out with the girls and their friends, and laughed until our sides ached. They were a blast when they were babies and little kids, but I had no idea how much more fun they would be when they grew up. Life is very good.

Thank you to all the students and professors at Millersville University who made my day there so much fun. (if you are looking for a college, gentle reader, you should take a look at M’ville.)

And so…. Davidson…. ::wipes tears from eyes:: … I guess I have to say “Rock chalk!” and summon new-found love for the Jayhawks. Let the Madness continue!!

What is the whole “rock chalk” thing, anyway? Can someone please educate me?

It’s been a while since I updated my resolutions. I’ve had to cut back on running a little because of a very sore hamstring, but it’s healing nicely. Might try to run outside today – I am really sick of the treadmill.

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 13 – Miles Run: 10, YTD: 258.25
Week 13 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 91

Back to revision!