Accountability Wednesdays: Week 16

Before I get started today, I want to send out a belated “Happy Easter!” to all those who celebrate the holiday, and I hope you had a good one! This Easter was the first one that I really got to celebrate with my daughter since she was too young to understand what it was about the first two years, and last year I was working on the other side of the country during the holiday. Since I had the opportunity I staged a little egg hunt with goodies (cream eggs, M&M’s, mini-eggs, and little plastic bracelets) in plastic eggs. It was too fun watching her run around looking for the eggs, sometimes staring right at them and walking past. She also got a Build-a-Bear Fluttershy (My Little Pony) from us, which was the first thing she ran right for, which of course made my heart melt. Throw in some books and candy and a couple of games for her LeapPad from the grandparents, and the little missy had quite a lovely day, and therefore so did I. Little joys, my friends. Little joys.

Also, decorating eggs is a necessity! :D
Also, decorating eggs is a necessity! 😀

And now that I’ve thoroughly cleansed your pallet, it’s time to muck it up with a week’s worth of failure. o.o

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

On the upside of things, I weighed myself this morning and I am almost three pounds lighter than I was when I had my meltdown last week. I’m not exactly sure how that happened, or whether either of those two weigh-in’s was accurate, because it doesn’t seem likely that I lost three pounds in one week without doing anything at all. But for now, I’ll take it.

The bad side of things is that I had an awful week for poor eating, due in part to the Easter holiday. I mean, come on, chocolate was everywhere. I also had a lot more pop than I should have, so I’m reasserting myself to avoid it this week. Water, water, water…maybe if I repeat it enough times I’ll start to enjoy drinking it. lol

The other bad side of things is that I did almost zero activity last week. I hopped on the treadmill once, and that was it. My FitBit should seriously have some kind of shock function that fills me full of voltage if I get fewer than so many steps in a day. >.>

But there is another upside! Kinda. See, I’ve got a plan. My plan partially hinges on the weather not being an ass, but it’s a plan none-the-less. I broke out an old book I’ve got called “Buff Brides” that I used when I was trying to lose weight for my wedding. It’s actually a pretty nice program, laid out in a simple-to-understand “do this on this day” system, and it helped me last time so I figure it can help me this time. The program involves weight training three days a week, starting with simple exercises that neither take too much time nor beat you out so that you end up quitting right away. It also encourages three days a week worth of cardio, so I’m going to hike up my britches, pay that my stomach holds itself together until the doctor’s can give me a more definitive answer about my gastronomic issues, and start my Zombies! Run! app again. I hope to start my new plan this Sunday – starting with a Zombies! run – but I’m not committing to it for certain because I’ve got some other things to deal with between now and then. If not this Sunday, it’ll be the following Sunday. Hold me accountable, people! Ask me how I’m doing and yell at me if I say anything other than “Great!”

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

This week was much like the previous week. I’ve been doing pretty well with Facebook and the blogging community, interacting and getting conversations going and the like. Twitter is my weak point and I’m not really sure what to do about it. For some reason it feels like a lot of extra effort to add that one site to my daily routine, and I think it’s because I can never think of anything to say that I can compress into less than 140 characters. I’m just too wordy, I guess. 😛

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

This is the crux of my failure right here. I keep telling myself that I’m going to work on it, and I keep daydreaming about what it will be like when I’m 100% done and sending the file to Create Space, and yet it never happens. Partially my problem is a mixture of laziness and lethargy – I’ve been very badly obsessed with sitting on my ass and playing video games the past while – but at least part of the problem is good-old-fashioned fear. I long to have my book finished and published, but I also fear it. It’s that stupid human way of fearing both failure and success simultaneously. What is wrong with the human mind? A great many things, it would seem.

That said, I stand before you now (or rather, sit behind my side of the computer screen) and swear to you all that I am going to get something done toward this goal this week. Even if it’s just to go through and fix the invisible typos that my beta-reader pointed out, I will do something this week, I promise.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

You know what? I’ve changed my mind. This is the crux of my failure. If there’s one thing that I know for sure that a writer has to do, it’s write. We have to write, write, and write some more, and then have a couple of cups of coffee and keep writing. I have completely failed this aspect of writer-dom during the month of April. I figured – I really did – that if I wrote and scheduled all my A to Z Challenge posts in advance, then I would have tons of time to write other things throughout April without having to worry about the blog. Technically that did happen. I’ve had time to write. I just haven’t been using it. I completely wasted three weeks of not having to worry about writing blog posts by completely failing to write anything else. This past week the only thing I wrote – literally, the only thing that wasn’t a Facebook status or a comment reply – was last week’s accountability post…for a grand total of 875 words. The really sad thing? That was actually a better total than last week.

So my second promise for this week is to write something every day, even if it’s just a couple hundred words of nonsense. This complete and utter laziness toward writing has got to stop. How can I ever consider myself a professional writer if I don’t write?

