Sunday, April 9, 2017

First Time

I just wanted to update all of you on my writing career, and how it is or isn't progressing. I submitted one of my poems to my school's annual publication which chooses various creative student works and publishes them together in a small periodical titled Anthology. I recently heard back that they will be publishing my poem. Although this is not as much of a step as if I got an acceptance letter from an off campus source, publication can only be good news. I finally have something to add to my portfolio. So far, I haven't heard back from any of the other magazines to which I have submitted queries or stories.

Another good thing that happened recently in my writing career is that I sold another content based article on the website constant-content where I have submitted a few (not many) articles which have already sold making me a little bit of money. I have no idea who might be buying them, if I sell full rights I do not even know if they keep my name on it. Hopefully they do, but since I do not know where to find them, I cannot possibly use them for my portfolio as proof of publication. I could only really show the receipt I received for the sale of the article.

Constant-content does charge a fee which is a percentage of the total sale amount. I also have to sell them relatively cheap to ensure purchase. I could probably write a dozen or so content related articles a month and just submit them there, but I'm hoping to get published in a much more recognizable way. My career has to start somewhere and if it starts with publication of a small poem in a college run periodical, so be it. Hopefully there will be people who read it and decide they like my work and actively seek me out. If not, I can still use it to prove I have been published.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Memes

I saw a meme. It said: "It takes 2.5 seconds to text 'hi.' There are 24 hours in the day. If I'm not worth 2.5 seconds of your time, then you are not worth a position in my life." It got me to thinking.

While it may be true that it takes only 2.5 seconds to text hi, it almost never goes unanswered. You get a text back. And maybe it's not just 'hi,' there's a little bit more added to it. "Hi, how are you?" So you think, it took them about 10 seconds to text that, right? It would be rude not to respond. It takes another 10 seconds for you to respond. "Fine, and you?" Another response. Of course, you could have just answered fine, and cut them off, but that would be rude. So they answer, "Can't complain. What are you doing?" Before you know it, you are texting a regular conversation. Now if you're someplace you're not supposed to have your phone, like work. This is probably happening over a prolonged period, not in sequence. The point is, it's never just as simple as texting 'hi,' and leaving it at that.

Perhaps that person isn't being rude by not responding, or just texting "hi." There are places where people can't have their phones. Some places have horrible reception. People commute, and it's not a good idea to text and drive. There are all sorts of little reasons that time slips away without finding the time to say hi to your friends every day. That's why true friends understand this and give you space. Imagine if all the people in your life demanded you text them hi each and every day. It only takes 2.5 seconds, right? How many people could there be? If you have family, add each of your family members. If you have a job, you need to add your co-workers on there too. If you have a job with customer relations, you have even more people to add, but just go ahead and add any work contacts as well. All this and you haven't even gotten to your friends yet.

The point of all this is: that meme may sound like it's not asking much. After all, how much trouble is it to smile, or say hi, or wave? But when you demand people act a certain way to suit you, then call them unworthy if they don't do what you ask, you're the one being the jerk.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Odds and Ends

This month I sent my first query letter. I'll admit this isn't quite the same thing as sending off a finished piece ready for publication. However, most magazines do not publish unsolicited material which means a query letter is necessary. I am also considering entering a writing contest (although I don't usually have much luck with those).

I am currently enrolled in two writing intensive courses which also keeps my writing mind at work. I thought about making a plan to finish my novel, or at least put a dent in it. I could draw up a week by week schedule of everything I'll need to do and what I should be doing each week. One week, for instance, I could work on dialog. I have so many ideas for short stories and novellas and even a few graphic novel ideas. I'll keep developing those as well.

I have thought about sending a query in to Reader's Digest. They publish lots of real-life stories as well as some humorous anecdotes. Since I used to read the magazine a lot, I have a good feel for the things they'll publish. I feel confident in sending my next article query to them. Meanwhile I should be devouring other magazines I might query. The goal is one article or query a month until I get a positive answer. After that, of course I'll have to spend some amount of time on researching and writing the article itself. I already have ideas of what to write about for both Texas Highways and Reader's Digest.

