How To …

Bike to work in the snow

Cleveland Heights resident Martin Cooperman has been biking in Cleveland winters since 1980. He commutes six miles to Cleveland State University’s computer department (down Carnegie and back up Euclid) every day. His wife, Edith Antl, cycles with him before heading back east to her frame shop in Little Italy. Here’s his advice on pedaling your way through the snow:

Practice on a nonwork day — there’s less traffic — and you’ll get a feeling for the way a bike handles in the snow. All it takes is two miles around your neighborhood to find out how splashed up you’re going to get. Then say to yourself, “I’m going to come to work and look like this. Is that OK?” If so, hang up that Raleigh and get an older, cheaper bike with big, chunky tires, maybe a three-speed with an internal gear hub. (Road salt does a number on exposed metal.) Don’t try to go fast. Watch out for potholes —they are more prevalent in the cold months. Plus, traffic is no different than in the summer, but the wind is worse. Jackets are a must; make sure to seal up your cuffs so the wind doesn’t sneak its way in. You can also get wind- and water-proof trousers and shoe covers to block the slush kicked up by cars.

Write A Novel

Novelist Richard Montanari
has written seven suspense-laden books. Though his publisher’s deadline provides the motivation to keep the Cleveland Heights author clicking away at the keyboard, aspiring writers don’t have that pressure. Here’s Montanari’s advice for starting and, most importantly, finishing that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

Start a novel

> Choose a genre: “You have to decide first off if you want to write commercial fiction or literary fiction. ... I knew early on I wanted to write commercial fiction, so I thought: What is my genre? What do I live to read? What films do I like?”
> Read, a lot: “Go out and read everyone you really admire. Pick the best and read the hell out of them.”
> Write, a little: Montanari first writes what is essentially jacket copy — that brief synopsis inside a book’s front cover. “It gives the pace of the story, the main characters, the main plot points, without having to have an ending.”
> Build an outline: “I always think I’m going to do a super-detailed outlined and stick to it, but I never do.” Montanari uses the traditional three-act structure and maps out where significant turns in action should occur.
> Write, a lot: “You have to write every day, and you have to give yourself the latitude to write a crappy first draft.”

Finish a novel
> Have a writing schedule:
“If you’re working nine to five and [you] set aside two hours after dinner and four hours each Saturday, it’s probably better than being under contract [with a publisher]. ... The ritual is a couple of hours every day, seriously putting one word after the other. Eventually, you can have 90,000 words that are terrible, but it really is an accomplishment.”
> Stick with it: “Most novels fall apart in the second act when you have to advance the hero two steps and bring them back one, two forward and back one, to keep the tension up. That’s the real hard work of the novel.”
> There will be multiple drafts: “For me, all the suspense is created in the second and third drafts. Most of the time, shorter chapters in the third act parallel competing points of view as you race along to the end.”
> Know where the finish line is: “I think 75,000 words is really the minimum. ... Shoot for 75,000 to 100,000 words.”

Teach a new dog old tricks

“Shake” and “roll over” are very entertaining. But when you first get a dog, especially one in that 6- to 7-month-old range (a common age for shelter dogs), you’re more interested in teaching him to go to the bathroom outside and to listen to you. First, that bathroom issue. Ed Dickson, a certified pet dog trainer and owner of North Coast Dogs, says the first time you bring your dog home, keep him leashed and walk him around inside the house for 10 minutes. Then take him outside to relieve himself. “Nine out of 10 times, he will go,” Dickson says. “Praise and [give a] treat right away, so you start that process immediately.” The next behavior Dickson teaches is the “wait cue,” useful in keeping your dog from going for the door. “What I use is a body block. Dogs are exceptionally in tune with body language. It is, 99 percent of the time, their preferred method of communication.” Here’s how it works: If you tell your dog to “wait” and he starts moving toward the door, step in front of him and block his progress. When the dog backs up, praise him. “Eventually, he’s backing up ... waiting until I give him the sign to move. I’ve had dogs pick that up in two or three body blocks.”
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