Write like your hair’s on fire and a FREE writer’s planner!

hairs-on-fire2

“I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

When someone learns I’m a writer, that is nearly always the response.

I think everyone wants to be a writer. It’s an American thing, isn’t it? But what makes the difference between someone who wants to be and someone who is?

Hard work.

hair on fire

Maybe they’ve never gotten organized enough to write. Maybe they don’t think they have enough time. I’m one of the busiest people I know. The reason I find time to write is because I make time to write. Even if I have only snatches of 15 minutes here and there, I’m writing.

Here are a few things I do to write like my hair’s on fire:

  • I use my Writer’s Planner sheet to organize my day. The night before I write down my six most important things to get done the next day. I also figure out what errands I need to run, what I need to get done in my day job (ministry and college classes) and then in the column for writing I have a list of things I need to get written. I include my word count goal for the day (it differs, but I shoot for 1000 at least a day but prefer 3000) and record what I actually got done. (Don’t think word count is end all and be all. One of my favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo, only writes 250 words a day and she’s a best-seller and has won huge awards! I tend to throw up on the page and edit later.)
  • One of the most important things on my list is time with the Lord, reading the Bible and prayer. I can’t imagine being inspired without His anointing.
  • I  keep a Word Document open on my computer with my list of tasks for the day so I won’t get distracted. Yes, this duplicates my hard copy, but it helps me stay on track. I’m trying to learn to use the Google task tracker but I’m not yet in the groove.
  • If I’m able (and not usually) I clear my calendar for two weeks to wrap up a project. I let everyone know I’m on deadline and I shut myself away. If my family isn’t cooperative I leave the house and go somewhere quiet where I won’t be interrupted such as the library or some other venue with wi-fi (because I depend on Google for research). I don’t make any appointments outside of writing.
  • During my writing sessions ignore all emails that are not blood or fire. (If they aren’t bleeding or there isn’t some emergency, I let them sit unanswered.)
  • Stock up on crunchy foods like carrots (ahem) for keeping me awake in case I’m tempted to feel drowsy. I also try to plan on meals I can eat at the computer. Snacky type stuff that’s high in protein. Since my surgery I’ve discovered a delicious high-protein powder to add to my water or milk. Yum. Perfect for working!
  • Social Media is on hold until after the word count or project is completed.
  • My family hasn’t yet died eating a frozen lasagna or ordering in. They are grown (albeit with disabilities) and they know they are on their own when I write. I had to decide to be selfish about my writing career in order to make it happen. When I finish up a project or sign a book contract, we go out and celebrate AS A FAMILY, because they all pay the price by sacrificing Mom/wife attention.
  • Water. Lots and lots of water. It hydrates the brain.
  • Make myself sleep. This is very hard for me. But I think more clearly when I’m well rested. I tell myself that God works while I sleep. I take a Benadryl to help me feel drowsy.
  • Either go for walks or use my glider exercise machine DAILY. I prefer to swim in the summer.
  • Rewards: if I’m bored with the process I set the timer and tell myself “I’m going to write for 15 minutes and then I can stop.” I also reward myself for big word goals reached by either allowing myself a small purchase on Amazon (I am an office supply and book fanatic) or some other treat such as a movie night. I think rewards along the way are important because we are so alone in the process before we see any feedback.
  • Ignore my phone. I have it with me but unless it’s important I don’t answer it. I also subscribe to an answering service through Google. Yeah, I know, they’re probably spying, but it’s pretty cool. It transcribes the phone messages and sends me an email transcript of the phone call. Then, when I’m going through emails later, I can also answer my phone messages in order of importance.
  • Organization. I think this is super key to writing like your hair’s on fire. I have a space for everything. That’s not to say I’m a neat freak because when you live with autism and three dogs, you can’t be. But I know where all my supplies, books, research, calendar are all the time and keep them near me when I need them even if it means they’re in my rolling backpack.

Fire_in_Your_Hair_by_Akatung

Speaking of organization, you can download a copy of my 2014 Writer’s Planner! It’s my gift to you for a Happy 2014!

 

twitter35

Tweet this: get out there, set your hair ablaze, and write!

 

Tweet this: FREE Writer’s Planner!

 

 

 

What will you do to write like your hair’s on fire in 2014?

When parents of disabled children kill

Autism-Awareness

I hear it all the time.

