Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

What Training for a Marathon Taught me about Writing a Novel

Welcome, welcome! Today is another great day to be inspired, and I'm happy to announce that Carrie Mumford will be taking over for another edition of the #lifelistclub! I will be posting tomorrow at Catie Rhodes blog, so be sure to check that out then.

Without further ado, I give you Carrie.

Last year I set a really big goal for myself: run a marathon. Several of the Life List bloggers have set big goals for themselves this year. In fact, many Life Listers, including my gracious host, Jennie, would like to complete a novel. To me, setting out to complete a novel is the marathon of the writing world. Short stories and articles require fewer words, and thereby less time and planning to complete. I think of these as the 10 kilometer races of the writing world. Obviously this rule isn’t steadfast – there are some novels that come easy, and some short stories that take forever to perfect, but overall, it seems that writing a novel is a big, giant, marathon of a commitment.

Here’s a video about marathoning that gets my heart racing:

As you watch, imagine they are talking about writing a novel – the similarities abound!

Here are three lessons I learned while training for a marathon that have helped me as I work on my first novel:

1. Life is going to get in the way – you need to persevere:

Even with a solid plan, unexpected things are going to interrupt your progress towards your goals. When I was training for the marathon, my plans were interrupted by invitations for cottage weekends, work events and visitors from out of town. Despite my best efforts in planning, there were disruptions outside of my control that caused me to miss training runs from time to time.

When you’re writing, it’s easy to be distracted by other life commitments. As I learned during my marathon training, the key to reaching your goal is to persevere in the face of the distractions life throws in the way of your goal. You will not make every training run or planned writing session, but the important part is that you pick up where you left off for the next session.

2. Asking for help is much better than suffering alone:

There came a time during my training that a knee injury forced me to seek medical attention: I knew that if I wasn’t able to fix the pain in my knee, I’d never be able to make it through 42.2 kilometers (or 26 miles) on race day. I was so afraid that the doctor was going to tell me to stop training that I delayed my visit until I could barely walk (for the record, this is a really bad plan of action). When I finally did get help with me knee, it only took a few physiotherapy sessions before I was running again, and I really regretted not having gone to get help sooner.

There are times when writers need help too. In fact, last week Jennie sent out a cry for help when she expressed the frustration she was feeling with her WIP. If you’re struggling with your writing, reach out to the writing community, either on Twitter (the #LifeListClub is a great place to start), or in-person to another writer friend, or even seek help from a professional (perhaps by taking a writing class or visiting a writer-in-residence). The writing community is very supportive and friendly, and it’s a whole lot nicer to reach out for help than to sit at your desk alone, beating your head against the keyboard.

3. You’re about to do battle with your brain – make sure the non-lazy side wins:

Training for a marathon is not only physically challenging, but also a mentally and emotionally challenging. I found one of the toughest parts of getting myself to the race was beating down the lazy side of my brain that was constantly trying to convince me that cleaning out my closet or reading was way more important that heading out for a run.

I’ve had to fight this same battle with my brain when writing. Sometimes it’s really easy to rationalize skipping a writing session because it’s sunny outside, or because your spouse would like to take you for dinner. And sometimes the lazy-side of your brain is right (which is what makes it so tricky). But often, you need to tell that lazy side of your brain to take a hike and just get back to writing.

The journey is worth it:

Training for a marathon and writing a novel are both physically and emotionally taxing, but in the end, it’s worth it. I completed my first marathon last September, and I can confidently say it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Despite my training, it hurt. Things went wrong (I lost my pace group and ended up stumbling, watch-less through the second half of the race). I can admit that there were times when I had to fight back tears – I was frustrated, in pain, exhausted. I’ve felt these exact same emotions as I work on my novel. But I finished the marathon, and I don’t regret a second of it. I can only hope that the experience of completing a novel will give me the same feeling of satisfaction.

Have you ever run a marathon? Even better, have you written a novel AND run a marathon? What was your experience like? Do you have any tips for people striving towards a marathon-sized goal?


Carrie Mumford is a writer and editor living in the wild Canadian West. She writes short stories and non-fiction articles, and is working on her first novel. When she’s not writing she can be found chipping away at her certificate in publishing, running, trying to learn CSS or watching knitting videos on YouTube (which is infinitely more entertaining than it sounds!).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Update #3

Happy Thursday all! First I just wanted to let you all know that you can still vote for my short story 'Existence' over at Heather Howland's blog.

Next, I was featured over at Emily Moir's blog with my worst date horror story.