I found out that it will be a couple of months before I learn anything about the school publication anthology where I submitted a poem for consideration. If they decide to publish it (even if I don't get the $100 prize), it will be a big step. I will then be able to list that publication in my portfolio.

On the non-writing side of things, [Warning: impending rant] the kids all got sick recently and I decided (since I missed the Friday afternoon clinic window) to take them down to the ER so they could get started on antibiotics before Monday came and they ended up getting sent home from school with Strep or something. So I took them all down there, we're all about finished and the doctor arrogantly says: "We're happy to see them in the clinic for this kind of stuff." Like I didn't know I could bring my kids to the clinic, if I had gotten there when they were open. I guess he didn't know (or care) that Monday we had oldest daughter's hem/oc appointment, and that Tuesday I was so beat from that, that I fell out almost as soon as I got home. Then Wed, Thurs and Fri I worked long hours in order to miss as little work as possible. So that when I finally got home Fri afternoon I was so beat I just fell asleep again. Sure youngest was already coughing on Monday when had the hem/oc appointment, but the others didn't start until Wed (which was their dad's time BTW). So thank you, pious doctor, you succeeded in making me feel terrible for wanting to get my kids on antibiotics before school started up. [rant over]

Daughter's hem/oc appointment went well, although she's being referred to an endocrinologist because they're worried she's not growing or developing at the rate she should be. The doc said everything else looks A-Okay though. Was able to get along with ex throughout the day. Unfortunately, this gave youngest the wrong idea. She got it into her sweet but decidedly thick scull that our ability to get along for one day proved we should get back together. It's difficult to explain such things to a six-year old, especially without vilifying anyone or defending your own decisions. She wasn't old enough to remember the problems we had when we were together, so she doesn't understand why us reconciling is a bad idea.

Had a little bout of insomnia in the weeks leading up to my daughter's hem-oc appointment. I suppose some of that can be attributed to the stress of worrying there would be a problem. Although, I'm not going to lie, some of it was also envy. You see, a certain co-worker just went on his second trip to Japan and of course all I could think about while he was gone was all the cool stuff he was getting to do and see. I know that one day I'll be able to go, but I still feel envious of others for getting to do it now. It doesn't help that every semester there's some prof who's pitching a study abroad (sometimes more than one). Last semester I had someone come pitch a study abroad in Cartagena in my Spanish class and then another prof was pitching a study abroad in the Galapagos Islands, while yet another was pitching another study abroad (I don't remember where). There was a study abroad in Japan my first year and I wanted to go terribly. Of course, I knew I couldn't. Besides the fact that I haven't got this whole jumble of how I'm going to get a passport taken care of, I also have three young-uns to worry about. Even if I could arrange a month's worth of child-care and even if I could manage to save up for that amount of time and manage to keep my job after leaving for that long, it just isn't feasible for a mother of three to leave for a month. I wouldn't want to go that long without my kiddos. If, one day, my ex ends up moving and we have to do that so we have to split school time vs. summer and holiday time, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. However, until then, I don't think I'd like to leave for such a long time and miss out on so much of their childhood. Although, I will be traveling after they're grown, probably for months at a time.

Guess I'll leave it there.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Progress?

Just a quick note to all those who wonder if I did in fact break the new years resolution I made in the last blog post. I am happy to say the resolution remains intact, even if I did submit something I had already written. I didn't write every day as I'd hoped, and even though I read at least one magazine off my list of magazines to try submitting to, I haven't got around to typing up a query. I have some ideas on travel articles I could write, possibly even ones that focus on the town in which I live. I also have access to some issues of some of the magazines on my list at my university library (found that out today) so I intend to make good use of that source when I can.

Courses (with the exception of Spanish) have been easier than I expected (so far). I do think they will probably get harder. Two of my courses are considered "writing intensive" so I will have to pay attention to my writing in both of those as my final grade for the course depends greatly upon my ability in that area.

