One of the drawbacks of being a writer is the amount of time spent sitting. Sitting, unfortunately, can lead to spreading. Factor in winter and the holidays, and that spread can increase. Call it what you like—literary luggage, an author’s ass-et, or proof of weighty writing—the extra poundage is clearly not fictional. There comes a point where something must be done.

In previous years I’ve fought flab by making resolutions, pasting unflattering pictures on the refrigerator door, and buying a new bathroom scale. I’ve battled bulges with diet, exercise, and by standing at my desk and walking in place to burn calories as I write. I’ve even purchased heavy-duty fat-squeezing underwear to try to convince my fat cells to shrink. (For the record, they don’t make elastic strong enough to take on my midriff bulge. If you’re working on inventing something more powerful, picture me raising my hand to volunteer for product testing trials.)

This winter, however, will be different. This winter I refuse to enter into a feud with fat. If I can’t be leaner, I’ll settle for looking leaner.

Carolyn J. Rose with keyboard

Carolyn J. Rose with keyboard

Here’s my plan:

Step 1. Wardrobe overhaul.

Black is in. Almost everything else is out except a few articles with vertical stripes. Floor-length capes and billowing blouses are also in. They can hide evidence of too many cheesy snacks. A glittery tiara might provide distraction. A sandwich board with a controversial message could provide even more distraction. Should I end up being chased and/or assaulted by those who oppose the message, I’ll burn off a few calories in the process and “collect” characters and scene ideas for future books.

Step 2. New rules for social engagements.

Accept only invitations to events held by candlelight. Not only will that make me look slimmer, but younger, too. Should there be an incident that involves the fire department, I can always file the experience under “research.”

Step 3. Control photo opportunities.

Unless the photographer is a master at retouching, close-ups are out. Objects in the distance always appear smaller, so I’ll head for the last row in a group shot or ask the photographer to move back. (Moving back to the city limits is good; taking the shot from a satellite is better.) Any photo taken in a driving snowstorm will be a keeper.

An alternative plan is to surround myself with so many tools of the writing trade that I’m barely visible. (Memo to self: write larger books—coffee-table size—and buy a giant keyboard.)

Step 4. Rethink vacations and vacation photos.

Who wouldn’t look smaller standing beside a towering redwood, visiting a hog farm, or hanging out at the top of Mount Rushmore? What about riding an elephant? And it’s hard to tell what’s under the puffy clothing needed for a visit to the top or bottom of the globe.

Step 5. Fun-house mirrors.

It’s not enough to attempt to fool everyone else; I’ve got to skew my own perceptions as well. A solid wall of mirrors designed to make me look taller and skinnier would be a nice addition to any room. Heck, why not every room?

Step 6. Ask for ideas.

This is where you come in. Unleash your imagination and share your suggestions in the comment space.

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of the popular Subbing isn’t for Sissies series (No Substitute for Murder, No Substitute for Money, and No Substitute for Maturity), as well as the Catskill Mountains mysteries (Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, and soon-to-be-released The Devil’s Tombstone). Other works include An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, a collection of short stories (Sucker Punches) and five novels written with her husband, Mike Nettleton (The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, Drum Warrior, Death at Devil’s Harbor, Deception at Devil’s Harbor, and the short story collection Sucker Punches).

She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She’s now a substitute teacher in Vancouver, Washington and her interests are reading, swimming, walking, gardening, and NOT cooking. Visit website www.deadlyduomysteries.com