Monday, October 30, 2006

The whirlwind that is my life...

So after my article came out on CBN last week, I found out that they want to send a camera crew to my house to tape my testimony and have it air on the 700 Club!

Oh, and did I mention they are coming on Friday? It's like riding a roller coaster. It's exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

I write stories, I even think in stories. And yet, this is different. This is me, this is my real story. Talk about putting yourself out there.

And what am I doing? Worried about getting my house cleaned and my highlights done, that's what. Yeah, that's me, Miss Spiritual...

So I'll keep you up to date! And please pray for me if you think about it:-)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Going Public

I have a new article up at - Confessions of a Teenage Witch. I was really excited about this piece and it's so cool that it got featured in their rotating pictures at the top of the home page.

I've talked about being a witch in high school, but I've never shared about how my father's cocaine addiction actually made me go way deeper than I had ever intended. I hope you enjoy the article! Talk about throwing yourself out there!

And now, I feel a It's a good thing though...

I'll just be here, feeling like I'm now "naked on the internet".

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I think I've been saying yes too much. I am always in danger of this when I feel like I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. I then start volunteering for all sorts of things and the next thing you know, I can't even breathe because I'm so stressed out!

Why do I do this?

Well, I'm fairly self-aware of the motives behind my behavior but the real question is this: How do I stop?

I used to have some friends that knew this pattern and they made talk to them before I agreed to anything new. And I've been a VGG (very good girl) for quite a while. But this "no-contract" thing has simply gone on too long and I'm itching to feel like I'm a valuable contribution to the air I breathe (yeah, yeah, that's the heart of the issue - I still struggle to recognize that it's not what I do, but who I am that makes me valuable in the sight of God.)

So, I'm praying that God will have mercy on me and not everything I've shown interest for will actually pan out. I did agree to write an article by Mondy. But I can do that, I believe, since it's a testimony story mostly. I did agree to take over (with a friend) out church's cafe. But hopefully the bulk of the work will be up front. Once I get into a routine of doing things I think that may be okay as well. The other thing is a part-time job I applied for. We could really use the money and it's something that I think could be very valuable professionally. It also sounds like something I'd like to do. But I'm a little concerned about how many hours it will actually take me. My prayer now is that if I am supposed to do it - that God will open the door that no man can shut. And if it's not...well, I'll simply (ha!) need to trust that God will work out the financial issues.

But boy a contract would be nice!

Monday, October 16, 2006

What I'm watching...

So I need to have a little fun today.

Stick It
Totally awesome gymnastics movie. Let's put it this way. I bought it on the release day. It was different and funny and had a great story. What more could you ask for? And it used a great anti-hero model since instead of the gymnast striving to win the Olympics, like countless TV movies of days gone by. Here we have a gymnast that doesn't want anything to do with the sport. The results are great!

Okay- anyone seen any good ones lately, because I can't think of anything else I've really liked. On my too-see list -

Marie Antoinette
Man of the Year (I can't help it - I love Robin Williams)
One Night with the King (Oh Lord, please, please, please, don't let it suck!)

I have to admit I was a little concerned with how they were going to pull off another stunner. But they did. The "Others" are not castaways. They are there by choice. But why? Another great season so far.

I like this new show. Even though it hasn't aired for a while because of some sport thing that I could care less about (Sorry Kathleen!) I love the banter and at the same time, the hostage negotiator theme is interesting. But it really is the relationship between the two negotiators that makes this show worth watching.

Gilmore Girls
I am a few weeks behind as I just got the season premiere. I'm too upset to talk about it really.

Other shows on my Tivo:

CSI (love this season)
CSI:Miami (Not loving this right now)
Ghost Whisperer (So sad that Aisha is gone - still waiting to see what they'll do)
Close to Home (Why did they have to kill her husband? They can't handle a happy couple?)
Heroes (Only seen one...)
Project Runway

Reality TV

The Amazing Race 10
is back!! The real thing. Not driving through Kansas, but running around in Mongolia with yak or oxen or some other such beast. It's a great show and I'm rooting for the Cho brothers right now. I want to like the Alabama friends because they talk about God, but they are only nice to a couple of the teams and rude to the others so I'm not sure what's up with that. I SO want to go on this race.

I am not ashamed! I love this show. It's a very young cast, which is kind of disappointing because many of them are just sort of non-descript young people. Other than Cai Boi (yes, that would be Cowboy) who is just plain bizarre and Jonathan (who sounds exactly like Alan Alda!), the Hollywood writer!!!, most everyone else is young. Oh well, it's still great to see how the social dynamics of the game will work out. This is the most diverse cast ever, what with the "race thing", but it really hasn't been an issue as far as I can tell.

