School Days

Today was the first day back to school for me. It’s my last semester for my Bachelor’s degree, so keep your fingers crossed everything goes well!

This semester I’m taking…

Intro to Developmental Disabilities. It’s a psychology course and I took it for my English degree because I needed two non-English electives. I decided to take psychology because it’s always been an interesting subject for me. Also, I work with special education kids, so I thought it would be helpful to know. Of course, despite the title of the course, it’s not at all what I thought it would be. It’s able living among people with disabilities. How they live and how they fit in around us. I was expecting to have more knowledge on actual disabilities and that’s not what it is. However, after doing the first assignment I kind of got a taste of what the course description actually means. It might turn out to be good after all.

Spanish. Every degree, as far as I know, has a foreign language requirement. So I’m finally on my last Spanish course. It’s accelerated, so it’s only 10-weeks as opposed to my other classes that are 14-weeks. It will be a good class. I’ve had the professor before and she’s great. I enjoy Spanish and wish I was fluent in it… with enough practice, maybe I will be someday. It’s intimidating, though. Since it’s accelerated the homework load is a bit much. It’ll take up a good chunk of my time each week.

American Women Novelists. I have to take a diversity English course and this counted so… I took it. To be honest, it’s not the kind of class I would willingly take, but it seems good. We’ll be reading a lot of novels by women authors. Our first book is by Sylvia Plath. I’ve heard of her, but never read anything from her. There was only one other author I heard from and actually read one of her books and that’s Jacqueline Woodson. I read one of her books back in middle school and enjoyed it, so I’m hoping I enjoy this book as well.

Creative Writing: Non-Fiction. Last semester I took Creative Writing: Fiction I. I was hoping to take Fiction II this semester just to complete it, but it wasn’t offered for some reason. I decided to go along with Non-Fiction I, even though I wouldn’t be able to take Non-Fiction II either because this is my last semester. I’ve always been interested in Non-Fiction, so it’ll be a good class. I’m sure I’ll learn something new.

With that being said, I did a lot of homework today both before and after work. I got a good chunk done–I only have to do a bit of reading for my Novelists class and my Disabilities class. I have to do a writing prompt for my Non-Fiction class, but that won’t take too long and it will be easy. So I think I did a good job with homework today considering I don’t have much left.

Except Spanish. I didn’t touch Spanish yet.

So I didn’t get much editing done on Detective Florence 2 today. I typed up about ten pages of the next draft before my eyes started crossing from the computer screen. Aside from being at work, I’ve been staring at the computer all day long.

That’s how my day went… and how all my days will go now that school has started again. Now I’m off to go get some reading done for my classes. I always try to finish my homework by the weekend so I can relax and also spend my weekend writing. I’m off to a good start so far!

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Goodbye 2014!

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

I feel like I wrote Goodbye, 2013! just yesterday. I blinked and now the end of 2014 is here and 2015 is right around the corner. Time sure does fly.

Last year, I decided to go through all my blog posts for 2013 and highlight them in one post in an attempt to recap and say goodbye to 2013. I am going to do that again to say goodbye to 2014.

Let’s see what happened in 2014…

January:
-I went over my New Year’s resolutions
-I continued to write Detective Florence and completed it
-I came up with the Short Story Sunday feature on my blog
-I started writing Inspiration Station
-I had a schedule of writing 5,000 words a day and changed it to writing 5,000 words Monday-Thursday, editing Friday-Saturday, and relaxing on Sunday
-I discovered the Reading Bingo and challenged myself to it
-It was Kris’s birthday

February:
-I decided to write only 1,000 words a day when school started
-I completed two Reading Bingo squares by reading Coming Clean and The Hobbit
-I continued to post my Short Story Sunday throughout the month

March:
-I planned on editing more than writing to help prepare for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo
-I completed another Reading Bingo square by reading I, Robot
-I was nominated for the Liebster Award

April:
-Camp NaNoWriMo started and I wrote Diary of A Killer
-I discovered the website Noisli
-I was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award and the Howler Award
-Easter happened plus I was busy with work and school… I got behind on Camp NaNoWriMo
-I got 1,000 followers on Spilled Ink

