Sunday, November 1, 2015

What, It's November?

Well, you can say that I took an unofficial blog hiatus.

I have seen some blogges announce a blog break or go MIA altogether.  I haven't written a post since July.  I just haven't had time.  There have been a few times I have started a post but didn't finish it.  lot has happened since July important and not so important.

  • At the end of July, I got my MOS Outlook certification.  
  • I earned my MOS Word certification in September.
  • I was interviewed for the Inside WSB podcast.  I talked about my experiences in the Assistive Technology program.  
  • I managed to read and finished City Love by Susane Colasanti and Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen.  
  • I went to the Arkansas State Fair.  
  • I shopped at Sephora for the first time.
  • I had the opportunity to speak at an AER conference.  
It seems like I should have more to write about, but I have spent a large chunk of my time studying for my classes. I need to get to work on my final presentation.  I will be graduating soon in about a month.

I have been looking for work all over the country.  For some reason, there are a lot of jobs in California.  California wasn't on my radar for top places to move.  Last week, I was given a job lead for a job in Rancho Cordova.  I have never visited California.  I have heard various things about the state.  I have seen all the pictures.  I'm not sure if I will get the job. They asked me to fill out some paperwork and even sent me an apartment list. Is that a good sign?  I don't know.  I always try to stay positive about these things.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Adult Life...

Sometimes, I wonder if anyone keeps up with this blog on a regular basis.

I haven't written a post since April.  Blogging just has not been top priority these days.

What have I been doing since April?  Teaching, studying, and sleeping among other things.  My teaching hours really picked up this summer, and now since things are slowing down, I feel like I can breathe.

On a sad note, I lost my writing job at Knoji.  It's my own fault, because I should had left it alone until things slowed down.  Instead, I was trying to juggle writing articles, study for certification tests, homework, etc.  And because of some technical issues, I haven't been able to take my Outlook certification exam.

I also kick myself for setting such as high goal of 75 books on Goodreads. And I have all these unread books on my Nook.  I did all of this last year when I had loads of time on my hands.  And I have no business buying books for a very long time unless they are free.

I have been in the ATI program almost months.  I am at the halfway point which means that it will be time to start sending out applications and resumes again.  I cringe at the thought of sending out massive amounts of resumes again.  Just sitting behind a computer sending out resumes just will not cut it.

In the meantime, I can rewrite my resume, update my LinkedIn, and work on my certification tests.

There is so much to do and the time is going fast.

Yesterday, I went to Target and the Back to School sales are already in full swing.  Crayons, notebooks, backpacks, pencils, and so much more.  I remember those days when I use to get excited about shopping for supplies.  Now days, I don't really need notebooks, but I buy them out of habit and pens, I still love pens.  I rarely use a pen since I do most of work is done of the computer.
Since I have been on my own, I feel that my buying habits have changed.  I am buying  laundry detergent now.  The only time I bought laundry detergent was when my parents were out of town and laundry was piling up.

And now, I am in the household items area searching for a laundry bag.  I am even considering buying new towels.  I have even purchased a fan when the air condition stopped working.  I look back now and think, wow I use to buy some silly things from the store.  Now when I go shopping, I have a purpose.  For instance, I know I need to have enough soap and laundry detergent to get me through the month.

And folks, that is just a small dose of the adult life.

Time management, that is another bear.  I shake my head at the fact that I am signed up with four social network sites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.  I can't remember the last time I was on Google+.  I have totally forgotten Twitter, and I am rarely on LinkedIn.  I check in on Facebook occasionally.  It's just not that important.  And I can assure you that my mom would agree.

I believe that as I continue to grow and go through adulthood, my priorities will change.  What you use to think that was important is not anymore.

