Sunday, January 31, 2010

Something to Look at Sunday

Since it's been darn right chilly here in Houston (and since it's cold all the way down here, the rest of you must be absolutely FREEZING where you live), I thought it was fitting to share some photos from some of my trips to Colorado. We were going once a year for a while to visit family, but lately we've been spending too much money (*ahem, Italy, new carpet) to take a big road trip, so it's been a couple of years. Hubby even proposed to me on the ski slopes of Winter Park, so those mountains are special to me.

Hi, bunny!

On the slopes!

We took a one-hour dog sled ride. I was a bit skeptical at first, having dogs pull us, but they absolutely live for it. They LOVE it. I can't even explain it, it was incredible. The whole experience. And we got to see parts of the forest and mountain sky line that we wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. Like this:

The Great Continental Divide


One of the sled dogs.

This has been another Something to Look at Sunday!
If you haven't entered my 100 follower contest yet, please do!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Announcing the 100 Follower Contest!!

A big thank you to everyone who has pressed that follow button and allowed me to, in a small way, be a part of your online community. Thank you to everyone who has given me awards, I am truly honored for the recognition. Thank you to the thoughtful comments and advice; I really do take it all to heart. Together, we are learning to become better writers, well-rounded readers, and maybe make a few friends along the way. I know I have!

In celebration of reaching the mind-boggling 100 follower mark, I am hosting my first contest!

Here's what's up for grabs!

$10 Amazon e-mail Giftcard to two lucky winners!! That's right, I said 2!!
I was going to do 1 winner at $20, but it's always more fun to have two winners right??

Deadline: Friday, February 5th, Midnight Central Time Zone

The rules:
1. Must be a follower (so if you aren't one, clicky clicky!)
2. +1 entry for sidebar post or blog blurb (let me know!)
3. Complete the unfinished sentence: (you can write more than one sentence, I won't mind!)

Valentine's Day was just around the corner, and I was still living a lie. And I didn't even know if it was possible to be forgiven, but I had to try. I'd just walk up and say,


And that's it! Be creative and have fun with it! I will be using a randomizer so don't worry about being judged (I don't trust myself enough to be impartial to the regulars!).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fanged Friday

Since I had so much fun spoofing The Vampire Diaries last week, I couldn't keep myself from making it a weekly addition to Kristin Creative :) If you missed last week's, the labels are on the right down toward the bottom... like, all the way down there. It's under Fanged Friday.

Enjoy!

Elena: So, I’m still freaked out about the new vampire in town that I hit with my car. You really don’t know who he is?

Stefan: No. There’s a lot I don’t know. I’m not nearly as smart as my brother, or as handsome. But thank you for choosing me, by the way. It helps my self esteem. Now, take these pieces of jewelry laced with toxic flowers, so you and your friends can’t be controlled by the evil vampires. And take your great grandfather’s tricked out compass.

Elena: A compass? But I don’t want to go hiking.

Stefan: You don’t? Hmmm. Well, use it to point to Vampires then.
-----
Jeremy: Oh, hey pizza-delivery-boy. Please, step into my house and leave the pizzas there on the table, because it’s completely natural to let a stranger come in.
-----
Elena: Darn it! Why am I such a vampire magnet! What does he want with me?

Stefan: I told you, I don’t know ANYTHING!

Damon: Here’s the deal: whoever he is, he has to die. Your stupid brother invited him in, now this house is in danger. Maybe I erased more than just a few memories from Jeremy's brain.

Elena: Well, now both of you have to come with me to the ‘50’s dance. I will entice the hoodie-wearing vamp with my fancy hair and ribbons, and you two will strike.
-----
Anna: So, do you love me yet? Because I was hoping to borrow your family’s journal.

Jeremy: No. And I don’t have it. I let Alaric read it because I have zero judge of character.

Anna: Don’t make me angry or I’ll bite you!

Jeremy: Whoa. I think you have pink-eye. You should get that looked at.
-----
Noah: Hello Elena. Ditch Thing 1 and Thing 2, and meet me in the hall, or you can kiss your brother goodbye.

Elena: Why me?

Noah: Because you look like my ex-lover.

Elena: I’ve been getting that a lot lately. Now hold still while I attempt to kill you with these freshly sharpened #2 pencils. Drat! It didn’t work! Let me try this broomstick that I just broke over my knee. Blast! Foiled again!

Stefan: Don’t worry, Elena! I am going to save you just before his teeth get to your neck because it’s more exciting that way! Thank you for prepping the broomstick! This is good training for your future vampire days.

Damon: So… what’s the significance of what you’ve been doing exactly?

Noah: She looks like my ex-lover, Katherine. That’s right, fools. You weren’t the only ones that loved her.

Stefan: You are so dead!
-----
Damon: Why are you lurking in the halls and peeking through windows?

Alaric: Uh…

Damon: I’m going to control your mind with my stunningly beautiful eyes and ask you a few questions that you won’t remember.

Alaric: I sure am glad I’m holding this toxic flower and you only THINK I’m being controlled. Thank God I took that acting class in college. And now I know for sure what you really are.
-----
Ben: What happened to Noah?

Anna: Karma. And the Salvatore brothers.

Ben: Did you get the journal from your boyfriend yet?

Anna: Gag. No, but I know who to kill to get it. Does it look like I have pink-eye?

Ben: No.

Anna: Then kiss me.
-----
Alaric: I want to like you, but I’m still hung up on my dead wife. She was murdered by a vampire.

Jenna: Hey I get it. My ex actually was a vampire.

Alaric: I’ll try not to talk about Isabel anymore.

Jenna: Isabel? Yikes. That would sort of make you Elena’s step-dad. And that’s icky, because I’m her aunt.
----
Elena: Who knew I was so tough? I mean, who can wield a #2 Paper Mate like I can?

Stefan: Yeah, that was pretty hot.

Elena: Kiss me.





I plan on announcing the 100 followers contest tomorrow, so be on the lookout!!
Happy (Fanged) Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

100 Followers?!

Y'all are so awesome. I love each and every one of you! (In a purely, non-freaky, bloggy way!)

