Move It Mama Monday! Does the new EASA work?

It’s been over four weeks since I got the new EA Sports Active for Christmas. Since then, I’ve started the 6-Week Challenge (at medium intensity level) and am now half-way through that. Am I seeing any results?

Yes. Since Christmas, I’ve lost four pounds and I can definitely see more muscle definition. Even better, the new EASA doesn’t seem intent on destroying my knees like the old version was. A lot of the exercises that caused me so much pain have either been removed from the game or modified. So yes, this game definitely seems to be working for me.

However, I don’t believe I’m getting those results through EASA alone. Keep in mind, we are now past the holidays, which means I am also past the holiday eating. All those cookies, cakes, pies, candies, plus meat heavy meals are now three weeks behind me. I’ve since switched to eating two vegetarian meals a day, plus I’m drinking a lot more water. I’m not perfect at following these two rules, but I do them often enough that I think they’ve also had an effect on my health and weight. Plus I continue to take water aerobics classes and karate classes, both twice a week.

I think what’s worked more than anything is that I’m settled back into my old routine, with a little more emphasis on eating healthy and getting more exercise. Not being able to determine how the day would go over the holidays often meant I had no idea when or what I would be eating, so I ate a lot of junk and high fat meals as a result. I’d love to have more control over my schedule next year, if only so I could control my eating better. To do so, however, will probably mean I’ll have to make some changes to my schedule over all. Celebrating the holidays, in many ways, is like taking on an extra part-time job from October through December. To do all the things I’d like to do for the holidays – baking, decorating, sewing, parties, concerts, etc. – I’d have to cut back on my regular work during those months. It’s something I’ll have to think about before next October rolls around.

In any event, I’m enjoying the new EASA and the new eating habits. So far, I’ve cooked three vegetarian soups that did not suck, which means I’d cook and eat them again. In fact one of those soups, the carrot puree soup, was so good I’d make that any time and enjoy it.

So there you go, the secret to weight loss; healthy eating, plenty of water, regular exercise and a normal, livable schedule. Am I a genius for figuring out the obvious or what?

ACW Episode 51 – Cleaning up and an announcement

To be honest, the kids did not throw Baby Jesus.

They threw the Virgin Mary. And they didn’t throw her so much as they smacked her around then threw her across the room during a game of “Pirates, Ninjas and Zombies,” wherein the girls use all their Fischer Price Little People, including the Nativity set, to act out some sort of bizarre post-apocalyptic scenario on the living room floor.

Now I know it seems strange that I, the family Buddhist/atheist, would be the one to complain about tossing Bible figures around the house, but you must understand. While I am not a practitioner of any religion (and Buddhism is not religion, since it makes no mention of a deity), I do feel it’s only polite to show respect for those who do believe, and to not desecrate the symbols of their religion. A lot of wars could be averted if only we all showed each other a bit of respect, regardless of each other’s race, creed, gender, sexual preference, political persuasion and religion.

Besides, getting hit in the back of the head by a flying Fischer Price Virgin Mary really hurts.

Starting this Thursday, I will begin posting episodes in a new series. Well, actually it’s an old series, something I drew waaaaaay back in the day before there were such things as “web” comics. Keep your eyes peeled, watch this space, and stay tuned. On Thursday, Rats! begins.


Move It Mama Monday! New Year’s Goals

Since I spent last Monday babbling about the wonders of the new EA Sports Active game for the Wii, I thought I should take today to blog about my fitness goals for 2010. These are pretty much just a continuation of what I’ve been doing already, with a few small changes. Without further ado, here’s the plan for this year.

Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day – I usually eat at least 3 servings, but I really need to up it to 5. Also I need to get in a little more variety, so I’ll be trying things I normally turned my nose up at. I’ve already shocked the hell out of my best friend by eating carrots cooked in homemade split pea soup. We’ll see if I can shock her some more with brocolli, brussel sprouts, artichokes, etc.

