ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #17

Time for Wednesday’s ROW80 progress update. After all the amazing cheerleading on Sunday from my fellow ROW80 gang (thank you), I am kicking this week off hard and luvin’ it!

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    628 – so far
    I did my first ROW80 writing sprint for this round today. I postponed my lunch hour until 3 pm so I could join in with  the crew. I had a meeting run late which meant I joined in at around the half way mark but I still jumped in. I am going to try to do this at least a couple of times a week! Loved it!
  • Finish James Scott Bell book
    In progress
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    1 down – 1 in progress

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    3 down – 1 to go
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Wednesday – done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Not yet

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 down – 1 scheduled for tonight – 1 to go Saturday
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    1 down – 1 scheduled for Thursday night- 1 to go Saturday
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal
    Complete - After 2 months I have a solid idea of what I am eating and what I need to cut. It’s relatively the same week after week so it feels kind of pointless. I think I’ve got all the info I need moving forward.

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

Urban Word Wednesday: Spark in my ass

Welcome to Urban Word Wednesday! New words, phrases, and sayings I am learning (and using in my day-to-day life) brought to you by ME…and the Urban Dictionary. You are gonna love these!

Spark in my ass: A sudden burst of positive energy; determined; a feeling of invincibility.

Examples Of Use:

Hubby: are you going to work out tonight?

Me: yip, I am planning on doing two rounds of Zumba Express and then my BowFlex routine. I am super pumped to get 3 workouts in this week and maybe walk the dog! Oh and I’m going to clean the house later to. And my WIP is screaming my name. Gotta hit my word count this week!

Hubby: who lit the spark in your ass?

Memy ROW80 cheerleaders and B12 baby! I’m like a new woman! You’re going to have to get your back healed if you want to keep up with me!

Hubby: I guess so maybe.

What lights a spark in your ass? Come on…share the wealth…

P.S. In case you missed Monday’s post where I spotlight author Virginia Ripple, you should definitely check it out. There’s a great giveaway! Squeeee…

Spandy Andy makes me giggle and his message to the world rocks!

Have y’all heard of Spandy Andy? O.M.G. he’s fahhhbulous!

When hubby showed me this video last night, I knew it was perfect for Twisted Tuesday because if this doesn’t make you smile, giggle or outright laugh, nothing will.

 

Wondering how Spandy Andy came to be, check out this UBC Documentary:

 

I gotta say, I’m now a huge fan of Spandy Andy. His mission is to be the “super hero of positivity” and his doctrine is that we “appreciate the fact that you are alive and use your energy to spread positivity.” Now that ROCKS!

You can check out more of Spandy Andy on his YouTube Channel, on Facebook, and on the Web where you can “be tight/be bright” alongside the master of happiness.

It’s Twisted Tuesday and that means it’s time to enjoy a smile, giggle or laugh…here’s hoping I’ve provided it in spades…enjoy!

Think you’d ever have the guts to dance in public wearing your skimpies just to spread smiles, joy, and positivity? How do you channel your inner Spandy Andy every day?

P.S. In case you missed Monday’s post where I spotlight author Virginia Ripple, you should definitely check it out. There’s a great giveaway! Squeeee…

Author spotlight with Virginia Ripple and book giveaway

I am super pumped today because I am doing another, yes you read that right, ANOTHER author spotlight and book giveaway. SQUEEEE!

Today, I have the fantastic honor to feature Virginia Ripple. Virginia has been telling stories since she could hold a crayon but has also felt Called to ministry since she was a toddler. As long as she can remember her desire to write has been alternately eclipsed and balanced by her need to serve God. Since moving back to her home town, she has written two non-fiction books:

  • Fear Not! Discovering God’s Promises For Our Lives: when life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”
  • Simply Prayer: a non-fiction book that explains how we often make prayer a lot more complicated that it needs to be and gives ways to make prayer simple and enjoyable.

Her future plans include writing several Christian fantasies, as well as teaching various workshops and Bible studies. The adventure of writing non-fiction to writing fiction keeps her on her toes.

Welcome Virginia! I am so excited to have you here and to learn more about your process as a writer.

Thank you, Natalie for featuring me as part of an author spotlight here on your blog. I’m so looking forward to interacting with everyone in the comments.

So you’ve written two books that are non-fiction and are currently working on your first fiction novel, what are some of the difference between writing in the two styles?

