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An open letter to friends and family from a writer

Dear Friends and Family:

(Note: This letter is not in any way a reference to my darling Mr. Himself!)

Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one. (1)

There have been some rumbles lately about the time I spend writing. To help us all get on the same page about this wordsmith-ing gig I’m into, I thought I’d write this letter to set a few things straight.

Few people understand the sacrifices a writer makes other than other writers. Especially writers with full-time jobs outside of writing. The perception most of the public has of people who write books, is that their work is easy and effortless. Authors sit down and *POOF* out pops a book.

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When you’re a writer, people assume you don’t have a “real” job with “real” hours. Deadlines, to them, are just excuses to say no to things you don’t want to do, when the opposite is true. People also assume writers who are published get big royalty checks each month. Um, no. Not unless you’re a national/international best-seller. So far, no one is banging down my door offering me movie contracts or begging me to publish with them. And if a big royalty check arrived in the mail, someone stole it.

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Some of you wonder how I juggle so many things and wear so many hats. It boils down to three basic things:

  1. I don’t watch TV. Think of how many hours you watch TV each week and add it up. That’s probably several whole days of writing for me. I get several whole extra days a week others don’t because I spend my spare time writing and researching instead of passively frying my brain on drivel. (As you can see, I have a high opinion of television these days.)
  2. Writing for me is as much a part of me as breathing. I must write. It’s been such a part of me, from such a young age, I simply can’t imagine not doing it. Ducks swim. I write. You hunt. I write. You are a car enthusiast, I’m a writer. I’m different from you. Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.
  3. I’ve learned to say no. It upsets people. They call me names. They hurt my feelings by saying things like, “I’ll be sure they put ‘I have a deadline’ on your tombstone.'” (More about that in a minute.) But I’ve learned that no one will respect and protect my writing time but me. No one understands it, or wants it, as badly as I do.

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I’ve learned that there’s no way to please everyone, so I’ve stopped trying. My aim is to please God and God alone. This has taken me far too long to learn. I wish I’d have done so many years ago. I’m thankful I’ve finally arrived at a place of self-respect and self-care.

You see, I really don’t mind having the epitaph of “I have a deadline” on my tombstone, because that’s exactly what I’m working for, that final deadline.

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We will all stand before God one day. Alone. No one will stand there with us. The enemy will accuse us and Jesus will defend us. But we stand that day without any of our earthly friends and family with us.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” 2 Corinthians 5:10, KJV.

“…And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 John 2:1, KJV.

Heaven is the deadline I’m working toward. And that is why I must write. Far too many people don’t understand the outrageous love God has for them. Far too many live in deception and recklessly dance on the precipice of hell. I’m called to share the Good News with them. I’m called to rescue the perishing with my words.

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I might not have the glamorous social life some of my friends have, or I might not be up on the latest pop culture, but I’m okay with that because I’m doing what I was born to do. Friends and family may reject me because of this writing passion. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I don’t live to please them.

I live to please my God. The One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I look to the heavens every single day wondering if this is the day my Jesus returns for me. I look to those heavens with a mix of anticipation and excitement for myself, but sorrow for those I’ve not yet reached with His Words.

(Let me be clear. This does not make me more righteous or better than anyone else. My righteousness comes from my Messiah, Jesus, alone. In myself, I am nothing.)

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My sacrifice is nothing compared to His. My sorrows nothing compared to what He endured on the cross. I don’t care if you call me addled or crazy. I know that I know Who He is, and Whom I serve. I serve a living God. I serve the God who created all those who call themselves gods. I serve the most powerful, most glorious, most merciful YHWH. I can no more stop writing to spread His message, than I can stop breathing.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of

So the next time you try to shame me into stopping this writing thing? I’ll hand you a copy of this post. Maybe you’ll understand. Maybe you won’t. But at least it is written. And like my father always said, “People believe if it is written, it is so.”

In this case, yes, it is indeed so. I will say no sometimes to fun, to something someone else wants me to do at the spur of the moment, when I’ve already carved out that time in my week to work (i.e., write). I won’t always be able to drop what I’m doing and get someone out of a bind because of something they failed to plan for. I am called to write, not fix someone else’s poor time management foibles.

Write anyway.-3 (2)

That may sound harsh. But it’s what we writers must do in this day of rapid-fire-time-guzzlers. Someone is always going to misunderstand a writer’s need for space and time to create. Contrary to what people think, great words don’t simply magically appear at the end of our finger tips or pens and morph themselves into books, articles or blog posts.

