Monday, January 30, 2012

Which Is It? Gullible or Imaginative?

"The most imaginative people are the most credulous, for them anything is possible." Alexander Chase

I would love to take a poll of writers, and see how many of us consider ourselves gullible.  I know I fit into that category.  Just yesterday I read a sign on Pinterest that said something like “Say orange slowly and it will sound like banana” or some such absurd thing.

Sadly, yep, you got it.
Photo Courtesy of Basketman

I had to try it out before I realized what exactly was going on.  Thank God it was only me, in my mind, on the couch, in my own living room.  Being gullible isn’t so bad if you can pretend it never happened.

I have been fascinated about the imagination since I wrote the guest post for the World of My Imagination about how I scared myself by writing about aliens.  (If you want to read it, go here)  I never realized before then how imagination affects even our day to day life.  We can’t conceive of the world around us without it.

According to Alexander Chase, we’re not gullible, we’re just credulous.

Doesn't that sound so much better?  

Our active imaginations allow us to conceive of any possibility being real.

It’s why we can look at any ordinary object and ask “What if…” and come up with a zillion different answers. 

It’s why we can scare ourselves when we write about things that are freaky. (Have you seen those grey aliens with the big, black, almond-shaped eyes?!)  

It is why we can dream up worlds, and characters, and alternate realities.  

It's why we can write.

At least, that's my story... And I'm sticking to it!

Have you ever been accused of being gullible?  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Super-Cute Blog Award and Upcoming Events

Isn't that just cute! 

I have to say a huge thanks to Trisha at Word + Stuff for thinking of me.  You all already know how wonderful I think Trisha's blog is, and if you don't know for yourself, get on over there!  What are you waiting for?!

I love this award! I have never seen it anywhere before, so I'm so excited to add it to my blog awards page.  Copied from Word + Stuff, the award is named 'The thumbs up from Skunk award' since "we all feel like stinky, stinky skunks some days" and there are people who "make us feel (and smell) a lot better".

To pass the award on, I have to name one thing that you love about yourself, then pass on the award to as many bloggers as you want to! How simple is that?

One thing I love about myself is that I still play. I get excited over the smallest things and the world still has some mystery left. People think I'm weird, but I love it about myself.

Bloggers! I hate to do this part because I really do want to give the awards to everyone. I don't want anyone to feel like the kid last picked at P.E. Okay, I'll be brave:

Cindy Keen Reynders - Saucy Lucy Wisdom - supportive of my writing since almost I began
Cassie Mae - Reading, Writing and Lovin' It - so friendly and supportive that I really do think she's one of the friendliest people I've met.
Kelley at Between the Bookends - always leaves lovely comments and makes me feel welcome in this blogging community
David Ludwig - wrote thoughtful comments all through the Nightgale Blog Challenge and found me on twitter.  What a guy!
Leigh Covington - because she asked to interview me, when I'm sure there are a lot more interesting and accomplished people out there to be interviewed!

I know there are others out there, and I truly do appreciate everything anyone does that gives me that little extra boost when I'm feeling all stinky. Even if I didn't pass on the award to you, I do recognize every kindness!

Upcoming Events

I am looking forward to more guest posters in February, and not just from the Life List Club!  At this time I don't have anything set in stone, but don't be surprised if you start seeing some new faces over here!  I'll also be guest posting at different blogs, and I'll let you in on where I go when those occur.  Please come over and say "hi." I get lonely...

My short story, Bear Hug, should be up at Hogglepot starting on February 5th.  Please take a little trip and see what you think!

I am very excited to participate in two blog hops in February.  

February 10th

The I'll Tumble 4 'Ya Blogfest : Click on the link to visit Nicki Elson's blog Not-So-Deep and sign up for this super-fun blogfest.  Then, on the 10th, post a picture or video sharing who was your 80's crush.  If you weren't alive, or too young to crush on anyone, pick out an 80's person who you would've crushed on.  It's going to be a lot of fun hopping around and seeing who everyone picked!

February 14th

The Is It Getting Hot in Here? Valentines Day Blog Hop:  Click on the link to go over to Reading, Writing and Lovin' It to sign up!  On the 14th, we'll all share one of our favorite kissing scenes from a book we've read, from our own WiP, make one up, or write about one of our own memorable kisses. Then we'll all hop around to "feel how sweet, romantic, or downright steamy other characters are getting smooched!"  Lots of people signed up for this one!

Wow - it's sounding kind of busy in my life!  And all this doesn't include actual writing and editing!

Here is a picture of Earnie the Emu.  I'm sticking him on here because I just love him.  The man who took the picture told me he's a very affectionate Emu, so it kind of goes along with the blog hops above.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

4 Steps Toward Financial Health

I would like to welcome Marcia Richards to Motivation for Creation!  Marcia founded the Life List Club with Jess Witkins, my guest poster from last Life List Club Friday.  She has a great blog, and recommend you go check it out, and read the Life List Club Friday guest poster over there at the same time!  So, here's Marcia!