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 15

I’m not going to sugar-coat it…it’s been a bad week for goals. Honestly, I don’t even know where the week went. It feels like it should be Saturday or Sunday, not Wednesdays. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it feels like my days are about ten hours long, max, and even if I sleep a full 8 hours a night that still leaves six hours unaccounted for. How is that possible? I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the hubby bought me Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD for my birthday and I’ve been more than a little obsessed with it this past week. Maybe I’m just losing my mind.

Anyway, we may as well get this over with.

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

It’s big confession time. When I began this goal at the beginning of the year, I weighed myself to see where my starting point was, and made a personal note of that number. This morning I weighed myself again, mostly out of curiosity, and found that not only have I GAINED five pounds on top of that starting point, but I am now officially one pound heavier than my husband. He’s not a huge guy, so it’s not like it’s an enormous deal, but he does have about 8 inches in height over me, so it is a little bit of a big deal and I’m not happy with it.

This morning before I started writing this post I was actually considering putting this goal on hold for a month or so so that I could focus on the more important Goal #3, but now I feel like that would be a bad idea. I knew that I wasn’t doing well on this goal – I’ve been lazy and I never stick to a healthy diet for more than a day or two in a row – but I really wasn’t expecting to find out that I GAINED weight, and now I feel horrible. I am officially at the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life, which is approximately 50 lbs heavier than I should be. NOT HAPPY. NOT HAPPY AT ALL.

In related news, I’ve been in to my doctor to talk about my blood work. While it wasn’t terribly revealing, it did tell us that there is definitely inflammation somewhere in my body, and I now have an appointment for a CT scan on the 30th to see if they can find the location of said inflammation. I doubt that this particular issue (and it’s eventual treatment) will have any affect what-so-ever on the weight-loss end of this goal, but hopefully it’ll help out a bit with the “become healthier” part.

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

The week started out half decent with some blog community interaction and some tweeting and bumming around on Facebook. But the past three or four days have been truly abysmal. I have a major backlog of A to Z blog posts to check out from my fellow participants, and I don’t think I’ve replied to a comment on my own posts since Saturday or so. Not good, not good. Again, I’m truly disappointed in myself.

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

At the beginning of this past week I was genuinely confident that it was going to be the week that I finally got some work done on this goal. I thought, at the very least, that I would get through the list of “invisible typos” that my beta-reader made for me. You can probably tell by the “tone” of my wording that this did not, in fact, happen. It did not happen at all. That’s why I was considering putting Goal #1 on hold for a while, so at least I could focus a little better (maybe), but now I don’t know what I’m doing. I think I might need to hire a time management expert. Or maybe I just have to take my laptop and leave the house for a couple of hours every day. I don’t know. Suffice it to say that this past week was abysmal, and I’m still very disappointed in myself.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

And finally, the goal that is usually my saving grace only serves to cement that inner disappointment that I keep prattling on about. This week, despite doing nothing at all toward any of my other goals and, truly, doing nothing productive at all that I can think of, I also managed to write bugger all. Over the course of an entire week I managed to force a grand total of 718 words, an average of barely 100 words per day. Truly, truly, truly disappointed.

On the upside, I’ve already beaten last week’s word count with just this one accountability post, so I’ve got that going for me. 😛

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 14

Oh, look at that! Another week has passed! My, how the time flies. Did you know that Easter is only a week and a half away? I need to make some more of my edible birdy nests!

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

Are you all getting sick of hearing me talk about this particular goal yet? I’m kinda getting sick of talking about it, because the truth is that it’s been the absolute last thing on my mind. Okay, I shouldn’t say that…it’s been on my mind, but that’s about it.

It’s a combination of things, really, but if I’m truly being honest, I’m waiting to hear back from my doctor. I still haven’t gotten the info on the procedure I’ve been mentioning for a few weeks now, and in addition to that my usual doctor sent me for blood work last week as well. He wanted to check out my thyroid and a few levels (B12, iron, etc), and he’s also looking in several places for signs of arthritic problems, which are apparently common with the issue that we all believe I might have.

It’s sounds really weird, but I’m actually rooting for a couple of these possible issues to be confirmed. No one wants to be sick, and I can’t say that it won’t suck to possibly have to take pills every day for the rest of my life, but at this point I have so many complaints about so many different things that I am just dying for a doctor to say, “Yes, there IS something wrong with you, and if you take this medicine it will be better.” Does that make sense? I hope so.

