How You Found My Blog

Some days, I wonder if Google kidnaps common sense, holds it for ransom. 

Every so often, we bloggers check to see how people are finding our piece of internet real estate. We gasp at the horrifying realization that people do two things: search for crazy shit and find our blogs. Being the well-meaning bloggers that we are, we check to see how long the person stayed on our site, number of pages visited, whether or not a spammy comment was left as a calling card.

So in the name of being a good blogger, here are a few of searches that led to this blog(note: insightful commentary is free of charge).

  • Sarah Askins: Now, this one makes sense. It is my name. It is in my lovely blog header. But whoever searched for “sarah askins” didn’t stay long. Wrong Sarah, maybe? Perhaps, you’re searching for a long lost romantic fling. Sorry, I’m not available so look elsewhere. Maybe, you’re some weird cyberstalker, mooching off someone else’s money, sitting on a plastic covered couch, eating Doritos your pet monkey hand feeds you because you don’t like the cheese dust on your fingers. But I could be wrong. I dare you to correct this impression in the comments.
  • Redneck striptease: What’s the difference between a redneck striptease and a normal one? I guess you may get a longer show if the overalls come off, then the flannel button up shirt, next the long underwear. But I’m not a redneck. I just married one, and there will never be any rednecks dancing around in tight flannel shirts on this blog.
  • Black cat pictures making love: Really? You want to see cats getting their groove on…I’m hoping that you were severely intoxicated when you googled that mess. Besides, if you really wanted to see black cats listening to Marvin Gaye and getting funky, don’t you think it would be hard at night when decent creatures do said things to SEE the black cats. Please, common sense, people, common sense.
  • Fortune cookie writer what is good job: You’re not qualified. Consider flipping burgers as an alternate option.
  • I have to read 10 books in a week: Shouldn’t you have started before now? I could easily see you reading 10 children’s books, but 10 Victorian novels, 10 books on economics, 10 books on any adult level may be a challenge. Word of advice…Plan better next time!

For all of you lovely bloggers, share some of you favorite ways people found you blog in the comments.

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Fortune Cookie Writing Tips

Brown paper sacks, over flowing plastic containers filled with pork fried rice and General Tso’s chicken. Standard fare for at home date night, movie watching, stuffing ourselves with food not really from China, and hoping the MSG doesn’t petrify our insides yet.  We open our fortune cookies, read them aloud. Yours read like a bad Dear Abby letter, but mine always relates to my crazy writing life.  Or perhaps, I only see, read, breathe this writing gig.  Or maybe, I have stumbled on some great Zen wisdom:

The best writing advice comes from fortune cookies.  

Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and Images of Money

Seriously, if we want to write better, perhaps, we should heed some of the wisdom baked with the oddly orange flavored, vanilla cracker cookies(on a side note: what is the flavor of a fortune cookie?). Today, I am giving you my TOP 5 things I learned about writing from my fortune cookies:

  1. You are not illiterate.  Neither is your audience. Right now, you’re reading. I hope you’re laughing too. As a writer, it is my job to treat my readers not as ignorant schoolchildren, but as literate, amazing, highly sophisticated, intellectual readers. It is so freeing. Try it.
  2. Only put off till tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. Pretty much my philosophy on housework, dieting, and exercise. If I die with dirty dishes in the sink but have a beautiful manuscript finished, I say I spent my life wisely. If I choose to catch up with another writer to encourage her, no amount of laundry and well scrubbed floors will take the place of this soul balm.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Because they would make better zombie fodder in your manuscript than actually stewing over their horrid bitchiness. Unless you choose the life of a hermit, people will piss us off so badly that hate feels like the only option. Now, take note: vindictive writing isn’t always good writing. But it is cathartic. Let it heal and move on.
  4. What you will do matters. All you need is to do it. Begin, write the first sentence that will amaze you and only you. I think sometimes we forget that we are our first readers not our second cousin’s first uncle’s nephew’s daughter twice removed. One thing that helps me get started is gather notecards, post-it notes and write 1 thing. Just do something. Begin the journey with your characters or yourself.
  5. At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. We will never produce our best work if we believe that everything we do is shit. For our best writing, we must be sweet, kind, loving to ourselves. Encourage another writer. Believe in the revision process can make your words better.
Now, what is your best writing advice? Extra points if it includes fortune cookies!
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My Life Through Instagram

Another day, another tweeted picture, another memory frozen in the damn, near perfect filters of Instagram.

