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How Does Your Writers Group Work?

7 Aug

Right before I left for vacation, my writers’ group met. To get my mind off how stressed I was about the trip, my husband insisted that I go. Normally, a member of the group volunteers to run the session and talk about an aspect of writing that they know about or have researched. This time, no one had volunteered.

This group used to have a library staff member assigned to it who would think of the topic. Since she left the library, we’ve taken turns running it. It’s become a bit tiresome with only a few members coming frequently and talking about topics they feel knowledgeable about. We’ve had to repeat topics and many people have dropped off because of the repetition.

This meeting, we talked more openly about how we come up with ideas for writing and how we structure our writing. It was a good discussion, but a lot more free-form than we’re used to. We tried to decide if we thought this was a good thing or not and decided that different isn’t bad and that we would try a different format for our next meeting.

Next month, every person is supposed to come with 5-10 minutes of material to talk about. It can be something you know or something you’ve just looked up but this should take pressure off of the people who are always presenting and get more people invested in running the group. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but it will be a nice change.

Does anyone else belong to a writers’ group that’s not a critique group? This is the first group I’ve been a part of that didn’t focus on what was already written. We’ve done some short critiques in the past but it’s never been a focus. I’m curious if there are any other groups who work like us.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 25-July-2018

25 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


I’m on vacation! I’ll be back in two weeks with updates on what I’ve been reading while waiting in airports. Today I’m leaving Belfast and am on my way to Barcelona! Hola, sol y mar.

I’ll be checking the blog and reading comments as time allows. If I don’t get a chance to say it later, happy reading!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

My 5 Least Appropriate Summer Reads

12 Jul

Summe reading gives off the idea of sitting on a beach with a nice, light book in your hands that you’ll read a few pages of between sunbathing and splashing about in the water. These books are usually fun thrillers or heartfelt dramas. Many bookstores put them on an endcap so you can find them.

Well, I’m terrible at seasonal reading. I never read ‘Christmas’ books in the winter and my summer reading books are whatever’s next on my TBR. I went through my Goodreads history and pulled the five least summer-y reads I’ve read during the summer months. Here’s a countdown.

5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
There’s nothing overly un-summery about this book, to be fair. However, I’d challenge you to find a lot of other people who want to listen to satirical plays while they’re doing outdoor summer runs. I bet I’m in the minority of this one. It does hit the mark for being short and ‘light’ in topic, but I think I’m a bit non-traditional in this pick.

4. The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff
I can blame this one on the book club. This was a pick for a summer month but the topic was far too dense and a bit dry. It didn’t keep me reading long at the poolside before I fell asleep so I’d say this one puts you at risk of a sunburn. Best to avoid it while working on a base tan.

3. Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt
My most recent fumble. There’s no time to read a business book than during the two months you get between semesters from business school. Interesting, yes, to be sure. What I wanted to spend my time off reading, not so much. I’m the only one to blame here. But like I said, it was next on my list so I read it. I have no method to this madness.

2. A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
Before I get murdered for having this on my list, please read on. The topic of these books is great for summer reading. It’s engaging and gives you great things to talk about with your friends who also like dead characters and dragons. However, holding one of these bad boys up on the beach is a wrist workout and a half. It’s hard to keep one of these babies supported with a pillow, let alone your poor hands. These are better suited for winter reading when props to keep the weight up are abundant on the couch and snuggled in bed.

1. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
This will forever go down as the least summer-y book I’ve read in the summer. It’s a great account of Teddy Roosevelt traveling down a river in Brazil and the scientific mapping of a tributary of the Amazon river. The issue is that I had this book due to my book club and was so dedicated to finishing it before the meeting that I took it with me on my honeymoon to Mexico. So I’m sitting around a pool with all-you-can-drink service trying to concentrate on the timeline of the history and slogging through details so much that I forgot to look up and enjoy the ocean. My mom teased me. All the people in my book club teased me. And, of course, my new husband teased me (and likely reflected on a life-long promise he’d recently made). I don’t think I’ll ever live it down.

Are any of you as bad at this as me? What’s the least summer-y book you’ve read so far this summer? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Happy Independence Day!

5 Jul

I violated my ‘no work, no post’ rule yesterday to continue with WWW Wednesday. I’m taking today off to celebrate the 4th of July. I’ll be hanging with my tri club for a workout and likely seeing my nieces and nephew. It should be a nice and relaxing time.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: Triathlon

28 Jun

I’ve been building to this Off Topic Thursday topic for a while now. Did anyone else notice my last three months were swimming, biking, and running? This month, it’s all about combining the three and talking about triathlons!

