Happy Anniversary! Or 10 Reasons I Love My Husband

  1. When I NEED Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, he goes to the store and buys it for me.
  2. He returns from the above trip with all my favorite flavors in case I changed my mind while he was gone. (That never happens.)
  3. He makes out with me in the kitchen while dinner is cooking.
  4. He’s my biggest—and only—investor in this writing thing, and he hasn’t backed out despite operating under a loss.
  5. He buys me chocolate then hides it so I can’t eat it all at once. Or maybe he hides it so I have to share. Hmm . . .
  6. He brainstorms plots with me. Then he brainstorms those plots again. And again.
  7. He picks up on my not-so-subtle hints about iTunes pre-orders.
  8. He takes over parenting and baby-sitting responsibilities when I need to escape them.
  9. He knows his Bible, including Gen. 21:12: “Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you.”
  10. He’s never the one to forget our anniversary. (Yes, I would be the one who does forget.)

My New Drug

Hello, my name is Sarah, and I’m a caffeine addict.

Six months ago, if you’d cut me, I would’ve bled coffee. I drank the equivalent of 4-6 eight oz. cups of coffee. Every. Single. Day.

I was addicted with a capital “A”.

My decision to kick the caffeine habit came with a desire to lose weight. Over the last two years, I’ve steadily put on the pounds. Gaining weight is fun. Eating candy bars. Ordering specialty coffee drinks. Having a dessert with every meal. But when I couldn’t zip any of the jeans in my closet, it felt less fun.

I dabbled with several diets, achieving temporary success but always slipping back into my fun food habits. So I analyzed my past diet successes. Which diets worked? Why? And one common factor was this: I wan’t drinking coffee when I succeeded.

That knowledge sucked.

I’d given up coffee in the past, and the withdrawal symptoms always included headaches and long naps. I wasn’t looking forward to that. But the withdrawal would be temporary and the results long-lasting. So I stocked up on Motrin, placed a blanket on every couch and chair, and prepared myself to quit the caffeine.

I’m two-and-a-half months mostly caffeine-free.

Despite the withdrawal symptoms, I discovered several improvements almost immediately. I started sleeping better at night. I hadn’t realized caffeine was having that affect on me since I was in bed and asleep by ten-thirty. I also stopped sweating when I wasn’t working out. Did you know a side-effect of caffeine is sweating? Well, it is, and I’m already good at that without the help of a drug. And the biggest improvement . . . I began running again.

And that leads me into the reason for the title of this post. Endorphins have become my new drug. If I don’t get up and run in the morning, I’m like my old, pre-caffeinated self. But when I do run, I’m happy, energetic, and 300+ calories lighter. Another awesome result is that caffeine is now my secret weapon when it comes to running. A 12-oz latte before a race improves my PR significantly.

Addictions, even legal ones, are hard to overcome. But in the end, the results are worth it!

What are you addicted to? What holds you back from quitting?

Unexpected Encouragement

I’ve been struggling these past few months with my writing. It started back in December, and since then, it’s been an up-and-down ride that’s spent more time down than up. Of course, writing is always an emotional roller coaster, for both published and unpublished authors. Maybe because to be a good writer, you have to bleed your soul onto the paper then send it out into the world to be rejected. And though we’re told to develop a tough skin, we still have to balance that with a vulnerability that makes our writing meaningful.

But God’s sent me little encouragements during this time. Happy notes in the columns of critiqued manuscripts. Excitement from someone I’ve submitted chapters to. Sharing of personal experiences from those a few miles further down this writing road.

One of the most unique and unexpected encouragements though came a few weeks ago. William the web-guy told me how to look at the stats for my website. On that page, I found a section showing websites that had a link back to mine. Some were meaningless, ad pages. Some I recognized—Kiersti Plog and Marilyn Turk, two of my amazing critique partners, have talked about me on their blogs. But there was another one, unfamiliar yet legitimate looking. So I clicked on it and found myself on author and editor Linda Yezak’s website. Last year, she’d written an article on Floating Body Parts and had linked to my FBP story from two years ago.

Someone liked what I wrote so much that they shared the link in an article.

I’m still in shock over that.

