Posts tagged with: running

Spring Books, Springboks, Reeboks and Heading into Bloooom Time!

snowWe got 10″ of snow in the DC area on Thursday.  The kids were off Friday too, thanks to that 10″ snowfall.  We’d already had a snow day on Monday, and two days off the previous week.  So, with that, we’ve had only two weeks since January 1 where the kids have been in school for a full 5-day week.

Now, for the kids, this has been fun.  For those of us who are parents, trying to actually do jobs for which we get paid?  Its a nightmare.  As a writer who works from home, it’s already hard enough to get everything done.  For those of you who’ve never tried it, working from home is a challenge.

It SEEMS like it would be great – do some work, sneak in an extra load of laundry, a little more work, do a little billpaying or whatever – then get back to more work, right?

Nope.

Those home-things are the things you HAVE to turn off.  You have to put the hours in at the desk, doing the work.  If you start doing the other “home chores,” its too easy to get caught up in them.  As anyone knows, there’s a never-ending supply of house stuff to do at any given time. When you work in an office, one where you get up and drive every day to a building that isn’t your house, there’s a definite pressure to actually Do the Job, right?  Sure, everyone makes the occasional personal call – sets up a doctor appointment, takes a call from Mom – or steals a few minutes to write a few bills so they can be mailed.  But those are stolen moments, and peer pressure makes you get back to the WORK of work.HPIM1396

When you’re home, working, no one gives you the “Get back to work!” stink eye when your mom/sister/brother/friend calls.  No one cares if you take a two-hour lunch.  There’s no one to disapprove if you do the entire week’s laundry when you should be working, or pop up to school for an hour to see the Halloween parade.

Just you and the dog or cat or the simple silence.  So you, the worker, the writer, the owner of your business, YOU have to be the one who cares.

And that’s hard.

booksstackedBut I’ll tell you a scary secret….shhhhhh….lean in close…..Here’s the deal: If you don’t value your work time, your writing time, your creative time, or even you “me time,”  and protect it with jealous fury, then no one else will value or respect it either.

You’ll be barraged with “Oh, since you work from home, can you pick up all the kids?  I’ve got an important meeting…”  And, “Oh, you work from home?  Great!  You’ll be perfect for PTA President next year, you have LOTS of time!”

Why is it that people assume working from home means extra time?  I just can’t figure this out.  It’s WORKING from home.  Not Slacking From Home.  Not Pretending to Work From Home.

This, however, is not how books get written.BehindEnemyLinesfinalforBarnesandNoble

Books get written by assigning working time, making SURE its undisturbed even if you have to put up a privacy screen, and putting ye
olde butte in ye comfortable chaire and yon hands on yon keyboarde.

I’m hoping to get out a number of books this year, so I am jealously guarding that writing time.

One book, which is forthcoming this month, is a single story form of the novella that was in the Christmas Anthology, A Jewel in Time.  That story, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, is set in WWII.  Its my first historical and I hope to revisit the time period next year in another series.

But for now, I’m working on getting back to my roots, sharpening my Suspense and Mystery prowess and delivering a whole lot of rollicking good reading as we head into Spring, and Bloom Time.

(By the way, don’t you just love that cover?  Once again, the fabulous Lyndsey Lewellen delivers!!)

Saut_de_gazelle_SpringbokSo for those of you who’ve been with the Romance Bandits from the beginning, you’ll appreciate that I’m actually going back to “The Beginning.”

Coming soon, I’ll be reissuing the very first book I every published with Kensington/Zebra.  Originally titled Dark and Dangerous, the book will be updated, have a new title and some new scenes.

It will now start a series, as was originally intended when Kate Duffy and I started together.  The idea was that Dark and Dangerous would come out.  Dark and Deadly would follow it.  Then there would be a follow up book to Dark and Dangerous, then a new two-book series, and then the final book in the Dark and Dangerous trilogy.  Then more new stuff, then a follow-up to Dark and Deadly….you get the picture.