This week (okay it happened in the last two weeks) I was given another award from Taylor at Duely Noted and tagged in a meme from Cherie at Ready. Write. Go. I've decided the two honors should be combined (just like Cherie combined her meme's) so for the award specifics I'm going to answer meme questions. Sound good? Okay, let's get this party started.

1. Are you a HOT rutabaga? Describe yourself in two words.

You know, I actually had to look up what a rutabaga was. I knew it was food, but... #CulinaryFail

2. When was the last time you ate lion meat?

I've heard that it's rather tasty with baked rutabaga. I wonder what would recommend?

3. Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.

This is my princess, with a golf ball.

4. What songs would be playing when you go back in time to beat the crap out of someone, and who, may I ask, would be this someone unfortunate enough to be in your time traveling dimensional line?

Oh man, I don't really believe in violence so here's a song that makes me happy instead :)

5. Name one habit you want to change in yourself because it makes people plot your demise.

Didn't I talk about this yesterday??

6. How many goats, stacked atop one another like Yertle's Turtles, would it take to reach the moon?

That depends on whether or not we are talking about giant goats or miniature ones. But I think I'd just rather go with one Goat who is already trained for space flight, why hassle with the staking?

8. Where da muffin top at?

Remember that episode of Seinfeld? Okay I'm not gunna go there...

9. Do you have nicknames?

Wait, nick-what? I'm am so not understanding this question.

10. What the fudge were you thinking as you were doing this?

Maybe it is possible to talk my way around everything.

Tagging Time!

It's been a while since I've tagged anyone so here are a few new blogs I really enjoy -

1. The East Coaster @ Published in a year

2. Kathleen @ Writing, Reading, and Life

3. Emily @ Get busy Writing

4. Lynn(e) @ The submission process

Pick a funky nickname for #1 - is the East Coaster not funny enough? How about 'coasting on the east'? Okay I give up.

Write a rhyme for #2:
Kathleen you are so mean
your writing is so clean
I can't really rhyme
So I'll cop out this time...

Leave a lovey-dovey message for #3: Emily, your blog is so pretty and I envy your lovely cheek bones. Plus you leave beautiful comments everywhere I look :)

#4 dreams about... I'll take a shot in the dark, Harry Potter??

You guys can take the award, or the meme, or do whatever you please :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Funnies

You guys are so amazing that I am honored to announce that I passed 10,000 page views yesterday! So today, were havin' a little party with some funnies. I also brought some mini bagel pizzas, so enjoy!

Harry Potter Math

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 25, 2011


This September I will be attending my first ever writers conference. So if you happen to be in Utah on the weekend of September 16-17th I would love it if you came so we can chat!

As I noted on Saturday, I created a new Life List. My first goal was to re-write/edit at least five and a half pages a day. The reason I choose this amount was so that I could be finished with the first edit in time for the writers conference. I think it will be more enriching to have at least a sensible story in hand.

You know what I've discovered? I work well under a deadline. Having something to look forward to, and wanting to show something for it, it's really pushed me. There will be no more I can't do it posts, although I won't go so far as to say I won't complain. Sometimes editing hurts.

I kinda feel like I'm about to go to my first day of school. I've always loved writing, but I've never focused on it like I am now. I know I've talked about this a lot but it really has changed me.

Do deadlines work for you? What are you looking forward too?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Life List

Hey y'all! I just wanted to tell you guys that I have a new life list which you can read by clicking the tab above ^

I've enabled the comments on the page and I would love some feed back. Thank you!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kill - a game of songs

First of all, I am so sorry this posted yesterday. Dang me getting my dates all switched up! I wasn't in love with my flash fiction piece and I'm still not. So instead were going to play a game.

Before I get to that, let me back up a little. This post is all because I had Violeta at Lyn Midnight: Against the Odds ask her all knowing entity, Winamp what my next blog post would be. The answer is always in the form of a song.

The song Winamp gave me was The Kill, by 30 seconds to Mars. Here comes the game part. I'll take this song and think of a word. In this case I am choosing the word 'kill'

I'll take that word and think of any song that uses the word. I came up with four songs. Your goal is try and trump me by thinking of more songs than me that contain that word anywhere in the song. Sound fun? Okay let's go!

Here is the video for the first song, the one Winamp gave me -

My next thought lead me to Jimmy Eat World - Kill

This song was inspired By Jess - killing me softly

Last, but not least, is Imagine by John Lennon, look for the word in the second verse.

