Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Birthday!!!

I woke up to several text and Facebook messages, voicemail, and a cat all wishing me a happy birthday (well okay maybe not the cat).  I walked onto my floor and was blocked from my office because people were in there making mischief.  One of my faculty dropped off a present of my favorite drink, my sister – in cahoots with my daughter – decorated my office with balloons and stuff on my wall and computer screens. 

Through my day I’ve gotten emails from all sorts of people – some I’ve not heard from in a while – wishing me happy birthday and checking in.  People stopped in to my office and wished me the same. 

Once I got home, I answered a ton of emails, worked on homework, and finished crocheting Vicki’s wrap.  Vicki made me a wonderful meal.  Virginia and Stephanie shipped my gift to me so I got a connection with them today too.  Stephanie made me some beautiful place mats that will coordinate well with the new curtains in the kitchen.  I can’t wait to see them on the table.  Virginia made me a hand-made card which I opened and attempted to avoid the glitter.  I loved it.  It is not in my journal as that is where I keep my keepsakes like that. 

On one hand it is a bit odd that all these people are wishing me happy birthday.  I’m not used to so much attention.  On the other hand it is wonderful to hear from them and know that they care enough to send a message.

I didn’t do anything astounding today – just the normal.  I went to work, class, and came home.  Yet I had a great day with all the well wishes.  It is nice to know that people care and are willing to show it.  I’m grateful for all the fun I had today and all the love that was shown today.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Birthday soon...

Most years I don’t have a problem with turning another year older.  It is just another day.  This year though I’ve had a few reminders that I am old – or at least that is how some people see me.

I was talking to a girl in class today and realized that all of my daughters are likely older than most of the students in the class.  This girl asked me how old my daughters were.  When I answered a girl across the room jaw dropped.  I don’t know if she thought people old enough to have adult children actually came back to school or if she thought I didn’t look old enough to have kids that age.  I’m going with the latter because it makes me feel better. 

In class we are reading all these stories and I am noticing a definite difference in attitude towards writing and characters in the younger people in the class.  I definitely have a different set of reference points.  Their idea of funny is the Simpsons and South Park.  My idea of funny is Lucille Ball, Bill Cosby, and Bob Hope.  Okay and you could probably throw in the Stooges, Abbott and Costello, and the Marx brothers but to be fair – they are getting a bit to slap stick for my tastes.

Sometimes I feel like I have a neon sign over my head saying OLD PERSON.  I’m normally okay with that because I’ve earned my status – I’ve lived my life, my way for the most part. 

Every year I write in my birthday journal around my birthday.  Some years I struggle with what to write about.  This year I won’t.  I have a pretty clear idea of how I want to talk about attitudes towards age.  It should be interesting… at least to me…

Wednesday is my birthday.  I’ll be 12 or 48 depending on how you look at it.  It will mark the 12th time I’ve had an actual birthday and me being on this earth 48 years.  I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about it.  I’m not depressed because I’m older (not my style at all).  I’m also not excited about it.  It is just another day – mostly...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Schedule

This semester has been kicking my butt.  I’ve whined here on my blog and in real life about how tired I am.  My classes are good.  I’m enjoying the challenge of them.  The schedule is just beating me up.  Monday I am at work by 7:45 am and I am in class until 8:45 pm.  This means my day typically lasts from 6:00 am to about 12:00 am. 

Every week I’ve struggled going to work on Tuesday and feeling like I’m the walking dead.  By Wednesday evening I’m ready for the week to be done.  It has been exhausting.  This is the first week I’ve not felt completely wiped out.  It’s only taken six weeks and it might just be a fluke.  I’ll have to see how next week goes.

My classes are better this semester.  I’m not doing as much writing as I would like but I think I could have a writing assignment every day and still want more.  My Book Editing class is great.  I’m learning a lot about the publishing process.  I did an interview with Barbara Ardinger (great author and editor) to discuss why she switched from traditional publishers to self-publishing.  I’ll be turning that assignment in soon.  You should check out Barbara’s books – they are wonderful!