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If this writing thing was easy, everyone would publish a book. Newsflash to friends and family: this writing thing can be grueling. Yes, I love it. Yes, it’s what I’m made to do. That doesn’t mean that it’s not just plain hard work sometimes. There are times when people are asleep all snuggled up in their warm, comfy beds that I wish I was, too. Instead, I’m up earlier than the birds or later than the stars. I sacrifice sleep, family meals and going to the movies, just as you do at your own jobs. Writing is what I love, but writing is also time-consuming work.

If you love me, you’ll try to respect and understand this singular, unconventional path I walk. You won’t hold it against me when I can’t come running because I’m at work, just as you can’t rescue me when you’re at work. Instead of knocking me down, you’ll build me up and give me wings. It’s amazing what a little encouragement will do. I can go for hours, nay, weeks, on just one “atta girl!”

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Finally, I love you. I love you with all your quirks, bad habits, and bad choices. I love you with all I have in me. Just because I’m writing doesn’t mean I stopped loving you. It just means I’m busy answering the call. And I promise. I promise. In between projects, I’ll emerge from my writing cave, and we’ll party and dance and eat and celebrate with outrageous abandon like a fat, sassy robin in springtime.

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But there will come a day, when the cave will beckon me in again, and I will hibernate. Some hibernation times last longer than others. But never fear. They don’t last forever. When I emerge, like a moth from a chrysalis, I will fly back into the real world and do all I can to make it up to you.

Just please try to understand. This writing thing can be hard. The path is often lonely. And it’s made all the worse when I don’t have the sustenance of your blessing. I may not live to please you, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want your support.

And maybe, just maybe, a movie-maker will knock down my door. And when that happens? You’ll be right there with me on that red carpet.

I guarantee it.

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How to write an award-winning bestselling first novel | Nathan Filer | TEDxYouth@Bath

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Since I’m in student teaching purgatory (see my journey at KarlaTeaches.com), I’ve had little time to focus on my writing. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still a writer! All my thoughts eventually end up in my idea pile. I’m constantly observing, gleaning and researching as I go through each day.

I stumbled upon this little gem (the following video) and wanted to share it with you. In honor of NANOWRIMO, I want to encourage you to keep writing. Don’t stop. It was NANOWRIMO that helped me write my first break-out novel. I’m sad that this is the first year since 2008 that I’ve not even attempted to participate in November Novel Writing Mania!

If you’re a struggling writer (and what writer isn’t?) then you’ll find inspiration here.

Tweet this:

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Failure is a part of success. Embrace it. 

To make your dreams come true, it’s up to you…

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“If it’s to be it’s up to me.”

I know that as a Christian this quote isn’t exactly right. But there’s a lot of truth in it. Other than the fact that indeed, we must line up our dreams and plans and goals with God’s purpose for our lives, no one is going to make sure we hit the mark but ourselves.

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Six years ago I decided to pursue two life-long dreams. To continue my college education and write books. Since then, neither of those dreams dissipated. And now I find myself in the middle of one of the hardest parts of the journey physically for me: student teaching and editing a book I’ve sold to ready it for publication.

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During my journey to today, no one ever asked me if I had my homework done or if I had written anything each day. No one pushed me out of bed in the mornings after staying up until two or three in the morning. No one made my tea or asked me if I was making my deadlines.

I had to learn to say no in order to say yes to my dreams. Saying no is hard for me. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve been conditioned to worry about what other people think. I’ve still not mastered the concept of forging ahead without a thought to others’ opinions, but I’m getting better. I mean, sometimes it’s good to hear other opinions about things. I’m still figuring out when to listen and when to tune out.

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The point is this. More than likely no one has a passion for your dream like you. No one wants it as bad as you do. And you’ve got to muster up all the courage you can to climb that mountain and reach the top. It’s called ambition. And its cohort is grit.

You can do this dream thing. But be prepared to encourage yourself a lot. Be prepared to forge ahead when others wish you’d just slow down and take a breather. When your friends look at you funny because you need to stay in and write or study instead of going to the game or out for a night on the town, you can have the backbone to know that you’re in a different season than they are. You’re in the season of mountain climbing, and you need to suck up all the oxygen you can.

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You can do this. Dreaming is a solitary thing. And sometimes, making dreams come true is solitary, too. But as Christians, we’re never alone. Isn’t that wonderful? Imagine having to do it alone. We don’t have to. We have the Great Teacher with us and in us. We have the mind of Christ. We have someone Who never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Give Him your dreams and He’ll help you carry them. He’ll even carry you when you’re too tired to take another step. Ask me how I know.

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Interview with author Amy Clipston

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You are going to love this interview with best-selling author of Amish fiction, Amy Clipston!