And a HUGE thank you to Matt for being #100! I think Matt deserves a $10 Amazon giftcard!!! Yay for me, yay for you! :) Please email me at kristinrae023 at gmail dot com (EDITED - Apparently, I don't even know my own email address, and originally forgot to type the 023.... OOOPS ), and Amazon will email you your prize! Don't you just LOVE surprise blog giveaways! (It's my first one ever by the way, so, yay for you AGAIN!) I know, I know, a meager $10. But alas, the money tree is dormant for winter. Or... until I win the lottery.

Well, it's late, and I must prepare for tomorrow's Fanged Friday!

Announcements coming soon about an interview with a certain author (ahem, Jennifer Hubbard) of a certain book (ahem, The Secret Year) in just a few weeks!
Also, the big announcement for my 100 follower contest is coming soon! Sharpen your pencils! Or... clean your keyboards... cause it's gonna be FUN!

The Joys of Critique Groups, And More Awards!

My critique group is amazing. I love reading their work (a talented lot!), and I'm constantly inspired at our meetings. They spot things that the writer needs to be aware of, and they explain it in a very understanding/encouraging way. It's SO what I need. I LOVE my critique group. I shared with them the first three chapters of my WIP, Still Loving Ghosts, and their reactions knocked me over. They were so excited about this story, I almost got tears in my eyes. They were practically drooling for more, and now I'm freaking out because I'm still unsure about the outcome of SLG in general! I'm only 6 chapters in!! I'm so worried I've worked myself into a corner with this, and that I won't be able to pull off a WOW ending. Am I making any sense? The way I see the story going... I'm VERY confused about how to get there. I know this is just going to take time and WORK WORK WORK, but man, the pressure is ON now. Can I take it as actual pressure though? Motivation is how I need to see it...
Is getting a little frazzled about this natural, or hindering to the process??? Someone please calm me down! lol.

On to other things, WOW, this blogging community... I am just speechless. I've never met more giving, more encouraging, more inspiring people! I've been honored with two more awards, by two lovely ladies whose blogs I thoroughly enjoy, and you should, too!

Thank you to Amber at Reading Addict for the Humane Award! Check out her book reviews!

Now I am supposed to pass these off to bloggers who comment regularly on my posts and generally brighten my day, but I have to do some research first and see who doesn't have it already!

And thank you to Tiana Lei at Spilled Ink for the Superior Scribbler Award!


Now I am supposed to recognize bloggers who go above and beyond, but again, I must research!!

I love all my bloggers! What a great community we are building here (or that was already built but I only just found)!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review of I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You - By Ally Carter


I had seen this Gallagher Girls series grow in number in the bookstore, and I always smiled at the quirky titles. When I learned that literary agent Kristin Nelson represented Ally Carter, I knew I had to read at least the first one. I wasn't disappointed.


I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You
(Gallagher Girls #1)
by Ally Carter

Description from Goodreads:
The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it's a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn't have a code name?
Cammie Morgan may be fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways (three of which involve a piece of uncooked spaghetti), but the Gallagher Academy hasn't prepared her for what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without him ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, she's doing something riskier than ever—she's falling in love.

My Thoughts:
Cam is likable, brilliant, can blend in like a "chameleon", and she's a spy in training. The writing seems to be for the younger side of young adult, but it's a really cute story. All the spy-type stuff was well researched and incorportated, and helped keep the reader interested in what was going to happen next. It was a clean, quick read, laugh-out-loud funny at times. I found myself getting sucked into Cam's secret romance with Josh, who believes every quick lie she tells him about herself - basically, her lies are the whole foundation of their relationship. You keep reading, wondering not IF he will find out the truth, but WHEN, and how big the bomb will be? Here's a little sample of the writing style:

[ "We have come to a time when—" But before she could finish, the doors flew open and not even three years of training at spy school prepared me for what I saw. Before I say any more, I should probably remind you that I GO TO A GIRLS' SCHOOL—that's all girls, all the time, with a few ear-drop-needing, plastic-surgery-getting male faculty members thrown in for good measure. But when we turned around we saw a man walking in our midst who would have made James Bond feel insecure. Indiana Jones would have looked like a momma's boy compared to the man in the leather jacket with two-days' growth of beard who walked to where my mother stood and then—horror of horrors—winked at her. ]

The one criticism I have, is the overuse of parentheses. Every few paragraphs seemed to have parantheses with a disclaimer or explantaion, and it got a little redundant - I skipped a lot of them, even though some were hilarious. After a point, it just became more to read.

If you're looking for a cute, girly, easy-to-read YA, this could be it. I plan to continue the series... just because the characters are that likable.

3/5 - Liked it

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Books! And Award Day Again!!

I normally don't post twice in one day, so I will apologize (I feel like I've said that before... ). If you're looking for Teaser Tuesday (or missed it this morning), it's below this post now. Today is great for many reasons: It's 4:30 and I'm done with work, have already had my piano lesson and I got a "great job" sticker and a tootsie roll!, I'm going to play tennis as soon as hubby gets off work, another book idea sprang into my head today, I won another blog award, and my Amazon order is in!!! What a DAY!

My Amazon box presented me with three lovely books!
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Role of a Lifetime by our very own blogging friend Jennifer Shirk! If you don't follow her blog yet, you should!

Thank you to Guinevere at This is Not My Day Job for the fabulously adorable Over The Top Award!! Check out her blog!


Rules: Answer the following questions with Single Word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers!

Your Cell Phone? Matrix
Your Hair? Blondish
Your Mother? Talented
Your Father? Provider
Your Favorite Food? Chocolate
Your Dream Last Night? College :(
Your Favorite Drink? Water
Your Dream/Goal? Novelist
What Room Are You In? officecraftroom
Your Hobby? Toomany
Your Fear? Sharks
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Published
Where Were You Last Night? Bed
Something That You Aren't? Fit
Muffins? Pumpkincranberry
Wish List Item? Couches
Where Did You Grow Up? 5acres
Last Thing You Did? pianolesson
What Are You Wearing? yogapants
Your TV? Off
Your Pets? Boxers
Friends? Family
Your Life? Happy
Your Mood? Ready
Missing Someone? No
Vehicle? Tahoe
Something You Aren't Wearing? Glasses
Your Favorite Store? BordersandHobbyLobby (come on!)
Your Favorite Color? Purples
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Today
Last Time You Cried? Lastnight (Friday Night Lights [the series]... I'm a wimp)
Your Best Friend? Husband
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Fridge
Facebook? Never!
Favorite Place To Eat? MeltingPot

Now I get to pass this along to five, over the top blogs that I enjoy!
Please check them out if you haven't before!

