Beauty Haul Pt. 1

FeaturedBeauty Haul Pt. 1

I know I have become more of a girly girl the last couple years, watching some of my favorite Youtubers, Jaclyn Hill and Manny, amongst others as most certainly helped me morph into a feminine self. I get home from work and play with makeup, no seriously. I think I have splurged the most in makeup the last week than I have in a long time. It meant I have to give up my shoes for a while, but I am okay with that and finding another hobby or first love.

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I placed a large order between Sephora and Ulta, part one of Sephora arrived today, parts 2 and 3 should be arriving in the coming days. I only placed one order at Ulta. I am writing everything below and linking it to Sephora for now, and I will not be listing the samples I have. I will also do my best to list the prices for each item.

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Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm ($29)

Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation in shade 1.0 ($40)

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick, shade Bisque ($46)

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38)

Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter, Champagne Pop ($38)

NYX Color Correcting Concealer ($11.99)

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer, Fair ($24)

Kat Von D Lock It Setting Spray Mist ($26)

Benefit Porefessional balm (.75oz is $31)

Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Cream ($45)

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels ($30)

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The Skyn Iceland products have been in my regiment for the last couple of years and have drastically helped the appearance of my under eyes.

Laura Mercier has a fantastic primer that I use, Radiance, and it gives me that dewy summer glow, not oily! I love this product so much, I figured the translucent powder would be everything. It has so much potential in the world of setting powders.

Tarte Shape Tape is showing to have potential. It doesn’t crease, it isn’t cakey nor does it feel like I need globs of it for the concealer to do its job. I have a feeling that the rave reviews, and Tarte about to gain one more follower. Shh! I also purchased the new Amazonian Clay pallet, and I am super excited to play with the colors.¬†Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 7.29.44 PM.png

I have had good experiences with Clinique products over the years, but this cleansing balm may have a new bouncing baby brother or sister in a week or two. I think this balm will be a piece of my nightly routine as I get ready for bed, and relax. I love how creamy it is and I
was A-MAZED at the product that was sitting on top of my skin, trapped inside the balm. Even my eyeliner and mascara was looking blotted insiScreen Shot 2017-03-02 at 7.30.51 PM.pngde the cleansing balm. A good rinse and you are good to go!

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Sticks are also going to take up A LOT of my time. All I want to do is play with the creamy sticks, watch them melt into my skin as I blend with my damp beauty blender. I love them, but I do think the price point is a little high for the amount of product you get. From first experiences, this could be another new addition to my makeup routine. Bisque may have been a little too dark, but again, there is a strong possible future for this one.

Overall, I feel like I have a good haul. I have several more items coming tomorrow, Saturday and/or Monday, so I feel like another post should be coming soon. I am falling back in love with makeup all over again. Champagne Pop is lighting the way!Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 7.30.08 PM.png

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Nip Your Writing to Make you Look Like A Pro

FeaturedNip Your Writing to Make you Look Like A Pro

I know I am guilty of doing some of these when I work on my writing. While it has been a while since I have posted a writing based post, I think it would be beneficial to pull away from the superficial and get back to what matters the most to me – writing. When writing, we tend to make a lot of edits, think things through, over think, hyperventilate while in the fetal position in the corner of all places, eating chocolate and stressing about how we are going to get through this. If all things matter, this post should help! Again, I am not perfect, but I am learning from my mistakes and sharing with you.

  1. Switch the POV to first-person

When writing anything, first-person can save your writing immensely. I write, for example, predominately in third-person omniscient and I struggle putting the story together. I challenged myself to change my perspective to first-person and it has become so smooth, and I am proud of myself for doing so. I think the outcome will be better, showing emotion from the main character, amongst other important people.

2. Use italics for emphasis

Writing feeling bland? Using italics is a great way to get the message across, or even use it when there is internal thinking for the main character. It shows strength and understanding in your writing as an author, but also bridges a connection for the readers. Try it!

3. Edit your dialogue execution

Minimizing the talk doesn’t mean to actually cut the dialogue. I mean cut the whisper, whimper, bellow¬†amongst anything else that is supposed to “set the tone.” I think using said is as simple and enough when it comes to writing.

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4.  Cut down the unnecessary

There is such thing as using too many modifiers, and words that end in -ly. A tip for the wise – use that tool in Word, or any other program and look for all words that end in -ly, or the, even and. We can scale those back with some simple editing.

Also, we don’t need the overuse of excessively large words.

We can also cut: in order to, that, start to, and make changes with really, thing, and very.

5. Shorten

A lot of great books have extremely long sentence structures. George R. R. Martin has several, but with his writing, it’s necessary. Divide those long sentences into two. Those long words, simplify them. Tempestuous¬†probably isn’t the best word to be using in that romance novel.

6. Use active language!

Passive language isn’t the best way to keep writers. Perhaps that is where I struggled with third-person writing. But use what you are good at!

7. Write like Hemingway

Write drunk, edit sober. Or write like no one is watching. Write like your life depends on it.

8. Writing should age

Just like a good whiskey or fine wine, it ages over time to mull and pick up the flavors of the barrel and the notes within the wine/whiskey itself. When you finish a draft, set it aside for a week or two and enjoy life. Don’t think about it and then come back to it for those pesky edits.

 

Writing is an artform and can be an inquired skillset over time. Practice makes perfect and even I am not there yet. I think if you truly love it, use it, build it and grow!

