Friday, February 22, 2013

On Story Development and Story Engineering

About two weeks ago I was able to go to a special story development workshop hosted by Matthew Luhn.

If you've never heard of Luhn, he is the head of story at Pixar Animation Studios! The guy has an amazing story... Raised Jewish, family business was a toy store... Went to California Institute of the Arts, got a job at 19 years old working as an animator on The Simpsons, went back to school, then was hired at 22 years old by Pixar. Worked as an animator on Toy Story and then worked his way up as a story developer on lots of Pixar favorites, including the rest of the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and Cars!

I loved what this guy had to say about crafting stories with strong and believable characters. Some of my favorite takeaways from his seminar were:
  • Character defines action. Know the characters you are writing about!
  • Fear or deeply rooted passion should be what drives character choices in the story.
  • Characters are who they are through their choices when faced with change.
  • Most memorable character arcs revolve around one of two options:
    • A character who must learn to have courage (hardening of a character)
    • A character who must learn to care (softening of a character)
  • The protagonist's choices lead the story. There must be something the protagonist wants more than life.
  • Heroes don't need to succeed in order to be a hero. They just need to try - audiences admire try more than success.
  • The antagonist and protagonist need clear goals that should oppose each other (although sometimes the goals may seem eerily similar - it is how the characters act and the decisions they make that are different).
  • The protagonist is only as compelling as the forces of antagonism compel him to be.
To find out more about Matthew Luhn or to see if he is speaking at an event near you, check out his personal website! I'm so glad I got the chance to attend his workshop. It was very encouraging to my story-luvin' heart!

Another very helpful resource for me lately has been Larry Brooks Story Engineering. I've mentioned the book on the blog before and if you are thinking about writing a book or in the midst of writing one, I highly highly highly recommend his book! And if you're feeling cheap, at least check his blog out. I wish I had read Story Engineering years ago (although it wasn't published years ago so that still wouldn't have worked).

I specifically recommend his blog series on story structure.

I also really loved the last page of Story Engineering. I had to take a picture. It was one of the only times that Brooks waxed poetic (most of his book is clear-cut, a bit humerous, easy-to read, and very practical).

I want to become a story! Yes! :)
Okay, time to stop blogging about writing and get back to writing. For the curiously-minded, I have about 75% of a rough draft finished. I'm bouncing back to story structure and working on cleaning up the climax of my story. Personally, it's been a struggle for me to craft the climax!

I think the answer lies in getting to know my characters a little better and then using character-driven action to fill in the blanks of the necessary plot points.

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
- Ray Bradbury

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Healthy Heart, Happy Heart

Happy Valentine's Day!

Or for those of you that prefer not to celebrate mushy "I Love You" greeting cards and chocolate overloads (wait... is there such a thing??)...

Happy Heart Day!

In honor of keeping your ticker healthy (regardless of whether it's so you can make your lover swoon, or not), I'm offering a special Shaklee Valentine's Day sale:

Happy Valentines Day!

Receive a $5 rebate on any OmegaGuard or Mighty Smarts purchase. Combine both for a special membership offer (email me for details- BONUS: Purchase ANY other Shaklee product with your combined order of OmegaGuard and Mighty Smarts and receive special membership discount AND discounted shipping!


Did you know that 9 Million adults in the United States are affected by heart disease?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women. It is also preventable and controllable!

