I Went to DC Reader’s Luncheon & Came Home with a Bucket of Awesome

My road trip pals run on coffee & laughter.
My romance gal pals run on coffee & laughter.

It’s 5:30 in the morning. I had too much sugar and excitement so I’m¬†hyper like a seven¬†year old and sitting around¬†trying to decide what was the most fun about the Washington Romance Writers Readers & Bloggers luncheon yesterday.

ROAD TRIP! I traveled up to the luncheon in Bethesda, MD with Joanna Bourne, Sue London, and Adriana Anders. ¬†This week I’ve been¬†writing furiously writing on my WIP, we had out of town guests–which if you‚Äôre like me requires some pretty intensive house cleaning, not to mention yard work, and¬†several other things were going on as well.

By the time I picked up¬†Adriana to head to¬†our rendezvous point I was so deep in absent-minded writer head I could barely figure out the gas pump at the station,¬†requiring not only Adriana’s helpful pointers¬†but some random man’s input¬†as well. ¬†Made it to¬†rendezvous point late and scrambled into Sue London’s car. ¬†Along the way we sang 80’s songs while I simultaneously tried to¬†put on make-up, and tie together¬†chocolate truffles and bookmarks with ribbons. Which is how I left a big gash of mascara on Sue‚Äôs immaculate car ceiling.

Sue was incredibly calm and gracious about the whole thing, even after I followed this up by spilling hot tea all over her car/my crotch. Doh.

WE’RE ALL CHARACTERS FROM A ROMANCE NOVEL:¬†At¬†this point¬†Adriana Anders, who was keeping up a funny running commentary the whole way, offered to help me out with the bookmarks and chocolate. ¬†She and Jo Bourne were in the backseat trying to get ribbons through tiny holes in the bookmarks and getting carsick in the process.

Sue pointed out that we were behaving¬†like characters out of a romance novel. So true‚ÄĒwith me as a¬†hapless, high-energy friend¬†that everyone had to help out of a¬†jam. ¬†Adriana said she didn’t mind being the side-kick as long as she got to have a potty mouth and be the slutty one (!) ¬†Eventually the bookmarks were all prepared, I stopped defacing Sue‚Äôs car, and we all arrived at the Italian restaurant just as Kimberly Kincaid, romance author & event organizer, arrived with her posse, including her¬†partner in romance crime, Avery Flynn.

Romance authors or super heroes? You decide! Robin Covington, Avery Flynn, and Kimberly Kincaid.
Romance authors or super heroes? You decide! Robin Covington, Avery Flynn, and Kimberly Kincaid.

BINGO!¬†When readers arrived, we played a bingo game ‚Äď where readers matched up authors with clues about the author or her¬†books. The clue for me¬†was ‚Äúwrites about Sexsomnia‚ÄĚ. Okay ‚Äď whoever thought of this (I‚Äôm looking at you Kimberly Kincaid) it was crazy brilliant. Soon we were¬†all¬†chatting with readers about our books, and some were even sharing smutty #fridaymanwars photos on their phones. ¬†I met Nerd Girl¬†from NerdGirlOfficial¬†who seemed very cool and very interested in my book.¬†Yaaaaaaaaay!

Gettin' cards from awesome romance bloggers.
Gettin’ cards from awesome romance bloggers.

LUNCHA-MUNCHA Then we all sat down to eat. I was at Avery Flynn’s table where I met three of her super-fans: Rheanna, Shawna, and Tina.

The gals discuss their fav romance book recommendations.
The gals discuss their fav romance book recommendations.

I got great romance recommendations from the gals and Shauwna was so excited to read the anthology.¬†I also met Valerie Halfin who has a very funny sense of humor. ¬†She’s pictured here with her new boyfriend, aka Robin Covington’s book cover.

Valerie canoodles with her new boyfriend, aka Robin Covington's book cover.
Valerie canoodles with her new book boyfriend.

TABLE GIFT BAGS: Geri Kertow was also at our table and told readers heartfelt stories about her military husband.  She brought our readers these huge mega-cute Halloween-y baskets full of chocolate, cozy socks and some of her Harlequin romantic suspense books, along with other fun stuff. Avery Flynn’s bags had champagne and lavender aromatherapy masks, along with books and chocolate.

