Wheeler, a Novel

Wheeler has relaunched! 

Available on Amazon Kindle

new cover june

 

When love and obsession collide, who can withstand the storm?

Loren Mackenzie has spent much of her life honing her body to meet the physical challenges of being a professional cyclist in the women’s European peloton. She has also refined the control of her mind, using the power of her emotions in competition to become one of the elite cyclists in the world. After an accident at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, Loren must rise to the challenge of leading her team as the Women’s World Tour races across Europe, culminating with the opportunity to compete at the World Championships in Richmond, Virgina.

When a chance meeting develops into a whirlwind romance, what appears to be the perfect relationship threatens to unravel Loren’s tightly wound life. Placed under the microscope of the tabloid media, the attention dredges up fears that her past will be unearthed; tragic secrets she has kept buried, even from those closest to her.

Can Loren face the trauma of her past and vanquish the demons within, or will betrayal and obsession ultimately defeat her?

saracard-1

Embrace the ‘suck’ with Liv Cycling’s Lesley Paterson

via 5 Ways to Embrace Suffering on the Bike | Liv Cycling – Liv Cycling | Official site

 

What a great article by Lesley Paterson. Embrace the suck.

Lesley shares her techniques to embrace the suck and I agree, however, there is a huge difference between the discomfort of your muscles burning and real pain. Real pain should not be worked through or ‘out’ – that only leads to long lasting injury.

  1. Practice suffering. The single most effective strategy to becoming better at suffering is to force yourself to experience it. When you practice suffering, you are strengthening neural pathways in the brain that make you better at suffering in the future. What this means for you: Don’t shy away from opportunities to put yourself the hurt box. They’re a gift. Put on your big girl/boy pants and force yourself to feel uncomfortable. If you are dreading the session or feel nervous about how much it’s going to hurt: you’re on the money.
  2. Build the expectation of pain. Contrary to popular wisdom, you can improve your ability to tolerate a sufferfest by preparing for the worst rather than pretending it won’t hurt as much as you think. Scientists call this ‘feed-forward’ but you can think of it as “bracing” for it. Your ability to suffer improves if you prepare for it to really hurt. What this means for you: Develop a pre-suffer ritual (or pain pledge) where you accept the potential for ‘worst possible discomfort’. Are you willing to go through this today? Your answer will help shape your ability to cope.
  3. Segment every single effort into tiny chunks. Your brain will poop its pants if it thinks it has to endure a long, arduous bout of suffering. We even know the part of your brain that’s doing the pooping: the anterior cingulate cortex. What this means for you: Break every session into small chunks and only think about the segment you’re on. Doing 10 x 5 min threshold efforts is much easier than smashing for 50 min straight. Riding 10 x 10-mile segments is far easier than riding 100 miles straight. Break. It. Up. Always. Your brain will thank you.
  4. Start Counting. Your brain loves repetitive sounds as means to deal with pain because it helps quieten other parts of your brain that are screaming at you to stop. What this means for you: Count your pedal strokes over and over again to help reduce the perception of effort and increase your tolerance of discomfort. The worse it feels, the more obsessively you count. Don’t aim for high numbers. We’re looking for repetition: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8…. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Get your Rain Man
  5. Learn a meditation or mindfulness technique to practice keeping your focus on a single cue (typically your breath or your heart rate). This works much in the same way as counting, except it helps you also deal with intrusive thoughts of stopping, declining motivation, or negativity when the suffer bus gathers speed. What this means for you: Download a free app to learn the skill of passive attention – accepting the sensation (“Hello pain”) without judging it (“This sucks!”). My favorite app for learning this skill is called HeadSpace. Start with 10 minutes per day for 10 days.

Things I wish I knew before Self-Publishing

 

Image result for regret star wars

As I prepare to re-publish #WheelerNovel, here are some things I wish I knew a year ago when I first succumbed to the siren-song of the self-publish button.

