Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Welcome, Money Saving Mom readers!

{And, of course, if you're here from somewhere else, welcome to you, too!}

When I pitched a guest post to Crystal of Money Saving Mom, I never dreamed she's actually find a use for it...but God provides!  I have adored MSM for a long time {she wrote a series about starting out in a tiny basement apartment and I...well, I live in a tiny basement apartment, husband in grad school, far from home, dedicated to not taking on debt, and so on and so forth...goodness, I love that woman! Did I mention that yet?}, so this is something of a dream come true...could you pinch me?

Anyway, if you read the post, I hope you were encouraged.  Please feel free to poke around, and if you're interested in my novel, you can find it...

on Amazon

on Kindle

on Nook

and on Smashwords.

***And if you're interested in receiving it at a discount, you can order here through CreateSpace, my publisher, using coupon code 6SRUFL8L

That about does it for me for now.  Please feel free to poke around, have a cuppa, chat a bit--whatever suits you!

{P.S. Why oh why do youtube videos always choose a screen capture in which a person looks goofy?  I promise, if you met me in real life, I don't have those Star Trek-like wrinkles in my forehead...}

The WORD is Alive

In my Tuesday morning Bible study at church, we are studying the book of Mark.  We begin by listening to the passage from Word of Promise.  Have you heard of it?  Actors from Hollywood lend their voices to the reading of Scripture, music shapes the transitions and mood, the sea or the crowd or the street noise can be heard in the background.

Listening to Word of Promise, the events of Jesus' life unfold in a rich, new way--because I think we're all guilty  of occasionally reading God's Word with glazed eyes, eager to check "Bible study" off our to-do list.

But what if we slowed down and heard the awe-struck gasp of the man whose withered hand became whole?  Or the grunts of the men lowering their paralyzed friend down from a hole in Peter's mother-in-law's house?

{Side note, I think the producers should have included Peter's MIL shouting, "My roof!!!" but that would have been extra-Biblical content and frowned upon I suppose...}

These things we read of in God's Word really happened.  To real people.  Real people with feelings and bodies and hopes and dreams and struggles like we do.

I think about these things when I am writing books because my characters brush elbows with the likes of Peter and Paul and Barnabas, but I need to be better about seeing the Gospel with flesh on when I read it.

Because if I really see Jesus feeding the hungry and caring for the sick...how can I do anything but follow in His footsteps?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What I've Been Reading

For as much downtime as there is in January, I haven't gotten as much reading done as I'd like.  Well...I haven't finished as many books as I'd like; I'm working through a book on nature journaling, a novel, and a giant tome on Edison--all of which I hope to report about in February...or maybe March.

For now, here are the three books I did read this frosty January:

:: Leaving by Karen Kingsbury
I think some things are too close to us to write about well; for Karen Kingsbury, her real-life daughter's departure from the nest might have been weighing too heavily on the author as she wrote about Bailey Flanigan's first foray into the world.  I found the plot to be slow, circling around and around the same emotions far more than was necessary...and even the actual plot points didn't provide as much action or event as I've seen in previous Kingsbury novels that I enjoyed greatly.  This was a disappointment and I was surprised by that.

:: Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv {recommend}
The first half of this book opened my eyes to statistics and policy/paradigm shifts in our local governments and culture that have greatly restricted how children experience the outdoors--not to mention the fact that they spend far less time outdoors than I or certainly previous generations did.  The second half of the book became too much about policy and sweeping changes for my season of life, but I appreciated the new knowledge and recommendations for how to keep nature a part of my daughter's life even though we live in the middle of a city.

:: Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine {recommend}
Oh my goodness.  I have love love loved everything this woman has ever written on her blog.  Seriously.  The series about living in a little basement apartment in which she never had to move the vacuum from one outlet to another to clean her carpets?  I'm there.  It's nice having the core of her message in one tidy volume; there wasn't much new material for longtime readers, but I think I'll be rereading this book every December/January as I sit down and do my goal planning for the coming year.  (Oh, and all proceeds go to Compassion International, so have you bought your copy of Money Saving Mom's Budget yet?)