Avery Flynn had champagne in her gift bag. Cause she's a class act is why.
Avery Flynn had champagne in her gift bag. Cause she’s a class act is w

Elizabeth Lane, who blogs at CookingUpRomance.com was at our table too. I didn‚Äôt get to talk to her nearly as much as I would have liked, but she was looking gorgeous in a retro green dress‚ÄĒand she even brought me two books we‚Äôd talked about on fb. (You‚Äôre so frickin‚Äô sweet, Elisabeth!)

Blogger Elisabeth Lane and reader. That's what it's all about.
Blogger Elisabeth Lane and reader. That’s what it’s all about.

GIFT BASKET GIVEAWAY: Dessert came with a gift basket give away ‚Äď and I must say the twenty or so baskets looked a-mazing. Elizabeth Lane won a basket from Hope Ramsay, queen of crafty.¬† This year she made a¬†Christmas themed basket, that included a¬†felt star shaped ornament decorated with beads and stitching–and Hope actually made it herself! (Why does no one take pictures of these things????) I bow down before her tasteful way of putting out thoughtful goodness to readers. ¬†Whatever she does it always has the same kind of simplicity and sterling character of her small town books.

I mean, who wouldn't want a homemade felt star for their Xmas tree?
I mean, who wouldn’t want a homemade felt star for their Xmas tree?

MINGLE-SCHMINGLE Then after dessert we were done‚ÄĒbut tell that to a bunch of women having a great time. Of course we stayed and mingled some more. I got to see one of my bestest romance buddies ever: Wendy La Capra! She was canoodling with some of her major fans ladies from the SOSAloha¬†blog and a few other ladies¬†who came down from New York and New Jersey just for the luncheon. Lurv you Wendy!

I also got to hang with Shari Slade who was wearing an adorable black dress with a tiny white heart print and shoulder cut outs. Shari is who you would have wanted as your cool older sister when you were in high school.  She is wise to the ways of pink hair dye and always brings just the right sort of hip fun into my romance world.  I just love her books too.

I mean, Shari Slade is the coolest ever.
I mean, Shari Slade is the coolest ever.

I got to say ‘hi’ to a reader that I met last year named Donna who was there again. Oh, and the Reading in Pajamas blogger Donna (a different Donna) was there as well, and she was just the sweetest woman.

Shawna is excited to read my book! Pinch me, I'm dreaming. :)
Shawna is excited to read my book! Pinch me, I’m dreaming. ūüôā

HOME, JAMES¬†I managed not to spill or deface Sue‚Äôs car all the way home. We were super chatty as we talked about diets and scarfed McDonald’s food. (Yes, I get the irony.) I arrived back home to a clean, quiet house. Our guests were gone, and I¬†tweeted my head off until ten-thirty then fell into a coma on our¬†bed with an alls-right-with-the-world feeling. Sigh. See you all next year. ūüôā

 

Juicy…

Doing a juice fast for 5 days.  (agggggh!)
Doing a juice fast for 5 days. (agggggh!)

WHY #2SIZES? This is a twitter hashtag created by two romance authors who want to go down two dress sizes by the end of summer.

(Is there a deadline? I’m just assuming. As they say, ‘A goal without a deadline is just a dream.’)

I begged and pleaded to join their cause. I’ve been tweeting out my fitness/healthy efforts and this weekend I’m starting a 5 day juice fast. ¬†So read on, my guppies, and learn all about it!

THE PROJECT #2SIZES:

Is about posting the stuff you did that was good for your body and health and confessing to the stuff you did that was bad.

I’ve gotten into it big time since I started two weeks ago. ¬†Spring is the time I recommence¬†my yearly grudge match with my couch potato genetic heritage. ¬†Actually, I come from a family of tall, strapping peasants. ¬†Historically our bodies needed to soak up fat or starve in winter. I am trying to be more positive about this heartiness and look on the bright side — it’s not that my body wants to be fat, but¬†if there was ever a siege of Virginia, I’d outlast you all.