I'm batting around ideas for my project proposal which is my final assignment in Tech Writing class. So far, I think I've decided that I'll propose that the University Library carry more magazines that cater to the LGBT community and their unique concerns and ideas, since they carry many other popular magazines for other groups. I will have to research to see exactly how many students would be effected by these changes. Not quite sure where to go for that, possibly find studies done on the percentage of high school seniors in central Texas that identify as LGBT or (if the info is available) I could also research the current number of students enrolled who identify in that group.

At the same time, I've got to be thinking about Bad Girls in popular culture and or literature and a way that I could explore that topic for my final paper in that class. Stats class has been easiest so far, just a few key terms to memorize and some learning how to operate SPSS which (so far) is very simple. I expect that the class will get more difficult as time wears on, but I'm not sure about that. The SI said that learning the program was the most difficult part of the class for her.

I'm learning a few things about MS Word that I didn't previously know. Lots of neat formatting tricks that I'm sure will be useful later in life. Hopefully I will not break my resolution and pump out something by this month's end (although my work load for school is bound to increase). I'm hoping that once I get into more of a routine that I can whittle out a space for writing and writing-based research. Well, I'm off to watch something until I decide to turn in. Catch y'all next month.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hello All

I have decided to begin earnestly treating my writing career as a job. I'll be starting off slowly because of the time other activities consume. The first step is to decide which market to begin with. Obviously I should write about things I am already familiar with at first because they will require much less research. My interests are varied but I think I'll begin with either art or music since I love those the most. Of course I could also write about anime or video games, but I feel like those niches have a lot more people in the YouTube market than in the magazine market. My goal is to work my way up from some of the lesser known magazines with an end goal of being published in Time. I do not think I'll make Time magazine in the first year. I should probably give myself at least five years to accomplish that goal, if not more.

I will be writing one article a month minimum and submitting query letters about it to magazines in that niche. I have ordered a copy of this years writer's market to give myself a starting point of magazines to send query letters to. Once my submissions begin showing results I will try to devote more time to writing and research. If I can start selling articles I can use that money to put a dent in my student loans.

I will be using some of the information gleaned from my com class two semesters ago to help my writing stand out. When I was reading the course material I noticed that many of the points made in the course material applied to communication by writing as well as spoken communication. Since I have always been better at expressing myself through this medium, I should be able to convert the lessons and make them work for me in my writing.

I fully intend to have at least three or four published articles by this year's end to add to my portfolio. I have also decided to keep trying to get my creative works published. I am certain that I will need more help with this because there is so much competition in the creative writing field. If I set aside at least 15-30 min a day to commit to writing or researching (I spend at least that researching stuff on FB to comment) I should be able to churn out at least one well-written article a month. The biggest obstacle is probably going to be doing this while carving out time for my studies (which use a big chunk of free-time), working full-time, and raising kiddos. Perhaps my first article should be study tips for single moms.

So, even though I have been a ghost lately and haven't blogged in a while, don't expect another update until after I've sent my first query letter. Once I get that done, I'll consider the rest of the month free for other writing activities (such as blogging). Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cowardice

I have been a coward for too long. Too many times have I stood idly by and let a racist comment pass without condemning it. Too many times have I refused to stand up to my homophobic, misogynistic father. Now there is something I can do to make the world a better place and that something is to stand up for the marginalized minorities.

Cowardice is not the way and a small FB post is not enough. I read an amazing article about something that happened at Baylor, a university not too far away from where I live. There somebody (using support of Trump as an excuse) pushed a girl and called her the N word telling her she was not welcome. The amazing part came when hundreds of people showed up at her dorm to walk her to class so she'd feel safe. That is the version of America I want to live in and the only thing I can do to make it happen is to stand up and confront people who spread any kind of backwards, racist, homophobic, anti-trans agenda. I can always be nice and offer help to people who are being victimized.

Of course there are people who say and do bad things on the other side of the fence. I'm admitting it because that is the first argument I'm going to hear in defense of those with racist and anti LGBT agendas. Of course there are people who will let their anger consume them and allow themselves to become the worst possible versions of themselves. That happens with everything. I do not condone violence. I understand their frustration. I can never understand all that they've been through and I don't know how I'd react under similar circumstances. I also understand that there are people who voted for Trump because they didn't believe what he said was racist or thought he was just the lesser of two evils. I know that there are people from rural communities who voted for him because of fear and not hatred. I know that people are a product of their upbringing and that a lot of people didn't choose to be taught to fear these groups. However, nothing justifies bigotry and prejudice. You can't lump an entire group of people together because they share one commonality.

