- Try writing the scene from a different character’s perspective.
- Try opening you book from a later chapter and see how it affects everything. Try from Ch 2 or 3. Many agents say there’s way too much backstory in opening chapters and the manuscript opens in the wrong place.
- Give your character a fatal flaw you haven’t previously considered. Make them as multi-dimentional as you can.
- Let your characters react in a big way. Let them get mad, hurt, angry, sad, hysterical, etc.
- Switch the setting. Place your character somewhere totally new and see how they react.
- Consider the emotional arc of the character. What’s the one thing that would break them? Then make that happen.
- Make sure your main characters all have a personal stake in the story. Don’t let anyone be there for convenience.
- Look for instances when characters agree on something. What will happen if a character says NO instead? Put as much conflict into every scene as you can. All your dialogue should have some degree of conflict in it: emotional conflict, people that are at odds with one another, different agendas, unspoken fears etc. Good Conversation = Conflict
A lot of people are really surprised when they find out I don’t eat meat.
Oh. you’re one of those people.
Yep, I am. If you would have told me years ago that I would become a Vegetarian, I would have said you’re crazy. But… I’ve learned to never say never. I’m not going to try to sway your eating habits in this post- just in case you suddenly want to protect your bacon.
But I’ve had several people ask me about it so I’m going to share the most commonly asked questions with my meatless answers as well as give you some quick tips:
How long have you been a Vegetarian? A little over five years.
What made you decide to do it? In the years leading up to my switch, I noticed when I prepared the meat from a raw state I didn’t really end up eating it. I just sort of picked at it. I try to eat really healthy and I’m also a huge animal lover. I decided to educate myself more about what I was eating. I read some books and watched some documentaries. What I found changed the way I think about food forever. Here are two of books that had the biggest impact on me in the beginning:
The China Study– This book goes over the most comprehensive nutrition study ever conducted. It’s explores how diet is connected to disease- specifically cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Dr. T. Colin Campbell was a nutritional scientist at Cornell and spearheaded the extensive study via a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of preventative medicine. His data suggests that eating a whole-food, plant based diet will drastically reduce your chance of having these diseases, and it can also reverse the symptoms of of these diseases. This book is jaw-dropping. The factual data about a whole-food, plant based diet in relation to disease is astounding. Everyone should read this book.
Skinny Bitch– The catchy name is to snag your attention (it works!) but the two women who wrote aren’t actually trying to get you to lose weight by reading their book. They live a vegan lifestyle (vegan means you don’t eat meat or any animal product, so dairy is out too) and provide a lot of great information. One thing I loved about this book is that they encourage you not to just take their word for it- they want you check into what they are saying. I have to admit I came away from this raucous and witty read feeling like I everything I was eating was bad for me. I read it in one sitting and stopped eating meat cold-turkey… no pun intended. It was the day before the Super Bowl and my hubby had been marinating ribs for our Superbowl bash. I seriously think all I ate that day was carrots because I had no idea how to eat in a way that didn’t revolve around a main coarse of meat (more on how to cope with this problem below).
Forks Over Knives (Forks Over Knives Book, Forks Over Knives Documentary) is a documentary made by T. Collin Campbell (the father of the China Study) and Dr. Esselstyn, a top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task force for Cleaveland Clinic. Dr. Esselstyn had noticed many of the diseases he treated didn’t surface in areas where animal-based products weren’t consumed. Forks Over Knives puts food to the test for medicinal purposes.
Another amazing and staggering documentary is Food Inc.
I’m a believer that to elicit change in behavior a person must have a fundamental understanding of the REASONS behind their decision. My research left no desire for me to continue the way I had been eating. I made the change and I’ve stuck with it.
So… what can you eat? It’s funny because I remember asking myself that same question in the beginning. I think there’s a huge misconception that vegetarians basically eat salad for all their meals. I love salad, but I definitely don’t eat it every meal! Once I figured out my staples of substitution it became much easier. Here are some of my tricks:
- The meat in almost every dish can be omitted and/0r “beefed-up” some other way. For example I make a killer Veggie-Lasagna:
Brooke’s Veggie Lasagna
Layer the following three times-
Wheat Lasagna Noodles
Veggies- Diced up Zucchini, Squash, Red Pepper, Green Pepper, Spinach
Pepper-jack cheese with jalapeño
Top with layer of sauce and cheese.
Bake covered with aluminum foil at 375 for an hour. Take off foil for last 10 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the noodles are cooked through.