Long story short, so much of my brainpower has been focused on waiting for my various reports to come back so that my doctor and I can discuss the results, I’ve been completely unwilling to care about anything else. Terrible excuse, I know, and you would think that having health problems would encourage me to eat better and exercise, but I guess you’d be wrong. :\

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

I’ve got to say, I’ve been really up on this one this past week. I’ve spent a ton of time on a ton of blogs, plus engaging in tons of conversations with fellow bloggers, plus having great success with my Facebook Author page. It’s been pretty top-notch. My week point is definitely Twitter, but I’ve even been gaining some followers over there, and having a couple of pleasant interactions, so it’s still all good!

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

I should be totally ashamed of the fact that I still haven’t actually opened my Scrivener file and gotten to work on the last round of edits, but I’m not. You know why? Because I spent that time this week instead making this:

And I’m so happy with it, I can’t even tell you. I know it’s not the most super-professional-looking cover you’ve likely seen, but it’s mine. It was created using a photo taken by my father, and I made all the adjustments and additions myself. I even modified it using Create Space’s Cover Creator, so I know that when it comes time to set everything up it will fit perfectly. And to top it all off, I made a rear cover as well, which only needs to have the novel summary added to it.

In other words, while I’ve failed to spend any time on the actual manuscript, I am, at least, this one step closer to publication. Yay!

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

I’ve got to say, it’s been a bit of a weird week. Wednesday through Saturday I wrote absolutely nothing. Unless you count blog comments, which I don’t. So nothing then. I was having so much fun bouncing around from blog to blog, taking part in the A to Z Challenge, that I wrote nothing.

When I realized this on Sunday, I thought that I’d better do some kind of writing. I didn’t want to blog (I spent so much time setting up the A to Z posts in advance that I’m enjoying the little break, thank you), and I didn’t want to edit (should have, but didn’t want to). And so I found myself opening up the file for my Final Fantasy novelization, and seriously? It was just what I needed. I’ve been typing away like a maniac for the past three days, and with just that one project I managed to squeak 7681 words out of those three days. It’s not exactly the most important thing I have to work on, but writing a little bit of goofy nonsense that I don’t have to think too hard about has been absolutely great. I think I might just have to do it for a little while longer. What do you think?

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 13


The A to Z Challenge is well on it’s way! I enjoyed the company of several new visitors to the blog yesterday (*waves* Hi everyone!) as well as a spike in stats, and I also visited some truly wonderful posts by my fellow bloggers. Keep it up everyone! We can make it through April together!

And as promised, an accountability post, because I can’t just quit being accountable for a whole month. 🙂

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

Believe me when I tell you that it does make me cringe and hang my head to come here and hold myself accountable for this particular goal, but that accountability is not exactly helping at the moment. I seem to be going through another one of my trademark “binge” modes. I’m telling you, I don’t know why this happens every so often, but once again I find myself eating everything in sight. I’m constantly hungry. Even when I eat things full of fiber and good stuff I still find myself hungry a very short time later. The best thing I can tell you about this past week is that I’ve been able to mostly avoid pop.

On the “healthier” side of things, I have a doctor’s appointment first thing tomorrow to discuss the results of the procedure I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I’m expecting that it was all clear, as the doc who preformed it suggested immediately afterwards, but we’ll see. I’d love to have some answers for a change, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

You can’t see, but right now I’m holding up my hand and waving it back and forth in a “so-so” motion to indicate how the past week was for social media. I’m finding myself on Facebook a lot more than usual, but Twitter is a little harder. I dropped in a few times this week, but I rarely find myself with anything interesting to say that can be reduced to 140 characters or less, so I mostly just read other people’s Tweets and “favorite” them. 😛

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

On the bad side of things, I once again went through an entire week without even touching this. On the upside of things, I worked my arse off the past week so that I could get my A to Z posts planned and out of the way, so now there is literally nothing stopping me from working on my manuscript, aside from the obvious desire not to do so. Really, truly, I do want to get this finished, but I’m just so sick of editing, you have no idea. I desperately just want to lock myself in a room with my laptop and a blank Scrivener file and start something new. But I mustn’t. Editing. Dammit.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

As mentioned, I put a real push on last week to ensure that I had April pretty much covered for blog posts. It was literally the only thing I did as far as writing, but it worked out in my favor, all things considered. I wound up with a very respectable 9054 words this week, and I am very close to hitting the 100,000 mark for the year so far. Now if I could just get that editing out of the way so that I can do some fiction writing again…*mumble, grumble*…

And that’s it for this week! Later peeps!

Mini Edible Birdy Nests!

Easter is still a little ways away, but since I have plans for my blog for the month of April (to be revealed soon), I thought I’d share this little recipe early. It can be used as a “Spring” treat instead of a strictly Easter treat anyway. 🙂

I first came across the idea for these yummy little concoctions on a Facebook post that my mother shared, but I’ve tweaked the recipe a little. Both ways work, but I’m going to share my version because they’re delicious. 😀

Ladies and gents, I present to you: Birdy Nests!

No birdies were harmed in the making of these delicious treats.
No birdies were harmed in the making of these delicious treats.

