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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

In The Quiet Between Madness by Sarah J. McNeal

I truly enjoy this quiet space of time between New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Nothing’s happening. There is no stress to get anything done or meet social obligations to attend—just quiet winter days in which I can sit by the fire and read or sit at my desk and write on my work-in-progress.
It’s a good time for me to reflect on spiritual matters and what I’d like to change as well as what things I’d like to keep or remember.
Some may think my idea of quiet is boring. It is certainly not boring to me. It’s like a rejuvenation period before the hectic buzz and chaos of life begins again.
Here are some things I enjoy doing in this peaceful interlude.

Taking naps.

I used to believe naps were a waste of time. Shoot, I thought people who took naps in the middle of the day were just lazy. Now I realize short naps of 30 minutes to an hour can renew my spirits, get my creativity flowing again, and help me regain my energy as well as get me back into a good, positive mood.

Bubble Baths.

Now bubble baths used to be my first choice for relaxing and meditation. I made a ritual out of them by placing candles around the tub and room, lighting incense and playing classic or peaceful music. Now that I’ve had knee surgery, I can no longer enjoy my midday meditation baths, but they were wonderful for all the years I was able to enjoy them.

Going through old photo albums and slides.

As well as bringing back pleasant memories of days gone by and quieting my mind, looking at old pictures has been quite inspiring for me because of the memories they arouse in my mind. Story ideas spring up in my imagination driven by my memories of earlier days.

Staring out the window.

I know many of you who are writers understand that what looks like idol daydreaming is us at work in our heads. No matter the season or the weather, a good period of time spent staring out the window can generate many story ideas, solutions to story plots and plot twists for months to come.


As I mentioned in the beginning, there is nothing quite as delightful as sitting by a warm fire in a comfortable chair or lounge and reading a good book.
This is also a time of year when I find I am ready to get going on a writing project with renewed enthusiasm and ideas.

In this space after the hullabaloo of celebrations including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the big finale of New Year’s Eve, and before the next celebration of Valentine’s Day, I have found my favorite place in time where things are quiet, restful, and renewing.
Is this peaceful time something you find appealing, or do you miss the excitement of the holidays? What things do you like to do best during this pause between holidays?


Love doesn’t come easy…for some, it may never come at all.
Though Hank Wilding and Lucy Thoroughgood have been lifelong friends, Lucy has managed to lose her heart to the handsome rancher. But Hank’s a sworn bachelor after a soured engagement two years earlier. His heart begins to thaw when Lucy introduces him to the orphans she cares for, but a Lakota premonition threatens the happiness of the inhabitants of Hazard, Wyoming, and may end in tragedy for Lucy Thoroughgood.


After the instructor left them to instruct another couple, Hank guided Lucy back to the floor. He mimicked the instructor’s accent. “And now I will lead you into the dance of love—or into Hell, whichever comes first.”
She couldn’t help but laugh at Hank’s antics. “You have a terrible French accent.”
“Maybe, but watch this.” He managed to step to the music without crushing her toes, and when the music drew to a close, he dipped her low over his arm and leaned over her so close his lips almost touched hers. His pine and sunshine scent with just a trace of cologne, filled her senses. The light from above the ballroom glinted through his golden hair and illuminated it. The urge to reach up and smooth the lock of gold that fell over his brow was almost over powering. He inhaled a ragged breath. His eyes darkened. Lucy held her breath for what might come next.
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Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media:


  1. My favorite -- staring out the window. I do it far too much LOL. Happy 2017, Sarah!

    1. I used to stare out the window in school thinking my thoughts and imagining, but the teacher didn't see it that way. LOL
      Thank you for coming. I hope 2017 is the best year ever for you, Kristy,

  2. I like the quiet and solitude that settles in on the downhill side of the holidays. The weeks between Thanksgiving through New Year's Day have always been a too-busy, stressful time of year for me. I do my share of staring out the window, but my best plotting and working through plot issues happens when I'm driving. Where I live, it's a long ways to anywhere, so I get plenty of windshield time to think.

    1. Ohmagosh, Kaye I used to do that when I lived in Monroe, NC for a couple years. I drove on an old back road so it was kind of nice not to have to worry about heavy traffic. Mine was a 45 minute drive. Not too bad.
      Thanks for coming. I hope the New Year is a good one for you.