I'm so happy to be here at Lara's place on this Life List Friday! While she's over at David Walker's blog, I'm going to share with you some tips I learned a long time ago from the financial expert, Suze Orman, about how to get healthy--financially. No matter your age or experience with money, these tips can remind you how to stay on track. January is the poster-child of all things healthy, right? Let's get started!

4 Steps Toward Financial Health

How many times do we throw away leftovers without a second thought, or buy a blouse you just had to have but then it hangs in your closet complete with tags til you notice it 6 months later and give it away?
Would we cut up a dollar bill as easily? I don't think so.

When we get together with friends on the weekend, we want to make it special, but how many times do we overspend? I know I've purchased clothes just before they went on sale, because I couldn't wait. And right now I have 45 books waiting to be read on my Kindle, not to mention another 25 books on my shelf that have not been cracked open yet. Do I need this many right now? How often do you stop at the deli or pizza shop because you don't feel like cooking at home?

How about you? When have you wasted money you could have saved? We all have stories we could tell. If you're trying to get out of debt or trying to create a cushion of savings for emergencies, to buy a house, pay off college loans, or annual vacations...whatever, a change in spending habits is the path to being financially healthy.

1. Be honest: Take an honest look at where your money goes. Did you really need a $5  Mochiatta and a $3 pastry on your way to work? Lunch out with your BFF? And you picked up take-out at the neighborhood Italian cafe? You may have had a tough day and deserved all these conveniences, BUT that $35 you just spent could have been socked away.

Keep track of every dime you spend everyday for a two-week period. Then sit down with that list and check off the necessities on that list. Add up everything without a check mark to see what you could have saved.

Then consider the emotional side of your spending. Do you indulge in the pint container of Hagen Das ice cream when you're lonely or stressed? When you have treated yourself to anything new for a while, do you go splurge on new shoes? Try to find ways of satisfying those emotional moments with something that isn't going to cost you your extra cash.

2. Cut up your credit cards: I've actually seen a grown man whine at the suggestion of cutting up a credit card. "But, I neeeed it!" NO! You don't. Credit card rates are higher than ever and savings account pay next to nothing. We're losing on both ends.

Use your bank's or credit union's debit card for all your previous credit card purchases. They are accepted as widely as credit. Or use cash. Now you've stopped the bleeding, so to speak. No more skyrocketing bills with high interest and exorbitant late fees. Now you can focus on reducing your debt.

3. Make a real-life spending plan: When you create a spending plan, include everything you spend money on, even the most miniscule item. If you leave out some of the things you pay for because they seem to small to count, you could be throwing off your budget by hundreds of dollars annually.
Don't forget bigger things like the guy who does your taxes, your bi-annual insurance payment, your haircut and color every couple of months, veterinarian bills and pet grooming, your co-pays at your own doctor's office, dental visits, child care. If you pay your mortgage bi-monthly, don't forget you're not just paying twice a month but every two weeks--because of the extra portion of a week every month there are an extra four payments made over 12 months.

Add up all the smaller expenditures like tipping the paperboy, Christmas tips for your hairdresser and the postman, bringing a bottle of wine to a friend's house, magazine subscriptions, holiday cards and gifts, charcoal for the grill, batteries, oil changes for your car, the extra groceries for Christmas cookie baking, your once a week movie out or pay per view, and that scrumptious pizza delivery when you're too busy to cook.

4. Save 10% and create a stream: This is actually two tips in one. First, "pay yourself first" is an expression most people have heard. Now it's time to take it seriously, just like you've had to take getting physically fit seriously. It won't happen if you make excuses. If your net pay each week is $400, skim $40 right off the top and bank it. Don't worry about short-changing yourself to pay bills or buy groceries. if you've followed the previous tips, you will have this 10% to put away. Do it religiously. Don't cheat yourself. In just a few months, your account will swell from $0 to $1,000! You can try tricks like tossing all your loose coin in a jar and letting it fill that jar before you deposit it. Or, take a $1 bill out of your wallet everyday and put it in a box until you have $25, then bank it.

Create an additional stream of income to add to your 10%.  Years ago when my husband was putting my stepchildren through the private colleges they chose, he added a part-time job to his full-time job. Every weekend, he went to a flea market with a table and a stockpile of licensed ball caps that he had purchased at a good rate. When I needed more income, I made various craft items and found a market for them--one was a unique gift for a real estate sales woman to give to her clients when she sold them a house.

