Shedding the Winter Muffin Top

Tips from Mr Universe runner-up
that we can all live by

Spring always inspires me. I want to rake and trim, eat healthy and start shopping for sexy, springtime clothes. This is circular, because I can’t actually always fit in existing clothes, and if I’m going to justify spending money on new clothes, well, I better look decent.

Invariably, I replay what a former trainer told me (A 3-time, 2nd and 3rd Mr Universe runner-up). He was big, black, built and bald.

“You’re not just eating the wrong foods,” he told me. “You are eating the wrong foods at the wrong time). He emphasized I required more protein, less carbs and most importantly, I needed to stop at 5 instead of starting at 8 pm. “Eat every two hours, no matter what, and eat your protein first.” He also said one other thing.

“Cardio two times a day until your body fails you,” without waiting to see if I understood him. “And that goes for weights, which you’ll do three times a week.”

At this, I protested. I was going to bulk up and turn my fat in to mass. He smiled, obviously hearing this before.

“Big thighs,” he said. “The worry of all women.” At that, the fine looking man said no more and took me for a tour of the place. Walking among these humongous men of color, I was one of two white people in the entire joint. I felt odd, out of place and frankly, ghostly in my white fatness. Sensing my discomfort, my newly-annointed trainer turned to me and muttered something like “you get points for showing up at 5 am.” I stood a little taller at that, I’ll admit. My big, bloaty butt wanted to me in bed.

We made our way to a row of women on the treadmill and other cardio. He asked a random sampling if he’d told them what he told me (repeating) and then asked “what happened?”

“I leaned out,” said one. “Lost three dress sizes,” said another.

“See?” he asked me. “You have to eat more, all the time and push until failure.”

Ahh. The point of the article. Whether it’s JK Rowling giving her famous Harvard commencement speech, or Mr Universe Runner up, the point is to push the mind and body to the point of failure. Then, and only then will you know you’ve made progress.

Yesterday, as I lifted the weights above my head (for I am still forbidden to walk on my bad leg, so am consigned to doing upper body only as my lower body goes suffers through physical therapy), I recall Mr. Universe runner-up. I push…I grimace…all the while consoled by the fact that tomorrow, my arms will thank me. So I continue, proceeding to push myself to the point where my arms collapse, literally failing to assist me any longer in the exercise.

With that, I stop. I have succeeded in my attempt to fail, and that’s what I wanted in the first place.

Need a Job? 5 proven sources to jump start your career

A friend’s boyfriend has been out of full-time work for two years, bouncing from temporary job to contracting, luckily in the field of physics, chemistry and gaming (you might ask, what in the world does he do? Well, he plays with things that blow up, like an educated, well-intentioned chemical Ali, but on harmless enough).

In any case, I get this updated LinkedIn notification that he now has a permanent job. It’s hourly, not salaried, but pays well, offers amazing benefits and is close by.

Here’s my own belief. Getting a job is like hitchhiking. Unless you put yourself out there, no one will even give you a first (or second) glance.

“What was the trick?” I asked my friend, who’d been commiserating with me about the dramas of an unemployed family member.

“He called an old boss,” she said, adding a ‘duh!’ for good measure.

It’s not the first strategy I’d think about using were I in that situation, but it made sense. Why not? Hiring failure rates run about 80% when a firm uses ads. Their employees (the hiring managers) would probably love to hear from former employees, assuming the field is one that allows for transition (e.g. retail to marketing, not attorney to doctor).

I thought about bosses, but I also considered former clients. (heaven forbid I need to go out and get a real job sometime in the future). With nothing better to do, (for I am still bed-bound), I searched my contact database for names of former clients. Specifically, individuals who had left the ‘client’ company and were now working elsewhere. Turns out I have nice relationships with folks inside Microsoft, Amazon, Sony, and a slew of other companies that may be interesting to me at some point. That was good news to me. I can at least reach out and say hello (which I did by the way, just to make sure my name still rings a bell).

