Getting to Know...
- My short story, “Donovan’s Intuition” is featured on page 86 of “Diner Stories: Off the Menu,” a short story anthology.
- A Creative Nonfiction essay on one of my earliest childhood memories, “Burnt Sienna” is featured on Heartwood Literary Magazine’s website.
- My poems have been published twice in Madwomen of the Attic’s “Voices from the Attic.”
Books to be Published
Coming October 2018: my new memoir, As A Result. It will be available through Amazon. Note: I’ve decided to publish under my maiden name, Sarah Blizzard, and I’ve changed virtually everyone’s real names who are in my stories.
Chestnut Mountain Ranch (CMR)
CMR ministers to the educational, emotional and spiritual developmental needs of young boys and their families. The staff provides a comprehensive curriculum in a natural, healthy environment in the beautiful hills of West Virginia where the students learn life skills. Founder and director Steve Finn has written a compelling book about the process of following God’s calling to the ranch in his memoir “Seed to Vision: How God Inspired Ideas Become Reality.”
The Sound of Music.
Tell us about yourself - your family, marital status, your background... the basics.
Born in Abingdon, VA, and raised (until age 7) in southwest Lebanon, Virginia, until we moved to Wheeling, WV in 1966 when our dad was transferred.
I’m the youngest of six kids. We all attended Catholic schools, and I graduated from Wheeling’s Central Catholic HS in 1977. Two siblings have died tragically, and another one lost a long battle with cancer. The three of us who remain will always be dealing with those losses.
I met my protestant husband that year in a bar, married him, and by year eight, we were in trouble deep. By the grace of God, we sought sobriety as individuals, and found we were still in love after making drastic changes in our lifestyles. Talk about miracles! Read about it in my new book, As A Result.
Sobriety has enabled us to be grow in our faith, and to be good parents to our three incredible daughters. Today, we also have two amazing (and amazingly handsome) sons-in-law, and we thoroughly enjoy our three, radically amazing granddaughters. Have I overused “amazing”?
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Why?
Wakulla (meaning: mysterious waters) Springs, Florida, also known as Edward Ball State Park, an hour’s drive south of Tallahassee on the St. Mark’s River. This incredible destination offers a place of rest, and what I consider a leisure observation of wildlife in its most natural state. I could write a book about how much there is to do, and how perfectly lovely this slice of heaven is.
What is your #1 bucket list dream?
I’m living it. From the time I was wee little, I’ve always wanted to be a mom. The thrill of each pregnancy, each birth, and even middle-of-the-night feedings (one of the best reasons to breastfeed) and getting to stay home and raise three fine daughters has been so fulfilling. Besides that, maybe going on Wheel of Fortune.
Tell the readers one thing you would like them to know about you and/or your writing.
After taking a correspondence course with the Institute of Children’s Literature and completing their advanced course, I discovered I had an aptitude for nonfiction. After submitting an essay to our local paper for inclusion on their community “Food Panel,” I was selected to write a column for a 12-month stint. I wrote about various food-related interests: interviewed chefs, highlighted ice-cream shops, detailed local restaurants serving Pad Thai...then I began freelancing for the newspaper.
I have since studied poetry at the local O.L.L.I. classes.
The WV Writer’s workshops and others offered by Madwomen of the Attic keep me on a creative trek, one I hope I never graduate from.
Writing my memoir, As A Result, has been my most cathartic endeavor. It has been a 12-year project, compiling all my essays and short stories about my childhood. Writing this memoir has given me perspective on the horrendous losses and subsequent grief I experienced. Writing it has helped me to be bold about the harmful effects of labeling that went on in my family of origin, and has solidified my gratitude for the miraculous gift of recovery from alcoholism.
What would you want your 5-word epitaph to be?
Best sleep she's ever had.
Briefly, tell us about your decision to become a believer - where, when, how?
I sought God’s presence through prayer from a very young age. Around age 4 or 5, an imaginary friend named “Big Chief” met me every afternoon in my bedroom during naptime. I’d close the door, and though his presence shocked me at first, it also gave me the warmest glow.
I spoke to him as if we’d always known each other. He stood against my wall with smiling eyes. He never moved but kept his arms folded across his chest and wore a full-feathered headdress. He moved one day, though, when Mom set a place for him at the dinner table.
