Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bye Bye My So Called Writing Life

Notice anything different?  Yes, I decided that it was time to change my blog name. Two years ago, I called my blog My So Called Writing Life.  Not everyone takes me seriously as a writer, and my progress in the writing world is moving steadily but slowly. Within the last four years, I have learned that  you have to work your way up in the writing world-or at anything you want to do in life. There are no short cuts to success.

I personally don't think that my writing life is a joke overall. I write and manage two blogs, write consumer reports for Knoji (when available), and other content from time to time.  Sure, I may not be a New York Times bestselling author, but I am a writer.  I have a few stories that have received little attention and an unwritten novel, but I am still a writer.

It took years for me to know who Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti, Sharon M. Draper, and other famous authors were.  They had to work to get to where they are now.

It will be business as usual here.  Nothing has changed, but the blog name. I also discovered that there is another blog called My So Called Writing Life on Blogger.  It took me awhile to figure how to change the URL and the blog name.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

30 Week Blog Challenge: Week 21- Fears

This week's blog challenge asks us to write about our fears.

The reality of fear is that it is crippling or paralyzing. Fear causes us to expect failure or to be apprehensive. What are my fears?

I fear that I will never have the opportunity to get married or have children. I often hear about people I know whose marriages fell apart because their spouse was unfaithful.  I often wonder if it is better to just stay single and avoid all the hurt and pain.  I knew a woman who didn't get married until she was in her 50's.  I often wonder if I will end up like her.

I also fear that I will never find someone to love me.  I have crushed on guys, but they a so far out of my league-I know that they wouldn't give me the time of day or even like me back. Again, I fear that if I meet someone they will hang around for a little while, get bored or sick of me and move on to something better. Why do I feel this way?  Because this very thing has happened to me.

I fear that I will never be able to find a job where my vision impairment won't be an issue. Three years ago, I applied for a part time job at the library. I thought that the interview went well until the end. The lady from HR questioned if I would be able to see to shelve the books. I told her yes. The following week she called and said that she gave the job to someone else. I was crushed. Friday, I was told that I should identify myself as visually impaired more.  Seriously?  My abnormal glasses does that for me. I have always tried to blend with that goal of drawing less attention to myself.  I always thought if I "blend in" it would make a difference and I wouldn't get so much attention. I have even considered not wearing my glasses to my next interview, but that may not be a smart idea.

I guess that the whole "blending in" thing came about when I was in school. I wanted the regular sized
textbooks instead of hauling around large oversized large print books.  I feel strange using my monocular at fast food restaurants or to read far away signs.  Once, I had someone tell to put it away.  So now, I know what's on the dollar menu, but have the tendency to order the same old things. Recently, I decided to look up menus online, and I discovered some new things that McDonald's  has, like their white chocolate mocha or bacon double cheeseburger.

I fear that I will not be fully prepared if or when I lose my sight.  I have always dreamed of moving out of state.  I would be nice to live near the beach, but there is the fear of hurricane season.  It's going to happen-like it or not. I once thought that it would be cool to live in California, but there's earthquakes. However, an earthquake can happen anywhere.

Some years ago, I planned to move away.  Soon, people were quoting crime statistics for the city I was planning to move to. After awhile, I lost interest.  I appreciate their concern, but no place is 100% safe, so you have to use common sense.

The problem with fear is that it can hold you back from taking risks and trying ne w things. Fear can even allow you to miss out on opportunities they may only come around once in a lifetime.

When I was little I fail off the monkey bars and ever since then, I would not attempt to cross the monkey bars.

What's the lesson here? Don't let fear hold you back from doing the things that you enjoy or dream of.  You have to find a way to face your fears and overcome them. Remember to use common sense.

Monday, January 20, 2014

30 Week Blog Challenge Week 20- A Hobby of Yours

Often times, I am asked, "do you have a hobby?"  Hands down, I will have to say that my hobby is reading.

I have been an avid reader since childhood. It basically started when my class would go to the library to check out books and watch film strips.  (Yes, film strips, this was before VHS tapes, and long before DVDs).  I started off with books on tape and a very large brown tape recorder. I would sit in my room and listen.

I was given the Dick, Jane, and Spot books to read in large print. (I don't know the correct title).  Soon, I was tired of reading them.

As time went by, I actually looked forward to going to the library.  By middle school, going to the library wasn't required unless it was for a project.  And thanks to magnifiers, I could read any book I wanted.

