Saturday, October 27, 2012

Countdown to the Marathon - T Minus 12 Weeks

Another week of training for the Disney Marathon coming up on January 13, 2013. My training log for T Minus 12 weeks (Oct 17-23):

Miles ran:  20 (5mi, 10mi, 5mi)

Miles scheduled: 29

Cross training: Cross Training x 1

Total miles run since training began: 223

Audiobook: Still reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Making slow progress, but progress.

General Notes: Once again not hitting the mileage I need. I have a lingering cough which is part of the problem, but really more of an excuse. I decided to go ahead and cut out my cross training classes so I can get my mileage up, but will continue with Yoga and Pilates.

I console myself that three months is still quite a while to get my miles upped. The end of November and into December is when I start to get into the real long runs (20+ miles), but I want to make sure I'm ready for those runs. I'm discovering that my difficulties are really more mental than physical. Time to get tougher.

If only I could figure out how to write my book while I'm running! Then I could run all the time.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Top 3 - Fictional Bands

A little Friday awesomeness for you.

Every once in a while I write for another pop culture blog: Sweep the Leg. Mostly silliness. We often do a Top Three feature, where two friends and I argue about our favorite stuff and call each other names. A few weeks we discussed the Top Three Fictional Bands.

#3 Stillwater.  Cameron Crowe, you slay me. You are second only to Joss in your ability to rip emotions from my core. Almost Famous…a perfect film. A perfect fictional band. 

One of my favorite scenes in any movie. Ever. “You are home.” Indeed.

#2 Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.  Who??? Oh, you mean that Muppets band that was cooler than 99% of most real-life bands? Yeah, I do. This clip includes the entire Muppets gang, but it’s still awesome.

#1:Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate.  Seriously, there was never any other choice for me. Eddie Murphy singing this song in Coming to America helped define the person I am today. And that my husband just calls himself Sexual Vanilla is just a bonus.

Mic dropped. Hands up. Exit stage right. Beautiful.

To read Adam's stupid differing opinion about this Top 3 click here

To read Anthony's equally stupid also differing opinion about this Top 3 click here

Monday, October 22, 2012

Countdown to the Marathon - T Minus 13 Weeks

Training at T Minus 13 weeks (Oct 10-16)

Another week of training for the Disney Marathon coming up on January 13, 2013. My training log for T Minus 13 weeks (Oct 10-16):

Miles ran:  13 (6mi, 5mi, 2mi)

Miles scheduled: 25

Cross training: Circuit Training x 2; Pilates x 1

Total miles run since training began: 203

Audiobook: Still reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I like the book okay, but it is not enough to keep me interested/distracted while I’m running. I didn’t have a long run this week, so I didn’t really get to much of it. But I will finish it, even if it takes me a while.

General Notes: Evil sickness struck this week!! Maybe it was the all the running in the rain for the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon, but I was coughing and snotting up a storm all week, resulting in my lowest mileage since I started training.

I’m also struggling with balancing my cross training classes with my running. Cross-training is Tue/Thurs and it’s a great class – really hard. But it pretty much means my muscles are shot for Tuesday-Friday. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get in the miles I need to if I’m doing this particular cross-training class. So I may have to reschedule that class for after January. But I'm going to give it a couple more weeks then reevaluate.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Road to Publication: Jumping Head-First Through the Open Window

"When God closes a door, He always opens a window, because you can't throw yourself out of a door."

That pretty much summarizes my life. This week particularly in my writing.  One door very definitely closed. I was not a finalist in the “So You Think You Can Write” Contest. I blogged about the insanity that completely overtook me my experience during this contest a few days ago.  I was shocked by the number of people who contacted me via comments, Twitter, or Facebook about how crazy they also had become during the contest also.

We unpublished authors? Evidently we’re a fanatical lot. I blame it on listening to all the voices in our heads.

But even as I posted about my utter idiocy SYTYCW experience, I was STILL secretly hoping that I might be one of the Top25, since the official list had not been released yet. So for four more days I still spent more time on Twitter than I did anything else. A taste:


(That's right, you saw the important one: can we please get a shirtless shooting match between Aarow & Hawkeye?? Pretty please?) Anyway, finally on Friday, the official list did come out. And guess what? I wasn’t on it.   My very adult response:

AND THEN, not two hours later, I kid you not, my husband walks in with the mail. In his hand is a letter from Harlequin.  I knew it had nothing to do with the SYTYCW contest, but I had three other partial manuscripts in with them, and I knew this was news about one of them.