In my quest to stop innate lazy inertia and a desk job from killing me softly, I want to Take Control of my body once again.

And I’m definitely NOT in control right now. By springtime¬†various deadlines, big projects, and winter colds have knocked me complete off my exercise schedule. ¬†It’s a scary thing to witness, people. ¬†About 9 to 11 days after I stop exercising regularly I want to eat the world–and in giant portions.

MY SIZES: Meanwhile, I’m looking at my closet where there are 4 pairs of jeans I can’t or don’t feel good about wearing. ūüė¶

Four pairs of jeans in -- funny enough -- two sizes.  "More runs with me please!" doggie sez.
Four pairs of jeans in — funny enough — two sizes. “More runs with me please!” doggie sez.

What we have here from the top is:

Size 18 skinny boyfriend capri jeans. ¬†I hate them. ¬†They’ve always been my ‘too large’ pair of jeans, but only up top. ¬†Skinny jeans were invented by imps from hell. ¬†When you’re a size 18 they are a bit of an oxymoron.

1 pair size 16 W jeans — these are the two button jeans next down. ¬†I could squeeze them on last year but they were tight and¬†exiled back to the closet. ¬†I look good in these jeans. ¬†When they fit.

1 pair size 18 jeans — black jeans, and yet, much smaller than the 16 W. ¬†Go figure. ¬†Haven’t worn them in years. ¬†Some would say toss them. ¬†I say Take Back The Jeans–I can do this!

1 pair size 16 jeans. ¬†I think I wore these in grad school — back when I felt fat for not being a size 14. ¬†Sigh. ¬†You can’t win people. ¬†The last time I felt fit and wore¬†size 14 like I meant it was in 2002. ¬†That’s a while ago, isn’t it?

So I’ve been tweeting in regularly. ¬†Do I really think I can get back into a size 14 by September? Hmmmm. ¬†I’d be happy just feeling good about wearing any of these jeans outside, frankly. ¬†That’s good enough for me.

I have so many OTHER reasons to hop on this whole #2sizes thing:

I no longer want to judge my body by where the biggest loser contestants are in the contest. ¬†Can you relate? I used to identify with contestants who were about to go home. ¬†Now, not so much. ¬†ūüė¶

By posting what I *did* do, I’m giving myself a pat on the back. ¬†Strengthening those good healthy behavior muscles in the process.

By posting what I did *not* do, again, I strengthen those will-power muscles. ¬†I stop what I’m doing, call myself out on it, and re-direct.

GOAL #1: EXERCISE

I want to get back to my exercise schedule (dogs walks each morning, and gym classes every afternoon). People, exercise makes my wheels go. ¬†I’m more motivated, my mind is crispy sharp, my cravings, anxiety, and lazy pants attitude are all stuffed away. ¬†With that in mind, by the end of summer¬†I’d like to be able to run five miles on the weekends without dying.

Inertia, Inertia, Inertia

I won’t lie to you — There are all these studies out saying sitting around is taking years off our lives. ¬†As someone who’s watched her feet swell through a¬†combo of having my period + urgent writing deadline keeping my butt in the chair — I am frightened by what inactivity may be doing to me.

GOAL #2 TAME MY CRAVINGS FOR DEMON SUGAR

No sugar until 4th of July. ¬†Okay? Okay. Speaking of demon sugar — I have genes that are super-duper susceptible to inflammation. ¬†It used to be that if I ate sugar I’d go a little hyper, and feel bleh afterwards. ¬†Then, a decade or so later, when¬†I ate chocolate, my face would always break out. ¬†Now if I have processed sugar in any form at all, my skin breaks out, I feel like I’m high–i.e. I just want to lay about and watch TV and eat–and the cravings for more food are¬†out of control. ¬†And sometimes–which is really scary–I never feel full. Seriously. ¬†Sugar is my cocaine, my cannabis, my alcohol…all rolled into one. ¬†Hell, I’m Madeline Iva and I’m a sugar addict.