 

 

The Joy that Filled my Heart

FeaturedThe Joy that Filled my Heart

Amongst the chaos, the clutter and everything else that seems to play as a distraction, this week is already halfway over, and it has been a rollercoaster ride.

Monday wasn’t my favorite day of the week, but then again, who claims Monday as their favorite day of the week? I went through insane amounts of coffee and tried to stay sane as kids talked, refused to work and ticked me off enough to get sent to the office. But my week was just getting started.

Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, I was up an hour earlier to get myself and my kids ready. They had to get to grandma’s so I could get to work early morning. My husband worked graveyard the previous night, so grandma took them to school. I left as school got out to grab my kids, got home to make dinner and sent husband to work shortly after that.

Between Monday and Tuesday, the students I have been teaching the last couple weeks are preparing for check in that they have to make sure they are on schedule to graduate. I wish I had this. Anyway, I offered to stay at school this week to allow them time to get some work done, no more than an hour. That day was Wednesday (today).

I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, allowing kids to come in, get caught up and ask the necessary questions. Approximately a half dozen mentioned they wanted to come so that they can get help. I thought one or two would show up. Nope, most of them did plus a few more. I had them engaged, listening and most of them made good progress.

It warmed my heart.

Tomorrow is my last day, and it breaks my heart not knowing the outcome of the coming weeks. Will they get a new teacher or will I have the privilege of having them a little while longer? I enjoy being with these kids and to have them finally opening up to me, sharing stories, their fears, asking questions, I feel as if they are opening up. I have gotten requests from kids to have edits done on papers, advice on how to word their work, some of the seniors have asked that I write letters of recommendations. Seriously, my heart is full. I think it would be tragic for a new teacher to come in and have them close back up and have to start from square one again.

On a different note, Tuesday, in our district, ballots were counted. A bond and levy are currently passing, meaning Mt. View will get a new school, Shelton High will get a new building, and the other schools will be gaining improvements and such needed to make room and allow personal and academic growth.Screen Shot 2017-02-15 at 7.54.49 PM.png

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Screenshot provided by Keri Davidson (SSD)

 

 

Damaged, Broken, Forward I Must Move

FeaturedDamaged, Broken, Forward I Must Move

I feel frazzled and uninspired to write. I feel as if the stress of my life has taken over. I cried for the first time since this “down spiral” began and it didn’t even help. I feel disconnected from the world more often and feel as if I am drowning.

My laundry is piled up, what clean laundry is in the basket refuses to find a drawer all by itself, my t.v. shows have taken a back burner because I feel no enjoyment out of them anymore.

My husband’s job is driving me nuts, keeping me tied at the end of a string. Answers are nearly impossible and not having much information makes me feel like our lives are about to change drastically. We’ve been told the job is his, now he and two others are going for job interviews right around the 23rd. I guess one doesn’t seem like he would be a good candidate because of his lack of will at work, but who knows. Maybe it’s a formality they have to follow and will give him the job at the end of it. It’s the little things that are making me feel like I am way out of orbit, unable to breathe.

A lavender vanilla candle has been my therapy nearly on a day-to-day basis, working as much as I can as an on-call teacher just so I am preoccupied, and afterward, locking myself in my room or hide because I just don’t want to be around people; something that is unusual for me. The smallest things drive me over the edge, I begin to yell and scream, my patience has been worn thin, my heart on my sleeve, I feel battered and bruised emotionally, even physically drained.

I want answers.

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I feel like writing is doing something, but with my lack of feeling, my passion for life and writing has been lackluster, almost none existent these last couple of weeks. I feel broken.

How do you pick up the pieces?

Wishing to fast-forward isn’t doing much of anything,¬†but cleaning like a fiend helps, taking all things that feel toxic in my life, unused and taking up space now live in a closet until spring when I can sell them so others can be happy.

Snuggling with Squirt momma, my fat cat who thinks she is deprived¬†of attention, lays next to me, purring. My kids are downstairs in awe that my youngest lost his front tooth. Where it’s at, we’re not sure. Dear John is on E! via my laptop plugged to an HDMI to the TV in my upstairs bedroom, but I think my graphics card has had its last breath to considering it plays a movie or show for a few minutes then freezes. I can’t bare paying for a cable box upstairs when I have other means to watch TV. It seems Netflix on Playstation is where it’s at for now, but brings contentment.

In other news, I am slowly conquering Beautiful Choas, the third book in the Beautiful Creatures series. I read the first two and didn’t love them, but felt incomplete not reading the other two. So I picked up book three. I read it when I have planning periods or time in between to relax and destress. It’s good don’t get me wrong, but just not sure it’s a book for me. I will more than likely finish the last book when I am done so it will be out of my way. The next series in line I will read is The Alchemyst by Michael Scott, or I will finish Anna Karenina by Tolstoy.¬†Goodreads. Find me, add me and let’s read together!

College also seems daunting, like a foreign country to me. I know the idea of college will help my career in the long run, but deep down, without guidance and answers, I feel as if I need to stop pushing forward. I know this is something that I want, but until things fix themselves, or we make our life elsewhere, I feel as if it is not necessary. I’m scared of what the future holds, and I only hope I will get answers soon.

Empty. Broken. I will fix the pieces and try to remain positive. Onward.

Writing Tools to Help Build Your Story

FeaturedWriting Tools to Help Build Your Story

I sit here with a fresh cup of coffee in my hand, taste testing the Silk coffee creamer, caramel flavor.¬†It isn’t half bad, but for the price, I will stick to my International CoffeeHouse or CoffeeMate flavors of choice.