Enjoy!

Ah, the Lego man so unaware that his mortal enemy Red Peppa Flakes is stalking him.

Dear Teens,

Not sure how y’all define new, but Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility was kinda like published 200ish years ago. Ok, fine, compared to The Epic of Gilgamesh…it is newish.

This is not giving someone personal space.

Now, this is giving someone personal space. See the difference?

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5 Reasons to Be Nice to Me

Happy All Saints Day!

Or….

Happy Old Hallows Day!

Doesn’t matter which moniker you prefer, or perhaps, I should say…

HAPPY NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!

For the entire month of November, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo(short for National Novel Writing Month, yes, it sound likes adults communicating with a newborn. I didn’t call it that, so don’t blame me). Within the next 30 days, I will be writing my novel, and for those interested, about 50,000 or 1667 words per day.

That’s a LOT of words…Hope the dictionary has enough in it.

So, I have but one smallish request….please be kind to this poor coffee chugging, sleep deprived writer. Why? I can give you 5 good reasons….

5 Reasons to be nice to me during NaNoWriMo

  1. Mean people end up as characters in my novel who may or may not be eaten by zombies. Are you willing to risk that?
  2. I’m switching decades from my 20s to my 30s. You wouldn’t be mean to an old lady, right?
  3. Writers don’t keep secrets well. So, unless you want that thing you did to be in a plot line , then be kind.
  4. “Vengeance cometh from the tip of a pen” is in the Bible. Well, I can’t give you a chapter and verse, but the “th” totally makes it KJV worthy.
  5. Be Thankful I’m writing the 50,000 words and not you!

Unicorns, Writing, and a Kay-Pro

Unicornphoto © 2009 Monica | more info (via: Wylio)

For twenty-nine years, I have tried to deny this one title.

I didn’t want the stigma or questioning or the wide eyed glances of “you’re crazy.” No matter, I grew up with a dedicated one. I didn’t care too much when others recognized my ability for this particular craft. I lived in denial because it is so much easier than saddling myself with this title. Being an English teacher, I discussed great poets, playwrights, novelists. I danced amongst their lively words, savored the iambic pentameter, the funny way my tongue shaped Chaucer’s words in Middle English. I thought this was enough to quench my lust for this craft. But it wasn’t.

Today, I accept this title and eye rolls and knowing glances. I’m a writer, a word-crafter(there, I said it. And now, if you be so kind as to stop treating me like I’m getting a face tattoo). Perhaps, if I looked back more carefully, I would have noticed my writing tendencies, paid more attention to the praise of others. I was young.

My writing story begins with a Kay-pro computer, Kaypro 10photo © 2010 Alexios | more info (via: Wylio)

a faux wood paneled basement, and a unicorn.

Now, I grew up with a writer in my house, my mom. I saw her every day write. I also grew up in a home with a computer. I realize this was actually kind of a big deal in the 1980’s, but I had no clue that every household didn’t have a computer. (Oh for those sweet, internet free days! But wait, my blog wouldn’t exist. Okay, fine, the internet and computers can stay.) Being a stereotypical girl, I also had a vast collection of unicorns, unicorn books in the obligatory pinks and purples. Computer plus unicorns equals New York Times best-seller, right?

Please remember this was the 80’s and this computer weighed like 300 pounds. A Kay-Pro resembled a large suitcase. Sure, it was movable if my mother lugged around in a navy fabric case for me. The screen black, the letters in an odd green. To even get to the word processing screen, codes typed and entered with more dashes, slashes than a horror film. But here I would type my masterpiece. Sitting on a folding chair, chubby fingers on the QWERTY keyboard, I wrote. My unicorn story would be a best-seller. I took great pains to describe her lovely purple mane and tail, her milky white horn, and her lovely violet eyes. There was a masterfully written plot, drama, a nail biting climax, and I fit it all into one paragraph. The rest of the page was the picture.