A parent gets overwhelmed and they kill their child with a disability because one more day is just too much.

Kelli Stapleton, age 45 of Michigan, wrote on her blog, The Status Woe, in September:  “I have to admit that I’m suffering from a severe case of battle fatigue.”

130906-stapleton-hmed-7p.380;380;7;70;0

It was on this blog that she vented about the challenges of raising her 14-year-old daughter, Isabelle, who has a diagnosis of autism and a history of violent outbursts. Something went wrong with her school program and it made things worse.

Why did something go wrong with the school program?

One of the reasons I want my degree in special education is because I have insight as a parent of special needs children.

Autism_awareness

When will the schools realize that SAMENESS is one of the most important factors in educating students with autism? Especially severe autism? And especially severe autism in the teen years?

Later that day, this Mom and her daughter were found unconscious from carbon monoxide poisoning  in a van in which charcoal was burned with the windows all closed. The child survived and Mom is now in jail awaiting trial.

muchpainI’m not condoning her actions. But I understand what it’s like to lose hope. It’s the worst feeling in the world. You can’t think straight after being pummeled by your child day in and day out with no end in sight. There just isn’t enough support for parents in this country. We love our children. We love having them with us in our home. But where is the support?

School is not enough.

autism_awareness2

Kelli’s friends are blogging for her now on her blog, and raising money for her legal fees.

Kelli’s Blog: The Status Woe

Fund Raiser: Friends of Kelli Stapleton

And a beautiful blog post about this situation is here: A Line in the Sand. It says so well all that I wanted to say here but couldn’t find the words as my heart breaks for this child and her mother.

Please read it. Even if you have no interest in special needs families. Read it and learn. There are hurting people out there and you just might be an answer to their prayer.

twitter23

 

 

Tweet This: There isn’t enough support for parents of special needs kids in this country.

Strong Girl Saturday: Strong and pretty are not opposites

Stronggirlslogo2

On Saturdays I’ll be blogging about being a Strong Girl. While I’ll be speaking to a female audience of all ages, my main focus, initially, will be on young women finding their way in this world with Jesus. We’ll answer hard questions and discuss things that might be a little uncomfortable to talk about with parents, or parents to talk about with their daughters.

Teens-Work-on-Laptops-at-the-Beach

In my 32 years of experience as a Sunday School teacher and youth leader, I’ve seen too many girls value themselves only for what their bodies can offer a boy, or in today’s sexually charged climate, another girl. I’ve seen too many girls who see themselves as weak instead of strong. I see girls who are insecure as they search for who they are, and girls who just have a hard time believing that Jesus is really there for them.

Teenage Problems, Social Issues and Bullying

While recovering from a major surgery (that has required a lot of strength!), I stumbled upon a TV show about women taking men to court to prove they are the father of their children. Woman after woman stepped up to the witness stand and laid out her indiscretions on a calendar for the whole world to see on satellite television.

44361732_9ca8aa33ca_z

Now, we’ve all made mistakes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful these women chose to have their children instead of aborting them. But the numbers of partners these women have within the span of a few weeks is startling.

It makes me mad.

At the destroyer.

The one who beats girls down and convinces them they are no more than a sexual object and that sex equals love. The one that convinces them that they have no value unless they are in the arms of a boy or man.

Girls, if you don’t get anything I ever write, get this: you are not what anyone says you are. You are what God says you are.

And we will explore just exactly what it is He says you are.

twitter38

 

Tweet This: You are precious. You are valuable. You are not your own. You are bought with a price.

 

 

I’ve created a facebook page where we strong girls can hang out and chat about what makes us strong, how to stand strong, stay strong, and ask questions here: https://www.facebook.com/StrongGirls4Jesus

Until next Saturday,

Karla

PS Leave me your questions in the comments below and I will answer them!

 

W is for workaholic

A_to_Z_blog_hop_zps9cc52b74

Hello, my name is Karla Akins and I’m a workaholic.

In the United States, this is seen as an asset. But really, it’s an addiction just as bad as any other. It means things are out of whack. Out of balance.

out-of-balance

The fact is, I’m just not comfortable relaxing. And that’s a problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I can be as lazy as the next person.

But when I have to tell myself on Christmas Day that “it’s okay to just sit and watch a movie and not multi-task because it’s Christmas.” I know there’s a problem.