I feel that my 30's will be a life changing decade for me.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Five Things

  1. A couple  of weeks ago, I purchased The Duff at Barnes N Nobles.  It will be awhile before I get around to reading it.  It's bad enough that I have books on my Nook and Kindle apps which I have not read.  I guess I will read it before the year is over with.  I am feeling bad that I set such a high goal for the 2015 Reading Challenge on Goodreads. According to the counter, I am 13 books behind schedule.  Thank goodness for audiobooks.
  2. Last week, my friend and classmate Alvin graduated from the Assistive Technology Instructor program.  The ceremony was on Friday,  He was given his certificate and speeches were given. It was a happy but sad occasion. I managed not to cry like somebody's mama; but by Saturday morning, it hit me real hard.  It doesn't feel the same around school right now.  But it will pass as new students will likely arrive this summer.
  3. I have an idea for a story or a novel even.  I need to get my thoughts down on paper somehow before it fades.  But I just don't have time to sit down and write.  I am barely getting my consumer reports done for Knoji.  I managedus to squeeze out two so far this month. I shouldn't sit here and make excuses and make time.
  4. To celebrate graduation week, I ordered cupcakes from a local bakery. It didn't take long for me to give them away, and I shared most of them with the technology department.  
  5. The weather here in Little Rock has been in the 50's and 60's the few days.  What do I need to pull a sweater out again? No not really, but it should be warming up later this week.  At the beginning of this month, we were complaining about how hot it was, running out to buy fans, and opening up windows for relief.  Arkansas weather is unpredictable.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Five Things on a Friday

  1. It has been awhile since  I have posted anything on my blogs.  I have a draft waiting for completion on YA Books Etc.  I have a day off next week, so maybe I will finally get around to it.  I received a notification from Bloglovin that I have a new follower.  I sporadically post reviews of the sites and I am gaining followers.  So I can't complain and that's a good thing.
  2. I have been in my program for almost a month.  It has been a life changing experience and I firmly believe that I have been chasing after the wrong career all these years.  Being an Assistive Technology Instructor is helping me personally and professionally.  It is helping me personally because I will get to brush up my Braille skills, learning screen reading software such as JAWS, and other types of technology that will help me.  I benefit professionally because I am getting hands on training and experience.  This is the most fulfilling internship I've worked because I am doing more than just answering the phone, and no one is afraid to give me work to do.  
  3. I am reading He's Gone by Deb Caletti.  I am almost done with the book and I am still trying to figure out what happened to Dani's husband who is missing.  Caletti's books are usually about teenagers but this time around, full grown adults are the center focus for this novel.  It's a little different, but it seems like the adults have just as big of a story line as the young adults.  The story is more so a massive mystery.  
  4. I have been very slack on exercise.  Although my clothes still fit the same, I worry about gaining my weight back. I will admit that I have been drinking more soda than I should and eating snacks again  I am grateful that there is a gym in the building.  I have been hitting the treadmill a few times a week.  The good part about it is that it is a healthy way to deal with stress. I just plug in my iPod and go.
  5. The weather here in Arkansas has been weird and unpredictable. The first few days it was in the 70's and today it dropped down to the 50's.  I called myself putting my winter clothes back in my suitcase.  Well maybe I should hold for a few days.  
Until next time...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Marching Forward

I can't believe that it is March already.  But I am glad because it means that warmer weather is ahead.

For the last three weeks, we have been getting sleet and snow here in Little Rock.  Classes were canceled and plans interrupted.  I have been told that this isn't the norm here.

Wednesday, the center was closed at 3:00.  A group went out to Target to pick whatever they needed.  I am glad that I stocked up on supplies Tuesday night at Wal-Mart.

As I sat inside the Starbucks within Target enjoying my chai tea, I watched as the streets got wet and the ice began to fall.  We slowly made it back to center.  I am glad that I didn't take public transit on my own.

By Friday, I was sick of being snowed in so I took Uber to Walgreens.  The snow started melting yesterday and it is continuing to melt.  However, there is still a lot of snow and ice in spots.

In other news, as I mentioned in my last entry, I had to switch programs.  This was my first week in the Assistive Technology Instructor program.  I really like this program because I am learning so many new concepts and I will learn about different types of adaptive technology that's available to the visually impaired community.

On Monday, after observing an instructor working with a new client, I was assigned to write my first lesson plan.  I took notes as my instructor explained it to me, but once I was away from the classroom, I was a nervous wreck-do I have too much information, is it too little, does everything make sense?

