Monday, September 29, 2014

My No Sew Tink Inspired Runing Costume #runDisney

One down, three to go. I have completed my first #runDisney costume for the 2015 Goofy Challenge.

One of our couple’s costumes is Tink and Peter Pan. I love the story of Peter Pan (literally one of my faves) and I think I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Disney’s portrayal of Tinker Bell. So, how do we create a costume that screams Tink but is still functional?

Well, I start with a sparkle skirt. I love these things. They are light, breezy, and stretchy enough you can pull them over any of your standard running clothing. Here’s shot of the #TeamSparkle costume idea for Tink.

I followed this pretty closely. See.

Not pictured above are my super-awesome, totes adorbs, shoe pom pom's. I found these near the yarn section in my local WalMart.

Depending on how long your race is you may want a visor or hat. Chances are good that my Tink costume will debut on a shorter race (5k, 10k, or maybe even the half – I don’t have that particular detail planned out yet). So I figured it would be safe to go hatless. That being said, I went ahead and ordered the green sparkle visor from Sparkle Athletic to match my skirt. You know, just in case.

I bought some lime green tights and tank top from Walmart. Add the skirt and *boom* suddenly the costume looks like a fairy. But no fairy costume is complete without wings, amirite?

So I did splurge on wings from the folks at Sparkle Athletic. The best thing about these wings is that they come with instructions on how to affix the wings to your outfit so they don’t do that annoying bouncy thing the entire time you’re running.

Now, as you can imagine, these items aren’t cheap (they aren’t overly expensive either, I think the skirts and wings are actually very fairly priced). But buying your costume takes moolah. So here’s what I did.

First, I plotted my costume ideas months in advance (I started back in March after Handsome Jack suggested we run the Dopey.) If you are just now considering a costume for an upcoming Disney race, don’t fret. There’s still time.

Once I knew which costumes I was going to make I started shopping online for the pieces I knew I would buy (skirts, wings, etc).

Next, with my cost estimates in hand, I created a budget (I called it my Costume Fund. Not a super creative name, I know, but you get the idea).

Finally, once my pennies had accumulated to where I could afford it, I started buying pieces. I bought the tank top and tights first (since they were at Walmart and they were super affordable). Knowing that I was going to be making 4 costumes (one for each of the 4 Dopey Challenge races) I saved a bit longer until I could get all the skirts at one time.

My next costumes all involve sewing. I'm stressed just thinking about it. Ah the things we do to be awesome.

Want tips on making costumes? Check out these posts:

Dopey costume tips

On costumes by Half Crazy Momma

Run Selfie Repeat

Costume Tips from Sparkly Runner

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

rePost: Learning to Log Line (by lurking around the internet)

*** It's that time of year. The time where contests abound. A big part of pitching in person, on Twitter, or in contests are log lines. Here's my post from last year about how I learned to log line by lurking. Enjoy. ***

Is it just me, or are there tons of great contests going on this time of year? It seems like there are more now than a few months ago.

Luckily, I no longer have to sit still while the excitement passes me by. This year, I have a clean MS ready to submit. Woot woot! *does happy dance with Jake*

Even better than having a ready manuscript is being prepared. I spent time learning what works and what doesn't. Of course, like with everything else, what works and what doesn't is subjective. Still, if something works for others, it might just work for me. And you.

One element of many contests is the Log Line. What's that? Don't feel bad. I didn't know what it was either.

I learned about Log Lines from the wise, and wonderful @AuthoressAnon. She has two excellent blog posts about Log Lines here and here.

Essentially, it's a tight, concise, one sentence summary of your story. It should include your MC, their conflict, and the stakes.

Wait, you thought it was hard reducing your novel to a three paragraph query letter? Yeah, try reducing it to a single sentence - that's the Log Line.

Sound impossible? It's not. Check out the movie descriptions on Netflix or Hulu. (Can you tell I don't have cable? But I digress.) Those quick summaries you see when you hover over a movie are, you guessed it, Log Lines*.

*Most of the time what you see is a log line. Sometimes what you see if just a generic description of the show/movie. Not the same thing.

Here are some Log Line examples from my Netflix Instant Queue:

The Man in the Iron Mask:

In this star-studded swashbuckler, the fabled Musketeers hatch a scheme to replace callous King Louis XIV with his unjustly imprisoned twin brother.

