Monday, August 26, 2013

As August draws to a close...

Dieting – (In other words, taking all the joy out of life)
I never had a weight problem until after my fourth child, Grace, was born. That was also when I quit work to be a fulltime, stay-at-home mother. I blame my slip into chubbiness on several factors.

  1. The desire to make up for lost time – During all those years when I worked I dreamed of being Super Mom. I pictured myself making bread and cookies and keeping my laundry caught up and my house spotless. I wanted to be the mother my children deserved but had never had while I was working at a bank for 40+ hours a week. So when I quit work after having Grace – I baked and cooked and unfortunately – I ate!!!
  2. Being around food constantly – When I was at work if I wanted something to eat I had to go get it (and have the money to pay for it). And I was so busy I didn’t have the time to think about food. But when I was home all day even though I was still very busy – I was constantly feeding the kids, or cleaning the kitchen, or making a meal, or going to the grocery store. It seemed like there was food everywhere. And I could eat a LOT just one little bite at a time.
  3. Stretch pants – When I worked I had to dress professionally and since I couldn’t afford to buy a new wardrobe after each of my first three babies I lost weight immediately. There was really no choice. But when I stayed at home all day there was no dress code. So I became partial to a couple pairs of stretch pants and kept the weight. If I gained a pound or five – the stretch pants still fit.
  4. No time or opportunity to exercise – I realize now that I could have made time if I’d really wanted to exercise. Maybe early in the morning or late at night. But with an infant and 3 (barely) older children, at the time it seemed impossible.
  5. I’m a good cook – my food not only tastes good, it’s fun to make. I love cooking for my family, trying new recipes, making old recipes. I get a lot of pleasure out of making (and eating) food. It’s a reason to gather, a way to celebrate EVERYTHING. It’s so hard to think of another way to mark accomplishments – even simple things like making it through the week. It seems so RIGHT to celebrate Friday night with a good dinner and some ice cream!
  6. Lack of portion control – I could probably eat most anything I want if I would control how much of it I eat.

So, for about the hundredth time I’m on a diet – hoping to successfully lose AND successfully keep it off. I’m doing low-carb. It’s not fun but it’s pretty easy. A doctor (a THIN doctor) once told me that any diet will work – you just have to stick to it. I know that’s true. It’s just hard. But I’m setting a goal of dieting until Thanksgiving. If I can make it that long I’ll take a break and enjoy the holiday. Then I plan to get back on the diet until Christmas. My hope is that by the first of the year I’ll have lost most of what I want to and can diet during the week and relax a little on weekends. My mother gave me some advice on weight control a long time ago (which I obviously ignored). She attributed this to Marlo Thomas but I can’t guarantee that’s true. She said you pick your optimum weight and get to it. Then every morning you weigh yourself. If you are at or below your optimum weight – you can eat what you want that day (within reason of course). If you are over it – you diet that day. That sounds beautiful to me now (overweight). To handle each extra pound as it is added instead of waiting until it is a long, arduous process. I hope that one day soon I am there – on the scales – just a pound or two (either way) from my optimum weight. After all – it’s just food. I don’t HAVE to eat it. Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels (I’ve got a million of these, but I’ll leave it at that).

So you want to write a book (5th Installment)
This week I wanted to explore the ‘creation’ process that goes along with a book idea. About a month ago when Prince William and his wife Kate had their new baby George, I saw a lot about it on Yahoo! (my major new source – sorry to say). I read an article about the royal family and Prince Harry – and some of his famous misconduct – was mentioned. I was painting (the walls in my hallway – not a portrait) and so I had time for this to mull around in my mind. And I thought of an idea (which I will never use and hence I am sharing it here to help others come up with a real book idea). I thought what if you had a royal family that had been ripped by scandal over the past few years. A new generation is coming up and the palace wants to limit future embarrassment. But they know that all young men do things that are not ‘charming’ let’s say. In order to give the heir to the throne some privacy, and room for mistakes, a semi-evil Public Relations person recruits the younger brother of this heir to be the distraction. He is to get in trouble and stay in the tabloids. Meanwhile the palace will purposely leak ‘nice’ pictures of the older son. So the world thinks the younger son is a spoiled, undisciplined, playboy but really it’s just an image projected to benefit his brother.

I like things that are a little twisted, unexpected, so this appealed to me. The female lead character could be a reporter – maybe one sent to interview the younger prince. Some disaster befalls them – an earthquake or fire or terrorism – and they are trapped in a small space with no food or water and only a limited supply of oxygen. It seems like their lives are over so he shares his story with her. She is appalled. Gradually their situation improves – maybe they find some water or something shifts to give them a fresh air supply. A working relationship develops – as they try to survive – then a friendship and finally affection.

They are rescued and he swears her to secrecy. She promises that she won’t repeat a word he has told her to another living soul. The prince asks her on a date and she accepts. They set up an elaborate plan to make it happen, but they are able to eat dinner together. It looks like their budding relationship has potential outside of a death trap. But after a few dates the evil PR guy shows up and says this can’t happen – he can’t risk his terrible reputation by dating a nice girl. They’ll have to break up. She is appalled. He is resigned. It’s his job. He protects his brother, draws scrutiny away from him. Always has. She says “So we can’t see each other anymore.” He’s regretful but firm. No. It’s over.