I did my first triathlon in 2004 when I was 14. It was a sprint distance race that I did with a friend on my swim team. The joke was on me because that friend was a runner and I was not. It went OK but I didn’t return to triathlon until 2014 after I got married. I looked up my results and all I can say is at least I got faster! I tried on my own through 2014 and 2015. At the end of 2015, I was suffering from bad knee pain when I ran and was limited to about a mile before I had to stop walking. Biking wasn’t so bad but it still wasn’t good. I was about to bow out of my last tri of the season, which I’d already registered for when my husband and a friend suggested we do a relay. It’s the only one I’ve done to date and I have to say it was amazing and I hope I can do another one again.

Fist place Sprint Relay team! Go Team Bishop!!!

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In 2016, I decided to get serious and hired a virtual coach. I’ve met him in person a handful of times since he lives ten miles from me. He’d send me workouts to do each day and help me increase mileage and intensity of my workouts. With his help, I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon in September of that year.

I continued with my coach in 2017 and also set a crazy goal of doing a race per month. I over-committed and ended up with more than one per month and a total of 5 triathlons (2 Olympic, 3 Sprint). The schedule was a bit too much for me and I didn’t perform very well. However, I got into a great rhythm with my training.

I decided not to retain my coach for 2018, but I’m keeping him in mind for some goals I have for next year (keep reading). I joined a club team this year and last week I did my first tri as a team member. It’s fun to have a community that will push me instead of relying on myself. I’m hoping to participate in more of the workouts now that my class is over and I have a lot more time during the week. I’ve been taking part in weekend swims since January but it’s time to change my focus to triathlon as a whole. I have one more race this year, an Olympic in September on a course that I’ve done twice already and am excited to dominate again.

I do have one crazy goal. Well, half crazy. I want to complete a Half Ironman in 2019. The September race I’ve done has that distance as an option and I think I can do it. I’m doing a half marathon later this year to remind myself how much training this will involve but I really think I’ve got this. School will be done and I can devote more time to biking and running (I think I’m good on the swim).

I want to do a few sprint tris next year as well. I came really close to breaking 1:30 last week and I think I can do it! I just cramp up like I did before. That would be a good way to end my run. I’m thinking of focusing more on open water swims in 2020 along with some road races. I really just don’t like biking, haha.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

My Last Day Off (?)

26 Jun

I hate doing this again, but I’m taking another day off this week. My final is tonight (!!!) and I spent the weekend studying and celebrating a family wedding. Needless to say, not much writing got done. And not much reading. Unless you count class slides. Which I don’t.

I do have a post planned for Thursday so please check back and see my Off-Topic Thursday post for the month. It’s one I’ve been building to for a while and I’m really excited to share.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

When Life Gets in the Way of Reading

25 Jun

You all may have noticed that in the past two weeks I’ve finished 0 books and I’ve taken two days off from blogging to keep the rest of my life under control. I’m very fortunate that this was foreseeable and not related to any kind of crisis. It’s school, work, and family coming together to be as intense and frustrating as possible all at the same time.

On a normal day, I’ll read some of 3-4 different books. I’ll take you through a typical day (and hopefully answer consistent questions about how I read so many books at a time) and explain how things have been different the past two weeks.

I typically wake up around 5:00am. On days I go for a run, I listen to my eaudiobook and get in about 40 minutes this way. On days I head to the gym to swim or attend spin class, I’ll get maybe 10 minutes of my car audiobook in during the drive. Total (average) reading time: 25 minutes.
This part of my day hasn’t changed much. Over the past two weeks, I’ve taken a few more days off than normal. So instead of this happening 4 mornings a week, it’s happening 3. I’m going to stick with an average reading time of 25 minutes.

During lunch 3 days a week, I read at my desk while I eat. This gives me about 30 minutes to read the ebook I keep on my phone, which is why that book is a rather slow one for me. Total reading time: 30 minutes.
I’ve been studying and reviewing notes during lunch since my class started. I don’t have much time at home to do these things so getting them done during lunch is a great option. Total reading time: 0.

After work, I usually head home and get about 15 minutes more in with my car audiobook. Total reading time: 15 minutes.
While in school, I’m driving to campus twice a week which gives me about 30 minutes in the car. This is the only area where I’m getting more book time in than I normally do and can be attributed to why I’m getting through car audio so much faster than normal. Total reading time: 30 minutes.