Pretty good. We know the WHO (Musketeers), the CONFLICT (replace callous King Louis XIV) except we don't get a clear sense of what the Musketeers are risking/stakes - we assume their lives. Which is correct.

But assuming is bad. Assuming is boring. Let's see if we can find something better:

Days of Thunder:

A gifted but unproven stock-car racer['s] quick temper and rivalry with another driver threaten[s] to put the breaks on his career.

OOOO, this is a good one. We know WHO (gifted but unproven stock-car racer), we know the CONFLICT (temper (internal conflict) and rivalry (external conflict)) , and we know the STAKES (career is on the line). Excellent Log Line and a great film, I might add.

One for the Money:

A divorced, unemployed woman becomes a bounty hunter to make ends meet, with her first big case revolving around a former high school boyfriend.

This is a good one too, although not as obvious as Days of Thunder. We know WHO (divorced, unemployed woman turned bounty hunter) we know the CONFLICT (first big case) and we know the STAKES (make ends meet). Love this movie.

See, it can be done. But nothing good ever came easy, right?

For more details and examples check out these articles on @AuthoressAnon's blog, Miss Snark's First Victim, for more examples: here and here.

Specifically, check out the Baker's Dozen Auction posts. This is a contest she holds each year (and it's coming up!!), includes Log Lines and the first 250 words. Agents bid on the entries that they dig.

I dug through EVERY. SINGLE. FULL REQUEST from the last 3 contests. I read the log lines. Here are some common trends I observed:

1. The shorter, the better. 100 words or less is best. Try to keep it to just one sentence.

2. Dump names and extra details as they clog up the sentence. Often times, this can be accomplished by dumping qualifiers and clauses. A great example is the Log Line on Netflix for The Hunger Games:

In a dystopian future, teens Katniss and Peeta are drafted for a televised event pitting young competitors against each other in a fight to the death.

It's good. It has all the main elements: WHO, CONFLICT, and STAKES. But it's clunky with unnecessary details. A better Log Line would be:

Teens are drafted for a televised event pitting young competitors against each other in a fight to the death.

Boom. Short. Sweet. Detailed.

3. Don't use character names. You may have great character names or fun, invented words for things (you are, after all, a world-building, novel-writing-genius) but the Log Line is not the place to display that particular talent. Use simple language that any reader can understand.

Try using character roles or titles that most people can understand. Examples: "divorced, unemployed woman becomes bounty hunter", "teens...are drafted", "gifted but unproven stock-car racer".

These are just a few ideas I gleamed from the sidelines. Feel free to try this approach and let me know how it works for you.

Already write killer Log Lines? What works for you? How do you draft a kick arse Log Line?

Want more?
Check out examples of tight Log Lines in Natalie Whipple's recent contest requiring a pitch in 7 words or less.

Check out more examples of Log Lines in Lara Campbell McGehee's post on Contests, Critiques, and the Joys of Loglines.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Running Costume Tips

It has begun!! I’ve started work on our runDisney costumes for the 2015 Dopey Challenge. As you know, the Dopey Challenge is 4 races over 4 days beginning with a 5k and increasing in distance, culminating with a full marathon.

My hubby (aka Handsome Jack) and I are excited to train for this race. But more than training, the Disney races require planning. (Well, they don’t require planning, but stay with me. I’ll explain).

If you haven’t run a Disney race you may want to consider a costume.
See my post about Disney races and costumes here. Now, cosplay isn’t for everyone. And running cosplay is not something to take lightly. If you are going to run any distance in a costume you will likely have to sacrifice authenticity for comfort (can’t have your nipples bleeding after mile 1 can we?). And, for those of us who are sewing-challenged, it is possible to have a kick butt running costume without picking up needle or thread.

If you are toying with the idea of making a costume here are a few pieces of advice I've picked up along the way:

· Avoid cotton at all costs. Once you go tech you never go back – at least that was the case for me. Running in cotton, especially when you sweat buckets (like you will running a race) is horrible. The material gets heavy with sweat and sticks to your skin. The seams are usually raised in cotton t-shirt’s so they rub and rub and rub. You may think you’ve found the worlds softest cotton t-shirt but 13 miles into a race every inch of that shirt will feel like it was made of bee-stingers and beach sand. Just don’t. do. It.

