Tag Archives: change

Find what works and do that – a strategy for life goals as well as writing

Over the last six months I’ve lost 35 pounds.

Because of a variety of factors, over the last ten years my weight had slowly crept up to… a lot more than it ever was before. I decided I was ready to make a change. It’s been a hard journey and I still have another 15 pounds to loose to get to the goal weight set by my doctor.

I’m fortunate to have a number of factors working to my advantage. I have minimal emotional triggers related to my weight. Like most women (and many men) I’m impacted by the unrealistic expectations of society and the (false) assumption that healthy automatically equals thin (despite long-standing research and medical finding to the contrary). But I have not struggled my whole life with unsuccessful diets and toxic weight-loss expectations, as many people do.

My privilege includes:
– access to good healthcare,
– access to fresh quality food and the means to buy it,
– living in a neighbor where I can safely walk for exercise,
– possessing the means to pay for and go to a gym.

With all those advantages, my basic weight-loss strategy has been to exercise more, sleep more, eat less, and eat better. I record every single thing I eat, every day. There are a lot of good Apps around for keeping track of diet. I use one called My Fitness Pal. It’s free, although I paid $50 for a year without adverts. The food database is extensive and I rarely need to use the add-new feature, and the recipe add is easy. It’s basically a calorie-counter that (depending on settings) awards additional calories for activity – which motivates me to exercise. I sync the app to my fitbit and let it figure out how many calories I’ve burned.

I anticipate reaching my goal weight in another 3 to 4 months, then a few months more to figure out maintenance.

This is what has worked for me. I think the key to any sustainable life change, like a writing practice, is to experiment. Find what works for your unique self and do that.

Oh, and here’s the obligatory photo:

Miriah Hetherington hand

Still tight, but for the first time in years I can wear my (real) wedding ring.

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because purple is my favorite color

I’ve been wanting to color some of my hair purple (again) for some time.

Miriah Hetherington

Miriah with purple hair


This was the first time I used bleach to lighten (part of) my hair before coloring it. Seriously nasty stuff. I’m sure the fumes killed a spider that has been hanging around my bathroom sink. Also, after it was on, my hair got hot – really hot. I had to ask one of my twins if it was supposed to do that. The purple was easy, but I did have to be VERY careful to clean every accidental smudge right away.

a bee caught by a spider in Miriah Hetherington's front garden

Bee caught by a spider.


I love the lavender that is blooming in front of my house. The bees like it too. As do spiders, apparently.

Have you done anything unusual (for you) this summer?

Happy Writing

A Eulogy, sort of

This is a diversion from my usual posts. Something personal.

My ex-husband James L. Arther Jr. passed away on Sunday from liver cancer. I am sad for my beloved oldest daughter, the child I had with him. I’m deeply sorry she has lost her father. I love her dearly and she loved him.

I will admit that when Jim and I divorced twenty years ago, and in the years following when our daughter was a child and I had to interact with him, I may have wished for this day to come much sooner.

I’ve been trying to think of positive things to say about Jim.
*/four days of racking my brain/*
Uh… half of my wonderful oldest child’s DNA came from him. That’s the best I can come up with.

Lilacs at my house.

Lilacs at my house.

Jim was 19 years older than me. People wondered why I was attracted to him. It was because when we met our neuroses were perfectly matched. Back then I had extremely low self-esteem and believed I didn’t deserve to be loved. He craved unconditional love, and expected the people who loved him to constantly prove it. His “testing” reinforced my negative self-image and provided constant opportunities to earn his conditional love.

It’s my fault the marriage fell apart. I changed. After I started going to therapy, I began to believe that I was a worthwhile person and deserved to be treated as such. I recognized his emotional and verbal abuse for what it was. Jim liked our relationship the way it was and didn’t want to change.

There is so much more I could say, but already this is a little too personal. I do not regret being married to Jim, because I wouldn’t trade my oldest child for anything.

Rest in peace, Jim. But don’t be surprised if you rise again as a villain in one of my stories.

Happy Writing.

Why do I have this blog anyway?

It has been three months since my last blog post. This is the point where I insert an excuse. Or an explanation. Or maybe a list of exciting things I’ve been doing instead of blogging.

But truthfully, I just didn’t feel like writing blog posts.

When I started this blog, I thought every writer *should* have a blog. The theme I chose was my experiences along the way to becoming a published author. I’m still actively pursuing that goal. I have two short stories published.

But, two years later I know that a blog is actually NOT a requirement for becoming an author. I also arrived at the realization that a blog about me trying to get published isn’t particularly interesting, even to me. Personally, if I want blogger advice about how to write great stories and get them published I’m going to read the blogs of people who are doing it.