Finding out about that article has shown me several things. First, God’s timing is perfect. Linda wrote the article nearly a year ago, but I just learned about it because right now is when I needed to know about it. And second, I’m doing the right thing by launching The Two Worlds of Sydnee Cameron this summer. I’m a little—no, a lot—scared about that project because it’s my bleeding soul on the paper out in the world to be rejected. And I’m not sure how tough my skin is. I can get a pretty nasty sunburn in the summer.

Writing isn’t easy. It’s not just about typing words on the page or developing stories. It’s about hard work and vulnerability. About risk and faith. And about trusting God to bring the encouragement when you need it.

 

Understanding God's Plan for Success

I received awesome news this week. I am a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis contest for unpublished authors. Actually, I’m a double semi-finalist—two of my entries scored in the top ten out of all the YA entries. But as exciting as that news is, I was also a semi-finalist last year. And that’s as far as I got. At least I received a ribbon to wear on my name tag at the conference :-)

So this has lead me to thinking about God’s definition of success, which seems to be my spiritual theme this year, since I’ve pondered this question before in another context. What’s His plan? How can I know? And what is success?

I tend to define success like this: Success is when I achieve what I aimed for.

In case you didn’t notice, that completely leaves God out. But I take success and failure personally. If I fail to meet the desired goal, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough or because I’m not good enough. And if I do meet the goal, it’s because I did work hard or because I got lucky.

But I’m thinking my idea of success is all wrong.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Not being a finalist in a contest or being rejected by a publisher shouldn’t be regarded as a personal failure or lack of success. When it comes to my writing, God knows who is going to publish me when. He also knows which manuscript will be published—and it may be one I haven’t even conceived yet. If I have faith in God’s plan for me, then I need to act like I believe that. I need to work hard, investing the gifts He’s given me and knowing He will use my writing to His success. I need to let go of my view of success and failure and trust that every accolade and rejection is a stepping stone in God’s plan.

Do you struggle with a lack of success? Like me, do you take too much credit for your successes and failures?

Everyday Plotting: A Bag of Ice

I’ve been working on my novel plotting by brainstorming ideas based on an everyday sighting. So I posted this on Facebook and asked my friends for some other possibilities.

 

A few weeks ago at the store, I saw a guy carrying a bag of ice. So I thought about reasons why he’d need ice.

 

  1. A party? Boring and obvious. Ice is essential to a party. Who cares?
  2. To preserve a dead body? Only slightly more interesting, but kind of ordinary if you like crime dramas.
  3. To preserve an animal? Not a fish—that’s obvious—but how about a dog or a cat? And why? Hmm . . .

 

Here are some other ideas:

 

Ashley Mays He’s going to remove his own kidney in the bathtub, and since he can’t use anesthesia (obviously), he’s going to dull the pain and slow the bleeding with massive amounts of ice.

 

Bethany Shaw Macmanus He’s going to tie the heroine to a tree on a hot day. She’s going to be standing on a stool, which will be atop the bag of ice. As the ice melts, she will s-l-o-w-l-y experience the stool dropping beneath her feet…

 

Mandy Whitworth Watched a movie once & an adoption agency was stealing unborn babies and the women would wake up in a tub of ice.

 

Dana Romanin Maybe it was a hot day and he was handing cups of ice out to homeless people…something so simple that we take for granted..but how does someone without a home have a freezer…what a nice guy.

 

Mindy Peltier remember that email forward about guys drugging traveling executives and stealing a kidney to sell on the black market? They leave them in the bathtub of their hotel room in ice with a note that says, “I took one of your kidneys, call 911.” Yeah, you’d need ice to do that to someone, and the hotel might not provide enough in that little bucket.

 

Nikki Pierce Robinson Speaking of stealing kidneys. http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e72e/

 

Or perhaps he is transporting a virus that needs to be kept below a certain temp or else it will become active and infect all of mankind.

 

Kathleen Freeman He’s gotta move something heavy. Hmmm…

 

 

So murder plots, unleashing a biological weapon, harvesting body parts . . . Really hope the guy just wanted to chill his beverages!

 

Unless, of course, he was helping out humanity.

 

Any other plot ideas for a bag of ice?