Day Four: Protein Bars and Peanut Butter

So I knew things were going to be a little stretched today because I didn’t plan extraordinarily well for breakfast. Since I “feel” like I’m eating less than I normally do (e.g. don’t inhale a big burger or sub at lunch) — I’m finding that I’m becoming more conscious not only about what I eat, but when.

This morning started off okay, I had some apples with a little bit of peanut butter, which is one of my favorite snacks. By the time lunch rolled around I was pretty hungry, but the mushroom/lettuce/cheese pitas (that were made for me) ended up being not enough protein for me. I was full, but I was fading fast even though I only had two cups of caffeine.

So I did what I normally do when I’m “crashing” and got a small protein bar to tie me over until I got home. I was still pretty crabby, but dinner ended up helping. I’m making sure that I limit my pasta portion in comparison with my veggines and get a brand with protein in it.

Not sure whether or not this is because I was eating too much protein and now I’m scaling back or what, but it’s something I definitely need to keep an eye on.

Interacting with Celebrities or Authors? Don’t be “that Guy.”

One of the benefits of following your favorite celebrities or authors on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook or through their blogs, is that you can interact with them like you would one of your friends.

Unfortunately, this accessibility also encourages the notion that these highly visible people are your personal friends. Friends that you can make recommendations to, ask for favors from and expect to publish or create specifically for you. Should you?

I’ve been involved with social media (both professionally and not) for some time, but I’ve also worked with celebrities as well through my photography, Flamesrising.com and conventions. It still surprises me that online accessibility is creating strange expectations that include things like: reciprocal “follows,” personalized responses for every comment, charitable donations, invitations to dinner or things like free plugs for your work, agent referrals, critiques, etc.

Remember, that many of these celebrities have thousands – if not millions – of followers that they are trying to maintain. The primary reason why many people can’t respond to you, personally, is time. Engaging in internet activities can be a time sink, but especially when you have thousands of followers. For many authors, even though they don’t put in a 9 to 5 schedule, they need to spend their time wisely in order to meet deadlines and promote their own works. There are only so many charities they can support, and only so many people they can follow up with. For example, the sheer volume of responses to a single Tweet for people like Amber Benson, Neil Gaiman or Warren Ellis creates a situation where your response might get lost in the shuffle within minutes.

As part of the creative process, authors can’t provide individual critiques to fans because if they did — then they’d have to do it for everyone. Moreso than responding to a Tweet or a comment, critiques take time away from an author’s day. It’s also not uncommon for some fans to send story ideas. Unfortunately, that opens authors up to potential legal issues if they publish something similar to what you sent them, even if they didn’t read it.

That’s not to say that authors won’t interact with you or offer advice, it just means that anyone who is visible online can’t be everywhere at once. Many authors will offer up-front policies for what they will and won’t do (e.g. critiques, interviews or offering advice, etc.), but not everyone does.

So let me be very clear: I recommend not being “that” guy that has specific expectations from following people online in order to further your own agenda. Don’t. For just a minute, put yourself in the shoes of those you admire. Celebrities are not magical beings, they’re just more highly visible than other folk because it’s part of what they do for a living. That’s not to say that they don’t care about your comments or don’t want to interact with you, it’s just impossible for them to respond to even a few hundred people all at once.

Do you have any thoughts on the subject? Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment below.

Day Three: Good Karma and Laziness

So today I didn’t eat enough for breakfast, which translated to an egg breakfast sandwich (No, not from McDonald’s…) which tied me over to lunch. By that point I was feeling pretty good. Only two cups of coffee, and a strange sense of awesome came over me. One of my co-workers proclaimed that I was feeling all that “good karma” because I wasn’t eating meat.

Not sure about you, but I find that quite amusing.

Since I had the leftovers from last night, I thought I was going to make it through to the salmon and mashed potatoes dinner I had planned. Then I gave up. Why? Sheer laziness… My other option was vegetables plus tofu. Even though I got some tofu sitting in my cupboard, I am an amateur when it comes to making and preparing tofu. Anything soft crumbles and ends up reminding me of flan and feta cheese. Which pretty much meant that I hit the “I’m lazy I don’t want to make vegetables + grains” wall.

So instead of fabulous mashed potatoes or a salad, I’m writing this with my smoothie in one hand and a deep regret. Was doing pretty good on low caffeine until about 6 tonight, then *poof* and now I’m over-energized…

Today was pretty challenging in that food prep does take a bit of my time. I’m swamped the next, few nights so I know I need to make a concerted effort but still…feels like there’s a bit of “work” involved to me. Sandwiches and turkey burgers were a great stand-by when I was eating meat, but now I have to think about it.

So note to self: need filling “finger food” I can stock if I’m lazy. And yes, that does happen even in my world from time-to-time. Everyone needs a break. 🙂

Day Two: Soy, Portions and Mac-n-Cheese

Today turned out to be more interesting than I thought it would. I’m finding it’s pretty easy to have variety for breakfast and not eat meat products. There’s a place in my heart for my kitchen, and making muffins is actually pretty relaxing for me, so after lemon poppy seed bliss…I headed to work.