So. What's on your Tivo?

(And yes - I love watching TV and movies. So shoot me. It's only about an hour a night - which is why I am already three weeks behind on some shows)

Friday, October 13, 2006

More Photo Madness

Let's look at some great photos today:

This is author Mary DeMuth

What's good: Mary gives off a warm relaxed appearance. From the picture we think she is friendly, and inviting (and since I sat next to her at a Writer's View dinner, I happen to know this is the case!) She's outside, which adds to the relaxed appearance. She's smiling, almost laughing, but it's still got a gentle quality.

Here is Jennifer B. Jones - a new novelist - her first book is about to debut:

What I like about this is that she chose clothes that make her look sophisticated (it says "trust me - read my novel!") but young and fresh as well (love the pink leopard print jacket). It's just funky enough to be appealing to her audience, but subdued enough to be completely professional.

Now, here is Meredith Efken, of fiction editing fame...

This is kind of got a young, fun, feel as well. The props work for this photo because she is advertising her editing services. She gives off a "go-getter" feel - exactly what you would be looking for when you hire someone to tear apart...uhhh, I mean edit your manuscript. She also has some full-length shots here and there in the website. These work well because her photos have a current feel.

Now. Crystal asked about finding a photographer.

Many photographers have websites so that is a good first spot to check. You will want to chose by portfolio - not by price. Does the photographer you are looking at do the kind of shots you'd like to get. Just like with a web designer, you will want to point out other photos that have the quality and feel of what you'd like to have. Print out the photos you find on the Internet to take with you.

Your steps:

- Start with the websites and see what you find there.
- Visit studios in your area.
- Don't neglect photographers without a studio - some photographers shoot entirely on location, some stay in the studio. Studio shots will always have a more formal feel - even if they are more relaxed (like Jennifer's). That's okay - you want to look professional - you just don't want to look stiff. People will think that's what your writing is like too.
- Look at the portfolios. If you find things you like, point them out. If you get some ideas, ask what is possible.

One place to get recommendations is at a Camera store in your area. I'm not talking Ritz Camera here, but a place that caters to professionals - a place that has cameras in excess of $1000. You'd be surprised at the dirt those employees will be able to give you!

The better idea you have of what you want, the closer your photographer will be able to get.

Don't dimiss temperament in choosing a photographer. You must have someone you will be able to relax with. If they don't make you feel comfortable in a consultation, don't even try to go in the studio with them.

I'm a fan of the location shot myself. It's easier to add that "relaxed and trustworthy" feel to a photo. But you can acheive a more relaxed feel in the studio through posing. Of all the chain stores that do photos, The Picture People tend to be my favorite. In general, because they use full-length and 3/4 shots, they can pose you in interesting ways. They also don't have sitting fees (unlike a professional) so you could try some stuff out and see what you like. The downside is trying to get the rights to them. I've never tried, so I'm not sure what they would allow. But it might be worth it just to get a photo session under your belt that is focused completely on you. It might help you shake out the jitters before you fork over the big bucks:-)

Any other questions? Thoughts? And tell us what great photos you've seen out there in cyberspace...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Author Photos Beware

I had to comment on what I have to say is a growing trend of authors who throw up an awful photo for all the world to see.

As a photographer, I simply can't stand silent anymore.

And even though, I will talk about this subject, I will not name names, or point out bad photos - that would just be mean! So our discussion will have to exist without the requisite examples.

So here it is: if you aim to have a career as an author, then there are certain investments that must be made. A good author photo is one of them. Typically, you don't need an author photo until you have a signed contract. But nowadays, we have pre-pubbed (an interesting dose of hopefulness in that term, isn't there?) authors posting websites to show editors who they are and sometimes, those websites include...well, less than flattering pictures.

I often persuse the websites of authors to get a sense of who they are, but after visitng yet another one yesterday, I simply have to say something!

People! Get a good photo!

And lest you think that I'm only talking to the pre-pubbed, I have seen multi published authors with terrible photos as well.

Yes, I know that many many women have a physiological aversion to having their picture taken. Eleven years being married and I still can't get my mother-in-law to smile for a photo. I get it, I really do. But you will simply have to get over it...or don't use a photo!

Repeat after me: No photo is better than bad photo!