Eat 1-2 vegetarian meals a day – This goes with the above goal. I made myself sick over the holidays by eating too many fatty foods, mainly greasy meat dishes. And when I say sick, I mean painfully sick. I had my gall bladder removed 12 years ago, so I don’t process a lot of fat real well. Thus when I overwhelm my digestive system with fatty foods, I get shooting, stabbing pains all through my abdomen and lower chest area. Naturally, the longer I’ve been without a gall bladder, the less I am able to deal with a lot of grease and fat in my meals. Since it royally sucks to spend 3 or more days doubled over in agony, I’m going to do my damnedest to avoid being in that position ever again.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day – I need to research this one a bit to see what amount of water qualifies as a “glass.” Is it 8 oz.? More? I usually drink from these huge glasses that hold about 16 oz., so I figure if I get 4-5 big glasses of water a day, I’ll be good, but I’ll have to check.

Attend 2-4 karate classes a week – I’m a second degree black belt, and I need to get to class on a regular basis, especially if I want to eventually reach third degree. The dojo I go to offers day time classes, including weapons class, and has just added a daytime black belt class. This means if I show up on Tuesdays and Thursdays on a regular basis, I can get in 4 hours easily.

Attend water aerobics twice a week – I’m loving the water aerobics, especially since it seems to strengthen my lousy knees. I don’t think this will be a hard goal to meet, given how much fun I’m having.

Complete at least 1 EASA 6-week challenge – I’ve already started the challenge and am finishing up my second week. Unlike the previous version of EASA, the new version doesn’t seem to destroy my knees. The challenge requires I do 4 sessions a week, which is a little challenging to fit into my schedule (but I guess that’s part of why they call it a 6-week challenge). However, this ties in perfectly with the next goal, which is…

Complete 3-5 evening workouts a week – these evening workouts are going to be mini-workouts, 20 minutes or so in length. The average EASA workout is 22 minutes, so this works just fine. When I’m not doing the EASA workouts in the evening, I’m going to fill in with Wii Fit Plus and Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing. My Fitness Coach is going on the shelf for a while, unless I’m really craving a yoga workout. While it is a very effective workout, I dislike the aerobics style warm up, and just like the old EASA, I’m finding a lot of the leg exercises are killing my knees.

Go to bed no later than 10:30PM – I get up at 4:45AM most mornings, so I really need to get to bed by 10, 10:30 at the latest. The more sleep I get, the better able I am to get up at the ass-crack of dawn the next morning and get a jump on my day. This really matters to me.

Get outside 2-3 times a week, for at least 30 minutes – gardening, yard work, playing games with the kids, taking a walk. I need to do all these things. Of course, it’s unseasonably cold the past coupel of weeks, so I’ve been a real weenie about this one so far. I’m thinking that maybe what I could do is leave the house half an hour early to pick up the kids and use that time to go for a brisk walk or to do some quick clean up around the yard. I’d rather do it after the kids get home, but my resolve always seems to break down when we walk back inside to get hot cocoa and a snack. You see my problem. In any event, I plan to pull out my book on herb gardening and start looking at plans for spring yardwork and gardening.

Get a physical, annual pelvic exam and pap smear, mammogram, dental exam, and eye exam – VERY IMPORTANT. I don’t want to get caught by surprise by any diseases or health conditions, and this is the best way to avoid that. I’ve already had the pelvic exam and pap smear this month. My physical is today. My mammogram is next month, and the dental exam is too. I still need to schedule the eye exam, but I will get that done this week.

And that’s pretty much my goals for 2010. I realize it’s a big list, but keep in mind, a lot of this I was already doing or had a good start on last year. Note I did not list losing weight. Yes, I weigh 10 lbs more than I would like, but I’m not going to beat myself up about that. I’d rather focus on taking care of myself, eating right, and getting plenty of activity than on counting calories and fighting with my weight. Maybe this will be enough to take care of the weight, maybe this will just keep my healthy in other ways. In any event, I’m NOT giving up the occasional dessert and my Friday night pizza.

Have fun this week, and I’ll let you know next week how things are going.

