I promised, back in February, to update you all on the progress of the rewrite. You can read about the details in the original post.
The rewrite is done and in the hands of the beta-reader. I’m happy with the way it turned out, it’ll be interesting to see if she is as well. I also just concluded the tackling of the sequel. Here’s the results.
The first book (which, in my opinion, was a bit too long to begin with and had some “timing” issues) ends SOONER in the story line than I planned. This means the sequel now includes some of that timeline. It allowed me to include some more about one of those minor characters who I LOVED (more on him in a minute).
This leaves the ending to the first book in a more interesting spot. I’ll admit, it’s kind of a cliffhanger as far as the society goes…but it’s the answer to HER story, which was the point of the first book.
I am likely changing the title. If I’m owning that this is now HER story, in first person, it can use a title change. I’m working on some ideas.
My favorite consequence of the rewrite was the acceptance of the truth that HER story is done. The story continues, as they so often do, because we want to know what happens to the Kingdom that has been created (it’s a high fantasy, world-building story). But she is no longer the right person to tell it. So I think I’ve found a solution. One of my favorite minor characters is going to tell the sequel…in first person. The rewrite is already done, so don’t try to talk me out of it. I have to admit, it’s awesome. He is able to tell the story, we get even more of him, and it works! The beta reader will get it next…but I’m happy.
So, does point of view make a difference?
Yeah, it does. I can’t say I gave you a glowing example of how third-person omniscient can actually be used effectively in young adult books…but I can give you a good young adult book. That’s gotta count for something.
Over the course of the last year I have lost over 40 pounds. I have dropped from “whoa, my size 12 pants really don’t fit but I refuse to buy 14’s” to being comfortable in a size 8.
I am not a weight loss expert, personal trainer, diet planner, or fitness guru. I am simply a woman who has done it with some success. Everyone who runs into me keeps asking how I did it, hoping there is a magic pill. There isn’t.
If you are the kind of person who looks in the mirror and thinks “it’s time to change”, it can be done. I’m the proof. So if you need advice, here’s mine…for what it’s worth.
Download My Fitness Pal
This is a free app that helps track calories, sugars, sodium, and more! The best part? Once you enter your statistics (age, REAL weight, height, gender, goal weight) and choose a weight loss speed (I went with 1 ½ lbs per week) the app calculates the targets for you! It’s like having a dietary expert in your pocket, you just have to remember to tell her what you ate!
Count Calories (and other macros)
I took my daily calorie allotment (from the app) and mentally divided it by 4. This became the amount of calories I tried to eat at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a combined total of my snacks for the day. Then, when I went shopping, I made it a point to check ingredients before I purchased. It was eye popping to see how many calories were in some of my favorite foods! Once I knew, it was easy to make a smarter choice. Flour tortillas, for example, are over 200 calories each, but corn tortillas are a meager 50! Easy switch. Soda is a huge waste of 150-200 calories (not to mention sugar and sodium) that I could be reserving for an afternoon snack. No brainer! Once you have the goal and you pay attention the decisions are easier!
Sometimes the calories for a serving seem completely acceptable…until you look closer and realize how small a serving really is. I think the most eye-opening lesson of this whole experience was how much a serving of something really is. I can eat so much MORE chicken than I would’ve thought, but I had to cut back on a lot of other things. Basically I learned what a serving is…and made sure I logged it for the proper size.
LOTS of water. Water is “free” (zero calories). At first I added a zero calorie flavoring to it because I wasn’t use to the bland flavor. Now? I’m easily throwing back 8-10 cups a day plain. You aren’t as hungry when you drink water. You aren’t as tired when you drink water. Need another reason? You’re skin will look nicer. Plus, you can sweat it all out on my next tip! Water is the best!
Eating better alone will not get you results. Without exercise the discouraged, frustarted you will declare this is NOT worth the effort. Instead, find something (or several things) that you don’t mind doing. Run, walk, play a sport, join a gym, weight lift, whatever! Try something with a friend (we all know anything is better with good company). I personally am active 3-4 times a week but not all on the same activity. I like variety! I play hockey, I do cardio/fat burning (with a trainer), I do strength training/weight lifting, I do yogalates (a cross between yoga and pilates). Sometimes I even jog. The point is simply to get out there and be active!