With the work from my editing business I’m starting to get and all the other things in my life, I’m lucky to get to bed before midnight.  How sad is it that I consider 11 pm an early night?  I am excited to have five hours of sleep a night.

While my schedule is kicking my butt, I’m still loving what I’m doing.  I am enjoying the challenge of my classes.  I’m content at my day job.  I’m thrilled to be making money with my new business.  I just have to find time to write.  I still manage to do some submissions but at some point I need to finish some projects.  If only I could figure out a way to not sleep I could do more.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Slip and Fall

Last night we had a wonderful time at the Chancellor’s house for dinner.  It was great to meet people I didn’t know and to get a nice meal.  We sat around talking about almost everything.  I was amused at one point in the conversation when two men (husbands of two in the conversation) were talking about how good it was women here in the states had the choice to have children and a career.  The three women in the conversation were all like yeah but not always and not really.  I could see the women wanted to argue about it but we were all trying to be polite.  It was stimulating conversation and a pleasant evening. 

However, it was also a tough night for my knees because we did a lot of standing around.  When we left I asked Ken to drive as my knees were bugging me.  This was my downfall.  We got home and he stopped to let me out before he pulled in the garage.  There are several factors leading to us not being able to park in the garage and have the passenger get out.  We have too much crap in our garage – it is a project and we are working on it.  We have a minivan which is bigger than cars and the garage was built before mini vans.  We have a car in the other half of the garage.  All of this led to Ken stopping just outside the garage to let me out.

I was careful as the ground was wet.  Put one foot down and it was fine.  Got out of the van, shut the door, took one step and bam down on my right knee and hand.  Ken was baffled why I fell until he got to my side of the van and realized there was a patch of ice about four foot square.  It would have been funny to watch me trying to get up on the ice.  Eventually I slid down the drive until I got to just wet pavement then hoisted my bum up off the ground.  I stepped over on the grass.  Ken hurriedly scattered salt on the icy patch and then held out his hand so I could step from grass onto dry pavement. 

Hurt like hell!!!  Ken took good care of me though.  I got to my recliner and got my leg up.  He brought me an ice pack and glass of water.  I spent three hours with the ice pack on.

Today – well I hurt everywhere.  However, I think the knee is in better shape than if I hadn’t iced it.  I did manage to make it to work.  Vicki helped by crawling out of bed long enough to make my lunch.  Alicia rode to work with me today just in case the sidewalks here were slippery.  She also helped me get down to the lunch room.  My student workers – Danielle and Gail – fetched for me.  They got me water and took care of all the things requiring legs. 

Even though I splatted last night – I want to say thank you to everyone who helped and offered up concern today.  I’m sure I’ll be sore for a few days but I’ll live…

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Good Things!

The transcription job went well and I’ve been asked to do more.  This is wonderful.  I also got a new inquiry for what sounds like a very interesting job.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get that job as well.  It might be longer term and a good bit of money. 

I did have one concern because it is for the university I work for.  I asked my boss about it but she said it isn’t in my job description to do what they are asking so I can do it as a consulting job with no qualms about crossing any lines.

In other news – (that sounds so official) I got two of the required classes waived.  After talking to one of my professors, I realized two of my classes I’d already done the work for them in my work, education, and writing life.  I sent along a professional, detailed letter to the chair of our department.  I got notified today that she will be waiving the two classes I wanted waived!  This means I can either finish a semester earlier or I can take two additional classes that might get me further in my goals.

My new blog got published today again.  Check it out.  There are some great pictures there.  I’m really proud of this blog and the pictures.  Okay I know they aren’t professional looking pictures but I took them and for the most part they look really good.  http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/green-gardening/gardening-with-a-black-thumb-how-to-arrange-silk-flowers.aspx

It has been a bonus day!

Shout out to all my international readers – Germany beat out even my US readers so guten Abend and danke (that is probably the most I remember from my failed attempt at learning German – i.e. 1 semester of college German)  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tired

Yesterday I visited with Laura.  It was a great time with us just talking and spending time together.  I really needed to unwind and have conversation.  Even when we don’t agree we do it in a good way.  She is mad at me because today the plan was for me to go see One for the Money – which I did.  Laura – take your honey and go see the movie.  It is worth the tickets price – captured all the good things in the book. 

