Balance

I call this blog The Balancing Act for a few reasons.  First, the old title seemed super pompous to me.  Second, it’s really what I want to write about and third, I think we’re all trying to pull off our own balancing act.

I attended Midwest Writers Workshop this past weekend, and my struggle for balance there was between my introvert tendencies and my extrovert tendencies.  I’m pretty sure I’m an ambivert, because there are times when I do feed on being with a crowd and yet there are also times when I need to run away from that crowd.  It comes and goes.  But for this past weekend, the introvert side of me was definitely taking over.  Part of the conference is networking with other writers, but mostly I wanted to hide in the corner and watch all the activity.  I found Riley, a writer I met last year (when I had an extrovert moment and introduced myself to her) and we went to a lot of the same panels.  On Saturday night a couple of Twitter friends decided to make a “Shelly sandwich” and pulled me out of my shell a bit (and didn’t run screaming in fear of what emerged; thanks Rena and Kathy!).  Despite the wanting to hide parts, I had a good time at the conference and learned a lot.  I will write more about that at another time.

Balance this week is about getting back to exercising.  I am signed up for a half-marathon in September which will be, thanks to the whole stress-fracture-scare of March/April, my first half.  It may be my only half.  It depends on how well the shin holds up to the training.  I am woefully behind in training from where I should be according to every training plan I’ve looked at, but I’m trying not to let that worry me.  I’m mixing in biking to hopefully make up for not having quite as much running mileage and planning on doing a mix of running and walking in the race.  It will be my first at this distance so that’s an automatic PR anyway, right?  Besides, this is TRUE:
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Balance this week is also about accepting that I’m not going to hit my word-count goal for Camp NaNoWriMo and not obsessing over it.  I could drive myself crazy trying to hit impossible daily goals, miss them all, and not get in the exercise I need, or I could let this one go and try to keep the story moving without making myself nuts.  So far I’m doing good on the not making myself nuts part, but not so much on the keeping the story moving part.

And just like that, we’re at the crux of this blog. I seem to only be able to pursue one hobby at a time.  For the second half of last year it was running.  I ran at least 1 mile every day for 177 days in a row.  It was great.  I set PRs in the 5k, ran my first 10k, lost about 20 pounds, and felt really strong physically.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe I managed to write much more than 177 words that whole time and I missed writing.  The year before I threw myself into NaNoWriMo, hit the 50k word goal (writing over 8,000 words in a day to make it) and I don’t think I ran more than a couple days the whole month (and yep, I missed running).  I’ve yet to figure out how to balance getting in my workouts with getting in my words.  And I really want to do that, not only because of the whole punching people thing but because I really want THIS to be true too:

MugI believe that one day I will manage to do both of these things.  I just haven’t figured it out yet.  I’m going to try not to let that make me crazy (or crazier) in the meantime.

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It’s Almost Time!

MidWest Writers Workshop begins on Thursday, July 23rd.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement.  Writers from all over the country will be arriving in my hometown for 3 days of workshops, networking, pitching, chatting, and shenanigans!  I feel very fortunate to have this event all here, in my home, because 1) it makes it affordable for me (hotels are pricey) and 2) I’m not much of a traveler.  I get to sleep in the comfort of my own bed and also meet all these fun people. How lucky am I?!

MidWest has a pretty full schedule, but if you’re attending the conference (or visiting Muncie for any other reason), here are a few places I recommend.

Concannon’s Bakery & Coffee Shop:  Concannon’s is a Muncie staple.  It’s where you go if you want donuts, danishes, cakes – pastries of all sorts!  They expanded a few years ago and now, in addition to the original location downtown, there’s a location on the west side of town (conveniently close to the hotels where conference-attendees will be staying).  It’s on Baker Lane.  🙂  They added a cafe, with great soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as a coffee bar.  Plus, there are the donuts.  Freshly-made daily.  And cakes.  And pies.  And cookies.  And even candies.  If you are having a serious sugar-craving, this is where to go.

Amazing Joe’s Grill:  If you’re like me, you like a good steak, and if you want the best steak in Muncie, you go to Amazing Joe’s.  Located on Wheeling, not far from the BSU campus, Amazing Joe’s motto is “The Answer is Yes.”  In addition to the steak, they also serve the world’s BEST pickle chips.  I love pickle chips and these are the best I’ve ever had.  So go, get yourself an order of pickle chips (and spring for both the ranch and the horseradish dipping sauces), a tasty rib-eye steak, and enjoy one of Joe’s flavored margaritas with it.

Scotty’s Brewhouse:  If you’re from Indiana, you may well have heard of Scotty’s already, or at least Three Wise Men brewing.  Well, Scotty’s in Muncie is where it all started.  You want a huge variety of beers to choose from?  Scotty’s is the place to go.

Heorot Pub & Drafthouse:  Maybe you want a beer, but you want a bit more atmosphere with it.  Then the Heorot is for you.  The place was fashioned after a mead hall (think Beowulf folks).  There’s a good variety of beers here too, plus the fun atmosphere.  And if you go, come find me at MWW because I will have a couple questions for you.  😉  Just be aware, the Heorot is downtown so it will mean negotiating one-way streets.  You may want to consult a map or a local before you go, just so you know which streets go which way.

The Caffeinery:  This is a locally-owned coffee bar which has won a lot of awards, including fourth place in the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition (where they were the youngest and smallest coffeehouse competing).  I confess – I haven’t been here myself yet (there’s a pesky Starbucks within walking distance of my office) but I’ve heard nothing but good things from those who have.  If you like supporting local businesses and you like quality coffee, this is the place for you.  Again, be aware of the one-way streets downtown before you go.

Those are just a few places worth checking out while you’re in town, be it for MidWest Writers Workshop or another event.  I hope you’ll enjoy all of them and all of your time in my hometown!

Book Review: Wandering Soul by Cassandra Chandler

5 out of  5 stars

I read this in a single day. I neglected my own writing (and some other things) in favor of reading this. That should tell you how well and truly hooked I was by it. 🙂
I’m not normally a big reader of romance, but I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about. Time travel, the Phantom of the Opera – what’s not to love about that combination? The book did NOT disappoint. I loved it. There were the usual things you expect from a romance – immediate physical attraction between the main characters, lots of misunderstandings which serve to make them hesitant and then serve to put up roadblocks between them, some jealousy, and issues from their pasts which make things difficult for them. But the fact that these things are an expected part of a romance didn’t detract from how enjoyable the read was. Elsa and Dante are well-drawn characters, fully fleshed out and believable. Their attraction never felt forced. Their difficulties felt genuine. Watching them overcome their obstacles was immensely satisfying.
The book ended on a VERY intriguing epilogue and I understand this is the start of a series. I can’t wait to see where it leads! I hope it will offer us more time with Dante and Elsa, as well as giving us a chance to get to know more about the other characters – Jazz, Garrett, and Winston. They were supporting characters but I loved them and can’t wait to know more about them.
This was a fantastic read and I loved it. I’m just sad that I’ve finished already!