Carrie Rubin’s Novel EATING BULL and My Personal Food Connection

EatingBullCover

I know I’ve read a great book when I’m still thinking about it months after I’ve turned the final pages. Carrie Rubin’s Eating Bull is one of those books. It is a tightly crafted thriller, told from the point of view of three characters: Jeremy, an overweight, bullied teen whose favorite friend is food; Sue, the pubic health nurse on a mission to sue to food industry for their reckless manipulation of consumers; and, finally, Darwin, the mystery serial killer who is targeting the obese. It’s a mix of mystery whodunit, horror story, and public health crisis all rolled into one.

Many of the characters are suffering some past emotional trauma which is pulled into their eating habits. This backdrop makes these characters seem all the more human and vulnerable. I thought Carrie did a masterful job of telling a horrific story, alongside the complexities of food.

While eating is foremost about survival, it is so much more than that in the modern era of food convenience and choices. Food relates to our health, quality of life, eating habits, social gatherings, and family. Socio-economic factors play a role, too, and often hinder access to healthy food or enough food. Food is not an equal opportunity for all.

After reading Carrie’s book, I pondered this complex issue of food and how it related to my life. More recently, I have attempted a few clean eating challenges offered by my boot camp, because we know exercise isn’t enough and especially as we age. Sigh. On a positive note, I’ve spent most of my life not worrying about calories and meal choices and their impact on my health. Now that I’m getting older, it’s not so easy. So, I took on these clean eating challenges, which meant eating mostly real food, either from the ground or from an animal. While I’d like to be vegetarian, so far I’m not. Nothing processed, nothing out of a box, and very little sugar or salt.

In these efforts to control my eating choices, I could relate to Carrie’s characters in her book. My meal choices of lean protein and vegetables were quite similar to those of Sue. As we are made aware of her restrictive choices, it feels as if Sue, too, is noting them for herself. I also identified with Jeremy’s hunger for more, even when I wasn’t hungry. It’s emotional eating and I never felt this so strongly as I did when everything I loved was removed, especially carbs! I missed snacking. It was tough.

Jeremy’s mother Connie also has her share of challenges of feeding her family healthy options with limited time and resources, not to mention with different needs in mind. Would her son and father eat the same foods, for example? This is a constant struggle with my household and cafeteria-style planning and eating. When I did the clean eating challenge (for six weeks) it meant cooking separate meals for my family, which made it extra challenging. While there may be solutions for all these problems, it doesn’t make them any easier.

What’s more, there’s a public health scenario looming in the story: suing the food industry. I, for one, did not think this was that far-fetched. While it may never happen, I hope Carrie’s book encourages a careful look at their practices.

For example, no matter how much willpower I have, I can’t just have one stop at the Famous Amos cookie box. I just can’t!! One reach turns into three. I lost count of the number of cookies.

Well, they are famous.
Well, they are famous.

And then I saw this video about how America is getting hooked on processed food. You must watch this eye-opening video. Have you ever heard of “Vanishing Caloric Density”? It’s no wonder I love cheese puffs so much!

Talk about reckless manipulation of consumers. Carrie weaves all these complex issues with a serial killer on the loose. All the while, the issues don’t get lost in the story or take over, but add layers of intrigue for a compelling, entertaining read.

It’s no wonder that Eating Bull is the silver medal winner in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) for Great Lakes, Best Regional Fiction. Congratulations to Carrie! 

Here’s a link to Eating Bull on Amazon. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy today.

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Once Upon a Bumble: What’s in Your Writer’s Tool Kit?

Last week, we discussed our writing habits. Thank you to all who shared their tips and experiences. Indeed, it’s different for everyone. Many of us still depend on our trusty notebooks. And, it looks like I’m not the only one with bad handwriting. Many of you discussed the process of thinking and writing with pen and paper (or pencil) to the transition of typing these words into your computer. Some of us believe that the process of actually writing with pen and paper was more suitable for how our brains are wired. Writing longhand is a method, perhaps a dying one, that may encourage a slowed down pace for more thoughtful writing.

Of course, ultimately our final draft is in digital form. We all have a computer or we wouldn’t be in wonderful Blogland. Computers, however, may be the culprit of bad handwriting. It’s all the computer’s fault. I know I get lazy, knowing my final draft will be on the computer. So, some of us use smart phones for notes, and this comes in handy as well since our phones have become attached to us.

Another trusted companion is the good old dictionary/thesaurus which for some need to be in arm’s reach to coax the mind into writing mode. Let’s not underestimate the importance of brain mapping with sticky notes and color coding ideas. Others mentioned the importance of starting off with the right beginning and that once this is accomplished they can create freely.

Others imbibe tasty beverages before or during their writing, smoke, take walks, see the chickens, or write with dim light to help focus the mind. A few of you, I won’t mention any names, considered writing au naturale. No one admitted to writing with a snake.

