Quotable Quotes

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
~ E.L. Doctorow

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.

- Oscar Wilde

Month of November

Friday, August 31, 2012

In which the waiting is the hardest part

In exactly 24 minutes I will be taking my place among the 3Day Novelists furiously pounding away on their keyboards, writing in their notebooks, or voicing the story to a computer program. It's a rush, let me tell you!

This is my third year and I am proud of my last two years work. I am hoping to crank out an even better story this year. I have a plan, but as the last two year have proved, plans kind of go to pot at the end of the line.

So I will be on a partial radio silence for all of you readers, family and friends. Don't worry. I still love you. I will just have my mind focused completely on a new tale to spin. Someday, you might even get to read it! :)


Good luck to those of you who are participating with me! We can do this. I'm excited to be a part of such a fun and exciting group. Much love and well-wishes.



Thursday, August 30, 2012

In which I address all of our dear, loved ones in pursuit of vulnerability

Proverbs 6:5

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

This is the theme verse for the Total Money Makeover.

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else. ~ Dave Ramsey

This is the motto for the Total Money Makeover.


These are our mission statements for the next year. I will explain what I mean and then give an altar call of sorts - or a reverse altar call actually.

When Jake and I got married six years ago, we had debt. It's pretty normal right? Student loans, credit cards, car loans. It's the American Dream right?

Wrong. It's not OUR American Dream anyway.

By all accounts, we are living pretty well. We have a home (with a mortgage of course), two cars, really good degrees with the promise of jobs no matter where we move, and money left over at the end of the month.

And in five of our six years, we were living from month to month. Why? Because we were spending money we didn't have to get things we didn't need. Instead of tackling our debt and using our finances wisely (See: Stewarding God's resources), we did what every normal American couple/individual/family does.

So in our sixth year of marriage, we are stressed out. Not because we can't make ends meet. But because most of our money goes to pay off creditors instead of being used for the things we have long desired to give our money to.

Jake and I want to open our home as a ministry for those in need. We want to mentor other couples in their marriage and family and life issues. We want to take our kids on vacations to see exotic and new locations. We want our kids to go to college debt free. We want a MINIVAN so we can finally take uncramped vacations. We want to go out to eat once in a while. We WANT all these things.

We COULD have them guilt free but for one thing: the overwhelming amount of debt we owe to others. Our money is not ours to spend/save/give - because technically, it belongs to the ones we owe.

Proverbs 22:7, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave of the lender" (NRSV).

Slaves - according to my estimation - aren't free to do much of anything except work and toil.

Frankly, Jake and I are sick to death of being slaves. We want to be free. And we want to pass down a legacy of freedom to our children and their children and their children and so on...


In the winter of 2010/2011, we took our first Financial Peace University class at our church. And in the first few months after the class, we paid off a HUGE amount of debt in our gazelle intensity. Several miracles occurred along the way to help encourage our enthusiasm. But as spring hit and the novelty wore off, something happened.


We lost the momentum. We lost our place and forgot our ultimate destination.
Until this month actually. August 2012. I finished my third straight zero-based budget and realized something.
We can actually do this. We could potentially be out of debt in one year's time, free from our masters and free to serve Christ alone. It's going to be hard and rice and beans will become a byword in our household.
But we are SICK of being slaves and sick of the cheetah catching us unaware.

So now we are making it public.

We have about $70,000 in debt (not counting our mortgage, which is baby step 6 in Dave Ramsey's plan so we won't worry about it yet) We will be scrimping and saving EVERY last penny until we get rid of our shackles and we need the help of our loved ones to do it.

