Monthly Archives: January 2011

Busy Times at the Moment

Things are a bit crazy behind the scenes for me at the moment, so my blog posting will probably be sporadic for a bit.   I just found out two days ago that my short story entry placed first in a yearly short story contest in a glossy regional magazine, and it will be published in their March 2011 issue.   So I’ve just hit the milestone of having a story published for the first time.  As the publication date approaches I’ll post the name of the magazine.

I also signed up for the Denise Little Workshop at the very last moment, and am now scrambling to get caught up with everyone else and get the travel arrangements nailed down.

EAT THIS, NOT THAT for preventing travel weight gain

I’ve discovered that a 5-10 lb. weight gain doesn’t have to be a fact of life when doing long business or vacation travel.   I went to Disneyland over this past winter break, and managed to come back without gaining any weight despite eating out every day for almost a week.  I attribute the lack of weight gain to reading EAT THIS, NOT THAT! by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding before going.

Writing is a very sedentary lifestyle and even daily exercise doesn’t change that much (unless one sets up a treadmill desk system).   So part of preventing weight gain is managing the calories being eaten.  Zinczenko’s book turned out to be a terrific resource for getting a handle on the calories of various grocery store  items and food chain meals.

I had a misconception that salads were always healthier than anything else on the menu.  Boy, was I wrong!  It all depends on how the restaurant makes the salad–sometimes it can be a lot healthier to just get some chicken tacos or a lean strip steak with a potato instead of a specialty salad.   The “Worst Salad” winner in the book has 1,800 calories.

While in California, I went to a restaurant which actually had calorie data for all of the dishes, and I found it a great help in figuring out what to eat.  Sometimes I found that what I wanted to eat (two fried eggs for breakfast) had a lot fewer calories than what I thought would be “good” for me.  I was able to choose dishes that would be enjoyable to eat, but wouldn’t give me a killer 1,500 to 2,500 calorie hit for just one meal.

Now I find myself thinking about how weight gain can happen inadvertently when one has misconceptions about the actual calorie count of a meal item at a restaurant.   I’ve got a week of business travel coming up in April, and it’s a relief to have a better handle on what to eat and what to avoid.  EAT THIS, NOT THAT is definitely worth checking out if one has to travel a lot.

The Joys of Project Gutenberg and E-Readers

I went on a trip to Disneyland, and for the first time experienced the joys of not having to lug around a stack of paperbacks and hardbacks in my backpack.  I just got an e-reader (a Nook) and had a wonderful time exploring the Project Gutenberg website, whose mission is to provide to readers free access to classic books and reference works in the public domain (though donations are encouraged).

I was able to download electronic versions of books such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND, TREASURE ISLAND, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, EMMA, and several other classics.

If you’ve ever lugged around a hardback version of THE COLLECTED WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, you know what a pain it is to the back and wrists.  Being able to carry Shakespeare around in a feather light electronic device was a joy.  Plus, when we got stuck in the airport due to flight delays from all the snow back east, I had enough old classics written for kids on the Nook to keep my son entertained for hours.

I’ve heard people talk about how they’ll never get an e-reader because they love the smell of paper, but I think one can have fun owning both paper and electronic books.  Each format serves best in certain situations.  When stuck in an airport, an electronic reader is an amazing tool for people who love to read and who want to share that love with their children.

I also encourage writers who are doing research to check out the non-fiction collections that Project Gutenberg has put together. I’ve found some wonderful out-of-print reference books from the 19th century to download to read in preparation for doing various writing projects.

Project Gutenberg provides their electronic files in various formats (ePUB, Kindle, rtf, html, and txt).

An Interview With Tyler Perry

Whatever your opinion may be about playwright/director/actor Tyler Perry’s work, consider reading the interview he did with Oprah for the December 2010 issue of her magazine.

When he started out, Mr. Perry’s plays failed six times in a row over six years (one play failure each year, and then he’d have to work odd jobs to scrounge up the money to start over the following year). It wasn’t until the seventh attempt that he wrote and produced a play that succeeded.

During those six years when he was trying to make it, there were times he was sleeping in his car to put together the funds for the next play production attempt.

Too often there’s a belief that one must be successful with the first short story, novel, screenplay, or play written. And that if one fails, that means one has no talent and should just give up.

It takes time to learn a craft and reach a professional level. An important lesson to take away from Tyler Perry’s story is that one must be willing to learn from failure.