This week, I hope to set back into my writing adventure. A book that I have not touched in nearly six months awaits for attention. I have no clue how to finish it, yet feel like it needs filler. But to do that, I have decided I am going to sit down at a time in the evening and just write. I have longed since wanted to finish this and get it published someday. While I doubt 2017 will be the year it publishes in book form, I still hope I can turn it into an ebook, at least.

Finding tools that will help you write is crucial in any writer’s life. Building your characters, creating a timeline of events,¬†keeping track of them from start to finish can be a blur. I have scoured the internet for several of my favorites, and I hope you find that you love them as well.

The first is from K.M. Weiland; I find her site to be useful in many ways. But this one I find helpful when making any edits to a draft. Asking yourself these few mistakes and making changes will boost your draft quickly. Common writing mistakes that we don’t often see, but once we look at it as a reader, we can spot those differences.

Ink and Quills is a blogger by the name of Kaitlyn; her site has tons of useful information, and the best part is, they are FREE! All you have to do is complete the registration by adding an email and first name. Then head into your email and confirm that mailing address. All prints are free and very useful when you are a pen and paper person and want to have physical copies in front of you. I can also mention the free ebook included.

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A character outline/biography is essential to creating a story that readers will attach themselves too. Novel-software has a printout on their website that is super simple and will create a complex¬†character versus a 2-dimensional figure who doesn’t seem appealing.

My genre is romance, so I like to find sites that are useful with lots of tricks and ideas that will not only keep me engaged in writing but also my potential readers. Now Novel is an excellent resource that I go to on occasion, just to refresh myself of some of the things that are safe to use. For instance, making love come easy isn’t necessarily the best idea. There has to be a roadblock or hurdle that the main character and love interest have to get over first.

Another one I found while doing some research, Tomi Adeyemi. Subscribing to her page will also be simple but will give access to several writing tools. From signing up and skimming, these tools are very helpful!

There are so many tools that you can find on the internet to help keep you organized and writing professionally in no time, whether or not you want to be published. Pinterest has been my biggest inspiration for making notes and getting the courage to write a blog. Even in my daily life, I am getting to a point where I need to write, I need to get these ideas out of my mind and writing again. It feels so good!

Tools are multi-use for various genres, so don’t be afraid to pick a format out that is indicating fantasy or sci-fi or romance for your crime novel, or horror. If you don’t see anything you like, there is always the ability to create something of your own!

What are your favorite resources?

 

Lead photo courtesy of http://inspireportal.com

 

Small Hurdles Equal Bigger Mountains

FeaturedSmall Hurdles Equal Bigger Mountains

 

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Faiths Messenger (dot com)

 

I am writing this out of pure boredom honestly, but I am trying to process the highs and the lows thus far. Perhaps the laziness of the day is trying to keep me productive, but then again, I haven’t done nothing more than make a pot of coffee.¬†Eager to get through this month, eager to get back on my feet, I am mostly optimistic,¬†but there is that small sliver in me that begs to differ. What will happen?

I think the biggest thing that comes to my mind is the taste of success, the taste of dreams coming true and being financially stable. I finally am now working part time as a substitute for the school district, which is great! The only down fall is my first check is weeks away.

My husband is on the verge of full-time employment as well. He has been with his work one year today, which is amazing! But there has been a bit of a hill, a low blow and now we are creeping back up a hill.

Long story short, someone is going to part time, meaning his full-time job opened up to the other staff. The one guy that took the posting was someone who always talked smack, never acted on what he said and when the job was so close to being my husband’s, he took the job. Now we have to wait another week for the pool to close for the other full-time employees. Who’s to say it won’t happen again? It could but I hope nothing goes against us.

The other workers understand our situation and seem to wholeheartedly want my husband as a full-time employee so one can hope that it goes our way.

 

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Courtesy of First4adventure.co.uk

 

In other news, I have officially put myself on the radar for the MA program through Southern New Hampshire University. Enrolling may take a short while since I only requested information yesterday (Friday 13th). I know there is an enrollment fee and quite frankly, it is the least of my worries. When our priorities are set and we have wiggle room financially, I will be making way and making my last educational adventure.

I have to remind myself that this is one small hurdle as we travel to something much bigger. January is just the beginning of the year so by the end of this month, I pray that things will be smooth sailing.

 

 

Finding your niche in writing

FeaturedFinding your niche in writing

I have been thinking about my next blog post. Honestly, I struggled to find the niche I wanted ever so much. When I began college, I wondered where life would take me, and I still do. I have looked at my life too much, thinking I needed to reflect on how things were going. Trust me, life has been a struggle these last few days, and all I can do is hold my head up high and keep writing, working and looking into grad school.

Without further ado, how to find your niche or genre!

When looking at a genre or a niche for your writing, it comes down to one simple question. What are you passionate about? Or one could ask, what do you enjoy writing about?

For me, I have considered myself to be one of those struggling writers. I love gaming, makeup, clothes, coffee, Netflix, and teaching. I could write about a lot of those topics, even the ones not as familiar because research will be at the core of no matter what you write.

For a blog, I write about finding yourself as a writer, the goals you should be setting, and my personal experiences as I begin my writing career. My overall goal with this blog is to connect with writers, published or unpublished, we can connect and share stories on where we are, how we are moving forward and filling those writing blocks. Further, I want to expand on ideas, life experiences, my journey to grad school; although this does have a main focal point, I will be delving into other topics.

