Spiraling in circles

FeaturedSpiraling in circles

Who would have thought that even with my love of writing, that I would delay a post for so long. I’ve had ideas, short stories and details about my master’s program, but nevertheless, I fail at writing. I think I made excuses for myself and felt guilty. I had a hole inside me and I couldn’t shake it. Ideas would swirl in my head but here I was, spiraling in circles. I will say that writing just this paragraph has made me feel so much better; like a good therapy session, or better yet, good sex.

Since the last post, I started a master’s program at Ashford University, Education to be exact. In two weeks, I felt like it wasn’t enough. I’m not saying Ashford is a bad university, I loved it as an undergrad. I felt that for my master’s, I needed a bigger and better challenge.

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Prior to starting Ashford, I was in the talks with an enrollment advisor at Western Governor’s University, or WGU. I had a good chance at getting in like most universities, but I had a cultural studies from my undergrad program that couldn’t quite beat what I needed, hence going to Ashford. Within the two weeks at Ashford, I felt that disconnect in a master’s program, so I withdrew and did a little soul searching.

I contacted my advisor, at this point, it had been about 3 months since we chatted last. I sent over a PDF of the course standards of the class I had taken to have it evaluated. After two weeks of impatience, anxiety and a quick phone call, my enrollment advisor congratulated me on getting everything required so that I could begin courses. This was the end of May when we had spoken. So here I was, onto a new adventure and a new challenge.

As of July 1st, I started my Master’s in Teaching English (5-12). I finished four classes in my first term, well, in four months and have had the last two months off. Thankfully. I also have passed all three subtests of my West-B as required for the state of Washington. Ta-da! Now I have Monday to chat with my student mentor and meet with my field specialist and talk about what I can do with my observation teaching. I am hoping to get it done and taken care of so I can dedicate some time to studying.

I also have for my second term: three courses, observation and the NES 301 (English) for the Pedagogy assessment.

The hurdle begins.

Student teaching in the fall.

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Western Governor’s University. Salt Lake City, Utah

It’s been a whirlwind of the last 5 1/2 months in school, but since having some time off from my studies to reflect on who I am as an individual, as a mom, a student, a teacher and a wife, it makes sense that I post this to bear that hard work truly does pay off. After all, being 29 doesn’t mean it’s too late to find something you love, it’s a matter of finding out what you love and going for it.

This time next year, I hope to be certified in the state of Washington, and will have the remainder of the school year to substitute teach in the mean time. I have a long year ahead of me, but it’s worth it.

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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)

 

 

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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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)

 

 

 

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

 

Time Management and How to Solve It

Time Management and How to Solve It

I wrote something similar as far as scheduling, “Can’t find time to write?” Often times, something similar should be written, and well, often. To help writers, bloggers and any other person struggling to balance life needs to know what is key.

A schedule for me on any daily process varies since I don’t necessarily work full-time, an offset to being on call. I still try to sit down for a period of time, like now, drinking my coffee and blasting Britney’s latest album in my ears while my kids are playing Lego Dimensions and laundry begins to dry in the dryer. My life seems semi-chaotic at times, even in the throes of a head cold.

Tip #1

Set a writing schedule. I failed massively this week and did not get a post up on Tuesday, and I may write another just to make up for it.

Is that schedule in the morning with your coffee, or at night after the kids have gone to bed with a cup of lavender earl grey tea? Yes, I have done both to accommodate to any mess that the day brings. Make sure you plan on writing every day! It is a lot like reading in schools – reading every day helps kids grow as readers, and they end up knowing more words in any given lifetime. Well, I guess writing would be a lot like such.

A schedule for me currently is getting up at 6 am, waiting for a call to see if I am teaching that day. Most often I get called in. I end up at the high school most often, so I work about 7:30 am till about 3:30 pm. I bring my laptop with me so that I can connect to the internet and get most of my work done. Writing a post of one of them.