I want to get back to my glowy complexion, and eating sugary things (including white flour products like bread and pasta) is something I should only do once¬†a month or less – like maybe on holidays or birthdays. ¬† I’ve had a whole¬†lotta sugar in my life time. ¬†I’ve had my fun. ¬†So no sugar until July 4th and then after that (other than a wee bit on vacation) Halloween. ¬†And it’s not just what sugar does to my head…

I’VE DONE THIS¬†JUICE FAST BEFORE:

My family also suffers from serious inflammation issues. ¬†Like multiple generations of colon cancer serious. ¬†And now I have found that fasting can tame the beast. Yes, a fast where I’m consuming calories but not fiber will take those inflammation issues right down to nothing. ¬†Boo-yah! ¬†And since my skin is pretty broken out right now, I think I’m due.

See, I tried this juice fast once before. ¬†Shame made me do it. ¬†My skin was getting more and more irritated, until my dermatologist said I had rosacea (which is a temporary rash for kids–but not¬†for adults). ¬†She indicated that I would have rosacea the rest of my life and be on three topical medications to quell it. ¬†So she gave me all this crap to put on my face, and yet throughout last¬†summer it got worse and worse.

People were like: what’s this weird sunburn/poison ivy on your face? I was NOT happy, friends. ¬†I had watched a video called FAT, SICK, and NEARLY DEAD about this guy who had an inflammation skin issue and went on a juice fast and his inflammation issues went away. ¬†Research on rosacea showed that it is actually an¬†inflammation issue. ¬†Since the juice fast worked for his inflammation issue–why wouldn’t it work for mine?

COOL FACTS ABOUT FASTING: Our bodies are made for fasting. ¬†You’re even fasting when you sleep at night. ¬†In fact, studies show you can weigh less just by not eating between, say, 7pm at night and 7am in the morning. ¬†Or by semi-fasting (eating only 600 calories) 2 days a week. Or even 1 day a week.

So what was it like fasting for four days? I didn’t totally fast. ¬†I had a small 200 calorie meal once a day. ¬†But I lay about the house and I was in grumpy head by the time it was done. ¬†It wasn’t bad, but I was staying close to home so that when I would get suddenly very hungry, I could juice immediately. However, my face cleared up drastically. ¬†Like the rosacea is gone. ¬†My dandruff went away too. ¬†I found that I got cold — I bundled up and that’s why I plan on having hot soup and tea ready to go. ¬†I know that after I ended the fast, I wasn’t very hungry and had no problem eating less for the next week and watching portion control.

JUICE IS NOT BOTTLED JUICE: I’m not going to be drinking orange juice from a carton or bottle or frozen concentrate. ¬†That stuff IS sugar. ¬†A glass of bottled juice from the grocery store has as much sugar as a candy bar.

Instead I’m juicing veggies with my juicer. ¬†And not just carrots and beets — these have a lot of sugar. ¬†Oh, don’t worry, I’ll have¬†some blended fruit smoothies too, but not very much and without any added sugar. ¬†I’ll make a ground up soup of broccoli and broth with leeks. ¬†I’ll eat on schedule too.

imgresThe key is to grind stuff up because you don’t have to shun calories all together for your body to go into a metabolic fasting state. ¬†You just have to avoid fiber. ¬†It’s the lack of fiber that tells your body you’re fasting. ¬†And you can’t just drink tea or water, that stuff runs right thought you. ¬†Soup or juices are ideal. ¬†Your stomach holds onto them and you feel full for the longest amount of time, but your body digests the nutrients.

The plan is to have¬†three large glasses of veggie juice three times a day and 2 small¬†glasses of fruit smoothie — banana, berries, apples, lemon, ginger — or some kind of similar combo–every day. ¬†This will satisfy my sweet tooth, and I’ll have at least one smoothie with a big tablespoon of peanut butter in it for some fat and protein. ¬†That will help me feel full.

So I’m wondering how it will go. ¬†Will I feel like working? This time I’m definitely going to get out of the house — do some gardening, try to get work done. ¬†Not super-brain work, but work in the garden.

Wish me luck — and follow #2sizes to see how it goes. ūüôā I’ll be honest, I swear.