Stick with it
I get it. This all seems overwhelming and in the beginning it’s hard. But you know what? It gets easier. You develop a routine with the right foods. They become part of what you regularly buy and recipes you are comfortable with. You start lifting more or running faster. People notice. It feels good. You are sick less, probably a result of putting better foods into your body. Even around an elementary school (AKA germ petri dish) I am sick less frequently. This healthier lifestyle makes you all-around feel better, and that’s pretty cool.
Get off the Scale
Weird advice, but so important. Choose a time, maybe twice a month, and ONLY step on it then. Same time of day each time, same scale, same place. Do not stress about the number. It is what it is. I stepped on the scale every time I changed contact lenses (15th and 1st of each month) first thing in the morning. Some days I was down, some days I was WAY down, some days I stayed the same. Once I was 4 lbs up (thatś a lot for two weeks). I never gave it. I just forgot about it and got back to the routine.
If you never indulge a little in the things you love, this process will never work. You will be resentful and unhappy (two things I never like to be). Instead, allow yourself small cheat meals once a week. It really is okay. I tended to use mine for holiday meals, gatherings, or after really stressful days at work. Oh, that reminds me…white wine is less calories than (most) beer. Cheats can be anything; from “just order the pizza” to “cut me a slice of cake”. Just remember that any cheating you do will slow your goal. Keep it to one meal a week and you should be fine.
The cool thing here is, despite all this work, a year later I’m a whole new person. A healthy, happy-with-herself, energetic, confident, active person. I kinda like her.
I do not miss the empty calories or the sugar. I am maintaining at my target weight now (which means higher calorie goals) and my healthier habits have stuck so it is easy.
No magic pill (sorry) and it may not work for everyone. But if it helps even one person, I am happy!
What do you do to practice your craft? Hockey players may take 100 shots at a net in a day. Basketball players shoot free-throws until their arms are sore. What should writers do? Some of the exercises that we employ in class are valuable tools for practicing writing when you are young. It stands to reason that they are also good tools for writers.
This one is simple. You give yourself a setting, or have someone else give you one. Then you write. The writing must be descriptive of the setting. What happens inside that setting is completely up to your brain.
Here’s mine for “a pool in the middle of summer” (thanks, kids).
There are approximately twenty people, besides me, hanging at the community pool when I arrive. There is a small group of teens with their feet in the shallow end of the pool, too cool to care that they are baking in the oppressive Phoenix sun. Three mothers gossip from the advertised ‘best lawn chairs’ as six children splash and thrash about in the middle of the pool. The lifeguard perched near the deep end and diving board, tanned and yummy, draws my attention for a minute. Just one minute. Then I remember that I’m thirty and he’s probably young enough to have been in my first fifth grade class ten years ago. Ick.
I drop myself into the deep end, self conscious about the decision to wear a two piece to the pool. I land in the path of the take-himself-too-seriously guy who looks like he’s practicing laps for the Olympics. “Oh, excuse me,” I mumble. At least I think that’s what I mumbled. He doesn’t notice, just expertly maneuvers around me. Invisibility level one reached.
I go under the lukewarm water enough to make my skin feel enlivened again. It’s like rehydrating beans, something I once read about for a recipe. Being in Phoenix, even for 24 hours, dries out your skin completely. You have to allow your epidermis to soak up the water for at least ten minutes, it must return to its previous level of hydration. I didn’t make that recipe, in case you’re wondering.
I’m lounging in a chair, thinking ‘damn they were right, these are great’, with my sunglasses down ten minutes later. I’ve firmly attached my bitch face to ensure the teenagers will not mess with me. I’m contemplating napping underneath my shades and I’m feeling my skin sizzle under the sun. Hopefully sizzle equals bronze goddess glow. I guess we’ll find out.