1. Caroline at Coeur de La! Because she is fun, and always has great things to show us!
2. Kristin at Another Gray Day! Because she has an awesome name and her Tuesday Teasers are delightful!
3. Karen at Novels During Naptime! Because she is sweet, and her You Can't Go Back Fridays are always interesting!
4. Catherine Denton at Winged Writer! Because she always has nice things to say, and her Sunday Scribblings are great!
5. Hilary Wagner! Because she is full of useful advice, and she wrote a book about rats! How cool is that?!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

As I write this post, I have around 20 followers to go before hitting the 100 mark! I have an idea for the contest it will spark, but there is a certain book I need to read before that can happen... and it's in the mail. So I won't make any announcements about it yet (I can't get any hopes up, including mine), but if all goes according to plan, it will be super fun!

I'm thinking of discontinuing Muscle Monday. It's not getting a very big response, and well, I'm particularly frustrated in the healthy living arena as of late. So, MM will take a hiatus, and today, will be replaced by a review of a book I recently finished. I need to practice this review writing anyway, as so many of you have great ones that I love reading. They really help me make my decisions about what to read next.


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Description from Goodreads.com

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.


My Thoughts: I was hooked from page one. Stiefvater jumps right in to the action and immediately has the reader asking questions. I was fighting with my eyes to keep from jumping ahead, but I knew that if I skipped one sentence of this book, I would have missed out on a beautiful image. This is exactly the style of writing I'm drawn to. It's descriptive in a way that never leaves empty holes in the reader's mental image of the setting, action, etc.

"My wolf hesitated by the edge of the woods, the dim porch light catching his eyes. He was still watching my silhouette through the door.

I pressed my palm flat against the frigid glass.

The distance between us had never felt so vast."


This book will literally make you shiver. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Grace and Sam, which helps round out the emotions; it's not one-sided. We get to feel what both of them are feeling. Each character, even the minor ones, stood out on their own, with unique personalities that I enjoyed getting to know. The action really started to pick up in the last third, making it impossible to put down.

The only criticism I will mention is concerning the sex. It's not graphic by any means, and honestly the kissing scenes will make your heart flutter oh so sweetly... I just take an issue with the way teen sex is desensitized, and reading it in a young-adult book made me cringe. That was my only issue with Shiver, but it will not keep me from continuing the series.

Can Grace find a way to help Sam stay human forever?! You'll have to read to find out!
Read the last third with tissues nearby. Yes, it's that good.

5/5 - Amazing

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Something to Look at Sunday

A couple of months ago, I added another hobby to my overflowing list of things I love to do. Watercolor painting!! I blame this completely on my mom, because she started taking a class on it, and I went with her one day for fun and I got addicted. Here is my first watercolor from that class: (I will apologize for the quality of these - they are cropped photos of the originals. My scanner isn't big enough.)

I was pleased enough with it as a first attempt. Watercolor is COMPLETELY different than oils, which is what I'm used to. I put a dark green matting around it to frame it out and it's keeping me company in my writing/craft/scrapbooking/painting room of the house that I've stolen for myself!! (can you tell I have no children?)

So, I went to another one of those classes about a month later, and this is my second. Each class focuses on learning another trick, and this taught me to use Frisket masking liquid. You paint this waxy stuff on the trees, paint the background, then remove the Frisket, then paint the trees. It's a really neat process.


The class had a Christmas party where we went to the teacher's house for lunch and painted there. This is the one I started there, then finished just yesterday. Mom's turned out way better, but I still like it enough to bring it out next fall for decor.

I'm still learning, but I'm hooked. I'd venture to say that it's easier than oil painting. (I'll post one of those next Sunday... maybe.)

Anyway, this has been a Something to Look at Sunday, which I just may make a habit of. I'll post photos (Italy photos perhaps?!), paintings, crafty things... whatever I'm up to, or thinking about. It's all for your viewing pleasure, because sometimes... it's nice not to have to read.

Goal Tracking:
Writing: still revising
Weight: still no progress other than being stronger and a wee bit more flexible
Reading: crit group readings for Wednesday

*All artwork property of Kristin Rae and may not be used or duplicated without written permission.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fanged Friday


Finally one of my guilty pleasure TV shows is back... The Vampire Diaries! Here's my version of the haps from lastnight's episode:

Elena: Darn the luck, I've gotten in another car accident! But wait! Why is the man that I hit reassembling himself and approaching me?! I wish I could scream! I wish I could take off my seatbelt, but I'm upside down and my head's bleeding!

Damon: I'm your hero!

Elena: Who was that?

Damon: I have no idea. I let him get away. I'll hunt him down in another episode.

Elena: What makes you think you can just take me to Georgia?

Damon: Well, I'm beautiful, and immortal, and I can pretty much do whatever I want. Besides, you look just like my ex-lover, and frankly, I like it.

Elena: Fine, but only because I'm angry with your less beautiful brother and I secretly like to look at you, too. By the way, I'm gonna pretend I'm legal and get totally trashed. Hint, hint.

Stefan: Let me talk to Elena!

Damon: Dude, she hates you. I'm in, you're out.
-----
Jeremy: I really can't think about a relationship right now... I was recently totally dumped. [ Somewhere in my head are trapped memories waiting to escape of my druggie ex-Vicki...Vicki the Vampire. ] And vampires aren't real anyway. You're a liar.

Anna: No I'm not! Here's proof!

Jeremy: OMG your grandpa was just as crazy as mine was. We're kindred spirits. But I still can't date you thanks to that dark cloud of distrust and the damage my brain has sustained from my former life of repeatedly escaping my problems with hallucinogens.

