Tag Archives: back to school

Life Choices


Hello, Friday, I’ve missed you!

Oddly, I thought it was May 17th, instead of April 17th. I must be mentally wishing this semester to be over with already and so I can start enjoying this gorgeous weather and outdoor activities with mini me. She’s only a child once and I’m missing out on taking her to the park in the afternoon, or playing with sidewalk chalk and bubbles, all because I’m constantly stuck indoors, on the computer, working on homework every day.

There’s been a couple of times where I’ve skipped doing homework, just so I can play with my daughter; though I got a little behind, I feel it was worth putting it off. I don’t want my daughter growing up feeling that I never spent time with her and constantly pushed her aside in order to keep my nose stuck in the books or to constantly cit in front of the computer, typing up essay after essay.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy going to class, I just wish to be done with it already and be out there doing what I’ve been going to school for. Three more semesters to go… Graduation date, Dec 2016!

Today’s Daily Prompt asked,

What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five, or ten…) ago?

I wish that someone had pointed out to me, that going to college for Aviation maintenance was a bad choice. I had problems while I was in school just from being a female. The constant sexual harassment I had to deal with from the male student population and also from a couple of instructors. I tried to turn them in, but the dean didn’t wish to hear it; I was a minority, there were five females in the entire school, versus a 98% male student population. Plus, there weren’t any female teachers. The owner of the college began firing most of his female office staff. His goal, to make the college an ‘all male’ school. That just made it more uncomfortable being there. Alas, I cut my education short and graduated early, though I did manage to get my Associates Degree in Aviation Airframe.

Then, the recession hit and not only did I have trouble finding a job because I lacked experience, but I couldn’t find a job because the aviation business declined immensely and no one was hiring. I had to work for free to get my experience and didn’t enjoy it. The guy I worked for complained majority of the time about having to work and fussed at me constantly about the need for perfection. I finally quit working for him and started working somewhere that paid; I had a student loan to pay off and was falling into debt.

I fell out of love with aviation, it was more of a childhood dream and all those around me crushed that dream. I didn’t want to be around airplanes anymore.

Six years later, I decided to go back to school, but for something else, something that I will have no problems finding a job doing. There’s a huge market for anthropology, as there are many fields and sub-fields.

I continue to volunteer my time doing many different things as an anthropologist. I don’t even have my degree…yet and I’m enjoying myself. My current favorite, volunteering at the zoo with the large primates.

There will always be a list of shoulda, coulda, wouldas, so change that by finding something you enjoy doing. Live out your dreams. Follow through with your goals. Be happy with your choices.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Alligators in Arkansas?


Spring break usually means vacation time for some, but to me, it’s time for catching up on college homework, as it does tend to pile up for us non-traditional students. It also means finishing tasks around the house that also needs my attention, such as taking my car into the shop to fix a burned out fuse, as well as having them take care of a recall. Then there’s the usual, dentist and doctor appointments that I can finally make since I have some time off. Or the opportunity to go into work early. All and all, for me, spring break just means staying busy, instead of relaxing on a tropical beach somewhere, listening to the waves crash onto shore, while I work on my tan.

But, it isn’t all work and no play, I do find some time for fun.

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the Alligator Farm in Hot Springs. She’s been begging me to take her to the zoo, yet most of the things she enjoys is out of order and under construction at our local zoo in Little Rock; the train, petting zoo, etc. Plus, they no longer have giraffes, which is my daughter’s favorite.

I had thought about taking her to Turpentine Creek, which is a wildcat sanctuary in Eureka Springs, but that’s a four hour drive (back roads and road construction) and it was supposed to rain yesterday. It was also slightly chilly, so taking her into the Ozark Mountains to walk around looking at wildcats wasn’t something she would enjoy.

The alligator farm was a relatively short visit. There wasn’t much going on, but on the positive side, it wasn’t crowded. Since alligators are cold blooded reptiles, they were being kept indoors where it’s much warmer. They have spacious yards outside, yet it is still too cold for them to be moved outdoors.