I normally cook dinner and listen to an audiobook while I do that. I use the eaudiobook on my phone for that. Total reading time: 20 minutes.
While in school, I’m eating while reading more notes and reviewing presentations and test material with classmates. No reading time here.

I like to get ready for bed early, around 9:30, and read in bed for 20-30 minutes before turning the light off and going to sleep. It really helps me unwind before falling asleep. Total (average) reading time, 25 minutes.
I’ve cut back to about 10 minutes if I even read at all for the past few weeks. I’m so exhausted after getting home after 9:30 that I don’t need to unwind much and I can fall asleep immediately. Total (average) reading time, 5 minutes.

So that gives me a normal total of 1:55 minutes of reading during an average day and over the past two weeks, an average of 1 hour per day. It makes sense that I’m at almost half speed for my reading when I look at it this way. Life is getting in the way.

But that’s OK. Life does this sometimes and I haven’t stopped reading completely. I’ll get back to it and it’s coming soon. My final exam is tomorrow (!!!) and after that, things will be much calmer in my life. Maybe I’ll enjoy the summer weather and read outside. Maybe I’ll go for some more long runs and listen to audio. Perhaps a car trip and some long audio with my hubby. I have to remember that “This too shall pass.” I’ll find the time when I can.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Another Day Off

21 Jun

I hate to do this again, but I’m taking another day off. Second in two weeks! I know this is unlike me. My class ends next week so I’m very hopeful that this can be the last time and I’ll be back in action next week. Wish me luck on a good final paper and final exam! I’ll be at a wedding this weekend so studying might be a challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Day Off

14 Jun

I’m taking a much-needed day off. I’ll be back on Monday and should have school and life better under control. Look for a book club reflection and (maybe) a movie review!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursdays: Running

31 May

It’s time for another Off-Topic Thursday! With the last two months being swimming and biking, I bet you’re not surprised that this month is running! I bet you can guess what next month will focus on. I’ll have to get creative at some point.

I never liked running. In high school, I was a swimmer because it meant you didn’t have to run. Well, it was minimized compared to other sports at least. I felt winded when I ran and it always felt uncomfortable. After I got married and settled into a desk job, I needed something to keep me moving so I started biking and realized that with the swimming I’d done since I was a child, I was 2/3 of the way to a triathlon. The final hurdle was running and I finally had the motivation to do it.

My running started small as my triathlon dreams were small (sprint distances end in a 5K). I was running 1-3 miles 3-5 times a week and feeling good about it. Then I fell. It wasn’t a bad fall and I’m not sure it caused my knee pain but it was there when I started running again at longer distances. I went through a round of physical therapy and came out the other side no better. It was time to try something new.

I found a virtual triathlon coach. He lives about 15 miles from me but we rarely see each other and he trained me for two years all via text and an app called TrainingPeaks. With this coach, I started doing strength exercises and building up my support muscles. Then I started running. I remember the joy of my first 4-mile run. The first year, I topped out at 7 miles in a run. The second year, he coached me to a half marathon.

Husband and I after the Detroit International Half Marathon.

My goal for next year is a Half Ironman Triathlon which ends in a half marathon so we’ve signed up for another one later this summer. I like to do a race per month and that’s involved a few 5Ks so far, mostly fun ones with friends but one race where I ran my PR. I’ve got a few 10Ks and a 5-mile race lined up through the rest of the year, too.

I’ve learned to really enjoy running and racing. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be super fast to still have fun, though it is great to place in your age group. There will always be people faster than me but there are usually people slower than me, too. I have fun right in the middle. I have a lot of friends in the same boat and we enjoy doing these events together. It’s also a great bonding moment for my husband and I. We run together at least twice a week and he always pushes me. I love and hate that.

Survived the snow and both broke an hour! Triple crown winners.

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I think I’ll scale back to 5Ks and 10Ks once I do my Half Ironman. I love this community and the support I’ve felt from it since I started running. One of my goals is to do an event in every county in Michigan’s lower peninsula. Fun little 5Ks will be a great way to accomplish this. I’ve filled in a few more since then, but I’m tracking on a map in my bedroom.

Even if you’re not a runner or have no aspiration to be 5K events are a great way to get out, be active, and enjoy the weather. I sometimes think the people walking with strollers and dogs are having much more fun than me. Even on a rainy day, you can still have a good run. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow for a good one myself.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!