Writing non-fiction is pretty straight forward. You have facts and anecdotes, things that will directly help a reader. While a non-fiction book can have entertainment value (and should if you really want to keep a reader’s attention), it doesn’t have to.

Fiction, on the other hand, means spinning a tale that may or may not create a change in the reader and it has to be entertaining. If it doesn’t, then there are plenty of other things that person could do instead.

In either your fiction or non-fiction, are you a plotter or a pantser? What’s your writing process?

I started out as a pantser for both, but I’ve since discovered things go smoother and faster when I have at least some kind of plan.

Generally I begin by imagining what the story might be about. I do a little work on who the characters are, but just the basics. Then I start plotting, filling in the details. After I’m satisfied with my outline, I start writing scene by scene. I don’t worry about chapters because then I get overwhelmed thinking about how many words the book “has” to have.

I can’t say I’m a complete plotter, because, as I’m writing a scene, sometimes the characters take over and lead me down a path I had no idea was there. After I finish writing that scene, I adjust my outline if I need to, make a few notes of things I made need to change later and move on.

How did you come up with your non-fiction or fiction ideas? Is there a different process for each?

There’s a very different process for each, at least for me.

With non-fiction, I look for questions to answer that could help someone. Being a former minister, I tend to see a need for people to re-connect with their spirituality, with God, but oftentimes we make it harder than it needs to be. That was the reason behind Simply Prayer. I heard a lot of people complain about spending just 15 minutes in prayer because “it’s too hard.” I wanted to help these people understand what prayer is and give some ways to do it that were fun and maybe not what they’d thought of before.

My fiction ideas come in flashes of scenes or dialogue. I rarely begin writing a story with the intent to answer a question or make a specific point. I hate fiction that is only a sermon in disguise. Why would I want to inflict that on a reader if I don’t like it?

How long does it take you to write a novel from start to finish?

So far it’s taken a year per book. I know there are others who can produce a book every month or every six months and maybe someday I’ll be able to do that, but for me it’s about quality. Well, that and my perfectionism.

My husband actually had to talk me out of scrapping Simply Prayer and starting over when I found a few typos in the proof copy.

What’s your advice to writers JUST starting out, like me? What do you wish you would have known when you started out?

What you learned in high school English isn’t enough to make a career of writing. In fact, it’s just barely a beginning.

Read as many books on how to write as you can. I like the Write Great Fiction series because it breaks everything down into components from structure to character building to dialogue. And don’t discount writing blogs.

Find people who will support your dream and make a commitment to work toward that dream every day.

What’s coming up next from you? Tell me more about your fiction work on the horizon?

Right now I plan on releasing this current book later this year, most likely around Thanksgiving. After that I have five more planned in this series.

What’s your favourite Urban Word? Ever used it?

I don’t have a favorite Urban Word, though I have to say I’ve had a hard time explaining my sudden laughter at work after reading some of the ones you’ve posted here. :D

Would you share an excerpt from Simply Prayer?

The Proper Position

When you think of prayer one of the first images that often comes to mind is someone kneeling either in church or at the foot of a bed. But that doesn’t mean that kneeling is the “appropriate” and only way to pray. In truth it doesn’t matter what position you choose. If you feel more comfortable kneeling, then that is how you should pray. However, if you feel moved to stand, to sit, or even dance, then that is what you should do.

Imagine talking to your best friend. What do you do? You choose a comfortable position. If you’re home or in a coffee shop you usually sit in a comfortable chair. If you’re standing in line at the store you may lean over your cart. It all depends on the situation. However, when talking with your friends the position you’re sitting or standing in does not matter to the conversation. It’s the same with God.

The book sounds incredible Virginia and wonderful suggestions on how to make prayer a part of your every day life and how to keep it simple and easy. For years, I’ve used prayer as a way to feel connected with my Dad and Mamma K who have both passed on. I keep it pretty simple and basically just have a conversation with either of them in my head. Sometimes in bed before I go to sleep, sometimes when I am driving, and sometimes when I am just sitting watching TV or taking a bath. I believe they hear me and I believe when I have concerns or confusion, they speak to me by whispering to my heart. I have found it to be one of the most profoundly healing discoveries in my own life. You are right. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Virginia, thank you so much for swinging by my blog. Your two non-fiction books sound touching and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what your fiction holds for us. I wish you all the success in the world.

Enjoyed Virginia so much you want more?! You can:

What about you; any questions for Virginia? Have you made the switch from non-fiction to fiction and have advice to share? How does your writing process differ from hers? 