The illustrious dragon of the editing world, Kate Duffy, was a long-term planner.  She built careers, not one-book-wonders.  (Her words, not mine)  Gotta tell you, I still miss her.  She and I got as far as that two-book series….(Deadly Little Secrets and Deadly Little Lies respectively), but she died before we could execute (so to speak, bwahahahah!) the rest of the plan.

Now, with independent publishing, I’m going to be able to finish.

I LOVE the finish line.  LOVE.  IT.  Fall Winter 2014 009

I run.  Not well, not fast, but I run.  (Usually NOT in Reeboks, and definitely NOT like a springbok, tho I had fun playing with the names for the title of the blog!)  When I enter races, I love the finish line.  I love having run.  Don’t always love DOING it, but love finishing it.

Same thing with writing.  I don’t always love the process.  I don’t always love the editing.  I don’t always love the sheer amount of space writing occupies in my cranium.

But I love, love, love having written.  LOVE.  IT.  I love creating stories.  I love giving towns and people and love stories new life.  I love showing that love can always find a way.

HPIM0929So, those characters that originated in Dark and Dangerous will now be the genesis – The Spring Bloom! – of a new series.  Dana, Caine, Xavier and all the villains who chase them will leap forth to new, vibrant life.  (How’s that for flowery prose?)

The first book (formerly Dark and Dangerous) is retitled DEAD RUN.  Next month on April 8th, as we head into Bloom Time I’ll be back to Launch it.

Hope you’ll come back and see THAT new cover which Lyndsey Lewellen also designed.  And in subsequent months, I’ll introduce you to the characters from Dead Run who have thier own stories in which to shine.  You’ll find them in DEAD RECKONING, and DEAD WRONG.  These three books are the start of the #FaithfulDefenders series, all of which feature highly trained guard dogs, guide dogs, working and retired military dogs, therapy dogs, or Search and Rescue dogs.  (Those four dogs up on the right are my highly skilled BED dogs. They’re fearfully well trained at…nothing!  Grins.)

So, Banditas and Buddies, have you ever seen a police or bomb dog working?  

Have you ever seen a Guide Dog or Therapy Dog working or known someone who has one?

Did you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show a couple of weeks ago?  (Or have you ever seen Crufts???  Going to Crufts is on my Bucket List!)

Do you think working dogs are interesting?Fall Winter 2014 018

What’s your favorite Spring flower?  I know Aus and everything in the Southern Hemisphere is heading into Fall, so what’s your favorite Fall Flower?

For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, are you as ready for Spring as I am?  

What books are you looking forward to???

Let’s chat!  (That’s my guard dog over there…guarding the bed, and the clean sheets….)

(All photos belong to the Author except the SpringBok which is from Wikimedia Commons)

Songs That Make You Move

Last summer I was at my favorite local park. I love this park, but the gravel walking trail that runs around the outside edge of it…well…it’s hilly. I was slogging through the exercise routine on my iPhone… jog …walk… *sweat*…jog…*sweat, sweat*…walk…jog…you get the sense of it.

I have no idea how I did it, but I accidentally hit “play music” in the program I guess. I don’t have music on my phone. But some miracle occurred, because it started playing a song.

And I ran.

And I ran.  And….I ran.  And ran some more.

I skipped the next three walks.  I ran up hills. Down hills. I just kept running.

I got back to my car thinking I was Queen of the Universe. I’d run farther, faster, than I’d ever run before.

Okay, let’s be for real here. My “run” is a slow jog by most people’s standards. But a few months before, I hadn’t been able to run to the end of my driveway, so this..this was progress.

Why was I able to do that?

It was the music.

What music?

This. Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson.

Did you listen to it? If you did, just try and tell me you weren’t moving at least a little, even if it was only your head, bobbing back and forth.  The man had serious genius. Even the video is a work of art.

The driving beat of it is perfect for running–at least it’s perfect for my slow pace.  Anyway, this—and Jeanne’s blog yesterday about exercise—got me thinking about the music that makes me move.