Anna: You WILL believe me. I'll make you. You WILL love me. I'll make you.
-----
Bree: Your arch nemesis is here! Come kill him now before I sleep with him again!
-----
Lee: My name is Lee! You killed my girlfriend! Prepare to die! SMACK!

Damon: UNGH!

Elena: NO! Please! Don't kill this beautiful man! He's my ride back home!

Lee: I must!

Elena: Lexi wouldn't want you to!

Lee: Well, okay.
-----
Elena: I saved your life. You owe me a kiss.

Damon: If I kiss you, I'll bite you, and I'm saving that for later when I can enjoy it.

Elena: Fine. Take me home then so I can kiss your emotionally constipated brother.
-----
Elena: You're such a liar Stefan. What else haven't you told me?

Stefan: I saved your life before I met you. Then I stalked you. You look like my ex-lover.

Elena: The same ex-lover Damon had?

Stefan: Yes, we share.

Elena: I'll try to remember that.

Stefan: By the way, you were adopted, which proves that you are a direct descendant of my ex-lover who must have reproduced before I knew her. But I love you now, no matter who you came from.

Elena: Kiss me.


Sigh. Watching The Vampire Diaries makes me feel like I'm back in high school, watching Roswell and Everwood and all those other WB/CW nightmares that I was addicted to. And I LOVE it.
Anyone else watch this show? I haven't read the books yet, and I'm wondering how closely it follows.

Goal Tracking:
Writing: editing editing!
Weight: no results yet... getting frustrated but not giving up!!
Reading: close to finishing my ARC of Truly, Madly. It's pretty good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jane Austen Challenge


Rules:
  • Anyone can participate.
Levels:
  • Newbie 2 books by J. Austen & 2 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
  • Lover 4 books by J. Austen & 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
  • Fanatic 6+ books by J. Austen & 5+ re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
-Challenge books can overlap with other challenges.
-Any format counts: bound book, e-book (check online for free downloads of J.A’s copyright-free books), audio book, or any other thing you can think of.
-You can change which level you read!
-Challenge runs January 1st 2010—December 31 2010.
_____________________________________________________
My level is Newbie. My plan is to read:

1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen
2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
3. Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters by Ben H. Winters
OR (because reading Sense and Sensibility in ANY form more than once in a year will probably make me tired)
3. Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
4. Emma by Jane Austen (if my Jane Austen character personality test told me I was Emma, I may as well know what that means!!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Announcements - And Advice from Author Colleen Thompson










My first lemon from my lemon tree! And more coming!


Announcement 1: Never in my short blogging life would I have imagined having 60 followers in just over a month of blogging. This online world is incredible! I've decided that if/when I make it to 100 followers, I will hold a CONTEST! I'll be thinking about the rules (I'm sure I'll have plenty of time), but I do believe the contest will have something to do with writing!! And as a prize, well, I'll be thinking about that, too. Most likely an online B&N gift card or something. So red rover, red rover send your blogging friends over!


Announcement 2: More exciting than a contest, Kristi Chestnutt, my very first follower that I didn't already know personally, has a debut novel coming out February 25, titled The Wolf Within!! To get us all ready for the release, I will be interviewing Kristi right here on my blog the week before. We'll learn a bit more about her, The Wolf Within, where we can get a copy, and more! I'll keep you posted!


This past November, I went to a small seminar by romance/mystery author Colleen Thompson. I haven’t read any of her books yet (though I received a signed copy of one), but she has a lot of them out, so she must be doing something right! Her seminar was called “Publishing 101”, and she shared some great info for aspiring authors. Some of this we’ve all seen before, but it never hurts to refresh the memory!


Here are some of my notes:

-Bridge the gap between thinking like a hobbyist and behaving like a pro:

-Discover your place – what shelf would your book sit on in a bookstore?

-Which authors’ fans would respond to my book?

-Don’t just read established authors – look for the last person who won the Edgar; read LOTS of debut authors; read in the area you like to write.

-Go to book signings to meet authors and talk to th

em (they LOVE to talk!) – network with them and

pick their brain, but DON’T USE THEM.

-Learn to cope with editorial changes – it’s not being a sell-out, it’s being realistic.

-Publishing is our universal need to connect; otherwise, we’d put it in a drawer and be done with it.

-Online or in public, be aware of the words and images you put out there. You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong thing. Err on the side of being respectful.

-Staying published is harder than getting published in the first place.

About agents:

-Do not give exclusives. Colleen said, “Let’s talk about exclusives and the human lifespan.”

-Query 5 agents at a time – wait for reactions, etc. Then revise query if necessary, send to the next 5…

-Look for agents that are part of the AAR – Association of Author Representatives

-Once you have your agent, choose your tantrums carefully – they will only put up with it for so long.

-Agents are not your friends, they are business associates – a marriage of convenience. (Personally, I’d like an agent that at least FEELS like a friend)



Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: goal for today - search and replace for ill-fitting nickname in entire MS, and fix a few chapter issues.

Weight progress: core and free weights at home

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Award Day!

2010 Goal Tracking:

Weight progress: still sickly, and will probably reschedule my last personal training session from tomorrow to another day... sad face.
Writing progress: hope to start the editing today.

Thank you to Tiana Lei at Spilled Ink for my second blog award ever, the Happy Award!



Now I have to list 10 things that make me happy, and pass the award on to blogs that make me happy. I will also use this time to pass along the Honest Scrap award!

Happy Things!

1. Hubby!This picture was actually taken BEFORE the ceremony, so we didn't look at each other. It was hilarious, and gave us some great photos! (Yes, he's a whole foot taller than me.)

2. My babies!

This picture of MacGyver was taken when he was about 3 or 4. He's almost 10 now, and very gray. He lives with my parents because he's attached to my mom.

My babies that actually live with hubby and me, Duke and Mylie.

3. ITALY!
I ache to be back there.

4. Hawaii!
5. Colorado

6. Disney World! The Happiest Place on Earth!

7. Music

The best band ever. Visit SWITCHFOOT.COM

8. Musicals

I try to go see several a year. Some of my favorites are The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof (Got to see it starring Topol last year!!), 42nd Street, Mary Poppins, The Lion King.