· If you know your thighs will rub together be sure to cover that base in your costume (Note: All my costumes include shorts or tights that drop past the rub zone). If you always run with longer shorts or capris but for the race you want to go as a sexy R2D2, that’s fine. Just be sure your sexy robot outfit includes shorts that pass the rub zone. I made the mistake of running a Disney half in a running skirt. I love running skirts, don’t get me wrong, but I thought this skirt’s built in shorts would be long enough to prevent the rubbing. Oh buddy. I was. WRONG. And the race was torture (Vaseline can only do so much, man). If you want to be matchy matchy but can’t find long enough/right color shorts in the girls section, check out the men’s section. There are more color options in Men’s compression shorts. And they are usually longer than girls (perfect for preventing thigh rub).

· If there will be mud, consider tights. This applies to men and women. Wearing tights under your running shorts is essential in a mud run because the tights help keep your junk clean. Seriously. Less mud in the junk the better. Again, this applies to men and women because, frankly, no one wants mud in or around their no-no areas.

· Definitely take a practice run in your outfit. You may feel silly running the trails dressed like a Alice in Wonderland (or maybe not….*makes note to run local trail in Alice in Wonderland outfit*) but actually running in your outfit is essential. Just like you would take a practice run in any store bought, unaltered, clothing before the big day, do the same with your costume. You never know what might rub you the wrong way. This is essential if you plan on wearing anything that covers your face or head (other than a running hat). You read stories all the time about people who ran in heavy, stage makeup or in full wigs and have completely underestimated the ability for something that seems small to ruin their run.

Have you run a race in costume? Share your stories and advice.

Want more on #runDisney costumes? Check out these blogs:

On costumes by Half Crazy Momma

Run Selfie Repeat

Costume Tips from Sparkly Runner

Monday, September 8, 2014

2014 Mid Year Goal Review (Do I lose points for being late?)

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important goal check. Ideally, this goal check would have been completed at the end of June-early-July but those months were hectic.

This delay in checking goals I not a good thing. It’s not like I can sit back and say, ‘Well, I didn’t do my second goal check until August so I’ll just extend the rolling year period into February.’ Uh, no. This delay in checking means there are fewer days, weeks, months to complete my 2014 goals. But I’m not scared (yet) and if you're in the same boat, have no fear. This is an opportunity to pause, take stock of our progress and correct course if needed.

You may remember, back in May I did a major goal course correction. Notice I did not say failure. Course corrections are needed. And it's not necessarily the result of setting the bar too high. Sometimes life gets in the way of our plans (big shocker, right?).

So let’s check in on my progress thus far (This is a longer post, folks, with plenty of pics and gifs. So hold on and enjoy the ride):

Writerly Goals for 2014:

o Course Corrected Goal: take at least 1 writing class between Aug – Dec 2014

Done – I took a Pitch class via RWA prior to attending the conference. I have my eye on a few other classes but I need to narrow those down.

o Course Corrected Goal: Attend 1 conference.

Done – see my RWA14 recap here.

o Course Corrected Goal: enter at least 2 contests.

On track - My WIP is almost contest/query ready. I didn’t want to submit to Pitchwars if it wasn’t ready so I’m holding on for contests later in the year.

o Course Corrected Goal: blog at least once a week for 21 weeks.

On track – this is a manageable goal for me. I wanted to blog but I also wanted to spend most of my time on my WIP. This schedule seems to work for me.

o Course Corrected Goal: Write 200k words in 2014.

On track but starting to slip - I’m a little behind my total target but I’m still pushing forward. I’m happy with my word count so far. Check out my monthly recap for Aug, July, and June.

o Course Corrected Goal: Finish 2 MS’s in 2014.

D O N E!!!! – *Does happy dance* I'm thrilled to be done with my second WIP this year. And with revisionary edits planned for two other WIPs I feel like I’m going to blow this goal out of the water. (Note: I did not start both of these WIPs within this calendar year. I’m fast but I'm not that fast. But I will be one day.)

o Course Corrected Goal: Read 40 books

Slipping – this goal is tough. That is to say 40 books was going to be a reach anyway. But it's going to be even harder now that I'm behind due to my class at the beginning of the year. Not to mention I've been drafting like a race horse these last few months. But still, I want to hit this goal. I’m watching this target and hope to meet this goal but it’s a lot of reading.

Running and Fitness Goals for 2014:

· Register for the Dopey Challenge.

Done – registered!!

· Train for Dopey challenge.