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Today’s Topic: What’s in Your Tool Kit? What about Scrivener

We’ve discussed tools that help us write. Today I’d like to introduce Scrivener.

For those who are looking for a better way to organize your writing, Scrivener may be just the tool you’re looking for. I learned about Scrivener through the living notebook (a great blog here!). He swears by it. I thought I might pass this information along in case you’ve never heard of it.

Scrivener is for all writers—novelists, journalists, academics, screenwriters, playwrights—and is ideal tool for writing and organizing that first draft. It offers, in digital form, a ring-binder, a scrapbook, a corkboard, an outliner, and text editor all in one package.

You can try Scrivener for a 30-day trial.

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What about you? Have you used Scrivener? Do you know of any other programs? Do you think this would be a helpful for your writing process?

Well, give it a try. I’ve downloaded it, but have not yet had a chance to work it. Hopefully, by next week, I can provide you with my thoughts on it.

Don’t forget the blue moon tonight, my blogging friends. The blue moon is a rare occurrence.  Another one is not expected until 2015, three years from now. I suggest you have your notebooks/smart phones ready to capture any strange happenings, or perhaps you’d just like to write by the light of the moon.

Related article:

Why creative writing is better with a pen

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Once Upon a Bumble: What’s Your Writing Habit?

Welcome to the weekly forum, Once Upon a Bumble. Last week, I was contemplating the when of writing. Today, I want to explore writing habits, as this may very well dictate the when of our writing.

In my writing experience, I have what I like to call a dual process. I usually begin with my notebook, scribbling down thoughts, words, sometimes sentences. I follow this with scribbles,  scratch outs, doodling, daydreaming, and hopefully more writing. Eventually, I may have a sentence or two I like. If the sentence is a keeper, I transfer the words into my computer as soon as possible.

My chicken scratch writing may very well be the worst handwriting on the planet. Blogging friends, I don’t believe you would be able to decipher a word of it. If I don’t transfer the information within a reasonable amount of time, it may be forgotten forever. This is similar to forgetting what you were going to say, but at least twice as worse, because that thing, that thought, word, sentence…It was perfect, the connection, everything…it was probably…garbage.

This would be perfect.

Writing in my notebook is more about processing ideas, because much of the time when I transfer material from paper to computer, it transforms mysteriously into something else, usually an improvement from what I had. I write more seriously at the computer. If I’m really in a bind, I usually pace around, fold clothes, clean up, and then, a word or thought enters my mind, unlocking my creative energy. Well, ideally anyway. Other times, my writing is more fluid.

Yes, and birds chirping. I like to hear them, which means I should be writing in the morning. But I feel I have more free-flowing ideas at night. Oh, I’m so conflicted.

Let’s now turn to famous writers for inspiration and their interesting habits. I will highlight a few here. For more details, see the articles below.

1) Location, location: Truman Capote wrote in the horizontal position on a couch, sipping a glass of sherry/coffee and puffing a cigarette; Vladimir Nabokov soaked in a tub while he wrote on his index cards; For distraction-free writing, Flannery O’Connor used the blank surface of her dresser drawer.

2) Amount of Writing: Ernest Hemingway wrote 500 words a day, sometimes stopping in mid-sentence (although this could also be due to his high-alcohol consumption); Stephen King, ten pages a day, even on a holiday; Thomas Wolfe, also about ten pages, triple-spaced, roughly 1800 words; James Joyce considered three quality sentences a full day’s work.

3) Early Risers: Toni Morrison and J.K. Rowling wrote in the morning, working their schedules around children; J.K. Rowling stole away to a cafe to write while her child napped; Sylvia Plath rose at 4:00 am to write.

How about a snake around your neck? Oops, her top might be a tad small. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wear a bathing suit.

4) Foreign Substances/Odd/Memorable: Philip K. Dick, hallucinogens, Aldous Huxley, mescaline; William S.Burroughs, heroin, W.H. Auden, Benzedrine; Mary Shelley wrote with a snake around her neck; John Cheever often wore nothing but underwear; Ezra Pound breathed only through his mouth while writing; Hemingway first discussed his writing with his cats; George Orwell started his daily writing routine with a swim across the English Channel; Virginia Woolf engaged in hot yoga.

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What about you?

Do you have a writing ritual? Do you write in front of computer or with pens/pencils?  While lying down? In a pool of water? In silence or with sound/music? While naked? Oh, I got your attention.  Seriously, I wouldn’t expect you to admit it here. Of course, you want to…

I’d love to hear from you. Share away.

Relating Links on Writers’ Habits

Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors
Words That Sing the Body Electric: The Writing Habits of Famous Authors
Daily Routines
Writing habits of 9 super famous authors

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photo credit: Kevin Eddy via photo pin cc