The parts of these cute little creations are as follows:
– Sugar cookie dough
– Shredded coconut
– Frosting (type of your choosing)
– Cadbury Mini-Eggs (or suitable facsimile – I used a generic brand that I found at Walmart that taste exactly the same for about 2/3 of the price)
– Food coloring (as desired…you don’t need it, but they’ll look more like nests if you put in the little bit of extra effort)

The first step in the original recipe is to use store-bought sugar cookie dough. I could have done that, and it probably would have been a little quicker and easier, but I was like, screw it…I’ve got a cookbook! So I whipped up my own batch of dough, because dammit, I can be domestic sometimes! If you’d like to make your own (I can’t guarantee that the store-bought stuff will divide properly for the rest of this recipe), here’s the recipe I used:

Soft No-Roll Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar (**I actually didn’t have powdered sugar, so I just used 1 full cup of granulated sugar, and it came out just fine**)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat the sugar(s), butter, oil, milk, vanilla, and egg with a mixer, or do like me and just whip the hell out of it with a spoon until it looks thoroughly mixed. Stir in the remaining ingredients until everything is nice and smooth. At this point you may wish to add some food coloring to dye the dough a pretty, Easter-y color, but I don’t necessarily suggest it. I tried to dye my dough purple, but I think the dough is just too thick for the dye to take easily. I used twice as much dye as I once used for a similarly-sized batch of cupcake mix and still I only had the faintest of colors.

Moving on, cover your dough and refrigerate for a couple of hours so that it is nice and firm and easy to work with.

While the dough is cooling, take about a quarter of a cup of granulated sugar in a bowl, and add food coloring of your choice. I did purple, to make up for the fact that the dough didn’t dye properly. Note: when you add drops of food coloring to sugar it will clump. Just smoosh the sugar with a spoon, stirring every now and then, until the color evens out. Now you’ve got pretty, colored sugar! Yay!

Once the dough has been chilled for a while, remove and divide into 24 like-sized balls. Make sure you roll the balls nice and smooth, and then roll them in the colored sugar. At this point you’re going to drop the balls into the cups of a mini-muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. The mini-muffin pans make a nice size for the nests, but if you really wanted to you could divide your dough into 12 double-sized balls and use a regular-sized muffin pan. They’d be pretty damn huge though, I’m just saying.

So once you’ve rolled, sugared, and dropped all of your little sugar-cookie-dough balls into your mini muffin pan, you can pop them in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. DO NOT squish the balls down into the pan. Just drop them in the cups and into the oven they go.

Bake your muffin-shaped-sugar-cookie concoctions for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they’re not cooking too quickly. You don’t want them to start browning. They’re ready when they actually look like little muffins, popping out over the top of the muffin cups.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately begin poking in the tops of the sugar-cookie-muffins. It should be pretty obvious what you’re doing at this point: you’re creating the nest shape. The deeper you can make the impression the better because it will make sure that everything else you’re going to add will stay in the “nest”, but don’t scald yourself. The insides of those cookies are hot! (Me smart.)

Now, this isn’t part of the recipe, but when I had my nests all nice and properly shaped, I threw them back in the oven for a couple of minutes. My reasoning was that it would help the nest shape to set. I don’t know if my reasoning was sound or not (I’m not into the whole science aspect of baking), but I can tell you that it definitely didn’t hurt. After the second time I took my pan out of the oven I immediately removed the cookie-muffins from the pan (with the help of a spoon), and placed them on a glass cutting board to cool. Reasonably, I should have put them on a wire rack, but I have to be honest here: I have never, ever owned a wire rack, so I’ve always skipped that step of every recipe ever.

Once the cookie-nests are out of the pan and cooling, it’s time to prepare the final pieces of the puzzle. First, take your shredded coconut and put about half a cup of it in a Ziploc bag. Add a couple of drops of green food coloring, squeeze most of the air out of the bag, and seal. Now just mush the bag around in your hands for a couple of minutes to spread the dye around. It might not seem like it’s working at first, but trust me, it’ll start to spread as you keep mushing.

With that done, get out your frosting. I used a store-bought container in cream cheese flavor, but this isn’t a science and I’m sure any brand, type, or flavor will do, to your liking. I also used a piping kit (I had some bags left over from my last decorating endeavor) to make things a little easier on myself, but it’s not really necessary. You just want to put a nice dollop of frosting in the indentation of each “nest”; it’ll help hold everything together. Once you’ve got a nice bit of frosting in each of your nests, take your now-green shredded coconut and sprinkle on the top of each. The result should look like one of those old Easter baskets (the kind almost no one uses anymore) with the colored “straw”. Too cute, right? But that’s not the end!

