Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Well, 2016 was looking pretty grim overall and it looks like it’ll be ending with a lot of stress being brought on by the presidential election, school, and life–of course. But you know what? Everything is okay and there were a lot of blessings this year, too.

Life is good.

May you recognize all the things you have to be thankful for! Even if it’s just the device you’re using to read this on right now.

-E

 

Life Update #2: Helicopter Cemeteries & Computer Screens

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My bird-chasing sidekick, Lana.

It’s been about six months since I first posted on WP so, why not bore you with a life update? It’s been nine months since I moved to Hawaii and started my career in publishing, 10 months since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, and 4 weeks since I started grad school. That’s pretty much my life right now: work, school, family things. It’s been 7 months since I adopted a dog at the shelter in Honolulu. I never thought that I’d be a dog person but, I’m really enjoying having this creature follow me around everywhere. Every few days I walk my dog through the manicured, identical housing complexes of a military post, past a field where they keep retired helicopters. This is how I get my fresh air! It’s also time to detach from real life and a way I find a little peace.

I work mostly in front of a computer screen now, for both school and work. There are days where I’m at my computer for 10 hours straight. My days start at 7 AM and if I’m lucky, they end at 11 PM and I get to do something that I want to do. My current guilty pleasure is The Dead Files and just about anything that plays on InvestigationID. I also make time to read. A few days out of the month I drive an hour to work so I make time to listen to audio books, too.

If you’re thinking about going to George Washington University for your graduate degree in publishing, well, I’ve got a few things to say to you. That whole, “it’s a part-time degree so you can work full-time” stuff is total bogus. You’ll be tethered to your class and textbook all day regardless, but you’ll have a cohort to stress out with. The whole, “it’s a great school and the online programs are really good” stuff is totally true, though. I honestly thought it was going to suck because I’ve taken online programs before and it was all independent work. My GWU experience has been completely different and great so far.

Yes. Things are pretty routine now but I can’t complain. I’m really looking forward to Halloween! Another thing that has been in the back of my mind: how to help people through my chosen profession. I get a lot of satisfaction from what I do now, don’t get me wrong. I just wish that I could do more good in the world. You know, play a larger role in making things better. I’m still mulling over how and if you have any suggestions, I’m all ears.  It’ll come to me eventually–I hope.

Hope that was boring as hell for you because it was for me.

-E

Living on Oahu, Hawaii and I Don’t Like the Beach

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Since I’ve moved to Hawaii  I always seem to get the same, “Do you love it there? I bet it’s amazing!” reaction. And  it’s usually from friends/family that have scrolled through their Instagram or Pinterest feeds and see nothing but glamorous, Photoshopped pictures of palm trees and aqua water.  When all you see are those types of pictures, how can you not assume that I’ve I won the lottery to an island paradise, right? But let’s be honest for a second. Every place has good and bad and “paradise” is relative.

Your paradise might be a Hawaiian beach but my paradise is actually sitting in a fancy, skyrise above the world. I also grew up in San Diego so maybe it’s just been easy for me to take the beach for granted; it’s been kind of a “been there done that” deal for me.  I’ve just never been a beach person to be truthful but you’ll still catch me at the beach anyway, sitting there awkwardly under the sun, and unsure what I’m doing there or how I got there. Everyone loves a good sport and I’ve had to be on many occasions. Is it really that strange though? I can’t be alone on this.

So, besides the nice beaches, here’s what I’ve found on the island of Oahu.

  • It rains and it gets cold so the idea that you don’t need a jacket on the island is a complete lie! The problem is it’s impossible to predict when you’ll need a light jacket or hoodie so it’s smart to have one tucked away in your car, just in case. I learned this the hard way.
  • Ever wonder how SPAM has managed to stay in businessCalabash_SPAM all this time? It’s probably because of Hawaii. You can get Spam, Portuguese sausage, rice, eggs, taro pie, and saimen noodles, at the local McDonald’s. Check out the menu at my local McDonald’s in Wahiawa.  The locals love Spam so much that there’s even a Spam Jam in Waikiki every year!  I can’t say anything, I love Spam musubi! The first week that I got here I swear I ate it everyday. If you find one locally made by Mr. Musubi, buy it, eat it, love it!
  •  Traffic in Honolulu and Waikiki sucks and starts around 4 PM. There’s also this weird period around lunch where cars stockpile on the roads. How you have enough time to hop in your car and get lunch on a lunch break in Honolulu traffic is a mystery to me.
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    Two homeless guys camping out at Iolani Palace.