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If you are picky, create a second blog for more random posts that are more personal. For myself, I have a category that I use titled “Life”. When I make any sort of personal post, I click that little box and it tells my readers that it is a personal post. I also have “Film”, “Reviews”, and “Writing”.

When finding that groove when it comes to writing, decide what you are good at. If you are into business, perhaps write about the stock market, B2B marketing, finance, amongst other things. Into fashion, then move to your outfit of the day, colors and trends of the season, designers to watch, and so on.

To find your niche, figure out what you love and own it. Just because there are thousands of others, don’t stress, it means that the market is huge, meaning there is plenty of opportunity for paid writing jobs and getting your name out there will be that much easier. It takes time.

  • Identify your strength – add photos if you are a good at photography, or write the hell out of your work. Are you able to collage? Use that as your strength and make it your own. How about figuring out what is happening before anyone else can predict it?
  • Study other blogs or magazines as they can be a wealth of information as you pursue your writing journey. The research will be vital to any writing career. When writing more fiction or non-fiction, finding authors that inspire you will also help.
  • Demographics are just as important. When it comes to writing, who do you want to reach out to?¬†Men who are into hunting, girls who love makeup, moms who are into interior design, then research those age groups. Figure out where they are located and dig into how styles changes in different regions.
  • Write frequently. Write about the same time every week, so it is easier to predict when a post will occur. I set goals to post Tuesdays and Saturdays. It’s not something that I enforce, but it sets dates in my head to I can write these ideas that flutter inside my head. Writing once per week should be just as sufficient and build upwards.
  • Use your own personal experience to one-up the game. Use your time at Microsoft to talk about the latest games, updates and possible new consoles coming in the future.

When it comes to writing, or blogging, finding a niche can be the toughest thing yet. I found that now it’s creating the content. Pinterest helps spark ideas, google keywords or ideas and more reading will also help. Start to finish, a blog can take me a couple hours including editing, tags, SEO, photos and such. I even get lost in a movie or show on Netflix and have to refocus my train of thought. No one is perfect, but if you love it enough, you will move mountains.

 

Photo credit:¬†http://www.freelancerfaqs.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/right-niche-992×486.jpg

 

Can’t find time to write?

FeaturedCan’t find time to write?

“I have a million things to do. I will just have to put writing off today.”

Edit: As I make edits to this, I wonder how many people have already decided to push back an article, or delay the editing process somehow. This weekend, we celebrated my mom’s birthday a week early, took the kids to their other grandma’s and are currently drinking coffee in the peace and quiet of our own home today. It’s the little moments like this when I feel the most productive.

Yes, I get that it is hard to find time writing when you get so busy. I have been there too and often set my personal goals aside when another needs my help. I understand being selfless and caring, but there are times when you need to put YOU first!

But you’re an amateur writer, unpublished, and very little posted on your blog, do you even know what the hell you are talking about?

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theamericangenius.com (2014)

Yes, I do actually.

I set goals to write a blog post every week, or twice per week. Then the goals to read and write 30 minutes a day, whether I get up a few minutes earlier, or lay in bed that little bit longer after the littles go down. The truth is, I have a bad habit of putting it off too.

Setting a pattern can take up to six weeks. Frankly, I hit week 3 and hit that proverbial wall. SMACK! Ouch, right?

When something is important, you make time to accomplish those goals. Yes, I know what you are thinking. Writers all struggle at some point to get into a habit/schedule/routine. Find that motivation that will push you a little bit further. Create a playlist, put your ears in and write. Lock yourself in the room where quiet seems too quiet. Pretend you’re the lead character in a story and put yourself through hell, climbing mountains, finding the love of your life, or whatever comes to mind.

I am a substitute teacher and work the same hours while my kids are in school. Yeah, it does hinder my schedule. I come home, do laundry, clean the kitchen, cook dinner, make sure the kids are ready for bed and by 9 pm, I have time to myself. I take a long, hot shower, or read a book (which is a goal to read more), but the writing lacks behind.

What has helped me?

I write when I feel motivated and then schedule the post when I am finished with all those pesky edits. I feel accomplished when something is completed since it really is one more thing to my resume. I am displaying my strengths and showing that I have knowledge on given topics. I feel confident and good about myself to the point where I think my priorities are straight Рa perfect balance.

Another idea that has helped me is setting the alarm on my phone, twice per week and it reminds me that I need to write something or publish a post. Having drafts in your blog helps. Add photos, add tags and a category, share and voila!

Last night, I was watching Vampire Diaries (getting caught up on one of my guilty pleasures (Thanks, Netflix)) and I had a great story idea based off the plot of season 6. I opened a word document and began writing. I don’t know if it will turn into anything, but the idea that it could at least be a short story is something. One more step to my goal.

Stay positive because all writers have struggles and bumps in the road. Push yourself, no matter how tired you are. You won’t get far if you don’t work for it.

“Good things come to those who hustle” – Katie (CEO – Metal Marvels)

 

 

Lead image courtesy of https://busywritinglife.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/cropped-img_28892.jpg

What compelled you to write?

FeaturedWhat compelled you to write?

What made you turn to writing? I get that question A LOT!¬†And even in this day and age, it seems that no matter what you are passionate about, you can’t please everyone. Even in the midst of chaos and static, follow your dreams!

Here is the magical story that made me be the writer that I want to be.