My love for reading continued through high school. When I started college, I no longer had time to read for leisure since all of my time was taken by reading textbooks. I realized that I missed reading for fun. In 2005, I got back into reading again when I started reading the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I started reading again for leisure when I had the time.

After graduating college, I started reading heavily. I needed a distraction from the challenges of trying to find a job.  Since I don't really have anyone to talk to about what I am reading, I started my book review blog, YA Books Etc.  

I like to visit my local library and bookstore from time to time.  It is nice to be able to look at books in person. Searching online for books is great, but it is different.  I also joined Goodreads to keep track of books I've read, and discover new ones.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Friday Five

  1. One of my goals is to take better care of myself by exercising more and eating healthier snacks. Instead of loading up on sugary treats, I have been purchasing granola bars, yogurt covered raisins, craisins (which are awesome), etc.  Well, one day, I went into the store and bought jolly ranchers and peach rings.  I know they aren't healthy choices. Yes, I know this change is going to take some time and more effort.  When I got home, I put the jolly ranchers into the candy dish and ate the peach rings. I felt slightly guilty about my impulse buying decision.  There was a time when I would load up on candy. I often wonder what the cashiers thought of my purchases.  I guess they don't have time to concern themselves with what people choose to buy.
  2. I have been reading Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando.  It has been a good book so far, and a book that I will keep around to read again.  I have three other books to read and that will probably take me to the end of spring at the latest.  I will post a review on my book review blog, so stay tuned.
  3. I was reading a post on called This is How She Tells Me to Check the Mail.  It is a story about how two sisters communicate through text-even in the house.  Her sister asks via text if the postman (mail man) came.  After reading this story, I once again asked the question that I have been wondering about for the last five years-is technology making us lazy?  I have had incidents where my brother would text me from his room down the hallway.  To me this is crazy because he could have just gotten up or hollered down the hallway.  I shared this story on social media and I seriously doubt that anyone paid this story any attention.  I do my share of texting, but sometimes I miss the days of talking on the phone and writing letters.  I sometimes long for that. I embraced social media and texting because I reached a point where people wouldn't answer their phones, but I could find them online or just quickly type out a text. It seems that "typing" has replaced "talking."  Maybe my mom is right, "If you can't call or talk to me, then we aren't friends."  Maybe I should put my foot down and nicely say, you know you can call me from time to time, I'm not busy."  There have been times when I try to call people and a few minutes later they text me.  What was the point in the first place?
  4. Last month, I was promoted to consumer guide writer.  This was exciting, I was happy to be writing again, but I have been snubbed again.  For the past two weeks, there have been no assignments.  I check in several times a day, and the assignment board is blank.  There are no product review assignments to fall back on.  I wrote the editors to see what is going on. They said that product review assignments have been "paused."  That's just great I thought, AND now there are no consumer guide assignments.  Things have been shaky at this site.  Since December, they have promoted writers to consumer guide status, but they don't have enough assignments for everyone.  It seems that if you don't check in at the right time, you snooze you lose.  So I don't know how much longer I can put up with this roller coaster ride.  Things tend to happen on a three month basis.  In June, I wrote my last product review, my pay rate went ridiculously down, and assignments were gone.  In September, I was selected to write fashion related articles for their writing project.  In December, I was able to write consumer guides.  So what's going to happen in March, huh?
  5. With everything I wrote about in #4, I need to write more stories.  I bought an ebook of writing prompts to get my brain going, to get creative again. The other day, my brother was like stop freelancing, and write for yourself and stop writing for other people.  I need to be more confident in my fiction writing, I really do.  When I put my short stories on Smashwords, no one would buy them even at the lowest price.  I began to feel that my work was a joke so I decided to offer them for free. I got more downloads through the price of free.  Last week, I decided no more free.  I'm not in this to make money because I know that I am not going to be rich.  At some point, I can't continue to give my hard work away for free.  Yes, I have to WORK to get to where I want to be. In this business, writers will struggle.  I am often times labeled as a sucker.  So, am I a sucker to offer my stories for free or to work for pennies on a dollar?  I have been posting articles on Bubblews.  I have 25 posts and made $7.00 so far. So this is where the sucker part comes in.  Writing for them feels like writing for Helium.  Bubblews just raised their payout requirement to $50.  How long is it going to take for me to make $50?  The next two years?  I am tired of writing for revenue share sites.
Sorry for the rant.  Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

30 Week Blog Challenge Week 19: A Fun Memory

This week's blog challenge is to share a fun memory.

I had to give this topic some thought.

