When the Brain’s Been Hijacked

My writing bestie and critique partner, Charissa James-Weaks, said it best: Babies hijack your brain. Boy, is that ever true (especially during pregnancy)!

If you follow me on social media, then I’m sure you’re aware of my amazing news: there’s a Baby Collins on the way!

13 Week Ultrasound of Baby Collins

13 Week Ultrasound of Baby Collins (taken March 24th).

But I’m not posting to talk about the baby–at least not exclusively. I’m posting to talk about how pregnancy seriously hijacks your brain. If you remember, at the first of this year I made a commitment to get back into blogging and being active on social media and all that other jazz. BUT… the universe decided that after 2.5 years of trying to no avail to finally gift the hubs and I with a baby, and that’s when everything changed (and don’t get me wrong–I’m beyond THRILLED to finally have the child we always dreamed of, so my thoughts in this post no way lessens that or makes me ungrateful 🙂 ).

From that point on, whatever writing/revising plans I had, blog posts scheduled for writing, books to read…basically anything that wasn’t pregnancy, sleep, eating, dayjob, and hubby-related was out the damn window.

Whatever enthusiasm I had for my new blogging schedule, or my book and it’s schedule for completion became NONEXISTENT. I’m not even kidding a little on that. Between utter exhaustion and mood swings and the overwhelming excitement of a baby finally happening zapped every single bit of interest I had in my dream of publishing a novel. Cause my brain was literally hijacked.

So how am I going to overcome this so I can get the rest of this damn book revised (preferably before the little one arrives)??

Well, not quite sure yet, but I’m sure the first step is the simple fact that I’ve realized what’s happened and accepted that it’s totally okay for this to be happening. It’s my first pregnancy and I should enjoy it. If that means not being eyeballs-deep in revisions the entire nine months, then so be it.

So far the second step is shaping to be inching back into the creative part of my brain. For this I’ve just finished reading Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie MacBird, and man, can I just say that it worked in getting that part of the brain churning? 😉

Next I’ve printed up the pages I’ve revised so far in the book (about 150 total), and plan to read in order to immerse myself back into that world. From there we’ll see what happens, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to get back into some kind of revision schedule that allows me to spend more time away than I would under normal circumstances (because I know every weekend from now until the birth will be filled with getting things ready for the baby). So if that means the expectation is one fully revised chapter completed at least every two weeks should work, then that’s what it’ll be in order for this soon-to-be-mama to keep her sanity.

How all of this re-immersion into my writing-self will go is yet to be determined. But I do know one thing: Life’s too short to be hard on yourself. Give yourself a break, accept how things have changed (or how they’re going to change), and roll with it. Everything will work out how it’s meant to in the end.

Til next time! 🙂
Melinda

Gotta Try It: 21 Day Fix

21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese

21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese

So yeah, it’s that time of year when everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions, and the most famous one is–say it with me now–LOSING WEIGHT.

How about this year, instead of making that simple goal of losing weight, we simply aspire to become healthy? To change our lifestyle from a few weeks on a particular diet to lose a certain amount of weight to one of simple and easy healthy eating and daily exercise?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought when I first saw 21 Day Fix last year.
(Note: I’m not a Beach Body Coach so I don’t receive perks for marketing my favorite product of theirs).

What is 21 Day Fix?

Let’s start with what it’s not. It’s not a diet. It’s an eating & exercise plan that allows you to eat what your body needs in proper portions that’ll stimulate weight-loss when used in conjunction with the 30 minutes-a-day exercise program.

How Does it Work?

Let’s start with the food. When you purchase 21 Day Fix, you’ll receive not only the workout DVDs but the colored food containers. These are sized & colored based on the correct portion you should have of a certain type of food. The colors represent:

What you receive in your 21 Day Fix kit
What you receive in your 21 Day Fix kit

 

 

Green: 1 cup Vegetables
Purple: 1 cup Fruits
Red: 2/3 cup Proteins
Yellow: 1/2 cup Carbs
Orange: 2 tbsp. Seeds & Dressings
Blue: 1/3 cup Healthy Fats
1 Teaspoon: Oils

 

 

Based on your weight & current activity level, you will be provided with how many portions of each food group you can have throughout the day. For myself, I’m allotted 4 veggies, 3 fruits, 4 proteins, 3 carbs, 1 healthy fat, 1 seeds & dressings, and 4 teaspoons.
*For a thorough rundown of how it works, check out BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix site and watch the infomercial in the middle of the page.