A fellow classmate offered to beta read it for me before I turned it in.  He gave me a few pointers on what to include and not include.

I turned it in on Tuesday. instructor was impressed with it.  I felt better and I was able to relax.

On Wednesday, I was given another lesson plan assignment. It was due on Thursday, but we didn't have classes so it gave me more time to work on it.  Right now, it is at three pages.

I wish that I can carve out some time to write.  I have an idea for a story or a novel.  I just need to get it down on paper and organize my thoughts.  I barely made time to do some freelance work (three consumer reports) for Knoji. However, I knew I needed to take advantage of the work load while it was there.

I have a book called 300 Writing Prompts, and sadly I only have one to two entries in it.   I noticed the book at Barnes and Noble and thought it would be worth the purchase, and it would help my writing.

I just have to make time.

So here is to marching forward.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Five Things on a Friday

  1. I realize that I haven't had much time to blog lately.  I have been busy with classes and preparing  for the IRS training program.  I had my interview this week and despite my good test scores and passing the IRS assessment, I wasn't accepted.  I was really upset about it because I worked so hard to be the best candidate.  So I am going to switch to another program.
  2. Since being here in Little Rock, I have been getting use to the fact that I do not have to bother and ask people to take me somewhere. I can catch the bus or take Uber.  I have spent quite a bit on Uber this month, so I probably should start using the bus more.
  3. I found an used bookstore called The Bookworm.  I wanted to sell some books that I managed to stuff into my suitcase.  It really wasn't worth the trip because the store only took two of my books and gave me three dollars.  Yes, I know I settled but I just wanted to get out of that bookstore and I didn't see any other books I wanted.  Shocker, I know.  Most of the books I saw I have already read before. I spent more on Uber that day than what I got at the bookstore.
  4. One Sunday afternoon, I decided to escape the dorm and went to my happy place-Barnes N Noble.  I browsed some books and stopped in the cafĂ© to enjoy a frappe and cupcake.  A big cupcake covered in icing.  It was so good. 
  5. Monday morning, I woke up to snow.  There was a snowball fight out in the courtyard.  We stayed inside the dorms most of the day to chat, hangout, and watch movies.  Three other friends and I walked in the snow to the corner store.  I almost slipped twice.  Got to love winter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Taking A Leap

I have been here in Little Rock, Arkansas for almost two weeks.

I boarded a plane with two heavy suitcases and my laptop bag not knowing what to expect.  I said goodbye to all of the familiar surrounding of home.  Arkansas wasn't even on my radar of place to live or visit.  So how did I end up here.

In December, I applied for the IRS training program at the World Services for the Blind.  I have hearing about this program for some time. I was reluctant and apprehensive about coming all the way out here-what if it is a waste of time?  Will I leave with a job, or will I be back to sitting at home again?  I based all of this at the center I went to in Columbia ten years ago.

When I was at a similar center in Columbia, SC, I earned a customer service certificate.  The outcome with that is the fact that I never found a job; and companies looked at the certificate as a joke and didn't take it seriously.

I was told that with the IRS program that I was guaranteed employment and I would know where I am going before I start training.  After six years of sitting at home and constantly being told no by employers for no clear reason.  (Sometimes, I felt like they were taking the easy way out.  I know that's a blanket statement).

I haven't started the actual job training yet.  However, I have to go through a life skills evaluation.  They have to make sure that my independent living skills are up to par-cooking, clothing care, etc.  Most importantly, they have make sure my keyboarding and computer skills are up to par as well.

I didn't tell anyone but my parents and brother that I was going to be moving.  The news is slowly getting out.  If I told people, some would try to talk me out of it.  I knew I had to do something-even if it meant moving.  I couldn't just keep sitting around putting in hundred of applications and getting nowhere.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Freelance work has been slow again.

I know it is going to be awhile before I really start making money off my ebooks.  I'm not giving up on my dream of being a writer.   I am going to keep working at it. 

So here's to new beginnings! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads says:

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

I have read Fangirl and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  So I wanted to give Attachments a chance.

