Wednesday, July 28, 2010

600 Miles and I'm Not Stopping In Hell

4 am is going to come early. But we'll manage.

We're charged for such a journey. I mean, players, games, camera, video camera, phones, all charged. We anticipate such a long journey will eventually charge us so that once we hop out at our final destination we will be ready and rearing to enjoy James' Ironman.

No specific plan outside of the end goal in mind. Sightseeing should be good, after all we are leaving Corona, heading through Los Angeles, going up the coast via the 5, stopping periodically along the way, charging through the central coast, flying past Silicon Valley, and prepping for a luncheon in San Francisco all before we get to Guernville area. (I have no idea where that is, just that the Russian River flows there.)

I came across a quote from Winston Churchill this morning:


I have to admit, this is a really good quote. It can be applied to almost anything in life (I say anything in hopes that the Hell isn't going to exist in the car for 600 miles; kids fighting, static stations, motion sickness, kinked necks, drowsy drivers, snack fiasco, drink spillage, traffic. )

So, the only thing I know for certain is that I will not stop for souvenirs in Hell no matter how much the kids beg and plead, hopefully James won't either.

We're all on a journey, writer's too. If you're stopped, it's not because your journey has ended, it's most likely because your checking out the sites and picking up some souvenirs in Hell. GET BACK ON THE ROAD! DON'T STOP!

First time here? James is my husband and tomorrow we are embarking on a trip of a lifetime with him. He has been training for two years, lost 40-pounds (give or take), participated in a couple of sprint triathlons and one half Ironman. On Saturday, he will be taking part in his first full Ironman distance triathlon.

What does that mean an Ironman triathlon? I mean:

  • James will wait patiently in his wetsuit for the bang, at that point he will run out into the water with 700 other triathletes (divided maybe by age category). He will, or at least I will, be hoping that he doesn't get inadvertantly kicked in the face, shoved under the water, or drowned which, of all the deaths in a full distance Ironman 3/4 will die during the swim. If he makes it out of the masses unscathed he will swim 2.4 miles looped in a river and burn 1500 calories with no intake in 1 hour and 30 minutes, before getting out and stripping down to his bike shorts and shirt (worn strategically under the wetsuit).

  • Once in the bike area, he will grab his shoes (no socks), perform a once-over check on his race bike, walk it out, clip-in and head out for a 112-mile bike. Here's what we're hoping, that as he averages speeds of 18 miles per hour, topping out at about 35 miles per hour, he won't crash, be crashed into, over exert himself so much that he falls into a numbed mental state so that he loses awareness, heighting his likelihood of crashing while leaving limited energy to complete the marathon after the bike. During his 6-1/2 hours on the bike, he will burn 5,000 calories while taking in 3,000 calories via 2 liters of 150 cal. gatorage/water mix, 220 cal. Odwalla nut chew bar, 230 cal. almond Snickers, 400 cal. Cliff shot blocks, 2 liters of 2,000 cal. worth of Perpetuem.

  • After the bike, he will stroll in and drop off the bike, switch out the shoes (for runners with socks), clip a water belt on and head out for the marathon. The run will all depend on how much he exerted himself on the bike. His body will let him know if he over-exerted himself. Over-exertion leads to G.I. tract problems, i.e. loss of bowels, vomitting or dry heaving. This won't be his primary concern however, because during the 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours of a 26.2 mile run starting at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, he will face dehydration, leading to fatigue and passing out; if he gets low on calories and salt he will face debilitating cramps and hypothermia (calories=heat, loss of calories lowers body temp.) He hopes to avoid some of these complications by taking in 1,100 calories with 400 cal. worth of Cliff shot blocks, 400 cal. in 2 liters of gatorade and 300 calories in 8 ounces of Perpetuem.

  • His overall hope is to cross the finish line even if it means swimming with a black eye, carrying his bike should he have an irreversible repair need, and walking the majority of the marathon should he have given everything and have nothing left but the ability crawl over the finish line.

It's amazing what the trained body can put itself through thanks to the mental strength required in order to do a race of this nature knowing the risks in advance.