Along with the numerous amount of alligators, they also had a pair of Arctic Wolves, a mountain lion, turkeys, mallards and wood ducks, peacocks, a macaque, three lemurs, an emu, a couple of donkeys, and a handful of fallow deer, goats, and sheep.

Mini me was infatuated with the alligators, yet knew not to poke her fingers through the fence to try to pet one. Although, there was a guy holding a young alligator for visitors to pet (it had a rubber band around it’s snout so it wouldn’t snap anyone’s fingers off). Of course after I touched it’s belly, she saw that it was okay and touched it twice, which was long enough for me to snap a quick picture.

It was a fairly inexpensive trip, yet we always enjoy getting out of the house, no matter the price. I think that any young child or adult would enjoy taking a few minutes out of their weekend to visit the Alligator Farm. It’s easy to get to, plus it’s located five blocks away from downtown Hot Springs, where there is plenty of other things to see and do for couples and for families.

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Redrafting a Query Letter


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I’m often asked, “You’re so busy, when do you find time to write?”

Of course I reply with, “I find the time.”

I do have a full schedule, or a full plate, whichever way it’s put, I am quite the busy person. Single mom, work, college, plus a huge list of other things to add that I wish not to discuss publicly. I’ve often stated when I fit in my writing. It’s usually scribbling ideas down onto paper whenever I have a free minute, such as standing in the grocery store check out lines. Then late at night, or right before class, I’ll type them up. Usually, it helps to have a printed manuscript for me to scribble on, but I always have a notebook where I keep all my notes.

Currently, I’ve been adding the last pieces to my manuscript. A sentence or two here, cut and paste that over there… As I type this, I’m 200 words shy of making 60,000 words. Wow! Well, isn’t that enough? Apparently not! It is a young adult novel, so there is a minimum and a maximum amount of words required for a publisher to actually look into publishing an author’s book…so I’ve been told…by a couple of actual publisher’s.

I didn’t come up with that entire word count over night…I wish…It took me five, long years to come up with that amount. So, you can see, I may seem to have accomplished a lot, it just took me a long time to get here. I don’t spend all of my time on the computer, writing…though some of my relatives may think otherwise.

Honestly, after hearing other authors tell me how long it’s taken them to come up with their first manuscript for a full novel, I don’t feel so bad on how long it took for me to get this far.

I’m now at the point to where I should prepare a query letter. I have written and rewritten a query letter for this manuscript, though it just hasn’t caught an agent’s attention. It’s taken me five years to write a novel with 60K words, why should it take me so long or be so hard to write up a short professional letter? Well, it is a hard market for us authors. So hard in fact, that a query letter has to have the essentials, yet catch an agents eye for them to pick you and your manuscript. It has to be perfect.

I’ve had a few ‘maybes’, but they weren’t a definite ‘yes’. So, it was back to the drawing board, so to speak. I couldn’t understand what my query letter lacked. It had all the important details; genre, word count, title, synopsis, a little bit about me…yet, no yes’s. I had a hard time coming up with my query letter. I honestly didn’t know how to write one. I had to research and research this on the internet, through the writer’s digest magazine, even thumbed through several books on ‘how to get published’.

Until one day, I had stumbled upon a blog that proved most helpful in every way. Jane Friedman, a publishing consultant, with many years of experience, had written a ‘Complete Guide To Query Letters…’ After scrolling through this post, I finally had the understanding of how my query letter should read. It clicked. The part about her ‘Hook Instruction’ was proved most helpful to me. After having a few people read my query letter, it seems that’s what it lacked, a hook.

Now it’s time for me to go re-type my query letter, though with motivation and determination that I will have the perfect one written and sent out to all those agents I’ve picked to query.