She is hurt, mad, angry. She decides that while she won’t break her word to him, it’s possible to expose this terrible situation without repeating what he told her. So she starts interviewing the women he has dated in the past. Finds out that most of them received money, didn’t spend much time with the prince. All of them claimed to have slept with him but she was pretty sure they were lying. She builds her case, begins a series of articles, response from PR guy is swift and severe. She refuses to stop the series. Prince is sent to convince her. I don’t know what happens from here.

So. That is my basic idea. There is not an absolute pattern that can’t be varied from, but in this case the first thing I would want to do is determine my setting. I could use England and the actual royal family there. But this would be problematic for several reasons.
1.      I would have to make sure my facts were absolutely correct.
2.      I might have a problem getting anyone to publish this book since it might get them sued.
3.      Any feelings people have for the royal family (negative or positive) could make them unlikely to read (and buy) my book.

The best course would probably be to make up a country. I would have to decide if it’s in Europe or elsewhere. Who is the reigning king? What scandals have happened over the past few years? What are the cities that the younger brother visits and the logistics of getting from place to place.

Next I would develop my main characters. I read a book once (by Dean Koontz I think) that recommended you should write a biographical sketch of each character before you start writing. You should include where they were born, size and description of their family, where did they go to school, what kind of grades did they make, everything. You may never use all of that information but the better YOU know your own characters – the better you’ll be able to describe them and give them their own ‘voice’.

So we’ll pick up here next week for those of you who want to continue this journey with me! I hope it’s been helpful to someone at least!!!!

Book Giveaway –
Don’t forget that I am drawing for a free copy of Marlene Bateman’s amazing new book “A Motive for Murder” on Saturday. So if you would like to be eligible to win just make a comment of any kind on this blog (or one of the earlier ones from this month). 

What are the chances –
I almost always cut my hair a few times in between trips to the hair salon. I do not advocate this behavior. It means that I frequently have crooked bangs or gaps in my hair (not to mention that it gives my unfortunate hair stylist a more difficult task when I finally do go have her cut it). But my hair will be fine (just okay really but you know what I mean) and then all of the sudden it’s not fine anymore. It’s in my eyes or on my neck or bushy or something and I just cannot stand it anymore. I have to cut it. Best case scenario – I can find some regular scissors for the task. I have cut my hair with children’s safety scissors and on one really desperate occasion – toenail clippers.

Anyway, all that was just a lead-up to my story for the day. It was one of those times when my bangs were in my eyes. I found some scissors and cut them, but managed to get a few tiny pieces of hair in my eyes (hazard of cutting your own hair). This had happened before and usually I could get it out immediately and at worst, an hour or so later. But this time nothing I did could rid my right eye of a piece of hair. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it, scraping my eye every time I blinked. It was annoying but I thought it would eventually work its way out. It didn’t. Two days later my eye was so irritated people were asking me if I had pink eye. I work at a school and even the appearance of a highly contagious eye condition is just not acceptable. So I called the eye doctor and made an appointment. I didn’t have time to go and I was upset with myself and the whole situation. I could have paid for a haircut TWICE for the cost of a trip to the eye doctor. But there was really no choice, so I went. The doctor said a tiny piece of hair managed to get stuck right into a tear duct. He said never in his lengthy career had he seen that happen. Lucky me. He pulled it out, the relief was immediate, and I went home.

You’d think I would have learned my lesson. But I’m still cutting my hair regularly. In fact, I may go look for a pair of scissors right now…

Recipe of the Week

Fresh Creamed Corn
4 ears fresh ears corn
4 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup heavy cream

Boil four quarts of water in a large pot. Add corn and cook for 5 mins. Drain and set aside. Melt butter over low heat. Add flour and stir. Slice cooked corn off the cob, using the back of your knife to force off any remaining kernels of corn and the “milk” (juices) from the cob. Add the sugar and salt. Turn heat up to medium. Stir and cook 1 minute. Add the cream and cook an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. This is fabulous!

Have a GREAT week!!!


Meg85242 said...

Oh Betsy! I love your honesty! Seriously, I enjoy your blog and your novels.

NeverTrustASkinnyCook said...

I love your writing style . . . I love the honesty in it and I can relate to so much of it . . . yet, I can't seem to get myself started at writing . . . maybe having a full time retired husband is my problem! :)

Cathy said...

Great diet advice, I need to read this like once a week! I especially love the Marlo Thomas part-it gives me hope on days when I mess up that I can just start over again and get right back on it-it's a process!!!

Cami McHan said...

Thank you for all the writing advice! I am still a teen, but it is one of my biggest dreams to write a book. I have a lot of ideas for books, not to mention all the short stories I write for school, so I'm trying to organize my thoughts. A lot of people say I'm a good writer, so I hope that I can develop more skills! Thanks!

Heather said...

Loved the idea for a new book!