Writing Wednesday – Writing Resolutions for 2010

Once upon a time, when I had more time on my hands, I used to make a list at the beginning of every quarter of what I had accomplished the previous three months and what I wanted to do in the next three months. I also wrote up a detailed plan on how to do just that. I don’t have that kind of free time any more, and besides, the detailed plans never really worked like I thought the would, nor did I accomplish everything I set out to do. But I still like to stop and take a look at least once a year at where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Last year, I hit over 100 stories written for the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast. Story 119 airs this Friday. That’s a hell of a lot of stories to have written in 2 1/2 years. And that doesn’t even include things I wrote that didn’t air on the podcast. I think all in all, in the last 2 1/2 years I’ve written nearly 130, maybe 140 stories. That’s a LOT of writing.

I started up the Cynical Woman cartoon back in 2008 and kept it going through 2009. Since the start of the school year, I’ve been able to get back into drawing one cartoon a week, and now have 50 cartoons under my belt. That’s a lot of cartooning.

Also this past year, I released two short story collections – Future Perfect and Welcome to Mundania (see the sidebar on the right for buy links *hint, hint*). Again, more writing, and more publication credits to my name.

I had a handful of short stories published this year. One in Coming Together: Al Fresco, one in Wired Hard 4, one in Nerdvana… I’m sure there were others, but with so much writing going on, it’s hard to keep track. Oh, and my first book, Demon By Day, finally got pirated. Nothings says “I’ve made it” in the writing business like having someone steal your book and distribute it to the masses without paying you a dime.

Fact is, I did a hell of a lot last year. Enough to make me think that I really have reached the next level of my career, the one where I’m past the unknown starving artist phase and am now just a starving artist. With that in mind, I now turn my attention to 2010 and the next stage of my career (i.e. not-so-starving artist). Here’s what I’d like to do for 2010…

Resolution #1 – Continue to produce the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast for at least one more year… then do something new. I’m to the point where I’ve written so many stories for the podcast, I’m having a hard time keeping track of them all. That tells me that maybe it’s time for a change. Come the end of September, I’ll have reached the 3-year mark, and will probably have more than 150 episodes written and produced. That would be a good time to change gears, I think. Heat Flash won’t go away entirely, but it may go on hiatus for a couple months and then come back as something a little different.

Resolution #2 – Continue to draw one Cynical Woman cartoon a week. I love the cartoon. It’s a lot of work, an entire work day out of my week in fact, but I keep hoping that if I continue, I’ll get faster and the work will get easier. Even if it doesn’t, I still love doing the cartoon. Plus I think it’s a great way to promote all my other work.

Resolution #3 – Start writing in the evenings after the girls have gone to bed. Sunday through Thursday evenings from 8-10PM are now officially designated as writing hours. I’m still getting into the habit so I haven’t gotten very far with it yet, but I do plan to have those two hours set for nothing but writing by the end of the month. November’s PerNoFiMo challenge showed me I could turn out quite a bit of writing in the evenings if I set my mind to it, and I have books I want to write. Speaking of which…

Resolution #4 – Finish the first draft of Whip It! by August 2010. I would like to have it done sooner, but I need to do a lot of research on this project. It’s a contemporary erotica novel about a chef named Lucy who has serious self-esteem issues. Of course, she also fantasizes about being a dominatrix. Oh, and she’s been framed for poisoning a food critic. I’ve written almost 80K words so far, and parts of it are hysterically funny. I really need to finish it, because then I can move onto…

Resolution #5 – Finish writing “The Little Death” or “The Cup Bearer” this year. Two more erotica novels I started but didn’t finish. “The Little Death” is more sci-fi noir than erotica (think Blade Runner meets Wuthering Heights). “The Cup Bearer” is a retelling of the myth of Ganymede, the beautiful boy Zeus stole and made his personal servant in Olympus. I love both stories, and want to get to one of them some time this summer.

Resolution #6 – Send out to 4 review sites on the first Friday of every month. I’ve gotten a couple of good reviews recently, and need to put in for more, especially now that I have three books to my name. I try to do this weekly, but it never happens, so I’m just making that first Friday a promo day for the month and getting all my reviews sent out that day.

Resolution #7 – This is one I’m already working on. I’ve been asked to write a novella for an anthology, and am already in the reading/researching/planning stage. This is what I’ll be spending my evenings working on for the next two months. I’m very excited about this, since this was a direct invitation to write for this project.