Be sure to check our Jane Friedman’s post about, ‘The Complete Guide To Query Letters That Get Manuscript Requests’. Also scroll through her other posts, you’ll find them all very helpful.

Happy writing!

More Snow and Another Snowman


My daughter and I have only been to school one day within these past two weeks. It continues to snow, or we receive more freezing rain, or it melts then freezes, making the roads slick, to which all school close for the day. Either way, I’m getting further behind in my classes due to there not being any…classes. Plus, it’s hard to get any homework done with my daughter at home. I mostly get it finished when I’m at school, sitting in the library, where I can sit in a quiet spot and work.

It isn’t easy being a single mom and a college student at the same time, especially during the winter. There’s only so much whining to go outside and play in the snow that a mom can take before she gives in. I’m trying to be the model college student and work on my research papers and other homework assignments, yet my inner child is screaming at me to listen to my daughter and go build a snowman.

Of course I couldn’t say no to that! My inner child jumps for joy and my daughter does the same. She rushes around the house looking for her hat, gloves, and shoes with all the excitement of a five year old. I proceed to change out of my pj’s and into some jeans.

Of course it was still snowing when we walked outside. It was also mushy and melting, though relatively slowly. Guess it was too warm for it to actually snow, yet it was still coming down.

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I was surprised to find that this round of snowfall was easy to work with and it didn’t take much effort for us to build a snowman. I showed her how to roll a small snowball around in the snow, allowing it to grow bigger and bigger until we had the size we needed for the bottom half of the snowman. After we had the middle portion and then the head placed into it’s proper spots, she found a stick that was then used for arms and a mouth. I found a rotten pecan that I busted open, placing the two halves as eyes, and the pecan as a nose.

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We stood back and looked at it. It was almost as tall as she was.

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Winter Fever, Cabin Blues…


Or is it ‘Cabin Fever, Winter Blues’?

Either way, it’s another fine winter day, stuck indoors. I’m actually being a bit sardonic, but who wouldn’t be unless you could be outside enjoying the weather. Though there aren’t any slopes here for me to grab my snowboard and head out to. Nor is the ground covered in snow, for mini me to go sledding. Instead, the ground is covered in ice that has been melted and frozen, again, and again, over the past few days. Today, our forecast called for a snow and rain mix, which didn’t began falling until late morning. It just made everything that much more slippery. I decided to stay home with my daughter, since I have to drive North where the roads would be much slicker.

Though I have driven in wintry conditions, it is very different here in Arkansas, especially when you’re surrounded by drivers who cannot drive on ice and/or snow. Some cannot even drive when it’s raining, so I find it best to stay clear by staying home. My daughter finds serenity in watching the snow fall. We have a large picture window in the living room with a wide window sill for her to lean on and to also give her plenty of space to play with her toys.

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On days like this, I find myself in the office, on the computer, trying to finish up homework, or work on the next research paper for a class or two, or do a bit of writing. I think if I redecorated this office, it would have more of a calm, soothing atmosphere where I can be more creative. I think it’s the only room that still has the fake wood paneling from the 1960’s, covering it’s walls. Plus, the photos that cover the wall space above grandpa’s desk are decades old and could be upgraded.

I think I may have found my next summer project…to redecorate and rearrange the office.

I mostly find my creative energy in a mixture of places, such as, bookstores, coffee shops, libraries, front porch. Sometimes, the recliner in the living room, next to our picture window is a perfect spot for writing, especially on days like today. Anywhere my mind can roam freely.

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Lately, I’ve been spending most of that free time between classes, in my college library. Just yesterday, I had my headphones on, music going, and I was able to finally finish editing chapter one of my young adult novel. This is the same novel I had tried querying agents last summer for, but without success. It’s a tough job, being an author. Tough market, actually. Some of them were very close in saying yes, adding tidbits of helpful info that would make the next round of querying a bit more successful.

So, I began working on it….again.

