The Great Writing Experiment

Everything you have ever wanted, is

I’ve been threatening for months that as soon as I finished school that I would return to writing.

And writing I am!

You see, I’ve been chomping at the bit here. Sure, I did the master’s to help my day job prospects.

[Tweet “But a girl’s still gotta dream big. No matter how old…no matter the odds.”]

Dreams keep you going and can be powerful motivators.

Months ago, I came across some powerful articles.

Some Prolific Writers

Have you heard of Amanda Hocking? No? Click that link right there. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Are you inspired, yet?

I’ve wanted to publish for a long time now. And I haven’t. Call it life, busyness, not prioritizing.

And don’t get me wrong. Teaching is fun and all, but I I would like to try my hand at publishing something. A book. Not a blog post or an article. Yeah, done that…hundreds of times, actually.

There are other authors who are successful and their stories are fun to read. And, most people who publish on Amazon don’t see much success.

The reasons are probably many: gobs of authors, standing out from the crowd, sub-par story, no platform, you name it.

But I’m Going to Experiment

That word, experiment. It’s been a part of my vocabulary for the better part of two years.

Anyways, I am going to try something out. I’m going to see what it is to post ebooks to Amazon’s KDP program.

I’m crazily working on a novel. I actually started it months ago when it was getting cold and I didn’t feel like studying one Saturday afternoon.

I wrote 4,200 words this morning. Because it’s fun!

You see, that’s the thing about writing. Now that I have some time off from school, I am just enjoying writing for writing’s sake.

Not Going the Traditional Route

I have a lot of good friends who are published authors. I am proud of every one of them. It’s no easy feat to publish that first book, and then to keep going.

They write query letters and build their platforms.

But, um…

I kind of want to do something different.

Why?

I just want to do ebooks. For now, anyways.

For a few reason: save paper, a general disillusionment with traditional publishing, I’m not a high-profile author, the Machiavellian approach to manuscripts…

Of course, I hope it won’t all be a colossal failure.

You know, launch the rocket only to have it fall to the center of the earth.

But that’s part of the fun in life, you know? See what happens. I like to see what could happen.

There was an article on CNN that came out a little while ago. Here’s a quote:

“Fact is that authors no longer need a publisher,” Bernard Starr wrote at The Huffington Post. “And more and more writers are awakening to the realization that if you are not a high-profile author who can command large sales, a traditional publisher will do little for you beyond editing and printing your book.

So. There’s that.

Still, I make a habit of reading inspiring things.

Bestseller Success Stories That Started Out as Published Books

How to (Really) Make $1,000,000 Selling Ebooks – Real-world Case Studies

Become an Ebook Superstar

Alas, Non-Fiction is Not Yet

So…I’ve spent most of my writing career writing non-fiction. I’ve just recently tried my hand at fiction. We’re going to see how this pans out. Right now, I’m 82 pages in to a ghost story. On any platform, fiction can be extraordinarily fleeting.

Why? People need information that helps them. It’s harder to sell fiction, particularly if you’re not a known writer. I’m under no illusions here. This is why I stepped up my game for my day job.

Since I like to write, though, I don’t plan on waiting until it’s practical or until I retire to eke out that novel.

Like I said, it’s going to be fun to see what happens. See where my writing takes me. And I’ll keep y’all in the loop with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Anyone else out there want to try?

Gifts for Writers

It’s that time of year when it’s easy to focus on being thankful and grateful for the people/things/insert-whatever-here in our lives.

And to be sure, I am. It’s been a wonderful holiday season and I can’t take it for granted. Life can be so fleeting. Which lends itself to me being even more thankful.

You may know that now that I’m finished with school, I have more time to focus on stuff outside of the day job. Naturally this includes writing.

[Tweet “You know what I’m thankful for? Gifts conducive to good writing.”]

1. A supportive family.

Hubby’s family and my family support my desire to write. They know I love to learn, that I’m curious, and that I walk around tripping over things because my nose is in a book. Or I have to put eyedrops in my eyes to ward off eyestrain because I do get a lot of screen time on account of my writing and networking habits. That is a gift.