Which brings me to our reverse altar call ~

We are planning on being a bit like hermits for this coming year. We will not be taking any trips save for the ones that have already been budgeted this month - before the gazelle intensity kicked in. We will not be dining out, we will not be attending theaters, plays, concerts, or anything that costs money purely for entertainment purposes. We will not be traveling to see family and friends (again, save for the couple weekends we already had etched in our budget i.e. my brother-in-law's wedding etc.) We will not be purchasing gifts - homemade ones will be the best we can give including food at this juncture. We will even be giving up our annual Christmas tree (my sacrifice) to save that $40 toward debt. We will be living ultra-frugally (coupons are WELCOME if you have reserves)

This is NOT because we don't like you or are isolating ourselves from the world. In a year's time, you will probably see so much of us that you will be sick of our faces. :-P *just kidding*

A year from now, we are already dreaming up our trip to Tennessee where Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Plaza is to scream out our debt free status on the radio. (Times and dates will be given later so you can listen in)

We want you guys and gals to celebrate with us a year from now, so the celebrations for this year are put on hold in order to get there.

For those of you who like to give us gifts for our birthdays and holidays, we (Jake and I) are requesting nothing unless it's cash toward our debt or a hot meal once in a while. And THAT is not a plea for help. Just a preference.  :-)

If you wish to see us during this intense time, feel free to drop by (let us know in advance so we can add some veggies or homemade ice cream to our rice and beans meal...) :-P

Just know that Jake will more than likely be working late and I will be keeping the home fires burning (and doing whatever odd jobs come my way). I tutor, babysit, walk dogs, garden, edit papers/manuscripts, and clean houses - let me know what you need and we can talk pricing.

Jake and I take great joy in this endeavor of ours and I also weep many tears knowing that our stupidity for the last few years has gotten us here in the first place. But we are not going to continue down that path.

Prayers and your understanding of our goal are the best things you can give at this time. We love you all and we WANT so desperately to be involved in your lives and friendships - but we want to do it without the weight of debt hanging over us.

Feel free to call or write during this time with encouragement, prayers, or questions. We are completely open and will not be offended if you think we're crazy...

(See: Dave Ramsey for further information about our journey)

Thank you for your support and love during this time! We love you all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

3Day Novel Survival Guide (Thanks to Pam L Smith)

The 3Day website has its own writer's survival guide for this coming weekend, but I was tickled pink to be directed to another blogger's website last Monday. I love this and with her permission, I am able to repost it for my own readers! :) Who knows? Maybe some of you are 3Day Novelists.