We write, but we put our bodies through similar challenges that require specific intake for brain use. I came across a forum talking about the energy used by the brain. Rather interesting, though complicated check it out. Hitsquad, one of the responders, shows a chart graphing how much energy the brain uses for different tasks. Unfortunately, writing and imagination aren't on the list, but a study done on students taking tests tended to use more gluclose depending on their level of IQ and how difficult the questions were.

So, think about how many cups of coffee and Coca-Cola we take in while writing our books, and how many calories worth of chocolate and potato chips (among other eats) we take in during this period of intense use of imagination. It's because our brains alone use 20% of our body's energy in a typical at rest-awake state, which equals 2,500 calories per day. So, if you've done anything beyond your typical at rest-awake state imagine what your brain requires in gluclose. If you are short on the calories your body needs to create your imagination, you may suffer from hunger, G.I. tract issues, fatigue, stress, anxiety.

Here's to hoping we all take in the appropriate calories to prevent any stops in Hell.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Until You Quit Trying


Why is it that the closer we get to our end goal, the harder it is? Maybe that's just me.

I am so close to finishing the revisions I set out to do in June and now I just want to ball it up and throw it all away.

A funny thing happened to me in June. I was ready to throw in the towel on this first story. I didn't like the ending, which led into another book, and then another. I literally wrote two books and got over 20,000 words into the third story before realizing I just didn't like the way book 1 worked out.

By this time, I had sent six queries out before realizing how a query should be written, thanks to the Query Shark. After revising my query, I sent 5 out and immediately got one request for a partial that eventually came back as a rejection. Then I joined one of Query Tracker's contests for feedback on my first chapter. The feedback came as "Telling more than showing." Here's where my story takes a turn.

I was already rearranging book 1 in my mind before the contest. After the contest, I was rewriting my whole story idea. Then a week later the agent that hosted the contest asked for a partial based on a query I sent well before the contest existed. I sent a polite email reminding her that I participated in the contest and what her comments were. At that time, I asked if she was still interested in my partial. If so, I would be willing to revise based on her comments.

The agent was kind enough to respond by suggesting I go ahead and make the revisions and then submit the partial via her email. I spent two and a half days revising thirty pages before submitting early am on a Friday in June.

The revisions prompted a complete overhaul of book 1 where I would need to wrap book 2 up in it for a more satisfying ending. Now, I'm 30,000 words away from the finish and I'm doubting myself and I am probably days away from hearing from the agent on the revised partial.

The problem is that once I started pulling from book 2, I found several ways I could revise my story if I dumped book 1 and focused solely on book 2. I mean, book 2 just jumps right into the heart of the story exactly where I want to be. Book 1, at first, was a lot of background with some action. Since the revisions, I was able to make book 1 way more interesting, but not with the same type of action that book 2 holds out of the gate.

I'm attending WriteOnCon and now I'm not sure about my whole story. Maybe I have to step back a little. My focus is torn between the kids and their summer activities and James' Ironman.

Have you ever gotten so close to something that you just froze? Unable to get where you know you need to end up for the finish?

The funny thing is that I don't really want to quit per say, I just want to start all over.

I desperately need two things:
1. To hear back from the agent so I know which way to go (feedback would be awesome but in the event of a form rejection, I think I will rework book 2. Of course, if any type of yes, or send a full comes about then I will jump for joy.)

2. Attend WriteOnCon. I will benefit greatly from other's like me, and the experts.

By the way, have you joined my Writing Triathlon yet?

If you are already sending love to Elana Johnson via her blog, Query Tracker blog, or WriteOnCon then you have a leg up in this race. Now you just need to let me know you're playing in the comments and then head over to The Practice Room and Tour De Writing and leave comments on their blog about your writing progress. It's never to late to bump someone and get one of three prize places (to be announced soon).

Monday, July 26, 2010

What Lies Before Us

The third inspiration that James chose to see on his poster boards is:

What lies before us and what lies behind us
are small matters compared to
what lies within us

Race prep is going well. At least from my standpoint. From James' standpoint, I'm not really sure if he has managed to get everything he needs quite yet, but he will.

