Here are some updates on different things that have been occupying my time and taste buds…

I have officially abandoned the “4 Hour Body” diet.  While I did lose body fat and weight, my concerns for my cholesterol levels won out.  Now, salad rules my plate!  I’ve been eating large salads at lunch and dinner.  Lunch usually features lentils and quinoa.  I like quinoa because it’s a grain that packs complete protein and fiber.  It absorbs flavors well, so I’ve been adding garlic, cumin and tumeric.  At dinner, I usually have a bit of what my wife and son are having, unless it’s something I don’t think would be very good for me.  For instance, I don’t eat beef or pork, but this week I’ve had turkey meatloaf and chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese.  I’ve been limiting my portion sizes relatively well and only indulging in sweets occasionally.  Over all, the new diet has been easier for me to maintain than the old one, since it doesn’t feel much like dieting.  A friend directed me to a great quinoa cooking video by none other than David Lynch.  You can find that here:

I started playing Diablo 3 after reading great reviews.  As usual, I’m coming to the game far after it’s initial release.  It’s a different, but typically minimal, story than the second game of the franchise. The graphics are far superior, though the same overhead perspective.  The loot mechanics feel pretty similar, but the skill trees from the last game seem to have been replaced with fewer options for specialization.  There are some new character classes to play, and I’ve tried almost all of them including the witch doctor and monk.  I’ve just finished the first stage of the game, so I have a feeling that there’s a lot more in store for me.  I may soon try the cooperative mode with a friend over the Playstation network, something I never tried playing Diablo 2 on my PC.  I recommend the game, especially for those who liked the earlier installments.  It has the same dark tone and is definitely not for kids.

I continue to be amazed by “The Wire”.  I didn’t catch this when it was first on HBO, so I’ve been watching it via Amazon Prime’s streaming video service.  I normally don’t like police procedural dramas, but the cast and writing are top-notch.  Had I known how much I would like it, I would have purchased the seasons on DVD long ago.

I’ve also enjoyed “Daredevil”, the Netflix series, which was just picked up for a second season. Netflix was kind enough, or diabolical enough depending on your opinion, to release all of the episodes at once.  While I could’ve obsessively zoomed through them, I’ve been watching one episode per night while on the treadmill, really trying to stretch them out.  I never read the comics religiously, but I’ve always liked the character.  There’s a dark, gritty feeling to the show that wouldn’t feel right in the recent Marvel movies, but it’s perfect for this character and his nemesis, the Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio.  I’m almost done with the series, and I think I’ll wait a bit to avoid spoilers for everyone before I make a more detailed post.  I highly recommend the series, even for people unfamiliar with the comic book character.  I think the cast and story line will appeal to a wide audience.  A series for “The Punisher” made in the same style would fit in nicely in this corner of the Marvel universe.  If you’re somebody that can make this happen, pretty please work your magic.  I’m anxiously awaiting other Marvel series coming to Netflix soon.

I recently finished “Toll the Hounds” by Steven Erikson.  It was a long, fatiguing and rewarding journey through another epic fantasy gem.  His vision and creativity never fail to stun me, even if sometimes his attempts at humor don’t amuse me much, compared to Joe Abercrombie’s wit for example.  Erikson’s talent for simultaneously wrapping the lowliest and most powerful characters up in his plots leaves me frustratingly jealous as a writer, yet grateful as a reader.

After such truly epic fantasy, I stepped back into the world of Jack Reacher, in Lee Child’s novel “Personal”.  I’ve read several other Reacher novels, and I always fall quickly into the plots. They’re quick but engaging reads, and thankfully it doesn’t seem to matter much that I’ve read them out of order. Reacher is the kind of smart, tough character that I enjoy immensely, and his willingness to get his hands dirty dispensing justice is my cup of manly tea.  (See Daredevil above.)  If you’ve only seen the Tom Cruise movie and not read the books, please do yourself a favor and pick up one of these. You won’t be disappointed.

The outline for my novel continues at a snail’s pace, but it is moving forward.  I was kind of in the zone on my lunch breaks this week and made some decent progress.  I already have a mental picture of the events to come, even though I haven’t outlined them yet.  No estimated time for completion, but I would like to start writing the first few chapters soon.

I started a zombie apocalypse story that jumped the rails and decided it wanted to be something much longer.  I have a general idea for the rest of the plot.  Unfortunately I don’t have time to write two novels simultaneously, blog and work on short stories to build up my portfolio, so the zombies will have to wait.  I will probably create a simple outline, so I don’t forget anything, and get back to it once my first novel is completed.  It might also be a fun, temporary change of pace if I hit a major roadblock with my first novel and need to work on something else for a while.  Sometimes it helps me to work on multiple projects simultaneously, even if it slows them all down a bit.

My short story, “The Hzeen”, is gearing up for an appearance in the third issue of Nonlocal Science Fiction.  That should come out in September, and I have some work to do on it.  The editor/publisher liked it and promised to give me some detailed feedback in the near future.  I’m working from some general criticism he provided, as I mentioned in an earlier blog entry.  This is one of a series of stories, so perhaps they will all find their ways into Nonlocal Science Fiction at some point.

With that, I only want to know what you’re eating, reading, watching, writing and playing.  Let me know via comments here, Goodreads, Twitter or Facebook.  If you’re dieting, good for you.  You can do it.  I know you can.  If I can tame my sweet tooth, anybody can do it.  Thanks for reading!