  1. Be certain. Be absolutely certain that what you’ve written is not just good enough, make sure it’s great. Shooting yourself in the foot, repeatedly, weighs heavy and causes huge amounts of angst. Not to mention it could ruin future marketing efforts when hundreds of shitty copies were put out in the ether.
  2. Somebody Wanted But So, Then. While this concept is simplistic, making your story actually about somebody’s journey toward something is a good idea.
  3. Pick a genre and stay with it. Multi-genre, genre-blend, cross-genre – they’re a hard sell.
  4. Literary agent submissions. See #1 and #3 above before you do it.
  5. Beta readers. Like real beta readers, not family and friends. That’s not to say my F&F aren’t great, but look for people, female and male, who don’t know you but also know about books.
  6. Hire an editor – even more than one. Some are worth their weight in gold, others in coal. Be selective and don’t just take the first one who emails you back. Talk to the person first – either IRL or on the phone. Get to know their personality and their editing style. Editing is hell, believe me, but having someone who can cut into your soul but make you laugh and make sense, is worth the ego hit to make your novel better. I have some suggestions if you’re in the market.
  7. A good book title. Coming up with a title is hard – about as hard as writing the back cover blurb. Once you’ve come up with something, make sure nobody else has written a book with the same title. How awkward.
  8. You will not please everyone but at the same time, don’t just please yourself. Wait… that doesn’t sound right.  Anyhoo, ‘they’ tell you to write what you know. Yes, do that, but if you want more than a hand full of people to buy your novel, you have to make the story marketable to the masses.
  9. Have a thick skin. Your story is your heart, mind, and soul all wrapped up into one. It’s worse than your child. Reviews can be brutal but you can learn something from each one. Podium Cafe’s review was a slap and a kick to the gut, however, it spurred me to make some deep cuts and revisions so Wheeler didn’t seem like a ‘fan-fiction.’ See also, #8 above.  (BTW, it still hurts.)
  10. Be mindful of what you tell reviewers about your story. One slip can ruin their perception of your novel. i.e. “started off as fan-fiction.”
  11. Keep only one foot in your story.  What I mean by this is to stay grounded in reality. We writers have the powerful ability to immerse ourselves in our worlds and can sometimes be consumed by them. Unless you’re a multi-millionaire and don’t have a spouse and/or kids, getting lost in your own mind is a painful thing to come back from.
  12. Have another outlet for creativity. I ride my bike 4 to 6 times a week, between leading indoor classes to outdoor riding.  Being outside often by myself, I’m able to find my center again. The constant noise in my brain is drowned out by the wind in my ears and the tick-tick of the chain. I put my body through efforts many people I know scoff at doing.  It hurts but it’s not real pain; it’s a burning in the muscles, in the soul, that once you know you can go there – and stay there – and not die, your body will want to keep going back. I also crochet, which has also caused much the same effect but not in my legs.
  13. Be mindful with whom you base your characters. See also #11. That’s all I have to say about that.
  14. Don’t be deaf to your inner critic. You have your mom and dad, cousin, brother, etc. tell you what you wrote is great, but that little voice inside you is saying “Yes, but…”. See #1, #5 and #6.
  15. Be excited about your story, but temper it. Writing is a passion, a compulsion. I get super duper excited that somebody wants to read what I wrote and I can go off on lengthy ADHD-fueled tangents about the story. If you find someone who wants to read it, let them read it and develop their own relationship with your characters.
  16. Don’t let your Ego get in the way. You’re not going to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or that woman who wrote that book about shades of gray. Just let that dream go right now. Go ahead. I’ll wait. [Insert theme to Jeopardy here]  Have you put it down? Do you feel lighter now that all that pressure is off? Good. Now go write something. Hell, write me a comment! Just go write.

 

 

All that I want

Your eyes, they did flutter again
And my mouth it did hang wide
When you told me ‘every little thing is going to be alright’

But we were younger then
And now we’re not
And if there was a plan made
Then we forgot about it
And if there was time
I could figure it out now
But life is short
And I don’t care for most of it
I don’t care for most of it
Because you’re all that I, all that I want
Because you’re all that I, all that I want
Because you’re all that I, all that I want
Because you’re all that I, all that I want

Well, I know I’m hard to take
And my bones are calling out your name
While I beat your cold windows
Break the locks on the gate
While I try to forget
I used to be something great

Because you’re all that I, all that I want
Because you’re all that I, all that I want
Because you’re all that I, all that I want
Because you’re all that I, all that I want

A woman and her bike – a guest post

Penny is a friend, triathlete, mother, nurse and just an amazing, kick-ass kind of woman.  penny

She’s also a poet, at least I think so. What follows are her words, not mine, but I share in the feelings.

“Loading the bike up for a morning ride. My enthusiasm is almost palpable. 50 miles with a few friends. Clicking and whirring my way through part of the fastest growing county in the United States.

This will be one of the most therapeutic rides I take part of this summer. I have ridden a few of these roads before and developed a vocabulary that combines my trucker genealogy with the Philly girl that resides in my soul.

Why? Why put myself in uncomfortable situations that provoke the nasty girl in me?
Because.

It’s therapy.
It’s gutter girl meets phd.

I am not trying to tell you are wrong. I am trying to tell you why you need to cater to you sense of adventure. Or maybe adolescence.

When I was 9-13 I rode my bike everywhere. My parents didn’t drive me. They simply did not have the time.
I can see myself, almost upright, chasing a few friends across the playground. Riding as soon as my mother would allow, on a Saturday morning, to my friend Patty’s.
I feel it in my soul.

You see an inconvenience.
I feel my heart beating a rhythm I can not control.

You lose 10 seconds to a minute, while waiting to pass me by.
I feel your respect, annoyance, and or anger beating on my left shoulder as I give my heart and soul to rise over (and out of) your way.