2. A supportive network of friends.

Since November of 2011 I have engaged in serious online writing. It’s looked different at different times: sometimes I focused on HubPages. Sometimes I focused here. Sometimes I focused elsewhere or didn’t even do online writing but journaled offline. Through it all, I have met incredible people from all over the world. Who follow your blog. That is a gift.

robe

3. A warm fuzzy robe.

If you know me at all, then  you know I’m perpetually cold. Gifts that allow me to write in comfort are infinitely appreciated. So, my mom sent me a robe. To sit in comfort and write in. You have no idea how warm and soft the thing is. And it makes for warm writing bliss.

heated mittens
Fingerless for typing.

4. Heated mittens that connect to the computer.

Oh yes, you read that right. Many people’s hands get cold when they type at the computer. My fingers turn into blue sausages that get stiff like they have rigor mortis. So, I have these gloves that plug into the USB port of my computer and heat my hands up. They’re fingerless for typing, but can cover them to make them into outdoor mittens. I could totally be the poster child for heated gloves.

gifts for writers

5. A space heater.

Not only do the fingers get cold, but when you sit in a chair for long periods of time, let’s face it. Those little toed-tootsies get cold, too. Not to mention the fact that I have to sit in a cold part of the house to do my business. It’s just the way it worked out, in terms of the layout of the house. To offset the cold, hubby got me a space heater for Christmas. It’s my new best friend. My other one died. Yes, died. It caught fire inside itself and burned to death. It was really sad. But now I’m glad. I have a new best friend. Don’t turn those things on and leave them unattended, folks!

gifts for writers

6. Lots of tea.

People all over must know that A) I’m not a coffee drinker and B) That I’m perpetually cold. Because other teachers at school, hubby, and Secret Santa pals all brought me tea. It’s incredibly warming and yummy!

7. Electric kettle.

I’ve talked about these before. But electric kettles heat your water up in 90 seconds or less. Except mine is about five years old and it’s starting to die. Perhaps I could solicit an electric kettle company to sponsor me by sending one and I’ll write rave reviews on how they allowed me to change the world – by writing – because their kettles kept me nice and warm. In fact, I should write to all these companies. They have no idea how many writers are out there that want these things. Ha!

gifts for writers

8. Moccasin Slippers.

My mom is a veritable lifesaver. Not only did she send me a robe, but she sent me some slippers that I will use forever and ever. Amen. This is another way I can stay warm as I write. The fur lining envelops my feet like a parka. My feet must stay at a comfortable 97 degrees. Just the way I like them.

gifts for writers

9. Hershey’s Kisses with Almonds.

I came across this article that mentioned how people from other countries think milk chocolate in the US tastes like it has sour cream, or has otherwise gone bad. I make no apologies for my love of milk chocolate. Of course, it’s all in moderation. I don’t eat bags of it or anything. Three or four a day. You know, for brain fuel.

10. Pure Focus.

That’s the name of an mp3 track that I listen to daily as I write from BrainSync.com. It’s 60 minutes of scientifically engineered music. When I put it that way, it sounds horrible, doesn’t it? No, really, it’s actually really wonderful. It’s meditative music that includes binaural beats and gamma waves that improve concentration. Holy moly it makes a difference! On days I don’t listen, in an hour, I might do 1,000 – 1,500 words. When I do listen, I’ve topped 2,000 words in an hour. You can almost feel your brain going giddy with concentration energy.

 

For all these things I am thankful. These are things that I use daily for my writing addictions. And I’m so incredibly grateful that life is a little sweeter because of all of them. See? It doesn’t take much to make this girl happy.

Ten things of thankful

The Frosted Window (FlashFiction)

The Frosted Window

Jasmine sat staring at the window. The view was of other rooftops: white, brown and dilapidated. The sun was coming up, peaking over the other buildings against a crisp, blue sky. She swallowed some tasteless oatmeal and glanced at the clock. She had to leave in ten minutes. She heard someone yelling through the thin walls in the apartment next door.

She volunteered to work on Christmas Eve. Apparently, it was one of the better days at the dollar store. She didn’t mind too much: she had no family in this town. She didn’t know what it was to grow up with a real mother, or father. She’d never experienced the warmth of a crackling fire by a large and brilliant Christmas tree.

Her cat jumped on the rickety table. She grabbed his cat bowl and poured some milk into it. “Looks like it’s just you and me again this year, Zap. Just you and me.”

She grabbed a stale Oreo from a nearby bag of cookies and munched.

As she stood up, a white bird flew to the window. Its beak was red, but not unnaturally so. It stared at her with steady golden eyes. She heard it chirp. “Well good morning to you, too, little bird. I hope you’re staying warm on this cold morning.” She smiled before she walked away to finish getting ready. When she returned from her bedroom, she saw that the bird was still walking around by the window.