9. MoviesThis particular BBC Miniseries is currently up in my top favorite movies. It's HILARIOUS.

10. Family, writing, hobbies, the outdoors... lots of things make me happy!

Now, the blogs I select for the Happy Award, in no particular order! (If you've been awarded this in the past, too bad! It's not posted on your blog, so you're getting it again!)

1. Kimberly at Confessions: The Secret Life of a Writer
2. Kristi at Random Daily Thoughts
3. Sandy Shin at Sandy's Sandcastle
4. Debra L. Schubert at Write on Target
5. Jennifer Shirk at Me, My Muse, and I

And the Honest Scrap Award goes to:


1. Tiana Lei at Spilled Ink
2. Angela Corbett
3. Tanner at Tanner Speaks
4. V at That Thing I'm Writing
5. L. Diane Wolfe at Spunk on a Stick's Tips

*all photos (except Switchfoot, Phantom Playbill, and Lost in Austen Poster) are from my personal photos and may be used with my permission.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reality Check

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: major rewrites to do
Weight progress: sinus infection has me out of the working out mood, but maybe tomorrow I can try some cardio
Bible in a year progress: I'm starting to really dislike the translation I'm reading, and I think I'm going to have to do some investigating. Also, it's been recommended to me to read a Bible commentary to understand each chapter more thoroughly, so I think I may not worry about a timeline so much, but instead try studying more in depth.

Today has been quite eye-opening. I just met with a fellow writers guild member who was gracious enough to critique my WIP for me. She has technical writing background, and was able to catch things that I never even considered. Things like the overuse of passive voice. WOW... if you could see the markings on the first page alone. Incredible. She suggested doing a search for the words "was, were, have," etc. and take them out. It really does help the story flow so much better. "Was dripping"... change it to "dripped." Why do we need all the extra words? Use action verbs wherever possible, she said. I have a very difficult time with this, and I think it may take me an entire month just to fix all of those.

She also helped me with some formatting that I'd never heard of but needed to know. Widow and orphan controls? I had no idea there was a name for when Word just steals a line or two from one page to put it on the next. You can stop this default by going to Format/Paragraph/Line and Page Breaks tab/uncheck Widow Orphan Control. She also mentioned that there should be 25 lines per page, but I can't figure out how to set this. If anyone knows how to do this on the 2003 MS Word version, please let me know.

I'm axing about 3 chapters completely, adding one or two to make up that length and to control pacing, reworking some dialogue... basically, a whole lot of work. BUT - the end result will be that much better for it.

That's why critique partners and groups are so vital! We are soooo involved in our stories, that we just don't see the big problems with it. And the parts we were questioning, if they are also questioned by someone else, there's your confirmation that you have to tweak it, or take it out.

Another much needed reality check for me today, and I'm excited about the changes coming!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TGIAlmostFriday

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: another 1000 words for my WIP
Weight progress: took today off
Bible in a year progress: no assigned reading for today

Today was pretty good, despite my sinus headache/sneezing/etc. But I just took some medicine for PM so I should be feeling pretty good here in about 20 minutes.

I got to see my best friends today. We chit chatted, saw Young Victoria (GREAT movie by the way), and ate a little appetizer. One of these friends knew I wrote a book (and is actually reading it for me), the other, had no clue. The knowing friend made me tell the not knowing friend, because she thought that just wasn't something you kept from best friends. So I finally spilled, and all's well. And she offered to edit, which I'd be all for (especially because she scored PERFECTLY on the pre-SAT grammar portion back in the day), but I'm too embarassed. hahaha. I know that sounds silly, but it did confirm something to me. I have a lot more editing to do, because if I'm not ready to show her, I'm not ready to show the agents.

And my friend who is currently reading my WIP for me had some interesting things to say. I asked her about it, she took in a deep breath. Not a good sign. Then she surprised me. She said that she was impressed with my writing - had no idea I could write like that (which I wasn't sure I should take offense to or not - I didn't). While it's not her genre, AT ALL (she's more memior, politics, literary fiction), she was entertained...until a couple of chapters in and I lost her. She tried to explain what she meant in the two minutes we had to discuss it, but I can't wait to talk to her more at length. While I'm not looking to be literary fiction at all, I don't want to be corny. Sometimes it takes another (thankfully honest) person to point this out. Better her telling me this than an agent! So as soon as I got home, I ripped apart the section she was talking about and now I'm totally lost. Confused. Back to the drawing board. I'm threatening to rip out the whole chapter. hahaha. It's complete crap. I need my book to flow...it needs to match itself. So, guess what I'll be doing this weekend?! YOU GUESSED IT! REWRITES!!

Happy almost Friday everyone. I'm off to enjoy the land of cold and flu PM.....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: 1000 words today for Still Loving Ghosts
Weight progress: strength training, and 20 minutes of cardio, many more calories GONE
Bible in a year progress: Genesis 30-32, Psalm 12

I promise I won't make a habit out of posting more than once a day, but this was on my heart. You've all heard about the devestating earthquake in Haiti by now. But this hits me particularly hard because I've been sponsoring a girl named Dana there for over four years through Compassion International. I'm not sure if her area was affected, and Compassion International currently has no way of getting in touch with their projects. The CI group from the Dominican Republic is on their way there now to see what they can learn/how they can help. I'm very concerned about Dana and her family because just this past summer, her mother passed away, and several months ago she wrote to tell me they moved to a large city. I'm not sure which city, but I'm hoping for the best until CI gets official word and contacts me. If you're interested in donating to CI's relief fund, you can do so HERE. A simple $35 gives food and supplies to a family for a week. This amazes me. When was the last time I cost less than that in one day?

My prayers go out to Dana and her country.

My First Blog Award!