For The Writer

  1. Make an Outline! Some people can write without one, most will fail. When you are under pressure and you can’t get the words to flow, your outline will save you.  If you don’t have an outline you’ll spend FAR too much time thinking and not enough time writing.  Either your word count or your story will suffer…possibly both. I know this from experience. Further, an outline will give you the freedom to write scenes out of sequence if you get stuck. This can help free up the creative flow.
  2. Do your research BEFORE you start writing: If you have an outline, you should know what research you need to do before you start.  The same thing goes for characters.  Know them and their motivations before you sit down to write.
  3. Get into the writing and stay there! Don’t stop to look up the spelling of a word or to search for a synonym in your thesaurus.  Highlight the word, or underline it, and come back to it after the story is done. Once you are finished, you can back track and fix it. Trust me, every time you leave the story, it will be harder to get your flow back.  Stay with the characters as much as you possibly can.  At the end of the weekend, if all goes well, you won’t remember what happened on twitter, or on-line, or in your house, or with your friends.  You’ll still be immersed in the story.
  4. Shut off the Internet! Set yourself goals of specific periods of time that you will write without stopping. Some set a goal of 5 hours, others as little as 1 hour at a stretch. My magic number is 3 hours.  I set an alarm and write without stopping until it goes off. I then allow myself 30 minutes for a break to eat, pee, check twitter, and do research (if something has come up that I didn’t catch in the outline)
  5. Sleep! Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep each night or you will crash and burn on Day 3.  There may be times where you keep going into the night because the muse is with you and it must be written. That’s fine…go for it!  However, if you stay awake for 72 hours, what you write in the last 24 hours will be ridiculous and incoherent.  Yes, I know this from experience too.
  6. Stop half way through your sentence when you take a break! When you return to your work, it will be easier to get the flow going again. For some reason, a period is like a stop sign to me. If I come back and try to start writing, it’s almost as bad as starting with the first sentence all over again.
  7. Eat! In particular, have quick easy meals that can be cooked in under 10 minutes.  My favorites were of the frozen bagged meals in minutes kind. Easy and quick to heat up. That doesn’t mean you have to eat crap.  I had meals like portobello mushroom and asparagus tortellini and they were both delicious and nutritious.  For snacks, keep some high energy low glycemic snacks close by and eat every 2 hours or so…even if it’s just a small handful of almonds.  Bananas…another great food.  Sweet and full of potassium!
  8. Have a private space to write!  This is critical.  If you are in the living room with your family, there will be too many distractions.  I have an office at home with a door I can close. On Labour Day weekend when I’m writing, they are only allowed to come into that room to bring me food and water. That’s it.  It’s not important where you write…just that you be alone and relatively comfortable when you do it.
  9. Set goals! The 3 Day Novel Contest has a great breakdown of where you should be at the end of each day.  Read it. Then set reasonable goals for yourself.  Set a minimum goal and a maximum goal.  Shoot for the maximum goal but be happy if you can only get to the minimum. Submissions for this contest can run from 12,000 words to 50,000 words.  The average submission is 100 pages or about 25,000 words. Your minimum goal should be close to that…though 20,000 words will get you that 100 pages if you write lots  of dialogue.  I recommend setting your low goal at 8,000 words per day and your high goal at 15,000 words per day based on what was being tweeted during the contest.  This seems to be a reasonable target.  Don’t give up if you miss a target, either keep writing until you hit it or get some sleep and increase your goal for the next day. Set a goal to finish by 6pm on Sunday.  You will want some editing time to go back and fix those highlighted words and re-read for plot holes before midnight if you can.
  10. Do what works for you!  If all else fails, throw all these tips out of the window and just do what works for you.

For Friends and Spouses

  1. Please don’t make plans or invite people over to visit.  Please also divert any well-wishers who show up unexpectedly. Time is precious while we are writing and every interruption will make it exponentially harder for us to finish.
  2. Please slip food under the door on a regular basis so we don’t starve.
  3. Please don’t comment on how bad we smell. We don’t have time to shower (see point #1 above)
  4. Please don’t come in to kiss us, hug us, or otherwise tell us how proud you are that we are doing something so amazing (see point #1).  We’ll be happy to accept your accolades after the contest is over.
  5. When we wander aimlessly about the house looking for something we’ve lost but don’t recall what it was…just put us to bed and set the alarm for say…4am. Also, please put us to bed if we start talking to inanimate objects…even more important if they start to talk back.
  6. Please don’t plan any activity for yourself between 6pm and 10pm on Day 3. We need you to read the manuscript and point out an gaping plot holes, spelling mistakes and so forth.
  7. Please remember that this is a first draft written in 3 days. Be nice. Do not say ANYTHING other than how wonderful the manuscript is.  You can of course, provide us with the information requested (see point #6)…just be REALLY nice about it. The manuscript is supposed to be crappy. That’s what re-writes and edits are for.
  8. Don’t ask us if we think we will win. We don’t have a magic 8 ball. However, it goes without saying that we WANT to win.
  9. Spouses: don’t ask where the children’s (socks, pants, books, toys, games, cell phones, etc) are.  Keep looking, you’ll find them. Refer to point #1.
  10. Understand that we truly appreciate everything you do for us while we sequester ourselves over the weekend.  We’ll thank you afterwards (refer to point #1)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In which the 3 Day Novel Contest sneaks up on me and I find myself wholly unprepared

*Many thanks to Writertopia for their COOL graphic/widget/html code thingy that I use for my word count progress report. Seriously. For all the 3day-ers and NaNoWriMos out there, you HAVE to check it out. So fun and easy enough for a lay person to code. :)

It's time for the 3Day Novel contest again and I will once again join the insanity with a horde of other insane people. For a long, zombiefied weekend retreat into madness that is my writing career.

