Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sisters in Crime

To help me transition from writing speculative fiction to tackling my first contemporary mystery novel, I've joined Sisters in Crime. Yesterday I attended the first meeting of my local branch, Sisters In Crime of Columbus Ohio. The guests for the May meeting were Lara Baker-Morrish and Annie Murray, both prosecutors for the city of Columbus. Murray is the director of the Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit.

Their talk was fascinating and frightening; it's sobering to realize how much negative impact a stranger can make on one's life if they choose you as an object of fixation. In addition to some fresh ideas for my plot, Murray also shared some of the ways most people make themselves easy victims. Case in point: not putting any sort of lock on one's cell phone. I never really understood the point before. But after Murray detailed all the ways your phone can be used against you (and to track you), I now realize the importance of that basic measure.Granted, if someone's dedicated enough, all but the heaviest personal security won't make much of a difference. But I can at least try not to be a walking turkey.

My only regret is that I had to leave before the meeting ended. I look forward to seeing what all the group has to offer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Marcon (semi) fitness

Several people have told me they've enjoyed reading my posts on writing and fitness over at Writer's Fun Zone. So I figured I'd post one over here.

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended MarCon this past weekend, where I got to meet up with friends, writers, and other fans. Cons are not the most health-conscious environment (which is like saying water tends to be on the wet side). My general experience is spending a weekend in a convention center with no sunlight, eating way too much at the Con Suite and/or food court, and suffering exhaustion from lack of sleep and overstimulation. So, not the hallmarks of fitness.

However, I did manage to limit the self-damage this time around. Exercise-wise, my weekend didn't start out great, because I had to miss my Friday karate class. Friday I mostly settled in and wandered around the con. However, I did maintain at least a little consciousness of what I was eating. I skipped the restaurant breakfast buffet on Saturday and Sunday, at least.

Saturday is normally a strength-training day. However, I was limited on workout time, because I had so much to do and so many people to see. So instead, I put together a brief interval training workout. I chose interval training because it's an effective workout in a short amount of time, and you can do intervals of just about any aerobic exercise.

DISCLAIMER: Talk to a doctor before you begin any exercise routine. Yeah, I did this, but that doesn't mean you should! I'm in no way a certified fitness expert. Please consult one if you're going to try this!

So here's the workout I put together. I'm easily bored and wanted something that worked my whole body, so I created a varied routine. I jotted down four sets of two exercises. I'd complete the first two exercise, rest, repeat those two, rest, then move to the next set. Here's what I did:

Warm up: jog down to gym from hotel room, stretch in gym

20 squat kicks with 10 lb. dumbbells
10 burpees

20 lunges w/knee lift and bicep curl, 10 lb. dumbbells (10 right, then 10 left)
20 tricep dips, raise up, toe touches

20 side lunges with shoulder press, 5 lb. dumbbells (10 right, then 10 left)
20 mountain climbers

20 alternating-arm back raises
20 reverse crunches, 8 lb. medicine ball (For the second set, I did 20 Russian Twists with the 8-lb ball, but I kept my feet on the ground unlike the badass woman in the demo video)

Cool-down: walk back up to room. The gym was in the basement and we were on the 7th floor, so it was a good length for a cool down. Then I stretched in my room.

The interval part of the workout took roughly 20 minutes, which is just about right for this type of workout. Then after a shower, I got on with the con! That little burst of exercise kept me wide awake for the rest of the day. I also made sure to poke my head out and walk in the sunshine a little each day.

Next time you're at a con, try and remember to take care of yourself. You'll feel much better on the drive home!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

MarCon 49 Wrap-Up

I've still got some post-con grogginess, but I had a good time at MarCon this year. Here were my highlights:

I popped into Cindy Matthews' presentation, The First Five Pages. Matthews talked about how to get your manuscript moving fast, before your potential editor or agent has the chance to get bored.

I attended a fantastic workshop on Writing Law Enforcement, led by Griffin Barber and Alistair Kimble. Barber is a long-serving officer with the San Francisco Police Department, and Kimble is an FBI agent. (In addition, both are published in Eric Flint's 1632 Universe.) They gave us workshop attendees an interesting and informative rundown of the differences between local and federal law enforcement, the human side of their line of work, and some common misconceptions that pop up in TV, books, and movies. Because we were a small group, they took extra time and care to answer my very basic questions. Since I'm tackling my first mystery novel and one of my lead characters is a police officer, I wanted to ensure I got the details right, and Barber and Kimble did a great job filling in my mental blanks. They also handed out awesome swag:

Saturday I attended a workshop on Fairytales and Fantasy, featuring Karen Dollinger and Jillian Kuhlmann. Dollinger later spoke on a panel on the relevance of feminism, which turned out to be a lively but respectful discussion.

Today I attended a reading by Kuhlmann from her debut novel The Hidden Icon. That was followed by a reading of the short story "Good Thoughts" by Chuck Ebert. He has a story coming out soon, the details of which I'll post as soon as I get them.

Plus, I got to exchange brief hellos with Lucy Snyder, Denise Verrico and Gary Wedlund. (As well as other folks, but right now I'm suffering from Con-brain.) I was grateful to reconnect with old friends and learn so much new. See you at next MarCon.