Laura asked me a question yesterday that had been on my mind for a while.  She asked if I get tired of all the political stuff.  The answer is easy.  Absolutely.  Here are a few of the things I’m tired of. 

I’m tired of having to fight for rights that women should already have.  I’m tired of fighting for the people who have nothing but can’t be heard because they can’t pay for the $5000 a plate dinner.  I’m tired of having to read and research and analyze all sorts of information in order to see what mayhem the politicians are up to yet again.  I’m tired of feeling betrayed by my elected officials – like the governor, senators, representatives – almost all of them.  I’m tired of signing petitions to stop things that have no affect on my elected officials.  I’m damn tired of my elected officials not representing me or my beliefs but following their own agenda and pocketbook.

Yeah – I’m tired but what do I stop doing?  Who do I stop trying to stand up for?  Women?  Children?  The poor?  It would be nice if the politicians (doesn’t matter what party) would listen to me and all their other constituents. 

As a parent, I’ve always been told to pick my battles.  I guess I’m picking my battles now but to be honest there are so many right now that it is exhausting.  What the hell… I don’t need to sleep but women need birth control and the right to make decisions about their own bodies.  Children need education, protection from being forced to work, food, and so much more.  The poor need education and a helping hand.  Someone has to speak up for them and fight to protect them. 

If my voice can be heard through a phone message, email, letter, petition, or any other way, then I’ll take being tired.  Will you?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Midweek...

Are you sure today can’t be Friday?  I’m wiped out.  Part of it is my fault and part of it is my schedule.  I’ve got a lot on my plate this week with school, homework, work, and a side job.  Tonight is clean up night for the work week.  I’m hoping to get the paper due on Friday turned in and the side job done so I can move on to my weekend homework. 

My new blog is out there so go check it out.  Silk flowers – Vicki’s idea totally – are pretty fun and creative.  http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/green-gardening/gardening-with-a-black-thumb-silk-flower-arrangements.aspx

At work I accomplished a lot.  Many tasks flew off my desk.  This is good because I have two or three big projects I want to move forward with.  I actually made it to working on one today.  I’m working on revamping the web page for our department.  I gather the information and then present it to the department.  Then the department makes decisions on what goes in.  I have to just put it in terms they understand.  I hope I’m getting it there for them. 

To me the web site is a window for the world to see what our department has to offer.  I want everyone to know how good it is and what great people are in the department.  The challenge will be in presenting the complex material in such a way that it is user friendly while still conveying the complex issues and information that has to be conveyed.  I’m excited to move forward with it.  I can’t wait to help write, edit, and design the pages.  (Yup there is that word geek again… LOL).

Tomorrow I tackle a summary on the copier options we have.  Another situation with lots of information, and I have boil it down to advantages and disadvantages.  I’ve been stewing on it.  That sounds like I’m grumpy about it but I’m not.  I have to take in the information and let it rattle around for a bit before I can gather it all into one place.  My goal is to have a summary I can present for the meeting on Monday – I’ll probably write something tomorrow and then re-write it on Friday. 

On Monday, I had a wonderful meeting with my professor.  We talked about the project we have to work on all semester.  I’ve done a bunch of research – some is new and some has been done for Moon Affirmations (the manuscript I just keep trying to get published).  We talked about marketing strategies, targeted audiences, and so much more.  I felt like I was taking a step back from the love I have for this project into a very practical and helpful review of what I need to think about as I try to get a publisher to actually accept the project and see it through.  Now all I need is TIME so I can put the package together that I see in my head and send that off to a publisher (or 10) to see if they will bite.

We also talked about other things like the classes I have to take and the degree.  I really enjoyed this because I’ve not been thrilled with my advisor as I felt like she didn’t understand what I was looking for.  I requested that my professor be my advisor and that request was granted!!!