Would love to hear what you've been reading!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Writer's Schedule, Broken Down

Oh friends, January is a bear.

photo source

A big, grey, grizzly, leave-me-alone-because-the-world-is-nothing-but-ice-and-snow bear.

My house looks like Hoarders mid-episode (we're sort of minimalists, but it doesn't look like it when we've been cooped up!), my daughter is rather cranky, my motivation to write has flown the coop, and we're all tired.  All. the. time.

I meant to have my Sergius Paulus manuscript read through and filled with notes by the tenth...today, I got through chapter 18.

So, to help kick my motivation back into drive and kick my lazy bottom into high gear, I decided to share with you what my writing schedule--day-to-day as well as long-term--looks like.

Because there's nothing like accountability, right?

We'll start with an overview of what I try/hope/dream of accomplishing over the course of the calendar year, one 6 month cycle repeated twice:

         January+July   ::   Break!
 February+August    ::   Edit
March+September   ::   Edit
      April+October   ::   Prewrite/PR things (book cover designs, blurb writing, press releases, etc.)
   May+November   ::   Manuscript writing
   June+December   ::   Manuscript writing

{And, yes, I'm technically on a "break" just now, so why am I stressing?  Well, because I like progress and moving forward and...to be honest, I'm a little Type-A.}

Now, I've only just put this formula together back in October, but it's working so far.  It allows me to finish two books a year without feeling rushed but also gives that needed pressure of a deadline.

{Yeah, I like deadlines.  See the Type-A statement above.}

But that doesn't mean I only write four months out of the year.  You see, every day (weekday, anyway) includes time for writing, which brings me to my daily writing routine:

  • Put Pookie down for nap.
  • Start the laundry.*
  • Write for 30 minutes; odd days=blog posts/articles, even days=extra project writing**.
  • Work for 60 minutes on the month's project (editing, writing, etc.).
  • Spend 30 minutes interacting through social media (Facebook, forums, GoodReads, etc.) and commenting on blogs...Netflix in a side window optional (recommendations? I finished re-watching all of The Office and 30 Rock and am rather burnt out on documentaries...).
*Switching laundry around is a great excuse to pull away from the computer in moments of writer's block...or boredom.

**What do I mean by "extra project writing"?  I try to keep more than one iron in the fire at a time: though I'm editing Sergius Paulus right now, I also started writing some scenes for a new, modern-set novel.  It's totally different from what I've been working on, so it let's my creative juices flow in a different direction and helps keep me fresh.  (Note: when I'm in the midst of a new manuscript, this time is devoted to the work at hand instead of a new idea.)

So, in a nutshell, that's what my writing days look like.  I'm sure they'll look really different when I don't have the luxury of a young napper, but for now this works for me.

If you're a writer, how do you get it all done?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Today, I had planned to write about schedules, lack of motivation, and other musings rambling around in my mind.

Instead, I have just learned that a dear woman from back home has gone to be with the Lord...and while there is great rejoicing in her alleviated suffering and the joy she must feel in His presence, all rambling thoughts have ceased save those bittersweet ones that crop up at such a time as this.

I am empty of advice or pithy comments or devotionals or how-to's.  All I have is this: be certain you know the Lord, that this day you know where you stand with the Almighty One.  Then go smother your loved ones, because there is simply never enough time.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Political Evangelism

I live in Iowa.  Political ads have been airing like beer commercials during a football game.  People from my church stopped answering their home phones (we only have cell phones and the numbers are actually from our old home in Minnesota).

photo source (image originally by Mike Burley / Dubuque Telegraph Herald)

With the caucus behind us, people are breathing a little easier, answering their telephones, and enjoying getting out of the spotlight the way we're all eager to unbutton our pants after coming home from Thanksgiving dinner...or maybe that's just me.

This was our first caucus.  I've been behind my candidate of choice (Ron Paul, if you're wondering) since 2007.  I have read (some) of his books, watched countless of his television interviews, and have been amazed by the grassroots support he garners.  People don't wait to get a paid job with his campaign...they just start campaigning.

Now, I don't write this post to persuade you toward my candidate (though I think he deserves your full consideration), but that as I look at how people are attracted to him, follow him, and teach others about him, I think it's a little like seeing into the past and the way that people surrounded Jesus.