This is the first race where we've had to pack our bags and rent a place to stay. Luckily James reserved a house months ago, so that's one thing off our list.
Movie players for the car ride...check, movies for the players....check. Regina is making the craft bags (crayons, notebooks, etc.).

I spent the weekend working on the shirts. This is the big race. The race he's always wanted to do, short of being the World Championship in Hawaii. Thus, cow bells, poster boards, and iron-on transfer t-shirts were a must. I'm one of those; I tend to over do it a bit when it comes to milestones and celebrations. (We all have something.)

The kids drew pictures for the t-shirts. Here's what the adult and baby shirts will look like, the kids who drew get a shirt with just their own drawing on it:


Though I worked on the T-shirts (that meant printing the iron-ons), I still have to iron-on the transfers for 10 shirts.

Pre-cook the carb-loading meal the night before we leave.

Pack, pack, and pack some more.

For the triathlete, the process is train, train and then train some more. Then come race day, get up early with the masses, get set up in the transition area, and get into a mental zone. Also, a quick check of the water bottle, Goo, Perpetuem, Shot Blocks, race bib, bike go-through, put on the wet suit, etc.

For the fans, which in James' case includes me and the three kids, and my sister, her husband, and their three kids, we prepare a different kind of way. We check our cameras, camcorders, water cooler, snacks (for the kids), sunblock, sunglasses, portable potty (for the kids though wish an adult one would be as easy to pull out of a backpack), kids clothes proper, kids shoes and socks proper, money just in case, and this time, the cow bells, the poster boards (divided up for each leg of the race), and extra sustenance for James.


In my previous experience this is how race day goes
(with some preconceived tweaking for the Ironman):

We take pics with James before the race.

Then we say good luck and goodbye and head out to find a good place for video and pictures. This is no easy task. Jason, my sister's husband, breaks off and takes pictures and some video from his location (It's better for one to stand near the exit to get the shot of the bike transition), while me, Regina and the 6 kids stand at a distance. We will get the water shot and then run (I mean book it with 6 kids ages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8) to a distance where we can see James coming on the bike (this event is looped for the spectators so we will get a couple of opportunities to see him).

In the past, once we've seen James on the bike we break up again so one of us can catch James at the transition for the run while the other will set up a cheering section at another point of the run.

This time, since the race will take approximately 15 hours, us fans will have to take a break. We will all go back to the rental after we see James on the bike, to eat lunch, rest and get out of the sun for a bit.

Then, Jason has agreed (thank you Jason) to watch all 6 kids at the rental until near the end of the race while Regina and I head back out to meet James at one of the points on his map.

During this meet up time, James will swap out his water bottles, get some sustenance; maybe more Goo, shot blocks, and Perpetuem (600 calorie beverage). We will also have bandanas with ice, frozen washclothes and other ways to help him lower his body temperature. Although the run is looped, Regina and I will start heading toward a more distant point so we can continue to cheer him on. (perhaps bringing the older kids' scooters will be a good idea).

Hopefully when all is said and done, James will have had the strength to cross the finish line and none of the fans will have heat stroke.

In writing:

What lies behind me is the desire to write a book, the pain of completing the first draft, the bewilderment and inexperience of sending query letters and partials.

What lies before me includes revising my first two books down to one and revising book three into book two. WriteOnCon is still uphead. And I'm days away from hearing back from an agent who has my partial.

What lies within me includes the strength and perseverance to follow my dream by not giving up, and continuing to write, revise, and blog. I hope that should my partial come back a rejection, that I will find the appropriate sustenance to keep me going.

Hopefully, I, too, will make it to my finish line.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Single Line Today

Discipline is remembering what you want.
(unsure source. found on search.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The First Line of Inspiration

I think eight is a lucky number because it represents infinity; no ending lines.

Today marks 8 days to the starting lineup for James' triathlon.

If you just got here, my husband is getting ready to do his first Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a 26-mile marathon). I started a Writing Triathlon to honor my husband's dream finally coming to fruition. I, too, hope my dream of getting published comes true by means of the same type of dedication and perseverence my husband has used to train for this race.