    There are a lot of homeless people roaming around even with Hawaii’s 3% unemployment rate. They’re everywhere! Be careful around banyan trees and parks because you might be disturbing someone’s home.

  • There’s a rich immersion of Asian culture on the island. You’ll  probably see more Japanese tourists around than Hawaiian locals. There’s a huge Asian presence in Hawaii: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese.  What does this mean? You get to partake in all their public events, duh silly!
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    Japanese dancers performing at the 2016 Honolulu Festival.

    The picture on my homepage was actually taken at the 2016 Lantern Floating, in Honolulu. This Japanese tradition to honor loved ones who have passed on was beautiful! I’m pretty lucky to have been able to go. There’s also the Chinese New Year festival in China Town every year. Yes, I bought my typical “touristy” things this year: a lucky waving cat, a marionette dragon puppet, and a Year of the Monkey shirt.

  • There’s a strong holistic community out here. Reiki masters, people who collect crystals and study the supernatural, groups that focus on dreams and visions, you name it.
  • Island time is a real thing! The locals have no problem reminding you, too. As the bumper sticker goes: slow down! This isn’t the mainland!
  • Haole (how-lee) Hate is a real thing? I hear from friends that they’ve had problems with some of the locals but to be honest, I haven’t experienced it personally yet. I’ve met rude locals but, really, there are rude and crazy people everywhere! There are racists everywhere, too. Every group has another group that hates their guts; it’s just a fact of being human.

I say, if you love the sun and the outdoors, you’ll love Hawaii. You can easily go paddle boarding, surfing, diving, spear fishing, hiking, or swimming. You can visit historical sites, rent scooters, ride ATVs or horses at a ranch. Just remember, it’s not all about the beaches. There are other things to do if you’re like me and don’t really care for the beach. Sure, it’s hard to avoid when Oahu is just one huge beach, but there are things at the beaches here that you won’t see on the mainland. So even if you’re not a beach lover, check them out anyway. There’s big night life in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, plenty of shopping, and historical places to visit. The only palace in the U.S. actually exists right on Oahu. There’s also the Dole Plantation that’s not near the beach or the Polynesian Cultural Center.  If you like art, my favorite place to go is the Honolulu Museum of Art. If it were closer to where I live, I’d definitely join as a member and go more often.

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Turtle Beach, Oahu

 

 

Check out this turtle just hanging out in North Shore. I was at the beach in Waikiki a few weekends ago and saw Angel fish just swimming around us.

If you visit Oahu and find you still don’t know what the heck you should do on the island, check out Honolulu Magazine’s newcomer’s guide.

So far, it’s been cool living in Hawaii and I can’t wait to see where I end up next.

-E

 

Photo credit: all photos are mine except for the Spam can!

Dear English Major

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Recently,  I was asked what advice I could provide for prospective graduating English majors. If you pick up a brochure from a university in Connecticut, you may see that I am the first name listed there. Though I wanted to be helpful, this subject always brings up mixed feelings for me. This subject brings on a certain sadness in me and not because there is a certain sadness about the subject itself, but because I know what it means to pick this particular major out of many. I hit the after-graduation wall, too, and I know I’m not alone. It was tough and it’s still tough.

It wasn’t event until a month ago,  on a trip to Asia when I found out that my cousin has decided to major in English as well, that I was prompted to write something truly honest about it. Though I know that every degree holds their own strengths, weaknesses, and stereotypes, this message is for my fellow English majors.

Dear prospective English major graduate,

Foremost, I want to congratulate you on finding the direction you want to take your life and career because knowing what the heck you want to do with your life is half the battle. If you really don’t know what you want to do after college, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate your motives for getting your degree. If you’re looking for easy money, save yourself the time and abort your plans to major in English–quick, fast, and in a hurry! Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Get out now before you have to face the storm that’s coming: your education wasn’t free and collectors are coming. Worse, you’ve given up years of your life; you can make more money but you can’t make more time. You have other options besides college: join the work force, take a vacation, enter the military, run off with the Peace Corps, but if you don’t love English by now and have no goal-oriented plans on how to productively use it after graduation, don’t bother. 