When I get home from work, I tend to a load of laundry, begin dinner and dishes. After the kids are fed, I get some me-time, and I hide on the couch with my laptop, earphones and start writing most days. Others, I draft up ideas for stories, maybe try my hand at poetry, other times I online shop.

When I was an undergrad, it was a matter of moving my studying hours around my work hours and then any writing or blogging that was personal around my school hours. I would even take an hour long break from my studies to write something personal because it was a great way to empty my head of anything that kept circling. I could come back to my studies and write or work productively, helping my overall balance.

Tip #2

Buy a day planner!

These are a huge lifesaver. In any sense, if you don’t want to waste paper, utilize what you have on your phone or computer and have reminders sent to you. It is an excellent way to work on planning and getting into a solid routine.

I use both my phone to remind me when a blog post is due and my day planner. Wal-Mart and Target have great choices for no more than $10.

Tip #3

Drink a lot of coffee.

Tip #4

Pretend you’re Hemingway, drink scotch and write without editing until you are 100% done.

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Tip #5

When you feel like nothing is getting done, turn off your email, social media and put away your phone for half an hour, or so and make yourself write.

Tip #6

If you find that you are still sitting around, ask yourself why? If you can dig to the root of the cause, you can often times take a step back, fix it and get back to work.

From personal experience, a lot of mine procrastination was social media, and I had a case of writer’s block. The phone would get put in the kitchen or another room I was not working. The writer’s block, I would just begin to write about my day and let it flow. If it were a college paper, I would start writing on a piece of information, and it would become easier.

Tip #7

Sleep! It is crucial to get a set amount of hours each night so that we can wake up refreshed and relaxed. If you can’t sleep, may I recommend an excellent lavender vanilla candle or Eucalyptus Spearmint from Bath and Body Works, or lavender or peppermint essential oils? I enjoy Calily essential oils!

Tip #8

Yoga!

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I highly recommend getting online and looking up some basic stretches, starting a practice. I find that when I am having a hard time, I stand tall with my eyes closed. I ease myself into a criss-cross position, eyes still closed. I will then open my eyes, move right up and over onto all fours for cat and cow to warm up my spine. I have several stretches that I do and no better than a basic beginner, but downward dog helps along with a few warrior positions. Here are some yoga basics for you!

Better yet…

Tip #9

Pump some iron. Whatever your stress reliever is, find it and use it to your advantage!

Tip #10

Set your priorities. This can be simplier than one would think. Do you really need to go to the store for a half-gallon of ice cream? Can you wait to put gas in your car in the morning before you head to work? Do you have to hang out with your BFF tonight? Ask yourself if you really need the distraction and how you can work around it. Often times, it may be an emergency and we understand that! But if it becomes a hinderance to your writing, maybe we should put it off for just a little and after you publish that post, then go get ice cream as a reward.

Tip #11

Organize everything around you from the day planner on your desk, to the tools on your desk. Everything that falls into place has a place, making it so much easier to navigate rather than struggling to remember when you had a cup of coffee and where that fancy blue fountain pen was placed.

When the clutter is mimimal, we spend less time thinking and more time doing!

Tip #12

As the last few tips have suggested, take a few minutes now and then to rebalance your day. Stress and anxiety won’t do you any good when you know you have a lot to do. Yelling or beginning to argue out of irritation will make things worse. I have been there numerous times!

 

Scheduling is the biggest hurdle many us have, and I know exactly what you mean when you have appointments, meetings, and mommy or daddy things to do. I have them too. This week, I had a PTSO meeting, worked most of the week, volunteered for a movie night fundraiser at my kids’ school and all while battling the brunt of a head cold. We all have our moments.

I know I have wanted to write this blog post for a while and it hasn’t been easy. This morning wasn’t exactly writing material, but sometimes sticking to a schedule and making yourself write for an hour, or twenty minutes can do you some good.

We all have tips that can help us use our time better. What tips would you give?

Lead image courtesy of http://www.secondsetofhands.ca

 

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