I was sure it was a rejection, since it was in an actual envelope and very official looking. I didn’t even want to open it since I was still reeling from not making it into the Top25. But I did open it.

Lo and behold, it was a request from an editor for me to send in the FULL MANUSCRIPT for a book I’ve been working on (not the same one as for SYTYCW) called See No Evil.  They had read the first three chapters and synopsis, and thought highly enough of it to want to see the entire thing.

Now this doesn’t mean they’re going to offer me a contract or publish my book (want more details about rejections in publishing: see here), but it is definitely a big step towards my publishing goal.  I was excited! I was thrilled! I was like, What SYTYCW contest??!!

And that was about when Karma bit me in the… ahem, Karma bit me. I realized I need to finish the book the editor requested. It isn’t long enough or polished enough or… finished.  Definitely not in any shape to send to an editor any time soon.  So I’ve been writing like a fiend and will continue writing/editing like a fiend for the next few weeks.

And I will offer my sincere apologies to the lady who I derided in my last post because she didn’t have her manuscript finished.  Because… Pot, meet Kettle and call her black. That’s what I get for being mean.  (And btw, the lady who hadn’t finished her manuscript is a lovely and gracious person and quite talented. Well deserving of being in the Top25).

For me it’s time to refocus. Get serious and get writing.  Get that manuscript into the editor.

And try something new like lowering myself carefully out of the window that has been opened rather than flinging myself out headfirst. 

But not too carefully. Because where's the calamity in that? :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

So You Think You Can Write? Then Shut Up and Do It

Last week I was all caught up in Harlequin’s “So You ThinkYou Can Write?” contest.  It’s a competition for unpublished writers to showcase one chapter of a manuscript.  It’s open to almost anyone who has finished a novel and the winner of the contest receives a book contract.  The top 25 entries receive feedback from a Harlequin editor on their completed manuscript – prize enough in itself.

                                    I entered the first chapter from the novel I wrote last year: Unbreak My Heart.  Spoiler alert: I did not make it into the top 25 of the contest. Sigh.

But the worst part was not that I didn’t make it into the top 25. The worst part has been my behavior during the contest and results.  I entered the contest on Monday, October 1 then watched with an almost out-of-body experience as I went looney-tunes crazy for the next two weeks.

I don’t even want to talk about how crazy I was because it’s really embarrassing.   But I’ll give you the highlights:

1) I bugged every friend I had (or used to have, most of them probably unfriended me) on Facebook for TEN DAYS STRAIGHT asking them to vote for me in this contest.

2) About 2 days into the contest, I realized I could also TEXT PEOPLE and ask for them to vote for me on their phone.  Aren’t most of you glad I don’t have your cell number?

3) I went to the Apple Store at the mall 8 days in a row and voted for myself on every device they had hooked up to the Internet (which is 57, btw).

4) I made my children vote for me on their Nintendo games and iPods.  And told them to ask their friends to vote too.

5) Do you know that the public library has multiple computers patrons can use? Want to know how I know that?

6) Because voting was blind, I had no idea how many votes I had versus the other entries. What I could see was how many Facebook “Likes” an entry had (which had nothing to do with voting, but still… at least it seemed like real data). So I went through ALL 690 ENTRIES and wrote down the title of any entry that had more than 100 Likes. There were 120 of them in case you're wondering.

7) I got ABSOLUTE NOTHING done the three days between when voting closed and they announced the finalists because I was so nervous and anxious to find out the results. Nothing – I don’t even think I cooked or took a shower.

8) On Monday, Oct 15 when they began to announce the finalists, I checked my email incessantly even though my email gets sent to my phone and Tom Hanks announces “Houston, we have a problem” on my phone whenever I get email.  Still, I manually checked. You know, just in case it was broken…

8) I didn’t help my kids with their homework on that Monday because I was so busy watching Twitter to see who the winners were.

9) I threw an absolute fit when one of the finalists started tweeting about how she didn’t even have manuscript finished so she better start writing *fast* so she’d have something to turn in.
HAVE SOMETHING TO TURN IN???? I have an entire book ready to turn in! How good can yours be if you’re writing ¾ of it in 2 days?

And… scene.

Do the words: outlandish, preposterous, ridiculous, or absurd come to mind? They should. Basically I lost two weeks of my life to this stupid contest. And by “stupid contest” I mean: “a perfectly reasonable contest in which my behavior was asinine.”

It’s hard to watch a train wreck while you’re also conducting it. But somehow I managed.