And dear friends, if you know someone with one of these awful photos, then you've got to say something! I think christians try to be so nice that they let their friends walk around with their skirts tucked in their panties so they don't embarrass them. Sometimes, you just gotta be honest!

The first big mistake is perspective: Most people wrongly think that what they are using is an author photo, or...a picture of the author. NO! What you are putting up there is a publicity photo. There is an important difference. If we just need to know what you look like, well, any old photo would do. But when you hook your name, with the word author, and then put up a photo, Voila! You have a publicity photo. That means you are projecting an image about who you are to everyone who sees the photo.

Now don't get scared and run away on me. Seriously, take a look at your photo. What image are you projecting?

Dowdy or Stylish?
In or out?
Fashionista or Fashion victim?
Frumpy or fabulous?
Boring or Fascinating?

That image you project will also affect what people think of the books you write (whether you like or not). If you write prairie romance, you can probably get a way with a school marm look (though in good conscious I would never actually recommend the school marm look). But if you write suspense, your photo better be intriguing.

But wait Sarah! I'm not fashionable you say. I wear sweats and slippers to my computer! So do I. But when it's time to take that photo, you need to consider three very important things...


First off hair: You have to get a decent haircut! If you have had your hair style for more than five years (and I'm willing to bet money some have had their hairstyle for twenty years...) than it may be time for a change.

Take a risk and add color, highlights, a fresh cut, anything! You'd be surprised at what a good hairdresser can do with your hair. If you want to keep your old hairstyle and can't bear the thought of a change...consider the "No photo is better than a bad photo" rule.

Wardrobe - notice a didn't say clothes. Wardrobe is a word to show that you are dressing for your role as an author - not your role as a mom, a carpool driver or your ladies ministry leader. Your role as an author. Get a great outfit that fits you as an author (your brand!) and wear that!

Make-up. You must use make-up in a photo. You don't have to get dramatic - it can still be make-up that you are comfortable with. But you must wear it. Lights will wash you out and make you seem lethargic, older or sick if you don't put some on.

And if you're not great at this kind of stuff, then here is a solution: Look around your church, or your group of friends, and find someone who is stylish. Beg them for help. Tell them that you are projecting an image to the entire world!! Have them come with you to shop and get a haircut. Take risks!

Then - you must hire a professional photographer.

This means that:
you may not go to Sears
you may not have your son snap a digital photo
you may not dig through your albums and find the picture of you twenty pounds lighter at that Christmas party 4 years ago.
you may not throw up a picture on a whim just to "get one up there".

Go to a professional - that means you'll pay a couple of hundred. Tell them what the photos are for and let them know up front that you need the rights to them.

Then, here's the important part - you're dressed and ready to project your image - so make sure the photographer knows what you are going for. If you're writing romance, well, then a photo sitting on a vintage chair with a reading lamp in the background would be fine. But if you write suspense, then the photographer will want to play with shadows and light. Tell them exactly what image you want to project and they will be able to do it. That's why you're paying extra money to hire a professional! That's why you can't just go to Sears and smile for the camera. You are not just getting a photo taken. You are projecting an image.

Okay - so I'm opening this up. What are your questions? What else do you need to know? Got a photo you need an honest opinion of? Then send it to me, as long as you can take a critique. This is not about how you look as a person - it's about the image you are sending out there, so this isn't personal - it's business:-) Send your questions and we'll keep talking!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Worth Considering...

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

Herewith a few confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?

I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are.

If this is what it means to be no longer young, It's not so bad.

Next confession:
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.

Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How God could let something like this Happen?" (Regarding Katrina)

Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives.

And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.

Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK.

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.

Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.

Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Are you laughing?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards... honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sarah the strategic!

So I've been a little MIA lately. Mostly because my brain has felt a little MIA as well. I'm busily trying to make plans and prioritize my life because apparently I can't get anything accomplished without a plan!!

So besides working on my business plan (so weird to think of myself as a business!) I have two looming projects. I've got an idea for a new novel that I now need to write a proposal for. And I must write my newest teen novel that will be published online. I'm quite excited about this new venture and when the website goes live I'll let ya'll know.

That is, assuming you are all going to tell me how wonderful it is!

Working on the plan though has not only made me think that everyone needs a plan but it has also helped me clarify what my own purpose is. I can see clearly now the rain is gone...

Seriously, ya'll don't know how huge this is! I've wasted a lot of time this year and now that I have some focus, I'm excited again.

And being a creative person, excitement is a precious commodity - that I needed a shot of!