There are endless possibilities for a second stream of income such as creating websites for those who are techno-challenged, solicit speaking engagements to talk about something in your realm of expertise, teach an adult education class. Do you crochet well? Sell your creations at a craft fair. Create gift baskets to sell to people you know to use for gift giving. Is your husband a neat freak? Why not start a part-time car detailing business?

I know a woman who was hired by a homebuilder to clean the finished houses before they are turned over to the buyer.

Stop worrying and crank up that imagination!

One more thing, I worked for banks and credit unions for years in my 30's and 40's and learned that banks are in the business of catering to corporations first and individuals second. Credit unions are owned by the members. Consequently, their priority is the satisfaction of the members. The fees for services are lower and the rates of return on savings accounts are slightly higher. Just something for you to consider.

Have you ever had a time when you needed to get creative to bring home more money? What kind of struggles are you having with saving?

Marcia Richards is a veteran blogger and author of Marcia Richards’ Blog…Sexy. Smart. From The Heart. Marcia writes about SSS (strong, smart, sexy) Women, History, and the path to realizing your dreams. She has a Historical Trilogy and a collection of Short stories in progress. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing with the grandkids or her husband, traveling or turning old furniture into works of art. She believes there is always something new to learn and time to play.
Visit Marcia at:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nightgale Blog Challenge #4 - I AM

Well, here we are.  The last of the Nightgale Blog Challenge. I have seriously enjoyed writing these stories, and meeting all of you new writer friends!  I feel like I accomplished what I wanted, which was to explore the characters for my next novel.  I can hardly wait to start plotting it out.

A quick note: this "story" seems more like a prologue to the others.  The prompt was "Writing is Immortality." It was tough to come up with something that stuck with my theme, but I managed to get writing and immortality both in there, so I hope it's acceptable!

Please come back this friday, as I have the great fortune to welcome Marcia Richards from the Life List Club for a fabulous guest post about financial health.  I will be hanging out over at David Walker's blog on friday, so if you get a chance, please stop by and say "hi"!


I AM chose his words carefully.  The tip of the pen lightly touched the paper, motionless.  Once he decided what to write next, the pen took off across the blank pages of the Book of Creation.

Creating a companion was work.

I AM frowned.  Adam had turned out to be a disappointment. I AM had made the man in his own image, giving him freedom and choice, and at the first temptation Adam turned his back on him.

He still loved Adam.  He loved all of his creation. He refused to reject him, or humanity, and so had created a road back to companionship with him.  He wasn’t going to wait around, lonely, though.

The pen scratched across the paper.

Perhaps he needed to start with an immortal, like the angels of the Virtues.  They did such a nice job taking care of the heavens.

He wrote faster as he rushed to capture the idea in his head into the Book of Creation.

Created from his own essence, the new being would be made of the heavens, of light, and
of energy.  He would not be bound by time and space.  He would be forever.  He would have
choice as well, but because he would live within the heavens, he would not be easily drawn
away from I AM.

He sat back, and reread the words of the new creation.  When he reached the end, I AM
smiled, and wrote the last sentence.

He shall be called Ahriman.

Monday, January 23, 2012

From Motivation to Determination

Photo Courtesy of Evgeni Dinev
When I think of the word motivation, the scene pops into my mind of an actor standing on a stage, asking the director, "But what's my motivation?"  What the actor is asking is really, "But why am I doing what I'm doing? What reason do I have for reacting in a certain way to another actor or situation occurring on the stage."

Often I hear writers saying that they write because they have to, that they're "born writers."  Other writers say that they write because they want to be published.  Some writers say they want to make a career out of writing.  Some writers say they write for themselves.  (On a total side note, I personally don't understand how you can write something and not want other people to see and enjoy it.  But, I digress.)  My point is that the motivation for a writer to write is unique to that person.

What comes after motivation, though?  Motivation gets us started, and gets us to put our "dreams into work clothes" but what carries us through to the end?  What makes us "a lifetime writer." (To give credit, I can't be sure if it was Nina Amir or Christina Katz who used the term this weekend.  My tweet deciphering is still weak, but it was one of them.)

Since I began writing seriously I have heard, and maybe even used, quotes such as "writing a novel isn't a sprint but a marathon."  I have heard over and over how only a small percentage of people who want to be writers actually finish a novel. Sadly, I hear of writers who give up, who stop trying to find a home or an audience for their work.  The very work that they spent hours, and days and years to perfect.

At some point, we have to move from motivation to determination.  We have to decide that we are writers, and that we will succeed.  We have to become determined to see the journey through to the end.  We have to not look at the present as it is, but keep in mind what we dream for our future.

I love the quote from Ray Bradbury to "Stay drunk on writing so reality can't bite you in the (back parts)"  Reality changes with each choice we make.  We get to have a say in our reality.  We just need to write.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Six Awe-Full Life Experiences and a Passing of Awards

Earlier this week I was gifted by Kelley from Between the Bookends and Hope from My Protector, The Calling with the Versatile Blogger award and the Kreativ Blogger Award.