I love it. This year, I am terrified of it.

I am so unprepared for the weekend, it's not even funny. Getting out of debt, a child entering preschool, another child with a crazy, weird immune system, and the impending doom of the Tough Mudder NEXT weekend all converging to drive the contest cowering into a corner. My muse is shot, drawn, and quartered. My meal plan - isn't. I have no idea what I'm writing - which honestly isn't a first for me in this contest. Least of my worries really.

I'm strangely calm about this whole thing too. Whatever happens, happens. I will be writing this weekend, no matter what. Don't have a muse, a plot, or even a main character sketched out...

Could be worse really.

In which slow writing becomes a movement

I've just recently discovered Cathy Yardley's blog - Rock Your Writing: Selling A Lot Without Selling Out. Her latest post was inspiring and convicting - with a little dash of humor.

I've been impatient all my life. The plight of many redblooded human beings is their blatant disregard for time. More specifically, the redeeming of said time.

I am a time waster and not proud to admit it. I procrastinate on all the important things in life, like family and time with God and yes, cleaning my house. When it comes to wanting time to work for me without any sacrifice or compromise on my part, I forget that my clock calls the shots.

I'm never going to get a book published if I don't write it.

Okay, already wrote several manuscripts.


I'm never going to get an agent to look at it if I don't edit it.

Editing is difficult, impossible, and overwhelming. I did the best I could.


I'm never going to put the finishing touches on my manuscript if my editor doesn't return it to me with her comments and critique.

Yeah, that half-adzed job I did on the self-editing before I sent it off to my editor? She's trying to actually get it into a working, publishable material. Not a dime store novelists short-lived dream to write the next best erotic fiction.


I'm moving along in my writing. I really am, though you couldn't tell to look at me. Think about it. I have several working manuscripts and more in progress. That's more than 3/4 of the budding writer population can say they accomplished. I have edited and re-edited even though it takes forever and can honestly be the most tedious job on the planet. (I actually do love hacking and slashing my works. Just not when I want to see it in print and making me a multi-million dollar deal overnight. I dream big - sue me.)

I love writing. I love the feel of the keys beneath my fingers and the endless paper cuts from equally endless note taking. My head is full of stories and my mind (let's call it my somewhat hyperactive, slightly sarcastic muse) rampages at odd hours of the day and night. If I could remember half my dreams enough to write them down the next morning, I could probably make money just on dream interpretation alone. Most of my stories start out as fragmented dreams.

All this to say that I like Cathy's view on the writing process. I'm an artist yes, I'm a businesswoman to a degree, and I love gardening and I have many talents I could use toward a moneymaking venture to meet a need in my community.

However, I am a writer above all. My art is my craft and sometimes it's slower than molasses. But it's going to be good, once it hits the shelves.



Monday, August 20, 2012

In which guacamole is eaten and repetition is the sincerest form of love

I made guacamole from the last avacodo in my fridge this morning. Can't stand the store bought stuff; it just doesn't taste the same. I'm looking forward to harvesting my garden for the same reason. The salsa I make beats Tostitos ANYDAY.

My daughter wanted chips, but she refused to eat the guacamole. Keep in mind that she LOVED it when she was one year old and food was still a novelty.

So I told her if she ate ONE chip with guacamole, she could have a whole handful of chips without it. Would you believe she ate that chip and dipped the rest of her reward handful in the guacamole until I had to fight for my own portion.

In the meantime, dear son is 18 months and a bundle of mischief. No, really. He's silent which makes it worse.

He's been climbing up on the table to reach things - his sister's workbook, the markers, guacamole, chips, his nuk, and anything else that draws his attention. I've been lax in catching him and making him get down, but he recently fell midway through his journey to the top. I realized I needed to take drastic action.

