Saturday, August 15, 2009

Aw, crumb...

*Brushes off keyboard*


I don't cook.

If it were entirley up to me (and thankfully, it isn't) I would subsist on things bagged, boxed, nuked and ordered by phone. Yup I have wicked mad culinary skillz when it comes to opening things and punching buttons.

Oh yeah - there's also the Tassimo coffee maker. I can work that sucker like I'm some kinda wizard let me tell you... Okay - so it also consists of puching buttons. Okay, actually, just one button. It's all in the wrist-action! Not just anybody can do that, you know...

Beyond my beloved Tassimo - or "Coffee-Bot" as I like to call it - my writing sustenance, on the days when I am home and usually hunkered down in The Nook (er - that would be my office), consists of whatever my darling food-make-goer brings me. It's actually a pretty sweet deal.

There I am, typing away. Suddenly, something smells good. I look down and lo, behold, there is a dish of yummy food at my elbow. It's like magic. Today it was macaroni and white cheddar for lunch. Dinner was blackened chicken and vegetables. It's like the Faerie have come and left me sneaky magic Faerie Food while I was busy typing! Which is only appropriate, considering the kind of books I'm writing.

Beyond that, any further nosh is whatever I can eat one-handed without getting too many crumbs on the keyboard. Be advised, recent experiments pretty much rules out further forays into the Lay's Sour Cream and Onion bag.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Which I Out Myself as the Food Crazy of the Group. . .

One thing my diet and my writing have in common is that I’m sort of obsessed with both of them. A few years ago, I became interested in food and health and how they were connected. This started after I learned my oldest son had some food allergies and I had to start carefully reading the labels on everything. When he was younger, he was extremely allergic to milk, so I had to check every single food I bought to make sure it didn’t have milk in it. It sounds simple enough, but I soon learned that milk could be called a dozen other things on labels such as casein or whey (milk proteins) or lactose (milk sugar).

All the label reading got me looking up ingredients on the internet to make sure they weren’t milk related and learning a lot about what some of the other ingredients actually are in food. Then after a few members of my family got cancer, I started reading some books on food and illness – how food can both cause and prevent disease. The end result: I’ve become a little obsessed with organic/all natural foods and fruits and vegetables. And I really believe that old adage, that you are what you eat.

Knowing about my food obsession, and having become obsessed herself, my sister, a few years ago, bought me a book for my birthday called The Organic Cook’s Bible by Jeff Cox. It basically goes through every single ingredient/fruit/vegetable and tells you why the food is better for you if it’s organically grown and sometimes harmful for you if it’s not. Let me just say that after reading that book I will never eat certain non-organic/non-US grown fruits/vegetables again. Seriously, I’m actually terrified of some of them.

So my kids have never seen the inside of a McDonald’s or eaten a real hamburger or a real hot dog. I’m pretty sure they don’t know what soda is. But they do like spinach and hummus and broccoli. One of the first words my oldest son learned how to read was the word “organic” because he saw it on nearly everything in our refrigerator, and I drive out of my way to go to Trader Joes and Whole Foods every week rather than just drive five minutes to the traditional supermarket.

It’s not that I never eat anything bad for me or not organic. I think anything is fine in moderation. And I do like to go out to eat. But on a day to day basis I am an organic salad/organic chicken/organic fruit kind of girl. When I’m writing, none of this really changes, except I do like to drink coffee or green tea, organic, of course!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Life is precious

Dear Novel Girl Followers,

I am unable to post on a "Writer's Diet" today. My sons and I are in crisis. Will's oldest and dearest friend, Josiah Berger, a lovely, kind and precious nineteen-year-old young man, was in a car accident Tuesday night. He has SEVERE brain injuries and only a Miracle can save him. Not only has he been Will's best friend since the age of seven, he is the son of my loving pastor, Steve Berger.

Josiah's mother, father, sisters and brother, friends and extended family would appreciate your prayers. He is in the trauma unit of Vanderbilt hospital.

I thank you with all my heart.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Diet? What Diet?

Writer's diet? Huh. I'm probably not the best Novel Girl to post on this topic, since my usual diet consists of pizza, beer, fast food and Doritos--with the occasional salad and piece of fruit thrown in. Although since I had my beach vacation hanging over my head, I tried to eat a bit healthier this summer so as not to scare beach patrons by my pasty white skin AND jiggly thighs.

