Quote for the FALL

"It's what you're doing when you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing that's the problem."
~Wyatt Woodsmall

Friday, October 23, 2015

Strange Talents Revealed

We each have talents, some more than one. Sometimes, we develop strange talents. If you've been reading this blog any length of time, you know I can find four-leaf clovers easily, even while walking. But today, I'm going to share another one of my stranger talents. I can count. Yeah, yeah, yeah...we all can count. Big deal.

At work, we had a discussion about typing speeds. I'm about 65 wpm. Some of the others were about 80 wpm. The average stenographer can type between 100-150 wpm. There are even shorthand competitions and typing competitions out there!

If you use the new Dvorak keyboard...well, check this out:
"As of 2005 , writer Barbara Blackburn was the fastest alphanumerical English language typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she maintained 150 wpm for 50 minutes, and 170 wpm for shorter periods. Her top speed was 212 wpm."
So then we starting talking about how fast people talk. Books on tape are read at a speed of 150-160 wpm. An average auctioneer can say 250-400 wmp. Did you know that the fastest talking person in the world can speak 655 words per minute? Go to minute 2:55 to hear Michael Jackson's "Bad" in 20 seconds. Or watch the whole thing; he's amazing!

So...MY talent is that I can count to 100 in 20 seconds!!! Not as enunciated as John Moschitta, Jr. though. So, you think 100 numbers is equal to 100 words? Not so!

According to Wikipedia (don't judge me - after all this isn't a research paper), "For the purpose of typing measurement, each word is standardized to be five characters or keystrokes long in English,[1] including spaces and punctuation. For example, the phrase "I run" counts as one word, but "rhinoceros" and "let's talk" both count as two."

I say the numbers 1 to 100 counts as 172 words. Trust me, you don't want me to do the math for you. So, maybe I should show a video of ME doing this! Anyway, 172 words in 20 seconds is equal to 516 words per minute!

What's YOUR unique, strange, useless (or perhaps useful) talent? Please share in the comments!!!

Keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How a Book Pitch Changes with Each Revision

How do you take a pitch for your book and revise it until it shines? Hard work and input from others! Today, I'd like to share how everyone else's input helped me arrive at the final version. Here's how the pitch for Kaleidoscope Eyes, a nonfiction picture book biography about how David Brewster invented the kaleidoscope, evolved from one version to the next. And this isn't even all the different versions. This book is currently being submitted to AGENTS.

One of the earlier versions:

For David Brewster, growing up in Scotland before the turn of the 18th century, he asks questions. Lots of questions. He makes sundials, microscopes, and telescopes. He prefers to study light, lenses, and stars, not hunting and sports. While studying light and minerals, he observes a symmetrical pattern and sets out to recreate it. Through a series of repeated experiments, and asking lots of questions, he creates the beauty of symmetry once more, making it perfectly symmetrical, full of bright colors, and easy to show others – all inside a single cylindrical tube.

Comments: Too long. "Lots of questions" is repeated too much. Plus, it's too telling. What are the questions?

First revision:

David Brewster loves science, but when he notices how agate makes light bend, he must discover why. Can he recreate it? Can he improve it? Can he create symmetry? Through a series of repeated experiments, and asking lots of questions, he dreams of sharing his scientific discovery with the world.

Comments: Might be too short. Can you show us how he loves science? Does he really dream of sharing his discovery with the world? What is his discovery? Maybe mention it in the beginning.

Second revision:

David Brewster becomes famous when he invents the kaleidoscope. But that was never his goal. During an experiment with rocks and minerals, he notices light bending. Splendid! Can he recreate it? Can he improve it? Can he create symmetry? Can he use liquid? Can he make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward to each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

Comments: Don't tell us what he creates in the very beginning. Keep it a mystery. There are too many questions listed. Limit it to three. In the last sentence, change "to" to "through."

Third revision:

David Brewster never meant to become famous. But that's what happened when he followed his passion for science. One day, he notices how light bends. Splendid! Can he improve it, create symmetry, or even make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward through each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

Comments: When and where does this take place? Second sentence is in past tense. Can you show us how he follows his passion for science? 

Final revision:

David Brewster never meant to become famous. But that's what happens in 1816 when he accidentally invents a brand new toy. The journey begins during an experiment with rocks and minerals, when he notices agate bending the light twice. Splendid! But can he improve it? Can he create symmetry, or even make it move? So many questions! But David never gives up. His love for science propels him forward through each new question until he names the scientific marvel…the kaleidoscope.

I felt that the time period was more important than the locale, so I chose to omit that information. By the way, it was in Scotland. Hope you enjoyed a "sneak" peek inside the writing process and that it can help you with crafting your own pitches.

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Fiction Writing Retreat for All Levels

I've been working on something HUGE since January 2014, when I got the idea to host a writing and
running retreat to consolidate my travel expenses. I love to travel, but I realized that the only time I do is for writing conferences, retreats, and workshops, or to run in a race. I love both running and writing. Wouldn't it be cool to do BOTH in ONE single trip? I thought so too!!!

The writing retreat is August 3-7, 2016 in Fontana Dam, NC. The culminating event is to participate in the 7 mile trail race on the morning of August 7th. Retreat-goers, capped at 28, get free registration for the race. The race is also open to the public and capped at 250 participants.

Check it out. Go to www.writerswhorun.com.

If that intrigues you, join our Facebook group too. www.facebook.com/groups/writerswhorun.

YOUR TURN: What are two of your passions? Knitting? Gardening? Reading? Cooking?

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, October 9, 2015

Writers Who Run

Whenever I run, I always gain writing and/or life insights. So I now have a new page tab to share those insights with you. Writers Who Run VIDEOS. See it? Up there at the top? Yep, that one! Go ahead and click on over and check out the videos. There are only 3 right now. Over time, I'll be adding more. Enjoy!