The bird stared at her. It walked in a circle and eyed her. It cocked its head when Zap jumped up toward the window to get a look for himself.

She grabbed her coat to leave, but still the bird didn’t move. Its gaze was fixed upon her. “See ya around, little bird. Stay warm.” She lamented that she didn’t have a hat or gloves. She needed a new jacket, too. Steeling herself against the burst of cold air, she patted Zap on the head and left.

She worked at the cash register, sometimes thinking about the day when she would be able to get an office job. That was years down the road when she finally finished her degree.  For now, she’d have to cover shifts for people during the holidays. A steady stream of customers went in and out of the store all day. Most weren’t very jolly. She could tell they were digging through their pockets for a cheap last-minute gift that the recipient probably wouldn’t appreciate. Who would? Those toy cars that were selling probably wouldn’t last past a couple hours once a two year-old got ahold of them.

She glanced at the clock on the register’s monitor. They didn’t close until 8pm that night. Four hours to go. At least she was getting time and a half for the long day.

Returning home, she plopped into a chair and grabbed a blanket. She glanced at the windows. Most of them had frosted.

Something caught her eye. Hugging the blanket around herself, she walked over to the window by the kitchen. There was a message etched into the frost: We’re watching over you.

She looked around and started for her bedroom, thinking that someone may have broken in. But then the bird from earlier flew back and landed on the little rooftop outside her window. She flipped on the light. The soft, creamy kitchen light reflected onto the white of the bird, and made its eyes look really dark.

As she stared, another bird landed next to the first one. It had a green beak, reminding her of spearmint.

She sat down to see what the birds were up to and leaned her back against the end of the cabinet. Her eyes followed another bird that landed. Then another. More and more white birds with alternating red and green beaks populated the flat area just beyond the window. Their footprints marked the snow as they walked around. They all peered at her, pair after pair of dark eyes glistening through the glass.

They lingered there, for what seemed like hours.

All she could do was whisper, “what’s going on?” She was so entranced that she jumped a little when Zap came to sit on her lap and curled up to ward off the cold.

At that moment, she heard voices. A collective chorus of whispers. “We’re your angels. And we know you’ve suffered. Sometimes things aren’t always as they seem.”

“You’re not kidding,” she muttered. She shook her head as she kept her eyes fixated on the growing number of white birds with beaks the color of Christmas.

For a moment, the birds got quiet. They all looked at each other and simultaneously flew up into the air – twenty, thirty, then all fifty of them.

They formed a heart shape as they flew, making the dusting of snow that rested about their feet scuttle around the window. When the flurry died down, an envelope floated down through the air. It landed on the windowsill.

Getting up, Jasmine opened the window. She grabbed the envelope. Inside was a card with white birds and those same green and red beaks.  She opened it and a piece of paper fell out.

She picked it up from the floor and unfolded it. It was a money order for $100,000. On the memo line were eight names: Caddie and Fred, Hugh and Delia, Martha and Joe. Her parents and grandparents. She’d never even met her grandparents. Nor had she seen her parents since that car accident that killed them both when she was three, instantly making her an orphan.

She looked back at the sky. She could still make out the faint outline of a heart, flying ever-higher toward the twinkling stars.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I was inspired to write this after seeing T. A. Woods’ post about Holiday Short Stories.

From her blog:

This was written in response to the #writestuff writing prompt for a flashfiction story of less than 1500 words about a holiday of your choice. Interested in writing? Here’s a link and join in the fun. By the way, the #writestuff TweetChat meets every Tuesday at 9 pm EST. It’s where writers talk about writing. You should stop by. The conversations are interesting and the people are fun.

Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

Graduation…And Ten Things of Thankful

Graduation

graduation

Well, I made it.

I walked out into the Convocation Center and hadn’t thought about graduation that much. I’d bought the gown, paid my student fees for graduating, but…it hadn’t really hit me. Finished a 200-page portfolio (it was something like that…I don’t know how many pages, really. It was a compilation of ALL my work as a grad student). I also finished the final investigation (a long 36-pager) for my last class and…they allowed me to march down the aisle.

Until I marched out, and saw the sea of graduation black and gold that are the hallmark colors of my alma mater, did I begin to get those all-too familiar butterflies. The music. The Chancellor – oooh, yes..so formal.