I’ve served this dish a zillion times to my meat eaters and everyone is completely full and happy.
- Add more veggies. You’d be surprised how many veggies you can pack into a dish to give it the substance you’re craving.
- Switch the meat for beans or lentils– lots of meat can be replaced with lentils, garbonzo beans/chic-peas, black or pinto beans.
- Replace the meat with vegetarian-meatless options or tofu. I’m not a huge tofu person, but there are lots of meatless options that taste very close to meat (check the health food sections of your grocery story). My very favorite substitution like this is Morningstar’s “Spicy Black Bean Burger.” It’s fantastic! I eat this a lot when we are BBQ-ing and I dress it up on a wheat bun with all the fix-ins. I also use this a lot as a substitute for meat in tacos. I just cook and dice it up, maybe add in some diced green chills and voila- tacos!
Here’s some of things I commonly eat:
Eggs loaded with veggies- bell peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, cilantro, avocado & salsa.
Fruit/green smoothies (protein powder, greek yogurt, banana, kale/spinich, frozen or fresh fruit, almond milk/soy milk/milk or 100% juice)
Cottage Cheese & fruit
Protein Shakes (I have a few different kinds, ranging from 9-32 grams of protein)
Crunchy Salads- I add LOTS of stuff into my salads. I think people would eat more salad if was presented better. Common things I put into a salad: Leafy greens, arugula (LOVE), bell peppers, cabbage, sunflower seeds, spinach, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers.
Black bean burgers on a whole wheat english muffin with guacamole, pickles, lettuce, tomato and mustard.
Hummus (did you know hummus is just pureed garbanzo beans with different flavors?) on pita chips or Naan bread (Costco has some awesome Naan bread you can freeze and just pop in the toaster).
Grilled Cheese Paninis- Smoked gouda cheese, cheddar & wheat bread.
Caprese Salad- Buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basalmic vinegar, fresh basil.
Yakasoba (broccoli, carrots, onions, bell peppers, cabbage with a soy/Worcestershire sauce served over noodles)
Taco Salad (Leafy green lettuce, kidney beans, black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, Doritos and Italian dressing)
A variety of soups (in the fall and winter)- Lentil, minestrone, butternut squash, tomato basil with wheat rolls
Veggie Curry (red potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, squash, onions, carrots and curry)
Burritos (flour tortillas, pepperjack cheese, refried beans, pinto beans, taco seasonings, spanish rice, salsa, guacamole)
Fancy Quesidillas (ground black bean burgers, caramelized onion, bell peppers, spinach, goat cheese, blue chip tortillas, sour cream)
These are just a few things I love and have in our rotation regularly to give you an idea of some vegetarian-friendly meals. If you would like to see other recipes I may use, you can check out my Healthy Food Ideas Pinterest Board.
What do you eat when you go out to dinner? I can find something to enjoy at almost every restaurant. Many times I just have them exclude the meat on a dish and load up on the other pieces of the entrée. The labeled “vegetarian items” at many places (at least near me) must not have been tried by someone who is actually vegetarian because they usually lack imagination. I tend to order a delicious entree and just request it without the meat.
How about fast food? I don’t get fast food very often. If I do it’s usually some sort of sandwich place where I can have wheat bread and lots of veggies.
What about when you go to someone’s house for dinner and they aren’t vegetarian? I never expect people to provide me with a veggie-friendly meal at dinner parties. I always bring something to contribute to that could also be my main dish. If someone is cooking specifically for me, I mention it ahead of time and offer to bring something.
Is your whole family Vegetarian? They still eat meat but not nearly as much. I love to cook and I’ve found lots of delicious and filling recipes that don’t have meat in them. I try to provide excellent meatless options for my family and let them choose what they want.
How do you get enough protein in your diet? It’s a common misconception that it’s hard to get the amount of protein you need with a vegetarian diet. Most veggies, beans, grains, nuts and seeds contain protein and as long as you’re varying your diet to include them you will be fine. Web MD says an average adult male needs about 56 grams of protein a day and an average adult female needs about 46 grams of protien (more if you’re pregnant or nursing).
I hope that you were able to learn something new about having a Vegetarian lifestyle from this post. If it’s something you would like to try, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can start out by adopting Meatless Monday’s and go from there. Or try out these Six Tips for Becoming Vegetarian.
I’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have. Except this one:
Have a great week! See ya next time!