My first blog award ever!
Thanks so much to Kimberly for the Honest Scrap Award! I’ve always seen blogs with awards lined up along the sides and now I actually know where they come from! I’m still very new to this blogging thing, and I still smile when I see that I’ve gained another follower! This online world is incredible. I feel so supported out here where people just like me are trying to do what they love. Kimberly was one of my first followers (and Kristi, too! – if Kimberly hadn’t of awarded you, I’d be sending this your way!), and there is a special place in my heart for the ones who took a chance on me first! So, thanks!!
I did some investigating on this Honest Scrap business, and here’s what I found.




The Honest Scrap Award Rules


  • Present the award to seven bloggers whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design or who have encouraged you.

  • Tell those seven people that you have given them the Honest Scrap Award.

  • Share ten honest things about yourself.

I'm going to take a little time in picking out people to pass them along to (most people I follow already have a ton of awards, so I have to research carefully!), but in the meantime, here are ten honest things about me!


1. There is a birth mark on the back of my head that grows the blondest hair you’ve ever seen.
2. I once thought about becoming a meteorologist – too much physics and math. Boo! I really just wanted to chase tornadoes. I guess I’ll settle for watching Storm Chasers on Discovery and eagerly anticipating this rumored TWISTER 2!
3. I used to coach figure skating until I transferred to Texas A&M Junior year. No ice rink in College Station, though they built one right before I graduated. While I miss skating, it did jack up my knee pretty bad. Lol.
4. I get a little TOO happy when I’m wearing a scarf that I knitted and someone comments on it.
5. Music was my first love, and I’ve been in several bands. My latest venture, Autumn Tree, is on again, off again, but we do still have a song up on Myspace. My friend, Lesleigh, and I wrote that song a couple of years ago, and that’s me on background vocals! I still listen to it sometimes and dream of touring the country, singing in little coffee houses and clubs.
6. Having said that, with nearly every project I write, I am usually inspired to write a song along the theme/emotions of the story as well. For my novel Between the Letters, I have almost half a song worth of lyrics that just poured out after writing the climax of the story. Part of me wants to finish and record the song to sell along with the book if I ever get it published! I know, I know. But if movies have soundtracks, why can’t books? Seriously.
7. I’m an only child and I’ve loved every minute of it. I was certainly never ignored, but I learned how to entertain myself. I really think that’s why I am the way I am. While I do enjoy a good gathering of friends, I love to be by myself, creating something – writing, painting, whatever.
8. I was also home schooled for a couple of years. I tend to believe this is why my mom and I have such a strong bond (people often ask if we’re sisters – yes she looks super young), and also why I have a strong love for reading. Thanks mom!
9. My allergy to grassy things gets worse every season.
10. And finally, I have the bestest hubby in the world. We met when we were 18, and I knew pretty quickly he was something important. We started officially dating when we were 20, engaged at 22, married at 23, and here we are with a house and two beautiful boxers! Josh is sweet, respectful, a great friend, and HANDY! Why hire someone to renovate when Josh is around? I am extremely blessed. :-)



That’s me in a nutshell. Thanks again to Kimberly for my first blog award ever!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday and Still Loving Ghosts part 2!

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: nothing to report
Weight progress: Cardio: 46 minutes; 526 calories GONE!
Bible in a year progress: Genesis 27-29, Psalm 11

As promised, here is the second half of chapter 1 from Still Loving Ghosts. Again, it hasn't been edited too much, so I can't promise there aren't any mistakes. And sorry about the formatting - I really wish it kept my paragraph indents. If anyone knows how to do this, please let me know!
If you missed the first half (I should say third, because this is about 2/3 of it here), it's in last week's Teaser Tuesday. You can't have one without the other. ;-) It is a bit lengthy, so start it when you have about 5 minutes to finish it. Enjoy!


*Removed for editing

Monday, January 11, 2010

Muscle Monday - Workout Plan

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: wrote a few paragraphs for SLG; agent spreadsheet tweaking
Weight progress: ouch!
Bible in a year progress: Genesis 24-26, Psalm 10

Well, my personal trainer (I feel so cool saying that – if only I could also throw in “You’ll never believe what my chef made for me” also! lol) emphasized the importance of cardio in my first session. I asked her about what I posted last week: cardio vs. strength training first? And she said its always a good idea to warm up about 5 minutes on a cardio machine, strength train, and then do your full-out cardio. Or you can alternate days if you have the time. Not only because of the reasons that Brad explained, but because strength training is MENTAL. You have to figure out weights, count reps, and concentrate on posture and breathing. But with cardio (she has me on a version of the elliptical machine for my knee’s sake) you can just go and go without thinking much; watch TV, jam to music, etc. If you do cardio first, you’re too tired to get a great strength training session in.

Click HERE to read what Jillian Michael’s, trainer on The Biggest Loser, says about cardio. If you don't want to read it, it basically says you can lose 3.5 pounds a week by eating right and doing 2 hours of cardio a day. Pretty crazy! Don’t know who has time for that, but if I get desperate enough, I’m willing to try an hour before work, and an hour after work. I may need to start investing in audio books!

I’ll leave you with the workout regimen from my first personal training session. In my next session (today, actually), I’m going to learn a completely different set of things, but this is a great place to start. Maybe for those of you in need of a PLAN in the gym, this can help! And if you don’t have a gym membership, a 5lb and/or 10lb set of free weights and a balance ball are GREAT to start toning those muscles. We can DO IT!

Cardio machine of choice: 30 minutes, 3 X’s a week. For my age (26) and resting heart rate, I need to keep my heart rate up between 140-160 for 20 minutes.

There are very specific ways of doing each of the following, and I’m finding it a bit difficult to figure out how to explain them, so if you haven’t done them before, I suggest looking it up, or have someone show you the proper ways and postures to avoid injury and work the muscles meant to be worked. The weights for these listed are obviously for girls ;-).

