House Trauma

We've been renting the same house for 8 years. I like the house, like the neighborhood, like the school district, like the local church community. But we have been "house-poor" for all of these years. We also moved in when when we had five children. The 3 oldest have moved on so now we have this 3500 square foot home that we pretty much walk through to get from one area to another.

So as our lease is coming up at the end of September, enough is enough. I'm so tired of throwing money into a house that isn't even our own. It's time to downsize. The problem is is that our credit isn't where it needs to be. Why? Oh, could it be because all our money goes into rent instead of paying off these few lasting leftover bills from when our family was held hostage by a terminal illness? It's a vicious vicious cycle.

Here's the problem: My junior wants to stay in his high school. Can't blame him. But we're not going to stay in this cycle another two years. Just can't do it. Especially with a missionary out in the field.
But we have been getting a good rate on our house. The same models in the area are going for at least $500 more and all the houses in this area for rent at the price we can manage are 1/3 the size and barely $100 lower in rent. Wahhhhh? Really? That's not even worth it. We're going to be stuck like this forever.

So I prayed and fasted about it. A lot. For many months, worried that we were going to have to move our sons into another school district. And I was very specific because in my experience that works. So I asked for a home within the area beneath a certain price, even realizing that there was no way.

Except, there was. Unbelievable we found a rental that fits all our criteria. The same model a few houses down is renting for $400 more, but it was all painted cute. This one, holy heck, it's a mess. It seriously looks like a flop house. But it's freaking $500 less than what we are in now. That's doable for us. It's a miracle, is what it is. And it's only because the owner doesn't want to do any work into it, or possibly can't afford to, we're getting if for well below the going rate.

So I'm thinking for that much of a break, yeah, I can live with a kitchen countertop that is outdoor slabs cemented on. I can scrub the filthiest bathrooms ever known to mankind. Seriously, I don't know what kind of people lived here or what they were growing. Well since I found weed paper in the drawer I guess I do know what they were growing. And coffee filters on top of the bathroom cupboards. Um, what do you do with coffee filters in the bathroom? I'm thinking it's not for making coffee. My son looked at the tub, grimaced and said, "Can we buy a new bathtub?" It's that gross. I have pictures but hesitate to post them because I don't want a rash of vomiting. They are scrubbed clean now (with The Works toilet cleaner and Mr. Clean scrubbers, and then vinegar and bleach) and since I don't own a hazmet suit, I tossed the clothes I was wearing. Guh. All the while repeating in my head $500 less $500 less $500 less. But dang if I am not buying new toilet seats!

Then the neighbor comes over, sweet guy, and proceeds to tell me about the drug dealer, Roger, that lives on the other side of him who used to break in all the garages and cars, except now that he keeps calling the police and has installed security cameras, and R has been arrested several times, but nothing sticks, at least they no longer steal around here. Don't crap in your own sandbox, that sort of thing I hope. Sigh. This is the house I prayed for? What are we doing?

I seriously envision our family going into a dark cave and licking our wounds while we financially heal for two years. Two years, $500 less a month. We can do this.

But our landlord has allowed me to paint (at our expense of course). I was doing a real good job of it, going from a puse brown to a soft gray from the ladder slipped out from under me and now I have a sprained ankle. Man, it hurts and I have so much to do. The doctor said, "well, keep off of it." Right. I'm moving. I have so much to do.

I am grateful that it wasn't worse. The ladder (and I) didn't smack the floor, but the ends caught on the window sill so that I wrenched on the ladder. I have lovely rung-spaced bruises along my body. Joy.
ladder landing
how the ladder fell
In shock I rolled off when my friend texted seconds later, "hey, how is the painting going? Are you sure you don't need help?"

To which I texted back, "uh, since I'm flat on my back now from falling off the ladder, yeah, maybe I need some help after all." So much for being independent I can do this on my own. Now ladders scare me a little bit.

The next day my friend came over and I had my son skip for the first half of school and we knocked out the paint job in a couple of hours. One good thing about having a smaller house. The ceilings are going to have to stay a yuck yellow. Yes, I said yellow because I can't reach them. So we'll just use it as a way to determine how observant people are whether they notice the one patch of gray on the yellow ceiling or not. Do you think you would notice?