02-gold-finch-relax

I just plain love my work. Not all of it. I don’t like doing dishes, cleaning toilets or doing laundry all that much. I don’t like picking up after people for the millionth time.

housework2

But when it comes to my writing and my college classes and my ministry at the church, I have a difficult time saying no to it. Even on Christmas Day.

oficina_workaholico

So here’s to a more balanced New Year. Between now and January 1st, I’m going to lock myself away alone and do some very hard evaluating and serious prioritizing. I think one of the first things I’m going to do is schedule time to see a counselor each month so I can stay on track for accountability.

twitter32

 

 

Tweet this: Being a workaholic isn’t anything to be proud of.

 

 

 

What say you? Is there a habit you struggle with? How can you stay accountable as you try to improve on that pesky thing?



The greatest gift

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Here is a gift that lasts all year:

tumblr_mybmqybR0U1ron0poo1_500May your 2014 be filled with safety, prosperity and the peace of knowing that God is in control!

Holly-Jolly-Blog-Hop_zpse348f95c



Mary did you know?

I’m just going to leave this right here on Christmas Eve to help us remember Who it is we remember during this celebration and the Reason for the Season.

Christmas Eve traditions

pere-noel_louis-prang

Our family is weird.

But tradition is tradition and when you live with autism, you cling to a tradition that works like Velcro.

Here’s what we’re doing today (although, I admit I’m limited today due to my surgery recovery):

  • Frantically cleaning every corner and wrapping every forgotten gift we can find.
  • I usually cook all day but that won’t happen this year. So I’m going to be directing traffic in the kitchen.
  • The grandchildren will be here so it will be great fun watching them lick the bowls and decorate the cookies. I put out nativity scenes that are made for little hands and I love watching them play with them.
  • Around 4:00 PM, everyone cleans up, dresses up fancy, and gets ready to go to the church Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 PM.

Origin-Christmas-candleAnd here’s where it gets weird.

  • After the service we go to Pizza Hut.

pizza-hut

Yeah. I know. Not very dignified are we?

But this has been the tradition in this wee little town since we moved here 14 years ago. We discovered that Pizza Hut is rather empty on Christmas Eve and with two boys with autism, the peace there was perfect. We could feed the kids and grandkids to the gills and enjoy one another’s company. Sometimes if someone shows up to the Christmas Eve service with nowhere to go afterward, we invite them along.

girlsxmas2011

Three of my seven granddaughters: Trinity Grace, Maggie Ellen Faith, Avery Hope

After we get home it’s time to open gifts from out-of-town relatives and friends, and the grandchildren open gifts from us before they go home. There are tons of cookies, egg nog, and other goodies to enjoy before sending them home to their own beds so they can wake up for their own family Christmases.

Do you have a strange family Christmas tradition you enjoy? I’d love to know about it!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Autism, Christmas and Miracles

 

tumblr_my4e9nQE6g1r1vjs5o1_500Source: Facebook

I am home from the hospital recovering from surgery and I am not a very good patient. I whine, cry, moan and throw little fits.

In my defense, I am allergic to most pain medications. They make me so nauseous and dizzy I simply can’t take them. I’ve been dealing with recovering from a major surgery while on Tylenol. So, I think it’s safe to say others in my shoes may be as whiny as I. Or not.

On Saturday I was particularly blue. Very discouraged. Tired of feeling so badly. I was crying a lot. So Mr. Himself thought it was a good time to cheer me up with the gift the twins made for me at vocational school. Isn’t it gorgeous?

picmonkey_image

It’s made from 100-year-old barn wood.

I never dreamed my boys would be able to do such a thing. Of course, they had a lot of help and guidance from their shop teacher, but still. This table is an enormous symbol.

  • A symbol of how far they’ve come
  • A symbol of how much favor they find with teachers
  • A symbol of their undying, loyal, faithful love for family
  • A symbol of taking something scarred and making it beautiful.

This table will never leave me. Until the day I die, this is my Christmas table.

Young moms with autism out there — never stop hoping and dreaming. The twins have gone from severe to mild with a ton of work and a lot of help from others.

twins

At vocational school. Isaac (L), Isaiah (R)

I am very grateful to the Lord for these beautiful boys. So very grateful to be their Mom.

 

 

 

 

Silent Sunday

FrankieChristmasMy pug, Frankie