Are the Workouts for Everyone?

YES. No matter your current activity level or how long it’s been since you’ve worked out or if you have bad knees and ankles THE WORKOUTS ARE FOR EVERY ONE.

The daily workouts are only 30 minutes and are designed to work every part of your precious body. No, there isn’t a day off, but there are two active rest days (Thursdays & Sundays) and a moderator. The schedule is as follows:

  • Monday: Total Body Cardio Fix
  • Tuesday: Upper Fix
  • Wednesday: Lower Fix
  • Thursday: Pilates Fix
  • Friday: Cardio Fix
  • Saturday: Dirty 30
  • Sunday: Yoga Fix

Is it Going to be Enough Food?

YES. I know the amounts appear to be super small, and when the colored containers arrive you’re like “OMG I’m going to starve!”, but trust me, it is PLENTY of food. You just have to know how to mix your allotted colors throughout the day. Here’s an example of a day in my 21 Day Fix meal plan:

  • Breakfast: Turkey sausage (1 red), oatmeal (1 yellow)
  • Snack #1: Mixed fresh fruit (1 purple), plain non-fat Greek yogurt (1 red)
  • Lunch: Roasted chicken (1 red), tomatoes & cucumbers (1 green), brown rice (1 yellow), 1 apple with PB (1 purple & 1 tsp)
  • Snack #2: Carrots (1 green) and humus (1 blue)
  • Dinner: Turkey taco meat (1 red), 50/50 salad mix w/ tomatoes & cucumbers (2 green), nonfat Italian dressing (1 orange), 5 oz glass of red wine (1 yellow)

YES, you can have wine IF you trade-in one of your servings of carbs. And it’s the same for chocolate! Pretty sweet deal, huh?

Where Can I Buy?

BeachBody’s 21 Day Fix site is the best place to get started with purchasing your kit. Based on my math (hah!) the program is only a total of $72.80 (that’s 3 monthly payments of $19.95 plus $12.95 shipping & handling).

Now, unfortunately, I don’t have before/after photos to share, but I did measure myself before and after my first round (which was in April 2015), and I lost a total of 4.5 inches and 5lbs. Now remember, a lot of the results you see online are from more than a single round. These results were from a SINGLE round, which is amazeballs! Just imagine how many more inches/pounds I would’ve lost if I’d continued straight into a second or third round.

Want to join my next 21 Day Fix Challenge?

I plan to start back with 21 Day Fix on Monday, February 1st. Are you interested in joining? If so, let me know in the comment section. I’ll shoot you an email so we can exchange information. If we have enough folks interested, I’ll create a Facebook page for daily updates and inspiration as we go through round 1 of 2016.

If you want more information on 21 Day Fix, or need some ideas of how to put your color-coded portions together into some seriously delicious and creative meals, check out my 21 Day Fix Pinterest board.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016! *cheers*

 

Video Fun Friday #2

I’ve had way too much fun enjoying these videos this week. Between a Sesame Street parody of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, bad NFL lip-reading, and a boat rapping to Eminen, there’s something here today for everyone.

Video #1: A Bad Lip Reading of The NFL

 

Video #2: Eminem Rap Boat **Language Warning**

 

Video #3: Sesame Street’s “The Hungry Games: Catching Fur” <– This is my FAVORITE by far this week 🙂

 

 

Video Fun Friday #1

I watch way too many hilarious You Tube videos throughout the week. So I decided to start sharing at least one with all of you on Fridays. So … welcome to Video Fun Friday!