May:
-I lost Camp NaNoWriMo
-I discussed what “Success” is
-I joined Critique Circle
-It was Spilled Ink’s two-year anniversary

June:

–Edited Detective Florence in preparation of Camp NaNo

July:

–Camp NaNo: wrote Detective Florence 2
Trying to balance life, writing, work, school, etc.
–I accidentally saved over my Camp NaNo novel (150 pages and 44k words) with my Short Story Sunday with five days left of Camp NaNo
–I wrote 50k in five days to beat Camp NaNo

August:

–I beat Camp NaNo in, more or less, five days
–I updated my Reading Bingo with many novels
–I discussed how my English degree is basically in nothing
–I got a new job
–Lucky Seven Challenge with Detective Florence 2
–I currently had 15 WIPs… yikes.
–I came up with a writing schedule for the rest of the year
–I went to Disney and discovered the “Writer’s Stop” store and met Peter Pan
–Reality checked back in after vacation with school starting, work, Sunday school, etc.
–I wanted to enter some contests, but missed the deadlines

September:

–I turned 21
–School started with a few creative writing classes
–Cookie the Beagle joined the family
–I tried to come up with a routine to balance homework, writing, etc.
–I discuss why I became a teacher, go to school, became a teacher/director or the Sunday school, write, etc.
–I updated everything in my life with my sister’s wedding coming up as well as November NaNo.

October:

–I decided to edit Take Over and plan to write Far Away for NaNo
–I started editing Take Over which I noticed I’ve grown as a writer in the past year or so
–I watched “Authors Anonymous” and the screenwriter contacted me. It also inspired a new potential story idea
–I watched a NaNo video on Blurb
–I decided to give myself a reward of one dollar for every 1,000 words I write for NaNo
–I changed my mind again and decided to write short stories for NaNo

November:

–I bought a new fish named Nano
–NaNoWriMo started and I wrote Short Story Collection and came up with new ideas for novels
–I did my best in balancing homework with NaNo
–I planned on finishing NaNo by Thanksgiving and did it
–I came up with a new novel idea called Fire and Ice
–I won NaNo
–Thanksgiving happened and I made a list of all I’m thankful for
–I compared NaNo 2013 to this year’s NaNo
–I edited while on vacation and discussed how that’s the best time to write

December:

–I came up with a plan for my Detective Florence series
–I finished typing the second draft of Detective Florence
–I wrapped up yet another semester of my Bachelor’s degree and made it out alive and with good grades
–I hand edited the first draft of Detective Florence 2
–I changed the title of my blog, bought the domain name from WordPress, and made some slight layout changes

So much has happened in one year. Some good, some bad, but I think it was mostly good. I’m happy to be where I am right now. I have a wonderful job, I’m going to school, and I’m on my way with my writing. There’s nothing for me to complain about.

Here’s to another great year in 2015!

Working Forever

Career

The other day I was complaining about school to my co-workers. Not really “complaining,” but just saying how I would really like to be done soon. I feel as though this current semester has been dragging on since the beginning of time. Then I still have one semester left for my bachelor’s degree. Then I’m still not done and I get to start my Master’s. If everything goes according to plan, I should be officially done with school when I’m 23- or 24-years-old. Not bad, right?

So when I said this, one of the teachers in my classroom laughed and said, “Why, so you can work all the time?”

She was kidding, but she did have a point. Then again, I would rather work full time and save my money rather than work full time and have all my money go down the drain to school… with homework to do to top it off.

When I finish school that means I will have more time to write. I love my job, but just like any other normal person I don’t wish to stay there forever. I love teaching and being with the kids just as much as I love writing, but if I had to choose between the two… I would hands-down pick writing.

I want to write all the time. I want to wake up in the morning, make a cup of coffee, sit at my desk and write. I want to be able to write a couple thousand words or a few good pages, outline and make notes of a new idea, or edit an old one. Then I can go out with friends feeling accomplished and do it all over again the next day. I would certainly be living my definition of a dream.

