Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Triathlon Tuesday: What Doesn't Kill You...

At the end of 2012, I was finishing Primal Instinct so I could send it to the editor who had requested it. I was also training for the Disney Marathon (that was coming in January 2013).

I remember saying to myself: I can train for a marathon or I can write a book, but I can't really do both. Not with everything else I have going on in my life.

Awwww... I look back on the girl I was eighteen months ago and cannot help but want to smile and pat her on the head. Bless her little heart.

I registered for the 2014 Ironman Florida (IMFL) race on November 3, 2013. At the time I was looking for a challenge and felt like this was a good time in my life to do something as difficult as an Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). And I'd sold my first book, but hadn't heard anything about writing any more for Harlequin, so I would have time to train.

True story: three days after I signed up for IMFL, I got a call from Harlequin. They wanted me to write four books in nine months.

So now, instead of just writing ONE book and training for JUST a marathon, I would be writing FOUR books and training for one of the  THE HARDEST EVENTS ON THE PLANET.

Please excuse my yelling. And hang on while I wipe the spittle off my screen.

I've been doing my best to keep my cool, keep my head on straight, keep my eye on the prize (really, any number of "keep my..." adages apply) during the last few months.

I have four school-aged kids (each with their requisite activities; and a teenager who I'm discovering needs more one-on-one attention than a toddler), a full-time job teaching college (although, admittedly that is not a 9-5 job), am training for an Ironman Triathlon (which currently takes 8-10 hours/week, but will eventually take 18-20 hours/week in August & September), and am writing four novels.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

People ask me a lot how I manage to get everything done. 

I usually reply jokingly that sleep is overrated. (But the truth is, I love sleep and rarely get less than eight hours a night. I'm very protective of my sleep. Seriously.)

Here's the truth about how I get everything done:
1. I pretty much completely eliminated television from my schedule this spring. I watched one show: The Blacklist because I just couldn't help myself. In 2014 I have sadly said goodbye to: The Walking Dead, Almost Human, The Vampire Diaries, New Girl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (although dang it, it looks like it finally got good), Nashville, Modern Family, and How I Met Your Mother.

Television is a time-sucker and does very little good in terms of stimulating creativity for me. Once I stopped watching it, I found I didn't really miss it.

2. I said no. No, I cannot be the chair of that committee at work. No, I cannot play sixteen different games of Words-With-Friends. No, I cannot be responsible for the entire bookfair at my kids' elementary school. No, I won't write that bi-weekly newsletter. Please contact me again after November 1 (once the Ironman is done, and my Omega Sector books are completed).

3. I get up earlier and go to bed earlier. This was hard for me. I liked my I'm-a-night-owl-artistic-type-so-I-will-regularly-stay-up-until-3am mentality. No. Now I'm getting up each morning usually before 6am and getting two hours of either writing or workouts done in the morning. I'm exhausted by 9pm every night, but that's okay, because I'm not trying to have my creative or physical juices flowing then. I'm just hanging out and chillin' with the fam. And I'm asleep by 10:00.

And the schedule doesn't end just because it's the weekend. Same thing. Although maybe starting at 7am.

4. My family is starting to work together as a team. I can't do everything, and my family is awesome, so everyone helps out. Kid #1 can do laundry. Kid #3 is an excellent cook. Kid #4, God bless her, wants to help as much as she can and often does stuff without me asking. Kid #2... well, he pretty much stays outside playing as much as possible. He's figured out if I can't see him, I don't ask him to do stuff.

Hubby helps out as much as possible too. And most of all, almost never complains about the fact that I constantly talk about stuff like chafing, blisters, core strength, and different flavors of Gatorade.

Would I do it all again this way if I had the option to go back? No. For the love of all that is chocolate... no, no, no. I would not sign up for IMFL for 2014 or would spread out my book deadlines further or not have so many kids. Or something.

But it is this way, and I've got to get it done. So I am. One day at a time.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy Heroes

May the Fourth be with you. It's Star Wars Day and I'm counting down my favorite Science Fiction/Fantasy movie and television heroes.

#10 - Captain Kirk (Star Trek) played by Chris Pine

Confident, charming, good with the ladies. Plus, a rule-breaker rebel. And those gorgeous blue eyes. Sigh.  I also like William Shatner's James T., but not as much as I was charmed by young Mr. Pine.

Best quote: "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I can do."

#9: William Lennox (Transformers) played by Josh Duhamel
I'm a sucker for a man in uniform (Army Ranger in particular), but one who can help lead the battle against an alien force, and just wants to get home to hold his baby girl for the first time... 

Best quote: "Yeah, this isn't going well."

#8: Coporal Dwayne Hicks (Aliens) played by Michael Biehn
Another man in uniform but this time in space (where no one can hear you scream). I loved how Hicks kept calm under pressure and wasn't threatened by Ripley's strength ("Show me everything, I can handle myself." "Yeah, I noticed.")