Video #1: This one’s just too cute to pass up. I really need to post a video or two of my cats since they enjoy playing with water, too. 🙂

 

 

Video #2: Tom Hiddleston impersonating a velociraptor! LOVE this one! And I discovered this jewel this morning, thanks to Tracy Dawn on Twitter. 🙂

 

 

Do you have any fun videos that you’d like to share? If so, please send along! The hubs is already on this task, so I’m sure we’ve got a LOT more fun videos coming our way. 😉

Stay tuned for more videos next week! And happy Friday, everyone!

Are You a Multitasking Writer?

This past weekend I experienced something that could be considered the ultimate in multitasking: cooking while writing. 🙂

Believe me, I knew this could’ve ended in one or two ways. Either everything was end up “sorta” okay, or the food was gonna be burnt, burnt, burnt.

Bad news is the hubby caught me in the act.

Busted

Busted

Good news is the food turned out GREAT.

The even better news is that I managed to get at least 700 fresh words written during this multitasking adventure. 🙂

This brought the following question to mind:

What other types of multitasking do we as writers undertake?

I don’t have kids–yet–so my multitasking skills only go as far as cooking, cleaning, watching the hubs play video games, and things along those lines. <– This is at home though. The dayjob is another thing entirely. *smiles*

So I’d like to open the floor for anyone and everyone to share what other kinds of crazy multitasking us writers can do. What about you? Do you have a multitasking story to share?

On Candy Crush and Writing

Ahhh, Candy Crush. I wish I could say that I have loads of self-control.That I was able to not succumb–yet again–to an online-Facebook game. But … I cannot. *grin* I mean, come in, cute rainbow-colored candies and nifty power-ups? Why, it’s like Bejeweled. But on crack. 😉

Candy Crush_Level

Looks complicated, huh?

In any case, I was incredibly lazy the weekend before last. My sister and I held a Slumber Party at our house, and so in preparation for this female-only gathering, I cleaned my house top-to-bottom, inside-out. I ran myself into the ground to make this place shiny and perfect for my guests. So what happened after this party? *crash*

My brain was not going to cooperate with my over-worked ass. Nope. So I lazed around all weekend and played … Candy Crush! I passed about 7 levels that weekend–woo hoo–and probably grew about a hundred new gray hairs in the process–boo! That’s when I realized how much Candy Crush is like writing. 🙂

It’s Addictive

Yes, yes, yes. Writing is like a drug for us writers. If we’re not writing, revising, editing, reading, thinking about writing, or making plans to write, then we’re grumpy as hell. And when we’re in our perfect little writing world doing any of these, we’re do deep in the hole that we don’t ever wanna come out and see the light of day. Just one more chapter to revise before bed.*wields red pen* 

Hmmm….. that sounds a lot like how I feel when I can’t get past a stupid level on Candy Crush! I’m addicted and have to keep playing to win the level. Just one more level, honey, and I’ll come to bed. Promise. 😉

Every Level is Like a Puzzle

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, at some point you have to stop writing and take a look at what’s on the page. Whether it’s at the end of the first draft and we need to map the bigger picture to ensure all the inner-workings are playing nice with one another, or if it’s a bit of plotting at a time as we’re writing that first draft, or if it’s before we even begin to type Chapter One. We look to decide how to move forward. What scene should go where. What’s the most logical follow-up to the scene we just wrote? Where does the character go from here? How do we get the Hero into the same room as the Heroine? How are they gonna serve it to the villain? Ugh, why won’t they just freakin’ cooperate already?!?

Again, this sounds pretty familiar. Because once you start getting into the higher levels on Candy Crush, you have to start thinking ahead. *gasp* There are obstacles in your way like jelly that you have to bust away, cages you need to spring a candy from, chocolate you must keep from growing and taking over the game board–er, wait … do we really want the chocolate to stop growing?