Okay it's your turn! I can't wait to see if you guys can stump me :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Update #2

If you haven't already heard, I'm a finalist over at Heather Howland's blog! (okay everyone was, but still) Go on over and read my story, Existence, then if you like it, please vote!!

I'm also joining the HUGE contest at My Writer's Craze for the chance to win Divergent, Graceling, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, plus a $50 amazon gift card. (yes that is just one of the prizes, pretty cool huh?) so hop on over there to check it out.

I can't forget the pretty fun Harry Potter tour going on that began at S.P. Sipal's blog, so go enjoy the posts, the chat, and win some cool prizes too!

Last, and most importantly, I wanted to thank you guys for your amazing support yesterday! You don't even know how much you guys have impacted my life and helped me through so many hard things. Then you go and blow my socks off with your amazing generosity and kind words.

The reason I was so down was simply the fact that I am practically re-writing my entire book. I'm also debating between past and present tense. The book is 1st person and right now I like present tense, but it's also set in a renaissance type era, so I'm not sure if it should be in past tense.

Opinions would greatly influence my decision and help me get on track with my writing.

Since there is no real appropriate way to end this post, here is a little inspiration that helped me through yesterday. Enjoy!

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


There is something I need to be completely honest about. You all know I'm a positive upbeat person for the most part. I like to look for the good in things, it's what makes me happy.

Writing is my passion. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. I feel like a whole new person since I've started this blog, kind of like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. But the truth is, right now, I feel completely inadequate.

I have so many weaknesses. I'm not a great speller. There are so many grammar rules I have yet to learn. I can't seem to stick to a plot. I really don't feel like I have much going for me when it comes to being a great writer.

So, what do I do about it? The first thing that comes to mind is that I want/need to learn more. I truly believe that learning is what keeps us young. The problem is I don't ever think I can learn enough, and that's what's holding me back from editing.

For the past week and half, I haven't really touched my book. I've been very busy (people visiting and summer stuff) but that's really just an excuse.

The real reason I haven't touched it is simply that I don't feel like it's good enough, that I'll never make it, that I'm simply inadequate.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blogging and Old Moives

The other day on Facebook I asked if any of my non-blogger friends would like to write a post for me. I was really surprised when I actually got a response. I'm just curious as to why other people who frequent social media haven't made the leap to blogging yet, because I am sure it has crossed their minds.

So when my friend (almost sister, really) said she wanted to blog for me, and she wanted a topic. So, I gave her the title "Why I don't blog, and still watch old movies." I was joking of course, just trying to give her ideas but she took it and ran.

Her post is so sweet and funny I have NO issues sharing it with you all today. Please in enjoy -


When I was 15 years old, my mother forced me to watch “Tammy and the Bachelor”, a movie from 1957 starring Debbie Reynolds and Leslie Nielsen. My immediate reaction when she presented this movie to me was the typical teenage reaction, “This is gonna be dumb and boring.”

It turned out to be one of the sweetest, funniest movies I had ever seen. Thus began my love for old movies. Movies made in different decades reflect attitudes and styles of the times. These are the times that have built our world and made us what we are today as a society.

Movies shape thoughts and opinions, entertain us; inform us of inner struggles, personalities, and attitudes we may not have been exposed to otherwise. They remind us that although times and styles may change, people do not always change.

When I was 26, I started my first blog. It was becoming the popular thing to do; a great way to inform the rest of the world what was going on in my world. I was following my friends’ examples of updating the day to day activities of my family, informing everyone on the little thoughts in my head. I was going to make my blog the blog that everyone else envied, adored and wanted to read over and over again. It was going to be spectacular! I posted three times, decided it was dumb and boring, and never wrote on that blog again.

Several months ago, a friend convinced me that I was funny and wanted to know what other thoughts run through my head. So once again, I began another blog. At the time, I was going through a rough patch of life. I used humor to sugar coat things; it is just one of my defense mechanisms.

But as I would put words to screen, I found that I was actually very dark and broodish on the inside. Seeing as how misery loves company, I did not want to bring my readers down. Figured no one would want to read a sad, dark blog. What would people think when they looked at me? I certainly did not want them to be concerned that I would jump off a ledge or something. Therefore, once again, I had started and ended a blog in three posts or less.

My expectations in both instances were not fulfilled. So although I may never blog, I still enjoy old movies. Now maybe if I had tried harder with the blogging, I may have been able to make it the blog to end all other blogs; dramatic, funny, tear jerking and very real. Maybe I still will.