You give a me a foot. I feel a few inches and fear whether or not your mirror will clip my hip.

What I want you to see?
Your child.
Rather than a phone or game in hand, they have the wind in their ears.

What I want you to see?
Ambition.
The power of a biological machine combining with a man made one. Finesse and strength beating down a pavement.

What I want you to try?
Dust of your bike. Give 10 minutes of your soul to the wind and the air.

What I want you to see?
The sunrise . The sunset. Your legs beating a path down the open road.

What I want you to hear?
The wind. That’s it. You can not hear your phone. You are concentrating on whether you hear a car, or the echo from the local highway.

What I want you to feel?
You. All the aches, discomforts and power you can wheel. You are a machine. Tune it up and control it.

What I want you to embrace?
Freedom.
No one can teach you here.
I am not saying leave your phone behind. You may have someone who needs you.
But that’s the point. You can avoid life for a few. They will find you if the need you.

What I want to avoid?
An inconvenience to you.
Truly. I pick random times to avoid rush hour. I am not intentionally slowing you down. I am intentionally beating the hell out of myself, so that I can handle what the world throws at me.

Put someone you know on that bicycle.
How does it change you?”

Beta Readers – a double-edged sword

Writer Problems. @Lexi Lee M This looks like the type of comics you make!:

I obsess over the mundane. I can’t decide what to cut, even though I know it needs to be done. I needed help, but I am also wounded, how can I trust to hand over what has been already slashed as garbage?

And so, enters BR Number One, who was willing to chat with me daily, giving instant feedback on what was working and what wasn’t; what made him actually tear up (and that’s hard to do, being it’s a GUY), made him spit out his coffee, or give a belly laugh.

Number One (said in Captain Picard’s voice) is a male triathlete, somewhere in the Midwest. He just barely broke 40 years and has embarked on a journey to participate in an Iron Man this year.  We bonded over the ‘I am the Storm’ quote, as he uses this imagery to overcome his own obstacles in his life.

He finished the book this week and I sent him a bunch of questions about his experience, other than what we’ve already snarked over. I’ll share with you some of his comments:

Q: Was there a point at which you felt the story started to lag or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next?

Mainly when the author continued to hammer me about 7/15. I wanted to punch her in the throat a few times. She promised me she would refrain. She sits on a throne of lies.

Q: Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?

Yes, there was a lot of conflict and tension. Kept my interest but never felt overwhelming. However, there were some spots where I did look at the author over the top of my glasses and said, REALLY?

Q: Was the ending satisfying? Believable?

Yes, love that Loren is beginning to find her way out of the darkness and be able to positively channel her emotions. She’s growing as a character and that felt good. If she wasn’t able to resolve any of that I would have been sorely disappointed.

Q: Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?

Honestly, not sure I can answer this. I’ve never read anything in this genre before. I felt the two sides of the story were wonderful. The races were exciting and vivid and the love story was sweet. I do like the author’s writing style even if she is a complete pain in the ass at times and doesn’t always laugh at my jokes.

Betas can be worth their weight in gold and I have been more than blessed with THIS particular one, who has now become a valued friend.  Thank you, JB. 

The F-U Headwind 53 Miler

This weekend was supposed to be an early season century for me. Uh, yeah, no. Thanks to some nasty thunderstorms off the coast of Delaware/Maryland, winds were forecasted at 15-20 mph and boy were they ever.

Mind you, I’ve ridden in some nasty headwinds during my end of the season century in just about the same area of Maryland so this was expected. I haven’t done a distance greater than 50 miles this year as here in the Northeast, it been too cold/wet and I was going to be okay with any distance I could get out of my legs at this point.

What wasn’t expected was temperatures near 90 with humidity at 100%.

What was truly serendipitous is when we arrived at the registration tent in Bethany, DE, we were met with: “What are you guys doing here?” from a gentleman that approached my group of three.

Lo and behold, my two mates and I all had a connection to one person, Dr. Leo, although none of us knew it.  Dr. Leo had been a regular to my morning cycling classes until about six months ago (life got in the way, he says), Stacey knows him because he’s her children’s orthodontist and Andrew had a nasty spill on his bike several years ago and Dr. Leo saved his teeth.

I stayed hydrated and didn’t push too hard, even though Dr. Leo and I did drop our slower mates early on; not that we meant to, they were just slower with the winds. I demonstrated to Leo the benefits of drafting and the echelon but the wind, heat, and humidity took a toll on us, although we kept a respectable 15 mph average over 53 miles in a little over 3 hours.

What did surprise me is that Stacey and Andrew went on to ride 77 miles, pushing on until after 3pm (we started at 7:30am).  I could have eeked out another 10 to make it a metric but have to and want to are two very different things.

I did take a peek at my Strava and I could see the parts of the route where we dropped below 14mph but it wasn’t often and was either due to the wind or for crossings and traffic.

 

Showing my colors #TwinSix #FatCyclist.com