Many people won’t consider taking the risk or challenge of majoring in English simply because it has no obvious career direction–except for teaching. Understandable. The sooner you get your head out of that book and learn early that a degree is only as valuable as the person holding it and the economy it will serve, the better you’ll be.  You cannot ride to glory on your hopes, list of books you love, or the manuscripts you plan on working on. In college you will be injected with an unrealistic enthusiasm by your peers and professors that could get you hurt. A college degree will not save someone who is  unwilling to put in hard work or take humble positions starting out. It also won’t magically provide you with the amazing job that you’re hoping for if the company hiring for it doesn’t exist or you can’t convince them that you have the experience to compliment your degree.  Who knows, maybe you’re that anomaly who ends up making $100k a year on a fresh bachelors, but for now, just consider what I have to say.  

On your journey toward graduation you will be accused of not being as important as a math or science major. Others will even chastise you for deciding to major in English so it’s imperative that during your freshman year–or as soon as possible– you a have a comeback for when the volleys of negativity come launching toward your head. If you don’t, the stigma that you and your major are worthless will continue to exist. Unfortunately, telling everyone to screw or mind their own business won’t be good enough as these criticisms will most likely come from friends and family first. Having a plan for your degree that you can verbalize to others doesn’t just clarify which goals you need to set, it also keeps your friends and family from just assuming you’re going to be a writer or an English teacher. Let’s face it, sure some will end up as English teachers but many English grads will land positions that being an English major indirectly prepared them for. Skills in research, grant writing, analytical thinking, creativity, and effective communication make English majors great candidates for non-profit work, advertising, management, communications, social media, or even a degree in law. Have a plan that’s broken down by accomplishable goals and time frames!

Here’s something I wish someone had told me before graduation: You don’t have to wait until after graduation to start writing your novel, tutoring, proofreading, editing, or freelancing for money. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be ready to find a job that pays in your field after graduation. In fact, I can almost guarantee that there’s a math major on your campus right now who hates editing! Find him or her and make your money! And don’t take your analytical and grammar classes lightly because this will be a source of extra income later on. In the real world, they may even prove more useful than your literary courses. Learning to edit, proofread, communicate with words, and think critically will also be how you can add value to any business and industry. They may not care about a feminist reading of Grendel’s mother but they will care how you can better their means of communication to the outside world. Let go of the Netflix binges and build your resume before graduation even if that means having to volunteer your free time. It sucks. We all want to be fairly compensated but it’s better to say that you contributed your time to something meaningful than not after graduation. Plus, you’ll learn things and network. 

On the subject of adding value to the work force, minor in something that is useful. As I’ve told my college buddies time and time again, don’t minor in creative writing. In the end, you can always prove that you can write well but after graduation it’ll be harder to prove that you have other skills outside of the realm of English. If you’re a “good” and “smart” student you’ll have published work from your university’s publications and hold excellent writing samples to show to your prospective employers. People can turn their noses up at the school newspaper if they want to, but it’ll never be easier to get work published. If you’re a really smart English major, you’ll minor in something like science so you can get paid well to write and edit for science journals. Minor in computer arts so that you can make beautiful websites, marketing material, and advertisements for people. Minoring also gives you the ability to talk about something that isn’t literature. You can be an English major and be as technical or creative as you want to be. Here’s the reality: not everyone loves Jane Austin or Proust, or whoever you have up your literary sleeve. You need to find a way to connect with people outside of your major and bring value to others or finding a job after graduation will be difficult. 

Remember, whatever you decide to do with your degree is all up to you.  

Best of luck,

E

 

 

Advice For Writers or What I Wish Writers Knew

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I have been asked a few times what my personal advice is to writers. I’m sure a lot of this will be redundant to writers who have been writing for some time, but, that’s probably because it’s good advice.