MINI-EGGS! Take your mini-eggs (or you could also use something like jelly beans or any other egg-shaped treat as you desire) and poke a couple into each nest. TA-DA! You have adorable little nests, complete with eggs, and the whole thing is deliciously edible!

The first thing she did was put her lips up to it and suck out one of the eggs.
The first thing she did was put her lips up to it and suck out one of the eggs.

As a final note, the original recipe also called for string licorice, cut into properly-sized pieces, to make the “handles” of the baskets. Since I’m calling my treats “nests” instead of “baskets”, I didn’t bother with that…also because I had bad visions of my daughter trying to carry the “baskets” by the handle and causing terrible disasters. But it is an option if you so choose!

Happy munchies! ❤

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 12


First off, in case anyone is curious, the day surgery that I mentioned previously that took place on Monday went fine. I was so hungry that I had a permanent throbbing in my head, and the whole day surgery area of the hospital was backed up so I didn’t end up actually getting in until about an hour late, but all in all it went pretty well. I managed to grit my teeth through the IV insertion (I don’t mind needles so much, but when they’re poked in the underside of my elbow I get squeamish) and about twenty minutes later it was all over. I didn’t even fall asleep, which was really surprising because usually the littlest amount of drugs make me woozy. I hung out in recovery for half an hour just so they could determine that I was fully awake (how could I not be when I never fell asleep?) and on my way out the doctor mentioned to me that everything had looked pretty much perfectly fine. That’s good, in one sense, but also kind of bad because it means that they haven’t found the problem yet, and we already know that there is a problem. So I guess I’m going to be scheduled for a cat scan next. Fun times! I’m getting to experience the whole gambit of exploratory medicine! 😛

And so, moving on to the real point of this post:

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

As previously mentioned, I gave myself a bit of a pass this week because of the aforementioned day surgery. I had to fast for almost two days, which was excruciating, and also I never want to see a spoonful of Jello again. The days leading up to that I pigged out on whatever I damn well pleased, because yeah. Right after the procedure I ate a delicious roast meal courtesy of my grandmother-in-law, and then went home and ordered a garlic fingers. So yeah, it hasn’t been a great week for food. Neither has it been a great week for exercise, which I all but decided not to do. At all. I’m horrible, I know.

And here’s the thing. Out of curiosity, I weighed myself right before I started my fast, and lo and behold…I’ve gained five pounds since the start of this goal. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but I am definitely extremely disappointed in myself. The food thing is a sore spot for me because I crave food like a ravenous wolf even when I shouldn’t be hungry, but there’s no reason that I can’t at least be counteracting some of that over-eating with decent exercise habits. I mean, cripes, I have a treadmill in my basement. And dumbbells. And a yoga mat. And tension bands.

Someone, please, give me a good kick in the arse, will you?

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

Not bad, but definitely not my best week. I all but forgot about Twitter this week, although I have been pretty diligent on updating my Facebook Author Page with new posts and the occasional related “share”. The big thing has been networking amongst my fellow bloggers, particularly the ones who are going to be participating in the A to Z Challenge coming up soon. On “Theme Reveal” day I saw quite a nice little boost to my own stats while bouncing from blog to blog, checking out what everyone is going to be writing about. It was quite fun, and quite good for the blog as well (I’ve amassed a few new followers…hi everyone!), and I can’t wait for the actual challenge to see how the month goes. 🙂

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

Again, I feel like a complete tool for not even touching this this week. Surely this should be my top priority since I’m so close now, right? Well, I have a few explanations to admit to. Not excuses mind you, just explanations. See, for one thing, I’m so sick of editing that it’s making me grind my teeth just thinking about it. I want to finish with this manuscript, but when I sent it off to my beta-reader I was honestly expecting a few weeks grace…instead she finished the entire thing in one night! It was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it also meant that editing was thrown back in my court right away, instead of the nice long break that I was expecting.

Other thing is just plain stress and fear. I’m excited to have the manuscript done, but I’m terrified of what’s to come after that. I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to self-publish this one, and it hurts my head thinking about everything that needs to be done before I can hit that final goal. For one thing, I’m going to need a cover, and I’m a crap designer. I don’t know if I should use a photograph or ask someone to draw something for me, or just have some kind of creepy design with the title overlaid on top of it. I have no idea what I’m going to write for the back cover, or how I’m supposed to format the inside. I know that there are tons of guides out there to help with this kind of thing, but then all that reading just becomes on more thing that I have to do and that stresses me out even more.

I desperately want to work on this this week, I really do. So let’s see if I can overcome that mountain of fear-stress over the next couple of days, okay?