Resolution #8 – Write another short story for Coming Together. I’d like to submit at least one short story a year for Coming Together, because I think what Alessia Brio is doing is wonderful. I don’t know of anyone else who does what she does. All proceeds for the Coming Together books go to charity. I have a special story in mind for one anthology, and it’s so naughty I think Alessia will like it 😉

Resolution #9 – Promote where the readers are. I’ve said it before. I hate Yahoo groups for promotion. I’d rather find other forums to get involved in, where I can meet people, get to know them, let them get to know me, and maybe get them interested in my work. This kind of promotion is a serious investment of time. It means becoming an active part of a community. I’ve got one place in mind, Y! Gallery, which is a yaoi art forum. I can enjoy the artwork, make comments, talk to other artists and writers, etc. I see no bad in that. This would also give me a reason to do more artwork as well, and maybe indulge in some fun writing that has nothing to do with the drive to get published. Again, I see no bad in any of that. I’ll see what happens with Y! Gallery this year (and yes, I’m limiting myself to just the one forum, because with 9 resolutions, I don’t need to add anything more to my plate).

So there you have it. My New Year’s writing resolutions. Quite a list, ain’t it? But I think somehow it will get done.

So, does anyone have any writing resolutions they’d like to share? Let me know in the comments section!

Episode 50 – We have to ask…

No, seriously. This question has been asked repeatedly by both girls since Christmas morning. Oy vey…

And yes, Princess did get an archery set. If you ever come over to visit, watch yourself!

Hope everybody had a good holiday. My New Year’s resolutions for cartooning are to continue to turn out one Adventures of Cynical Woman cartoon a week, and to dig out an old project to share. More on that later this week (assuming I can find said old project).

Sunday Contentments – the party’s over!

It is very late on Sunday, much later than I normally post my Sunday Contentments, but I had a busy, busy day at the tail end of two busy, busy weeks. As predicted, the holidays hit like a freight train, though I think this year I gave myself more of a break than on previous years. I did plenty of baking and cooking, saw all my friends and family, and hit a few of the local holiday attractions with the Hubster and the kids. We even managed to see an exhibit on Egyptian mummies at the Chrysler Museum today to close out our whirlwind holiday break. And now…

I can finally take a break from the break.

I am more than ready to slow down. My sleep and work schedule have been all screwed up since the girls got out of school. I have stayed up too late and slept in too often. Now I’ve got to drag myself back into my routines and get cracking. I have a novella to write, a podcast to keep up with, and a convention to attend this month (if you are just absolutely dying to see me, I’ll be at Marscon in Williamsburg the weekend of the 15th-17th to talk about science fiction and erotica writing – woo hoo!). Yes indeed, it’s time to get back to work. But first, a moment to reflect on what I did enjoy the past two weeks, because that’s what Sunday Contentments are all about.

The biggest of life’s little enjoyments the last two weeks was being able to spend time with the kids. I don’t know if we spent it together wisely or not. We did spend more time watching TV than I would have liked. But we did go out quite a bit too. We went to two parties, two holiday lights displays, two museums, one botanical garden, and a couple of movies (don’t ask which ones because right now I’ll be damned if I can remember), as well as two aunts, two uncles, one cousin and two grandparents (Hubster’s folks). We ate… a lot! And I have discovered that yes, it really is time for me to give up the high fat foods. Without a gall bladder, those things just kill me.

I did a little reading too, the last couple of weeks, three books which I enjoyed (and aside from the last one, Atherton: The House of Power, I can’t recall the others right now because my noggin is still too full with factoids on Egyptian funerary rituals). And I learned a new craft – crocheting. I ended up teaching myself with the help of a few books, and made the lumpiest neon-colored voodoo doll you’d ever want to see. We’re calling it Rainbow Baby. Pixie has since claimed it as her own.

I think it’s significant that my last creative act of the new year was learning to crochet that doll. I enjoyed it, and was very proud that I figured out how to do it by myself. I need to do more things like that, so you’ll probably see a whole string of lumpy little dolls from me as I work out how to put them together. Don’t laugh or I will knit you an ugly sweater and make you wear it.