Fourth grade was a very memorable year.  It was the year when I was determined to really start getting into music-knowing the titles and artists of popular songs. I knew a few artists and whatever my parents played at home. But I quickly learned that wasn't enough.  My classmates seemed so far ahead of me.  I started watching music videos. Hey, it was the 90's and music videos were in heavy rotation on BET and MTV.

The fourth grade was the early days when I wasn't fitting in with my classmates-I was different from various reasons.  My grandmother bought me a Barney back pack.  Seems appropriate for a 9-10 year, but it was the  BIGGEST joke to my classmates. Thankfully, I had other backpacks at home.

My teacher, Ms Florence did not like Snoop Dogg and Beavus and Butthead. And she made it known almost everyday.

Our class was pen pals with a class out in California.  My pen pal's name was Monica. We all exchanged pictures.  We only exchanged a few letters and I never knew her last name. I wondered what happened to her. She's probably married with children now like a lot of my classmates.

I did the pen pal thing a few times throughout my school years. In my sixth grade English class, we were connected with a class from Washington, DC.  I don't remember his name but he said that his classmates told him that he looked like Carlton Banks from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  There were no pictures so I had to go on my imagination.

In the 8th grade, I exchanged one letter with a guy from Austria.  I was taking German at the time.  So the entire letter was in German. I probably understood - I don't know 50% of the letter, so I was stunned that he said that he liked Al Bundy from Married with Children.

My biggest memory of fourth grade was when my class got busted. Let me explain.  See, I had a lot of class clowns in my class.  So every time my teacher left the room, my class would crack jokes on each other. One day, Ms. Florence was at the office, and little did we know, she was listening in on us through the PA system.  She was like, "I know what y'all are doing."  BUSTED.  Once, I call myself getting in on the comedy routine.  One day, I was taken out into the hallway with some other students by my teacher. That was the end of that.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Friday Five

  1. From time to time, I write Friday Roundup posts.  YA author Sarah Dessen use to write her version of the The Friday Five.  I was inspired to do my own version. I changed the name because I thought that I would be stealing.  Sarah phased out the The Friday Five last year.  Last weekend, I saw Lauren Morrill's blog and she has own Friday Five.  So, I decided to change to The Friday Five.
  2. I enjoy the convenience of shopping online. The hard part it is the waiting game.  My package arrived on Wednesday.  This was probably the largest box I have ever received.  I ordered a purple lap desk, and three books. Yeah, I bought more books. I know that my brother will have something to say later, but it is not a big deal.  And of course he did have something to say.  I have one more book coming on Monday.  I was worried that it was lost in the mail.  I just got off the phone with customer service, and they said that it will be here Monday.  It sounds like a lot, but at least I have some reading material to keep me entertained for awhile.
  3. I decided that this year will be about ACTION.  I was reading a book about why companies turn people down for jobs, and one reason is "you are what you seem."  If people see you as sloppy, lazy, irresponsible, etc., well that is how people (especially employers) will see and treat you.  I made a list of goals for this year, and some of them are already in progress.  For instance, I decided that it is time to make healthier snack choices.  So instead of loading up on chocolate or other types of candy, cookies, and other sugar filled snacks, I have been choosing trail mix.  I am glad that I love trail mix.  I also need to exercise. I tend to get lazy in this aspect during the winter months.  I also need to declutter.  How am I accomplishing this goal?  I started last year, when I cleaned out my closet and donated clothes that I didn't wear or can't wear.  I also cleaned out my dresser.  I donated books to the library's used book store. But it still feels like I have a ton of stuff.  
  4. Speaking of winter, it has been extremely cold here in South Carolina thanks to the polar vortex. I had no idea what the polar vortex was until this week.  On Tuesday morning it was 7 degrees outside. I'm not use to temperatures that low.  I usually think anything under 50 is extremely cold.  I own winter coats, I don't get to wear them that often.  Sometimes I like to go on Yahoo to see what the weather is like in other countries.  It was warmer in London compared to here.  I have a white puffy coat I wore on Tuesday.  I know I looked like a giant marshmallow but at least I was warm.  
  5. Last weekend, I went over to a friend's house to watch movies. We watched Say Anything which is an 80's movie. I have heard references made about the movie especially the famous boom box scene. In When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, she re-creates the boom box scene for her characters.  We also watched BBC's Sherlock on Netfix. I must admit, it got my attention, and I was sucked in. Maybe I can find more episodes on Hulu.  Yes, I actually watch TV, but for me to invest my time in a show, it needs to have a good story line.  I have been watching NBC's Parenthood lately. Storylines are getting interesting over there. 