Its so easy to blame others for our troubles; so easy to have us vs. them mentality. If the only people we listen to are those who share our opinion then we will never grow together and we will continue to be divided. But the onus is on us, the community that has oppressed, to be inclusive and listen to those we have been oppressing. Getting defensive and striking back do not help. That is the way wars are started.

I see a lot of "Where's my white privilege?" comments from people who are from poor rural communities. So let me clear that up if I can. White privilege exists when voting districts are redrawn to include more white voices than minority ones because the right thinks that's the only way to win. White privilege exists when less white people are stopped in traffic violations than are POC. White privilege exists when the same crime does not illicit the same punishment for whites as for POC. Cis privilege also exists. It exists when people make a big deal out of where someone uses the bathroom in public facilities. When trans gendered people are accused of being rapists for not wanting to be harassed when going to the restroom. Straight privilege also exists. It exists when straight people are allowed to dance and hold hands and even kiss in public and no one bats an eye but suddenly everyone thinks its "too much" if a gay couple does this. You think "white privilege" means all whites are affluent. It means that schools are funded better where there are white kids. It means all the rights one group had all along had to be fought fiercely for by the other.

There are good people who have wrong ideas about the world. It is our job to stand up and correct those ideas when we can and try to help marginalized communities to feel welcome and included. There are also people with good intentions who let fear immobilize them (as I have done in the past) and we are part of the problem too. Don't be scared to make waves. Don't be scared to fight for what's right by standing up to those who would oppress, demean or belittle minorities.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Randomness

Now that I'm feeling extremely irritated and tetchy, I will update you (my not so adoring fans) on the exciting adventures I've been getting myself into. First, when last I blogged I'm not even sure what was going on because I'm too lazy to close this window and read my last blog post to see. However, here are some events that have happened or thoughts that I don't recall having written down for posterity:

My parents: ever so often my dad calls me. Now I can't return the favor most of the time because he no longer has a traditional phone but uses a textnow account which is kind of cool because anywhere you have internet access you can use one and it's free. I use textnow when I've misplaced my phone, usually to find it, but sometimes to send messages that are urgent and can't wait. Anyhoo, he calls me up usually when he wants something from me. Called me up this past week needing me to drive up there to ft. worth where they have their stuff stored and fill out some paperwork so they'll be able to access their stuff. All seems a little fishy to me, how can you lock someone out of their own supplies if they are paying you to store it? Dad says he thinks they want someone with a state issued ID (which he doesn't have and refuses to get, even though he's totally had one in the past). This irritates me that I must go out of my way to help Dad out when he refuses to help himself. If he were to go and get himself an ID he would be able to do so much stuff he now claims he can't do and I'd willingly give him the money to do it. I know he wouldn't do it though. Of course it's not really as simple as all that after all, because he'd have to produce either a copy of one of his expired ones (probably in storage so there's that idea) and/or other documents to prove his identity (probably). I don't know because his picture should be in the computer along with that name so why couldn't they just pull it up?

School: So I studied extra hard for biology and it paid off when I got a 94 on my second biology exam. I neglected, however, to do the same for my lab practical and so ended up only making 72 on that. I got a pretty good score of 90 on my first history test and a pretty mediocre score of 75 on my second one. Part of the reason for this was that I did not pace myself when it came to reading and neglected to make sure I was reading material that would be on this test. Found out Sun that I had not completed any of the reading for the upcoming test the following Tues and tried to cram it all into two days. Because I spent all my time reading, I didn't study for the test at all. Because of this, the only shot I have at getting an A in that class this semester is to make at least a 95 on my next test (get all but 2 questions right) and make an 100 on my last. I did the math and because they are weighted differently I cannot make any less than 100 on the final even if I make 100 on the next test and still get an A.