I fell in love with Amy’s work after reading her non-fiction biography, The Gift of Love about her husband’s journey with kidney disease. I loved that book, and you can read about it and view an interview about it here.

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She has several new Amish books out. I don’t know how she does it, but she keeps churning them out!

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Released 8/16/16

Amy’s Amish series include the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series and the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel Series. Her books have achieved the Christian Fiction bestseller lists, including the CBA (Christian Book Association) bestseller list and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller list.

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Released 11/29/16

Get your cuppa ready and settle in for a fascinating interview with Amy!

(Leave a comment below and you will be entered in a drawing for a book from Amy! She’s giving away three of them! Yay!)

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July’s Brilliant Blog Award Winner

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I’m super happy and excited to announce July’s winner for the Brilliant Blog Award because I’ve been wanting to give this blog an award for a long time. I wish I had something funny and witty to say about it because its author, Tom Threadgill is about the most comedic blogger I know.

The thing I like about Tom’s blog, Wits’ End, is the dry humor and quick wit. Even though Tom writes suspense novels, I’ve been begging him to write a humorous novel. In fact, I look forward to the day he and I have time to collaborate on an idea I’ve shared with him.

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Congratulations, Tom!

Be sure to check him out. And if you have any editing you need done, I can highly recommend Tom. Eagle Eye is the perfect name for his editing service.

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Do you have a blog to recommend for the Brilliant Blog Award? Find out my guidelines here. Twitter_Bird_Coffee_by_Aaron_Riddleacriddledotcom

Please tweet: Congrats to @Tom_Threadgill for winning July’s Brilliant Blog Award!

The best time of day to write

All my adult life I’ve felt guilty about my circadian rhythm. Add to that the knowledge that my favorite authors rise and shine in the wee hours of the morning to write, and I feel even more guilty for being a Night Owl.

I capitalized Night Owl because the Night Owl is actually my college mascot. Something tells me I’m not going to escape this particular identity.

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I was discussing this issue with my son. Since I start student teaching next week, I’m a little freaked out about when I’ll be able to get my writing time in. I’m a true believer in “you don’t find time to write you make time.” But, as someone who lives with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, I’m aware that my body will only allow me to be alert so many hours in the day.

The way I often get through the day is that I have to take a 20-minute nap in the afternoon (or longer depending how bad I’m feeling) to get through the rest of the day. I then take a B-12 vitamin and move along. I can usually squeeze out an evening of writing that way.

But many of my favorite authors are morning authors–Kate DiCamillo, for one (I love her voice!).  Wouldn’t it be better if I was more like her? Over and over again I’ve beat myself up for not being up with the robins getting that worm. (Okay, so I don’t like worms, but my worm would be a manuscript.)

Does the fact that I’m not a morning writer mean I’ll never be a best-seller?

Not according to this amazing infograph:

Opposite Habits of Famous Writers.
Opposite Habits of Famous Writers by Bid4Papers

Is this cool or what?

I’ve got to grasp the fact that it doesn’t matter when I write. It only matters that I write. Every day. For several hours.

(Excuse me while I grab another cup of tea, and pet my dogs and cats, sit very still in the light of the moon, and write very, very slow.)

If you want more proof it’s okay to be a night writer, check out this awesome blog post by Jeff Goins here: Why You Should Be Writing at Night.

When is your favorite time of the day write/craft/read good books/do what you love most?

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Please tweet: When is the best time of day to write?

The Art of Interruptions

-Interruptions remind us we are not in control.---Karla Akins

Okay, this is hilarious.

I had this post completely written and guess what?

It disappeared.

Then I wrote it again. And added pictures.

And the pictures disappeared.

Then when I added the pictures again and checked on it–saved it, published it, the original post showed up without pictures. (I was working in Blogger for a cross-post to Hoosier Ink. I gave up and decided to post it here in WordPress.)

hmm...I find this extremely ironic since I’m writing about interruptions. And I don’t believe in coincidences. Sometimes life gets so crazy and bizarre you just have to laugh. Just like God does when we make plans. I picture Him sitting beside me, jabbing me in the ribs with a loud “Got ya!” He probably isn’t, but that’s how I picture Him when things like this happen. (I mean no disrespect to God. He knows how much I admire His sense of humor.)

You’d think after having kids with autism and a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s living with us, I’d be the Queen of Handling Interruptions. But I’m not. I have a hunch that God must be determined to make me an expert. Either that, or he enjoys a good laugh. You know the Yiddish saying, right? “We make plans and God laughs.” He is hee-hawing all over the universe with the way my summer has gone.