Core: Plank – 2 sets of 10 reps; 4 second hold
Core: Balance ball crunch – 2 sets of 10 reps; hold 2 seconds – don’t pull up with neck; use upper abs
Legs: Balance lunges – 2 sets of 10 each side – instead of lunging forward, raise free leg knee up then lunge behind (This bothered my knee a bit, so I think I will discontinue)
Legs: Extensions – 2 sets of 12; 10 pounds – one leg at a time
Legs: Press – 2 sets of 12; 70 pounds – don’t lock knees
Chest press – 2 sets of 12; 25 pounds
Back row – 2 sets of 12; 30 or 40 pounds
Shoulder press – 2 sets of 12; 10 pounds (I know that seems light, but it’s so not. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. This is the one where you raise the arms above the head.)
Bicep curl – 2 sets of 12; 30 pounds
Triceps – 2 sets of 12; 25 pounds

And here is a personal hint. After attempting this full workout, do not watch any hilarious television for several days. Because if you’re as out of shape as I am…. The first night after I did this, I watched Modern Family. I was laughing so hard I had to wrap my arms around my stomach and suppress tears.

I’ll see y’all tomorrow for Teaser Tuesday, and the rest of Still Loving Ghosts’ chapter 1!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Agent Query List

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: agent list
Weight progress: keeping with the schedule!
Bible in a year progress: Genesis 21-23, Psalm 9

After months and months of research and weeding out, I've finally got my agent list together for queries! I have all their information organized on a spreadsheet and ranked according to what they're looking for. My "high" priorities include the agents seeking both women's fiction and young adult, because I'm pretty sure I will write YA sometime soon. And JUST IN CASE I'm able to snag an agent for Between the Letters, I'd like them to handle YA also. I have a top ten that for one reason or another I got particularly attached to during the research process, two of which I'm alsmost positive I will get a little teary if they don't request sample chapters. I figure I'll try these 10 first, then work my way down the list every couple of weeks or so. What really irks me is that almost every agent requires something different for the query. Some just want the query letter, some want that plus a full synopsis, some need you to actually MAIL it to them and include a SASE even though that doesn't even gaurantee you a response.... And ALL of them have that very discouraging disclaimer - "We accept very few new clients so that we can focus on the needs of our current authors." Well, at some point, SOMEONE has to add a new client.

I have one more (hopefully) major edit of Between the Letters, and should be ready to query by end of January/beginning of February. And my birthday is in February, so how cool would that be to get a full manuscript request by then?! (Wishful thinking, yes, but it's my birthday so I'll wish what I like, thanks. lol)

And about this agent list of mine...there are only 63 of them. Am I being too picky? I've read that I shouldn't stop until i get 150-200 rejections but, where is everybody finding all of these people to query???
Maybe my condition that they must represent both women's fiction and YA is keeping the number down? But that's something I shouldn't really compromise on, or else I'll either have to talk this hypothetical agent of mine into selling a YA project, or switch...

What have/are you done/doing about the research stage. What standards do you look for? WHERE do you look?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Mourning

2010 Goal Tracking:
Writing progress: searching searching searching for agents!
Weight progress: I'm giving my body a day off. I've been mean to it.
Bible in a year progress: Genesis 15-17, Psalm 7


Today I've been particularly missing Rome. I can't get this


*photos removed intentionally*

out of my head. I blew this picture up huge and framed it in my living room. It's next to this one.

Looks fake doesn't it? Everyone that comes over asks where I got it. Um...well I was inside the Colosseum, we were gazing around, my friend said, KRISTIN STOP! LOOK AT THAT TREE! Snap. And here's the result. The Italians cut their pine trees so that all the green is at the top. Really neat looking, Dr. Suessish allmost. Basically, since Italy in September, I've been spreading my photos all over the house! I can't stop myself. I took around 200 pictures of the Colosseum alone. That's just insanity. But I was very moved. Misty eyed, even.

Sigh. Too bad we spent all of our money there and can't go back for years and years.

In other news! For all you poetry writers out there, there is a sweet online magazine called The Basilica Review that I learned about yesterday. Their first fall edition is free on their website, and has some pretty inspiring pieces. They are actively seeking submissions for their Spring issue, so check it out and see if your work is along a similar vein. The website is HERE and I also have added a link on the right panel under OTHER GREAT STUFF!

Gotta catch up on my reading this weekend! I’m off to a land of wolves and mystery!


*All photographs are property of Kristin Rae and may not be used or duplicated without written permission.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Poetry

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: still working on that agent list
Weight progress: 50 minutes high-tech elliptical machine, 506 calories GONE - VERY SORE from yesterday's session.
Bible in a year progress: no readings assigned for today

I don’t have much to add to the blogging world today, but at my writers guild meeting last night, a man I know only as Dr. Jones read some of his poetry. Now, I don’t really get into poetry; I don’t like to think that hard when I’m reading something. But this one line stuck out to me, and I had to share. He wrote it over ten years ago before he was married, after he and his now wife had broken up. After giving her the poem, she married him. The line I fell in love with:

“Let the others without life amuse themselves.”

How sweet is that?! To give it some context, he was describing what it was like to be with her – nothing else compared. Everyone else in the world didn’t have what they had. Everyone else lacked life! Let them go about amusing themselves with whatever it is they do! I have YOU! and there is nothing more important. You are LIFE! Beautiful thought.

Have a beautiful Thursday, all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wheew

2010 Goals Progress:


Writing progress: Agent research!

Weight progress: Feel like I'm gonna die

Bible in a year progress: Genesis 12-14, Psalm 6


Wow. I'm still coming down from my first personal training session ever. I had no idea I was such a wimp...especially in my legs. I seriously, could just lay down on the floor right now and not get up until tomorrow. And I know I will be sore beyond words tomorrow when I have to do at least 30 minutes of cardio, and worse on Friday...which is when I'm supposed to do all that I just learned...AGAIN. I can't even think about it. But, it will be worth it in the end. Not that there will be an end. It will be worth it...eventually!


Well, I got some great feedback on my Teaser Tuesday posting of Still Loving Ghosts. I love that your curiosities are kicking in, and I believe I just may tease you again with the second half of that first chapter on next Tuesday! I'm encouraged to focus on this WIP and see where it takes me.


The inspiration for Still Loving Ghosts came mostly after reading Sarah Addison Allen's THE SUGAR QUEEN. It's one of my absolute favorite books, and the ideas in it just fascinate me! That's when I knew I had to try my hand at magical realism, too.