And now we have come up with 8 sayings that will hopefully inspire James during his potentially 15 hour race (he has 17 hours to finish and hoping for better than 15)

The first inspirational saying is -


May you all have a goal in mind and the perseverance to set the deadline.

My Writing Triathlon got off to a great start. It's not too late to join in.

Here are the stats so far:

Tina - Current points leader with 20 points. (Got an excellent boost of 5 points from mentioning my contest on her blog. Thank you for that.)

Heather - Isn't far behind with a solid 17 points.

Kelly - In the running with 14 points.

Dena and Krystalyn both started following me just as the contest was getting under way but may not be sure if they are playing. If you want to play then you could still be in the running for top three prizes. Find out more about the points.

(I sometimes miss The Practice Room because of my West coast schedule. If I can't get in the room I give everyone points for that day anyway. The Practice Room yields 2 points per day because you could get in there a few times a day.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adding Inspiration To My Contest

The Writing Triathlon came about because I wanted to honor my husband, James, who is about to do his first full Ironman. Sometimes, when I feel defeated by my writing, or think about how long my journey might be toward publishing, I think about James' journey to the Ironman.

Two years ago, James was forty-pounds heavier, had back aches, knee pain, and a general feeling of life going by too quickly to obtain his longtime goal to compete in an Ironman Triathlon.

We were out at a store one day when James picked up a flyer for a sprint triathlon. When we got home I told all the neighbors that James was going to do a triathlon and that he was eventually going to do an Ironman. This was not a good thing. He was not happy with me. He felt I jumped the gun on letting people know his goals. Here's why: James and I both believe that once we tell people what we are going to do, we have to actually get it done. (Maybe I was pushing him a little too hard. I wanted him to reach this dream of his.)

Here we are, two years later, and ten days away from his first Ironman Triathlon.

I am very proud.

Getting to this point wasn't easy for him, nor was it easy on our family. The equipment was expensive but that wasn't the strain. The training time wasn't so bad either because he trained mostly in the morning well before anyone was awake. It was the physical and mental exhaustion that affected each of us waiting for his attention. This was to be expected, and the first year we hardly noticed his exhaustion. The trials and tribulations of getting him to this goal are finally coming to fruition, for all of us. We can't wait to see him on the day of the race. We will be there to cheer him on, bring him sustenance, give him bandanas with ice, new water bottles, and general cheering and support.

It matters not how solitary each person's goal is, in the end, it always takes more than one person to achieve a single person's goal. Those are family, fans, friends, neighbors, bloggers. We cannot possibly achieve anything without support.

I used to think starting out was the hardest part of a goal, maybe that's why I waited so long to finally write a book even though I held this goal since I was a child, but now I'm sure that seeing the goal to its finish is the hardest part.

In writing, it's not difficult for me to start a book, or even for me to write thousands and thousands of words, it's the ending that gets me everytime. Maybe this makes me a good candidate for series book writing, I don't know.

In honor of James, I have included his Half Ironman video. This particular Half Ironman was in support of challenged athletes. It was truly amazing to see the challenged athletes, some of them still kids, pushing their physical limitations to get through this grueling competition. It just goes to show that we can all do anything we set our minds to.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Writing Triathlon Contest

A GREAT BIG thank you to the hosts of The Practice Room, Tour De Writing, and Elana Johnson for allowing me to link up my events to their blogs.

If you have just arrived, you are right on time! I am hosting a Writing Ironman Triathlon. Only you don't have to swim 2.4 miles, or ride your bike for 112 miles, and then finish with a marathon of 26 miles.


Elana is on vacation right now, but that doesn't mean you can't put a comment on her blog everyday. If you've already commented on what she left us with, maybe add something new and interesting.

Check out the full details here.


All of the times I've made it out to my husband's triathlon's with three kids in tow, has finally paid off. My husband has agreed to be the cow bell in this contest.

My husband's name is James. He will be cheering me, you, and everyone on in the comments.

My sister, and number one fan, has agreed to be the poster holding cheermeister. She will be leaving supportive comments in all caps. Look for her comments. Her name is Regina.

I am giving 1 point for each comment left on the blogs of each of the events. REMEMBER: the comments have to be solely about the posts on each of the blogs and have nothing to do with my contest.