Book Giveaway Details

Prizes:

  • 1 special edition signed e-book of Simply Prayer (open internationally).
  • Grand prize: a signed paperback of Simply Prayer (open to US/Canadian)

How do you win?

  • The book giveaway is open all week; February 27-March 3, 2012 (11:59 pm AST).
  • You will earn one entry into the draw each time you comment on any of my blog posts this week.
  • Tweet about this post and earn an additional entry (be sure to put my twitter handle @nataliehartford in your tweet so I know).
  • On March 4, 2012, I will put all the names in a hat and hubby will draw the names of the winners.
  • Check back March 5, 2012 where I will announce the winners.

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #16

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update.

So…I suck! There…I said it. This week was nearly a total right-off. After a 3-day migraine (thank you for all your wonderful support and suggestions), I played catch-up at work and at home which meant that I barely kept my head above water to achieve some of my other goals. That’s like 3 weeks in a row I’ve not quite hit – grrrr – so I am going to have to hit it hard this week.

Now, on the plus side, I signed up for 2 online writing courses after the first was highly recommended by Carrie Spencer:

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    466 – yip – dismal
  • Finish James Scott Bell book (must finish soon)
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    Done Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a ChickLit Novel
    1/3 through Save the Cat 

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts – total word count: 2248
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Done

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 cardio (told you I sucked)
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    Zero – (again…told ya…sucked hard)
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal
    Done!

The wins:

  • Super pumped for the 2 writing classes.
  • I managed to keep up with blogging (mine and others) and social media stuff (although I didn’t tweet as much as I normally do I did try to swing by as many peeps as possible to read and comment).

Where to improve:

  • MUST write this week.
  • I’d like to spend some time on my craft books as well.
  • MUST work out – so non-negotiable – must get back into this routine!

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

It can happen to you

Most of us have heard of Jacqueline Saburido. In 1999, she survived an impaired driving crash after suffering third-degree burns over 60% of her body. The crash also took the life of two of her friends. Reggie Stephey was convicted of two counts of intoxicated manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years in prison and was fined $20,000. He was released from prison on June 24, 2008.

Jacqui was featured on the Oprah show in 2003:

 

I found a few other videos of her story; each as devastating and inspiring as the next. I hope you will take the time to watch and share with your loved ones.

 

Five year later, Jacqui focuses on her recovery.

 

As of 2011, Jacqui is living in her hometown of Caracas, Venezuela and has undergone over 120 surgeries. Her medical costs are upwards of $5,000,000.

What do you think of Jacqui’s story? Does her ability to forgive inspire you to forgive someone in your life? Do you think Reggie’s sentence was adequate?

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver. In honor of Donna Jean Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

Support MADD Canada and follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@maddcanada), YouTube and on the Web.

More blog deliciousness here:

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #15

Time for Wednesday’s ROW80 progress update. Another slow week thus far (hmmmm…I hope this isn’t a trend). Today was the first day since Sunday that I’ve felt half alive. Been climbing up after a nasty 3-day migraine which has thankfully subsided. I did do some story plotting/thinking (when I wasn’t blinded by pain) but not a whole lot of writing.

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    466 – so far
  • Finish James Scott Bell book
    In progress
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    1 down – 1 in progress

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    3 down – 1 to go
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Wednesday – done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Not yet

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 done
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    1 scheduled for tonight if my head will allow it
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal
    Done!

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

Urban Word Wednesday: D*ck flick

Welcome to Urban Word Wednesday! New words, phrases, and sayings I am learning (and using in my day-to-day life) brought to you by ME…and the Urban Dictionary. You are gonna love these!

Dick flick: The testosterone-driven movie opposite of a “chick flick”. Generally contains lots of car chases, explosions, and boobs.

Examples Of Use:

Hubby: so did you like our chick flick palooza this past weekend? A little “no one puts baby in the corner” followed up with “it wasn’t over for me…it still isn’t over!!”

Me: Oh my god, sooooo good. You know how to treat a girl right!

Hubby: well, I thought after all those dick flicks you’ve seen with me lately, I owed you a good chick flick marathon. 

Me: you are my very own Prince Charming!