Starting from the not-so-beginning, I started community college when I was 21, and that was back in 2010. My youngest was a month old, and I wanted to do something other than work in a local movie theater the rest of my life. I began taking the basic math and English courses to get me up to par, and as I progressed in those classes, I began to wonder what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Money talks.

First, it was medical coding and billing. Then receptionist work, then a medical assistant. I then moved to a CNA by the end of my second quarter, LPN and finally, the well-paid and under-respected RN by the end of that same quarter. When I set sights on an L&D¬†(labor and delivery) RN, I was money hungry. I didn’t want to be on food stamps anymore, ask for money because I needed gas so that I could get to school. I wanted to be self-sufficient.

I chugged for the following few quarters.

A year-and-a-half into the program, I was losing momentum. I was pondering when I was going forth with enrollment, debating the chemistry 250 and 251, and Biology 235, along with the dosage calculations course I was still in dire need to take. Blah. At this phase of the process, it was December 2011, I had just finished my finals and had not enrolled for winter quarter. Double blah.

From December to August 2012 was the longest time of my life – feeling drained, lost and tired, my passion for learning was gone. I didn’t like the idea of doing anything and felt like I wanted to sleep for days. I couldn’t find that one thing that made me excited to get up in the morning. What was it?

Thanks, HBO (and Andy Sorkin) for creating The Newsroom in May/June 2012. I found a niche, and it got me thinking about the future for the first time in a very long time.

Within the same period, a friend of mine was telling me about Ashford University and how she loved the enrollment process, the professors and she even recommended it. AHA!

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They have a B.A. in Journalism/Mass Communications? (Thanks again HBO and Andy Sorkin for mashing journalism into my mind).

I thought about it, prayed about it even (not religious, even a little), and talked to my husband about our plans. From the first phone call, it took one week to file FAFSA, enroll, ask questions and begin my first class. I felt like a million bucks. I was passionate again. I started working on something that I was immensely proud of. I even began volunteering for an online entertainment publication – video games, film, and T.V. – and found that it was something that I really enjoyed.

In the midst of my sophomore/junior year – early 2014 – I double majored. English and Journalism/Mass Communications would be the end point that I was working so hard for.

August 2015, I have doubled up on courses where I could, built an extensive resume with writing, blogging, AND started my final semester at Ashford. It was there at my fingertips. I felt invincible. That November, I graduated with honors in English and Journalism/Mass Communications degrees. TA-DA!

Present day I write a lot, and I often read, hoping it will help build me as a writer and a teacher. Potentially a published author, I dream of what these magical words will become one day. I wonder if the effect one teacher had on me will bleed onto another, turning into a chain of events over several generations?

Instead of all the blabbering, I feel that finding my passion is where I began writing. I enjoy wordsmithing, pondering the masses of words as they come across my screens. The visions in my head that prance around don’t leave until I have them down on paper. I find it hard to not write. Had I gone forward and gone after the money, I would be miserable.

Go for your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you no. It may hurt, but it can be a gut instinct. Listen to it!

Lead photo courtesy of http://themindunleashed.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/luciddd.png

11 Tips to Make You a Better Writer

Featured11 Tips to Make You a Better Writer

Being a writer can be a way of life for many. I know I have struggled in the past, recalling how I can be better. Feeling indisposed, I resort to a full pint of ice cream, a bottle (or two) of wine and a night to myself in bed. Hell, I recall a long nights soak in the tub with one of those divine LUSH bath bombs. Of course, we all feel this one way or another. But, with a few minutes, I can give YOU a few tips to make you a better writer. With time, patience and practice, you will be a better writer in no time!

Practice

As I have previously, and briefly stated, practice is one of the most important steps to the practice of writing. Just like yoga, or learning math or any other disliked topic, you have to slow down, read, study and possibly even take a tutor on to help you with those basic (or advanced) skills. I have found that a notebook and paper, or an open untouched Microsoft Word document can be of help. It doesn’t matter if you write about your day, or that inspirational quote on your Pinterest wall that you posted three days ago. Perhaps there is a burning passion to get a character on paper and turn it into something tangible. Either way, getting that out on paper is valuable.

Make yourself a goal within that time of practice. Maybe it is to write everyday for a week for 20 minutes. Then you can increase the time frame and duration of writing. It will make that hard to break habit a daily part of your routine in no time!

Read

What, really? Reading?

Yes! Reading for a small portion of your day will sincerely help. I have found reading in the morning with coffee or before bed is not only a great way to relax for myself personally. The great thing is that you’re picking up various writing styles as you read different authors.

Create a writing style

The best thing to do is to learn the best writing skills, be able to adhere to the rules of writing and then learn how to break them and when it is appropriate. Pesky commas, thwarting apostrophes and unacceptable pronouns can make for some hazardous writing. Pick up a writing book that will help. I have one from my college days and I use it on the regular. Basic Writing: Process and Purpose is a good one to start. There are several others that will help with basic writing skills.

Get into Freelance Writing

Freelance writing can help in more ways than you think. But you need to pick a niche or genre. Something you are knowledgable about, or want to know. It is as simple as opening a search engine and typing in a key phrase. Just be sure to take Wikipedia with a huge grain of salt (and lime).

With that freelance writing gig you are looking into, now would be a great time to look into a blog. I’m not saying dump $50 per month into something you may not afford right away, but just know you won’t make money right off the get-go. WordPress and Blogger are good ways to start something free. Don’t worry about creating the perfect blog – focus on the key element – the writing! No one will be too dazzled about the design, photos and such within a blog. It’s the writing that they are looking for and exactly what you should be contacted for.