Get 5 points extra for mentioning my contest on your blog. Let me know you did this in my comments. This is a great way to rack up points if you are feeling behind because you can't make it into The Practice Room or forgot to leave comments in the other events.

You can get 2 extra points if I catch your comment on any of the blogs that are directly associated with Elana Johnson, i.e. QueryTracker, What Writer's Read, WriteOnCon. (am I missing any?)

If you've done all these things and let me know about it in my comments, I will give an extra point for each comment.

To stay motivated on your writing projects through the summertime. I know I need it. Summer gets way busy and leaves hardly any time for writing and revising. Plus, for those of us heading over to the WriteOnCon in August, don't we have a lot to get in order from now until then?

I fell short on my writing yesterday because of hectic schedule. Today, I want to get at least 2,200 words revised in my WIP. I would really love to make it over to The Practice Room during the chat sessions and I'm missing Elana, who is on vacation, so I'm going to stop by her blog and let her know I miss her.

(I will be giving away three books. Which ones should I give away? hmmm!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Write-Revise-Blog, a Triathlon for Writers

In honor of my husband's upcoming Ironman triathalon on July 31st, I am holding myself (and anyone who would like to join me) to a writing triathlon.

In the process, I am promoting (not that they need it) the three blogs that have sparked this new found inspirational energy I feel (where before I was peetering out with the summer heat and the marked chaos of having my three kids home for summer break).

What is an Ironman in the first place? I am a writer, not an athlete.
Sure, sure. I say this a lot. Besides my workout videos, you will not find me actively participating in any fitness competitions.

An Ironman Triathlon is, according to the Wikipedia, one of a series of triathlons organized by the World Triathlon Corporation.

It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26-mile run (a marathon), completed within 17-hours and by each events cutoff time. Crazy right?

Let's just say I am interested in participating, what do I need to do (I'm not a very good swimmer just so you know)?
Let's start with what you won't be doing. You won't be getting wet, riding a bike, or running a marathon.

Okay, with that said, you will have a swim, bike, run equivalent for writing. In an Ironman Triathlon you would have 17 hours to complete the course with cut off times for each event. This is not the case here. You have until the start of WriteOnCon, August 10 (last points collected on August 9). Each event will earn you points (kept my me).

Okay, I'm stretching (my fingers), when and where do I start?
Start off by following me or by leaving me a comment (today, tomorrow, next week; start whenever) so that I know you are participating and I'll know who to give points to.

Swim = The Practice Room
Bike = Tour De Writing
Run = Elana Johnson's blog

All you have to do is go about your writing business (which hopefully included participating in The Practice Room, Tour De Writing, and giving love to Elana Johnson especially for contributing/co-hosting to WriteOnCon and Query Tracker.).

If you are following me, or have commented letting me know you are playing along, then I will keep points by looking for a comment left by you in each of the events.

That means, head over to each event and leave a comment (pertaining to their posts only). That way I'll know if you are playing along. To play my game, you must play their game or show your love for them.

Gosh, I hope I can keep up with my own regimen.

Get extra points for spreading the word. Post my link in one of your posts and then let me know in the comments.

Prizes? I'm not sure yet. I would love to give away three books. Anyone, or any newly released author have some recommendations? I'll keep you posted on the prizes.

I wish you luck.

I wish me luck.

*Insert National Anthem here*

Let the games begin.

*Insert bang here*

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Want Winter Back

For a mom of three, summer is hectic. The hours are longer, the schedule is manned soley by me, the noise level, the distractions, the need to be in well-lit, sun-drenched areas is a requirement, precipitation from my body versus the sky is high, while the splashing from the pool prevents me from downloading my creativity in a conducive atmosphere.

But, in just a few short weeks, I have gone to Mexico while the kids went to Pismo Beach, I've read four books, hosted a fourth of July party, started revising my book based on the adjustments I made for a partial that was requested, I taught eight kids how to make three balloon animals, we started an ant farm that I'm sorry to say isn't thriving, we've walked to the park and back, we've gone to the free movie and snuck our own food in, penpals have been made and kept, the blog has been updated although not as frequently, all this and we're still three weeks away from the start of school.