Attachments has been waiting patiently on my Nook collecting digital dust (if there is such a thing).  Attachments takes place during the 1990's in 1999-2000.  Wow in 1999 I was a sophomore in high school nursing a crush.

Anyway, back to the book...

This was around the time when people were all nervous about what would on New Year's Eve.  We are introduced to 28 year old Lincoln who is an internet security officer at The Courier.  In other words it is his job to monitor employee's emails and Internet activity.

At first glance, this sounds creepy to sit and read other people's email.  However, it is Lincoln's job to send warnings when something in their email triggers the filter.  This sounds different from reading other people's profiles on social media.  This statements is up for debate.  I am pretty sure of it.

So what is so great about reading other people's email?  Lincoln gets pulled in by Beth and Jennifer's emails.  I will admit that Jennifer and Beth's online conversations are quite funny. Lincoln develops a crush on Beth and he can't bring himself to send the ladies warnings about their use of company email.

But there is another layer to this story. Lincoln is 28, hates his job, and he still lives at home with his mom.  I think that some ladies would find this to be a problem or would label him a mama's boy.

Lincoln's mom smothers and feeds him all the time.  And she is very protective of him.  Lincoln's friends seem to be moving on with their lives but Lincoln.  Even his Dungeon and Dragons friends are starting their own families.

Yeah, I know Lincoln, I know the feeling.  In some ways, I can relate to Lincoln because my friends and associates are moving on-have careers, starting families, and so far.  And I have been feeling left behind.

The most interesting thing was how Lincoln decides to find an apartment and move out.  He gradually moves out of mom's house because he doesn't know how to tell her.

The email thing reminds me of  that movie You Got Mail.

Attachments reminds me of a romantic comedy is it was an actual movie.  It turned out to be a pretty good novel.  So I will give it 4 out of 5 stars.

4 out of 5 Stars
Personal digital copy purchased from Amazon

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: I Heart Band by Michelle Schusterman

Goodreads says:

Holly Mead’s first day of seventh grade isn’t going as planned. Her brother ruins her carefully chosen outfit, she’s almost late, and her new band director has some surprisingly strict rules. Worst of all, it seems like her best friend, Julia, has replaced her with Natasha, the pretty, smart, new French horn player! Holly is determined to get first chair, but Natasha is turning out to be some pretty stiff competition—and not just in band. Band might be a competition, but friendship isn’t—and Holly needs to figure it out before she loses Julia for good.

I normally don't read middle grade fiction and I haven't read it since middle school which was 20 years ago.  However, the main reason why I purchased and wanted to read I HEART BAND was because Michelle Schusterman use to be a contributing writer at, the online magazine I use to write for.. Since she is a former member of the Suite community, I wanted to show her my support.

I don't consider myself a band geek because I only lasted one year.  I played the clarinet and I was horrible. I couldn't play, I couldn't read the music, and my brother who was two at the time made fun of me.  In some ways I could relate to the characters.  I don't know how I even passed the class.  I was given A's or B's for effort I suppose.

Apparently I have forgotten about all of the drama that middle schoolers carry.

Holly is unhappy when her best friend Julia returns to school with Natasha-her new friend in which she met at camp over the summer.  Holly doesn't like Natasha and she shows every chance she gets. The saddest and most immature thing that Holly does is empty spit from her french horn valve on Natasha's shoes.  Rally Holly? Really?

Here's a spoiler alert: the girls work through issues and become friends.

To be honest, I wasn't to crazy about the book; maybe because the characters are so young.  Also, I probably won't read and or shell out cash for the rest of the series.  However, I will give Michelle Schusterman a BIG thumbs up for the authenticity of the story (e.g. what it's like to be in band, etc.) Also, she does a good job of capturing the world of middle school.

It's hard for me to brutally honest at times.  I am always looking for positive things to say about books.  With that said I will give I HEART BAND 3 out of 5 stars.

3 out of 5 stars
Personal digital copy purchased from Barnes N Noble

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy Pub Day!!!

Happy pub day!!! So it's official. Taking on the Writing World: The Ups and Downs of the Writing Life is officially out today.