So I watched for his move and dragged him down with a stern talking to. He cried and cried and cried like I had just murdered his best friend (the nuk). Then I hugged him and held him and let him calm until he asked to get down.

Thirty seconds later, he was back up on the table. We did the whole process again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

I wanted to cry by the twentieth time (NOT exaggerating) but he probably would have laughed at me.

By the thirty-first time, I think he got it. Of course, it could have just been that his sister was done eating my guacamole and wanted to play with him. Being the good younger brother, he kindly left me in peace until the next time the kitchen table becomes his Mount Everest.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

In which I analyze my recent experiment in isolationsim...

Successful? Unsuccessful?

Can I be forgiven if I practice a little indecision?

I don't really know. But I can lay out the facts of my weekend and let YOU decide.

Fact One: I missed my family as soon as they walked out the door. Okay, I missed them so much, I refused to help Jake pack that morning to leave. At first...I relented after a while knowing that I was going to enjoy my weekend alone.

Fact Two: I ate less, not having to make sure little mouths were fed. So my time with meal preparation was drastically reduced - hence the lack of my own need for sustenance. Seriously...mothers gain most of their extra calories because of their kid's need to eat. (That's fact.)

Fact Three: I got some major exercise in, which is great seeing as I have only one more MONTH to prepare for Tough Mudder...for which I am drastically underprepared. My muscles hurt, but boy do I feel good.

Fact Four: I wrote 7070 words this weekend...not counting this post of course. Some of those words were facebook posts and messages to the outside world - which really don't count toward anything but my NaNoWriMo goal. (Okay, and building relationship with people even in the midst of my isolation.) As to the novel writing, I managed a whopping 3283 words toward its completion. Yep...that is an epic fail for a weekend retreat where writing was my main goal...


Fact Five: I slept a lot more than I have in weeks which is an EPIC success. When my family returns from their weekend away, I will be rested enough to deal with the crazy goodness. :)

Fact Six: I cleaned, FINALLY put away laundry, and managed to get the house looking a little less lived in - which will last all of five minutes after the kids get home. So I'd say that was successful.

Fact Seven: My writing inspiration dropped considerably when my family left. I can plug out a good 3500 words in 2-3 hours when they are home...seeing as that is the collective total of my novel writing progress this weekend (72 hours to be precise) I think I need them around to inspire me to write.

Go figure...

So did I succeed? Did I fail? Not sure...that it really matters! I enjoyed my weekend time to myself and THAT matters to me...

I missed my family enough to want them back. That seems like a good conclusion to my experiment.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

In which some perspective is gained...sort of

If You Give A Mom A Muffin
by Kathy Fictorie
If you give a mom a muffin,
She’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She’ll pour herself some.
Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.
She’ll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she’ll find dirty socks.
She’ll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She’ll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She’ll look for her cookbook (“101 Things To Do With a Pound of Hamburger”).
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The check book is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.
She’ll smell something funny.
She’ll change the two year old’s diaper.
While she is changing the diaper, the phone will ring.
Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.
She’ll remember she wants to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are…
If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

I am impressed by her creativity...and spot on assessment.

I didn't have a whole lot to say today, but I realized something in the middle of an exhausted haze. (see: random midnight poopy diaper and corresponding wide awake son for the rest of the night)
(see also: any and all grammar, spelling, or punctuation issues are results of said exhausted haze)
Other than the absolutely brainy lightbulb moment when I realized, "Oh wow. I guess I'm just really tired," I also concluded that it's okay to need time and space for myself. As long as that is not my biggest focus - i.e. my children and husband are number two and three respectively. If you don't know my number one priority, I am not shouting it loud enough.

I get that I am a wife and mother. I understand I am a woman of faith and responsible for maintaining my priorities in the correct order.