Seen any good dick flicks lately? Got any favs? Do you and your guy balance watching chick flicks and dick flicks? Come on…share the wealth…

More blog deliciousness here:

  • Noa Gavin wrote a fantastic letter to whoreons. Honestly, any woman out there looking for love in all the wrong place should read this and get a clue; it all starts with YOU!
  • The Love Doctors (Piper Bayard and Holmes) are at it again with more hilarious relationship advice.
  • Was in stitches reading Myndi Shafer’s post on dishwasher usage.
  • I am not a watcher of Glee but even I got a raving kick out of Jessica O’Neal’s sh*t gleeks say video!

Women peeing standing up?!?! Amen to that!

All right. Y’all know I’m a pretty active lady. I like the outdoors. I like adventures. Camping, ATVing, hiking, fishing; I’m into it. I dig it. I am at one with Mother Nature. So much so, I’m quite comfortable at using nature’s garden as my personal latrine. And I think I’ve mastered the art of outdoor urination!

Natalie’s 10 steps to the perfect outdoor pee:

  1. Location, location, location! You need a spot where you can stand horizontally level but has a slight vertical downward slop. This is paramount to ensure a pant-protection pee stream occurs. Standing on a large tree root, at the top of a slope, or on a large rock works fine. Try to avoid ant hills. Although they do display perfect outdoor urination grade, certain species of ants can bite and it’s better safe than sorry on this one. Trust me. Lesson learned the hard way.
  2. Drop your drawers! That’s right; this is no time for modesty. Strip those pants and undergarments down to your ankles. Trying to hide your naked butt from the bears is only going to ensure a piss-poor urination incident (pun intended).
  3. Go deep! It’s all about the squat and tilt my friends. First, you gotta go wide in your stance and deep in your squat. Get right down there. The closer to the ground you can get, the less likely for unwanted backsplash.
  4. Sit back. Yip, you read that right, now it’s time to tilt your pelvis slightly forward. It’ll feel like you are almost sitting back into your squat. The idea is to aim the firing squad down the slop. Trust me, in this squat pose; it won’t be a little tinkle coming out. If you point straight down this will only ensure nasty backsplash not to mention a urine puddle protruding into the shoe zone. Protect the shoe zone at all cost!
  5. Grip and grin! Just before you “let go,” grip the outside of your pants and pull outward to keep your pants out of the line of fire. This will also help stabilize you in your exposed stance.
  6. Relax and let go! Enjoy the freedom of watering nature’s garden.
  7. Let nature run its full course. Your thighs are shaking, your balance is precarious, and you’re looking around to see if someone’s going to “come up on ya”. I understand your urge to cut the stream short and stand back up. Don’t let anxiety or poor physical conditioning get the best of you or you’ll wind up with urine stains marking your misfortune. Hold your perfect pee pose. If it helps, think of the toning you are getting.
  8. Drip dry. Once your perfect pee is complete you must hold the stance for another few seconds to drip dry slightly. Personally, I like to add a slight bounce at this point. It helps shake off excess and also helps get the circulation back into my feet and legs.
  9. Rise up half way and wipe.
  10. Discard tissue (biodegradable of course) into the trees and reassemble.

Voila – my secrets to the perfect outdoor pee pose.

But even with this expertise there are times when all the squat skills in the world won’t save you from urination incidents. Squatting deep and steady after a few drinks can prove to be very challenging. Any slight wobble and the next thing you know you’ve got a damp pant leg to deal with. Or what about those outdoor concerts with their nasty port-a-potty’s where you have to hover. I mean, I can hold a deep, tilted back squat “pas de problem” but a half-poised hover after 3 beers, give me a break!

I mean, even my good friend Amber West encountered an uncomfortable urination situation on a trip to Mexico. She was touring the countryside when she found herself in high need to relieve and the only option; a sketchy outhouse with no door, just a bowl (no lid, no seat), a cock-eyed rooster, and the hover. Eeekeee!!!

We’ve all been there!

GoGirl

GoGirl

Well, Myndi Shafer turned me on to a perfect solution to all our urination woes: the GoGirl, a female urination device (hubby calls it an FU device – female urination device – definitely another blog post) that enables women to pee while standing up.

I shit you not!

You just hold GoGirl against your body, forming a seal, aim, and let er’ fly! This would greatly simplify my outdoor urination adventures but it’d also come in very handy at concerts, traveling, etc.

GoGirl is made with flexible, medical grade silicone. So you can dispose of it after use if you want…or clean and reuse. Their patented splash guard eliminates messing and spilling and GoGirl fits easily in your purse, pocket, or glove compartment for those “ya just never know” moments!