In Spanish, it's hit and miss. I dislike having to do group activities, not because I dislike my partner (she seems very nice from what little I know of her, and is probably smarter in this subject than me) but because I dislike having my grade effect someone else's grade and vice versa. With personal assignments, if I don't do well, I only hurt myself. With group assignments if I get something wrong it brings the other person down too.

Then there is CW. Sometimes CW class is fun and interesting. Sometimes it seems more trouble than it's worth. Take, for instance, the reason I'm currently upset. CW prof likes to pitch writing opportunities to the class. He wants us to participate. So he pitched the symposium. One of the first questions I asked about it was: "I have a tight work schedule, would they schedule me at a time I had to work?" So he reassures me that I can just let them know that I can only do it on a certain day when I submit my abstract. Okay, sounds good. I decide to go for it. I submit my abstract, making sure to include that because of my work schedule, I will be entirely unavailable on Fri and that my classes run until 2:30 on Thur. I get no response other than what seems like a standard reply saying they got my abstract so tonight (now the Thur. I'm talking about is tomorrow mind you) I e-mail prof asking him if the e-mail was actually the acceptance one and if I'm expected to perform. He assures me that I am on the schedule and suggests I look at their website. I look on Thursday and see nothing that could possibly allude to me other than something going on between 1 and 1:30. So I e-mail prof again letting him know that I have class at 1:15 and asking if I'm expected to skip it to perform. He doesn't e-mail me back for hours. Finally I get an e-mail from him with a copy of Friday's schedule with my name on it. I have to work Fri. I explicitly stated that in my abstract I WOULD NOT BE AVAILABLE on Friday. So now maybe you can understand a little bit of my frustration.

Kids: Half purchasing and half making costumes for my girls this year because the costumes of what they want to be are too expensive to just buy outright. So I expect to be sewing on those after I get home from school tomorrow. Kids are with their dad this weekend but I'd like to get their costumes mostly done by Fri so we can go around the square (which is on Fri even though Halloween isn't until Mon). I decided I'd dress up too. I'm going as Phoebe from friends.

I had a way to get the kids to help me clean by using device time as a reward but when I'm tired enforcing that is tough because it means no one gets device time unless they've done some kind of chore and when I'm tired it's easier to not argue and just let them play. Of course, when they don't have device time they usually find other ways to spend their time and most times that's just what they do instead of chores to earn device time. Being a parent is tough when you were raised without much consistency and society expects you to raise your children with routine. I have to get the kids to school in the morning and we wake up the same time every morning (even if I have to drag them out of bed) and get ready for school (even if I have to nag) but I'm a lot less tired in the morning after a shower than I am at 5:00p.m. after a full day of work or school. So I have trouble sticking to a specific dinner time, although I'm inflexible on bed-time. Each night before bedtime I do reading with youngest daughter too, so I always make sure we have time for that, no matter what else I have to do.

Life in general: Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. I usually use the bad times to further my writing skills by inventing characters or developing plot lines. Been spending way too much time monitoring the upcoming election. Really tired of it and want it to be over but am also scared about what might happen afterwards. No matter who wins or loses there are going to be a whole lot of people who are upset, that I can tell you right now. No matter who wins or loses, there have been families and friendships lost because of loyalty to a particular candidate. I worry about my own future because I wonder if Trump's policies would put me in a worse position than what I am right now. If I can no longer rely on my tax refund, will I be able to repay my student debt? If he institutes a tariff similar to the one Hoover instituted to try and fix the economy, will our country go into another Great Depression? Will he get angry with another country and decide to launch nuclear weapons because he lost his temper? Could he potentially do that? Would he have that power? And what's even more infuriating is that even if I went to the polls and voted for Clinton (which I'm not sure what to think of her either) to keep him out, my vote wouldn't matter a hill of beans in the state in which I live. It always votes Red. I see more Trump campaign signs than I do Clinton ones driving down the road, and I know the reason for this is that my state is vastly conservative. And yeah, maybe its possible to get enough people to vote a third party candidate in, but I already know from hearing people talk how unlikely that is. Most people only consider themselves as having two options and those who don't support either will choose the lesser of two evils.