Ultimately, I got over my disappointment of not making it into the top 25, and even cancelled the hit I put out on the writer who hadn’t finished her book. I had a Butterfinger Blizzard. A friend sent me an awesome link of some famous authors who were rejected by publishers multiple times, which gave me hope. Looking back on it all now that I’m older and wiser (you know, by 36 hours) I’ve realized some things.

I wasted so much time with this contest – not just begging for votes, but worrying about it and wondering about it and counting FB Likes that had nothing to do with anything.  Being busy is not the same thing as being effective. If I had applied this time to writing, I could’ve been 1/3 of the way done through another book.

So ultimately, I think Harlequin is asking the right question in their contest to beginning writers like me. It just took me a while to find the phrase that should follow their question.

So You Think You Can Write?

Then quit worrying about this other stuff and sit down and do it. Writers write. Always.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#61 & #60)

I have been slacking on my Sunday Showdown duties. Shame on me.  Too much running and writing excitement lately. But I will make more of an effort not to neglect my poor movies. Movies need love too.

Two sets of movies this week:
#61: AFI’s Sullivan’s Travels vs. IMDb’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
#60: AFI’s Duck Soup vs. IMDb’s Aliens

I had never seen Sullivan’s Travels and I loved it. It’s a screwball comedy that takes a turn for the serious as a rich Hollywood director and a struggling actress decide to leave behind their lives of privilege and try living among the poor and homeless for a while. A socially-conscious screwball comedy – how often does that happen?

I’ll admit I appreciate Sullivan’s Travels more for the drama than the comedy. But the ultimate moral of the story: comedy and lightness is important and Hollywood shouldn’t take itself so seriously – is a great one to see on-screen.  Plus this is the movie in which I discovered Veronica Lake was a real person, not just a made-up character in L.A. Confidential.

I also like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  It’s a quirky, unusual story. It poses the question: Will true lovers always find each other? Or maybe the actual question is: Would we make the same relational mistakes over and over if given the chance?

Actually, I think the real question this movie poses is: Are both those things the same?

It’s a love story told backwards as a man has the memory of his girlfriend erased. It’s a great concept, but gets a little muddled at the end. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet both give fantastic performances; plus there’s a stellar supporting cast: including Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, and Elijah Wood.

It’s difficult to choose between Sullivan’s Travels and Eternal Sunshine.  I truly like them both.  But I’m going to give it to Sullivan’s Travels. Although if you ask me tomorrow, I might change my mind.

So let’s move on to Duck Soup vs. Aliens.

Are you kidding me? DUCK SOUP  vs. ALIENS? 

Don’t waste my time. Aliens. All the way. First of all, Aliens is one of my favorite movies of all times. It is definitely the one I quote most often.  James Cameron at his finest. Action, suspense, romance, witty banter, a strong lead female character kicking butt – Aliens has it all.

Duck Soup, on the other hand, has the Marx brothers running around and acting stupid. In a country called Freedonia no less.  I don’t know how anybody could even find this funny.  If this is the best the Marx brothers have to offer, I’m never going to be a Marx brothers fan.  This movie has got to go.

As a matter of fact, I think we better nuke the whole thing from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

So both AFI and IMDb gain one vote this week, making the score: AFI -22, IMDb – 20.

AFI’s Top 100
IMDb’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)

The Gold Rush (1925)
Memento (2000)

Duck Soup (1933)
Aliens (1986)
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)
American Graffiti (1973)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Cabaret (1972)
Das Boot (1981)
Network (1976)
The Third Man (1949)
The African Queen (1951)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Chinatown (1974)
Unforgiven (1992)
The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Modern Times (1936)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Life is Beautiful (1997)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Monty Python & the Holy Grail (1975)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Back to the Future (1985)
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Prestige (2006)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Raging Bull (1980)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
All the President’s Men  (1976)
Singing In the Rain (1952)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Apartment (1960)
Rashomon (1950)
Spartacus (1960)
All About Eve (1950)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Amadeus (1984)
Titanic (1997)
Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Green Mile (1999)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Platoon (1986)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Sixth Sense (1999)
Braveheart (1995)
Swing Time (1936)
The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The Apartment (1960)
Up (2009)
Goodfellas (1990)
The French Connection (1971)
Downfall (2004)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Metropolis (1927)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Sting (1973)
Blade Runner (1982)
Gladiator (2000)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Toy Story (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
Ben Hur (1959)
The Elephant Man (1980)

Next week is AFI’s Nashville vs. IMDb’s City Lights. I haven’t seen City Lights yet, but there’s not too much that could be as bad as Nashville, so I think IMDb is going to gain another vote.