I knew that there were a few people at work who were vegetarian (or who knew folk who are) so I asked around a little bit for some advice. The big topic of discussion was the “evils of soy.” Really? I had no idea? While I’m not one to form an opinion without reading multiple sources, I was surprised that a few people agreed relying on soy solely as your main source of protein was bad. I’m not going to be able to do that anyway, but I thought it was pretty interesting that this is the first time I’m hearing about it. I’ve been drinking Silk soymilk for years because milk and I no longer got along. Might be worth reading more about, but if you have resources or links on the subject I’d appreciate them.

Besides the soy discussion, I’m consciously trying to move toward better portion control. Funny thing is, I slow down when I’m eating vegetables so I’m wondering if the inhale of carbs has something to do with my habit for over-sized portions. Of course, there might be another culprit for that — caffeine. I know I drink way too much and I’m quite addicted to the stuff, but darn it all! This is my last vice. So, as part of this experiment I’m going to consciously cut back to three cups of coffee a day and stick with the “no soda” option. We’ll see how long this lasts.

Wanted to make sure I had lunch for tomorrow that consisted of something other than soup, so shared salad and homemade mac-n-cheese. The mac-n-cheese recipe I have comes from the book pictured here: The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. I have to say that I get a lot of use out this particular cookbook, because there are recipes in here my meat eater will gladly indulge in. There are two recipes for mac-n-cheese here with variations for vegan vs. not. One is a milk-based sauce, the other is tofu-based. I haven’t tried the tofu-based one yet, but am keeping that as an option since I have issues with cooking tofu.

The true test of this pesca-vegetarian journey is going to be the next few nights, which look like they’re pretty busy. Until next time…

Guest Blog Post: Brozek on Editing Anthologies

Readers, I asked Jennifer Brozek to offer a guest blog today. Jennifer is an editor, writer and a game designer who has recently done some work through Apex Books and Morrigan Books. This post is about her perspective on editing a fiction anthology. I know that many of you are looking for places to submit your short stories, and anthologies can be a great opportunity for you. Be sure to read Jennifer’s bio if you’re interested in learning more about her, too. Without further ado, I’ll turn this post over now to my esteemed guest…

Monica was curious about how editing an anthology is different than editing a story, a novel or something like marketing copy for Amazon that pays-the-bills for us full-time authors. In essence, editing an anthology is the same as any other editing with one big difference: all of the short stories need to blend with each other to make the overall theme of the anthology flow into a cohesive storyline.

I would liken it to putting together a string of freshwater pearls. Each pearl must be a beauty on its own – just like each story in the anthology must be perfect on its own. The technical writing has to be excellent, the story itself must be interesting and each story must adhere to the theme, genre and word count of the anthology in question.

Once you have all of the pearls for the necklace, you need to string them together in such a way that, when hanging together, all of the pearls become a necklace that is more than the sum of their parts. Just like an anthology becomes more than just the sum of the individual stories. No one pearl can stand out in a way that interrupts the flow of the string. It cannot be too big, the wrong shape or the wrong color. Just like all of the stories must have a sense of an overall cohesion. Each story is telling a part of a bigger story. There is no room for rogues in an anthology.

This is what makes editing an anthology so difficult. All of the stories must play nice together. None of them can introduce a plot point that will throw off any of the other stories. In the GRANTS PASS anthology (Morrigan Books, August 2009), we had to be very strict on how the world was destroyed by nature and where specific bioterrorists plagues were released.

One story could not mention volcanic eruptions in the Hawaiian Islands while the stories set in California neglected to mention ash haze. Neither could one story state that an earthquake split the Americas in half while other stories described people traversing the Americas on foot. All of the stories were in the same shared universe. The details matter.

In other anthologies, like monster anthologies about vampires, werewolves or zombies, there needs to be a cohesive and consistent story background on how the monster is defined. Are they non-brain eating Voodoo zombies, slow moving Romero zombies or fast moving Synder zombies? An anthology editor must consider the overall project and what it is they want from the anthology as a whole.

That is why reading and understanding the submission guidelines for anthologies is so important. You may turn in a beautiful story that would have been perfect if everyone else had the same vision you did. But if your story does not fit well into a collection you will be rejected every time.

About Jennifer Brozek

Jennifer Brozek, the creator and co-editor of the Grants Pass anthology (Aug 2009, Morrigan Books), is a freelance author for many RPG companies including Margaret Weis Productions, Rogue Games and Catalyst Game Labs. Her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Castlemourn, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun and Serenity. She has also co-authored three books including Dragonvarld Adventures with Margaret Weis. She is published in several anthologies, is the creator and editor of the semi-prozine, The Edge of Propinquity, and is a submissions editor for the Apex Book Company. When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. You can learn more about her by visiting her blog at http://jennifer-brozek.livejournal.com.

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