To celebrate, until January 31, 2014 I am offering 10% at Smashwords.  If you purchase the book from Smashwords, you can get 10% off  by entering code: JR27F.   How can you support the cause? Here's how?
  1. Like me on Facebook 
  2. Follow me on Twitter @lbyrdwrites
  3. Follow me on Google+
  4. Follow me on Goodreads.
  5. Add it to your Goodreads to read list.  
Reviews and comments are always welcomed.  Happy reading!!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking Ahead for 2015

So it is a new year which means a new start.  This is when people make new year resolutions.  I don't make resolutions because they are usually forgotten.  

Last night, I signed up for the 2015 Reading Challenge on Goodreads.  I set a goal to read 75 books.  That's a lot.  For last year's challenge, I set out to read 50. I didn't think that I would complete the challenge but I did thanks to some short ebooks and audiobooks.  I still have some books from last summer that I haven't read yet.  I am looking forward to new books by Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti.

I am also looking forward to Monday because that's when Taking on the Writing World will be for sale on Smashwords.  Ten people have already downloaded samples.  Ten is not a big number but it is more than the downloads I received for the other books within the first few weeks.  I even purchased my own book on Amazon.  At first, it was strange but I am glad that I did because I found some typos-some serious typos.  Also there were things that looked odd after the conversion.  So I fixed the typos and resubmitted it.  (I was the only person who purchased it on Amazon so far, so I don't feel as embarrassed).

There are goals that I have set for myself.  The biggest thing is getting healthier and taking better care of myself.  Last year, I lost 20 pounds after going on a strict diet.  I realized that I don't need junk food or soda the way I think I do.  Although I am back to eating normally, I grab an apple or orange for a snack instead of a fist full of cookies or a big bowl of ice cream.  Also, I am drinking more water.  I have discovered that I can't drink soda like I use to because my feet will swell up.  So here and there I will have a soda, sweets, and chips to get it out my system.  If I have a craving I might as well get it over with, but not over do it.  My goal is to drop 20-30 more pounds.  I would like to get down to 140lbs.  I haven't seen that since high school. 

There are other things that need to happen this year.  For instance, I really need to find a day job and get my own place.  I have applied for a job training program out of state.  In the meanwhile, I could really use more freelance work and writing gigs.  I don't want to do content mills anymore because you work your butt just to get a few dollars.  Five years ago, I use to sign up for those sites in a heart beat, but now I think twice.  I don't think reputable publications respect these type of sites. 

I don't like to get too personal on the blog.  However, as a 30 something I feel like something is missing.  In other words, lately I have been having the feeling left behind feeling.  When I look at my Facebook news feed I watch as my "friends" post pictures of their mates and children.  Others have started great careers.  And what about me?  I am a struggling writer who still lives at home.  I am looked at as lazy, full of excuses, and don't want to do anything.  I have put in over a thousand resumes.  Since I left the health center back in August, I have sent in a number of resumes and applications.  No one has called.  No interview offers.  However, I have received a few rejection emails-sorry we have chosen another candidate. The same old same. Some will think that I am looking for a pity party. That's not the case, but you are entitled to your own opinion.  I have even considered the self employment route.  I was told that I would have to write a business plan.  I have written 21 pages so far and it took me three months to write that much, and I haven't gotten to the numbers (balance sheets, income statements, how much money I need etc.)  The person who is suppose to be helping with this has went MIA.  So now what?  Should I go back to school?  Should I find another person who will help me start a business?  I have considered learning how to make jewelery and start an Etsy shop.  Another thing I considered is tackling  a novel again.   I know that big money and readership won't roll in overnight.

With all of that said, here's to a new year.  


Thursday, January 1, 2015

99 Cent Sale!!!

Are you looking for new reading material for your eReader?  I am offering my ebooks over at Smashwords for 99 Cents.  Until January 31, 2015, you can download Big Brother Little Sister: A Short Story and The Stories We Tell When Drinking Coffee for 99 cents!

Also on January 5, 2015 my latest ebook, Taking on the Writing World: The Ups and Downs of the Writing Life will be available for full download on Smashwords.  Can't wait until Monday?  You can purchase an copy on Amazon

Happy Reading!!!