I look back and think Big Chief may have been the personification of my Guardian Angel. I loved him so much.
At age seventeen, I made a spiritual retreat one weekend called TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) with some of my classmates. Arriving a skeptic, I began to be drawn in to the talks given by recent TEC graduates, college-age speakers who believed profoundly in God’s love, and the signs of His love. That weekend, I experienced that same warm glow after hearing scriptures read, and I whole-heartedly accepted Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice for me.
What is your favorite story from the Bible, the one that inspires, moves you?
Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-47 (especially chapter 45) profoundly touched me the first time I understood it. His unconditional love for those who hurt him - his own family - gives us a glimpse of the work God can do in a person’s heart.
Do you have a life's bible verse? If so, what is it? And/or, do you have a verse that is currently on your heart? Why?
The entire Psalm 139 hit me like one of Big Chief’s arrows, straight to my heart. The words spoke to me so personally and directly. It is like God is whispering in my ear, “Child, this is how well I’ve always known you.”
In addition, Psalm 40, a song of praise and a prayer for help, describes in beautiful language exactly the way I feel about my recovery from alcoholism.
If you could have a long, leisurely dinner with a person from the Bible, who would it be and why? What would you talk about?
I’d bend the ear of a man named Simeon.
In Luke 2:22, we read of Mary and Joseph taking their baby Jesus to be circumcised in the temple. Simeon, just and devout, had the Holy Spirit upon him. It had been revealed that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah. Simeon held the Christ child, and his words are recorded:
“My eyes have seen Your salvation…a light to bring revelation…”
In heaven, I’d like to hug him really tight, then be prepared with tons of questions, not unlike these interview questions!
“When was your first encounter with the Holy Spirit, and how did you know you would see Jesus?”
“What was it like holding the child in your arms?” The greatest joy of my life has been holding my own babies. I can only imagine Simeon’s joy.
I especially enjoy artist DiCianni’s rendition of that moment, seen HERE.
If you could pick one thing you deeply want the readers to know about God, what would it be?
Reading of the people who encountered God: Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther, Mary Magdalene, and the Woman at the Well, to name a few…I’ve come to embrace the fact: He can do anything, with anyone, at anytime, anywhere.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us, God is not bound by laws of nature as we are. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more that we could ever dream or imagine. That’s a fact. Thank You, Jesus!
What motivated/inspired you to write As A Result?
As A Result is taken from the simplest definition of an alcoholic: A person who has problems as a result of her drinking. In addition, I am the result - we are all results - of my upbringing, my surroundings, my opportunities (or lack thereof), and in my case, of God’s intervention and great mercy, grace and forgiveness.
I penned the book in segments, over years: poems, essays and short stories from my childhood recollections and ‘coming of age.’ Though the memories poured out of me onto the page, I used Creative Nonfiction to fill in the blanks with as much detail as I could.
The process was truly therapeutic.
During each phase, I asked for and received feedback from writer friends, from professionals, and from my best critic, my husband, who said, “If this book never sees the light of day, it has done you much good.”
During the writing, I experienced profound grief over the losses I’ve come to accept. I also experienced delight recalling some of the more idyllic childhood scenes. My journey has been chronicled for future generations to read as both a history (with creative license) as well as a cautionary tale.
As a published author, what tips do you have for aspiring authors?
- Get good help.
- Take a writer’s course.
- Read tons of books in the genre in which you prefer to write.
- Develop a thick skin and get feedback occasionally.
- Submit your work, formatting your pieces for potential publications. When I saw that Heartwood Literary was accepting short stories from childhood, I looked back through my work to find a creative piece. I revised the document down to their word limit, and was thrilled when “Burnt Sienna” was chosen for publication. It’s now an early chapter in my memoir.
Warning: Don’t be like me, though, and send your work out to too many people before it’s even ready. And if you are reading this and have any old rough drafts of my memoir, please destroy them. Too many words, and I often insulted the reader’s intelligence with too much of my own reflections, the sometimes proverbial fault of a new writer. Though I’ve been writing steadily for about twelve years now, a part of me will always feel like a new writer.