A Christmas Mystery

I totally took the weekend off and did nothing but read books I like, accomplishing little of value to the wider world. I hope my promises of productivity will keep you satisfied, dear Internet, because that’s all you have forthcoming for the next week. It’s the holiday season, which means family and more family and, subsequently, no time for locking myself away in the office and writing.

I do have some goals for my week off this year, though. They are, in no particular order:

  • Read Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and compose a review/critique
  • Work on a Christmas mystery, which is a story centered around Christmas time that is also a mystery (I actually already have this all planned out in my head and I’m quite excited about it, I just don’t have time to write it. I’ll get it done early next year and schedule it for publication the week before Christmas 2010.)
  • Write a bit about Ayn Rand, objectivism, and Christianity
  • Respond to a commenter on Reddit by way of an article about “testing” for Christians by attempting to elicit charity/donations
  • Make some progress on the fantasy story I began over a month ago, but got stalled on due to finals and term paper (I had wanted to start publishing this in January, but it doesn’t look like I’ll come anywhere near that goal)

On the plus side, I did get a winter newsletter done on Sunday, though it took much longer than I had anticipated. This will go up either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I’ll decide after I schedule this post.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday. Merry Christmas everyone!

Much Ado About Money

There are two reasons I haven’t written about money or our personal finances before. First, I felt like I was gloating, though I wasn’t. It’s just that we’re in a good place financially, and while I’d like to share some tips and my steps for how we got here, I felt like it was improper. Second, I haven’t written about money because I didn’t have all that much to say. I can list my steps, but that’s about it.

My first draft, written months ago on this topic, was long and annoying. I hated it, so I never published it. I’m not even rewriting it now–instead, I have some new things to say, and they might actually be worthwhile.

Here’s the bottom line: April and I do quite well financially, and we do that despite making less money than most everyone we know. Well, maybe not “everyone,” but we make less than a lot of people, especially those I work with. ((To clarify, I’m not saying we “do better” than everyone, either. Part of my perception is that we define comfort differently, so the sort of lifestyle that is nice to us is “unacceptable” to others. I tend to think those others might need to reevaluate their priorities, but that’s neither here nor there. All I’m trying to say is, we feel pretty comfortable with our current life, and I know a lot of people who make more money but are less comfortable. My implication throughout the series is that this is because they don’t manage their money well.)) I suspect we will continue to do quite well, and while we probably won’t be winning any hypothetical contests, we’re alright. Others will have more than us, but we’re reasonably comfortable, and that’s worth something.

I’m learning how to invest and manage our money, and we’ve got a solid financial plan for the next ten years or so. As I start to think and talk more about finances, though, I keep having advice thrown at me. This advice is well meaning, but it’s also annoying, and I want to address that too.

So it’s now Financials Week here at SilverPen Pub. Feel free to tune out if you want (I’m sure April will, since she has to hear about this stuff all the time), but I’d really encourage you to join the discussion. Share what works for you, and let me know if there’s something more you’d like to hear about.

Stay tuned to read more about investing, Mint.com, Dave Ramsey, and what works for us.

NaNoWriMo 2008

In exactly one month, I will embark on a quest of epic proportions. To write a 50,000 word novel in one month or less.

November is the National Novel Writing Month, a quasi-competition that I have wanted to participate in for about four years now. You don’t win a prize or anything for completing the challenge, but it does prove quite aptly that you, no matter who you are, are capable of writing a novel.

Of course, it’s hard work to complete 50,000 words in a month, but it’s a fun exercise and, even if you don’t finish, you at least participated. You got out and tried, sat down and wrote, and maybe met some new people along the way.

Springfield has a NaNoWriMo group that meets and encourages one another, and I want to invite you all to join me this year as we journey towards authorship. If you’ve ever been interested in writing, you should definitely give this a try. Even if you can’t finish, it at least gets you going, and there are certainly eleven more months during which you can work on the piece before next year’s NaNoWriMo.

As for me, I’ll be working on a science fiction novel I dreamed up a few months ago. I’m pretty excited, but the trade-off is that I’ll have absolutely no social life during the month of November. I’ll go to work, I’ll attend class, and I’ll attend church on Sunday mornings from 11-12. Other than that, I’ll be gone, sitting at my desk or various coffee shops working away.

I think we’re going to have a write-in on Saturday, November 1, starting at midnight (so we’ll probably meet late on Friday) if you’d like to join us; check out the forum for details. I’ll have more updates here as we near the beginning of November. Until then, think about what you might want to write on and sharpen those pencils!