At least twice a week, I will get a resume or inquiry from someone looking for a helping hand. Here are a few of my suggestions. Try reaching out to:

  • School community-parents, teachers. Soccer moms or yore are now the PTA, art docents, you name it wonderpeople (for both men and women volunteer). Schools and orgs have after-school programs that need paid helpers. These folks also have partners/spouses who work and may know of an opening.
  • Church employment. Quite a few churches have strong employment arms, and the LDS church is one of them. The job openings list can be found by city/state and is a fantastic resources. If you don’t belong to the church, I bet you know someone who is. As your member friend to look on the ‘job postings’ site.
  • Neighbors. These people may not be your best friends, or friends at all. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t help if given the chance. If you are a loved-one is unemployed, what’s to lose? Go tell them what’s up, the skill set and if they know of any opportunities. Said humbly yet fervently and a bit of passionate zing, it might be a kickstart of grand proportions.
  • Service providers. Don’t laugh. I’m talking the garage repairman, the painter, the plumber, the car technician, the clerk you see a thousand times at the grocery story—all of these people know at least 50-100 people. That has to include someone in some industry that you care about. (I’m making the grand assumption that you are a) nice to all these people so b) they would want to help you).

From Pie sales to Big Sales

A good friend of mine Kristin, is now a successful sales professional but for about five years prior ot working outside the home she made and sold pies. Beyond making a few hundred bucks every week, she created a fabulous reputation for kindness and having can-do attitude for a dozens of business owners and professionals who wanted to give a pie to a new client, take to a party, or what have you. When Kristen’s daughter entered full-time school, the first thing Kristen did was tap into her network of “pie buyers,” as she called them. Within a week she had four interviews and two weeks later, had her first job in sales. Granted, it took her five years to move from inside sales (phone calls) to outside sales, but now she makes nearly $75,000 a year and has a great life. All because she tapped into her network.Today, she estimates half her business is referral, and the other half folks that she just starts talking to in line at Starbucks, or wherever else she finds herself surrounded by people. To her “every person waiting in line is a potential customer or new contact.” That new contact is a stranger in the beginning, but falls in to a category above.

As I’ve been typing, I’ve received an email imploring me to help a relatively new acquaintance get more contract work. Better go answer that one right now.

Spring 2014- 5 things to do NOW

Sprouting weeds means its spring. Easter is next month. Chocolate eggs, the associated morning hunts in the rain not far off. It also means I have to get w/it and jump on my tasks that, for the last two years, have escaped my attention until June, well after the usefullness of the task itself has passed.

The Best 50 Shortbreads1. Buy dad’s gift now. His birthday is early April, and sometimes falls on Easter day weekend. His poor self gets lost in the shuffle. Buying dad a gift is hard. He’s 74″ish”, which means no matter how old he really is, I can’t see him past 72. He loves all things English, particularly the English shortbread, and I’ve found a local joint that imports the real stuff. This year though, I think me and the girls will make some and see how it goes over. Before she died, Grammy (Rogs grandma) would make homemade sweets for every holiday, lovingly placed in an appropriately-themed box. After 10 years, I’m accustomed to the love and feel it’s time to adopt her gift of choice.

2. Give one act of service every day. For my latest book, I’m interviewing a bunch of successful individuals. During the course of it, I’ve cataloged trends. One of the top 10 is the focus on community service that boarders on obsession for nearly all these people. I think- Do I give service every day? What counts as service? A deed unnoticed? An act of good? Making food for the sick, hiring the returning college student for spring clean up in the yard I can do myself? Making a thank you card for a school teacher, giving to the homeless? Service is time. Money. Feelings. A phone call. I’m still not completely sure if I’m doing this consciously or unconsciously, so I put it in the task section of Outlook to remind me.

3. Trim the verve. By June, when I’m warm enough to actually want to venture outside, I always feel like Gandalf is lurking over my shoulder, saying “it’s a little late for trimming the verve.” The irony is around January/February, I’ll break down and purchase a Martha Stewart Magazne that has her calendar of to-do’s for the month, the annual commitment to changing my evil, anti-horitucultral ways. Never happens. Today, I donned a hat, rushed out and started frantically cutting back everything with a spot of green. I’ll take the sheers to the rose bushes later when I can focus. This year, I got Martha Stewart’s calendar online. If I was technically inclined, I’d have written a gardening app that would download on my phone to remind me of important outdoor events.