I highly recommend, if you don't already follow them, to go check out Kelley's and Hope's blogs, because they are fun to follow.  Kelley has fabulous posts that I never get tired of reading.  Hope has the best link lists regarding different writing needs I've ever seen.

Because I was in the middle of the week from hell, I didn't have a chance to accept the awards properly and to pass the awards on right away.  I am going to do that today!

I have received the Versatile Blogger Award before, and if you would like, you can read that post here.  I was still excited to receive it again, because of the cool, new badge! 

To accept the awards, I am supposed to tell you all interesting facts about myself.  I decided to choose six awe-full (meaning full of awe) moments in my life.  I love the feeling of being overwhelmed with the beauty or miracles that can be found in the world, if you just take time to notice them.  So, here we go!

*  Not trying to be sappy, but I thought I'd get this one out of the way first.  Being pregnant was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I was made to have babies, I think.  That I got to do it twice was a blessing.  Holding my children after giving birth to them, knowing that I grew a human being, is truly a miracle.  I'll throw in marrying my husband on this one, too.  I didn't think it would happen, and I am so grateful that it did!

*  When I was nineteen, I nannied in New York City, at the same time as my sister.  She arrived earlier than I did, and the first weekend after I got there, she took me into the City.  I will never forget stepping out onto the sidewalk in front of Penn Station.  My knees literally got weak.  The buildings went on forever, people were everywhere, a low-level hum of daily noise filled the streets and I totally went into sensory overload.  I fell in love with NYC that day.

*  While in New York (I nannied in Queens, actually) I got to visit the ocean for the first time.  My Nanny-family took my sister and I to Jones Beach one day.  The power of all the water stretching for miles was spectacular.  It was a blustery January day, and the waves crashed onto the beach and I felt so tiny.  I began to get an idea of exactly how huge the world is.

*  In 2001, I went to Ecuador for a three week language immersion trip.  On one of the weekends, I visited an hacienda near Cotopaxi, which is an active volcano.  I got to climb the volcano to the point where the snow begins (very hard to do, mostly because of the altitude) but the actual awe-filled moment was the trail ride we took.  It wasn't on a trail, though.  We meandered through the lands of the hacienda, through the potato fields, and into the plains. My sister had died six months earlier, and the whole trip turned out to be an escape.  In Cotopaxi, I galloped across the plains, my heart lifted by the expansive beauty surrounding me, and the horse running under me.  I felt free, in awe, and at peace.  Unintended hippo-therapy, I think.

*  Enough of the sad stuff!  My next awe-full moment was in Peru.  My husband and I went on a language immersion trip, staying with a family in Cusco (with whom I remain in contact with to this day).  Peru, or maybe I should say Cusco,  is just a magical place all by itself.  I love the people there, I love the history and traditions, I love the land.  All four of my dogs are named Quechuan names, in tribute to that wonderful region.  We went to Machu Picchu one weekend.  Our guide for the trip grew up in the Urubamba River area, and so he got us up to Machu Picchu before the sun came over the mountains, and placed us in the perfect location to watch the sun burn away the mist over the ruins.  There is no picture or video, or even words, that can capture the essence of the moment. You'll just have to believe me that it was awesome!

*  Dang this is long!  I didn't mean to write so much about each moment, but kind of got caught up.  Last one, and it's a quick one.  Every acceptance e-mail I've ever gotten.  My thoughts: "Holy Cow! Someone liked it enough to print it!" :)

Okay - six people I'm passing the awards to. I'm going to stretch out on this one, because Hope and Kelley already hit a lot of the people I would have given them to!  I also stand by my recognitions in the previous Versatile Blogger post.

Adventure Without End Tony Slater is a travel writer who is currently living in Australia.  I have had no interaction with him (through comments, etc...) but I love his posts.  They are funny and unique.

Aloha, and Hi! from HI Mark Koopmans is a stay-at-home father and writer who has a great sense of humor.  He's currently running a "Follow Your Dream" contest on his blog, so go over there to at least enter the contest!  You don't have to be a follower to play, but you might find out you want to join up anyway!  (I totally didn't mean to rhyme.)

My Imaginary Beings  Emilia Quill is from Helsinki, Finland.  I found her through the Nightgale Blog Challenge, and I love her stories.  The Sacrifice is amazingly poignant, and I think you should go read it!

Word + Stuff   Besides writing books, Trisha writes songs, for goodness sake. That is super creative, as far as I'm concerned!

Cranky Old Man  Joe Hagy writes about pretty much anything, but I really liked his post about bullying.  He has a great sense of humor, and isn't afraid to say anything.

