Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gain to Lose

I've been stuck on my weight loss, so I started a new program at the gym. It's called Silver Sneakers. I asked if I had to buy new sneakers? Mine are taupe. The kid at the desk smirked and said I'd be okay.

Turns out it's an aerobics class for seniors. Isn't that a hoot? I peeked in the door and those seniors were sweating. Talk about intimidating!

Did I mention I hate to exercise? The location of my workout has to be close enough that I can't talk myself out of it before I get there. And believe me, I have lots of excuses lined up.

My gym is within a 15-minute drive from my house. So, I went to the first class with a friend. Hey, I wasn't going to make a fool of myself alone.

I started out the first week really great. The instructor had me collect a bunch of paraphernalia for the class. A rubber rope with handles, some miniature dumbbells, and a slightly squishy ball about 8" in diameter.

And here I thought I was going to jump around.

I did okay with the little dumbbells. But then they had us put that squishy ball between our thighs and squeeze it. Forever.

The rope thingie doesn't work for me, Instead of stretching, it lifts my feet off the ground. You try standing on one foot while pulling it out from under yourself. It isn't pretty.

Add to that all the jumping around, running, and grunting, well the next day I was sore. Everything hurt. The hubs? Oh, he was very sympathetic when he kept repeating, "No pain no gain."

I tried to tell him I'm not trying to gain. I'm trying to lose.

What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Journalist and Fiction Author Alexis Goring

Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and was especially delighted to have released her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When Alexis is not working on her next book or chasing down the next big story for the newspaper where she works as a freelance reporter, she can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with family and friends.

I love story collections. Tell us about yours.

My short story collections focus on fictional people facing real life situations in need of hope.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? What sparked this story?

My ideas for my books come purely from my imagination. Since I wrote the stories in my first book more than 7 years ago, I do not remember exactly what sparked the stories. God gave me the gift of writing and He often sparks my imagination. I tend to get ideas often and I write those thoughts down then take to my computer and keyboard in my free time, turning those ideas into stories.

Music is my muse—often a song inspires me to write a fictional story. Movies (romantic comedies) and television sitcoms are my inspiration—often I find myself pacing my stories like scenes from a television sitcom and writing the actions of my characters in the way I’d like to see it play out on the movie theater screen.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes! Since age 9, that’s when I remember thinking that I wanted to be a writer “when I grow up.” I was the kid who’d rather spend time in the school library than go outdoors to play at recess. I was the pre-teen and teenager who loved reading series like Sweet Valley High—I followed the main characters, identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield from their middle school years (which I read while I was in middle school) well through high school (which I read while I was in high school) and stopped after reading the first few books in their college series. The fictional stories of the Wakefield twins and their friends to this day play a role in how I shape my stories.

I started writing fictional stories at age 9 but became more serious about it (and the story quality improved) when I started high school. My first memory of a time where I thought I was good at being a writer and could do this full-time after graduating from college was my freshman year of high school when the Bible teacher (I went to a private Christian high school), asked us (the students) to write a modern day telling of a classic love story in the Bible. I think it was about how God brought Jacob and Rachel together.

Well, I went home and crafted this modern day tale of a real estate developer who chose her career over the man she wanted to marry. They lost touch after she relocated to take her dream job but they reconnected on an airplane flight years later because their assigned seats on the airplane were next to each other.

I still remember the scene I wrote where the leading lady was busy trying to type up a business e-mail for a project she was overseeing but the sun was in her eyes. She reached for the oval-shaped window to pull down the shade but before she can return to typing, her seatmate arrives and clears his throat. She looks up to see the man she left for her career and is speechless—he is just as ruggedly handsome as when she broke his heart. They recognize each other and that is all I remember!

It bothers me that I lost that story, cannot find it anywhere! But I do remember a few days after turning in the assignment to my Bible teacher, there was a college student that the teacher had visiting our class. The college student had read all of our stories but was most impressed by mine. He told the class when he was reading it, he thought, “There’s no way a high school freshman can write like this!” He said this with a broad smile and body language that showed he was very impressed.

He shared more encouraging words, complimenting me on my work but to this day, his initial congratulatory comment stands out in my mind because that’s when I knew that my writing skills were excellent and worth developing through educational classes which is why I majored in Print Journalism when I went to college.

Where do you write, a coffee shop, attic nook, or a cave? Describe it, please.

My favorite place to write is at home by the windows because the sunshine streams through the windows and I get a great view of the scenery outdoors. I enjoy writing in cafes like PANERA and Starbucks too which I believe are classic spaces for creative people to tune out the world and focus on their art of storytelling.  

Of all your characters, which was your favorite and why?

Oh dear, that’s a tough question because I love all of my characters! But if I had to choose just one to be, I’d choose Christina Caballero for three main reasons: 1) She works for a magazine as a photojournalist who doubles as a wedding photographer which is a career I dream of doing one day; (2) She struggles with weight like I do but meets her fitness goals in time for her sister’s wedding when she finally fits into her designer gown as the maid of honor. I don’t have a sister but I do want to meet my fitness goals soon and Christina’s hard work with her personal trainer at the gym paid off which inspires me in my real-life journey. (3) Eric Hazelton. He’s a handsome, intelligent and eligible bachelor who falls in love with Christina as they start a spontaneous and romantic courtship that leads to their happily ever after.

Share a few of the techniques you learned that changed the way you write.

I’m still learning how to improve my writing and the ACFW critique group I am a part of is helping me achieve that goal in a remarkable and wonderful way. Three techniques that I am working on are:
  • Point of view when it comes to the characters (who’s head the reader is in as they travel through the pages of my stories).I tend to “head-hop” between my characters. 
  • Dialogue tags—I tend to use too many, so I’m learning to only use dialogue tags when necessary. 
  • “Showing” verses “telling”. My training as a journalist makes this most challenging because in Journalism you “tell” your readers pretty straightforward exactly what’s “happening” in your story for the newspaper. Magazine writers know how to “show” better than “tell” because it’s a different writing style and industry standard. But since most of my experience thus far is in writing for newspapers, I’m wired to “tell” instead of “show” and that can be found in my fictional stories. I’m still working on learning how to show the reader what’s happening in my story through close attention to detail, setting the scene and portraying my characters’ thoughts, feelings and memories in a way that’s vivid and draws the reader in. It’s kind of like preparing an elaborate, delicious and aromatic four-course meal for my reader instead of just offering them a bottle of water and a few notes of what’s on the menu. 

Now for the fun:

Tell us 3 things your readers might not know about you.
  • Growing up, I loved to watch ice skating programs during the Olympics season! If I wasn’t scared of hurting myself on the slippery ice and getting dizzy from spinning, I’d practice ice skating for fun. 
  • I’d love to establish a franchise of restaurants on the East Coast that provide second-to-none vegetarian and vegan cuisine with dishes from around the world with my favorites being Indian and Filipino cuisine.
  • If I wasn’t a writer or photographer, I’d love to be a singer or an actress.
If you were a musical instrument, what would you be and why?

A piano because with it, you can create the most beautiful, elegant and moving music.

Hope in My Heart
Hope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope. In "Love Unexpected" a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, "The Best Gift" Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister's wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In "Peace and Love" three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents' divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

Thanks for hosting me on your blog today, Ane! You asked great and creative questions which were fun to answer.

You can find Alexis on her website, Facebook, and her Twitter handle is @pennedbyalex