Love the site Ferris Wheels and Carousels

4. Buy mom a cool set of Easter placemats. Mom is a traditionalist, and I’ve followed in her footsteps. I love placemats, tableclothes and all sorts of glasses to go along with each style and set. Last year, I bought mom avery reasonably-priced Vera Wang placemat and napkin sets, so she doesn’t need anymore. This year, I went floral, but I also liked this country kitchen look, which never goes out of style. Oh– I also like the current trend for paper placemats-disposal (recyclable) and so easy to ship.

5. Encourage the husband. Nothing says a satisfied husband that a man who knows his
wife supports him, even if it means he goes fishing, heli-skiing AND play in a hockey tournament within a 30 day period.  It would be one thing if this was a natural routine. It’s not. Rog’s hobbies and interests all tend to fall in the wintertime–good snow and ice permitting for his sports, but for fishing…. Fall and spring, summer–not so much–ony when the ‘right fish’ are running.

Why Some Men Look 10 years Younger

Bleary-eyed, I wander down to my husband’s man-cave, the room plastered in wall-to-wall slate, a bathroom that he’s adopted as his own personal spa. I’m on a teeth-whitening mission to find his gargle, that in 60 seconds, promised to make me gleam like the hood of a white Bentley. As I’m rooting around in his square, wicker basket, the repository for all things Man, I come upon a little, orange tube. It’s girly. It’s definitely not mine. I had a moment akin to the B-movies where the girl finds a strange earring in the bed.

It’s a Men Expert from Loreal, an under-the-eye cream for reducing puffiness. I’m impressed. I’m chagrined. I give Rog grief about his puffy eyes, the result of late-night X-boxing with hi
s on-line crew. I should get better abt keeping my mouth shut. It’s not like he’s been scratching around like an ally-cat in the late of night. Like a cat, I get a curiosity of the other items hidden in his magnificent pile of man-junk.

I find not one, but 7 hair gel foams. This is funny to me. I have 1 type of shampoo and conditioner, one type of hair gel, 1 type of straightening cream–just 1 of the necessities. I know what works, I stick w/it, and since it’s spendy, I use every last drop, eeking out the final morsel of goo. Even then, I roll, push, stop and prod the very essence of ointment before I get my butt out the door to buy more. Rog, who cherishes each strand of delicate, fine hair on his head, has a….problem.

Thrilled that I can out him to the world, I load up the gel in my arms and start trapsing up the stairs, quiet as the mouse the night before Christmas (before our cat ate it). He comes around the corner…”Don’t make fun of me on your blog,” he pleads, his eyes puffy. This is pre-Men Expert I see.

“The world needs to know your secrets,” I contend. After all, he makes the most of his hair, literally doubling the thickness by his goopy concoctions. The miracle of his process is his hair doesn’t look gooy at all. It’s looks eternally wet, dry or normal, depending on the external conditions.

He cocks his head one side, says “stay there,” and returns with another bottle of goop. “This is the really good one, and puts another one on top of my load. “Do you use all these?” I ask. He nods, and wanders to his man cave for his morning relief.

World, this is is secret stash
1. Beadhead for Men, Pure Texture Molding Paste
2. got2b glued styling spiking gel
3. Spiker water resistant styling gel by Joice, in 2 sizes, large and travel
4. Beadhead Cocky Thickening paste for fuller looking hair (funny, Amazon doesn’t show this. hmmm)
5. Paul Mitchel firm style dry wax
6. Paul Mitchel flexible style Re-Works texture cream (the one he says is tops)

Last but not least, I found a tongue scraper that he swears by (ok, not really swears, but appreciates. I don’t care what he uses after a night of Doritos, pizza and who knows what, as long it kills all that’s growing on a part of his body that I must encounter). A bottle of Burberry cologne was hidden at the bottom of the box. I put it right on top. He must smell good when he walks out the door with that perfectly coiffed hair. His little secret safe with me…and you…and you….and you….