Here goes:

  1. Create a platform online, on social media, and in your community. To be brutality honest, there are tons of authors and books out there! Competition is brutal in this market and if you don’t make it easy to get noticed, readers will just plant their attention elsewhere. Even really great books get kicked to the back of the line because lack of readership. The average author has to start off small and starting off small is better than not starting at all. Creating a platform or audience of people interested in your work increases the likelihood that this won’t happen. Start small and start quick because it takes time to build an online platform. This is most essential for those writing non-fiction work.
  2. Take packaging your book seriously. Sure it would be great if we didn’t, but, we live in a world that judges books by their covers.The book cover, editing, and proofreading process are integral parts to creating a product worth buying. I know that many authors don’t have much capital to begin with but taking extra focus on book packaging will be worth it in the end. A good book cover is the first form of marketing! And a polished manuscript is important to how readers experience your book.
  3. Commit to writing everyday. Treat your writing time like appointments you make with yourself. Writing 1,700  words (7-8 pages) everyday for a month will produce, more or less, a 200 page book at the end of the month. Ask the writers at NanoWrimo! It’s possible!
  4. Even if you think it sucks, write it down and save it. We have hundreds of straying and creative thoughts a day; when they’re gone, they’re gone. Carry around a notebook! Save everything you write so you have a collection of original work to read through when you need inspiration.
  5. Two heads are good, but, three or more are better.  Share your work with others, join groups, take classes, meet other writers, read articles, and engage your (or your potential) readers. Not only is it healthy to have positive people in your life, it will make you a better writer. Including other people in your writing provides insight and information outside of your own, keeps you accountable of finishing your projects, and provides you a sounding board when you need to talk about your work.
  6. Being critical pays. Through experience, I have learned that having a university degree or a great story doesn’t make a good fiction writer. Knowing if your work is good or not is the first step in knowing if you need to get in touch with an editor or ghost writer.
  7. Believing in your story pays. Write because you have a story to tell and want to share it with the world. Sometimes you’ll share your work and receive rejection. Sometimes you’ll share your work and no one will care. So, if you’re going to write, write because you believe that the story you’re writing is important enough to write down.
  8. Fight for a big dog. Trying to make it as a writer takes a lot of crass. Try to get your book in with a big publishing house before opting to go with an indie publisher or self-publishing. Big publishing houses, like Penguin or Harper Collins, have the finances and professional team to push your work into the market in such a way that it’s financially beneficial and time saving. Sure, competition is steeper, but, try anyway because you never know.

-E

Photo credit @ Devanath/Pixabay

When You’re a Veteran. . .

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  • You don’t have to wait until you’re 70 years old for your friends to start dying around you.
  • You’re with others but you’re still alone.
  • Sometimes you regret ever donning a uniform, but, sometimes others help you feel proud that you did.
  • You know (really know) what the word “camaraderie” means, and feel lucky because you know the truth: people only think that they do.
  • You know someone who has committed suicide and it haunts you. Sometimes you wonder if you’re next.
  • You still “visit” in your sleep and wonder why you never dream of the good experiences.
  • You wonder when the war is going to really end and hate knowing that even if it does, one will always exist within you.

 

Lastly, 

Peace is made up of the same matter that clouds are.

Though you left, you’re never that far.

-E

Photo credit to Geralt@Pixabay.

Life Update #1: I’m back & I’ve been accepted into a master’s program

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Why did it take over 8 months for me to write a post? Honestly, it’s because for a long time I lost perspective.  After I was discharged from the military, like many veterans, I walked around like a lost zombie. I’m slowly coming back to life! (Insert zombie noises here).

Today, I wanted to share some spectacular news before the shock wore off! George Washington University finally sent me a decision letter in regards to an application that I had submitted for their master’s in Publishing program. Yours truly, is a little closer to accomplishing her life goals.  I graduated with my bachelors in December and then made the long haul to Hawaii to meet up with my family. I’ve been lucky so far!  In January I was graciously accepted as a proofreader by a publishing house in Honolulu. In April, there will be a writing conference that I’m excited about.

If you’re going to be in Honolulu and are a writer, publishing professional, or looking for information about publishing and the world of publishing, please come! I will be there representing the proofreading section!

More information about the 2016 Honolulu Writers, Authors, and Poets Gathering here: http://www.honoluluwritersauthorsandpoetsgathering.com/

Now, all the joy is washing away from the grad school acceptance letter; I’ve got a whole other problem: how am I going to pay for this?

March 14, 2016 update: I just received word that I have been accepted to my dream art school SCAD. I’m extremely grateful!

-E

Photo credit to Pixabay.