I've never been one of those people who "forgets" to eat. Nope. Sure, I might end up delaying a meal due to a crazy schedule, but eating and me are BFFs. I'm definitely one of those people who would rather be fat than give up food. Therefore, I usually end up having to do seriously long workouts to make up for my indulgences.

When I'm writing a book, it's no different--except I find that I continuously need to eat to keep my brain fueled. So, when I'm writing, I'll always have a snack nearby--some crackers, almonds, a granola bar, whatever. My other staple is a glass filled with ice and some diet coke or diet root beer right next to me.

I'll get all my necessities: lil' snack, my drink and my laptop and settle into the couch. Then, I turn on the Food Network and put it on mute, so I can occasionally glance up and salivate over whatever Paula Deen is cooking, since my family usually eats lots of takeout whenever I'm in the middle of a book. I figure, if I don't have time to make a shrimp casserole, I can at least watch someone else throw it together.

I'm starting my fourth book next week, so that means a pantry fully-stocked with lots of munchies, a billion frozen pizzas hanging out in the freezer and lots of Lean Cuisine meals. I'd advise everyone not to come visit for a couple of months. If you enter, you'll just find a passed-out writer on the couch, surrounded by pizza boxes and little scraps of paper that say cryptic things like, "Chapter 11 climax = lame."

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Care and Feeding of This Writer

Huge apology for missing my slot last week. Personal matters cropped up and I was unable to write a post last Monday. The rest of The Novel Girls did a terrific job in talking about relieving stress, so rather than try to talk about both last week and this week's topic, I'll just move on to my take on the writer's diet. Or, rather, THIS writer's diet.

When I'm knee-deep into a writing a book, time gets away from me. My sleeping schedule becomes erratic, which means normal meal times fly out of the window. In fact, there are many days I flat-out forget to stop what I'm doing to get a meal. This is not good, writer or not, and one of my continuous goals is to create a schedule I can stick to.

And there are days, sometimes weeks, that I'll do terrific. Most of the time, however, I'm just not that great at it. When I was in the midst of writing A STROKE OF MAGIC, a very good author friend warned me to start taking a good multi-vitamin, to focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins in order to keep myself sharp, to keep myself healthy. I listened to her, and then went right back to what I'd been doing: barely sleeping, grabbing maybe one meal a day, and living mostly on coffee.

By the time I turned the book in, I was completely wiped out. I had zero creativity left, my brain was numb, and I spent the next couple months doing hardly anything writing related. Not that I didn't try, because I did. But I'd drained myself, and it took a while to "refill the well."

You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to set a schedule and keep to it. But when I'm embroiled in the telling of a story, I don't want to stop. Either the words are flowing and I don't want to break for worry the flow will stop, or the words aren't flowing and I don't want to stop because I need to figure out why the story isn't coming out. And I need to fix that--as soon as possible, please.

However, my friend is one-hundred percent right. If I don't take breaks for food, exercise, sleep, and other things--like visiting with family, friends, etc., then the entire process becomes more difficult. It's easy to see this when I have a little distance from whatever project has carried me away, but it's a lot harder to take the appropriate action when I'm actually in the midst of the project.

My solution? I've finally put a timer on my desk. I set it for two hours. It's always two hours, now. When the time is up, I stand up...actually pull myself away from my desk, and do whatever it is that needs doing. If it's for a meal, I sit down at the table instead of eating at my desk. In addition to meals, however, the two hour timer forces me to walk away--even if it's only for fifteen minutes.

I've found that by taking better care of myself, both through diet and taking regular breaks, I'm more alert and creative when I'm sitting at the computer.

Of course, that doesn't mean it's always easy, because it isn't. And it doesn't mean I don't have a stash of chocolate hidden away. Because I do. Just don't tell my kids!

As far as my actual diet, well...some weeks are healthier than others. What can I say? Sometimes a leafy green salad just isn't what I want. :)

Mostly, I try to stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, with a few complex carbs thrown in for good measure. But there are days when nothing but a delivered to my door pizza will do. And I think that's okay.

Have a great week!