 

So, the moral of this story is: don’t let your children use the Kay-Pro, but I’m fairly certain you can only find those in antique stores. Or my parents house which is almost the same thing.

 

Question: how did you begin your current profession, career, etc?

 

If I Had the Evangelical Time Machine….

Church brings some crazy thoughts in my head. time machinephoto © 2011 DeLerkim | more info (via: Wylio)

These usually occur whilst sitting in Sunday School, listening to the teacher drone on like the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. So of course, my mind naturally wanders to time travel and how evangelicals could benefit from time travel. I mean, doesn’t yours? Seriously, evangelicals could totally benefit from a time travel machine. Just think of all the great evangelical catastrophes, we could avoid. Such as….

 

First, let’s tell the well-meaning people in the choir robe and pastoral robe industry that polyester is a REALLY BAD fabric choice especially when those robes have more fabric than most small tents. I guess the preacher was a bit dull that week so the choir robe makers needed a new game: taking bets on how many choir members will faint during the service in the polyester saunas. To make the game more fun: let’s shine 300 hundred bizillion watt lights on the choir and clergy to encourage a few fainting spells. Extra points if the choir member takes down more than one choir member. Double those points if the choir member takes down a member of the pastoral staff.

 

Next, the evangelical time machine would prevent church groups from purchasing stock in any and all denim factories. Looking back over past issues of fashion magazines, denim jumpers and long denim skirts were never in style. But my fashion magazine reading was limited to the teen girl magazine Focus on the Family put out monthly. Yeah, I saw lots of denim jumpers and long denim skirts in that publication. And I kinda feel a a bit brainwashed into thinking those evangelical clothing staples were fashionable. Oh, wait, all of my friends—since I only had Christian ones—wore denim jumpers or long denim skirts. I could see how I could mistake this fashion no-no for a fashion trend.

 

Thirdly, we could prevent the car bumper billboard trend also known as parking lot spirituality points. The more bumper stickers featuring political candidates endorsed by evangelicals or slogans promoting new church programs the better. All spiritual points are tallied when everyone in church rushes out of services to be first in line at Golden Corral. The church goer with the most evangelically endorsed bumper stickers wins for the week. The prize: lording his or her spirituality over all the other church goers.

 

And sadly, this is why we need the evangelical time machine. We wouldn’t be so focused on finding the one political candidate who fills all of our evangelical needs, wants, wishes. Our churches wouldn’t be so focused on a misplaced sense of modesty or fighting against the fashion industry. Instead, we would be out amongst the poor, the needy showing God’s love. Our hands would be dirty in the business of loving each other well. Our love would radiate through out the community, reaching its long arms towards the world. We would be known not for our crazy politics, weird fashions, but our love.

 

Too bad, we don’t have an evangelical time machine to help us undo some of the evangelical greatest mistakes. Like polyester choir robes…but I’m sure the lack of love is a bigger issue.

 

Question: What would you do with an evangelical time machine? What problem would you fix before it happened?

 

 

 

There I Said It….

Roller Coaster - Speed Mouse #2photo © 2006 Stéfan Le Dû | more info (via: Wylio)
I wish certain weeks came with warning labels like “SMOOTH SAILING” or “EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER HELL.” Something to give me the heads up, but this week’s warning label about many an emotional wreck waiting to happen didn’t come. It never does.

On Wednesday, I headed up to Raleigh to for a job interview. Stressful, yes, driving in the city traffic, utter hell on earth. During the trip, I prayed for God to give me wisdom, to enlighten my path, to show me all the good things that He had for me. In church, the pastor has repeatedly focused on God’s unlimited resources, how we need only ask for God to do grand things to meet our needs. When I got the phone call concerning the job interview, I was cautiously hopeful. I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I’m so tired of being utterly disappointed. But I left the interview emotionally worn out, bruised and beaten, asking myself why. Everyone assured me that God had something better, not to lose hope, but I sat alone on my bed, choking back the tears of hopelessness. I realized how right Emily Dickinson was when she wrote “hope is the thing with feathers.” My last bit of hope flew away.

