Monday, June 21, 2010

I Am Not A Serial Killer

What an amazing read! Once in a great while a book comes along that actually lives up to the hype on the cover. This one claims to be "unputdownable" and it really was! It is a young adult horror novel but anyone will find the main character undeniably fascinating. Creepy, yes, but fascinating nonetheless.  Since it is a young adult genre, even the violence is tame enough for those with a gentler disposition. I knew I would love this book regardless of it's merits since I met Dan Wells and got some great critique and mentoring from him at my writer's boot camp.  It was even better than I had anticipated and made the hardback purchase for ass-kissing-with-the-author-so-he'd-share-his-secrets well worth it.

The main character is a 15-year old sociopath who's family owns a mortuary.  He is fascinated with serial killers and because he is in therapy and knows he has issues he has constructed a whole lot of rules to keep from turning into a serial killer himself.  When there is a real serial killer who comes to town and begins terrorizing the inhabitants, he must use his knowledge of the serial killers he has studied to try and figure out who is behind the killings.  You don't know whether to love or hate him as he plays both protagonist and antagonist at times.  The twists and turns and glimpses into a sociopath's mind keep you turning the pages so quickly that it is over before you could think twice about putting it down.  I highly recommend this book to anyone - even the young adults it was marketed for.

The best part of this book for me personally was the fact it has proven, even though I have become an author turned crazy nit-picking reader, that good fiction can still be found and enjoyed.  It is just sometimes harder to find...and comes packaged in the strangest of covers.  This book also marks the first non-book club read for me this year.  How utterly pathetic on so many levels...

Life of Pi

I should have read this book before I became a writer...  I read the jacket cover which told me it was a story about a boy and a tiger shipwrecked on a lifeboat - which sounded really interesting!  Then I had to read 97 agonizing pages of a 'Part One' in which nothing really happened except give background story.  (One of the first no-no's for an author.)  In a nutshell, this was a great story, but badly written. I spent the first half of the book wondering when there was going to be a point and, by the time things started happening, I was so mad that I could have cared less about the interesting aspects of the story or even the main character. I'm glad it was a book club discussion because I came to appreciate the nuances through the eyes of my fellow readers but I still hated the actual reading of it. The author has a great way with description but sifting through the meandering of the monotony made it not really worth it.

I wonder if I'll ever be able to read for the mere enjoyment without critiquing and analyzing what I would have done differently.  One thing is for sure, I have morphed into more of a writer than a reader and sometimes I lament the loss...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The new bod

I've said it before: the proof is in the pants - and it is still true.

I just finished the maintenance phase of my last round of HCG protocol.  In a nutshell, HCG has three phases.  Phase 1, you do daily shots and eat a very restricted diet and then phase 2 (or maintenance) is three weeks of "no starch and no sugar".  This gives your hypothalamus time to rest from the intensity of phase 1 as well as establish a new set point for your 'normal' weight.  This set point is the place you now yo yo back and forth from but always return to.  (For more details about how the whole HCG thing works, you can read the research from the doctor who developed it here.)  Phase 3 is "normal" eating with your new habits.

We all know from my previous lamenting posts I did not lose the 40 pounds I wanted to lose in the 40 days of phase 1 I endured and pushed myself through to the bitter end.  But I can't very well complain about the almost 30 that I lost in just over a month.  There isn't really supposed to be much fluctuation in phase 2 - no more than 2 pounds either way - so my expectations were low and I did well with my "maintenance" activities.  (I've gotten REALLY good at finding "no sugar added" ice cream in the city!)

One night, at the end of phase 1 or the beginning of phase 2, my sister and I went through all the pants in my closet ... as deep as they go and as many sizes as I've been hoarding... I either donated to charity those that were dismally out of date (the 80's called and they want their pants back!), handed off to my sister if they didn't fit anymore since she's wearing the size I just came out of, or kept in the closet in two categories: the ones that fit now and the ones that are "almost" perfect.  This later category were those pants that I could get my ass into and could do up but that were not quite comfortable once I got to that point.

And then I started running again.  But this time using a set training program with a coach and a 5K goal in August!

This morning I pulled out some pants and put them on and realized they were hanging on me.  Like there was enough room for me to put my baby inside with me for sure and possibly even my eight year old.  How the hell did that happen?  I tried on every pair of slacks I own in one sitting so I wouldn't have to do this every morning anymore searching for pants that fit!  I chalked it up to a late night with my sister and pulled out another pair.  They fit the same way!  Eventually, several pairs later... (Yes, it took a while!  Don't judge, I hadn't had any coffee yet!) I ended up pulling out some of the Capri's I've been dying to wear from that "not quite there" category and guess what!  THEY. FIT. PERFECTLY.

I loved how I felt all day and I had another great run this afternoon completely inspired by how I look and feel in my "new" pants.  That damn scale says I weigh exactly the same as the last day I took a shot three weeks ago but I know I couldn't wear these pants that day because I tried.  And I can't lie... I am now one of those women who turns to the side with her butt sticking out in the restroom so I can check how my ass looks in the mirror.  What an amazing feeling - it's almost as great as knowing I can walk 4 miles pushing my 5 month old in the stroller without batting an eye or straining a body part.

I am still in love with running - happily the affair did not die off on my long hiatus of pregnancy and recovery - and I'm training strong.  I'm preparing for a 5K in August - the first one I'll run/jog the majority of instead of the other way around.  Hell, at the rate I'm progressing, I'll be running the entire 5k!  And, more importantly, I'm enjoying my new body as I continue to mold it with running and proper diet.  Bring on the swim suit weather! I'm ready!  Well... at least the shorts and tanks!  Is a woman ever really ready for swimsuit season?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dance Distractions

I just realized it has been almost two weeks since I've written here...  I assure you, there is a reason and it has everything to do with a major announcement a couple of weeks ago at Big Sister's dance studio.  Turns out the economy has really hit everyone everywhere and after 27 years our director is retiring and closing.  This is very sad news by itself as Big Sister will have to make new friends and most likely not have all her dance "sisters" with her next year.  But, more pressing has been the search for a new dance studio with amazing teachers who will continue to mold her and hone her dance skills.  (The kid has to pay her way through college somehow, people!)  So, I've been away playing obsessive Dance Mom and letting every aspect of my writing suffer.  *sigh*

Between approaching total strangers at the school talent show last week asking where they dance (accompanied by looks that said clearly they were taught never to talk to strangers!), endless phone calls with my sister-in-law who is equally as obsessed with finding THE PERFECT dance studio for our girls, hundreds of text messages with other Moms to compare notes on new places, and visits and phone calls to potential studios we were able to find a great place close to home where Big Sister and her dancing cousin will now call home.  Thank god it only took a couple of weeks and we can now just focus on settling in for the summer schedule and team tryouts later this month.

Tonight is the Year End Show at our beloved studio where they get to showcase what they've been working on all year... accompanied by a ton of tears from the girls I'm sure!  The show will also feature a bonus "Parents Dance" which this Dance Mom will be participating in.  Not only am a "Dance Mom", I am now quite literally a dancing Mom.  Next weekend is their final competition in Las Vegas where the dancing Mom will also be competing.  It's silly, I know, but I'm LOVING getting to dance again after 25 years, enjoying every practice and looking forward to our performances.

I had a breakthrough in figuring out how to write a pivotal scene in my novel - thanks to an inspirational 4-mile walk with a writing buddy - and I can't wait to refocus my efforts on my writing now that all the dance distractions are dealt with. Now, where's my coffee?