I have to run to my writers guild meeting, but thanks all for the lovely comments, and happy wednesday!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - And Title Revealed!

2010 Goal Tracking:

Writing progress: 5 chapters of new project mostly written

Weight progress: Got a personal trainer today - scheduled 3 sessions

Bible in a year progress: Genesis 10-11, Psalm 5

Thanks to Kristi for the goal tracking idea! It's a great daily reminder of priorities.

Well, another Teaser Tuesday is upon us! I've decided to reveal the (working) title and first section of my current work in progress. It's not gorgeously edited, and the formatting in this blog is a nightmare, so be gracious! And it's set in a fictional town, so don't get out a map. LOL. Let me know what you think! Drum roll please!!!!!

STILL LOVING GHOSTS

*Removed for editing

Monday, January 4, 2010

Muscle Monday

To kick off our year of Muscle Mondays, here are today’s fitness tips, found HERE if you’re interested in checking out this site designed specifically for women’s fitness. The trainer is Brad Schoenfeld.

MYTH: Performing abdominal exercises will give you a flat stomach.
TRUTH: Many women believe that if they perform exercises for their abdominals, they will get a flat stomach. Television "infomercials" for abdominal exercises further help to promulgate this myth. The fact is, the only way to get a flat stomach is to strip away the fat around the midsection. This is accomplished by having a proper nutritional regimen, increasing muscle mass to increase metabolism, and performing cardiovascular exercise to help burn calories. Abdominal training will help to build muscle in your midsection and is certainly beneficial to overall health and well being. However, you will never see the abdominal muscles unless the fat in this area is stripped away.

I’ve been researching best times to workout, best things to do, eat, etc…and there is a lot of conflicting information. And what works for some, doesn't work for others. Now, starting this week, I'd planned to work out just after rolling out of bed, THEN eating breakfast, but here’s what Brad says about that idea:

A popular fitness tenet is that cardio should be performed first thing in the morning on an empty stomach…. The truth is, however, it's not always best to perform cardio as soon as you roll out of bed…. In addition, studies have shown that eating before exercise actually increases caloric expenditure . This apparently is related to the thermic effect of food (TEF) . You see, every time you eat a mixed meal there is a corresponding increase in metabolic rate. When exercise is performed after the consumption of food, metabolism is heightened by about 20 percent over fasting levels. Better yet, these effects are maintained for up to three hours post-workout . And since burning more calories means burning more fat, eating before cardio can have thermogenic effects on exercise activity… Perhaps more significantly, a pre-exercise meal allows you to exercise more intensely . In order to perform at a high level, your body needs a ready source of glycogen; deplete glycogen stores and your performance is bound to suffer.

It’s the first Monday, or Lunedi on my Italian calendar, of the New Year. Back to the cubes, back to sitting on my rear all day, but NOT back to eating whatever is hanging around the office. Please let full time writing be in my future!

How is everyone else in keeping true to their fitness proclamations in 2010?
Today is THE day! (Can you tell I’m trying to pump myself up here? I need a support group! Or at least a personal trainer...)

Buon anno!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Project Progress

A great start to a new year methinks!
Don't you love those days when you pick back up on a project you haven't worked on in awhile? These past few days, chapters have just been flying out of my fingertips for my magical realism book. It was a project I had started working on months back, mostly to experiment with a new POV for me, but this past week, I did a major edit on what I had, switching it to first person.
Since Between the Letters is in first person, I thought I wanted to change it up, but I discovered that I really really shouldn't stray from what works. I'm even hopping around to different characters for each chapter, and getting inside their heads has been incredible. The story is going places I had never intended, because I was just'a typin' and the next thing I know she's done this and decided this and holy cannoli....
It's so exciting when that happens, isn't it?
And to top it all off, I came up with a title that I'm very very pleased with. I won't reveal it yet until I'm ready to share from it (perhaps a future Teaser Tuesday?!), but I am so very excited!
Is anyone else having a great start to this new year of writing?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Let 2010 Begin!

Even though my track record for resolutions isn't that great...I sort of can't help but outline a few things here in writing to help me focus.
I really do want to only read one book at a time, which I plan on instituting (after I finish the five I'm currently reading).
I also would like to finish writing a second book. We'll see if the sequel to Between the Letters or the magical realism piece gets finished first. Maybe it will be both this year?! But just one would be a great accomplishment.
It would also be ideal to land an agent this year. I'll keep trying until I have 200 rejections.
Losing 15 pounds sounds GREAT. And while it may be reachable, how many years have I been trying to lose, and have only gained since landing a cubicle job? Exactly. So, the goal this year is to make better choices, exercise more consistently, and feel better about myself. No pound numbers in the official resolution. Just get healthier, and the rest will follow.

As an aid to this goal, I will be posting weekly health tips that I run across. I will try to get these up on Mondays to help start the week out right. But since today is the start of a new year, I have to share one today! And, I know that every tip has a conflicting opinion, but what it comes down to is finding that solution that works for YOU. This one comes from SELF Magazine:

"Divide it up. Exercisers who did two half-hour stints of moderate cycling with a 20-minute rest in between burned 10% more fat afterward than when they cycled straight for one hour. The repeated bouts triggered a release of hormones that helped metabolize fat more efficiently so that fat supplied a greater percentage of the total calories used later."

While I don't love cycling, I imagine any straight up cardio like the treadmill or elliptical will suffice. After reading this, I thought, well that's great, I'll do 2o or 30 minutes of elliptical, 20 minutes of weights, and then 20-30 minutes of the bike or treadmill. But then I found THIS:

"Lift First. If you tone and do cardio in the same session, start with weights. Participants in a study who did a total-body strength workout 20 minutes before cycling burned 10% more fat than those who simply cycled without weight training. Lifting taps those hormones that guide fat into the furnace. The reverse - doing cardio, then weights - doesn't."

Now I don't know who has 2 hours to spend in the gym to space all this out, but it does help to give an idea of the order to do things, and how to mix it up. Try intervals, do LOTS of stretching after muscles have been warmed up, and after the workout to alleviate soreness.

2010 is brand new, with no mistakes in it! Happy New Year!