Interviewed for K Magazine

So I got a call from Judy, the president of the Keller Writers Association critique group, telling me about a reporter from the Star Telegram who is interested in indie-publishing and could I tell her a little bit about it.

Well, sure. I'm not one to pass up an opportunity like that. So I emailed Judy over some information. The following day the reporter gives me a call, asking if we could meet, and that she is interested in doing an article for the new K Magazine, Keller's Premier City Magazine, which is part of The local Keller Citizen, which is part of Star Telegram of the City of Fort Worth. And that the article is about National Novel Writing Month which takes place in November. You know, that crazy month where writers all over the world buckle down and try to complete a 50k novel from start to finish in a month?  Have I ever participated in that?

Why yes, yes  I have. I completed the uncompleteable novel during nanowrimo, Extracted. And I live in Keller.

Perfect. Yay, me! I fit all the criteria she was looking for.

My first BIG SHOT interview. You'd think I'd be nervous. But I wasn't for some odd reason.
Anyway, Sandra Engelland, the reporter came over to my house. She was wearing a bright happy blue outfit with cute ballet flats, has curly blond hair, and a nice smile. Very ease-putting. She also used a small notebook and pen to write everything, which for who-know-why made me all happy. Like it fit some stereotype I had in my head of how reporters should do things. Awesome. And dang, she wrote fast.
Sandra Engelland from The Star Telegram photograph


Her questions were great. I felt totally at ease and confident because we were talking on subjects I love and know what I'm talking about, so the conversation just flowed. I felt intelligent and capable and I loved it. I want to be interviewed more. Bring on the reporters!

Then as she was leaving she mentioned that she'd arrange for one of their photographers to take some pictures of me. Squeal! Okay, I didn't squeal. I'm a professional after all, but maybe just a little squeal inside.

So the following day, me and another author she interviewed named Henry met the photographer at The Book Carriage in Roanoke for about 5 minutes and had our picture taken together. Seriously, that's all it took. 5 minutes. Guy knew what he was doing. Well, I guess since that's his career he would. It was fun. I feel great about it...and slightly important and can't wait to see how it all comes turns out.

My nanowrimo book. One month to finish. A year to edit. That's what I get for speeding through it.


Extracted




September NTRWA President's Letter

I’m moving into another house—downsizing in a big way, er, uh, a small way. Which means I have to get rid of more than half of my stuff.
Easy to part with: my fifteen year old couch that four boys played the hot lava game on and jumped over the back ripping out the heavy-duty furniture staples. You know, that couch that the bottom has been gutted out of in multiple searches for missing iPods. And yeah, that odd stitching in the back? Pirate saber wound. Don’t ask. Boys.
The couch is a goner. Buh-bye. Adios.
Multiple Tate

But then there’s the bread machine I’ve used maybe twice in the last ten years. It’s still all shiny and new looking. From non-use. As if I even have a fresh packet of yeast in the house. But I neeeeed that bread machine. What if I get a hankering for homemade bread? Which I’ll have to drive to the store for yeast so I might as well just buy the homemade loaf while I’m there… (Um, don’t look too closely at that last sentence.) But seriously I’m having a hard time parting with that.
Just like when I need to pare down the prose. Tired and clunky clich├ęs are as easy to cut out of a manuscript as getting rid of a hot lava gamed-to-death couch. No problemo. Even though they are so comfortable to slide into.
But those beautifully crafted stellar sentences that have no usefulness in a scene…except they are awesome and I amaze myself with my sheer brilliance and I’m certain I might need them later, but most likely not because then my heroine will have to drive to the store and purchase yeast packets and then wait three hours for a little loaf of bread that maybe has five slices she can get out of it…but, but, they are so shiny and new looking, how can I part with those sentences?
Kill my darlings? Really?
Of course the beauty is is that I don’t have to if I don’t want to. Sometimes I keep my darlings. Yep, you heard me and I’m officially giving you permission to keep your stellar, non-useful sentences if you want to.
Then again, sometimes I get over myself and realize that if it has no use for the scene, toss it out.  
So on that note, would anyone like a bread machine?

Clover Autrey

NTRWA President