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You see, I’m a planner. I love to plan. I have several planners — one for home/church, one for my writing and one for my college classes. I begin student teaching in August, and I’ll have a teaching planner, too.  I also use Google Calendar to remind me of appointments and deadlines. I love to plan. I buy all sorts of stickers and tapes and tabs for my planner. Planning is my hobby.

A few of my planning toys. I keep them in a ziplock envelope inside my planner. I have many more in my office drawers!

And oh yeah, I haven’t even begun to tell you all about how I plan on Kanbanflow! I have 11 (!) planning boards there. Now, admittedly, many of them are for books and projects. But a lot of them aren’t.

This isn't my kanban, but you get the idea.

This isn’t my kanban, but you get the idea.

Here’s how my summer has gone so far. Keep in mind, this is the summer when I was going to knock out those 11 Kanbanflow lists and cure world hunger:

  • My dishwasher broke the same month of the twins’ graduation open house (mid-May)
  • The twins’ caregiver quit in May. We still don’t have a new caregiver and they require 24-7 supervision
  • Ordered new dishwasher
  • New dishwasher arrived and quit working after one week
  • Part for new dishwasher will not be here until August 12
  • Air conditioner is not acting right. And it’s only the hottest summer ever.
  • June 25 my computer crashes. Kaput. Zero. Zilch. Will cost too much of a percentage of a new one to fix.
  • Wait two weeks for new computer to arrive.
  • Can’t find my backup files on Carbonite
  • My wedding ring got an upgrade May 1. Sent it off to get it fixed. It’s still not back after it being returned twice looking like a bubble gum ring. (Does this mean I’ve been single all this time?)
  • My mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s has been sick a lot this summer. This means a lot of attention, care and trips to the hospital. (Keep her in your prayers. Her name is Ellen.)
  • When I flew to Colorado for conference, why didn’t I expect my plane to be delayed and have three gate changes in Dallas?
  • My back went out July 22. I have a bad sacrum joint thing going on. Which means I can’t sit, stand or walk comfortably at all. The only medication that’s touching the pain is Ibuprofen which I’m not supposed to take because of a stomach condition. But, it’s Ibuprofen that’s allowed me to sit here in this awkward position and type this post.

These are just a few of the highlights of my summer saga entitled, “Interrupted Summer.” Not very original, I know, but it describes it very well. (Which means it’d do well on a Kindle search, but that’s another blog post for another day.)

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God isn't looking at the clock.He's looking at my character.--KarlaAkins.com

I believe God is bound and determined to teach me how to handle interruptions with grace. I’m obviously a slow learner. This has been a sink or swim summer. I’m treading water, but not sure I’m going anywhere.

And yet, I’m trying to embrace the interruptions as positive opportunities instead of negative experiences. They’re like when I get lost on purpose when I ride my motorcycle. I love exploring unchartered territories. Why not view interruptions in the same way?

Interruptions are actually God’s Providence. It’s Him teaching me I’m not the one in control. He is. And I can either embrace these moments or kick against them. It’s up to me how I perceive them.

In the below video I share a few more of my thoughts on the matter. If you like the video, please subscribe to my channel and hit like on the thumbs up tab! (In Youtube.)

How about you? Do you like interruptions as much as I do?

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Please tweet: Interruptions are God’s unexpected field trips.

What’s on your writing desk, Mary Sayler?

Karla:  Today we’re visiting Mary Sayler at her writing desk! Mary also shares details about her routine. Take it away, Mary!

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Mary: I’m at my desk every morning, writing and posting Praise Poems or blogging on various aspects of words and The Word for The Word Center blog. Since I’ve been a full-time freelance and assignment writer for Christian and educational publishers for most of my adult life, I usually have a project in progress. Otherwise, I’m researching for my Bible study class, or I’m reading a new edition of the Bible I’ve been sent to review on the Bible Reviewer blog, or I’m revising my poems, or I’m critiquing someone else’s poems for a small fee, or I’m redoing my website, or I’m social networking, or I’m doing laundry or tending grandchildren or cooking dinner or emailing whoever is waiting for my response or waiting tables at our church’s weekly pancake breakfast.

Karla: Whew. What a whirlwind! But it sounds so fulfilling!

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Mary’s writing lair. Isn’t it cozy?

Mary: As a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church, I’m a persistent pray-er, but praising God doesn’t come naturally for me. Then, last Fall, I felt the Lord coaxing me to begin the Praise Poems blog to praise God for Who God Is, rather than what He does. Those poems have kept coming as contemporary psalms until I have more than enough for a book!