So I had fun in spite of the chaos that comes with the holidays, and I think one of my resolutions for 2010 will be to do a little more reading, a little more knitting, a little more crocheting and a little more relaxing with the family. I want to start a family game night, either Friday or Saturday night, whenever the Hubster is home, and we finally have enough kid-friendly games to make that a possibility. The first game night is scheduled for this weekend, and I’ll let you know if it gets off the ground or not.

Beyond that, it’s late and I really need to get to bed. Actually, it’s not that late, not even 10PM yet, but that’s another of my resolutions, to be in bed and asleep by 10PM. So good night to you all, and I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate.

Episode 49 – When I’m bad…

Oh yes, I’ve written much, much worse, as a matter of fact 😉 Like the gay Santa story that comes out Christmas Day on the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast. Though if you’re in a hurry to hear that little gem, you could listen to it on Radio Dentata Christmas Eve.

I’m headed out of town on Monday to visit family, so don’t know if I will have a cartoon ready before I go. Hopefully yes, but you and I both know that train wreck known as Christmas is coming on fast, ready to run me over and squash me flat. We’ll see what happens, but if you don’t see anything from me between now and New Year’s Eve, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa and a bounteous Bodhi Day to you and yours.

Move It Mama Monday! Sneaky ways to exercise this Christmas

I was looking at my schedule for the upcoming week and I realized that there is pretty much no way in hell I’m going to make it to any of my usually scheduled exercise classes. Princess has a party today, which is early enough that I can’t make it to water aerobics. Then she comes home early tomorrow from school, which means I can’t go to karate class. My sister is showing up Wednesday, again early enough to kill any chance of me slipping in a water aerobics class. The dojo is closed on Thursday, the Y is closed on Friday, etc., etc., etc.

So I need some alternate ways to sneak in some exercise this week. Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with.

1. Clean the house. I’ve got family coming, right? So I should clean from top to bottom. If I throw on some heart racing music and really get into the swing of things, I could break a sweat and bust a move while chasing dust bunnies out from behind the fridge. Never mind that my sister doesn’t give a hoot about how clean the house is. All she cares about is whether there’s a place for her to sleep or not.

2. Chase the children away from the tree, the presents, the fridge… Basically, run after the kids and keep them out of trouble. I’ll have both home, and will need to be on my guard to make sure they aren’t getting into things they shouldn’t be. Last thing I need is for Pixie to topple the tree on herself, or Princess to go digging through my closet to find out what “Santa” brought her for Christmas. I figure if I do a few laps around the house every hour, that will produce a low but steady calorie burn and let the kids know someone really is watching to see if they’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

3. Slush ball fight. It snowed here this weekend. Not a lot, just enough to foul up traffic and turn our yard into a mud pit. If I’m really desperate for some exercise, I can take the kids outside and we can throw slush balls at each other. I’d rather throw snow balls, but hey, this is Virginia. Snow in December wasn’t going to last anyway.

4. Sex with the Hubster. He is home this week. We just need to put another holiday special in the DVD player and let the kids zone out while we go get jolly in the bedroom.

5. Post Christmas morning clean-up. Given the number of boxes currently sitting under our tree and the number of presents still waiting to be wrapped, I’d say it’s a sure bet my living room is going to be completely trashed by the time the last gift gets open. If I want a workout Christmas morning, I can pull on my sweats, grab a trash bag and a box cutter and set to work. I guarantee you I will be busy all day this way.

Any other good ideas for a holiday week workout? We could always walk through the neighborhood to look at all the lights and displays, I suppose, and I could maybe even go for a jog or just turn on the Wii. But I’m looking for the creative route here. What do you guys plan to do to squeeze in a little exercise this week, huh? Let me know!