I don’t want to have to worry about being at work at a certain time. I don’t want to have to worry about getting my homework in on time. The only deadlines I want to worry about are what my agent/publisher tells me. I want my only concern to be “should I kill off this character?”

Of course, when I finish school I’ll still have to work. Writing to pay the bills will not happen overnight, but I hope that it will eventually happen someday. I want to have the ability and the option to write all day, every day.

Whenever this happens, I won’t get the luxury of retiring like everyone else. However, by being able to sit home all day and do what I love it’ll be like I retired at a young age.

Even when I’m old and gray, I’m sure I’ll still be writing.

A Degree In…What?

Another semester for my English degree has ended. I’ve had about a week of freedom so far and I’m all ready counting down the days until I (unfortunately) have to start up again.

I can’t complain. I do like my classes and (most) of my professors, but that doesn’t mean I want my schooling to last forever. Also, like most people, I’m sick of the homework.

Now I’d be lying if I said I haven’t learned anything; I have. Some information is more useful than others, but there are a few things here and there that stick with me and I’m going to explain one thing that I’ve learned this past summer.

I took a class called Theories of Rhetoric and Composition. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but once I started the class I realized it was mostly about teaching writing. Okay, I thought to myself, I can do this. I mean, I’m a teacher; I love to teach. Granted, the most English I teach is the ABCs to preschoolers.

My textbook, Cross-Talk in Comp Theory, is a series of articles written by scholars and writers discussing the English language, writing in general, and teaching/learning to write.

Textbook

We read almost the entire book during the ten-week class. Some articles I got into, others I didn’t care for, and some I didn’t understand what they were talking about at all. Yet, there are 18 articles we didn’t read and I plan on reading them in my own time anyway. It’s still an interesting book, nonetheless.

However, do you want to know the number one thing I learned from this textbook and the class as a whole? The English language is the hardest, most complex thing in the universe.

Every article in that book is written by a different person, but every article we read quoted at least one or more of the other articles in the book. Why did they quote each other? Because each author was trying to prove the other one was wrong.

Should grammar be taught in the classroom? Some thought yes, others thought it was (or should be) common sense and only be taught to those learning English as a second language. What age should grammar be learned? The ages varied; some said as early as possible, others said college. How should teachers teach grammar? Tests, worksheets, memorizing, etc. There were so many different options.

That was just a few articles arguing about grammar alone. There were so many other “issues” they touched upon about writing, reading, and even speaking English.

I think that was part of the reason why I had such a hard time trying to understand some of the articles. I read one thinking, Yeah, that makes sense. Then the next article I read I would think, Well, that makes sense as well. I wasn’t too sure what to believe.

Then it dawned on me: If these “professionals” don’t know how to teach English, then what is going on in the minds of my professors? I have all ready had two professors give me mixed signals. One professor said when I cite in-text I should write, “(Author’s last name, page number)” and the following semester my professor took off points and said it should be, “(Author’s last name page number).” Do you see the difference?

Yes, one professor said I should use a comma (and my textbook told me to as well) while the other professor told me not to. I mentioned this to the professor who “corrected” me asking which was actually the “correct” way to cite and she never got back to me. So, I have decided to do whatever the professor wants for the sake of a good grade, but the bottom line is…what am I truly learning?

Keep in mind these two professors were not my professor for my Theories of Rhetoric and Composition class. So, when reading this textbook it gave me great insight on how I’m spending so much money, time, and effort for a degree in…what, exactly?

So many people assume I want to teach English because I have an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and now going for my Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. The main reason I did this is because I want to teach preschool if publishing novels doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s always been in the back of my mind to teach English in case I ever want to stop or take a break from chasing three-and-four-year-olds around all day.

Of course, after reading these articles, I question whether I would ever want to teach English or a creative writing course. I believe teaching is one of the most difficult occupations out there (and seriously underpaid). A teacher prepares a child for the future thus creating all the doctors, police officers, fire fighters, etc. Teaching should be taken seriously and I have run into many teachers and professors who don’t take it nearly as serious as they should.

Everyone learns differently and at their own pace. What might work for one child might not work for another. Therefore, it’s the teacher’s job to accommodate; create new, interesting ways to get the child to learn and understand while enjoying it. I realized that all the suggestions in the articles in my textbook would all work…they just might not work for everyone.