Writing Fire  Nick Hight is a teenage writer/blogger from New Zealand who already has over 100 followers and an interesting perspective on writing and writing tips.  Definitely worth it to check him out!

Do you have any Awe-Full experiences you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nightgale Blog Challenge #3 - Ahriman

It is time for the Thursday post of the Nightgale Blog Challenge, but before I make the big reveal, I need to make a correction.  Kristen Lamb's book I referenced in the post What's With the Blog Face Lift? is called Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer. I had initially written the title wrong, and corrected it within the first day the post was published.  While it shows the correct title on the Edit Posts page, just now I made a comment and noticed the wrong title still in the post.  So, if you are interested in reading the book, please note the correct title. 

Also, I would like to thank Kelley from Between the Bookends and Hope from My Protector: The Calling for sharing the Versatile Blogger and the Kreativ Blogger Awards with me. I have to admit I get all warm and fuzzy inside when someone thinks of me for a blog award.  I'm going to share the love in a special edition post this weekend, so be on the lookout!

On to Ahriman...  The third prompt was To Die and Become One with Nature.


Samael scowled, and stood back, as far away from the scene playing out in front of him as he could get.

A wingless angel huddled, disheveled, on the ground before Ahriman. Her hands were bound behind her back, and a purplish bruise decorated the skin on her cheekbone. She avoided looking at Samael.

She knew why he was here.

Ahriman stalked around her, like a cat does a captured mouse. He turned to the Angel of Death.

“Why, Samael? Enlighten me. Why would an angel demean herself to become flesh and blood?”

Samael shrugged. If he didn’t answer, maybe Ahriman would get the hint, and get this over with.

The dark angel unsheathed a short sword from the scabbard at his waist.

“No? You don’t know.” He brought the sword down, stopping short of the angel’s head. She flinched, and Ahriman made a noise that might have been a laugh. “Don’t you ask when you take them to the Heavens? Oh, that’s right. They don’t go there, do they?”

“Are you about done?” Samael said, clenching his jaw.

Ahriman ignored him, and tilted the angel’s head with the flat edge of the sword so he could look into her eyes. “Why, precious angel, did you put yourself into such a position?”

She trembled, fear taking control of her body. Moving only her eyes, she tried to look away.

Swooping onto one knee next to her, Ahriman grabbed a handful of her hair, and yanked her head back. He put his face inches away from the angel’s.

“I asked you a question,” he snarled, his face twisted by fury.

A muffled sob escaped from her, and a single tear rolled down her cheek. The trembling of her body intensified to shaking. She closed her eyes.

Samael stepped forward, and then stopped, every muscle in his body poised for a fight he couldn't engage in.

“Just get it over with,” Samael said. He hated Ahriman more in that moment than ever before.

Ahriman let go of the angel’s hair, and made to walk away. Her face relaxed, and, in that moment, Ahriman turned and swung the short sword. It cut cleanly through the skin and bones of her neck. Before the head tumbled from her body, the angel’s spirit exited the prison of flesh. It had no form, and moved toward Samael like an earthbound cloud.

The cloud hovered in front of him. He could feel its anguish and fear from being disembodied and separated from I AM. It wasn’t right for an angel to end like this.

“You can go now,” he told the pulsating cloud. He ignored the dull ache behind his eyes as he watched the cloud disperse into the air currents.

Once the cloud had disappeared, returning to nature, he glanced over at Ahriman.

“Until next time,” he said, giving Samael a salute.

Samael watched as Ahriman crossed the room to leave, and remained silent. There was nothing to say. He would be there.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's With the Blog Face Lift?

Over the last month, you might have noticed a few changes I've made to the blog.  The biggest change is the new title, blaring my name at you at the top.  I must admit, I'm not exactly comfortable with some of the changes (aka my name blaring at you at the top of the blog) so why would I make them?

Photo courtesy of Ohmega1982
Back before Christmas, I began reading Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer by Kristen Lamb.  The book is a collection of her blog posts related to writing and blogging.  I hadn't really read anything by Ms. Lamb prior to December, but some of the people she is associated with started following me on Twitter, and then I found her book on sale on my Nook, and so I snapped it up.  I can always use help with blogging, after all.