So there you have it, The Friday Five. Have a good weekend everyone!

Monday, January 6, 2014

30 Week Blog Challenge: Week 18-What do you like about each member of your family?

This week's blog challenge is to write about something you like about each member of your family.  So I will focus on my immediate family members.

Mom- My mom is outgoing and not afraid to stand up for herself.  I also admire the fact that she doesn't let people push her around and doesn't put up with nonsense.  My mom is also driven.  About four years ago, she decided to go back to school.  She was able to continue her full time job while going to school and managing a household. On top of all that, she made the dean's list. (Of course, the rest of us pitched in).  I hear people say that they couldn't go to school, work, and manage a household at the same time.  My answer to that is: you do what you have to do in order to do what you want to do.

Dad- My dad is the comedian of the family.  He is also outgoing, doesn't meet a stranger, and not afraid to speak up when it is necessary.  Both of my parents are realistic and wise, even when my brother and I may not want to hear it or accept it.

Brother-My brother TJ is very energetic, outgoing, and always looking for something to do.  I am usually okay spending my weekends at home curled up with a book or a good movie or whatever.  On the other hand, he has to find something to do.  He can be quite funny too.  Since he is younger, I don't always pay attention to his observations.  We tend to think, what can a young person tell me?  In some cases, you should take what they say into consideration.

What do you like about each member of your family?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Brand New Year

I have been noticing blog posts popping up around the Internet regarding the New Year.  Many are reflecting on 2013 and writing about their hopes and dreams for 2014.

As I look back on 2013, there were a lot of ups and downs, and plenty of downs. I felt unproductive from June to December when my position at hit a snag.  Work picked back up last month and I was promoted to consumer guide writer which means that I get higher paying assignments.  Now I am paid $50 per article. This may be low for some writers out there but this is a big step for me.  The days of writing for sites that pay me less than $10 for my hard work are long gone.

A new year means a clean slate and new beginnings.  There are areas I know that I need to change in my life. For instance, making healthier food choices and getting in shape.  Seriously, the muffin top is not cute. I did go on a diet back in the summer and lost 13 pounds.  I haven't checked the scale lately, but I have noticed that my faithful black size 18W skirt is getting too big for me, so that's a good sign.

I also need to be more assertive and stand up for myself more.  I don't like to hurt people's feelings, so I always try to be nice.  I also need to stop letting fear get in the way or allow people to talk me out of doing things.  There will be times when you have to listen to wisdom.  In September 2013, I did a very brave thing. I decided to publish some of my short stories on Smashwords.  When I was charging for them, they didn't sell. I decided to offer them for free since I am a newbie.  I got more downloads that way.  I'm glad I published them period. I don't know if people really like my fiction or not, but I got one nice review and five stars. So there is something to be happy about.  I even sent electronic copies to my former professor.  He said that he would read them, but I don't know if he actually did.  I wonder if he read them and wondered what was going through my head.

For instance, I wrote a story called "What She Saw."  It was about a young woman named Lena who had a crush on her former professor/workmate.  They lose contact for some time and she begins to wonder about his whereabouts. She has feelings for this guy but she is not bold enough to confess her feelings mainly because of the circumstances.  One night when she is checking Facebook, she finds out that he is married. Crazy huh?

My goal for this year is to sharpen my writing skills. My other hope and plan for this year is to finally write and finish my novel that I have been working on since 2006.  When I have shared my idea, I get mixed reactions: "oh that's a good idea" or "nobody wants to hear about that."  My protagonist is physically challenged, and I don't want her to be viewed as a pity party. She is like any other person-fictional and real who is trying to work through life's challenges.

I want to get out and travel more this year.  I want to travel out of the country, outside of North America. Some friends and I talked about going to London this summer, but that plan or idea flat-lined quickly.  I also plan to finally buy an eReader or tablet.  I have to do some research to decide which tablet is going to accessible for my vision and my wallet.

I also need to do some decluttering.  Last year, when I thought I was going to be moving out of state and cross country, I cleaned out my closet to get rid of clothes I don't wear or can't wear.  I also donated a few books that I wasn't fond of to the library.  And just today, I purchased four books from Barnes N Noble.  I barely have room to store books. However, I believe that going electronic will solve this problem.

I am the kind of person who hates to make plans because they typically don't work out.  I have decided that I need to analyze why a plan or idea doesn't materialize.  I should make more realistic goals for myself and come up with a strategy to actually make them work.

So here's to a bright new year!