How to keep your heart healthy:
  1.  The number one step in heart prevention is maintaining a healthy weight.  (Check out Shaklee 180 for an amazing and easy weight loss program! Also our team is hosting a Shaklee180 party on Monday February 18th at 1:30pm and 8:30pm.  To hear more about the program send me an email-
  2.  Choose fruits and vegetables. Kale is one of the most nutritious veggies you can eat and pomegranates are a heart-healthy super food packed with antioxidants, potassium, vitamin c, and fiber!
  3. Reduce stress, get good sleep, and exercise!  Medical researchers have long been studying the effects of stress on heart health.  Stress, in its simplest form, can lead to high blood pressure and elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
  4. Focus on fiber (beans, lentils, veggies, whole grain) all help curb appetite and lower cholesterol.
  5. Eat good fats (not all fat is bad fat- good fats come from avocados, flaxseed, walnuts, coconut oil, etc...)
  6. Lower your salt intake-the daily recommendation for sodium is 2,300 miligrams a day - which is only 1 teaspoon! Yikes!
  7. Take an Omega 3 supplement!  Unless you eat fish 4-5 times a week (which many do not, myself included) many people need an omega 3 supplement.  Studies show that Omega-3 fats can help lower triglycerides, help maintain HDL “good” cholesterol, and decreasing the risk of sudden heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes. In addition to protecting your heart, OmegaGuard helps with reducing inflammation (the cause of many diseases), Asthma, colitis, eczema, migraines, and arthritis.
Aren’t all Omega 3 supplements the same?
Take a look at the first ingredient listed by Nature Made gummies – SUGAR, with only 222 mg of fish oil. Compare that to Shaklee’s OmegaGuard – the first ingredient is ultra-pure marine lipid concentrate with 1,200 mg of fish oil, and no sugar. Don’t be fooled by the names of companies. Do your research. I have done mine and know that Shaklee’s OmegaGuard is pharmaceutical-grade.

Here's how Shaklee’s supplements are different:

OmegaGuard™ delivers a full spectrum of ultra-pure, pharmaceutical-grade omega-3 fatty acids to support healthy heart, joint and brain function. It is made with a proprietary multistep molecular distillation process for the utmost purity and potency of omega-3s fatty acids, including EPA and DHA.

OmegaGuard also contains all seven omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, which studies show help:
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Retain healthy triglyceride levels
  • Maintain normal blood pressure
  • Support brain, eye, and joint health
OmegaGuard also:
  • Contains natural fish oil derived from small cold-water fish
  • Delivers more EPA and DHA than selected brands
  • Has no cholesterol
  • Is smaller in size for easier swallowing
  • Is gluten free
Also, Omega-3 are critical for BRAIN and EYE development in kids!  Kids LOVE Mighty Smarts!
Mighty Smarts – DHA Chews.
Scientifically formulated with a power-packed blast of 100% natural, ultra-pure DHA.  Essential brain-supporting nutrient. DHA has been show to support memory, concentration, mind skills, promotes healthy eyes and vision – without the fishy taste!

So there you have it! Keep your heart happy and healthy!

 Happy Valentines Day!
Email me for more information-

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Heart Kale

Bob Garon at Synergy Kettlebell posted this fabulous info-photo on kale (found on Nutribullet's blog and I had to share. Speaking of which, if you haven't checked out Synergy, then DO IT!! I can't say enough good things about this gym. The trainers are amazing. The workouts are quick and effective. And for the first time in my life, I love weight training. Yes, love! Crazy!

Anywho, a couple times a week I try to have a spinach or kale smoothie for breakfast. I modify Oh She Glows' classic Green Monster. Super delicious and energizing!

In a blender, combine the following:
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 TB raw almond butter
- 1 TB organic coconut oil
- 1 banana (frozen if possible)
- 1 TB organic chia seeds
- several large handfuls of kale or baby spinach
- several ice cubes

Puree until completely smooth and creamy and pour. Yummmmm! :) You can also add frozen avocado to up the "creamy" factor. Yes, avocado. I promise it's good.

Kale is one of the reasons why you really don't need dairy. Or meat. Just check out kale's nutrition stats. If you don't want to give them up, then try having dairy and meat as garnishes to your meal. For real!

Or at least try having a delicious green smoothie for breakfast!

I know, the green color is scary. But it tastes GOOD. I promise!!! :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Skin Deep

(Side Note: Trying to write a blog post while curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, snuggled with a furry lil' critter, while watching huge snowflakes fall outside your window is At least for me. I keep getting distracted!)

Okay, here goes.

I have had skin problems for years.

I have combination skin and have struggled with both cystic acne and dryness. I've tried several different products over the years (including Proactive, Nutrogena, and St. Ives) and have since been trying more "natural" products - mostly stuff I could find at Target or Meijer (such as Burt's Bees). I have never found the perfect solution.