  3. Sarah, I prefer quiet as much as possible, but for some reason it doesn't always work out that way.

    Anytime I can sit and read is precious. I set aside Thursday for writing in group. (I get so much done there, for the distractions are minimal.)I suppose I try for the 'quiet time' all year long.

    May you have much 'silence' to recharge. Happy 2017. Doris

    1. Thank you, Doris. I love quiet and solitude so I'll take you up on your new year wish for me. LOL
      I hope you find more time to read. Doesn't it just renew your desire to write when you read? Holidays just don't give us the opportunity to enjoy a good book.
      I don't have a reading or writing group any more. I used to enjoy going to my CRW chapter once a month to commune with like spirits.
      Thank you so much for coming and sharing your thoughts.

  4. Ah, I love the silence, too -- especially as in times like now, when we have 15 inches of snow and nowhere I have to go! I can relate to much of what you shared, although I am not a nap-taker or a bath-taker :-) But the silence, the reading, the staring out the window, and the old albums are right up my alley. I have recently (the last 3 years, that is) devoted myself to scanning old, old photos for all of our kids and extended family. I would add walks on brisk days, too, although since my "episode" with the cow (1200 lb. mama who kicked me while on horseback, laying me low for weeks) sort of put me down and I am still trying to get myself back into some sort of physical routine!!! Have started back just recently. Here's to the quiet when so much is actually "going on" inside our heads :-)

    1. Dang Gail, it's a wonder you came out of the cow incident alive.
      I have done a great deal of scanning old pictures, too--then I know they're safe and on a thumb drive I can grab in case of fire or flood. Pop used to take pictures and have them made into slides. Now that its out of fashion, it takes professionals to get those slides on a thumb drive. I just paid $72 to have about 20 slides placed on a thumb drive.
      It's hard work getting back your physical strength and mobility after an accident or surgery. I know you'll get there though.
      All the best to you in the New Year, Gail, and thank you so very much for coming.

  5. Sarah--you've hit the right note today. I agree with you whole-heartedly. I believe holidays can often become the most tiring activity we do. I especially like to write, read, and also stare out the window.
    I'm glad you're recovering nicely from your knee surgery. My greatest fear--okay, maybe not my greatest--is being immobile. As of this moment, I know too many people who are in this situation, and it's very depressing.
    I was born taking a nap...
    Anyway, I enjoyed your refreshing always we're sort of on the same page.
    Have a wonderful day, my friend.

    1. Celia, my greatest fear is that my mind will go and I'll end up a shell of a human being. I have to look up to Stephen Hawking when it comes to endurance, persistence, and moving forward no matter what life throws at us.
      My knee is healing quite well and my physical therapist is very happy with my efforts to regain mobility.
      Naps are so renewing. After I do my knee exercises, I snuggle under the covers with my ice pack on my knee, and daydream--sometimes real dream. I can get some great ideas during my nap time. I also feel better physically and emotionally once I've taken my nap.
      God love you, Celia, and I certainly do, too. Thank you so much for all your support and kindness.

  6. I am sorry your surgery cut out the relaxing bathes. Those are heavenly, but naps are good, too. While on the downhill slide of the holidays, I find the hill covered in ice while I'm trying desperately to stay upright. The madhouse buzz and havoc of life doubles, triples, and more. Accounting, taxes, and executor chores, while trying to etch out time for writing and publishing. Ahhh! I'd better get back to work!

  7. Livia, you just had to bring up taxes, didn't you? LOL I keep all my tax information in order, but I still have to go through it and get it organized for my CPA. You have to do it for an entire company. I would be using swear words if I had to do that.
    My knees before surgery prevented me from getting up from a soaking bath. I am hoping, after the healing and physical surgery, I'll be able to relax in a bath once again.
    I love all the covers you put together for your mystery books. I don't know how you find time to write.
    I really do appreciate that you took some time from your busy schedule to visit me here. Thank you!

  8. I enjoyed reading all your ways to spend this period of time between holidays, Sarah. They sound like sure ways to restore one's mind and body. I would enjoy every one of them but I've jumped into a whirl of activities that leave little time for any of them at the moment.

    1. I know you're a very busy author these days, Linda. I hope you do find some time to rejuvenate and take care of yourself.
      All good things to you in the New Year.