Stretching

Stretching is always one of those tick boxes that needs to be done for every workout. Or does it? This article from The Globe and Mail provides a good, up to date summary on stretching and whether or not it is beneficial. 

I stretch. I have certain biomechanical issues (knee caps that wander and feet that bow inwards) that mean I need to take extra care in order to be able to continue working out. If a placebo effect is at work, I’m okay with that as it means I have good recovery after every workout. When I choose not to stretch, I’m sore.

When I go to physiotherapy, they give me stretches that I need to hold for 30 seconds. Now, I do all of my stretches for 30 seconds, twice each time, and that keeps my muscles from tightening up.

These are a few of the stretches I do:

Legs

Forward bend 

Wide Legged Forward Bend 

Arms

Triceps stretch 

Eagle Pose above the waist 

Back

Child pose 

Seated forward bend 

Sitting at your desk too much? Try these stretches

As you probably notice, I use quite a few yoga stretches. I’ve made the routines so hopefully I will find a way to incorporate yoga into my daily activities.

 

Al Onia – Victor Stromboli

How does a person who cannot forget anything associated with strong emotion move on? Maybe they don’t. At least, Victor Stromboli of Transient City has not when we meet him. He is a witness in a roving mining city, living alone in a temporary tent city, with few friends and no family. Because of his memory, he is able to, with a shock, reconstruct a crime just by being at the crime scene using the sights, sounds, and smells.

When a case comes along with a personal connection, he starts working it, with the possibility of moving up to a detective. The personal connection is a woman named Kathy Whittaker he was in love with when he was twelve years old. Her family moved to another city and she forgets him, but he never forgets her.

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His memory from years ago is now a living entity in front of him and his adolescent feelings propel him to solve her husband’s disappearance. There is a problem with all of this though. Much has happened to both of them in the intervening years and she is no longer the girl he remembers. As Shoes, one of Victor’s only friends, says to him, “…You’ll find what you’re looking for. Make sure you look in the right place.”

If a person could not forget anything that ever happened in their life, how hard would it be for them to move on? Victor is a man stuck in time and the world around him is changing without him noticing. This has left him isolated and alone.

Throughout the book, Victor starts to seek out change by taking on new responsibilities and seeing the people around him for who they are.

If you stare hard enough and long enough at the past, you will stay there. Victor could choose to live exclusively in the past but finds a way to see the present. Al Onia’s biography says “His stories celebrate the potential hero in each of us.” In a world as busy as ours, being able to see what is in front of us is a hero’s skill.

Rogue Town is the next one from Al Onia and I can’t wait to read it.

 

Running

I’ve never enjoyed running, until now. I used to try and quickly found myself very bored and aware of just how much physical activity I was doing. That quickly de-motivated me and I would quit. Now, my brain must be going at a much slower pace and asking for less stimulation as I actually enjoy it. Lesson for me – Never give up on an exercise form as you might enjoy it at a later date.

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It helps that it exercises my very active dog. If we don’t take her out, she lets us know what we should be doing when she sits by the door, sits in front of us and stares at us or picks up her toys and throws them at us. If I take her running in the morning, she actually relaxes , flopping out on the floor or in the yard and being happy with just being. With just a walk, she’s pacing the house within a couple of hours.

When I started running in the past twelve weeks, I had to battle with myself. I didn’t want to run. But my reward was a calmer dog so I kept at it. Now, I look forward to the run because I feel so much better mentally and physically and my dog looks at me with a happy, mouth-open, tongue hanging out, face.

I have to take it very slow. Knees that bow inwards mean I put too much weight on the inside of my knees which eventually turns into me not running. So, I run every second day, take the weekend off and take it very slow. It’s taken me twelve weeks to get up to running for four kilometres (approximately as I don’t have one of those tracker devices) non-stop. I will gradually add extra kilometres as the sun rises later and later each morning. My dog can’t chase her frisbee in the dark so we might as well run instead.

Don’t hesitate to explore those activities that you didn’t like in the past. You might find you really like them now.

When Words Collide, #wwcyyc18

Wow! It’s done already?  How could a weekend go so fast? The weekend flies by because it is jam packed with panels, people, book launches and parties!

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I may have a book buying problem

I can’t give you an idea on the parties because they happen way too late for me. A lot of networking and deals happen at the parties and Coffin Hop Press’s The Dame was Trouble, according to the publisher Axel Howerton, began at the Noir at the Bar event at #wwcyyc 2017. Axel talked to the editor, Sarah Johnson and now we have a unique anthology celebrating women! Unfortunately, my book budget was already blown by this point so I couldn’t pick it up. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought.

The other launch party I went to was Tyche Books. When I heard there was a book involving a werewolf stripper, I had to buy it – Furr by Axel Howerton. Once I’ve read it, I will put up my thoughts on one of the characters, hopefully the werewolf stripper.