The secret to living longer: Leaving the past behind

Do you ever meet a person that tilts your world? By that, I mean that what’s said stays around, seeping in layer after layer?

Two days ago I had the opportunity to interview a master yogi I’ll call Roberto. His actual title could be that of doctor, former police officer, father, husband and motivational speaker, because he is all of those things. He’s also one of the most successful network marketing professionals in the US. I won’t tell you his name though, because he’s going to be profiled in the current business book I’m writing on the subject of people who succeed and why.

The yogi told me this: “The majority of doctors agree that most medical issues are stress related. The media has it wrong. It’s not diabetes or cancer or heart failure that causes death, it’s stress. Those are simply manifestations of the cause.”

His words of wisdom that have been on my mind for the week?

Did you know that yoga practitioners
teach that hair is an extension of
wisdom, and that’s why a lot of men
don’t shave/cut their hair & why the women
have longer hair? I just learned this after 20
years of doing yoga!

“You can’t change yesterday and you can’t control the future. Live in the present.” Translation: do the best can on what you can, appreciate the little things (you woke up, the sun was shining, or if it’s grey and raining, that it’s raining because moisture is good).

Roberto then told me about leading a group of millionaire/billionaire hedge fund managers through a session on meditation. He’d been called in because the CEO of the group was worried about the suicide rate (can you imagine being the boss of a firm that has those kind of personnel issues? It’s not like we’re talking grumpiness about uniforms).

“Half-way through, I have several 35-ish type guys break down sobbing,” Robert tells me. The men are suddenly “aware” to the fact that they have zero purpose in life other than making money. And the majority of that money is derived from taking money from the pockets of others, who more often than not, know that it’s a grandkids college education or a retirement that’s being put at risk, and/or lost. The guilt of earning money on the backs of others who lose it was, in the words of the CEO, “literally killing then.”

Robert then said “people who live longer haven’t won and don’t win. Those who live longer in peace and comfort are the ones who win. You can still make a lot of money and have peace,” a motto, by the way, that Robert whole-heartedly believes in. “Who doesn’t want to make money? We all have a right to do that. But it has to be done in the correct way.”

This is my summary of the Master Yogi’s living in peace:

1. Guided by principles. Is what one does guided by a set of principles that stand the test of time.
2. Founded on good intentions. I like the word intention, because it means one is not setting out to screw another human being. The good intention is to put people to work, and if this is supported by principles, that work isn’t going to happen in a schloppy factory somewhere.
3. Leave the past behind. To err is human. That happened yesterday. Today is different. Today is for learning and for making difference decisions.
4. Look to the future, but don’t try and control it. The results of the your decisions today will show up tomorrow. The results may have unintended consequences–some good, some ill. Yet if the decision is based in solid principles and guided by good intentions, then the probability of a bad outcome is much lower. Even so, don’t worry about tomorrow. You did your best now let it go.
5. Daily meditation. A firm believer in meditation, Robert stressed that meditation can be moving (yoga, or even walking or Tai chi) but the goal is ‘quiet.’

I would modify the last line only slightly. I grew up repeating the phrase “do your best and let God do the rest.” You can substitute God with the God of your choosing, Karma, the Universe, or whatever force you believe it. It all comes down to the notion it’s I’ve taking it from my hands and put it in the hands of a higher being, and I’ve given all the stress and worry and angst that goes along with it.

In my kitchen, I have this phrase that says (in summary), thoughts becomes actions, actions become habits, habits become character etc. Robert started me thinking again…being more conscious of my every thought, action etc. And with that, I’m off to have a great Saturday.

600 Posts today. Claudius Caecus would be proud

Hello Germany and Puerto Rico…and a shout out to Chris Grant on this day of days, the one wherein I reach my 600th post. Crazy.

In honor of that tidbit, I’m posting a single sentence that Chris sent me today. He attached it to the end of an email, obviously flattering me that I’d know what it meant. Do you? (Yes, sassality readers. Show are brilliant you really are).

Faber est suae quisque fortunae

Get that? I didn’t. Clearly, Chris G gave me more credit that I deserved. I did what any self-respecting Netizen did. I plugged it into Bing (I’m having personal issues with Google right now).

