Nancy: 5 Things I Learned from Krav Maga (That Might or Might Not Apply to Writing)

I might have mentioned a few (hundred) times here on the blog that I love a good physical challenge. A few years ago, I had an idea for one that would not only get me in better shape, but would also train me in self defense. So I started searching for Krav Maga classes. Before I could sign up and start kicking ass, I broke my finger.

Fast forward a year and a half. Did I mention it was a serious break? So yeah, a year and half later, I finally signed up for a 6-week introductory class to the fighting style developed by the Israeli Army. And hey, they developed it so anyone of any age and fitness level could learn defensive fighting quickly and easily! So said one of my instructors while he had us doing brutal sprints and one-arm planks at the end of hour-long, full-out hitting and kicking sessions, when I was pretty sure I was going to die of exhaustion.

After expending so much energy, sweat, and – not gonna lie – a few tears, though thankfully no blood, I feel stronger and maybe a little better prepared to take up a fighting stance and protect myself if it ever becomes necessary. But I like to get a big return on my investment, and I can find writing lessons in almost anything, so behold my Lessons from Krav Maga: Writing Edition.

1) Don’t be surprised; be prepared.  If I had to boil my Krav Maga experience down to one line, this would be it. While the techniques do teach you how to fight (and flee!) effectively, there’s more to surviving a street fight than that. You have to be prepared for the unexpected and ready to fight the unknown.  Continue reading

Jilly: What Are You Waiting For?

Full disclosure: today’s post is an update of one I wrote in 2015. Given the subject matter, I make no apology. I hope I’m lucky enough to post another update next April.

Four years ago this week, my husband almost died. One moment I was cracking jokes about man-flu, wondering if he had a chest infection and needed antibiotics; the next, we were in an ambulance heading for the resuscitation room. It was a very, very close-run thing, but with the help of the fantastic staff at the Whittington Hospital in North London, he pulled through and is (almost) as good as new.

I’m embarrassed to admit that while it was happening, we had no idea how much trouble we were in. We were too busy worrying about whether my husband would have to give up wine and asking if he’d be on his feet in time to go to the ballet the following week. Even when the consultant said “I think that’s the least of your problems,” the penny didn’t drop. It wasn’t until much later that I got the shakes.

I’m sharing this because there will never be a better day to say don’t take tomorrow for granted. If there’s anything that you’ve always promised yourself you would do, no matter if it’s trivial or life-changing, do it today.

Do it now.

Don’t wait for somebody else to make the first move. Don’t leave it until you’ve paid for your house, or the kids are a little older, or you’ve retired. Continue reading

Justine: Flexing Your Writing Muscles

manlifting-weightsIn many ways, writing is like working out. The more you do it, the easier it is, and the more stamina you have. On the flip side, when you stop working out, it’s a bitch to get back into it again.

One of my New Years Resolutions was to get moving for 30 minutes a day. Aside from not writing, I’ve also been neglecting myself, and I decided, after reading this stunning NY Times article about how much of your LIFE you can lose by being inactive, that I needed to Continue reading

Michille: Write Your Novel In A Year – Week 52

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Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media Group

One of my favorite blogs did an ongoing bit last year called “Write Your Novel In A Year.” It ended with Week 52: Keep the Momentum Going. The goal for the last week is to work on ideas and strategies for your next book. And then the blogger says, take a break, immerse yourself in someone else’s stories, and do imagination exercises. The last ‘pin it, quote it, belief it’ of the year was “I oscillate between thinking I’m crazy and thinking I’m not crazy enough” (Joyce Carol Oates). Yep, been there. Continue reading

Michille: First Lines

heath-when-the-duke-was-wickedEvery now and then, I (or my daughter, another voracious reader) bring home a bag of random books. This time, it was a bag of books from a colleague. We sat around the dining table after dinner tonight (last night for those reading this on Thursday) and read the first paragraphs of several of the books. There were several Debbie Macombers which I brushed off. I’ve read her stuff before and it’s great, but she doesn’t even open the bedroom door, much less close it after the kiss, and I like the sexual tension in stories and she doesn’t deliver that. There was a Nora Roberts and since she breaks a lot of rules, I wasn’t surprised that hers didn’t deliver the expected (it was a prologue), but Chapter 1 nailed it. We added in a Fern Michaels, a Susan Wiggs, a Lorraine Heath, a Kresley Cole, an Elizabeth Hoyt, and a Jayne Ann Krentz. In the interest of brevity, I’m going with the first lines of these books. It was illuminating to discuss which first lines intrigued us into an interest in reading further. Here is what we read. Continue reading

Nancy: Because 2016 Isn’t Through With Us Yet

20161226_michael-slide-2b6y-videosixteenbyninejumbo1600The curse of 2016 has once again reared its ugly head. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we’ve lost another icon, singer/songwriter/philanthropist George Michael. As much as so many public losses have hurt this year, for me, this one cuts deeper. George Michael’s music was a big part of the soundtrack to which my husband and I fell in love. We continued to follow his music and performances through the years, even when those were hard to come by in the States, and we loved what he did for the LGBTQ community. We were excited to take our daughter with us to see him perform at Equality Rocks in DC in 1999, and to his 25 Live Tour in 2008. We even contemplated flying to Copenhagen to see him perform again, but the shows sold out before we could get tickets.

So today has been a sad one for us. We’ve been consoling ourselves with  his music, which, of course, lives on. Below are  links to a few of my favorite George Michael live performances. RIP, George Michael, and give David Bowie and Prince a hug from us.

George Michael Unplugged

Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

Concert for Linda

Jilly: Back Up Your Work (Dead Tree Version)

Did you know the UK still prints its laws on vellum? This may sound like something out of a Terry Pratchett story, but there is a tall tower in the Palace of Westminster full of rolled vellum scrolls inscribed with legislation, including some dating back more than five hundred years.

Earlier this year the House of Lords voted to discontinue vellum scroll record-keeping on cost grounds. You’d have thought this was the ideal opportunity to bypass paper and go direct to digital-only storage, but after due consideration the Cabinet Office decided to stick with scrolls (and agreed to pick up the bill). The reason might be that we Brits love a good tradition (true!), and I’m sure there are digital libraries of new legislation as well, but there are sound reasons for deciding to keep  physical records.

Those reasons apply to writers, too. Continue reading