It’s Frustratingly Fun

At some point we all dart out of our chairs and threaten to throw our computers across the room. And instead of throwing our technological best friend against the wall, we walk away thinking that we’re never going to figure this scene/plot/character out. Never! BUT, after a nice, longer breather, we calm down, and suddenly the answer comes to us. So then we run back to our computers and BAM! We did it! We figured it out and we can move on. Am I right, or am I right? 🙂

Hehehe … yeah, this is me and Candy Crush. When I have to play a certain level more than 10 times to pass it, heck yeah my phone’s going to find itself breaking against a wall. Just kidding. Sort of. But in all seriousness, I keep coming back to it, like I do with writing. It doesn’t matter how frustrated the damn game makes me feel at times ’cause when it’s good, it’s good enough to outlast the smaller moments of frustration that I feel at not being smart enough to figure out the puzzle.

Candy Crush_Failed Level

Grrr….

Help! I’m Out of Lives. Help! I need more Moves to pass this level!

Every writer and author needs a good beta reader and/or critique partner. Someone to cheer us on, tell us we’ve got the power within us to make our stories shine. Whether online or in person, we have to not only surround ourselves with other writers/creative personalities, but we have to be willing to ask for the help!

In Candy Crush, you only have certain number of moves in which you can beat each level. And to make it a bit more interesting, you only have five lives. When you run out of your lives, you have to wait a certain amount of time before accruing more. *cries* But, wait! I have friends who also play Candy Crush. And they see that I’ve been stuck for a few days on this level. *checks Candy Crush inbox* WOO HOO! Friend A just gave me three extra moves and Friend B has given me a life. SCORE!

Candy Crush_Help Your Friends

Do Unto Others

It’s All a Part of Our Journey

Every word, every sentence, every line of dialogue, every scene, every chapter, every novel, every critique, every beta read, every blog post, every rejection and every acceptance are the building blocks that make up our writing journey. They are what makes us into better, stronger, NYT-bestselling-level writers. If we want to win at this publishing game, then we’ve gotta do the work. We’ve got to learn, master, and surpass every level of writing craft–especially if we wish to not only draw our readers in, but keep them wanting more.

We have to know when to sacrifice for our passion, when to take a break and decompress, when to stay up all night and when to listen to our bodies and go to bed. And we have to make smart investments with our money, energy and time. I have an hour before work. Should I write? Or should I play Candy Crush? *ponders* Writing it is!

Candy Crush_Journey

Wait, there’s more levels?!?

As of this morning, I’ve actually managed to stay off Candy Crush for 2 days. Okay, well, not completely. Because I want to continue to support my friends’ addiction to the game, I’ve logged in via cellphone and sent them lives and extra moves to help their progress. But other than that, no playing for this writer.

The new rule in my home is: No playing Candy Crush unless I write 500 fresh words. Oh! That means I get to play today since this post is well over 500 words, right? 🙂

What about you? Do you play Candy Crush? Can you think of additional writerly lessons from this game? Do you have another game-crack of choice? How do you abstain from playing?

Fancy a Good Laugh?

Today I’m interrupting my series on Advice to My Newbie Author Self to stop, breathe, take a chill pill, and have a much-needed laugh. 🙂

Here are few funnies that have gotten me rolling on the floor with laughter …

Here’s the latest from Simon’s Cat:

 

This is a little long, but I promise you, it’s hilarious. Especially if you’re a writer … and a Star Wars, X-Men, and Avengers fan. 😀

 

I re-watched Wanda Sykes’s latest stand-up special, and while the entire show was awesome and funny, this is the portion where I literally could not breathe because I was laughing so hard. **Language Warning**

 

Oh, yeah … The Big Bang Theory Flash Mob! (Psst…look for Sheldon standing next to the couch in the back.)  😀

 

Hope everyone has a fantastic Wednesday! 😀

It’s Liebster Blog Award Time! Eleven Facts About Me

HUGE thank you to Tina Moss for this Liebster Award! 😀

liebster-award

The Liebster Award gives bloggers the opportunity to share a glimpse of themselves by sharing eleven random facts, and by answering eleven questions from the nominator.