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

This week was not nearly as good as I was expecting it to be. You see, I’ve been working on the A to Z Challenge, planning posts out in advance. I figured, this past week, that I would just fly through those 26 posts, and that the result would be a healthy word count. Instead I only managed a handful of posts, and that was absolutely it. In my defense, I had a couple of rotten days. The fasting and the resulting headaches made it pretty much impossible to do anything at all, and day surgery day was a write-off because I was busy dealing with that from 9 am to about 4 pm. Then, yesterday, the hubby and I decided to take a day shopping trip in the nearest “real” city (an hour and a half drive away) so that he could pick up a present for my upcoming birthday, so that was a write-off as well. Long story short, I wound up with 4515 words, which isn’t really half bad, but isn’t anywhere near where I was hoping to get. Better luck this week?

Love the Skin You’re In

I was not aware of this until late Tuesday night, but apparently there is a photo challenge making it’s way across the social networks at the moment. Depending on whose Facebook or other social status update you click on it may be called a number of things…the ones I’ve come across are “Zero Make-Up Challenge”, “Love the Skin You’re In Challenge”, and “All-Natural You Challenge” amongst others. Regardless of what it’s called, it’s always the same: take a photo of yourself without any kind of make-up or enhancements, do not modify the photo in any way (like using filters to make your skin a nicer color or something), and then post that photo for the world to see. The idea is to promote a healthy image of yourself and to show that beauty isn’t the result of make-up application or Photoshopping. After posting your own un-made-up, unaltered photo, you’re supposed to nominate others to take up the challenge as well. The whole thing is taking off like wildfire, and recently my cousin nominated me, so I shared this photo – taken first thing in the morning right after waking – on my Facebook feed:

I particularly like the big black circles under my eyes. :P
I particularly like the big black circles under my eyes that prove I barely slept that night. 😛

For myself, this challenge wasn’t a huge deal because I never wear a lot of make-up anyway. Every so often if I’m going to a party or a wedding or something I’ll add a bit of mascara and maybe some eyeliner, but for the most part I only ever wear lipstick, and only that because I find it detracts from how pale my skin is. It’s not necessarily that I don’t think I look nice wearing make-up; I’m just one of those few women who is way too lazy to give a damn. I like being able to be out the door in 2 minutes. Spending an hour in the bathroom meticulously working on my hair and face just isn’t how I like to spend my time.

Despite the “lazy as hell” part of that confession, I honestly think it’s a good attitude. After all, the fact that I’m not willing to spend time on things like make-up proves that I’m comfortable in my own skin, right?

But it is a difficult attitude to have, for sure, and I didn’t always think that way. I can remember back in junior high I used to obsess over the state of my hair. I always wore it in a ponytail, which you’d think would be pretty simple, but I couldn’t allow a single hair to be out of place. It would practically kill me if there was even a single little bump in the way my hair sat, so I would meticulously comb and comb and comb until every stand was perfectly flat against my head, and then I would hair-spray the crap out of myself to make sure it all stayed in place. When I would pull the ponytail out at the end of the day my hair wouldn’t even fall…that’s how much hair spray I would use.

Unfortunately when we’re younger and stupider it doesn’t really matter what anyone says…almost every one of us obsesses over our looks. One kid might sulk in a corner, insistent that they’re ugly and that there’s no point in even trying, while another will spend hours each day making sure that every little thing about their appearance is absolutely perfect. I think you’d be hard pressed to find many teenagers who can just get up in the morning, brush their hair, throw on some jeans and a t-shirt, and honestly believe that they look great. Even the boys I went to school with would spend all morning and half a bottle of hair gel to make themselves look like they’d just rolled out of bed looking gorgeous. No matter how much we try to convince kids that they’re all beautiful in their own way, they don’t believe it because that’s part of being a kid.

The bigger issue, I think, is when those attitudes follow you into adulthood. If you’re in your own place, with a career, possibly a spouse and some kids, and you still feel that you have to spend vast amounts of time and effort making yourself look “beautiful” every day, well…that’s a bit depressing. And that’s why I love this challenge. That photo of me up there might not be me at my best, but it’s me. The messy bun on top of my head is there because I’d rather snuggle with my husband for a few extra minutes in the morning instead of jumping right up and rushing off to the shower. The dark circles under my eyes are signs of loving my daughter enough to drag my butt out of bed at 2 am to go get her a drink. The lack of make-up shows that I have better things to do with my time than make myself “pretty” just to hang around the house. That’s me in that photo, through and through, and I have no good reason to try and be anyone else, thank you very much. 🙂

So how about it, ladies and gents? Are you willing to take the challenge? Post an unaltered photo of an unaltered you on your blog or social network site and link back so that I can see your commitment! 🙂

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 11

I’m gonna admit something here…I have no idea where the past week went. It just kinda…disappeared on me. I spent the rest of last Wednesday tidying up and washing bedsheets, so that I could spend all day Thursday cooking, so that I could entertain the visitors I had Thursday night. Then I spent most of Friday hanging out with the baby because she always gets super upset when visitors leave, after which I spent most of Saturday and Sunday being lazy as balls and playing my Vita because dammit, I deserved it. Monday…I honesty have no idea what happened to Monday…it’s as though it never actually existed in my timeline. And finally, yesterday, I spent most of the day on my laptop, catching up on blog posts because I’m getting used to this whole scheduling-ahead thing and I didn’t want to muck it up.

