004I stopped running a year ago. Every time I went to run, I’d get impatient before darting home in that cloud of failure. Be gentle, I reassured my agitated self. This I was and perhaps rightly so since we were entering the holiday season. This gentleness went on for months, and I finally declared, “I’m no longer a runner,” citing back problems, anxiety, and overall fatigue with the sport after almost forty years. At Duane Reade, I breezed by Runner’s World in the magazine section. Nope. Don’t wanna read that anymore. I’m going to relax. Maybe do yoga.

What I discovered soon after this was how easy it was to abandon tasks, like a healthy breakfast or my no-dessert-every-day regimen. My yoga ambition lasted one day. I became easily distracted, stopping a project after five minutes.  Eventually, I would finish what I needed to get done, but no more. Rewarding myself was a big part of gentleness, so I did a fair amount of TV watching. When I went to exercise–now trying to befriend the elliptical–I stopped after ten minutes. The boredom was mind-numbing. A personal trainer helped me rebuild my strength and I got through an hour of this each week. Little by little that hour didn’t seem so terrible. An addiction to Fitbit and a competitive streak with my Fitbit friends also fueled my soul (I’m going to beat you, John. I don’t care if you’re biking and climbing mountains now). Maybe weight lifting and protein smoothies could be my new sport.

The nasty reality came when I stepped on a scale and saw a number I hadn’t seen since college (my beer, croissant, double-bacon-cheeseburger days). This got me back to the treadmill fast a few weeks ago. Though I’d lost my endurance, I vowed to fight for it again. Slowly but surely. Last week, I finally hit a distance mark I hadn’t seen in a year.

This is gradually bleeding* into more than one activity and helping me set some real goals with the knowledge that:

  • If you don’t work hard, how does that help you?
  • If you can’t write a blog post, how can you write a book–especially when you’ve written 8 before, along with 10 screenplays?
  • Laziness is good for weekends but not a daily virtue.
  • You may be sick and tired. That won’t change if you stay where you are.
  • If she can be questioned for eleven hours by people who hate her, surely, you can run three miles a few times a week. Maybe even more.

That is all.

*Forgive me, I am re-watching Dexter.

What I Am Reading and Eating

FullSizeRenderFriends and Romans, I’m in that state of reading five books at the same time. See picture. 1. The two Classics oriented ones I picked up because I’m doing secret research. It’s like I’m there with Caesar about to get stabbed by my peers. And Seneca, he’s not the frozen apple juice enriched with vitamin C or the small town in Upstate New York. He’s that famous stoic or that famous fake-stoic placating Nero — or Dr. Phil. I’m not sure, but I can’t put these books down! 2. Because I read the gossips, I know that Meryl Streep sent Equal Means Equal to everyone in Congress, so I have to read it, too, because she’s Meryl and it’s about time I became a feminist. 3. As much as I try not to love Elizabeth Gilbert — because I have petty moments of resentment of her hang-out time with Oprah, travels, selfie-skills, and overall enlightenment — I am officially coming out as loving her. Once more, I’ve bought her in hardcover at an actual store. 4. On the romance side, I’m deficient in my Sherry Thomas reading. This writer is gifted–tells a beautiful, layered story–and is a really good speaker.

My books, along with my day job, have kept me out of the blogosphere. I can only deal with so many words a day.

What I’m eating: biscuits from Cafeteria (restaurant featured on Sex and the City). They make good coffee too. I secretly order them when husband is out. I throw away all evidence of gorging — the bags, the takeout Tupperware — so he has no idea. Not to worry. After a year of sloth, I’m running again. The idea of replacing my wardrobe scared me into it.

Hope you are all experiencing page-turning reading and unnecessary-yet-delicious calories. We’re in this together.

Six Years of Facebook Friendship

Just marriedAugust 10, 2015 is the six-year anniversary of when Sam Friended me on Facebook, which began our courtship which resulted in marriage. As a single girl for forty-two years, I got very used to my own rules. Now, with a few years of cohabitation/marriage under my belt, I’ve learned a few things:

It’s fun to do nice things for another person. Sam beams at me when I bring home food or do the dishes. I did the same just last week when he got me tickets to see Jane Lynch (my girl crush) at Joe’s Pub. Marriage can be a harmonious exchange of good tidings. Who knew???

Just because you’re together, doesn’t mean you have to spend every second together. When he wants to go out with his friends, I’m like, go for it, dude (as I turn on Housewives the second I hear his footsteps retreating).

Respect territory. The kitchen is his, the couch is mine. The yoga mat used to be mine, now it’s is. He cooks dinner, I bring home snacks and toiletries. I get the covers.

Bitchy behavior = he’s getting sick. And when he gets sick, I navigate between bringing him chicken soup and leaving him alone. He will yell at me no matter what.

In a New York apartment, he will see me in hot rollers. I once read that Gwen Stefani always makes sure she’s in full makeup, even around her husband*. I tried this and lasted one day.

Kindness wins over complaining. When I want to scream at Sam, I think, Is there a point to this? Usually, there isn’t. Sometimes, he deserves it, though.

Like all the books and rom-coms say: Trust is key. I leave my diary and phone out all the time. I don’t care if he reads them (the boredom would be punishing), but trust he won’t.

Ignore couple rituals. We don’t have a “date night” since we already spend a ridiculous amount of time together. Our Valentine’s Days are laughable. Romantic vacations are severely lacking in frequency and we don’t explode into tears over our love. We just are.