To know that my professors aren’t on the same page and there is no true way to teach and learn the English language as well as writing…then who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? The citing is a prime example…I got points taken off an assignment for listening to a teacher; a colleague of my (at the time) current professor.

It’s annoying, but at the same time, I feel proud to be writing. I’m working in a difficult field and even though I don’t have any novels published yet, I’m still plugging away at it. I research and I learn from other writers as well as myself. I do learn things from my classes, I’m not trying to say school is useless or anything, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that writing is most definitely hands-on.

I write because I love it and since I love it so much, I’m willing to keep writing and teaching myself to get better at it. That is one thing a course and a textbook cannot teach me.

Thoughts On Life

Warning, This Is A Really Long Post…

Kris and I tend to have a lot of conversations about our future. For some strange reason, I was beginning to think about again this morning. Kris was home with me, but she was in the shower so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. Except for Hunter.

Yes, he is sitting in a drawer. This pic was taken a while ago, though.
Yes, he is sitting in a drawer. This pic was taken a while ago, though.

He seemed to agree with me on half of the things I said, too. Well…he meowed a lot, anyway. But together, in the half hour Kris was in the shower, he and I took a long, hard look at life.

I was always the type of person to have a plan.  I always stuck to that plan no matter what and it was very hard for someone or something to change my mind.

When I was in first grade, I was six-years-old,  I loved my teacher a lot. Her name was Mrs. McCarthy. I have two memories from that class: one was that she had a beanie baby named Tiny. Every Friday one kid in the class was chosen to take it home for the weekend. Memory number two is that I remember telling her, “I’m going to be a first grade teacher just like you.” I kept half of that promise. I do want to be a teacher and have wanted to be a teacher ever since.

When I was in fifth grade, I was ten, my sister found the FanFiction website. I wasn’t really all that interested in it, but I wanted to copy her because I was an annoying little sister. I created a story for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because that was my obsession at the time. The writing sucked, to be blunt. My spelling was terrible, I had no idea what grammar was, and for the most part there was no plot. I just threw a little girl into the turtles’ laps and based her off of me. As I got older, I took the story down and re-vamped it. It was popular and I continued on. I found the sister site, FictionPress, which is all original stuff. I posted a few things on there, came up with millions of novel ideas, and thought to myself, “Why post these on the internet when I could get them published?” That was when I got my start at writing.

But I still wanted to be a teacher. How was I to write and be a teacher at the same time? Mind you, at this point in time I thought authors made millions of dollars by just selling one book. I didn’t realize how difficult it truly is. But I thought writing was going to be so much work (which it is), so how was I to write full time all day every day and still be able to teach first grade?

“I’ll be an English teacher!” I finally came to a conclusion. I never really thought about what grade I wanted to teach, but I was gonna go with it for the time being. I love Spanish, too. There was some point in my life where I kept flip-flopping back and forth between being an English teacher and a Spanish teacher.

Then I got to seventh grade, I was 12. My aunt suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm. She and the rest of my family were over for my birthday, seeming completely fine, and two days later she was gone. She left behind Jackie and Kat (who were 3 and 1 at the time) and my Uncle behind. Two weeks later we had to put my dog Casey down due to seizures. This was around the time Hunter came into the picture (he was a stray), but that’s another story for another time.

Most of my writing during that time was sad and gloomy. Most of the things I wrote on FanFiction was in the humor section and I got a lot of reviews with people telling me that my work was so funny that they printed it out to share with their friends and such like that. But when she left behind her daughters, there was no one else to watch them while my Uncle was at work, so we took them in. I was the youngest of three and then suddenly a middle child of five. It was the biggest change of my life and it’s not something I would wish upon anybody.

I love my cousins to death and I am glad we did what we did to help them and my Uncle out, but when you’re 12 it’s tough to see just how good of a deed you’re really doing. But ever since then, I was done with change. I didn’t care if it was good or bad, I didn’t need anymore surprises in my life.