As you see, there wasn’t a lot of working on goals up in that nonsense. Time to break out the flogging hoses again.

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

I did get a little bit of exercise this week, I swear (although most of it was in the form of running up and down stairs while doing laundry), and I have been managing to mostly stick to water as my go-to beverage (mostly in the form of coffee and tea…without sugar, I swear). That’s pretty good, right?

If I’m honest though, this goal has been the absolute last thing on my mind recently. Not good, I know, but I’m sure you’ll give me a break when you hear why. See, I have a procedure coming up this coming Monday. Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious, but it does require me to fast for the full day before the procedure. And since the procedure is later in the day,and I have to start the fasting very early in the morning (thus, the fast will really start when I fall asleep the night before) the full extent of my fasting will actually be closer to two full days. In other words, I’ve resolved to enjoy my food for the days leading up to Saturday night. For almost two full days I’m only going to be able to drink water, tea or coffee with nothing in them, clear fruit juices and Poweraid, and Jello (and friends, you just know that if Jello is the only thing I can “eat”, I’m going to end up devouring a dozen boxes of it). Basically, cut me a break on my eating habits for the past few days and the next few, because I’m not going to be able to eat at all for about 40 hours in a row in the near future. ARG.

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to the social aspect of my platform this week. It’s not that I haven’t been social, I just haven’t really been thinking about it. I’ve spent a bit of time on Twitter lately, but the big thing this past week has been Facebook. As mentioned last week, I have an Author Page now (you can see the link to it off to the right of this page…please Like!) and I’ve been interacting with that a lot, posting my blog posts there and talking to the people who wander by. My Klout score has been steadily rising in the past few weeks, so I guess that’s a good sign? I’ve never really understood the Klout system, but I’m confident that rising numbers is a good thing. 😛

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

This is the one that I’m genuinely ashamed of. I haven’t done a thing this week again. In my defense, my laptop was shanghaied for the majority of the week, so I had nothing to work on. I suppose I could have copied my files over to my husband’s laptop, but considering that his laptop overheats so bad that you can’t let it touch your bare skin, and several of the keys stick constantly, it wasn’t exactly a preferable solution. So instead I did nothing. I’m incredibly disappointed in myself, if that’s worth anything.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

This was actually a really weird week. Because of the aforementioned shanghaiing of my laptop, I didn’t get much of anything written in the first half of the week. I was pretty confident that by the time I came to write this accountability post I was going to have a shameful word count of somewhere in the 500-word range. However, things really started looking up yesterday (after I got my laptop back) when I took to WordPress to get some posts written. I still don’t know how it happened, but somehow I ended the day with a very acceptable 6751 words. I am now very close to three quarters of a hundred thousand words, which isn’t too shabby for the end of March. I’m still about 30,000 words behind where I should be at this point, but based on last year I’m not surprised that I should be behind at this point.

And so, week 11 is down, and week 12 is going to be an odd because of that whole fasting thing. Maybe I’ll write something really weird and interesting while I’m knee-deep in Jello.

A Thief By Any Other Name…is Still a JERK!

For a number of reasons the internet is a wonderful tool for the use of artists of every kind. It allows us to network with our peers and our fans, to take the reins on our own marketing and distribution, to do various kinds of research, and a world of other useful things. It makes our lives and platforms easier to handle and, if we so choose, allows us to share ourselves and our work with the world on a scale of our own choosing.

But there are also pitfalls. One such pitfall that never ceases to destroy my trust in people is plagiarism.

Plagiarism is something I never honestly thought that I would have to worry about. When I was still in school the only kind of plagiarism you ever heard about was kids copying each others’ work or copying entire sections of their essays out of library books. Even as I moved on to the college world the most you really came across was when truly stupid students would copy sections of Wikipedia pages without realizing that Wikipedia is created by volunteer input and is therefore not necessarily correct in any way, shape, or form.

These days, however, I can give you a list of pieces that I have seen plagiarized on the internet. I have several artist friends who have found their drawings/paintings/etc posted on other peoples’ websites with no credit given to the original creator. I know a number of writers who only found out through the help of their readers that other people were snatching their work from sites like and and posting it on their own websites with their own names attached. I even know a few people who write for professional websites who have found their articles copy-and-pasted onto other people’s sites with the impression that it belonged to the thief. And just recently my father, who loves photography and regularly posts his photos on Facebook, was informed by a friend that other photographers were ganking his pictures and claiming them as their own. In most of these cases the original creators had no intention of making money from their work, which is why they were sharing it freely, but that does not give other people the right to steal that work and turn around and use it for their own purpose.