Before you get mad or cry "Blasphemer!" please note that I said a little like that.  A very little.  But the comparison is still there.

And here's the greater truth I found in this: It is easier for me to "evangelize" others to my candidate than to my Savior.

I will talk to anybody about this man, what he teaches, and why I think he's got it right.  I will go out of my comfort zone to mention him if I overhear buzzwords--politics, election, economy, any of the other candidates' names--in nearby conversation.

But do I have that kind of confidence in talking about my Savior?  Do I go out on a limb for Jesus?

And why not?

I think it's because I can separate people's criticism of my candidate from myself, let it roll off my back if they don't love Ron Paul or if they think I'm crazy for backing him.  Because I know that their beef is with the man, not me.

But I can't separate criticism of Jesus from myself.  If I were to tell somebody about Jesus and they laughed or scoffed or screamed or gave me the ever-horrifying blank look, I would take it personally.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (John 15:18).
And there is the nugget, the reason I can develop thick spiritual skin: the one who scoffs or laughs or hates may do so to me, but he has done worse to my Lord.  And He conquered, He won.  What more have I to fear?

I won't lie and say that this epiphany has erased all my fears; it hasn't.  I won't be standing on a soap box tomorrow, preaching to all passersby.

But I will hide this truth in my heart, and hopefully, when the time comes, I will speak the truth in love, no matter what criticism may come--because Jesus is bigger than all the world's hatred.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Theme of 2012: Diligent in Love

Stretching and yawning from my slumber (not exactly since somewhere during my hibernation I got the hankering to declutter our entire house!), I rub my eyes, stare out the window, and think about the new year that has dawned.

photo source

I could pile lots of resolutions on my plate, plan to become supermodel thin, read every work by Dostoevsky, become fluent in French, ad nauseum.  But I would only be fooling myself; after a week, I would be back to eating junk food and spending every free moment watching 30 Rock reruns (not that that's what I did on my "hibernation" when I wasn't cleaning like a mad woman...).

No, I need to be realistic.  And I need to consider this season of life, what responsibilities lay before me, and how I can be better serving my Lord and the ones He gave me.

Which brings me to the theme of this year: In 2012, I will be diligent in love.

I will love the Lord my God diligently.  For me, that means being more diligent in prayer, guarding my morning devotion time (and just making it happen), and learning to focus up when I'm in the Word instead of letting my mind wander as it's apt to do.

I will love my husband diligently.  No need for specifics on this one, and truth be told, I'm not entirely sure how to go about this one...whenever I ask him how I can love or serve him better, I get a funny look like it's a ridiculous question.  Still, being aware of the question just might bring about answers.

I will love my daughter diligently.  This means taking more care to play with my Pookmeister one-on-one (she's such a happy thing, it's easy to let her roam and play for ages on her own), but it also means to continue training her up in the way she should go (Eph. 6:4).  This year, that will include potty training, the introduction of chores and working alongside me, plus time in the Word (Proverbs at breakfast, the Gospels at lunch, and whatever we're reading as a family after dinner) and prayer--observation at this young age coupled with parental prayer will, hopefully, lead to godliness and a heart for the Lord later.

I will love others diligently.  We're still floundering to find an outreach that holds us, if that makes sense.  So for this year, I've decided to focus on hospitality from our home to encourage others and build them up--and keep my eyes open for other ways to serve.

I will write diligently.  I like to think my writing is a ministry...if to no one else, than as salve to my soul and as worship to my God.  I've got a finished first draft I hope to edit, polish, and publish this year; I am also working on a second manuscript, hope to do NaNoWriMo again in November, and have plenty of blogging, guest blogging, and article writing in the works.

I will care for my body diligently.  And this does not mean crash dieting, juice fasting, or anything trendy.  I'm realizing that I haven't treated the body God gave me with the respect that I should--and that it feels much better when I treat it better!  So, I'm aiming for more sleep, more nutrients and less junk, plenty of flossing and moisturizing, and did I mention more sleep?

That is what diligent in love looks like for me in 2012.  What are you up to in this new year?
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