And my friends’ blogs. I read those.

This must be the point where I declare a new and inspiring theme. Except. Oh, wait; I don’t have one. Yeah, when I have a new theme I shall declare it. In the mean time I’ll be updating this blog with whatever strikes my fancy.

Miriah in 6th grade

Miriah in 6th grade


btw, it was my birthday on Monday. This photo was taken about four and a half decades ago.

Happy Writing.

Character Building in Layers

Photo of a lilac tree Miriah saw on her walk in Bellevue on 30 April 2013

Lilac tree in Bellevue. It’s Spring!

Looks like Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Happy Beltane!

I’ve been busy with real life, the kids, etc. Slushing has also kept me busy (since February 1st I’ve first-read 179 stories totaling 702,600 words).

About two weeks ago I attended a Clarion West ONE-day workshop with Mary Rosenblum “Step Into Their Shoes – Breathing Life Into Your Characters”. This workshop was amazing. Mary Rosenblum is not only a wonderful author, she is also a fantastic teacher. If you ever get the opportunity to take a class from her, I urge you to do it!

One thing I learned in the class is that depth can be added to characters during the editing process. An approach Mary suggested is to edit for characterization in layers, progressing to the next level on each pass.

Levels of Characterization
1. External – What the character does in reaction to physical stimuli.               (The first draft)
2. Internal – How the character reacts physically. Body language, facial expression, etc. that indicate thoughts, attitudes, emotions, etc.
3. Modify the internal reaction to convey a sense of backstory.
4. Modify the internal reaction with character faults that are known to the character.
5. Fine tune so that as the story progresses, character traits that the character is NOT aware of are revealed to the reader.

Photo of a fern Miriah saw on her walk in Bellevue on 30 April 2013

A tentacle fern, ready for Spring!

Here are some more things I’ll be thinking about when I try to create deep characters. (This is sort of from the notes I took in the class, filtered through my brain. Mary’s version and numerous insights were SO much better.)

Voice – What the character says and does.
I’ll be asking myself, would my character really SAY that? Because if I write a character speaking with my vocabulary instead of their own, then that character will sound like me instead of himself. I’ll also be asking myself, would my character really DO that? As the author, I am holding the puppet strings. But the reader should not be aware of those strings. So if I need the character to notice a clue or look out the window to further my plot, I’ll make sure she has a believable reason to look.

Environment – How the character is molded by their world and society.
It can be really easy to fall into the trap of having my character react to situations the way I would. But if (for example) I have created an oppressive world, then my character needs to reflect the pervasive world view. I will ask myself how my character has been affected by living in that society and how he has internalized that society’s ideals. Then I’ll ask myself if she is reacting in a way that makes sense.

Perspective – How the characters evaluate what they observe.
People are constantly noticing what other people are doing, and observing their environment. So I’ll be asking myself how my character relates those observations to themselves. How do they interpret the surroundings and people around them? What does it mean to them? A person who gardens will notice more specific things about a room full of plants than a person with no interest in plants.

Change – How the character changes over the course of the story.
I will remember that like regular people, characters don’t just have an epiphany and change suddenly. The character needs to change as the result of external stimulus and experience. In a character-driven story, the character should make one step along their character arc in each scene.

For more about getting into a narrator’s head, check out Cat Rambo’s recent blog post.

Happy Writing!

Change and a Haircut

Change is inevitable, I think we all know that. A lot of change we don’t have any control over. I’ll reframe from making a list because that would be endless. But some change is completely within my control. Like the length of my hair.

Miriah Hetherington, before haircut

Miriah before the haircut.

I’ve had long hair for most of my life. When I was little my mother kept it short, because she understandably didn’t want to deal with the effort involved. So when I was a kid, I always wanted long hair, and that desire stuck with me ever since.

Most people don’t change that much in their lifetimes, in my opinion. We can learn that there are more choices. We may even learn to control our behavior and make different, better choices. But, who we are usually stays pretty much the same.

Miriah Hetherington

Miriah with new haircut

I grew a little bored of my hair. I had to keep it braided most of the time otherwise it was in the way. Now, this short hair feels weird, like I’m missing an old friend. But hair grows back, right?

Hair Donated to Pantene program

Donated Hair

A few people have asked if I donated my hair to Locks of Love. That is a wonderful charity. When the twins were babies I donated my “pregnancy hair” to LoL. But Locks of Love doesn’t use hair that is gray or colored (they sell it) and nowadays my hair includes a bit of both. This time I donated to another charity my hair stylist told me about, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, that provides wigs to women cancer patients. Because not everybody gets to choose the length of their hair.