There was originally a prologue, but I had cut it out entirely. Now, I added it back into the novel, but instead of it being a prologue, I made it the beginning of chapter one’s story line. I then moved some of chapter three into chapter one, so the next on my to-do-list is to edit chapter three.

I’m coming up on 60K words total…on the manuscript that is. I’m going to make that a goal that I must achieve. Once that’s done, I am finished…I hope, cross my fingers and knock on wood. I’m looking forward to seeing it finalized once more and also hope that I can send it off to the publisher very soon. I think I’ll try querying agents again, if not, I know a few small publishers that wouldn’t mind publishing it for me.

Finally, she built a snowman


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This week, the weather has been rather crappy. We rarely get a good snow fall here in the southern part of Arkansas, so when it does snow I get as excited as my daughter does and we head outside to play. What we usually get almost every winter, is sleet and freezing rain, which leads to icy covered roads. Which also leads to people driving around like crazy trying to buy up all the bread and milk in every store. Twice, I almost got ran into from people driving erratically and the storm had not even arrived yet.

I had prepared for being kept indoors by stocking up our cabinets and freezers. So, if we don’t leave the house for several weeks, we’re good. If the electric goes out, that’s fine too, as I have a small charcoal grill and plenty of batteries, flashlights, and lanterns.

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A few years ago, or was it last year, a horrible snow storm hit us, knocking out our power. Then our giant Magnolia tree in our front yard was weighed down from all the ice and snow that it split in two; one giant limb covered the drive way, thankfully missing my car, and the other giant limb fell onto the wheelchair ramp, which blocked any method of getting the cars out. Our wonderful neighbors showed up with chainsaws and a few friends brought their trucks over and we all took care of our poor tree.

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Tuesday, it had snowed a few inches, that Wednesday morning my daughter and I went outside to play. I helped her build a snowman, as she’s been aching to do. I watched her run around the backyard, then watch her as she tossed a few handfuls of snow at me. Then after thirty minutes had elapsed we went back inside and proceeded to watch everything melt from our picture window in the living room. It was a great day and most of the snow and ice has melted away. Just in time too, as we’re to get another round of freezing rain tonight and tomorrow. Fun!

For now, it’s catch up time on homework, research papers, and novel edits.

Stay warm all!

Good-bye, Flu!


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I’m not a fan of head colds. I don’t think anyone is. I’m especially not fond of the flu either. I’m particularly not a fan of any kind of sickness that my daughter gets. Even though my daughter and I got our flu shots, we weren’t protected against the strand that was going around after the flu shot mixture was sent out to the medical facilities. At first I was the one that had caught the flu. I thought it was just a normal cold – stuffiness and congestion, but I also had the chills to go along with it. I went to the VA in hopes of getting some nasal decongestant. Yet after running through my reasons for being there the nurse decided to swab my throat and nose for the flu, as a precaution. Then I had to dawn a lovely mask that had everyone staring at me as if I grew a third eye.

I didn’t have time to sit and wait for the results, so I decided to pick up my mini me and head home. For those that aren’t familiar with how the VA runs, a trip to the ER or making a doctor’s appointment is an all day adventure, without the fun of course. I didn’t step two feet in the door before the phone began ringing – test results are back, I have the flu.

Ugh!

Now to get my dad to pick up the meds for me as I wasn’t up to driving back to Little Rock…I started feeling a little more worse-for-wear, though I didn’t start the day feeling that great to begin with.

What’s worse is that if I had a sniffle of any kind, I couldn’t go into work. But I didn’t just have a sniffle, I had the flu. Quite upsetting as I love my job, working with the large primates at the zoo. Plus, I had to miss my classes, which was going to put me behind, especially if I miss lectures. After a week of feeling the utmost crappiest I’ve ever felt, my daughter comes down with the flu. After a phone call to her doctor, a trip to the ER, and several days in bed, she’s finally feeling much better.

With all that said, I’m playing catch up with schoolwork, all the while praying my grams doesn’t get the flu next.