Faber est suae quisque fortunae means

Every man is the artisan of his own fortune.  It’s a quotation from Appius Claudius Caecus
The rest is from the net…
 Appius Claudius Caecus (“the blind”; ca. 340 BC-273 BC) was a Roman politician from a wealthy patrician family. He was dictator himself and the son of Gaius Claudius Crassus, dictator in 337 BC.

During his term as censor, he built the Appian Way (Latin: Via Appia), an important and famous road between Rome and Capua, as well as the first aqueduct in Rome, the Aqua Appia.

The Invisible Wedding Ring

Another day, another splashy page alerting us all to the fact that ‘the ring is off the finger,’ intimating that the death of the relationship is on the horizon, using as evidence the fact that “the couple hasn’t been seen together since August 13.”

I rarely even wear my “wedding” or “anniversary” or
“engagement” rings, preferring the rings that Rog gets
for other occasions. This happened to be for my 
and our 15th yr anniversary.

Two things then flash through my mind. The first is that I don’t know a single married couple (or non-married but co-parenting) who make it to every event together. Can you imagine if the biggest rise in the local paper was “Roger and Sarah not seen together for
3 months?” What news. Truth be told, we follow the motto of ‘divide and conquer,’ for most occasions (you go to one school event and I’ll go to other so we have it covered). The only time we absolutely aren’t apart is for charity events, and even that doesn’t account for health issues or family emergencies (or a delayed flight).

Together- ness aside, don’t you think this whole obsession with wearing a ring is a little nutty? Marriage and togetherness is a state of mind, not a piece of metal. In high school (remember those days) and college for that matter, I didn’t need a ring to tell the world I was in love with some guy. I simply didn’t notice anyone else. The vibes I gave out were the ‘not interested’ type instead of the ‘come hither,’ sort.

Perhaps it’s because I was married before, it was short-lived and symbolized by a beautiful ring turned out to be worthless (I kid you not. side story; our deal was I’d buy the setting, he’d buy the ring. I thought I got a good deal, until I lost it at the beach, went to put in a claim and discovered that the only “real” part of the ring was the platinum setting that I had paid for. The stones were CZ. Nice).

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good piece of jewelry. 15 years of together-ness with Rog means that he bought me a ‘friendship ring’ that I ended up using as the ring for the marriage, and for two years later, until one December day, long after we’d purchased a home together, he decided I needed “a real ring.” That one is an indestructible round stone in a tension set platinum. 12 years later, he shot for the moon, purchasing me a radiant cut stone in an ornate fancy setting. It’s beautiful. It’s elegant. The problem is that it wears me. You know a ring outshines you when the first thing the waiter says after handing you the menu is ‘nice ring.’

Three years hence, I find myself wearing my original friendship ring most of the time, and sometimes, like right now, I’m wearing nothing. To my chagrin, I’ve realized the worse I’m feeling about my relationship (or self) the nicer the ring I wear. When I’m happy and in love, I don’t need anything. I don’t need the iron around my finger, but my feeling about the man I’m with is just as evident as if one existed. And that’s the way it should be.

Being a Dream Coach

I’d like to pretend I’m on those people that wakes in the middle of the night with a  bolt of inspiration and ten months later, I’ve whipped out a best-selling novel or creating the next health bar. Dream to inspiration to success, in three easy steps like the original 1978 Guinsu knife infomercials.

A few mornings ago, I woke, not with a new idea about a book, but a new vocation. It’s called A Dream Coach. Know that a dream coach is? My job definition for a Dream Coach is a person who listens to my dreams, my desires and my aspirations, then pushes back, refines and focuses my dream into something tangible. This is radically different from a Life Coach, who would require I live in a world of reality, and that defies the point. This isn’t reality, it’s my dream.

Not Found Here


Early on, I accused my husband of killing my dream(s). Know how? By not “supporting” it. I expected him to read and re-read every page of my crappy first manuscript, offering advice and tips in a constructive thoughtful manner that would embolden our relationship and of whom I’d then applaud in the front matter of my book (without my husband, this wouldn’t have been possible type of thing).

