Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's up Wednesday: Weight Watchers and Chopped!

I have two big goals coming up in the near-ish future.

1. Lose 20 pounds by September 23
2. Become the 2nd Annual Chopped Champion!!!!

Don't worry, I'll explain...

I lost about twenty pounds a little over two years ago, and over the course of the last two years, I have put 21 pounds back on. When I did it the first time, I counted calories and worked out. I ate only 2,000 calories per day and worked out at least 4 or 5 times a week. It MELTED off!! But maybe it wasn't super healthy.

I'm a big coffee drinker, almost 1/4 of my calories was going to my coffee (because I put sugar and creamer in it) and I couldn't eat as many other things because my cap was 2,000 calories per day. Yes I lost the weight, but  don't feel my that my overall health improved as much as it could have.

NOW, I am doing weight watchers plus. I have a daily allotted amount of points and 35 extra points per week that can be used whenever. Daily points don't roll over, but your weekly points are there all week. The best thing about this program is that most fruits and vegetables are 0 points! The points are calculated based on fat, carbs, fiber, and protein, so the healthier the food, the fewer the points.

Also, you can earn points back! Say I plan on eating a lot this weekend, I can work out every day this week to build up activity points to cover it! And one week into it, I have lost 5 pounds (I need to average 1.5 pounds a week to hit my goal)!

And I actually DO feel like I'm healthier and have a little more energy. I've been eating more fruits and vegetables and working out everyday!

Now for the most serious of the two topics...Chopped!

My little sister , Eric, and I started this competition last year after my sister and I watched tons of "Chopped!" over the summer. Sadly, I did not win. Eric won and he rubbed it in all year long with the prestigious t-shirt declaring him the First Annual Chopped Champion.

What we do, is we go to the store and pick 3 ingredients for the meal we are judging (appetizer, entrée, dessert). Then we blitz the store, taking bout thirty minutes to come up with a plan and buy the ingredients for the two meals we will cook.

We define a time limit (in the show they have 30 minutes for each round, but we are nowhere good enough to do that), and cook! Then the judge tastes the food and decided who won the round. Whoever wins the majority of the rounds is the champion. In the even of a tie, the chef's must prepare a meal out of only the ingredients lying around in the house (this hasn't happened to us yet).

Anyway, I have been doing my research this year. I know how to make a basic soup without a recipe, lots of different smoothies, different ways to treat meat, and ways to cook root vegetables that scare me away because they look ugly.

I'm READY!!!!! Cue Rocky montage

Monday, June 24, 2013

Flash Fiction: The Hidden Door

This week on Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge. I randomly generated two subgenres to smash. I got techno-thriller and erotica. Yes, erotica. I've never written anything close to erotica and this was extremely awkward to write for me. It was outside my comfort zone, but so worth it as it's making me grow as a writer. We also had to randomly generate two things the story must feature. Mine was a locked door and a perilous journey. Hope you enjoy!
The Hidden Door
 “What are we looking for again?” Lisset asked.  
“Some kind of door, I guess. That’s all it says” Pete flipped through the hologram display until he got to the screen with an image of a door and a small description, ‘Behind the door, they have been living all along. If you find it, you must pass, lest you return to share the discovery. And once you pass, you may not return.’
Lisset walked through the display, distorting the image of the door, looming and secured with dozens of chains. “And how, exactly, do we plan on getting past those if we do find it? And don’t tell me we’re going to try to cut through them, this race is supposed to be incredibly advanced. There’s no way those are simple chains.”

“It’s not a bad idea. Who knows?” He said, pocketing his small bolt cutter.
She shook her head in exasperation and said, “Let’s just call it a night. We’ll keep looking in the morning.”
Pete dropped his bag from his back and began assembling the tent, his fingers expertly snapping the poles together, he had done this so many times that he allowed his mind to wander without fear of messing up.
He thought back to the morning of his last doctor’s appointment. Walking out of the office, numb from shock, just barely able to hold down his breakfast. The doctor told him he had 2 years to live before the cancer took him. 2 years to live the rest of his life. He spent weeks researching different options. Experimental drugs held no promise, the cancer was too far along for radiation or chemo, he had no option but to make the best of the time he had left.
When he was about to give up the search, he stumbled upon a small website of legends and lore. One of the legends had a small following, fervently discussing the plausibility of a hidden city occupied by an extremely advanced race. That’s where he met Lisset, that’s where he found his last glimmer of hope.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's up Wednesday: 4 things I learned this week

This is the first post in a series of posts called What's Up Wednesday. WUW will be exactly what it sounds like. What's up with me, my writing, the world if there's something particularly interesting going on.