But people tell you that when you get to high school, things change. Your friends, even yourself, changes. “That will never!” I declared. I had the best group of friends in the world. Alyssa, Mary, Christina, and Kerri. I had known Christina and Kerri since elementary school and Alyssa and Mary came into the picture in middle school, sixth grade.

But at the beginning of ninth grade, high school…things changed. Just like people told me they would. Mary moved to another town so she went to a different high school. Alyssa went to a vocational school. Only Christina, Kerri, and I were at school together, but while I had a few classes with Kerri, I never saw Christina around. I kept in touch with Alyssa and kept in touch with Mary through Alyssa. But as each day passed, we talked less and less. Now we get in contact with each other once every few months and never hang out anymore.

Junior year was the bulk of when everything happened. I had just turned 16 and while everyone else was learning how to drive, I said no thank you. I wasn’t ready for it and I wasn’t going to be for a very long time. Kerri changed drastically that year to the point that I haven’t spoken to her since. And I changed, as well. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, but I was straying from the path that I had been on so for so.

Long story short, after Christmas break, I did not go back to high school. I refused to go. My teachers were baffled, my parents didn’t know what to do, and I had no idea what had come over me. I hated the kids in my class, none of my teachers seemed to believe in me, and I was realizing that Kerri didn’t believe in me, either. We got in a huge fight because when she asked me what was going on with me, I told her I didn’t know because I truly didn’t know. She got angry at me thinking I was keeping something from her. That was the end of our friendship.

For the second half of my junior year I stayed home all day and went in after school to be tutored for a while to make sure I finished my junior year. I went into therapy where I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and had to be put on medication. I only had two teachers supporting me and the rest thought it was because I just needed to be in lower classes. I was put in the low classes all my life when I got A’s and B’s. I had to fight to get into the higher classes and now they were putting me down again. I had it with teachers. I had it with school. I was ready to drop out and not bother going to college.

My therapist found this “dual enrollment” program at a local community college. I was able to finish my high school diploma there and the courses would also count towards my degree. I went with it. And I’m glad I did. I not have my Associate’s degree in early childhood education. I’m starting my Bachelor’s in the Fall for English.

I hate change. I always hated it thinking I would never get through, but my entire life has changed in a million different directions and each time I adapted. I went from wanting to be a teacher, to an English teacher, to possibly a Spanish teacher, to finally deciding on being a preschool teacher (working towards owning my own preschool and being director) ,all while being a writer. I went from a group of four friends to just the one (Christina and I chat ever day). I went from being an almost high school drop-out to being a college graduate. And I have plans to get my Bachelor’s in English, Master’s in Business, and go back for a certificate in Special Ed. I went from being the youngest child to being one of the oldest.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that…I’m ready for anything else that life throws at me. I have a lot more schooling to get done and I have a ton of books to get published. Who knows what’s going to happen?

Cheerios and Chicken Soup

Yum…

Kris and I decided to do more writing contests and such.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books? This is one of the things we want to do. We pick book topics that we can write a nonfiction story about and send it in. If your story is picked to be in the book, you’ll receive 200 dollars plus ten free copies of the book. I think that’s a good deal.

As of right now, there are two topics that I am able to write for. Stories About Cats and Overcoming Challenges. I could write for the Stories About Dogs one, but I don’t have any real stories that pop out in my mind. I can only think of one story with my cat, Hunter, and my turtle, Raph. I’m going to write about that. I doubt it’ll get picked, but hey–might as well toss in every story I can, right? The deadline for this one is August 31, 2013.

The Overcoming Challenges one I’m going to talk about my high school career–my best friend bullying me, my anxiety disorder, and some of the teachers not believing in me. I don’t know if I ever explained this one here, but I left high school half way through my junior year. I did get my high school diploma, but I went through college to get it. It also gave me a head start on my degree, which was nice. The deadline for this one is October 31, 2013.

There are a couple of other topics I could write for, but there are no stories that pop into my head for them. We’ll see, though; especially since I have time for the two topics I plan on doing. Of course August 31 is going to be here before I know it.