Best quote: "I like to keep this handy, for close encounters." (referring to his backup shotgun)

#7: Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead) played by Norman Reedus
 You can take the girl out of Georgia, but I guess you can't take the Georgia out of the girl because I heart Daryl. Sure, everyone makes fun of the rednecks, right up until the Zombie Apocalypse, then he's the one you want close to your side. And let's face it, everything's more sexy with a crossbow. 

Best quote: "If you shoot me again you best pray I'm dead."

#6: Karl "Helo" Agathon (Battlestar Galactica) played by Tahmoh Penikett.
Alright sure, he made some questionable judgements considering he married one of the human race's worst enemies. But his strength and selflessness (and granite jawline) make him my #6 choice. Plus I seriously loved him as Paul Ballard in Dollhouse.

Best quote: "That's my defining characteristic, the guy married to a Cylon?"

#5 Aragorn/Legolas/Gimli (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) played by Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies
 I know this is cheating a little bit, but I love the three of them as an entity. Aragorn's braveness and tortured soul, Legolas' intellect and dexterity, Gimli's wit. The bromance -- particularly between Legolas and Gimli -- is unparalleled.

It's this:

Best Quote: 
Gimli: "I never thought I would die fighting side by side with an elf."
Legolas: "What about side by side with a friend?"

#4 James "Sawyer" Ford (Lost) played by Josh Holloway
He's the bad boy loner with a heart of gold. And abs of steel. And a southern drawl. Who loves to read. It doesn't get much better than that.

Best Quote: "There's a new sheriff in town, boys. Y'all best get used to it."

#3 Capt Mal Reynolds (Firefly & Serenity) played by Nathan Fillion
Captain Tightpants, ah how I love him. Simultaneously everything a hero is and is not -- and very similar to my #1 pick. You can sum him up in a single sentence: I aim to misbehave. He never really did it for me in terms of attraction, but I'd be a crew on his ship any time. Which is really more important when it comes to a hero. Plus, he gets quadroople-zillion bonus points for also being Capt Hammer.

Best Quote: There's too many! Take your pick here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/iconic-captain-mal-moments-from-firefly (I'm partial to the pretty floral bonnet) 

#2 Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel) played by David Boreanaz

This was the start and end of romance for me right here. Buffy and Angel -- together, apart, love, pain -- was the reason I began writing romance. The reason I still believe in romance. I want to recreate what I felt when I saw them together all those years ago. 

Angel, the sometimes-reformed bad boy with a tortured soul. What's not to love about that hero? 

Best Quote: "If I was blind I would see you." 

#1 Han Solo (Star Wars) played by Harrison Ford
Anti-hero... hero... call him whatever you want. He has influenced my view of what is attractive more than any other character. Ever. Every hero I have ever written or will ever write has some measure of Han Solo in him. Cocky, irreverent, loyal, charming, tall, dark and handsome. The whole package.

Best Quote: "I know."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Triathlon Tuesday: Ironman Triathlon Training Updates

Time for my monthly(-ish) link to my other blog: Full-On Stupid: A Journey to Ironman. Training for Ironman Florida on November 1, 2014: 2.6-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run.

We're officially (EXACTLY, as of today, May 1st) six months out from the race. That's a little scary. I know how fast six months go, so actually that's a lot scary.

I am now ten weeks into my official training. I have either a bike, swim or run workout (sometimes more than one) six days a week. Right now my training plan calls for an average of 8-10 hours a week. That eases on up to 12-16 hours/week for this summer and crests at 18-20 hours week in September and the first of October. Then the blessed taper for the last couple of weeks in October before the race on November 1.

The YouTube video "Welcome to the Grind (Rise & Shine)" pretty much sums it up. I am pretty sure any athlete training for an endurance event has watched and/or memorized this:

Here are some training highlights from the past couple of month on my Ironman Training Blog if you're interested:

You Might Want to Unclip That Foot Before Getting Off Your Bike  (There are a lot of rites-of-passage in Ironman training. Unfortunately, falling off your bike is one of them)

Training In My Wetsuit for the First Time (Claustrophobia is not my friend)

Race Report for the Smithfield Sprint Tri (I officially become a triathlete!)

Race Report for the Richmond Tri Club Sprint Triathlon (Sometimes my brain just doesn't work properly)

There's lots more on that blog if you're interested in weekly training and nutrition issues concerning Ironman, but I won't bore you with that here.

Yes, IM training is a lot of work. Yes, there are definitely days I wonder what the heck I'm doing. But like the video says: Sweat is for those who know that winning is a choice, not an accident. 

For me, "winning" will be just completing the Ironman race in under the 17 allotted hours. I plan to win. And winning comes from putting in the hours now.