After our conversation I got to thinking about a couple of the classes and how I’ve already done what will be taught in them.  I’m totally not a traditional student.  I have a ton of life experience (and am looking forward to more)  So I put in a request to the chair to see if I could get a couple classes waived and take different ones.  I’d rather take classes that are actually going to benefit my writing skills and advance my knowledge in this field rather than taking classes that would just be refresher courses in areas I’m already strong in.  I’ll see what she says…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Done... mostly

Well I had a lot on my to do list and most of it is done or at least in a better place than I was on Friday.  Alex’s 30th birthday party was yesterday and I think we had a good time with everyone who showed up.  At one point we were segregated by gender which I found amusing – no matter how far we progress we still can’t get away from the stereotypes.

My paper which is due on Friday is going – I think I have a good rough draft for it.  Tomorrow instead of book editing class I have a meeting with the professor to discuss the project.  I’ll have to see how that goes.  I’ll be interested to hear what she has to say about my stuff so far.

For fiction writing I managed to get all the stuff done that needs to be done for tomorrow but I need to take some time to review the critiques I got from both the professor and the other students.  At least I think I should – though part of me thinks I should just write the story the way I wanted to in the first place.  I think if I hadn’t edited it down for a publication requirement it would be a stronger story.  Anyways I need time to do this – now it is just a matter of finding the time.

I also got a side job of transcribing.  I worked on that this weekend too.  I still have about 9 minutes left to do.  This has to be done before Friday.  I have a few things due all at once – isn’t that how it usually goes?

Here it is almost midnight on a Sunday night and I’m still up.  Vicki was a sweetheart and packed up my lunch/supper for me tonight – it is waiting in the fridge and on the counter so all I have to do in the morning is grab it – thank goodness.  One more thing after this blog posting and then I’m off to bed with things mostly done that I needed to get done… mostly…

Tax Time

It is tax time again.  I’ve already done three people’s taxes.  I think I have two more to go.  It is always an interesting time of year.  People grumble about having to do taxes and/or pay taxes but oddly enough I don’t mind doing them. 

Okay so this year I’m super busy but still I’ve managed to get in and do them. I discovered this year that you can go to www.irs.gov and fill out your forms online and efile without there being a charge.  This is great for those people who know how to do taxes.

Most of the vendors who assist with taxes – H&R Block, Tax Act, Turbo Tax – all charge.  In some cases they charge a lot of money.  With the federal government getting on board with the online efile you are able to have the instructions open and the forms open and work on your taxes.  Or if you’re a paper and pencil type person you can print out the form – work on the taxes but still go back to the efile and enter the numbers in to the forms.  Then file electronically to get your refund (hopefully) faster. 

In Wisconsin, the department of Revenue also has free efile.  So you can go on the site (I always search for WI Dept of Revenue) and go to their site.  Look for efile and it will be a matter of just filling in the correct information. 

Again with this, you can go online and print out the forms first if you are more comfortable working with paper.  Then go back in and enter the information for electronic filing. 

What is the point of electronic filing?  That’s easy – it is faster.  I don’t have to mail it in and wait.  They get it today and I get a payment in about two weeks.  With direct deposit I don’t even have to go to the bank – I can just watch for it in my account.

My own taxes are done but I have two more people to help with filing. I didn’t find out about the free efile on the irs site until after I  was done with my taxes.  This year I ended up paying $15 for my federal taxes to be done.  I won’t be doing that again.  I’ll use as many of the free services as I can from now on.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weather

Welcome back to the winter waddle!! 

We’ve had a very mild winter with little snow and temperatures more like late fall / early spring than winter.  Today we have snow.  It was supposed to be flurries – i.e. a few flakes whipping around.  Instead we’ve had a steady snowfall smearing the landscape with white instead of brown and lower temps.  The weather person threatens cold temperatures for the weekend.  You know like winter is supposed to be.

Now I only like winter when I can enjoy it sitting by my fireplace.  I’m the first one to say it is too cold or too long.  I’ve been listening all summer to people raving about how nice it is and how we are having this great winter.

Their tune changed today though.  Now it is awful that it will be cold and the storms are horrible.  Yup, it is awful because it is WINTER!!!  Be happy we didn’t have crappy weather from October on.  We have had winter start early and stay late.  This year we’ve had phenomenally good weather.