Sunday Contentments – Why I hate the holidays

I’ve been trying so hard this week to find my warm happy spot in the midst of all the chaos. I’ve failed, miserably. There is no contentment for me today, only angst and stress and all the usual emotional crap that attends the week before Christmas. Here’s what’s wrong with my life right now:

I have two small children who are hopped up on Christmas specials and sugared goodies, in spite of my best intentions to see that they get limited amounts of both. Does EVERYONE they know have to throw a frickin’ party, complete with candy, cake, ice cream and other junk? Apparently yes, and as a result, the kids are driving me up the wall.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time bellowing at the aforementioned children because they are so damned hopped up. It’s like their tiny little ears have been blocked with sugar, requiring me to scream at the top of my lungs, repeatedly, to be heard. And even when I am heard, their attention span has shrunk to zip, so they’re not doing anything I ask them no matter how loudly and how repeatedly I ask.

The Hubster is home. You know I love that man. In fact, yesterday was the 19th anniversary of our first date. But he’s home, so he’s underfoot, and no matter how hard he tries not to, he’s completely disrupting my schedule just by being in the house during hours when I would normally have it to myself. It’s these little things he does like suggest, “Hey, let’s have lunch!” that keep throwing a monkey wrench in my otherwise perfect schedule. Speaking of which…

Ah, the schedule. It’s broke, meaning I am staying up too late and not getting out of bed as early as I should. When my schedule is off, getting work done because difficult. I have several articles to write, a book to read, a novella to get started on, two book covers to create, a podcast to record and produce, blog articles to write… and gifts to buy.

Oy, shopping for presents. If I had been smart, I would have started back in November, but nooooooooo! I had to wait until this month, THE month of Christmas, to do my holiday shopping. Doing all that holiday gift buying on top of my usual workload with both screaming children and the Hubster underfoot is seriously putting me out of whack.

And this is just a short list of what’s going wrong right now. Honestly, it’s stupid to complain, I know, especially when I do have so many things going right. I have paying work coming in, I have a husband and children in good health, I have family I love coming to visit this week, and I have a warm bed and a roof over my head and the promise of a lamb dinner on Christmas night. Yes, there’s a lot going right in my life right now, and just as soon as my own sugar-induced holiday angst starts to clear up, I’m sure I’ll see it again.

Have a good week, folks. I’m about to go soak my head in some egg nog.

Writing Wednesday – The best gifts for writers

Today’s topic is gifts for writers, but we’re not talking about word processing software or fancy pens or Kindles or gift certificates to book stores or anything like that. The best gifts you can give a writer are the ones that don’t cost a damn thing. What I’m talking about here is two things most writers never get enough of – feedback and support.

Is there a writer out there who’s work you really enjoy? Send them an e-mail, or if you’re so inclined, an actual letter letting them know. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a lousy day turn into a good one just by getting a message from someone saying they enjoyed something I wrote. Feedback means a hell of a lot, especially to those of us writers who are still working in the minor leagues, who don’t have the fame and fortune that go along with being a Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. To folks like us, the words “I really loved your book” are worth their weight in gold.

Do you personally know a writer? Then be prepared to give them your support. If they’ve got a book signing coming up, show up for it! And bring as many of your family and friends as possible. There’s nothing more abysmal than having a book signing and then no one shows up. Unless it’s writer’s block. If the writer in your life is having problems with a nasty case of writer’s block, sit and listen to them hash out their story lines. Even if nothing they say makes any sense to you, the act of talking about what they’re writing may help them get through that block. Hell, the Hubster usually has no idea what I’m babbling on about, but he always listens when I’m trying to figure out how to make a story work.

Other things you can do – recommend your favorite writers to other folks. Don’t pirate their books, but if you’ve got a copy of a book to loan or give away, then go ahead and do that. No, we don’t make any money that way, at least not at first. But maybe the person who reads that borrowed or second-hand book will then go out and buy the rest of our books, and bingo! We’ve got a little financial love coming our way.

Pass on links to blogs, retweet announcements, post honest reviews of a writer’s work. These are all things you can do for the writers you love, and they don’t cost you a thing. Heck, if you love me, send folks over to the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast, or get them to listen to the Good Parts podcast. Both are free for download, so your friends get no-cost entertainment, I get new listeners, and you get brownie points for spreading the love. Win all around!

Seriously, this holiday season, think about the writers you love and find a way to let them know. We’d all really, truly appreciate it 😉