On track - Races like this require A LOT of training and I want to be seriously prepared for this race. Luckily, Handsome Jack and I started training in July. We are following the training plan on the runDisney website. We’ve had a few bumps along the road (minor injuries, nagging pain, and minor surgeries) but we are on track.

· Run a Half during training for time (must be done before Oct).

Slipping – this goal is tough. There just aren’t a lot of Half’s in ATL this time of year. Most of the races I run my only goal is to finish strong. But Disney’s new corral placement system requires proof of time. Should be interesting.

· Switch to water as my primary beverage on July 1.

Done (sorta) – I was full on addicted to soda. But I’m serious about training for this race so I knew I needed to seriously reconsider my nutrition and hydration. So I ditched the diet cola and switched to Clear American flavored water. It’s fizzy, like Coke Zero (which I love) but it doesn’t have the caffeine and added sodium. Yes, it has artificial sugars. And yes, I’d be better off if I drank water. But I’m not quite ready to let go of my fizz. So I’ve switched. And I rarely relapse and drink a caffeinated diet soda. So I call this goal done –sorta.

Personal Life Goals for 2014:

· Take class to learn the skills needed to defeat the soul destroying exam scheduled for June.

Done – the class ran from Feb – June and it met three days a week. Plus, homework. Plus take home tests. Ugh. It was hard. But it was so worth it.

· Crush soul destroying exam scheduled in June.

Done – I scored almost 20 points higher than I did the last time I took the test (almost ten years ago). My scores are right where they need to be. So, yay!

· Spend more time on the motorcycle with the hubby, Handsome Jack.

On track – I’ve hitched a ride a few times now. Most memorable was probably the 4th of July. We rode down to watch the fireworks and then rode back in the dark…eeek. It was fun and terrifying. I tried to ride again and we hit a bump that tweaked my back. So once that feels better I’m sure I’ll try again. So far so good.

· Go tubing/beach/kayak/backpacking at least once each this summer.

Done – We managed to go tubing down the Chattahoochee, layout on Daytona Beach, Kayak around the lake in KY, and backpack through the north Georgia mountains. It’s been a lot of fun.


That’s where I am. Most of my goals are done or on track with only two or three that are slipping. I'm pleased with the progress on my personal goals and writing goals. I'm a little worried about the slippage I see on my running goals and my reading goals. But hey, that's what goal checks are for, right? Changing goals (or dumping them altogether) doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s the smart thing to do to ensure you succeed at what matters most.

How are your goals coming along this year? Have you had to make any course corrections so far?

#NeverGiveUp #NeverSurrender

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I Can Haz Productivity: August 2014 month in review

August was…August. July was amazing! But August was busy and stressful and just plain hard.

For the most part, I managed to stay in one place in August(unlike July) and the good thing about staying put is there are more chances to write. I came into the month swinging. I hit my word counts each day and I wrote 6 days a week….but then something unexpected happened. Burn out.

Not in the same way that I’ve burnt out before (where I can’t pick up a book or open a word doc without ennui). This burn out was more along the lines of fatigue. I was tired. Staying up late and waking up early to hit my targets had started taking a toll.

Around the same time I was giving in to my fatigue I was feeling overwhelmed with my plot. In this WIP I’ve tried my hand at better pre-plotting. And with all good intentions, things tend to go awry. My story took turns I didn’t plan for and this meant my outline for the third act no longer applied. I stepped away from the story to get a little perspective.

Luckily, we had running, hiking, and runDisney costume crafts to keep me distracted.

Unfortunately, I beat up my knee pretty good on the hike and spent the rest of the weekend like this:

Reading really helped with my burn out. I even read outside my genre which was fun.

Let’s take a look at the stats:

0 Partial beta for CP's (everyone seems to be drafting their hearts out)
2 runDisney costume completed (more on that later)
6 novels read for fun
1 out of town hiking trip
1 long trail run
13 gym workouts (including elliptical and personal trainer)

And words!!! *does happy dance * For a grand total of 28,208 words. This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count to 112,572 for the year!

And as for miles ran, I am happy to report, 33.4 miles logged. Which brings my total ‘tracked’ mileage to 145.5 miles this year. I’m happy to be falling in love with running again.

All in all, it’s not a bad month. Looking forward to making further strides in my draft next month.

#NeverGiveUp #NeverSurrender
How are your writing goals coming along?
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