Eleven Fun Facts About Me:

  1. I’m 6’1″ and I love wearing 3-4″ heels.
  2. The hubs is 6’10”–hence the reason I wear heels in the first place. 😉
  3. I enjoy tying my characters to a corner and forcing them into spilling their guts.
  4. My favorite band of all time are The Beatles.
  5. I loathe hand-washing dishes. Blech!
  6. I’m a music junkie and know how to play the flute, the sax, and the piano.
  7. I’m also a movie junkie. Name a movie and I can guarantee I’ve seen it. My all time favorite? The Breakfast Club.
  8. I once worked as a debt collector. Not the worst job I’ve ever had, by the way.
  9. I collect dolphins and Disney snowglobes. I even have a dolphin-shaped slinky. 🙂
  10. I have an insane love of avocados. Yummers…. *runs to fix homemade guac*
  11. I’m a deep-fried southern gal at heart. Only those closest to me get a true taste of the sassy twang that can fly from my lips at a moment’s notice.

Eleven Questions:

  1. Who is the author you admire the most? Jane Austen
  2. Why to you write (in five words or less)? Writing keeps me sane.
  3. What if your favorite genre to read? Paranormal Romance–gotta love those Alpha males. 😉
  4. Who is your biggest inspiration? My husband and just about every fantastic writing and author I’ve come to know and love via the online writing community. They’re all so wonderful and they push me every single day to be better and do better.
  5. What advice would you give to new writers? Patience, young Padawan. Patience.
  6. What is your favorite hobby? Besides writing? And reading? Cooking. 😉
  7. Are you a cat or a dog person? Both, but right now we have two cats. When the backyard’s complete and a fence is put up, we’ll have an Irish Wolfhound.
  8. Where is your ideal vacation spot? Trinidad & Tobago.
  9. What is a place you want to visit, but haven’t yet? London.
  10. What is the meaning of life in one word (or number)? Hmm … Purpose.
  11. If you’re on a desert island, what are three things you must have? My Nook with many books loaded (and an endless battery supply, of course), laptop or notebook w/ pen, and a camera.

And now, in the spirit of the Liebster Blog Award, I’m supposed to select/tag eleven fellow bloggers. However, I’d like to open this award to everyone and hope that you’ll snag this opportunity to share some fun facts with all us–and, of course, answer these eleven questions:

  1. Where were you born?
  2. What’s your favorite book?
  3. What’s your favorite author?
  4. What scares you the most in life?
  5. Describe your “happy” place in three words or less.
  6. What’s your favorite movie?
  7. Favorite TV show?
  8. If you were in The Walking Dead right now, what would be your weapon of choice: shotgun, machete, bow & arrow?
  9. Speaking of noms–oh, brains!–what’s your favorite candy?
  10. Are you a coffee drinker? Or do you prefer tea?
  11. If you could have dinner with one person, famous or not, living or dead, who would it be?

The Liebster Rules:

  1. The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by bloggers.
  2. Each blogger should post 11 facts about himself/herself.
  3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions that are asked by the nominating blogger.
  4. Choose 11 new blogger to nominate for the Award and link to them in the post.
  5. Create 11 new questions for your nominees.
  6. Go back to their page and tell them they’ve been nominated.
  7. No tag backs.

I’d love to hear from you! Would you like to participate in the Leibster Blog Award? If so, just snag the questions, copy the rules and share away!

Are You a Pen Addict?

Hi, my name is Melinda. I’m an author and a pen addict. *waves*

My obsession started when I was in high school. At first, it was fun making notes in so many colors. History was purple. Math was green. Journalism was blue. Chemistry was red.
Then I went to college, and the same thing happened.

Next thing I knew, when I was out of college and back home, I had a drawer overflowing with pens. I’m talking 20 different orange pens, 15 different purples, 10 different pinks, etc..

To rectify my pen addict ways, I cleared out my pen stash and took two large Ziploc bags full of pens with me to work and gave them to a co-worker. Figured her daughter might want to start her own stash. 😉

So here I am, seven years later, and I’ve apparently relapsed. I haven’t accumulated as much as I had back then, but I’m *ahem* well on my way.

