Thinking, Writing, and Reflecting About Chicken Soup for the Soul

Hey y’all!

I am a writer and because I am a writer, I think a lot.  A Lot.  I think about my past and I think about my future and all the things I want to do.  Most of it has to wait until after my daughter graduates from high school which will be in another three years, but at the same time, I can do many of the things I want to do now, in the present time, because I’ve been blessed with the ability to work from home, as an English teacher.

One of the things I want to do is publish.  I want this about as much as I’ve wanted everything else I’ve been blessed with in my life because I love writing so much.  I love sketching to, but writing allows me to bare a piece of my soul that I can’t do in creating artwork.  Yes, I know writing is just another form of artwork, but writing is also different from sketching.  In writing, I can talk about the many obstacles I’ve overcome and what I learned from those obstacles.  When I sketch, I create pictures that make me happy.  Writing also makes me happy, but differently than sketching does.

Someday, I want to see my written short stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul because Chicken Soup for the Soul is the most widely known nonfiction short story compilations book around the world.  I began reading them when I was just 14 years old.  I recommend then to anyone I know and everyone I meet.  I recommended Chicken Soup for the Girls Soul to my daughter’s best friend in gymnastics.  She’s a couple years younger than my daughter, but she loves to read, according to her grandparents.  Not only did I lend them my copy, but after reading the book and returning it to me, her grandmother went out and bought herself a copy of a more recent title, Chicken Soup for the Grandparents Soul.  I don’t know how often this happens to other people, but it was a first for me.

I’ve been writing and submitting short stories to them for the last two years and one thing I can say for sure is my ability to write is improving.  When I first started trying, yes, I wrote crap.  Boring and unacceptable for publication; and obviously not what they were looking for.  Now, two years later, reading my own work chokes me up, but maybe I’m just partial to my own work.  Rather than being my own worst critic, I’m over complimentary to myself.  I used to have my husband simply proofread my material, then I click the submit button and off it went to their inbox.  Now, I’ve improved the writing process, asking him to critique my material, not once, but twice.  The first critique is always for direction.  The second critique is to fix anything which doesn’t sound right, or doesn’t fit.  If and when he gives me an all-clear, I then ask him to proofread it for me to clear my grammatical mistakes.

I know publishing is a hit and miss no matter who you’re trying to publish with.  When it comes to Chicken Soup for the Soul, my single short story entry is only 1 in about 5000.  As of current, the only time I’ve ever received a personal message from Amy Newmark herself, it was to ask for my mailing address to mail me a couple signed books, per winning a book drawing.  It was an incredible experience, but nothing like I imagine it’s going to be when the day comes I receive an email, that my short story has been chosen for publication in a future title.

So far, I’ve submitted a short story to each of these future titles; ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’, ‘Listen to Your Dreams’, ‘Stories About Christmas’, ‘Stories About Self-Care and Me Time’, and ‘You Go, Girl’.  The short story I wrote for ‘You Go, Girl’ is, in my opinion, my personal best.

In closing, I write to clear my head of the most concentrated thought swirling inside.  Chicken Soup for the Soul is my most favorite book series.  I can’t deny that and I won’t deny it.  I know my day will come, and when it does, I’ll laugh, I’ll cry, and I’ll jump up and down like a crazy high school girl finding out that the boy she likes, likes her back.  I’ll probably run to my neighbors and share with them this most exciting news of my life, but I am not going to deny myself the emotion of finally accomplishing what I’ve been working so hard to do since I began my writing journey.  I’ll tell you what else I’m not going to do, when sharing my news with my parents, who don’t completely understand the lengthy time and amount of patience writing a single story can take, regardless of story length, nor the hit and miss of publicating, I am not going to allow their happy-so-so attitude to clash with my over-the-moon-top-of-the-world-basking-in-personal-accomplished-glory attitude.  After all, this isn’t about them, this is about me.  They will be happy for me, supportive, and accepting, and that’s all I really can ask for.

Thank you for reading y’all!