For this week's What's Up Wednesday my topic is 4 things I learned this week.

1. How do I shut off water to my house?

We've been growing a garden. It's been real. It's been fun. It's been real fun. BUT, there are tons of things that just keep popping up for us to deal with in the yard work department. Lowes has quickly grown to be one of my favorite stores, all they need is a grocery department and we'd be all set.

Anyways, we've had a problem with the hose spigot, it leaks everywhere! We can fill up a 10 gallon bucket of leaked water just in the 10 minutes it takes us to water our garden! We've (and be we, I mean mostly Eric), have spent the last three weeks trying to fix it. It was leaking through the handle and we needed to remove the handle to see what was wrong...but you can't remove the handle without dousing yourself with cold water. So obviously we need to figure out how to shut water off to the house.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Countdown to editing my book

It's about that time...It's been 4 weeks, I only have two weeks left until it's editing time and so many things are on my mind.

I work a full-time job and devoted my after work free time to writing. Near the end of my book, I was on a roll with a writing commitment of 1,000 word a day. Since my book-writing hiatus started, I have been  doing my best to fill the extra time with value added stuff (and by that, I mean value added to writing).

I started the blogging class, launched a Twitter account, joined a critique circle and have been critiquing a lot of stories, began doing weekly short stories, and I researched a lot about the editing process and finding an agent. SO I've found myself in this little cocoon of fun things to keep me busy. Things that matter, things that are helping me become a better writer. And now I'm like a kid graduating high school. What's going to happen to me now? Blogging and I will be friends forever...right? I'm nervous that when I start writing/editing again, I will no longer have time for all these little things that I'm nervous to give up.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Why "City of Bones" may not be worth your time

I have a weakness when it comes to teen paranormal romance...or at least I thought I did. I LOVED Harry Potter, I liked the Twilight books (don't look at me like that), Vampire Academy, Maximum Ride, Beautiful Creatures, etc. I think I've always been drawn to exceptional circumstances, and the possibility that there are people who have powers and abilities such as those written about in the above books.

I don't think interesting worlds and creatures are enough anymore. The YA market has been saturated with books that appear to rely on  vampires, witches, and werewolves to make the story interesting. Again, this is no longer enough.

City of Bones, by Casandra Clare, has an incredibly interesting premise that I felt could have, and should have, been further developed. Instead, it felt like the story was built from a standard template that many YA paranormal romance books are following.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Flash Fiction: The Choice

Another Flash Fiction from Chuck Wendig. This time we were asked to merge the themes of two major pop-culture works. Mine randomly generated works were "Star Wars" and "The Stand." This was the hardest one for me yet...

 “She doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Jackson said. His nostrils were flaring and his teeth were clenched. Lana had been his only companion for years and she was being straddled by his new leader who’s dagger dug a little too far into Lana’s neck. A thin streak of blood traveled gracefully down, gathering into a small pool on the ground where she was pinned. Jackson locked gazes with Lana. He shook his head, why did she come here? He couldn’t take his eyes from her. She was risking her life for him, just like the first night they spent on this planet.
After the ship landed on Anthus, almost all of Jackson’s crew came down with an unfamiliar virus and died within hours. Only he and Lana were immune.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to create a mind map

For last week's Blogging 101 assignment, we were asked to create a mind map for our blogs. It wasn't super hard, I plopped some lines, circles, and text onto a page and began labeling each of my thought categories. I did notice, though, that others seemed to struggle a bit with creating the structure of the mind map.

SO, along with the actual theory of mind mapping and why it's helpful, I'm going to post about how to actually get a pretty neat mind map onto your paper.

Why is a mind map helpful?
Do you ever sit down to blog and just CAN'T COME UP WITH ANYTHING? Then this will be helpful to you... Say that I want to blog about learning how to write (which I am), I don't have to constrain myself to JUST learning how to write, I can actually post samples of my writing, I can blog about the other sides of writing that don't get as much attention (editing, getting an agent, writing query letters, things to consider during publishing, marketing, etc.)

How do you get started?
Easy. Start with a circle in the middle of the page with your blog topic.