Episode 01: Stereotypical Characters
Episode 02: Focus on Your Goal
Episode 03: Do You Have a Mantra?

??? What has running (or other forms of fitness/activity) unlocked in your life?

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two Metabolism Diets: The Curves Diet vs. The Hormone Reset Diet

Since I've changed my blog title and started blogging again, I've decided to branch out and NOT BE A WRITING BLOG. I'm a CHRISTIE blog. Hopefully, I'll say a few things from time to time that will make you stop and think, or that you will find touching, entertaining, or helpful in some way. I'm going to be writing about me and the things I find interesting in life, in hopes that it will also benefit you. I might write about children's books, or running, or food, or chocolate, or a book contract, or children, or parenting, or teaching, or astronomy, or gardening, or animals, or ANYTHING. (Got any requests?)

Today's topic is food and dieting, even though I'm not much on the whole dieting scene. I mean, what is the definition of a diet? First and foremost it is, "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." So, I do not typically "GO ON" diets. I tried one once. It doesn't restrict any foods, but it restricts calories for 2 weeks, then you get more calories. And after looking at these two, I discovered there's about a dozen MORE metabolism diets out there! Which is right? I don't know, but these two seem to come pretty close and have a lot to offer.

Two Metabolism Diets: 

The Curves Diet vs. The Hormone Reset Diet

The Curves Diet

The first one I tried is REALLY COOL!!! Not to say it's easy, though. Since when is making a huge lifestyle change easy? However, it totally makes sense. The Curves Diet is for women. Yea! Like I said, it doesn't restrict (well, completely eliminate) any foods from your diet. Here's the basic premise.

There are 2 plans: carb sensitive and calorie sensitive. You take some quizzes and surveys to discover which is true for you. You may have to experiment some to truly discover it once you get going.

There are 3 phases:

  1. Jump Start (2 weeks)
  2. Take it Off (as long as necessary, till you need a break, or you hit a plateau)
  3. Keep it Off (monthly - you only have to "diet" - with restricted calories - up to 3 days a month)
It explains metabolism and how eating less SLOWS your metabolism and eating MORE speeds it up. But there's more to it than that. Just read the book. No, I don't get any money from them. But I've been telling people about this book for over a year now. It just makes sense. But sometimes I get tired of counting calories. 

Basically, you get 1200 calories a day for 2 weeks. Then you get 1600 calories a day for as long as needed until you need a break from "dieting" or you hit a plateau or you reach your goal. When you decide to move up to level 3, you eat normally until you gain your preset weight gain amount of 3-5 pounds. I find that 3 pounds is easier to handle because once you gain it, you diet for 2-3 days until it comes right back off. The idea is that over time of eating normally 1800-2000 calories a day (or more), you boost your metabolism. 

Let's say you hit a plateau. Great! You get to add calories and normal for a few days. I say a few days, because that's how quickly you'll gain those 3 pounds. Then you lose it in 3 days by eating only 1200 calories again - BUT NO MORE THAN 3 DAYS EVEN IF YOU DON'T LOSE ALL 3 POUNDS. Then you eat normal (and healthy, of course). This time, it takes 5-6 days to gain the 3 pounds. Diet for 2 days and lose it. Eat more cals and gain 3 pounds in say, 9 days this time. Diet for a couple days and lose it. Eat normal and this time it might take 3 weeks to gain 3 pounds. You really have to be on your A game with counting the calories though. And you still have to make healthy choices. 

The Hormone Reset Diet

This one claims that you can lose up to 15 pounds in 21 days. I'm thinking, "Yeah, right." But
apparently LOTS of people HAVE! I don't have that kind of goal in mind though. The Hormone Reset Diet book is written by Sara Gottfried, MD. She goes into lots of scientific explanations that really help you understand food and your body.

You eliminate 7 categories of foods over 21 days. Every 3 days you eliminate a food associated with a specific hormone and you do it in a specific order. Read the book! When you understand it, you are more willing to follow it.

  1. red meat and alcohol (progesterone, I think) - chicken and fish and eggs are fine
  2. sugar (insulin) - you're allowed 15 grams a day, it adds up quick! (20-25 grams is actually the recommended amount; and I average 67!!! I don't even eat a lot of sweets!)
  3. fruits (leptin, it's what helps you feel full) - berries are allowed
  4. caffeine (estrogen, I think)
  5. dairy (growth hormone) - almond milk is recommended
  6. grains (don't remember, but I say that grain-free is actually the new fad diet these days)
  7. toxins (testosterone) this includes processed foods and environmental factors such as air, lotions, makeup, shampoo, etc.

The point of doing this is to listen to your body and how it reacts. Your metabolism can reset itself in regards to a single hormone in 3 days. So when you go off red meat and alcohol, you stay off it for the full 21 days. Sugar would be for a solid 18 days. Etc. You don't go hungry because you eat 3-4 cups of vegetables a day. One whole pound.

If during the 21 days, you lose 3-5 ponds during any 3-day elimination, then that is your problem food and is what is causing you to not be able to lose weight. At the end of the 21 days, you do a re-entry phase where you choose the most difficult food whether by hunger, cravings, or whatever. And you add it back in for one meal, at the same meal, for 3 days and note how it affects your body.

I gave it a start, not officially, but trying to prep myself. It helps you discover if you are lactose intolerant or sensitive, casein sensitive, whey sensitive, gluten sensitive, etc. So, why would a person try to go dairy free and get almond milk, then make a smoothie with WHEY protein powder? Duh! (That was me...) I'll get there. Gotta go get that special protein powder! Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.

YOUR TURN: What dietary change have you implemented that made the most difference in your health and/or weight loss? Have you tried either of these? How did you like them?

Keep on keepin' on...