I picked up Where the Stars Rise from Laksa Media. They launched it last year and at that time, I wasn’t interested in it. This year, the cover reached out and grabbed me so it’s now in my hands. I’ve started it already and I’m glad I picked it up for its unique and interesting speculative fiction. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that one. Their newest one is Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders and that one looks particularly compelling given the current political climate.

I received feedback on Burnt, mainly telling me more editing. One person said that it looked promising and I should keep going. I may kill the book entirely due to structural problems that could end up requiring a re-write but I will give it a few months before I make that decision. An editor’s insight will be helpful so once I can get that money together…

I attended Sam Hiyate’s workshop on agent submissions and it opened my eyes to the high demands on authors, agents and publishers when it comes to getting a book out. I’ll be using his tips for my own query letters.

The funniest presentation I went to was Adam Dreece’s about world building. His use of voice and willingness to make off the wall examples entertained while he also provided help for those who world build too much. That isn’t something from which I suffer but the information was still helpful.

I’m already looking forward to When Words Collide 2019 #wwcyyc19!

Why physical activity?

I try to be fit because it makes me feel good. Losing weight isn’t one of my goals with physical activity, although I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds. The most current research (which could eventually be proven wrong) appears to indicate that we cannot lose weight through exercise and that we must cut calories .

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Since losing weight is not likely to happen, my exercise goals are mental health related. I want to feel positive and being fit allows me to do that through the endorphin hit at the end of a run or hike or gym session. I focus on that feeling and try to carry it with me, especially when I’m feeling down. Actually what I should write there is when I’m feeling depressed because activity keeps depression from winning.

I have battled depression most of my life. I knew when I was teenager I was experiencing depression but I didn’t want to go to counselling. Talking to people I loved and trusted was difficult. Counselling wasn’t going to happen.

When I read an article saying research had shown exercise to be helpful in dealing with depression, I latched onto it, and I have never let go. I found that my emotional states were less roller coaster-ish and that I could deal with negative emotions much better. I was hooked!

I know when I haven’t been exercising because the depression starts to creep back. As soon as I feel it, I start something, whether it’s weightlifting, walking, running, or cycling. It takes a week for me to get the small high that gives me a bright spot in the day. After a few weeks, that high (by which I mean, return to even keel normality) stays around for a few hours. Once exercise is a routine, I find my depression almost all gone.

This is of course only my experience as everyone experiences different levels of depression. This is only offered as an insight into why physical activity is important to me and me alone.

What is your reason for being physically active?

Be kind to yourself.

 

What Happened?

Okay, where have I been? This blog is sorely neglected! But an early baby for a first time parent will do that to a person. Time for a revamp, hence the introduction of The Active Writer! I aspire to write active characters and to write actively but I also love being active, whether it’s lifting weights, running or walking with my dog or hiking up the hill. I will include short monthly posts about my physical activities.

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I will still write about the characters I love in this blog but those characters will expand to include fantasy fiction and whatever else I might read or have read along the way.

Burnt is ready for an editor!  Being on maternity leave, my pocketbook is not going to allow me to welcome one. Once I return to work, I will begin saving again for editing. Until then, it’s look for an editor and start a new story!  This one will be fantasy and that’s all I have for you now.

So I had hinted in my tweets last year that I was going to write about a character from Terry Brooks’ fertile mind. I am not going to write about Terry Brooks’ characters because it has been too long since I read those books and I won’t be able to give them the justice they are due. Once I’ve had a chance to re-read those books, I will return to this post.

My next post concerning writing and reading will be about When Words Collide, 2018 which takes place from August 10-12, 2018 in Calgary. #WWCYYC18

After that, I will write about Victor Stromboli from Transient, written by Al Onia and published by Bundoran Press.

In the meantime, stay tuned for a post about physical activity.

 

Anne Rice – The Vampire Lestat

VampireLestatTo someone like me who spent too much of her early life following the rules, the very idea that someone can walk through the world boldly and as if it was theirs, hooks me from the beginning. That’s who Lestat is for me – a brat prince with a personality that encompasses everyone who comes in contact with him. He pursues what he wants and everyone else follows, even if they don’t want to. Wow, to be able to capture people in such a manner – I want to be him and yet, I don’t quite.

Lestat’s passions enable him to survive in this new vampire world he is thrown into by Magnus, his creator, who creates him and then kills himself, leaving Lestat all alone. Lestat’s emotions, wandering between despair and joy at this sudden change, hold his actions captive. He navigates the vampire world with confidence or depressed fatalism, pushing and prodding it to find out more information. He finds who he wants, Marius, when he shouldn’t have been able to, through sheer persistence. And because his passions drive him, he wakes the first vampire Akasha.

Lestat’s journey introduces us to this gothic world where predators can’t be with each other yet know they must come together as only other vampires can match their wild passions. Lestat’s audacious attitudes contrast the gothic world he’s been thrust into, a shadowy world driven by the strong emotions of long lived creatures. Lestat’s recklessness places this murky world in danger with his actions all the while seeking a truth he may never find – is there a God and if so, where is he in God’s plan?

And that’s why I love reading Anne Rice.