Karla: That is so awesome! I love it when that happens!

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Click to buy!

Mary: Although many of my books (27 in all genres) are no longer in print, the newest ones can be found on my Amazon Author Page. I posted some of my online writing credits on my website and set up Profile pages in the Poets & Writers online directory of poets, About Me, and the just-discovered QuotesRain.

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Click to buy!

Back in the Golden Days, my traditional publishers did all of the marketing for me, leaving me free to write. Now, social networking seems to be a must for any writer with books or blogs, so I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and who knows what else! I’m grateful for my computer and Internet, but oh, I miss pencil and paper!

Where in the world do you write-

Karla: Me, too, Mary! I miss the days I’d sit in the trees over the creek behind my grandmother’s house and pen prose. Those were delicious moments. But from the looks of your twitter following (10k+!), you’re great at this social media thing! Wow!

Thanks for sharing your writing space with us today! It’s fun to peek in on professional writers’ lairs and see how they do it. Your space looks incredibly inviting for getting in the writing zone.

How about you, Dear Reader? Where in the world do you write? I’d love to know!

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Please tweet: What’s on your writing desk? Mary Sayler shares hers!

Announcing the Brilliant Blog Winner for the Month of June

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June’s pick was a no-brainer. I love this blog so much for so many reasons, it’s hard not to gush about it. What really amazes me, though, is that this author has only been published a short time. In fact, I read her first book and loved it. I was drawn to it because of the title. As a violinist, it was a must read.

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You can read my review of it here.

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Kristy Cambron impresses me on many levels. All  young, successful writers inspire me, but when I come across a young writer like Kristy: fresh, witty, confident, productive, speaker, wife, Mom, creative blogger — I have to gush just a little.

Here’s a bit about Kristy quoted from her website:

“Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists, and received a 2015 INSPY Awards nomination for best debut novel. The Illusionist’s Apprentice (HarperCollins, 2017) is her fourth novel.”

Pretty impressive, eh?

But her career and success aren’t why I chose her blog. I chose it because it’s fresh, visually appealing, and I sense her desire to connect with her readers. One way she does this is through video. As writers, I realize most of us really don’t like being in front of the camera. (I’m trying to learn to not be afraid of it.) Kristy has turned YouTube to her advantage when it comes to promoting her books.

But I don’t feel like she’s pushing her books when I read her blog or watch her videos. I feel like she’s just hanging out. Which is what a really good author blog does. It helps the reader feel connected to the writer. One of her most recent videos does this brilliantly:

And she’s a lefty like me! (That’s the real reason she won this month.) (Just kidding!)

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Yes, I’m signing a contract of some kind! Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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Please tweet: Congratulations, Kristy Cambron! Your blog is brilliant!

Do you have a brilliant blog you’d like to nominate? You can do so here. 

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

There is only one satisfying way to boot a computer. -J.H. Goldfuss

Can you hear me screaming all the way to your house?

My computer is broken. Hard drive is kaput. No, I didn’t lose data. I have it backed up on Carbonite. (Thank You, Lord!) I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

I’m very hard on computers. They rarely last me more than four years. And like clockwork, they blow up. I should know better.

I actually did have a premonition, but you know how it is. You just keep babying it until you absolutely have to do something.

I warned you!But you wouldn't listen!

Now I have to decide whether to simply replace the hard drive or get a new computer. Since I’m editing videos now, I need a much more efficient hard drive which means going solid state. But what if the motherboard is the next to go?

If money weren’t an issue, I’d definitely get a new computer. But money is tight and I can’t make the decision lightly  or quickly. In the meantime, I’m using my son’s little netbook. It’s slow. It’s annoying. But it’s better than nothing.

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The thing is, to get a new computer, I need to make sure it’s what I really need now that I’m editing videos. That means more RAM, and an Intel Core i7, not to mention an expensive video card. All these things add up fast. If all I needed were a computer for writing, I wouldn’t be agonizing over the decision so much.

Needless to say, I’m beyond frustrated. Service on computers is notoriously slow, and I have deadlines. It’s been so difficult to get things done. I’ve had to cancel interviews I’ve had scheduled for weeks for my video channel. So disappointing.

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This graphic has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was cool.

But, I’m determined to keep praise on my lips and rest in God’s perfect plan. When I’m on my deathbed, I’m not going to be fretting over this recent turn of events. The important things are still in place: God, faith and family. Work will always be there. And God’s timing is perfect.

What would you do if you were me? Buy a whole new computer?  Or just add a solid state drive to the old one and some more RAM? Weigh in!
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