Oh! And I’m not just a pen addict, I’m a pen thief! If you let me borrow a pen and it’s a smooth talker? Keep an eye on it ’cause it might end up my purse. If I’m in the doctor’s office and I find a drug pen I like, it’s mine (I totally swiped one with Viagra written on it one time 🙂 ). Don’t worry about your kids, I really don’t want them. I just wanna abduct your pens! 😀

Just to illustrate my addiction, here’s the stash at my office:

Stash #1 at Le Office

Stash #1 at Le Office

Stash #2 at Le Office

Stash #2 at Le Office

Petite Stash at Le Office

Petite Stash at Le Office

Here’s the stash in my back pack that I carry with me every day:

Stash in Le Backpack

Stash in Le Backpack

Here’s my stash at home:

Stash #1 at Maison (French for home)

Stash #1 at Ma Maison
Feeling Frenchy Today 🙂

Stash #2 at Ma Maison

Stash #2 at Ma Maison

Hmmm … that’s actually not as bad as what I’ve been told. Or maybe I’m in denial?

Your turn! Are you a pen addict? How many pens are lying around in front of you right now? What about hiding in your drawers? Your bag? Your purse? Do we need to start a Pen Addicts Anonymous group? 😉

Valentine’s Day Dos and Don’ts – A Guide for Writers & The Ones Who Love Them

With Valentine’s Day arriving this week – where the hell did the month go? – I started thinking on what would be the *perfect* Valentine’s Day gift for a writer. This was both good and bad. Good because I discovered there were many items that I think would make a great gift. Bad because there are a few reminders I had to strategically place throughout the house to ensure Thursday went off without a hitch in this house. 🙂
So I threw all of these little notes and yes-that’d-be-perfect items and figured I’d share … you know, just in case anyone wanted to maybe print the lists out and strategically place them in front of our spouses. 😉

Valentine’s Day Dos (for the author’s significant other):
  • Do buy flowers. They freshen up our writing space and urge the muse into creativity.
    • Word of caution: If your significant other’s like me and has a bad habit of knack for forgetting to water the flowers, you may want to opt for some lovely, bright, fake flowers instead.
  • Do Snag Us an Awesome Candle. Like flowers, a spicy and/or exotic scent in our writing space can also do wonders for our muses. Chocolate scented candles anyone? 😉
    • For tips on the best scents to purchase for an artist, check this out.
  • Do Get Us a Gift Card. Gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Amazon are ALWAYS welcome! ALWAYS needed!
    • What? You didn’t know many authors spend oodles of money at the bookstore? 🙂
  • Do Get Creative with Homemade Coupons for Peaceful Writing Time.
    • I don’t have kids – yet – but I know many, many authors/writers who do. So why not have the kids make a coupon book for their writerly parent?
      • Tip: Be sure to include at least 3 coupons for at least 4 hours of quiet writing time. Translation: Be prepared to take the kids for lunch and a movie for a few Saturdays. 🙂
Valentine’s Day Don’ts (for authors):
  • Don’t Plan to Write on Valentine’s Night. Unless you’re up against a deadline, don’t make any plans to write, be on Twitter, blog, edit, or any of that other writerly stuff. Simply enjoy the night with your loved one!
  • Don’t Even LOOK at a Book Until Your Date’s Up. Even if it’s a pleasure-reading novel, don’t look at it, don’t pick it up, don’t start reading it until after your Valentine’s night is through. If you’re anything like me, then the rest of the night will be filled with you saying, “Just one more chapter, honey.” 🙂
  • Don’t Forget to Leave Your Work Worries at Work. Whether you’ll be writing all day and didn’t make your daily wordcount, or you’ll be at the office having a stressful day because this and this and that and that went haywire, don’t bring it on your Valentine’s night with you. Leave it at home if you’re going out, or leave it at the door if you’re eating in. Find something else to talk about over dinner besides work if you can.

And that pretty much sums it up! Now I’m going to print this out and lay a few copies around the house in hopes that I’ll be writing beside beautiful flowers, smelling chocolate chip cookies via candle flame, buying the next book in Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series, and doing all of that in perfect peace while the kitties are locked up with the hubs for a few hours on Saturday.

Yup … for authors it’s dream big or go home! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
Melinda