Recently I began trying Shaklee skin care products. And I'm not gonna lie - I've only been using them for 3 days.

But that's just it. I've only been using these products for 3 days and I've noticed such a HUGE difference in my skin.

My skin no longer has any dry spots. My breakout spots around my nose and chin are noticeably less red and more "healed" looking. My pores have shrunk and my skin feels super smooth! Yay!

I also must add that I am taking Vitalizer vitamins and Vivix and I firmly believe that what you put in to your body is just as important as what you put on your body.

I look forward to how my skin looks and feels over time. If these 3 days are any indication, then the future of my epidermis is lookin' good! :)

Here are some other tips I've learned over the year to help keep skin looking and feeling great: 

  • Practice good care routines. Cleanse and moisturize every night. I used to skip this sometimes! Laziness or fatigue would win and I'd fall asleep with makeup on. Also, don't use hot water (it strips your skin of essential moisture). Avoid touching your face throughout the day (it transfers germs and bacteria, plus rubbing your eyes can damage that delicate skin and lead to wrinkles).
  • Always wear sunscreen on exposed skin. Even if it’s winter or cloudy. The sun’s UV rays can still harm your skin regardless of weather or time of year. And if you can, avoid being in the sun between 10am and 4pm. That’s when the sun’s rays are most damaging.
  • Exercise. Aerobic activity causes you to breath more deeply. This in turn increases the flow of oxygen to your organs and improves your overall body health. Plus, sweating can help your skin to rid itself of toxins. The result - healthy and glowing skin.
  • Eat plenty of fresh produce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants. A diet rich in fresh produce will help you to attain a natural glow.
  • Reduce or eliminate sugar and dairy. I have noticed a huge improvement in my skin, simply by drastically reducing my sugar and dairy intake. Studies indicate that both dairy and sugar are linked to acne and breakouts. The thing is, most people don't realize how much dairy and sugar they are actually consuming! (The answer - way.too.much.) Neither dairy nor sugar are necessary in a healthy diet. I could go on and on about this topic! It needs it's own post!
 Okay. Off to finish up Larry Brooks' Story Engineering. That and trying not to be distracted by the snow! :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm Selling Shaklee!

I'm super stoked.


Because today I got a couple big ol' boxes from Shaklee!

Including my business start-up box. Yep, I'm now officially a Shaklee Independent Distributor!

For those that don't know what Shaklee is, here's the scoop:
  • Shaklee is the number one natural nutrition company in the US
  • Shaklee became first in the world to be certified Climate Neutral™ (totally offsetting  carbon emissions resulting in a net zero impact on the environment)
  • 54 gold medals have been won by Shaklee powered worldclass athletes.
  • Shaklee invests over $250 million in clinical testing, research and development
  • Shaklee always tests for purity and safety with over 80,000 quality tests each year
  • Explorer Jacques Cousteau, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Wangari Maathai, and other earth advocates have partnered with Shaklee
  • Shaklee has won awards for sustainable business practices and in green design for its world headquarters
  • Shaklee recycles 1,000,000 pounds of cardboard from other companies
 Just a few reasons why I love Shaklee!

Some questions, you may (or may not) be wondering...

What about your other jobs? Don’t you work with kids?  
Yes, I love working with kids and Shaklee will not replace those jobs! My other jobs are part-time and Shaklee provides an amazing way for me to supplement my income without altering my schedule or quitting my other jobs.

Wait, what about writing though? Aren’t you a writer / Don’t you want to be a writer?  
Here’s one thing that I will changing - I won’t be going after freelance writing projects any more. If any come my way, great! But constantly pursuing new projects is very time-consuming. And I’d MUCH rather spend that time working on my novel manuscript (yes, it’s still in the works!) and writing about one company that I know and love - Shaklee!

Are you sure that Shaklee is legit? Are you sure it isn’t a pyramid scheme? 
Yes, I’m sure. :) Try Googling it!

Interested in shopping Shaklee? Go to my Shaklee website!