I started this degree in the fall of 2008. Took one class and said, “working full time and doing this? Forget it.” But then it nagged at me. I wanted to finish. So, in the spring and summer of 2009, I took three classes. And then I burned out all over again. I tell ya, people who work full time, AND do the school thing at night are superhuman people. When I went to part time work in 2013, I decided to finish this degree once and for all. I had four classes under my belt. Only eight to go.

In a year and a half, I finished the rest of those eight classes.  I worked full time for a total of five of those classes. It was brutal. And why I was a dropout twice over.

But I arrived. I am here. And I’m thrilled. To be done. To have the “Master’s” behind my name.

 

Hubby

To commemorate the occasion, I must acknowledge a few people. First, of course is the hubby. These last few months I was like a zombie. I got up, went to work, got home and did coursework, ate dinner, went to bed and repeated that. He took on everything.

That is love.

I swear. He cooked. He cleaned. He drove me to classes because I don’t see that well at night. He supported me when I was deliriously happy for finishing all my requirements, and supported me when I sat on the floor, despairing and wondering how I’d ever get through.

Everyone is someone because of other someones who stood by and supported them. That is my Juanito. He was and is my someone who supported me through it all.

 

Denise and Clark

And yes, there are many other wonderful people to thank. In my internet world, I must thank two people: Denise and Clark.

You see, over the last few years, I’ve really become a Wakefield Doctrine scholar. As a side note, and this is no joke, I’m wearing the sweatshirt Clark sent me when I decided to go back to school. I didn’t mean for it to work out that way, but funny how things do work, don’t they? In any case, I’ve enjoyed the many call-ins with fellow clarks and all the study and conversation about the insights into people’s worldviews and ways of dealing with life.

So, on Saturday, I got a card from Denise. Totally unexpected. That’s what made it so sweet! I’m so amazed/happy/awed that someone I haven’t met in real life would take the time to send me a card like that. If you haven’t been to her blog, you should really head over. She’s a special, insightful gal, that Denise. And so ding dang sweet!

denise girlie on the edge

And then there’s Clark. Who sent me a compass. It has to be one of the coolest, most symbolic gifts, ever.

You see, even though I have a Master’s, what remains to be seen is what I will actually do with it. Right now I’m teaching some and working in an office. I envision my life taking on a more creative turn…one that involves more travel, more photography and writing. Perhaps some teaching. But…writing has been whispering to me. Coaxing me back into the comforts of linguistic regalia and the tap, tap tap of the keyboard.

This compass shall give me direction.

wakefield doctrine

 

clark compass

 

Hershey’s Kisses

With almonds. Hubby just celebrated another year around the sun and I put 47 kisses in a jar.

I don’t think he’s eaten any of them, but I sure have. I like that I keep taking away from that 47. Now he must be 33 or something.

47 kisses

The Gift of Time

I have two weeks to make a bang.

We went on winter break starting after school yesterday. Of course, there was still the staff party, the running around to get stuff for said party, and the general exhaustion that comes from a Thanksgiving in Colorado, defending my portfolio, graduating last Saturday, getting the flu, doing holiday program for the school, a campaign fundraiser, the final days of teaching before a big, exciting time of year and…I was so glad to get up at 9:00 this morning instead of 5:00.

But now I have time.

You know what I intend to do with it? Write of course! And sleep, and read, and figure out my next projects.

I’m going to try to “just be,” too. Be relaxed. Be thoughtful. Be present. Be loving. Be kind to myself.

 

For My Supportive Friends and Network

I have felt guilty that I haven’t been exactly “present” with my group of friends that have been my support network. I’ve been so busy and so exhausted, that I just want to send out heartfelt thank yous to Bill, Melanie, Ruchira, Lizzi, Sarah, Rich, Chris and so, so many other wonderful people that I’m forgetting to thank properly at the moment but, in time, I will catch back up with you all!

 

For Indecision

I’ll be honest. This is something that I struggle with. I am interested in so many things and have a heart to do photography and writing and teach languages. I love to write, to paint, and to knit.

I may have just spent a lot of time on studying the theories of teaching Spanish. I’m a little burnt out on that. What I will be doing is writing. A lot. Maybe some on this blog. Maybe some on HubPages, but, honestly, I need to get myself published.

Suffice it to say, I’m going to spend my mornings and evenings writing. And I look forward to every second of it.

 

Maybe that’s Ten Things…maybe not. But I am sure glad to have some time to be back!