Other ways of freelance writing are looking into job boards. Craigslist has had a few that I have done in the past that were of good pay. Upwork is another good one that has helped me grow as a writer. I have heard of¬†Freelancer ¬†being successful for many so you may want to look into that one as well. Basic job search engines, such as indeed and monster.com may also have something listed that you can take advantage of later on down the road, so don’t throw that idea of those two sources out.

Don’t succumb to writer’s block

Writer’s block can be one frigid bitch. I have learned over the years is to not let writer’s block get to you. Even with my college papers I used to write back in the day, I would open the school library on my computer, type in a few key words and read on my topic. Eventually the ideas and words came, my fingers would be on fire. I would spend 3-4 hours writing and have a near eight pages complete on a ten-twelve page project. It is amazing how accomplished you would feel after that move!

If you’re writing a story, just write about the day, or the next scene you have in mind. I like to mark my pages so I know¬†that there is that gap above that will eventually need to be filled at a later time. I will add¬†****** or ——– and center them in my writing, bolded to indicate the gap. Any ideas for that space are italicized and bolded so I know those are not character¬†thoughts, maybe even change to a deep green or blue to indicate it is not regular text.

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Foldingstory.com

Utilize Spellcheck

Spellcheck is the best tool to use when you are editing your work. Whether you are using the actual spellcheck within the Word program, it is a sure fire way to build those skills that you need.

Grammarly is one of my favorite sources and has been since I was a freshman in college, still use it to this day. It is as simple as copy the text, paste it and it will edit everything within that box, making suggestions on how to fix it.

Another great source to use that I was recently introduced to is Hemingway Editor. Let me know if you use it!

Then you have the two greats: the dictionary and a thesaurus. Webster’s has a free edition you can pull up online. Some computers have an application already installed when you buy them. Apple has a few you may also purchase for your preference, but the free ones work just as fine.

Criticism 

There will be a lot of it. Take it with a grain of salt, appreciate it, use it to your advantage and move on!

Read your writing

Yes, it is that simple!

I like to accomplish my work a full day or two in advance. When I am done, I will spend the day doing other things with my family. Watch a movie, go for a drink with a girlfriend Рanything to get your mind off what you just wrote. After a full 24 hours, go read it out loud. Read it to your partner, a friend or parent. Hell, read to the wall or the cat. You will be able to get feedback from a person, and audibly hear those gaps, run-ons and awkward sentences.

Shorter time span? Take 30 minutes or an hour – go run, take a shower and then come back to your writing. Any amount of a short break that is within your time crunch should help. Just remember to get up, away from the computer and not think about it.

Workshops/Classes

Remember me mentioning a tutor? Well, you can! There are several workshops and classes you can take for free, check out a local book store since most of them have a writers group or class where you can read your work out loud. They will criticize your work and help you grow. Barnes and Noble may be one that offers a class (I know it does in my area), even check your college to see what they offer if you want to take a class or two (at a cost of course). There are also writing tutors that can helping your area or remotely via Skype or facetime based services.

Write!

When you begin to write, whatever it is, don’t be afraid to add any thought that you may have. The editing will come later. It will be easier to cut the unnecessary pieces of the writing, the sentences that repeat its predecessor, the words that become redundant, etc. Writing should be fluid, but in order to be a good writer, learning what is needed or should not be included is how we build. Write anything and everything on your mind!

Don’t procrastinate

The last piece of this writing enigma: DO NOT¬†procrastinate, and set a deadline for yourself. The worst thing any writer can do is start something and finish it two weeks later. It will sound choppy and horrible. Honestly, I look back at work that I have done like that, I lose my momentum and the voice isn’t the same person. Writing daily or setting up a feasible schedule is vital. If there is a paycheck involved, be sure to adhere to any agreed upon deadlines.¬†Don’t procrastinate!

Good luck and happy writing!

 

 

Ringing in the New Year Writing

FeaturedRinging in the New Year Writing

Much of this year has been a huge testament to my faith, sending me through an emotional spiral of good and bad. It has been one hell of a roller coaster and I am getting sick. I am ready to stop, get the fuck off and begin a new endeavor.

2017 is going to be my year. I can feel it!

Academically, I believe that I could be achieving my masters degree that I have long since wanted. Go me! I will be enrolling sometime in January, hopefully if all goes in my favor.

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Professionally this will lead to other roads, such as teaching, which I think was something that I was meant to do. Many don’t know, but I did substitute teach for the school district middle of the year, just as school was getting out.¬†In June of 2016, I taught 2nd, 3rd and 6th grade. All of which were a learning experience. I think that if I stick to it, many of the classes will know¬†that I take my job seriously. I was lucky enough to have those few teachers who were passionate about what they did that it resonated with me. Here I am now, at the brink of 2017, ready to share my love of education with others.

Long story short, I have had a hard time with my work life this last year. I had found full time work in August, but to only get terminated a few months later. Now, I am going to back to subbing and I couldn’t be any more excited.

I have also applied for a teaching position for an English teacher at the college level. Here in Washington state, because I only have a Bachelor’s, I am only limited to English 100 and below, which is perfectly fine with me since I am getting started in my academic career, but I feel like I am paving that path that I need to be on.