Next, I read the blog post Your New Writing Blog: Avoid These Faux-Pas by Roz Morris, author of Nail Your Novel, about blogging basics.  She suggested many of the same things that I had read in Are You There Blog? It's Me, Blogger.  Hearing the same advice from two different sources moved me to action.  I have made links to both sources, so you can go read their great advice, rather than detailing all of the advice here and making an insanely long post.  I will share the changes I made, so you can get a sampling.
  • I deleted the left sidebar.  I also deleted some of the extra "stuff" I had needed when I started to fill space.  This did clean up the blog significantly, and moved the posts to the most visible place.
  • I moved the "About Me" back to the main page.  It is now up at the top where it is visible, complete with an updated picture of yours truly.  That's one of those uncomfortable changes, by the way, but both Kristen Lamb and Roz Morris were adament that people want to see who they're reading and don't want to go hunting for it.
  • I added a search box. Now that I have a blog history, I need help relocating specific blogs.  Up it went. I also added a subscribe by e-mail.  It's a relatively new feature on blogger, and can allow people who aren't google affiliated, or don't want to join the follower block, a way to follow your blog.
  • I started tagging my name in all my blog posts. It increases people's ability to search your name and actually find you.
  • And finally, this weekend, I put my name up at the top of my blog.  I kept Motivation for Creation as the URL, because I know how hard it is to spell 'Schiffbauer'. (It's my husband's fault.  That's the reason my twitter handle is @LASbauer, too.) I wish I could change font size, so my name could be a little less...well, large, but I can't figure out how to do that, and leave the Motivation for Creation big, so it is blaring at you, and I'm sorry.  However, you certainly know whose blog it is!
It was a tough sell to put my name up there.  I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to do it.  What finally convinced me to do it were my own experiences this Friday.  I went on a four hour blog reading bender, trying to get caught up with the reading and commenting that got neglected during the week.  When I was catching up on the Nightgale blog challenge I would look for the names of people who had commented on my blog, and not be able to find them.  I had no idea whose blog I was reading.  It was very frustrating.  I decided to save anyone who might want to find me (hopefully!) the same frustration.

Are you happy with your blog design, or are you ready for a blog face lift?  Do you have any other blogging tips you'd like to share?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I am excited to welcome to Motivation for Creation writer and Life List Club member, Jess Witkins.  She does a wonderful job of introducing herself, so I will turn the post over to her!

Hello Lara’s blog readers! Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Jess Witkins, and I’m a shopaholic. But let me back up a minute. About 6 months ago, my phenomenal friend and superwoman, Marcia Richards, co-created a little bloggy baby with me called the Life List Club. The LLC is a group combined of readers and writers and everyone that falls in between. It’s essentially, YOUR club! What Marcia and I do, and the other six contributors, is write bi-weekly inspirations and real life stories of the ambitions, struggles, setbacks, success stories, meltdowns, and milestone parties that consume all our journeys towards the things we want in our lives. We want to inspire you and help you take the next steps toward accomplishing your own goals, knowing you’ve got pals along the whole journey to give you the nudge you need.

Recently, the group celebrated its 2nd milestone party, which meant we’ve been working on our life lists for about 6 months. That’s a long time, and a great position to look at what goals you’ve set and adapt as necessary, take account of lessons learned, and recognize small successes where you find them. My Life List has many things on it, mainly writing related, but it also included a desire to travel, to save more money, and make changes necessary to one day move to a new city or return to school. Well, that all costs money. And if there was one goal that was sitting quietly in the back of the classroom with it’s glasses cockeyed and kleenex shoved up its nose to stop it from running, it was my life list goal money saving baby. (Yes, I know that was a disgusting image, but this goal needed some desperate attention and a lesson in taking a stand against the other goal babies!) 

Now, any hardcore movieholic/chick flick entrepreneur has seen the Isla Fisher film Confessions of a Shopaholic, the film where the delightfully perky redhead spends money on the latest fashions, gets the guy, but also runs herself into rampant, full on debt. *sigh* Fairytale, here I come!

Honestly, it could become my fate. Thankfully, I’m taking charge well before my shoe collection does! I am lucky enough to only have student loan debt so far. But it doesn’t mean I’ve been able to save anything for old age or emergencies. Through college and beyond I’ve been living paycheck to paycheck, and it suddenly occurred to me: with every job promotion I’ve received and higher pay that came with it, I improved my standard of living, rather than take that money as an opportunity to save. For instance, I used the extra money to buy lots of new clothes, a habit hard to break when you manage a department store in the mall! I also spend money on food a lot. A pizza here, some tacos there doesn’t seem like much until you add all the receipts together and it matches what you spent in groceries!

So, I’m making changes. First things first, I can’t ignore my bank statements for months and then manage them all at once. I was forgetting to jot down receipts and suddenly my paycheck was almost gone when I tallied it all up! So now, I vow to manage my finances once a week, making sure my balances are accurate.

Step two was a great idea given to me by a friend I met at a writer’s conference. It’s a website called which lets you track what you didn’t buy in order to show you what you could be saving. It’s completely private (unless you want to friend others for the pep boost), and you don’t enter your banking information. You do put in a goaled amount you’d like to save and a period of time. Then you synch up to twitter and make updates like if I think about stopping for fast food I don’t need, and I skip it, I can tweet “$6 lunch,” or if I see a sweater I think is cute, but I don’t put it in my shopping cart, I can tweet “$20 sweater” and piggymojo will add up what I don’t spend and I can then look at that amount and put it in my savings! I’m SUCH a visual learner that this is really helping me, and it feels like a reward when I get to “report” in via twitter how much I saved.