Maybe I will start a blog about old movies.


Jynelle Black is the mother of three rambunctious boys and one girl. She works as nurse in geriatric care center.

She loves family, friends, and food - but hates watermelon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Looking For Inspiration

Those of you who have been long time followers of this blog know that I like to write about that which inspires. For those of you who are new, now you know! (and thanks for following ^_^)

It's funny how inspiration can come at the most random moments in life. You may not even be thinking about a project when BAM! something hits you right between the eyes and you're just itching to write.

I often find it happens at the most mundane times, when a writing instrument is the furthest from your hands. It's almost like that distance makes the creativity that much stronger.

For me, it often strikes in the shower, or on a long car ride. In some ways that's good. It gives me time to think through my idea and put it down on paper better than if I had the chance to write it immediately.

Other times inspiration doesn't come until you've been hashing it out for awhile. I found in the editing process I can read over a scene twenty times and think it's okay, but when I read it the twenty-first time I see how it can be improved. Funny how the muse teases you like that.

Inspiration is such a fleeting, fickle, thing; yet, when it hits it can completely change the way you write.

Anyone have good tips for finding everyday inspiration?

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Thought Killing Me Softly Was a Song Title?

Hello Everyone! Welcome to the second round of guest posting brought to you by the Life List Club. The Life List Club is for writers and readers to connect with each other by supporting one another in their goals, whatever they may be! You can check out Jennie's Life List at the top of her page, and read more Life Lists by following the bloggers in the Life List Blogroll on the sidebar.

I have a quote on the wall above my desk, conveniently located right above my time-sucking, selfish computer. It's a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnemese Buddhist monk, poet, and peace activist. The quote says:

“If you do not give right attention to the one you love, it is a kind of killing.

When you are in the car together, if you are lost in your thoughts,

assuming you already know everything about her, she will slowly die.”

Those words have always stood out to me. The advice may be simple, but it's the hardest thing to do in a relationship isn't it, devote your time to truly listening to someone? Our lives are full of many things: work demands, kiddie carpools, grocery lists, plants to water, friends to catch up with, birthday cards to remember, and before we know it we're shampooing our hair twice in the morning. You do do that too, right?

One of the things on my Life List was to work on being a better partner. I'm currently in the midst of a job title change and the new position has me putting in extra hours, and with writing becoming a focus in my life again, it's not exactly a hobby that allows me more free time to talk. All week long I have stared at that quote, asking myself how have I made it a point to learn about my partner this week? Sure I know his work schedule, I know what foods he likes and doesn't like, and I know he took karate as a kid (he likes to pretend he's still a black belt), but there's always more. I'm truly fortunate to have someone that understands the demands of a writer's life, and a sales manager for that matter. Whether we have multiple paychecks coming in or not, a lot of us work at more than one job. It's easy to take for granted the supportive members of our family that keep us up and running. Thanks again for washing the sheets and packing me lunch, honey!

The first step I took was planning time to spend together. You might be saying, well duh, Jess! but as a mid twentysomething, that notion is new to me. College life was all about last minute decisions and late nights eating coffee grounds to stay awake (I only did that once!) A few years out of school now has drastically changed my schedule, and added new responsibilities. Forgive me for thinking it, but I thought planning my date nights wasn't something to worry about until our 40's. I sincerely apologize. Carving out some time during the days, or planning one day out of the week to spend with each other has been crucial, and one of the best things I could've done. It doesn't have to be fancy candlelit dinners. Lately it's been making dinner together and enjoying it outside in the backyard playing zydeco music I bought in New Orleans a few weeks ago. We're just talking. We're learning about each other, investing time in the things that are important to each of us. Another example is reading together. Pardon my crass, but men who read are sexy. Don't you agree?

I'm no expert in relationships. I know there are stressors and to do lists that seem like they'll never end, but it's something I want to work on. Be a better partner. The time we have together is often limited, so I want those moments to count. I can only control my actions and behaviors, so it's up to me to be an active listener, to show my partner I want to be a witness to the important, and not so important, moments of his life. If he can be excited about my obnoxious talents of quoting entire movie dialogues, then I can agree he does still have a black belt in karate. After all, “It's not like they take it away! What?! You wanna fight? I bet I could take you. I believe you, honey, but how about you take me dancing instead?

What advice do you have for being a better partner? How do you make time to spend with each other? What have you learned along the way that's helped either your current relationship or the one that came next? Do you agree with Thich Nhat Hanh's words?


Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it! She deals with it all and writes about it! Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining.