Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Disappearing Money Trick

Now that we're making house payments, we have to come up with some sort of budget to help us manage our money. It's interesting how we were always able to make ends meet years ago on our meager student income in our dinky little student apartment at the University of Utah, but now that we can afford to buy a few luxuries (like, a house) we suddenly feel like we should be able to buy LOTS of luxuries. And we feel rather chagrined that our income and budget won't allow it.

I mean, how many years did we spend in that little student apartment staring at the cinderblock walls and dreaming of the day when we'd have a real house with real walls that we could (dramatic pause) pound nails into? Or when we'd have one of those neat things with big doors called a garage that we could park our car in and keep tools and bikes in? Somehow it always seemed that when that magical day came in the hazy future, we'd have not only that, but everything we ever wanted.

Not only would we have real walls, a garage, and a home to call our own, but we'd be able to eat out at every meal if we wanted. We'd try all the restaurants in town and choose our favorites and come back often. And we'd see the world. We'd travel wherever we wanted without worrying about the cost. And when we wanted to buy clothes, we'd march right into the mall and buy whatever we wanted--not just what was on the clearance rack.

Well, so far that much of it hasn't happened. We may have a real house, with walls and a garage, but somehow we still have more plans for our money than we have actual moolah. We have more space than we used to, but now we need to figure out how to buy some more furniture to put in the space. And we have lots of bare walls. I still gravitate toward the clearance rack and signs that say "SALE!" We still don't eat out every night. Some things never change.

At least I've seen Seattle.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Author Update

Here's what I have currently in the works:

  • An LDS novel, currently titled Almost Everything, about a young woman whose life was shattered by the divorce of her parents several years earlier. Now she is making decisions regarding how she feels about the Church, how she feels about her parents, and how she feels about a young man who is not LDS. The book addresses tough issues and remains completely faithful to LDS beliefs. It's coming together very well, and while its progress has been slowed by things in my life like moving to a new house (ahem) it should be ready to go to the publisher soon.
  • A humorous LDS novel about some missionaries sent to a very challenging mission. My son wanted me to write a "boy book," so I've got him in mind as I write. So far it's been a hoot, but it will be faith-promoting as well.
  • A sequel to Just the Way You Are. Find out what happens to LaNae, Jane, Mandy, Hanna, Emmett, Corey, and the rest of the gang from the University of Oklahoma institute. Some new characters are introduced, and some things have happened that have even surprised me! Personally, I can't wait to see how it ends.
  • I'm still working on a science fiction kids book, but by the time it's finished it might be my grandkids who appreciate it instead of my kid. Seriously, I think maybe I'm trying too hard on this one. Science and accuracy are very important to me, but you can't let these things overwhelm a fictional story. I should take my own advice and get busy writing the story instead of trying to figure out the scientific details.
  • I've also been putting together some Christmas memoirs and hope to have this collection ready for a Christmas release in the near future (I say, dodging any specific commitments to a specific year). It's shaping up to be a fun and heartwarming book.
  • For my editing projects, I'm in the final stages of editing a biography entitled Riding with Miss Lindsey, about the life of a girl who was born with Down syndome and serious heart defects and died at the age of sixteen. The book was written by her father, and even though I've read it zillions of times throughout the editing process, and I've never met Lindsey personally, I am always impressed with her sweet spirit and her determination to exceed her natural limitations and milk every drop of life out that she possibly could. The story is truly moving, and it's amazing to see through this everyday account just how much Lindsey touched the lives of others. The author of the book is James Alexander, and it will be available soon through American Book Publishing at www.american-book.com.
  • I am also editing a true account of the reunification of Germany entitled My Heart Beats on the Rhythm of United Germany. The author is from France, and was attending school in Germany at the time the Berlin Wall fell. She details the things she saw and experienced, and what it was like to live in the area at the time from a young person's perspective. The things she discusses are fascinating, and I've really learned a lot from this project. The time frame on this one is a little farther out, but it is also being published by American Book.
As you can see, I've got a lot in the works, and more to come! As I always tell aspiring writers, you've got to just do it one thing at a time. Writing one page a day may not seem like much, but at that pace you can have the draft of a book finished in a year. And it sure is a lot more than zero pages a day--that kind of work will get you nowhere.

I'd love to hear your comments on any of these upcoming projects. Feel free to contact me at katie@katieparker.net.

Hoo-boy!

Well, you may have noticed that my posts have been slacking off a bit (as in, not happening at all) during the past few months. The first personal journal entry I made after my last post was expressing excitement over a phone interview my husband had with a company out in the Pacific northwest. That's right, we were thinking of moving--again. We weren't too sure how things were going to work out in Wisconsin, and at the time they were looking pretty dismal. We'd even put off buying a house here, and were squished into a little apartment that we'd rented when we first arrived in Eau Claire. The apartment was originally supposed to only be temporary, but we never felt good about buying a house here, and we just stayed in the apartment indefinitely until we found a house we felt good about--or until we found a job someplace else we felt better about.

We did all the things we were supposed to do--fast, pray, do our best, read our scriptures, fulfill our callings, walk our dog, scrub behind our ears, etc. etc., but still didn't feel led in a particular direction...till this house popped up on the market. After only briefly seeing it twice, we were in our agent's office making an offer. (Our poor agent had been so patient with us. We'd been looking at houses for over a year and hadn't bought anything.) We were elated to finally, finally, have a house to live in! It has a yard, it has a garage, it has space for us to work, it has space for us to walk around without tripping over each other.

I guess that means we're living in Wisconsin for a while longer.

Anyone who's moved knows that moving in and of itself is a challenge. And even though our house is really great, and we're delighted to be in it, there are still challenges that come with a new place.

  • Far be it from me to complain about having a bigger living room, but I was a bit daunted the first time I approached it with a vacuum cleaner. How was I supposed to vacuum something this large? I finally went in strips, like you do with a lawnmower. (Maybe this will make up for the first time I mowed the lawn by myself, and I pushed the lawnmower back and forth like a vacuum cleaner.)
  • Strangely, I kind of miss our laundry area in our apartment. The washer and dryer were in a closet in the living room. When we moved in there, I really did not like the idea of standing in the living room doing my laundry. But you know what? It was nice to be able to switch loads around and fold without leaving the family. In our new house we have a separate laundry area. It feels remote.
  • Everything is further apart. In our apartment, everything we owned was crammed into a very small space. But that did make it easier to get to things we wanted; it was all just right there. All you had to do was turn around and walk a couple of steps. In the house, it feels like we're setting off on a long journey just to get something on the other side. Needless to say, we're getting a lot more exercise.
  • Shoveling the driveway! We didn't have to do that at all when we were renting the apartment. There are bonuses to renting.
  • Plus, one of our cars threw a rod the week we closed on our house and needs a new engine. At least we had a garage we could put it in now.

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