Maybe we should just all start attaching these to everything we do.
Maybe we should just all start attaching these to everything we do.

Some people may say that if the thief isn’t making any money off the stolen work, then what should it matter? And I’m here to tell you that it matters a lot. For one thing, if two people are claiming ownership of the same work, how do the fans know who to trust? If, for instance, someone stole one of my stories and posted it on their own site, how many readers might read it on that site first, and therefore assume that I am the thief? Now my name has been besmirched even though I am the victim. For another thing, you have to think about things like exposure and building a portfolio. Take my father for this example. He currently has no intentions of making any money from his hobby, but someday he might, and all the photos that he’s been taking and sharing with the world will be part of his portfolio. But if other people have been taking his photos and claiming them as their own, they will have been spending all this time building up their own portfolios with those stolen photos. They’ve been gaining all the ill-gotten exposure while my father has been simply enjoying his hobby, and if his intentions do change, he’ll be basically starting over from scratch because he’ll have no way to prove that those photos were truly his all along.

There are certain things that an artist can do to protect their work, such as watermarking photos and emailing manuscripts to yourself (so that the email server has a time stamp of how long that particular file has been in your possession), but action rarely stops plagiarizers. The internet is an enormous virtual Universe that is unfortunately filled with quite a large number of jerks, and in the many examples of plagiarism that I’ve seen, the only reason the victims even found out about their work being stolen was because fans found out and informed them of the outrage.

So with that said, I offer a suggestion to the masses: keep an eye out for one another. To my knowledge no work of mine has ever been plagiarized, but for all I know there could be a dozen other blogs out there posting my Final Fantasy novelization and claiming it as their own, and I would definitely want to be informed if someone happened to wander across such a thievery. I’m sure any one of you would want the same. So keep your eyes open, friends and fellow artists. We are a community and we have to have each others’ backs on this one. Don’t let the thieves win!

Accountability Wednesdays: Week 10


I almost forgot to write this post today, and I blame that on the fact that I have very little good to report. I lost an entire day this week as a result of having to drive quite a ways for a doctor’s appointment (which served almost no purpose besides scheduling day surgery, which really could have just been done over the damn phone), and I spent most of the other days trying to get organized, do some work around the house, and search for a new job, all while dealing with the little barnacle that I call my daughter. You have been forewarned: this will not be a great accountability post.

Goal #1: Lose ten pounds and become healthier overall.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha…oh my. I don’t even know what to say here. I can tell you that on one day near the beginning of this week I spent about forty minutes playing a dance game on the PS3 and that I haven’t touched it since because it made me feel absolutely horrible about myself. I can also tell you that I’ve been continuing on with my attempts to drink mostly water, so that’s a good thing, I guess. But also, my eating habits have been horrible this week. I don’t know how much chocolate I ate this week. I think I only ate breakfast once in the last seven days. There was one day when I ate a lot of fruit, but I subsequently was sick of it after that and changed over to junky stuff. There’s been a veggie tray sitting in my fridge for almost an entire week now, with healthy dip even, but I haven’t even broken the seal on the sticker.

I am in such a mood this week, you have no idea. It’s no excuse, I know, but just trust me when I say that I don’t even feel bad.

(Except for the part when I stepped on the scale and totally ended up feeling bad. Very bad.)

Goal #2: Be more active on social media and work hard on my “author platform”.

On the one hand, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Facebook this week, specifically on my new Author Page, which I have linked to on the right sidebar of this page, under my photo. Please visit and “Like”! 😀

On the other hand, I’ve been totally absent on Twitter, for the most part, and I’ve only managed to scrape together a minute here and there to interact with other bloggers. I don’t know what it is the past few days, but I swear my days are just flitting away from beneath me while I somehow manage to not get anything done. What’s up with that?

Goal #3: COMPLETE my zombie apocalypse novel, Nowhere to Hide.

At the very least I wish I could say that the reason I haven’t been accomplishing anything else is because I’ve been busy working on the final draft of my novel. I wish I could say that. Alas, it would be an enormous lie. I haven’t even opened the file, or glanced at my beta-reader’s notes. I’ve done absolutely nothing and I feel positively horrible about it because it’s terribly unprofessional. Please feel free to yell at me.

Goal #4: Write 500,000 words.

On this one front I will say that the week wasn’t too bad, but it still wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Remember last week when I said that I was going to at least double my word count from that week? Yeeeaaaahhh….that didn’t happen. With the bits of time I managed to actually sit at my computer and think I wrote a few blog posts that totaled up to 4923words. Not too shabby, but nowhere near doubling last week. This is not me whining, I’m just pointing out that I’m consistently failing. Ha!

So now that all that painfulness is out of the way, let’s just go ahead and pretend that week 10 never happened. On to week 11!