Step three was remembering to put your money where it matters. I made a list of what I wanted to do this year. It included traveling to the DFW conference in Dallas, TX to attend the writer’s conference and MEET up with some of my LLC peeps, visit my High School best friend in South Korea, and take a road trip to Yellowstone National Park with my honey. I’ve looked up costs of plane tickets so I know what I need to save. I’m not positive it’ll all happen, but at least I feel I have some concrete plans to work towards. That, and the continuous payments towards my student loans...

How about you readers? What money saving/budgeting tips do you have for this shopaholic? What things are on “saving up for” lists? How ‘bout your life lists? Can’t wait to chat with you all in the comments! And don’t forget, you can find Lara at Gary Gauthier’s blog today! Happy Friday!

Bio: Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town as the much younger youngest sibling of four, she’s witnessed the paranormal, jumped out of a plane, worked in retail, traveled to exotic locations like Italy, Ireland, and Shipshewana, Indiana, and she’s eaten bologna and lived to tell about it! She deals with it all and writes about it! Come along on her midwest adventures; Witkins promises to keep it honest and entertaining. Go ahead, SUBSCRIBE, you know you want to.
Follow on Twitter: @jesswitkins

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Exciting News and Samael - Nightgale Blog Challenge #2

I received an exciting e-mail today from the WOW - Women on Writing website, informing me that I survived the first round of judging in the Fall 2011 Flash Fiction Contest.  That means out of roughly 285 entries, my story is in the eighty-five that will be sent to the guest judge for the second round of judging.  I feel so lucky to even be in the eighty-five!

Here is the second installation of the Nightgale Blog Challenge.  The prompt was "Immortality comes to you, you do not go to immortality."  This story is a little longer, but has more action, so I hope it still reads quickly for you all.

Don't forget that on Friday I will welcome Jess Witkins for a guest blog.  I have read the blog, and it's a good one!  Please come and tell Jess "hi"!

Bright flashes of light sped past Samael as he hurtled through the Heavens.  He slowed when he reached the borders of space and time, and grimaced at the sudden sensation of gravity.  The pull on the essence of his being was disturbing, if not downright uncomfortable.

When he reached Earth, the city streets were cheery in the midday summer sun.  They gave no hint of the tragedy about to befall one man, and a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Brownie.

Samael checked his watch.  Two minutes to go.  He spotted Brownie down the street, leashed, and ambling toward him at the heels of his human.

The middle-aged woman wore yoga pants and a loose t-shirt that covered the bulges around her middle.  She had bags under her eyes, and limp hair that looked as tired as the woman did.

An angel named Dunrahl hovered near the duo, and, noticing Samael came over to him.

“Are you here for Sylvia? I wasn’t made aware of a change of assignment.”

“I’m not here for Sylvia.” He knew how rude he sounded, but didn’t care.  None of the other angels wanted anything to do with him.  The only reason Dunrahl came over was out of concern for the human. “The dog is coming with me, though.”

“Not good, Sam, not good,” the angel shook his head, “That dog is her life. She doesn’t have any family, and the dog is her only companion.” 

“It’s not my problem he’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I’m taking him, and that’s how it is.”  Samael looked at his watch again.  The man should be arriving soon.

Samael leaned against the storefront window and watched the people milling around him while he waited.  A group of teenage girls window shopped through him, laughing and giggling about some important nonsense.  He wondered what they would do if they knew they had a brush with Death.

At that moment, a red Volkswagen bug careened around the corner.

Right on time.

The man inside slumped over the steering wheel.  The car bounced over the curb, and continued in a path headed straight for the woman and Brownie.

The woman’s eyes grew huge.  She screamed as the car bore down upon her and her doomed dog.

Samael shook his head. They always screamed. Why didn’t they run or fight? That made better sense than screaming.

Brownie had better sense. He strained at his leash, and pulled the woman out of the way of the car.

The man’s spirit popped free of his body as the car hit the building.  He landed in the street to the side of the Volkswagen. He looked around, an expression of pure confusion plastered across his face.

One down, one to go.

The car bounced off the building, and skidded sideways.

Brownie didn’t have a chance.  The front wheels slid over the top of him, crushing him. His spirit shook itself out of its body, like he’d just had a bath and needed to dry off.

The car slid to a stop inches from the woman.

Absolute silence followed the crash, and then chaos rang through the street.  Samael already heard the sirens of the rescue vehicles that had been called into action.

The teenage girls ran toward the wreckage, half-fearful of what they’d find and half-excited to have seen the whole thing.