I need a nap.

I need a long winter's nap.

I seem productive in the summer but it's not geared toward my writing which leaves me frustrated at the end of the day when I am too tired from all the kid-friendly activities to open my computer or grab my notepad.

I desperately need to download though. I feel the stories bunching up in my head. I need a free moment (not the blogging-type free moments, more like the kids-are-at-school-and-the-house-is-shhhh moments) to envision the revision my story requires.

Also, I think the melancholy that winter brings provides a certain type of depth required for writing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dear Prospective Publisher, I read your latest book while on vacation...

I'm back from my five-day vacation and I must say, I had a great time!

I have to admit, on the first day, I fell asleep (literally crashed) for three hours. When I mentioned in the previous blog about being exhausted just from my end-of-school-year, mom-type responsibilites, I wasn't kidding.

To sum up the vacation:

We went to Puerto Vallarta, went on a zip-line tour (highly recommended), ATV through the jungle, and rode the mules (of course mine went the wrong way and then turned and clotheslined me on the zip-line, ahh. Why do horses and horse-like animals hate me anyway?).

We took a boat-ride out to an amazing part of Mexico (high winds=high swells and motion sickness, salt sprayed hair and face, tipping chairs, and all kinds of crazy fun).

Hot tub on the deck + husband=Foam excess from added shower gel and shampoo (1 husband can sometimes=10 young children).

But inbetween all of the adventures I was able to read (I was still unsure of my book choices from Target so I made it over to Barnes & Nobles before the trip and picked up two more books).

I'm a fast reader (when I have the time) so I knew I wasn't far off by bringing 4 books on a 5-day vacation (I finished 2-1/2 books by the end). Before I left town I was feeling guilty for settling for more vampire books when I really wanted to read something more normal or at least with less vampires and werewolves. I started with a book I shall not name (it wouldn't be fair). I finished the book and was extremely disappointed. I actually had to read faster because I wanted to get through it just so I could go onto something better. The faster I read, the more I thought about writing to the publisher.

Dear Prospective Publisher ,

I read your latest book [named here]. It wasn't good. I feel you owe me.

[My query inserted here]


Patricia A. Timms

Maybe it's just me. I sometimes read books that are so boring, or poorly written that I can't believe the author was published at all. How unfair does it seem to read something you can't believe made it on the shelves in the first place when you're battling your own form rejections?

A scary thought from a reader's perspective: What if these terrible books create a whole new batch of authors who want to write just because if the sub-par authors can make it and lure me into buying their books then how hard can it be to get published?

Or, to be positive, maybe a whole new batch of great writers will surface just because they are tired of being duped into buying terrible books.

Then again, maybe I bought one of those self-published books and I just didn't know any better.

Self-published books mixed in with the carefully selected and refined books, this is where my nightmare of a reader starts. This topic actually has nothing to do with my ability to write, query, gain attention or respect as a writer seeking to be an author. I don't even mean to put down self-published authors (especially as a writer), it's just that I WANT TO BE WARNED IF I AM ABOUT TO BUY A SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK!!!

That was awful of me wasn't it? Have I just lost some readers? I apologize. I'm not a mean person. I respect all writers, even sub-par ones. But that respect comes from the writer in me and not necessarily the reader in me. As a reader, I have to spend my hard-earned money on books that I can read in two days (think about how much it might cost me to keep up with my habit); I don't want to spend money on a poorly written book.

As a writer, I appreciate the journey the author went through to get the book on the shelf. I just wonder why the publisher bothered. Why did the back of the book trick me into believing there was something interesting about to go on inside the book?

Now that I've confessed my aversion to poorly written books I think I need to go and knock on some wood, or throw some salt over my shoulder. My journey to publishing probably just got even longer. It's hard not to admit that I get this disappointed when I read a terrible book even though I'm trying to query my own story.

Side note: I wasn't that enthralled with Stephanie Meyer's The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner either, but I am enjoying Alyson Noel's Evermore very much.

Am I the only writer/reader who gets this disappointed with poorly written books on Barnes & Noble book shelves?