This blip is just Mother Nature’s way of reminding us that WINTER is here.  She just hasn’t punished us with a wicked and wild winter.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Critique

My critique in Fiction Writing went well.  I got a lot of information I could use and some that I couldn’t – or maybe more to the point won’t use.  It was an interesting experience to hear what people thought and how they reacted to my characters and plot. 

I looked on this as a focus group as some of the people said they read a lot of science fiction.  From them I got useful fixes that will make the story stronger.  It was wonderful to hear what worked and didn’t work for these readers.

I always wanted the story to be longer – maybe not novel length but definitely longer.  The pace of the part of it was too face for most of the readers.  I wonder if part of the problem is they don’t understand the mob mentality that is part of this story.  However, if they don’t then don’t I as the writer need to explain it? 

I’m excited to revise and work on this story – I just need to find the time to do it.  The experience of the critique wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  There was a point where suggestions were made to drastically change the story which I didn’t like – it isn’t part of the story I’m telling.  At least the readers liked it enough to offer them though. 

Overall a good experience and I wish I could have more but I think we will just get one per semester.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bio

Quick in 50 words or less tell me everything you want me to know about you.  Can’t do it?  Is this tough?  Many publications request some sort bio on the author.  It is hard to know what to say and how personal to be. 

Do you talk about your family?  Do you talk about your hobbies?  What do you say about your writing?  This is an area I struggle with.  Even though I’m an author which essentially puts me out there for a lot of scrutiny I don’t necessarily want the world to know everything about me.  I value my privacy. 

Some of my writing is very personal and spiritual.  However, that is only one aspect of my life.  Most of my writing is fictional so the reader doesn’t really get a sense of who I am.  In 50 words or less who am I?

Check It Out

I’m really enjoying finding ways to talk about “gardening” without killing plants for my new blog.  This week I talk about Rock Gardens – check it out….

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Vulgarity

When is it okay in writing to use swear words and offensive language?  I’m not sure I have an answer to this.  I do like a good cuss word.  I like the humorous ones where the person has been particularly inventive.  I like the scene and time appropriate ones. 

However, I just read a short story to critique for my Fiction Writing class.  The author used a lot of swear words and offensive language in the story.  First I felt that it was more for affect than for advancing the story.  It seemed contrived and forced in order to evoke a dislike for a character that didn’t need to be disliked. 

Is it okay to use words like faggot, queer, cunt, whore and so on?  I think it is if you are using them in the right way.  Authors have to remember that these words create a visceral response in most readers so they need to be used cautiously.  They generate a response and you don’t want the response to be too negative. 

I know that boys talk smack to each other but at the same time are readers going to be receptive to it.  In a story about boys of a certain age, you are going to have some of this derogatory language.  As you tell the story though there are mechanisms that can be used instead of the actual words in order to get the point across.

As I read this story, I found myself going between annoyed by his repetition of the vulgarity (very offensive) and his lack of inventiveness to tell the story.  Now I have to write a critique and try to be gentle when I tell him the words were ineffective and in all likelihood lost the audience.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hardship!?!

My assignment for Book Editing class is to go to a book store and search online to find out how books are marketed, to search out a niche for a book, and gather market information on that niche.  It will be a hardship but I will be going to a bookstore today.  Since it is such a stressful assignment Vicki and Beth have volunteered to accompany me to make sure I don’t become overwhelmed.   J

In all seriousness, I’m excited to do this as I think it will be a good way for me to consider market research as part of the books I am writing and hopefully promoting.  Going to a bookstore is never a bad thing and seeking out how I might promote one of my books and where it might get placed in a bookstore is a good thing.

I’m going to focus on marketing my Moon Affirmations book.  I will be self-publishing this soon I think.  It will be good to make sure the market research I’ve already done hasn’t changed much.  It will also be good for me to develop some sales tools for when it is published.  It might work nicely for developing a web site or other avenues of promotion.

Days Fly By

It's only October and my life is speeding up.  My weekends are full and busy.  I need a vacation but won't be getting any for the re...