Over it all, the wails of the woman pierced the air.  She knelt between the front and back wheels, next to Brownie’s lifeless body. She rocked back and forth, sobbing, and petted the dog’s head.

Dunrahl caught Samael’s eyes, with an expression that said “I told you so.”

Samael turned to the man, still in the middle of the street, and tried block out the woman’s anguished cries.

“Hey,” he said, “Over here.”

The man stared at him. “I… Am I dead?”

Samael raised his right eyebrow. “What do you think?”

Dunrahl gave him an aggravated glance.  He approached the man, and said, “You have to go to the Heavens now.  I AM has called you to return.” He jerked his head toward Samael.  “He will show you the way.”

The man looked at the Angel of Death with suspicion. “I’m supposed to go with him?”

Samael didn’t answer.  He had only heard half of the exchange, distracted by the scene next to the car. 

He watched the woman, his lips pressed into a straight line.  “Humans put too much emotion into their pets,” he muttered. 

Still, something about the woman’s grief pulled at him. He couldn’t look away from the dog, which had taken up his position at her heels, and sat patiently as she attended to his body.

He crossed over to the dog.  Its amber colored eyes were soft when he turned to face Samael.  Starting on his chin, the angel scratched the soft fur, worked his way up over the dog’s jaws, and finished at the hollow behind Brownie’s ears.

“All right,” Samael said, so only Brownie could hear.  He patted the dog on the head.  “Go back.”  He snapped his fingers, and pointed at the dog’s body.

Brownie bumped Samael’s hand with his nose, working his head under the angel’s hand.  The tension around the angel’s eyes lessened, and Samael felt his heart expand a bit. 

Aware of Dunrahl watching him, Samael scowled and said, “Now move it, before I change my mind.”

He strode back over to Dunrahl and the man.  He didn’t look back when cheers erupted from the group huddled near the car.

“Let’s go,” he motioned for the man to follow him, and headed for the Gate to the Heavens.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

What Risks Are There in Writing?

Risk is not the first thing we think of when we hear the word “writer.”  More likely, the vision of a person safely tucked away in an office somewhere, bent over a typewriter comes to mind.

There are risks within the writing life, though.

Photo Courtesy of digitalart
 “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” Jim Rohn

While writing, there may be the temptation to stick with what we know, or not to push past our boundaries of what is comfortable.  When we do so, we end up with the ordinary.  We must write “brave and free.”  We have to continually be on the lookout for the unusual, and sometimes the uncomfortable.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

We risk exposing our inner selves to the world through our writing, thereby exposing ourselves to rejection.  We know that “it’s not personal,” but sometimes it is difficult to separate the person from the writer.  However, there can be greater pain in not finding our own voices, but in trying to play it safe, hiding our voice, and writing for other people’s approval.

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” TS Eliot.

We risk our sense of security every time we stretch ourselves and reach for our dreams.  When over seventy-five percent of the nation has stated they dream of being a writer, the odds can look pretty small that any one person will make it far enough to be called a success.

If we don’t stretch ourselves, though, we can never know if we could have been in the small percentage that did make it.  It would always be a question in the back of our minds, an itch we couldn't scrath.

While writing can be very risky to our stability and sense of self-worth, what are the risks of not being a writer?  Which risk do you choose?

A "Thank You" and Some Upkeep

First, I would like to thank Cassie at Reading, Writing, and Lovin' It for the Great Comments Award.  It was so kind of her to think of me, and I really don't know how many people on the internet are as generous and kind as she is.  She also is a really good writer.  I enjoy her posts, but especially enjoy when she "fictionalizes" in her posts.  She has a wonderful voice, and a fun style to read. 

In order to accept the award, I am also supposed to pass it on.  That's where it gets a little tricky for me.  You see, many of the people that comment on my blog are all the ones that have already gotten the award, many of them from Cassie, or someone else in the recent past.  So, instead of officially passing the award on, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you who take the time to comment and be friendly.  Every one matters a lot to me, and makes you a Great Commenter in my book. 

I would like to separately recognize Cindy Keen Reynders at Saucy Lucy Wisdom, because she has commented on almost every post I've ever written since she started her blog.  In total, I think she might have missed two or three posts.  Thanks, Cindy, for being there!

Just a little upkeep...

I feel as if I am inundating you all with posts, so I hope you will bear with me!  Today I am going to post this post and a "regular" post about risk.  I tried to keep the second post short, so if you wanted to read both, it wouldn't take you forever!

I promise I won't post again until Thursday, when I post the second story in the Nightgale Blog Challenge. 

On Friday, I am excited to have Life List Club member Jess Witkins here to guest post on goals, goal acheivement, or something of the sort!  I have read through several of her previous LLC posts, and believe you are all in for a treat!  I will be guest posting over at Gary Gauthier's blog, so when you finish reading Jess's post, come over and say hi!


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