Moving because I’m “supposed to” is drudgery.  Moving to music is…natural.  When an awesome song comes on, it’s impossible to NOT move. It’s fun.

Here’s another one.  I Can Dream About You from the Streets of Fire original motion picture soundtrack.

Okay seriously.  Were you not at least swaying in your chair?

Today I’m playing DJ, but there’s a reason.  The truth is, I need your help with something.

I’m going to put some songs here that, even if I’m cooking dinner when they play, have me bopping around the kitchen, playing drums with the spoons and spatulas, while I cook.

Turn the sound up, cuz here they are, in no particular order…

First is The Pointer Sisters

Here’s Kenny Loggins..

And a really old one…even though the video producer could not always spell correctly…

Going even older, here’s Michael Jackson again…back when he was a little boy.

I’m bopping around so much I can barely type. *grin*

I love this one–partly because of the awesome flashmob at Ohio State University. No telling how many times I’ve watched this, but it still leaves me with a big grin on my face every time.

And the final one–also from Michael Jackson. It’s a little slower, but I still dance to it, and I love the message.

So Bandits and Buddies…
It’s that time of year–time to get in the gym or out on the running trail, so I’m building a playlist to put on my iPod–feel good music that will make me want to keep running–make me want to
move–the kind of music that won’t let you sit still when you hear it.
Give me your best list…
What are the songs that make you get your groove on–the ones that make you dance around the kitchen?
The ones you can’t ignore?
Will you share your feel-good playlist with me?

The Crisis of the Purse

So!  My Disney trip is coming right up!  

Did you know I’m going to Disney?  I am!  I may have mentioned it earlier this month.  I may, in fact, have devoted an entire blog to it.  It’s possible.  I’m a little obsessed. 

But for those of you who missed the memo, I’m off to Disney in a week!  This time my excuse is exercise.  Seriously.  My Disney-loving friend Sarah & I are doing the Expedition Everest run on May 4, a nighttime 5k around Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  We do like a good work out you know. Dressing up in costumes and riding roller coasters after hours is merely a bonus.

mouseears

Our team name is WICKED AWESOME, so named because a) we’re awesome and b) we love Disney villains.  Sarah will be Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmations, while I will be Ursula the Sea Witch from the Little Mermaid.  I made myself an octopus fascinator recently (glue guns are wicked awesome!), & I spent last evening sewing myself a sparkly purple running tutu.  It’s adorable.  I tried it on for my husband and said, “Hey, look!  I’m Ursula the Sea Witch!  What do you think?”

He said, “I think you’re about 200 pounds short of the mark, but I like the tutu.”

He’s a card, Mr. Sey.

ursula

So I think I have my costume in order, & I’m prepared to rip off a few sub-eight-minute miles.  Training-wise, costume-wise, I’m ready.

Family-vacation-wise, I’m similarly prepared.  I have the Unofficial Guide to Disney for families, I’ve downloaded the Lines app, I made my dining reservations ages ago & have my tickets waiting for pickup.  There’s only one problem.

My purse.

Seriously.  I’m having a purse crisis.  

mickey purseBecause no matter what you do, no matter how cute it is, your purse is a liability at an amusement park.  

First of all, you have to carry it.  And it’s hot and heavy.  And other people want to put their stuff in it, which makes it hotter and heavier.  Ick.

Second, you have to figure out what to do with it on rides–how to protect it from water, spinning, speed and the occasionally up-ending.  (I do lover roller coasters.  Did I mention?)  The whole idea of purses is that you keep your important stuff in there, right?  You don’t want all that important stuff shooting out of the spinning teacups like buckshot or marinading in a couple inches of water after the Khali River Rapids.