I also heard of another contest through My Journey As A Writer‘s blog. It’s called Cheerios Spoonful of Stories. You can send in an unlimited amount of children’s books. Grand prize is 5,000 dollars. The story is featured on the website as well as handed over to Simon and Schuster publishing to be considered for publication. Second and third prize gets 1,000 dollars. The deadline is July 31, 2013.

I have a few children’s book ideas, but I don’t know if I’m going to have the time to write, edit, and send them in. I’m leaving for vacation on Saturday and when I come back there will be about three days left until the deadline. The book I would love to send in is still being considered by a publisher who only takes exclusive manuscripts. I’m not allowed to send the manuscript anywhere else until I hear from them, or September 7 (it’s a three-month turnaround time and I sent it in on June 7). We’ll see if I have any time this week to write up some manuscripts and give them a good look-over.

There’s also Writer’s Digest competitions. I have done a couple of their competitions before, but never won anything. Of course, I can keep trying.

I also bought a book called 2013 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. Not only does the book have a list of publishers and agents, it has a list of contests, as well. Of course, a lot of them have already ended because I was smart and bought the book half way through the year of 2013. But it also has a list of magazines, too. Some pay, some don’t. Some have contests, some don’t. But you can still send stuff in, depending on what they’re looking for.

I told myself I wanted to have something published by my 25th birthday. Of course, when I say something published, I mean one of my young adult novels or middle grade novels or something.

I turn 20 on September 1, 2013. That gives me five more years to get something done. If I can get something published by winning a contest, even if it’s just published in a small magazine, I’ll take it. I would prefer one of my novels, but if it gets my foot in the door, I’ll be happy.

Day Four

We Got This….

MePicture: This was the look on my face as I was writing today. Yep.

Needless to say I did not write too much today. I wrote a little at school and then I wrote a tiny bit when I got home, but my grand total for the day is 1,138 words. It’s not even enough for one whole day because we’re supposed to be writing 1,667 words a day. However, I’m not too concerned because my total for the whole story is 14,557 words.

Why was I making this face? Well, I realized that I was getting to drawn into the characters for Saving Each Other. Let me tell you a little bit about them:

Sierra: A petite 18-year-old who has no money, has no job, has no place to stay, and has no parents. Her grandfather, who lives very far away, sends her money so that she can put herself through college. She is currently an undecided major and she gets bullied a lot mainly because one of her eyes is blue and the other is a milky white. No, she is not blind although people tend to assume that. Don’t let her fool you; you mess with her in any way, she will kick you to the curb and never look back.

Blake: A bum 20-year-old who lives in a small apartment with his girlfriend, Jenna. Jenna goes to school in the early morning as well as online for an accounting degree. She works at a bank in the afternoon. What does Blake do all day? He watches TV and eats. However, Jenna has had enough of his laziness and forced him to get a job. She can no longer pay for the bills and rent on her one lousy paycheck. Blake is now working part-time at a preschool with no education and experience to back him up. However, his inner child allows him to get along great with the kids.

Luke: An independent 23-year-old who has no idea where he is going in life. He has a master’s degree in business, yet he is working at a preschool. He, unfortunately for him, accidentally got Blake that extra shift at the preschool. Luke’s father was a wealthy business man who owned a lot of big companies. Luke worked for him and hoped to be just like him one day. When his father passed away, his will stated that the company should go to Luke’s eldest brother. His brother ran it into the ground, thus Luke was laid-off. Luke dreams of opening his own business, but he had no money due to the mortgage on his house among other bills. Luke knows that the preschool isn’t going to be enough for him to start his own business, but it was the only thing that was available at the time.

Do you see how thought-out those background stories are? I’m 26 pages into the novel and the reader already knows absolutely everything there needs to know about the three main characters. Oh, but I left something out, didn’t I…? Oh, yeah! They all (except Sierra) have some sort of power.

That’s what that face is saying: “How did I forget about that part? It’s the whole point of the story!”

Anyway, I introduced the powers and had Luke and Blake discover that they’re messed up and then I stopped in the middle of it because…I don’t really know why.

And that was all she wrote.

 

2013: 96,336/365,000 Words Written
2013: 1,749/18,250 Pages Read