For the first time in months, the waves of doubt hit full force.

Sitting on my couch, I let the words escape from my mouth. Unchecked, unguarded, but always alive and well inside my mind—what if God doesn’t exist? What if in this grand cosmos their isn’t a loving God who thinks about our needs? There I said it. I gave life to gnawing thoughts I had about God and his goodness. Overpowered by their freedom, the questions wouldn’t stay on the mental shelves, nicely put away. In fact, the doubts exploded into questions of fairness, materials needs not being met, all of the stress of months of fruitless applications and job interviews, all of this precious time wasted. And for what? Following all sorts of rules, being excluded for personal choices, I see a waste of time.

Perhaps, this is the kind of doubt that Tennyson describes: “there lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in all the creeds.”

At this point, I was interrupted from the blog post by a phone call…which showed me that God does have a sense of humor. Driving home from the gym, I sent up a half ass prayer about needing to hear about a job. And by half ass, it was the typical selfish, “God, I need this or I won’t believer in You like ever” prayer. Again proving, how super spiritual I’m not.

Sitting at my laptop, writing about doubts and God’s not being fair and being unemployed, I get phone call and invitation to interview for a teaching position. While this doesn’t fully cause all of my doubts to vanish or questions to be answered, I’m stuck by the irony.

Question: When have you been struck by the irony of God or the just irony of the everyday situations?

Hollywood Has Never Been to the Gym

An Update on 30 Before 30

When I began my 30 Before 30 project, I decided to be an adult and join a gym. Now, I had never set foot in a “real” gym, worked out in a “real” gym, or for that matter cared to do so. Instead, I bought work-out videos, Wii games for working out, even the big exercise balls. Did I ever work out consistently? NO! So, guess what happened? Well, duh, the home exercise stuff got really dusty. For a long time, I was okay doing some exercise here and there—always using something as an excuse.

Until, I had less than a year before 30. The gymphoto © 2007 Chun Kit To | more info (via: Wylio)

I realized I had to get up off my ass and do something.

My first “real” work out was with my wonderfully, adorable, super handsome husband….and some of his co-workers. Now, I expected to work out, listen to my music, and admire the physically fit specimens of huMANity. Well, that didn’t happen.

My only experience with “going to the gym” came from television, the movies. I will let y’all in on a little secret—Hollywood doesn’t have a clue what going to a “real gym” truly is. First, there are all these sweaty, chubby people running in place. I expected to see Johnny Depp and get George from Seinfield. No, eye candy, just sweaty people huffing and puffing. Every gym in the movies or TV is full of beautiful, fit people, but the “real gym” just has sweaty middle age men.

Secondly, Hollywood couldn’t go to a real gym because it takes a PhD in quantum physics to figure out the exercise equipment. Clearly, Paris Hilton would have no clue what to do on normal gym equipment. I’m sure her trainer programs the gym equipment for her. Push Enter, then compute the inverse of the quadric equation while entering your height, weight, and Social Security number. Just in case, the gym needs to update your credit report for overdue gym fees. The prep work leading up to working is more stressful and taxing than working out!

Now, I will admit that going to the gym with a friend and sometimes going with my sweet, lovely, incredibly adorable—please get me something nice for Valentine’s day, dear—husband has been fun and more rewarding than checking out the physically fit.

Although, if Johnny Depp wanted to stop by the gym, I wouldn’t say that I would mind too much….

For Those Days….

We have all had one of those days! At some point, we need to laugh, cry, think, or just simply stay in our pajamas all day, drinking coffee, and reading a novel…

ON this my last day of being 28, I would love to stay in my pajamas, snuggled up with my puppies, and read since the weather is gray, rainy, and perfect weather for laziness. But I can’t.

So, today, I’m giving your something funny…

Something to make you cry….

Something to make you think….

Question: What things are you thinking about, listening to, or writing? Share your blogs, thoughts, whatever you like….