That’s been the story of my life lately. I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons of life and how we choose what to focus on in each of them. I feel like I’ve been trying to rock it in so many different aspects lately it’s been a wee bit overwhelming. I’ve posted about Finding a Balance before and what I’m discovering is that you have to continually reassess what it means for you.
Summer is coming oh-so-soon and I’m feeling like I need a little more down-time and a little less push to be everything to everyone. This is difficult for me because I have a hard time relaxing until everything is done. But savoring life’s joys is one of the Traits of Happy People and I’m a believer in balance. I think I’ve been a little out of balance lately, and I’m trying to come up with a good plan to remedy this.
On any given day I try to pack in quality time with my kids and hubby, healthy meals, a workout, writing/editing time, reading (which really means audio-books while I’m doing house stuff), keeping my home clean and organized, maintaining/creating awesome living space in my yard, social media, and outside commitments. I’ve cut out TV since the end of last summer because I simply don’t have time. I’ve also been working extra hard lately on my writing commitments, trying to gain as much traction as I can. It’s been so much fun, but also very time consuming. I love, love, love my life and I’m so lucky to have my days packed with things I’m passionate about. I’m just feeling like I’m running from one thing to the next and I think I need a breather!
Especially as a mother it’s tricky to really keep on top everything because so much of your day can be altered in a split second by cute little kiddos. I would never change those moments- they are what make life sweet and meaningful. I’m just saying it’s easy to have a never ending to do list and it can be tempting to tally your day by what you’ve accomplished. But that can leave you feeling perpetually behind and unsatisfied.
I’m trying to change my metric of success. I want to look at it more in terms of quality of life- did the things I chose to participate in today make me feel happy? Closer to my family? Relaxed? Fulfilled?
My new goal for the summer is to breathe in life’s moments and not be in such a hurry. To Be Present and relax a little.
I think I seriously need this tattooed on my forehead.
Hope you all have a good week! I’m working on my Top Summer Reads like I did for the Summer of 2013, so look for those soon!
As a voracious reader, I love to find complex characters that that move me- the kind I’m rooting for and the ones I love to hate. The more you understand why you’re identifying with your favorite characters, the better you’ll become at choosing books you can’t put down.
Typically, the main characters can be broken down into the protagonist and the antagonist- they’re pretty easy to spot: the protagonist is the one we’re rooting for and the antagonist is the one in the way of the protag’s goal.
But this is where it gets interesting. The characters who move me the most are intricately layered. The hero has several flaws that at any moment could be his/her undoing. And my favorite villains have a sliver of humanity in them- a reason to hope for redemption.
Think of Dexter (Dexter Book Series and Dexter TV Series)- the Miami Forensic specialist who is a serial killer- the caveat is he’s only killing other serial killers who have slipped through the legal system and pose a significant threat. So you want to hate him… but he’s saving lives, so it gets a little complicated. He’s the protagonist in the series, but his “dark passenger” gives him an unexpected depth that leaves you questioning if you love him or hate him.
Consider Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada Book and The Devil wears Prada Movie). She is one of the most powerful women in the business. She gets what she wants with possess poise and grace toward those she wants to impress. But we love to hate her because she’s so heartless to her staff. She’s the antagonist, but we briefly catch a glimpse of a few redeeming qualities, leaving you to wonder if all her nastiness is a product of her situation.
Jay, from The Great Gatsby (The Great Gatsby Book and The Great Gatsby Movie) is a man of ambition. We admire his tenacity and his passion- we identify with him because we all want to make more out of ourselves. But as the story unfolds from the view of his neighbor, Jay’s shallowness is exposed, leaving us with that sick feeling of a disappearing mirage.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Book and The Hunger Games Movie) is the protagonist of this series but in order to save her sister and herself, she has to kill many other innocent teenagers. You don’t want to root for a murderer, but her circumstances force her to do what she does, so you can get behind her motives.
And of course we can’t talk about layered and complex characters who get lost in their fight for good without mentioning Walter White. Walt from Breaking Bad is a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer. In his quest to provide for the family he will leave behind, he begins cooking and selling Meth. Walt is about as complex of a character as you can get, and we both love and hate him.
As a writer, I try to infuse as much depth into my characters as I can because that evokes emotion and moves us. Everyone has flaws, everyone tries and fails. That’s what we want as readers- to feel the humanity of our favorite characters. To identify with them and then question what you would do in their situation.
The next two books we are reading at Delicious Reads both have complex characters that I’m really excited to read and discuss!