Third, you’re inevitably going to set it down somewhere–restaurant, bathroom, etc.–and try to walk away from it.  Especially when your hands are full of kids and their stuff.  This is especially likely for me as I have girl children, and therefore have solo responsibility for bathroom breaks while my husband snoozes in the shade outside.  Disney bathrooms, as you might guess, are about the size of shopping malls, with about as many entrances & exits.  Getting everybody bathroomed, sanitized & back out the same door we came in is a herculean feat.  Hanging onto my purse–however precious it may be–is low on my list of priorities in such situations.  

fanny packNow I know I’m not the only person to struggle with this issue.  The Disney guides I’ve read address it explicitly.  Their advice?

Wear a fanny pack. 

It’s convertible.  Wear it on your fanny when you’re walking around.  Turn it around to the front when you’re on a ride or in a restaurant.  It’s small so it’s not hot or heavy.  Plus you can’t pack it with other people’s stuff.  It’s just big enough for yours. 

It’s easy to protect from ride damage.  Line it with a ziploc for those wet rides, or put it inside your shirt.  It zips fully closed and is attached securely to your person.  It’s ideal. 

The argument I personally found most persuasive?  Get one for each kid.  Make her carry her own sunscreen, waterbottle, camera, autograph book, etc.  This spoke straight to my heart.  (And my weary purse arm.)  My kids are way old enough to carry their own gear.  And they will.

rihanna

But for me?  I’m struggling. 

Because I hate fanny packs.  It’s nothing personal.  I didn’t have a traumatic fanny pack-related experience once upon a time or anything.  I just hate how they look on me.  I’m already short & my bottom is the curviest part of me.  It doesn’t match the pipe-cleaner splendor of my arms, anyway.  That’s for sure.  So, yeah, this is totally a personal phobia, but I dislike drawing attention to my already pronounced bottom with…well, another lump.  

Oh, Susan thy name is vanity!

A fanny pack is totally the right solution here. I know this.  The question is, can I put aside my vanity long enough to embrace it?  Surely if Rihanna can do it (see photo), I can?

And if I can’t….what are my alternatives?  Because I refuse to bring my big ol’ purse and Sherpa around the entire family’s gear.  

Help? 

Disney, Take Two…

Hey, so guess what?  I’m going to Disney World!

Get out your mouse ears, ladies, because I’m totally tuned to the Disney channel these days.  I am excited about this trip!

But why?  It’s not like I haven’t been to Disney lately.  I have.  Kind of a lot, actually.

IMG_5744

Just last year the RWA conference was in Anaheim, remember?  So of course I blew off like two full days of (expensive) educational opportunity to go play.  First I dragged our own Bandita Joanie to the parks where she patiently indulged my desire to try on hats with dwarf beards all day.

Later, I dragged our beloved Inara Scott on over so she could patiently indulge my desire to take silly selfies all day and suck down astonishing amounts of Diet Coke.  (It was hot.  She was impressed.  She later live-tweeted my each and every bathroom break.  Ah, friendship.)

IMG_5774

And just two years before, of course, the RWA conference ended up in Orlando when Nashville found itself unexpectedly underwater.  It was like a sign from God.  GO TO DISNEY.  Who was I to argue with God?  I went to Disney, and again dragged Inara & Joanie along with me.

Okay, so to recap:  Disney Land, July 2012. Disney World, July 2010.  And–I’m just going to admit this–right in between?  In May 2012?  There was Disney World again.

Yeah, those last two were just a few months apart.  But it wasn’t my fault! 

post race

See I have this friend, Sarah.  And Sarah’s fervent & passionate love for all things Disney throws mine in the shade.  And she talked me into running the Expedition Everest 5k.  

This is essentially a 3 mile run through Disney’s Animal Kingdom after hours, pausing every mile or so for an obstacle.  (Think hay bales, cargo nets, etc.)  Then there’s a scavenger hunt, capped off by a late-night party complete with roller coasters.  You can do the race solo, but it’s more fun when you sign up as a team.  And run in costume.  And I do love costumes & teamwork (& roller coasters!), so…

But here’s the thing:  Who goes all the way to Disney for one day of park fun?  We felt honor-bound to make a long-weekend/mommy vacation out of it.