I also get that I'm human. And it's okay for me to be - for lack of a better word - human. I'm not going to get lightning striking me when I have a selfish moment. I won't be chastised or rebuked for liking my silence and solitude - especially since I don't have much of it nowadays.

I know that when I'm well-rested and refreshed from my quiet times, I respond with greater positivity to the situations and circumstances that surround me.

One of my aunts and I talked today for a little while. I liked what she told me, because I need to remember it more often. I may respond better in the rested times, but I also need to know that those times are not always available - especially in this phase of life. (see: zombie mom with smalls) However, it is my reaction during those exhausted, zombie-like times of life that are the true measure of my character and selflessness.

I will never be a mom who sends her kids to day care and spends all week long on manicures, book clubs, and living it up. Don't get me wrong; those things are not bad at all. I just know that for me, those things are not going to mean much in the light of my eternal perspective. And I need to remember that the eternal perspective is SO much bigger.

That's why I still love my kids and my husband after a long and exhausting day. That's why my housework fades into the background while I read the wonderful adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh - for the 5 millionth time. That's why my exhaustion may make me lose perspective - and well, everything else along the way - but it will not be permanent and it WILL pass.

Hey, I had time to write this blog didn't I?

Maybe I just need a refresher course on time management.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In which I lament a good cup of coffee gone cold...

I'm awake in the stillness that occurs only in the rare moments when my beautiful children sleep. I argued with myself this morning about the benefits versus the problems involving a few extra moments of rest. Instead of shutting my eyes again, I decided to listen to a sermon while drinking a cup of coffee. I made extra this morning, thinking the husband might need an energy boost. He left the extra.

It must be God.

So I cuddled down in my blankets and turned on iTunes where my podcasts are all stored. Instead of cupping my coffee in my hands like I usually do, I put it up on the shelf behind my head to get comfortably situated.

I then promptly forgot about it...

I know. I know. My readers are probably wondering just how you can forget about a good, hot cup of coffee...

My only excuse is that I'm still tired. Five hours of sleep will do that to a person, especially when they are not restful hours.

The coffee still tastes good...sort of. It's just like an iced coffee with no ice and nothing to sweeten the bitter flavor after a cup sits and cools for a while.

So not really an iced coffee.

My life kind of gets like that iced/not-iced coffee sometimes. The flavor is still there, hidden beneath bitter and cooling layers. Those bitter and cooling layers could be anything from a serious need for attitude adjustments (both me AND my kids) to lack of sleep (which is mostly my fault and can lead to the whole adjustment of my attitude) to a cold cup of coffee when I get too busy or distracted to remember it. At the risk of sounding shallow, I hate cold coffee.

At the risk of sounding cliched and cheesy, I hate when my life gets cold and bitter.

Fortunately, I usually know the why, what, and how of the situation. In spite of my uncanny knack of returning to that place of stupidity, God did give me enough brains to figure out how to get out of the mess I got myself into in the first place. He's funny that way. I can almost picture Him chuckling in a sort of exasperated way (kind of like I do when I see my kids make the same, brain-farted choice over and over and over again). I can hear Him say something to the effect of...

"Really? We're going through THIS again? Well, I've got the roadmap and the shovel. Do you need a ladder or should I just help you dig yourself out again? You really should be able to see that hole by NOW, Sarah. After all, you dug it in the first place." Then He'll smile and chuckle again. "I love you anyway. You know that, right?"

I wrote a post a while back talking about ruts and digging holes. I'm almost tempted to put that picture on here again...

I think I've kind of gotten to the top of the rut again. My attitude has been crazy wicked lately and my kids (and my poor husband) seem to suffer the most.

I've realized that having kids and being married just seemed to make me MORE selfish than usual. I know that's not technically true. Having kids and being married just reminded me of how selfish and self-centered I really am.

Terminal. That's the word. I'm terminal. But for the grace of God, I wouldn't even know THAT. But for the Grace of God, I actually have a shovel and a cure should I choose to take them.

I hear the son waking up. Time to start my day!