You can co-exist if you have different political leanings. Happening right now as the 2016 presidential campaign heats up. We discuss points of view without ridiculing the other’s beliefs. He’s wrong, of course.

Cleanliness is optional. Apart, we are clean-freaks; together, we are total slobs. We only clean in earnest if someone is coming over.

Being with the love of my life doesn’t solve all my problems, but it adds richness and joy to my life every day. I get to witness this other person’s life in an intimate way. What a privilege!

Happy Facebook Friendship, Sam! You’ve taught me so much and I’m excited for the next forty years.

*They’re divorcing but hey, it was a long-ish marriage.


FullSizeRender(1)I didn’t set my alarm last night, which means I overslept until 8:00am. I have to be in the office by 8:30. Did I fret? No, but I did grab the first thing I could find in my closet, apparently, a lot of white. Sam said it looked fine but he’s in shorts-and-t-shirt season so what does he know? This is why I usually plan my outfits in advance. I can’t complain since it’s only an 8-hour day and no one will really see me and I did spend hours on my hair, which is amazing. And because I’m The Flash, I made it to work by 8:45.

Even editors of romance obsess over little things.




Summer Romance Recap

10400005_10153415799199449_3601979989100117259_nWith this week’s heatwave, I’m pretending the summer is over. What did I do? Here is a summary:

June, hmmmm. Okay, let’s skip to July, my birthday month. My hubby and I went to Washington, DC, where I mostly sat around, ate Reuben sandwiches, and/or visited landmarks while he worked. The city was positively steamy, which I tried to forget as we walked around the Capitol–breathtaking even with the construction. We passed buildings, fantasizing about congresspeople toiling late into the night for the good of America. While alone, I went to H&M in Union Station to buy cool new shorts, then showed them off at the Stamp museum. Do I know how to have fun or what?

We came home to celebrate my 47th birthday. Soon after this came RWA, where I got to meet some amazing authors, including a couple I’ve long admired: Deborah Blake and Karen Booth! The romance didn’t end there since NPR published its top 100 romances. Being mildly OCD (self-diagnosed), I decided that I needed to read (and re-read) the entire list. This week, I’m beginning with Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite a Husband. I’m intrigued to find out what makes the hero not quite a husband. She doesn’t have to do his laundry? In addition to this one, I’m finally reading To Kill a Mockingbird since I’ve pretended all these years to have read it. So far, so good. Jem and Scout are a hoot!

Perhaps the last hurrah of my summer, aside from two upcoming conferences, is that I attended a reunion (similar to the one in my book) where I got to see the wonderful people in my family. I’m very blessed. Now it’s time for me to edit three books by Monday with no rest to watch Bachelor in Paradise*. Please pray for me.

*Why did I remind myself that this exists?


Pet Peeves…A Few Clichés

editingThis post is coming a little later than I’d planned. I got sidetracked by news of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s impending divorce. And a certain red-haired presidential candidate’s fiery comments about immigration. And how Kourtney and Kids are going to cope sans Scott. Oh, and my latest obsession with Vanilla Kreme donuts. I managed to crawl back into blog mode because a few items jumped out at me while reading romance these past few weeks. Here are some clichés I’ve seen so much, I have to call them pet peeves.

The soon-to-be-reunited exes never had problems in the bedroom. Are you kidding me? In a romance, one sort of has to imply that sex was always hot, but it might be refreshing to try realism — that as the relationship disintegrated, the–ugh–lovemaking* slowed down to ten times a week instead of thirty.

The hero is always raking a hand through his hair when frustrated. Does he ever find leaves? In some ways, it’s cool that guys fuss with their hair too, but the raking of hair in romance is like the jaw clench actors use to denote anger. Can’t he just have steam coming out of his ears? Or, in my family, there’s the exasperated sigh, which conveys severe frustration/disgust. When my husband is angry, he gets this wrinkle between his eyebrows (like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally…). This is a rough one, writers.

He fell for her like a moth to a flame. I’d like to be the flame in this metaphor because being the moth would suck. This phrase, I’m sure, just flows naturally from the fingers. For years, I let  it go, but I’ve been striking it out of manuscripts. What about: He fell for her like Marc Antony fell on his sword after hearing the Cleopatra was dead (I don’t think this is true, but you get the idea). Or He fell for her as one does during a case of vertigo when the barometric pressure changes. (This is why I don’t write romance)

One thing I’ll say–as much as I make fun of clichés, I do sometimes find them comforting. The familiar can be very soothing. At the end of the day*, it’s always good to be aware of clichés and investigate alternatives.

*This word is another pet peeve. Who says this unless perhaps in an editorial meeting, instead of rougher language.

**Another pet peeve. Cannot believe I’m using this so-ten-years-ago phrase!

Procrastination (Written Over Months)

001 (2)Dear Diary,

Please help me.

Take away these obsessive thoughts of:

Yarn websites, Candy Crush, the Kardashians, Kardashian babies, Anthropologie, all the Housewives, Girls, social media, getting my FitBit numbers higher, my hair’s summer frizz, and Vanilla Kreme donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.

Instead, infuse my brain with motivating thoughts of:

Nature, cute animals, motivating writing/editing tips, actual exercise at the gym, vegetables, Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir, a walk after dinner, finishing books instead of buying more, cleaning around the apartment, consistent kindness to others.

When I list my accomplishments, it’s not as if I’ve done nothing. In fact, I’ve done a lot — just not everything. I have no concluding sentence here. Just that summer silliness has begun.

Yours in putting things off,