In The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty (our May selection to be discussed at the beginning of June), the lives of three women are intertwined when Cecilia Fitzpatrich finds a letter from her husband that is only supposed to be opened in the event of his death. The secret held in the envelope will make her question everything.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is the June selection that I will be moderating at the beginning of July. I’m SO excited about this book!! Little Brown & Co. invited us to be one of their Book Club Insiders and generously sent us copies!! Delicious Reads loves Little Brown & Co!
The Goldfinch just won The Pulitzer Prize! Congrats Donna Tartt!! It’s the story of Theo Decker, who survives an explosion at a museum that kills his mother. It’s in this dire moment that he’s entrusted with a painting of a Goldfinch that changes his life forever. Theo is a very layered and complex character and I’m so excited to discuss everything about him. I’m not going to reveal anything here because I don’t want to spoil your read. Just trust me, pick up this book!!
Hopefully this post helps you understand how to pick out the complexities of your favorite characters, allowing you to appreciate your favorite heroines, heroes and characters you love to hate.
See ya next time!
If this statement by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do,” was literal, what kind of person would you be? If you pooled all the ways you spend your time and organized them into percentages, what one thing would hold most of your time? Hopefully it’s something you’re passionate about.
Let’s break it down even further- take a minute to identify the top five ways you spend your time and then ask yourself this: Is one item in pursuit of something you’re passionate about?
I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to create something authentically yours in this life. To improve something around you and give back to society in some way is daunting. It’s so easy to become complacent- or not even complacent, just busy!
Some of you may have seen this before, but it’s a perfect illustration of this very concept- a man put together this visual presentation using jellybeans, to represent the amount of time we have to devote to everything in our lives. It’s pretty compelling…
It really made me stop and think about how I’m spending my free time. This goes back to having goals or benchmarks of some sort so that you can measure your progress and keep motivated. Even something silly like a Bucket List can help you try to achieve things you otherwise might not be focused on.
If you haven’t carved out a niche for yourself yet, don’t worry. My best advice would be to figure out something that you’re passionate about and think about how you can do it on a larger scale, or in a way that can benefit others. If its something you’re interested in, other people will be too. Maybe there’s an experience you’ve gone through or a life struggle that has you made you stronger. Find a way to help other’s navigate the same thing.
Hopefully this post has jarred some thoughts or feelings loose in you. Hopefully when I mentioned something you’re passionate about, you knew exactly what that is for you. Or maybe you’ve already started and you can think of this post as a boost for you to continue. Go be you.
Be protective of your time. Because you only get so much.
See ya next time!
Today I want to share some of my new favorite things with you. Well, they’re not really new, but they are new on my radar. And because its SNOWING, I’m protesting anything cold. I’m SO ready for endless sunny days! But I digress… Ok. Here some things to cheer us all up:
My good friend Kelly let me in on this awesome app called Gratitude 365. It’s basically a quick, visual way to help you focus on something awesome in your life each day. It’s free and easy. You just snap a picture and you can add a tag line if you want and BAM it’s saved and easy to view in a list or calendar form.
These are my new favorite go-to workouts. They’re on youtube and they are so much fun! These two women have created these fun and quick workouts along with a nutrition plan. I’m loving their workouts! Plus it’s extra motivation because they do the workouts on the beach…. so it makes me excited to get toned for bikini season!
I’m almost ashamed to admit that Bloglovin in new to me! It’s basically a way to have all your favorite blogs pulled into one feed, and it’s also a way to give your own blog more exposure. There are SO many blogs I never would have heard about otherwise! You can find my profile HERE.
So before you get too excited… it’s not available yet. I saw it the other day and I’m dying for it to come out! You have to try it for yourself. Click the link– you’ll freak out. It’s like when I found out you can listen to audio books on 2x the speed- changed this little book-lover’s life.
So, that’s what I’ve got for you today! Hopefully this snow will melt soon and I can have some new favorite things OUTSIDE.
See ya next time!
While thinking about what topic I wanted to discuss today, I stumbled on THESE QUESTIONS that are psychologically intended to bring people closer. You can go through them with a good friend, family member, in a group setting or even on a social media site. If you ask these questions to someone you’re romantically involved with it will raise the stakes and make things interesting! The questions are designed to target specifics that will reveal a persons character/hopes/intentions/regrets etc.
Today I thought it would be fun to answer some of them, so you can get to know me better. I’m going to choose 10 random questions. If there’s one you really wanted to know that I skip, next time you see me… ask away. If you want to take part or answer some of them, I would love to hear your answers too.