This was not to be. Rog is not Stephen King’s wife, retrieved a draft copy of Carrie from the trash when King thought it wasn’t good enough for print and encouraged him to keep after it. My husband would just say “there goes one more tree.”

The Dream Coach

I’d like someone with a confessional ear (non-judgmental), patient (I can talk about my dream 3x a wk if I want to), who is  forceful (after hearing my dream for the fourth time, shut me up and tell me to get going), and directed (project manage me/check in with my progress) and of course, fun (knows when to stop and get my chocolate ice cream). I don’t really want a dream killer to tell me the dream will take too long, is silly, outrageously expensive and in short, a waste of time. My dream coach would tell me a)I can do it, b) I will do it, c) I can learn the skills necessary to accomplish my dream, and d) I’d have fun along the way.

Me, Myself and my dream coach

I explain all of this to Roger, who looks like I’ve slipped a drug in his Coke, for he gives me this quasi-delusional look that asks “are we really having this conversation?” I instantly know there will never be a ‘right time’ for this conversation, at least not with him. I consider my alternatives… sibling, mom, friend…knowing why the coaching relationship won’t work before I ask the question. Each of these individuals are already convoluted with preconceived notions, roles and opinions about me, my life and my role therein that might take away from the dream at hand.

The only other person(s) in my life are peers from my professional world: fellow dreamers who believe the word “no” is two letters put together in a meaningless way. Those people who have one finger for the opinions of others. Individuals who act, and don’t whine.

Thinking back, I ask myself ‘have I ever shared my dreams with others in this category?’ Absolutely. In fact, the last time was in December, right after I ‘dreamt’ up the idea to launch a new business site. I shared my dream, got the feedback it might work, received inputs on what I might include and what things I should leave out. The following week, I created the site and launched it, making it publicly available.

From dream to delivery in eight days flat.

“That’s not really a dream,” Roger tells me. “That was an idea that you ran with. You skip right over the whole dreaming part.”

Am I really?

He shakes his head, disgusted he’s even having to tell me this. “I’ve been with you 15 years. You don’t have time dream. You just do. You just like the idea of dreaming because it sounds romantic.”

Huh. I’ll go dream about it…but I still like the notion of being someone’s Dream Coach. I might not need one, but I like to think I can motivate and inspire when others are negative, like the little brown raincloud in Winnie the Pooh. I’ll hang the sign on my door…Dream Coach In. Payment due when dream realized.

Inspirational Yelling

often am awoken at 3 am out of a sound sleep-arising like a vampire at the sound of pitchforks- and have Random thoughts that usually center on what I need to do or should have done. This morning (2/6) my thought was:

Am I doing all I should be doing to help others? I pressed the mental pause button so as to drown out the sound of my cat whining for food, and the faces of two people immediately came to mind. 

I’ve come to think of these early morning wake up calls as Inspirational Yelling. It’s the only time my inner spirit can be heard.

Now it’s 3:51 and ill go back to closing my eyes. Oddly and ironically, the question  wakes me up- the inspiration for the answer usually happens through a dream.

The Writer’s Bible: schedules that work

This is my evening writing spot:
on bed, classic 80’s movie playing for background
noise and cat. Can you name the movie?

Discipline is what makes a writer. It means staying in when the weather is nice, waking up early when the kids are asleep, skipping a ski day at college to get in eight hours of writing. But you’re there…you are willing to do all these things.

In the last 20 years I’ve learned that crafting a schedule that works is harder than actually writing, because it continually changes. Writing schedules during college are different (school, study, sleep, social),  and this is dramatically different from a full-time job with no kids, which doesn’t translate to any job (or no job) with children.

College schedule

Write in between study breaks.
After class, hit the library, take 10 minutes and re-read your outline, or your last chapter. Set the timer for 15 minutes minimum. That’s it. Then stop, do your homework. Why this order? Because you have put your dream first. It’ motivating. It’s inspiring, and this inspiration will encourage you to study more intensively, ignore the hot guy who’s eyeing you and get back to writing.

