Monthly Archives: April 2009

An American Story

I’ve been a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s for some time.

This spring I’m counseling engaged couples before their nuptials, and I’m giving each couple a copy of his book The Total Money Makeover, because kids today have the sex part down, but they’re clueless about money and debt. They’re not even married and they’ve already got “manageable” debt. Whoa.

I’ve been in trouble with credit cards twice in my life: once as a young adult, flush with the newfound power of credit, and another time when I was in a bit of a personal crisis, and I saw credit cards as my only way through the problem. It wasn’t, but I survived. Other than that, debt has been minimal, usually confined to car payments and the occasional vacation, and closely monitored.

For this, I have my parents to thank. They taught me well about saving, investing and credit. I had to make a few mistakes on my own — don’t we all — but I learned my lessons in the process.

The Dave Ramsey Show on television and radio is a sobering glimpse into the lives of  most Americans.  I listen with empathy and astonishment as these people seek financial counseling for the terrible situations they’ve gotten themselves into. And I personally know many people who have piled on debt without a clue as to how to dig themselves out.

On Dave’s website yesterday, I watched this video, and it blew me away. Obviously, it was made a couple of years ago, as his numbers are a little off, considering today’s economic climate, but the point is still the point.

And then I found this blog. It’s not so much a testimony to Dave Ramsey and his techniques as it is an inspirational look at two parents pulling themselves up out of an uncomfortable, untenable, and unsustainable situation. Together, as partners.

Debt is insidious. Al and I talked about our truck payment last night and decided that enough is enough. As quickly as possible, we’re going to dispatch that bastard and never have another’n.  No matter what the car lots would have you believe, car payments are not a requirement for a happy life.  They’re not a requirement, period.

Life is a lot better with money in the bank instead of bills coming through the door.  Dave calls it Financial Peace.

He’s right.

Dave Ramsey is not my guru, but boy, does he speak the truth about many things. If you’re not familiar with his philosophy on money, it’s worth checking out.

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Filed under Discipline, goals, Marriage, Money

Let’s Talk About Professionalism

I just finished editing an anthology for Rick Ramsey at TripleTree Publishing, and I need to say a word about professionalism in our industry.

I hear would-be writers cry the blues all the time about not being able to get published. Well, I just remembered why. You don’t do your homework, and you have a misplaced sense of entitlement.

I received manuscripts late. I received manuscripts that were incomplete. I received manuscripts that were single spaced. Or that were double spaced, with an extra space between paragraphs, some of which had no paragraph indentations. I got manuscripts that had funky punctuation which I had to fix (very time consuming) before it could go into the file for the book designer. I edited manuscripts, kicked them back to the authors for their okay on the revisions and never heard back. I got whole new manuscripts back after editing, making all my hard-earned revisions useless, because the old formatting was back.  Which I had to re-do.Some of these were professionals. And then, on top of all of that, I had two rude authors. I don’t need rude.

Not everybody behaved badly, but I could easily tell who was a professional.

One manuscript stood out because of this: It was perfect. It arrived on time, in pristine condition. I had not one single editing suggestion. It didn’t even have a misplaced comma. The story was tight, well-told, and I knew instantly that this was a professional author. I was right. Linda Clare.

So listen up. If you want to be a professional, then dammit, act like one. Stop whining. Make your deadlines. Submit what you’re asked to submit when you’re supposed to submit it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Act like a professional.

And be nice.

If you do those simple things, chances are, you’ll get published. A lot.

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Filed under editors, Uncategorized, Writing

Must. Have. Solitude.

Here’s the thing about writers: They need their space.

I need vast quantities of solitude and when I don’t get it, my perspective gets all out of whack. Like now. I’ve been overly social, with more social obligations to come. I love it. I love my friends and my schoolmates and delight in their company, but then there comes a time when a dark shroud settles over me and I am NOT all right with myself.

I’ve had a lot of years to experience this, and I believe that it all comes down to the fact that I haven’t had enough time to process all the social stuff — the information, the conversations, the opinions. The things that people tell me, the things that I hear myself saying. And when I don’t have time to sit and ponder it, as well as the work I’m doing, then everything suffers. Especially me.

So I’ve had to write “solitude” on my calendar for a few days in a row to get myself right. I have to make sure I don’t make a date for coffee or lunch or some other intriguing and delightful gathering. My first obligation is to myself, and after all these years, I know my requirements. I need a healthy dose of solitude just to watch the birds, to watch the trees leaf out, to watch the paint dry and let my inner self take all the newly-arrived information, process it and shelve it in an orderly fashion.

Solitude. It’s what writers are made of.

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Filed under Writing

This is worth your time.

Lost Generation

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Filed under dreams, Possibilities