This is where that lovely master’s degree will come in. I would love to teach more advanced classes, above 100 level, or even courses from Ashford University where I pursued my undergraduate degrees, or the future location of my graduate studies, Southern New Hampshire University! Only time will tell, and how hard I work for it.

I will be posting a story on that decision later on including the degree of choice, but as you can see, I am a HUGE advocate for online education. Never would be possible in my life to travel to a campus several nights a week, but some people make it work. I applaud them.

Back to the New Year.

Personally, I want to expand my horizons and become more well-rounded. Setting goals in my academic career and professional career are important. But I think that if I make a personal goal to write more, to read more in my personal time, I think it will help. Writing has been such an integral part of my life since I can remember, so it makes sense to push and not give up. To expand my horizons and read something that I never thought I would read. Maybe pick up a historical fiction now and then, a murder mystery or some off the wall Stephen King horror. I stick to the same romance or young adult fantasy, which are great, but expand in more than one way.

So cheers lovelies, here is to MY year. A year that I will make mine after all the torture, the pain and disappointment 2016 has brought. I will have to work for it, but I know it will be in my favor. May 2017 forever be in your favor!

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Seattle New Year 2016, Courtesy of CBS Seattle

Book Review: Oil & Water by P.J. Lazos

FeaturedBook Review: Oil & Water by P.J. Lazos

 

What I truscreen-shot-2016-11-20-at-7-17-35-pmly loved about this book is that there was a little of everything within the covers of this little gem. The characters were complex and diverse in their own mutually exclusive ways and complimented the others well. The story was well thought out, had me wanting more and kept me intwined all afternoon. Not to mention the story had its series of twists and turns to get to the ending point.

While there seemed to be too many characters within the story at given points of the story, I did find myself going back a chapter to re-read, making notes with a pen and paper. I wasn’t sure which characters were who at first, but the puzzle pieces slipped in one at a time.¬†What is great about this story is the ability to re-read, as many books do lose appeal after being read the first time. Lazos writes with broad horizons and reaches the stars in this intriguing, page turning story.

While I have yet to read any other books that belong to Lazos, I think she has spread her wings and created a genre within the fictional mystery, possibly further into the depths than we have thought.

Oil & Water was something I don’t think I would typically pick up. Based off the description: “When inventor Martin Tirabi builds a machine that converts trash into oil it sends shockwaves through the corporate halls of the oil cognoscenti. Weeks later, Marty and his wife, Ruth are killed in a mysterious car accident. Their son, Gil, a 10-year old physics prodigy is the only one capable of finishing the machine that could solve the world‚Äôs energy problems.¬† Plagued with epilepsy from birth, Gil is also psychic, and through dreams and the occasional missive from his dead father he gets the push he needs to finish the job. Meanwhile, Bicky Coleman, head of Akanabi Oil is doing his best to smear the planet in it. From a slow leak in the Gulf of Mexico to the most devastating oil spill the Delaware River has ever seen, Akanabi‚Äôs corporate practices are leaving oily imprints in their wake. To divert the tide of bad press, Bicky dispatches his son-in-law and Chief Engineer, David Hartos to clean up his mess. ¬†A disillusioned Hart, reeling from the recent death of his wife and unborn child, travels to Philadelphia to fulfill his father-in-law‚Äôs wishes. There‚Äôs no such thing as coincidence when Hart meets Gil and agrees to help him finish Marty‚Äôs dream machine. But how will he bring such a revolutionary invention to market in a world reliant on fossil fuels and awash in corporate greed? ¬†To do so, Hart must confront those who would quash the project, including his own father-in-law. ¬† You‚Äôll find murder, mystery, and humor as black as fine Arabian crude filling the pages of Oil and Water. The characters are fictional, but the technology is real. What will we do when the oil runs out?”

Psychic? Engineer? Dream machine? How does she mix fiction with the ideas of real technology? Lazos is an author to watch out for! You can find her work on Amazon in Kindle and paperback format.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Online versus Classroom Education

Online versus Classroom Education

There are certainly pros and cons to each side. Being a lifelong learner on the brink of going back to grad school, I have found that some people do well in one, and not the other. In many instances, most people tend to think that online education is a lack thereof, nor allows a certifiable degree, and a waste of time. It necessarily isn’t true. That being said, it would be beneficial to do some research and figure out where the institution is accredited, how long they have been around, check the BBB, read reviews, and don’t hesitate to call and ask questions. The same goes for campus-based institutions as well, research the college and be sure to ask questions, even about various degree choices, it will help in the long run and aid in making the best option for you.

Do you have the time to go to classes each day? Being in a classroom is great since you can ask the professor/teacher all the questions right there, get feedback and work with your peers one-on-one. Being extroverted can help in many cases since you do have to reach out and be social.

For someone who has a busy schedule and wants to be able to put education in their program as they need to, they should look into online-based programs. Being a mom, raising two boys, working full-time allowed me to put education into the gaps of my schedule and complete it on my terms! Yes, it was unbelievable.

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From personal experience, I did the college classroom setting and found it annoying and time-consuming to go out of my way, go to school and makes notes and to come home and study some more. I did a year and a half in the community college setting. I had two kids under the age of two, I had to juggle my husband’s schedule and my own just to accommodate my schedule for classes. It was a pain in the rear!

After taking some time off from school, I was informed about an online college who had a campus based¬†in Iowa, they were accredited, they had a good reputation through the BBB, a friend loved it there, and the best part is, I could go for a degree that I wanted. Along with this place, I looked into a couple other online-based¬†programs and found that some didn’t have the best reviews or reputation with the BBB.