Career Writing

I couldn’t focus on writing before work until I’d had several books published. I was too tired to do it after work, usually because I had more take-home office materials that left me more time. The best time for me to write? When the rest of the world is on the Internet (not kidding. Just ask Jupiter Research).
3 PM in the afternoon.
Studies show this is when the brain needs a break. Assuming you have the right location (and vocation), set the timer and go. Short break is 15-20 or 30 max. Apply the same methodology. You will find the same sense of motivation as with college, but this environment lends itself to the benefits of creativity. I found that problem solving was made easier…my mind switched from dull to sharp. I was happier, because I worked on my dream. I was getting one step closer with each sentence and each paragraph. In a week, you can have a chapter.
Friday night.
Hit the gym and then go home and get after your dream. Even if you do this two Friday nights, while your peers are spending money and preparing for a night of carbo-loading, you are geared up for a serious progress over the next two days.
Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday is a “free day,” so it’s yours to plan. I will relate a my own experiences. When I exercise first, shower and then sit down to write, I’m so relaxed that after about 30 minutes, my body wants to sleep, not write. Because of this, I will write first, take a break to exercise, then go back.
Sunday.
During my many years in the career world, I traveled for 70% of the time. I didn’t bother write until I got on the plane. I prepared to write by reading my present work or other materials, so the minute I was cleared to open my laptop, and got after it. I found that writing on a plane can deliver a book in just a few months.

Writing with a Family

Marriage didn’t change my writing in the least. In fact, it improved my output. Rog is as determined and disciplined in his own life as I am–who else would work a full time job, play a college sport and get his graduate degree in 13 months. Compared to him, I’m a complete slacker.
Never, EVER, prioritize yourself over your children.
From day one–to now–I never opened my laptop when my kids were home. This only changed when my oldest daughter hit 1st grade (this year), and I’d sit by her with my computer as she did her homework. When she’s done, I’m done.
Morning.
I love nothing more than waking when the house is quiet. Going back to patterns I set in college, I get in at least 15 minutes–sometimes only 5!–but it’s starts me off right.
Naps.
Boy, is this the best time ever. It’s a no-brainer with one kid but harder with 2 kids.
Rotation. I found that Rog and I got testy when we didn’t have our “me-time.” Because of our personalities, this ‘me-time’ usually involved either physical activity (him hockey, me lots of things), we’d rotate. Not kidding you. This is what it looked like for the first 5 years–not it’s only slightly modified.

  • Saturday outing. At least 2 Saturdays a month (usually rotating) Dad would, and still does, take the girls for an outing by himself. The park. The zoo. The library. Whatever. Two hours was more than enough for me to crank out a nice set of pages. I’ll be honest. Sometimes I just napped. Don’t tell.
  • Sunday morning. Same thing as above, but this was on the opposite weekends. It was also nice because Rog could then mix in his own personal activities and be satisfied as well.
  • Evenings. I can’t get quality/quiet time until the kids are down. This has varied with age. Since they stay up later with each passing year, it’s gotten more challenging, because I wind down. I don’t push it now, but if they get to bed 9 latest-which is quite late, I will still get 2 solid ours in.

When you add all the hours up, it’s @2.5 hrs in the am, and 4-8 each weekend. Even without any strange evening slots, I’ve got 6.5-10 hours a week. That’s nearly 40 hours a month. A ton!

Time to create a novel.

Boy, isn’t this the most over-asked question. Authors are reluctant to say–why, I’m not sure, but I guess it’s because there is no “right” answer. If you say 3 months, it comes across as an egotistical lie (unless you’re Stephen King who says he writes 20 pages a day). If you say 6 months, then you suck. Reality is you write the framework, front to end. Then you go and add ‘layers.’ One might be narrative. Another description. Another character depth, and so on. This means another 7-11 times, but it’s here and there. Nothing like the first.

Here’s my answer. I go by hours. It takes me, on average, 20 hours to write 50 pages. That means in 1-3 months, I can have a book completed. The subsequent re-writes vary dramatically, but it’s another 2-3 months. So a completed, agent-ready book is 5-6 months, and it also includes a proof-reading period so the basics are caught–only a few days.

There it is. It’s achievable. It’s straightforward. It’s bloody time consuming, but you can do it.

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