Check out some videos:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Check out the GoGirl’s YouTube channel for more videos.

You can order your very own GoGirls here. They come in pink (love that) and camo and come in a variety of order packs; $12.99/single, $34.97/3-pack, $134.99/13-pack etc.

You Go Girl!!!

What do you think, are you an outdoor urination expert? Would you give peeing outside a try? Will my 10 steps help? Think you’d give GoGirl a try?

It’s Twisted Tuesday and that means it’s time to enjoy a smile, giggle or laugh…here’s hoping I’ve provided it in spades…enjoy!

More blog deliciousness here:

About me and the superhero formula

I recently watched Clay Collins’ video on how he accidentally created one of blogopshere’s most viral “about me” page. I thought I’d take a crack at re-writing my ultra boring About Me page using Clay’s five steps superhero formula.

Superhero Formula

  1. Establish a common enemy with target market – fight against the enemy for them. You go to battle for them! Specific or idea.
  2. Super power – show it off – how do you make miracles happen for yourself and others.
  3. Purpose – your target market needs to know you are doing things not just for the money but for a larger purpose – and you must be truthful.
  4. Fatal flaw – your kryptonite – it will help target bond with you.
  5. Your original story – explains how you went from ordinary to extraordinary – how did you transform?

My answers:

  1. Common enemy: together, we will fight against boredom and bland colors.
  2. Super power: urban redneck powered by a tacky sense of fashion (who said a cowboy hat with stiletto heels wasn’t hot!?? Is there such thing as too much bedazzling???) and a stellar sense of humor. My secret weapon: hubby.
  3. Purpose: to entertain you, make you smile, make you laugh and bring you joy.
  4. Fatal flaw: procrastination and temper tantrums which can lead to occasional bouts of negativity.
  5. Transformation: Thanks to Kristen Lamb’s blogging to build a brand course, I transformed from a bland blogger using basic colors, a plain header, inconsistent and deadly boring blubbering to a blogger extraordinaire with a flair for color, content and consistency. The 3 Cs baby!

How I put the formula to use.

Natalie Hartford

Natalie Hartford is an urban redneck; a cross-breed of city girl and redneck. She loves high heels, bling, all things pink and sparkly along with ball caps, 4X4ing, camping, and drinkin’ beer. She often mistakes tacky for fahbulous! An avid golfer, don’t let the stylish and colorful outfits with matching clubs fool you; she’ll wrap that driver around a tree in a temper tantrum in 2 point 5 seconds (hello…she nearly got kicked off a golf course for her potty mouth).

By day, she sports dress pants, button downs, and suits putting her bachelor degree in journalism to good use working in public relations. She slings words for fact sheets, press releases, and powerpoints. From chairing meetings, to organizing and emceeing events, she rocks the corporate communications world.

By night and weekend, she used to flail around in cyberspace until she ate from the forbidden fruit and channeled super human blogging powers. Now her blog is a pink pallooza of fun bringing color and comedy to all the lands. Where once lived a bland blogger with inconsistent and deadly boring blabbering now lives a sparkling pink goddess blogger divine battling against the seriousness we all face in life spreading laughter, smiles, and zany word fun all over the blogosphere.

At the same time she sets fire to the page working on her first novel. Torn between chick lit, women`s fiction and paranormal, she`s getting to know characters, drafting scenes, sampling dialogue and plotting to her heart’s content.

She doesn’t do it alone. Her secret weapon, the Robin to her Batman, is hubby. He keeps her calm, neutralizes nap time, and blasts her procrastination. Second time around for both of them, they rock the romance by living and playing large. Best friends forever; you complete me; yin to my yang; K.I.S.S.I.N.G. When they aren`t having “shock and awe” fun sampling Natalie’s urban words in public, they sneak away to their rustic camp hidden deep in the New Brunswick countryside (so deep, there`s no cell reception or Internet). There they spend their days tearing up the trails in their 4X4 Rhino and nights pondering plot possibilities, cuddling and hanging with their trusted side-kick Tess (their beloved Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever). Ahhh…the life!

If you want more of Natalie:

Visit her at: http://nataliehartford.com
Talk to her at: natalie@nataliehartford.com
Follow her on twitter at: @NatalieHartford

What do you think? Did I rock the super hero formula or make a mess of it? Suggestions to improve? What do you think makes a kickin’ About Me page? Know of any fahhhbulous examples that rocked your read? Share the wealth…

More blog deliciousness:

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