I leaped! Online school was great but nerve-wracking at first, because I had to get in a rhythm of deadlines, and put myself into a schedule that would allow me to have my family time, work and get my schooling done. It took a couple of months, but the hard part was over, or so I thought. My last semester or so was probably the most emotional for me. After 3 years, I strived for the best and was at the end of my journey. One last semester and the classes would be over. As I progressed in classes, they became more in depth, more time-consuming and mind boggling. Nonetheless, online education brought me two, very useable, degrees.

With technology developing and becoming more accessible to the public, along with the internet, search engines, and tools for education, pursuing a degree has never been easier. Even if traveling is a highlight in your daily tasks, or you travel for work. Studying in a coffee shop has its perks after working all day and making sure the kids are taken care of!

Time management is crucial to either setting. In classrooms, you have to set time aside to write papers, work in groups, study outside of class, etc. In the online environment, you still have to do the same job, but often it turns out (from experience) a lot of it is independent work. Absence from classrooms may often hinder a participation grade, while online doesn’t truly factor that.

 

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BU.edu

 

Participation varies in traditional settings and online classes. In campus-based courses, it may not be a requirement to raise a hand, ask a question and communicate ideas on the residing topic in class. Online students are required to do a post, respond so many times to other students, cite sources and be a part of an ongoing discussion that is crucial to their education. “In traditional classes, students voluntarily participate in the debates or ask and answer questions. However, according to the University of Connecticut’s Instructional Design and Development Guide for Online Students, some people may be shy or unwilling to contribute, leading to a lopsided class dynamic where the same individuals tend to carry the weight. In online courses, participation is mandatory, usually through written discussions in chat rooms or on message boards” (Seattle PI).

Degree choice is a decisive factor when picking the online or classroom setting. Most often times, liberal arts degrees, criminal justice, psychology, and others are ideal for online learning since working from home or on the go is simple. Welding, technicians, medical field and computer-based degrees online would be more practical in a classroom where one may get one-on-one training. Education-based programs would be interesting online, but have noted there are many out there. Some states need to allow student teaching in a classroom with kids, grading at the end of the term. Of course, reporting everything to an advisor is an idea, maybe even in online nursing based programs. Do the work online, and be on site at a local hospital for the training. Interesting idea?

Either way, when picking a degree choice, perhaps writing down some specific degree choices down that you would like to research; write down a typical schedule for yourself and ask yourself if you can fit your education into a busy lifestyle, or if education is the center of your lifestyle. Don’t forget to do your research and ask lots of questions!

 

 

Lead photo by Huffington Post

(http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1240093/images/o-COLLEGE-EDUCATION-facebook.jpg)

 

 

 

Educational Journey for a Master’s Degree

Educational Journey for a Master’s Degree

Earlier in the year, I announced that I would be going back for my master’s degree. Yes, I am! The feelings that are rushing through are excited, scared, nervous, and anxious. I know it will only widen my door so that I can teach¬†since that is what I seem to love doing lately.

As of right now, I can teach in a community college setting, which is also something I am working on locally. But I am teaching, on-call, for the school district. I have found that I love the older kids, I love being able to converse with them on a deeper level in hopes that they will catch my disease for education and go on to do something great with their lives.

I have got quite a list on my hands for enrollment.

  • Application
  • Transcript release request form
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Statement of Purpose (200-500 words)
  • Writing Sample (3 pages)
  • $40 application fee

And yet, I still have to apply for financial aid, and I need to file taxes for the year. Because I am attending the 2017-2018 school year, I need to file my 2016 taxes. I have yet to receive the last one.

But there is one more thing holding me back, and it’s big.

My husband is not yet full time. We are still awaiting for the official job posting so that we can get his name in. I would feel so much better about attending grad school if he was a full-time employee. My dream for graduate school is being put on the back burner just a little bit longer, but I still plan on starting April 3rd, 2017.

Perhaps I am nervous, or maybe I am just a worry wart thinking the worst can happen. Either way, I want to get this far in my career and that one last hurdle of the year is right there. If my husband can just get the full-time job at his work, we would be comfortable, and it would make this transition in life so much easier.

 

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 Courtesy of American University Connect

 

But, when I plan to start, I will be working endlessly on my¬†MA in English/Creative Writing – Fiction.¬†Eighteen months of online education and an endless workload, I promised my husband I would work at least part time while pursuing my dream of a master’s. So it will be done. Further in depth, the courses being 18 months long, will be two courses at a time, for the duration of about 10 weeks with a short break in between the courses. My plan is to add a third course a couple of occasions and finish in a year, but that may also be dragging it out just a little.

The actual classes I will have the liberty of choosing from are here. I am so excited to take classes I am actually interested in, and the ability to online teach with one of the courses added to my resume, that is beyond exciting for me.

I had a fantastic time at Ashford, and I have a feeling that SNHU will also be that same way as I am already experiencing with my academic advisor. My advisor isn’t pushy, doesn’t call me fifteen times, but rather sends me a weekly email to see how things are doing, and perhaps a¬†phone call to see if I have any questions.

Send good vibes, well wishes and such. I am hoping this one thing will go our way and things won’t turn out to be a trick. Otherwise, consequences will be dire and could make big changes.

 

Lead image courtesy of https://entrepreneurthearts.files.wordpress.com