39 Thought Provoking Questions
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
No, I don’t think I would want to be famous. I like my privacy and I’ve already been through times where I’ve been judged up and down. I don’t really care to go through that again, although I would handle it much better now. I would like to be influential in some way, leave my mark on the world, but I don’t think that necessarily equates to being famous. If I was famous for something I would like to think it would be for something I’m passionate about… maybe from writing a book someday.
3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?
No. I think I’m better when I’m just real and off the cuff. If I think about something too much I might talk myself out of it. I’m a believer in saying things that need to be said, even if it’s hard. Lay it all out on the table. Life’s too short to be anything other than boldly authentic.
4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
I sing all the time! I used to perform quite a bit and miss doing that. Let’s see, the last time I sang to myself was in the car ride back from the library with my little man an hour ago, and I was rocking out to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Pharrell’s “Happy.” The last time I sang to someone else was last weekend when I was doing yard work and had music blaring on the jambox. Does that count?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or the body of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
Happy Valentines Day!!
Today is your day to revel in all that we’ve accomplished with the “30 Days to Love Yourself Project“ I designed. Thank you for taking this journey with me and for all your participation.
Here are links to each post to go along with the recap collage above. Sending all my love your way!
Happy Love Day!! xoxo Brooke
30 Days to Love Yourself Project
Day 30!!! YAY!
Put your best foot forward- Dress up, let the sun in, laugh as much as you can, turn up the music, spend time with loved ones, celebrate your uniqueness, acknowledge the strides you’ve made, appreciate your body, your mind, your heart and love with wild abandon.
Congratulations on making it to our 30th day in the project! I hope that you’ve been able to learn some things about yourself, stretch your limits and have some fun along the way. Tomorrow is Valentines Day. I love the idea to celebrate love by starting with yourself, which is the thought that started this whole thing. I designed this project to bring us full circle- back to the beginning.
My final thought I want to leave you with is this:
You are enough.
Everything in your being, exactly as it is right now- no more, no less, is as it should be. You are enough.
You have been though things. Hard things, that have changed you and left scars. You are enough.
You are loved. You don’t need validation from someone else for this to be true. Reach deep yourself and you will find it. You are enough.
You are beautiful inside and out. You are enough.
You have things to contribute to this world that no one else can. You are enough.
If there’s one thing I could etch onto your hearts after this month, it is that you are enough. You’re not broken, or ugly, or out of shape, or boring, or lazy, or unloveable. You are enough. Just the way you are.
Revel in that.
My friends, on this Valentines Eve, and at the end of this project, I hope you’ve been able to internalize the things we’ve done to help you appreciate yourself and all you have to offer. I hope you feel rejuvenated and ready for whatever you have planned tomorrow, feeling confident and happy.
All my love, Brooke
(If you missed any of the previous days of the 30 Days to Love Yourself Project” you can read the posts HERE.)
Day 29: Splurge! Do something, purchase something, or go somewhere that will put a huge smile on your face.
The Blurb: We did some heavy lifting yesterday, so today’s topic is really light and fun. Today I want you to do something that makes you insanely happy. Something that you don’t usually get to do that will make you grin from ear to ear.
Suggestions: It has to be something that means something to YOU. If you’ve been saving for a shopping spree, go. If you want to spend some time with a good friend, do it. If you just need a night out, make the arrangements. Maybe you just want to track down that waffle truck and try those waffles everyone raves about. Some of you might just want a quite night at home. Or maybe you want to binge-watch a series. Whatever it is that will make you feel lighter and happier, do that.
Keeping It Real: Remember that the whole point of the “30 Days to Love Yourself Project” is to spend time on YOURSELF as we lead up to Valentines Day. Think about what you’ve been focusing on and see if there’s something that will line up with things you’ve discovered about yourself over the last 29 days.
For my Splurge today, I joined a Recreation & Fitness Center! I’m really excited about this because I’ve been wanting to ramp up my fitness and have a fun place to take the kiddos. I also moved recently and so I’m excited to meet some people in my new area. This was a really fun splurge that furthers some of the things I’ve been thinking about during this project.
Photo of the Day:
Alright guys, we only have one focus left! Thank you for all the comments and for participating in my little project. It’s been great to have something to think about each day and to learn more about you and things you’re working on. I’ll see you tomorrow, on our last day before Valentines Day. By now you should be feeling the love!
Here’s the CATCH UP POST and if you want to see what tomorrow’s all about…. here ya go!