I won’t lie to you.  It was awesome.    (It helps that Sarah’s an honest-to-goodness Disney-endorsed trip planner.  First there was the running & our own personal roller coaster rides.  Then there were massages.  At some point there was a private segueway tour of Epcot & creme brulee.  I’m not kidding you.  Email me here and I will pass along her contact info.  You’re welcome.)

IMG_5560

But are you spotting the trend here?  I have been to Disney three times over the last three years without my children.

And my children have informed me that this is a miscarriage of justice.  A perversion of the natural order of things.  And more importantly, it cannot continue.  The next time I go to Disney, I am contractually obligated to take the kiddos. 

And I am going back to Disney.  

 Because my friend & I?  Our little team of Moms Who Run?  We placed 14th out of like 800+ teams.  And we hadn’t trained, nor did we run very hard.  The instant we saw our results we were like, “We are coming back here next year, in shape, and we are winning this thing.”  We made a solemn vow.

So the first weekend in May, we’re in it to win it.  We’re heading back to Orlando, families in tow this time, and winning that damn race.  Or coming as close as we can.  And then I’m taking the next week off & doing the parks.  With my family. 

IMG_5745

So, all that is a very long build up to today’s burning question.  How do I make this park experience incredible for the family?  We  will have one day at each of the four WDW parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, & Hollywood Studios.)  I will have with me:  1 husband (age 44), 2 children (ages 6 & 9), and 2 parents (mine, ages undisclosed but think early 70s.)  Varying levels of fitness & interest.  I have consulted with Sarah.  I have the Unofficial Guide to Disney with Kids downloaded, along with touring plans & the LINES app.  I think I am prepared, but I want to hear from you!

Have you been to Disney with kids recently?  What are the top three things you’d recommend for kids at Disney?  Real peak experiences?  What can you share?  

But most importantly, do you love my dwarf beard?

On the Run

The first year I lived in Minnesota, I discovered a truly wonderful thing. 

The State Fair.  

I know I’ve posted about my abiding love of all things deep-fried & on-a-stick many times before, so I won’t bore you with the laundry list of everything I ate this year.  Though I really ought to give a quick shout-out to the fried green beans with garlic dip that came with a side-dish of bag piper.  (Seriously.)  And the chocolate cannoli that rocked our world.  And the sweet-corn-and-bacon pizza that was so good I swear I heard angels singing.  

But I’m not here to talk about that.  No, this year I want to talk about my other favorite thing about the fair.

The Milk Run.

This is a 5K held on the opening Sunday of the fair every year, sponsored by the MN Dairy association.  For your entry fee you get admission to the fair, a t-shirt, a buck off a coffee at the Farmer’s Union booth and a free milk shake.  Plus it’s held at 7:45 in the morning.  So you get up, you get a jog in with 1,500 of your fellow fair goers, then you get to eat your way through the fair without guilt.  Because, hey, you already worked out!  And you’re going to log another who knows how many sweaty, dusty miles around the fairgrounds all day.

It’s the perfect way to do the fair.  

Last year I talked my oldest kiddo into jogging with me. (That’s her above–I’m repinning her race number.) This year, Mr. Sey joined us.  (There’s sweaty picture of us at the finish to your left.) The 5 y.o. felt a little left out, though, &  is demanding to be included next year.  It’s turning into a family affair, & I’m delighted.  I see little old ladies trotting along every year beside their kids & grandkids, earning their cheese curds one sweaty mile at a time.  And every year I think, “If God is good, that’ll be me in thirty years.”

Eventually I figure the kids will have to help me a little (okay, carry me.)  But heck, I carried them enough.  They can do me a solid.  I’ll buy ’em a fudge puppy & we’ll call it even.  

So tell me, do you have a sweet tooth?  Do you fight it, or do you (like me) just try to run enough to balance it out?  Do you have a favorite indulgence/event combo like mine?  (Milk Run + State Fair = Happy Susan)  Or just a favorite Fair Food?  Share!