 

What a Monday

Hey y’all.  How was your weekend?

My weekend flew by while I was dealing with an ache in my body only women endure from puberty to menopause, and then I was dealing with my truck.  I’ve had ‘the beast’ for three years, but it’s time that I get rid of her due to cost of maintenance.  She’s an old girl, a 1996, but she’s worth her weight.  She’s perfect for farming.

Monday.

This week my daughter faces taking her final exams to mark the end of the first semester.  I’ve had her studying, reading and rereading, over and over, the study guide answer sheet her teachers supplied each student with to prepare for the tests.  Today she took her math test.  I can’t say that she did excellent, but she did take her time and tried to work out each problem.  Tomorrow, we test for English/Language Arts, Wednesday we test in Science, and Thursday we test in Social Studies.  Wednesday, after school, I have an online teleconference, to go over gathered informational research from throughout the first semester to decide the plan for next semester with a couple of higher-up members of the academic staff.  I don’t know how it’ll go as they’ve not gone well before, but things have changed.

I’m not rooting for recognition or fame, but I do want to share that it’s been a daily struggle to get my daughter this far.  I’ve mentioned before that my daughter was ‘next-to-failing’ in brick and mortar schooling; because I’ve been able to personally work with her, one-on-one, giving her my full-blown attention, she has gained so much more understanding and confidence in herself and her ability to grasp class instruction, but it’s not been easy.  Most mother/daughter relationships go one of two ways.  I’ve had to be what most parents have considered to be really strict, or too strict, but she’s a better person for it.  She’s a better person than some of the kids I’ve known.  I hate to say that, but I’ve known some kids… a story for another time.

So, I’m finishing up first semester with my daughter this week in addition to selling my truck.  I’m also baking cupcakes for my daughter’s gymnastics class, for her birthday since classes are out the week of Christmas, so we’re sharing this week.  After that, I’m cleaning for Christmas, wrapping a few gifts, baking an apple pie, and enjoying a nice long vacation from middle school academics and extracurricular activities.

I’m going to put more focus instead on writing, and submitting more work to here and there.  This place and that.  Chicken Soup for the Soul is my first and foremost target.  I’ve been studying, and by studying I mean I’ve been reading from my personal Chicken Soup for the Soul collection like I’m taking a class in college–Chicken Soup for the Soul 501–it’s a Master’s class.  Just kidding, but I am serious about how much I’m reading.  I started with Chicken Soup for the Girls Soul, then I read Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom and I just finished reading that yesterday afternoon.  Yesterday evening I started Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness.  Just wait until the new year!

In closing, thank y’all so much for reading and following my blog.  I love knowing I’m talking to someone.  Wink, wink!

To everyone reading, have a very Merry Christmas, a very Happy Hanukkah, or if you don’t celebrate either of those, comment yours so I can wish you one in return.

Happy Holidays!! 🙂

Bending the Rules in Writing

Hey y’all.

Our weather was on the nasty side today.  Drizzling rain, chilly temps–it made the perfect day to stay inside writing.

I made more revisions on ‘Running for My Life’ which took me all morning and turned into five pages which I then emailed to my hubby for his written opinion…lol.  After that I decided to move forward and begin work on ‘An Unexpected Visitor in Labor and Delivery’.

I’m quite impressed with my work lately.   Using more detail, diving deeper into each memory I’m writing on;  every revision process furthers my ability to recollect the tinier tidbits in each historic moment.  Many of the memories are haunting, but writing them out helps me overcome the things I’ve done.  It clears my soul, and, like Chicken Soup for the Soul, it relates, inspires, and encourages our readers.  The makers of Chicken Soup for the Soul let us know with every book, we are never alone.

One day I’ll be a contributor for with the Chicken Soup series.  Becoming part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family would be a dream come true, but first, I must ‘Let It Go’.

Yeah, hubby and I sat and enjoyed Frozen the other night.  My daughter, the week before, while I was starting her computer up for school, played it through her stereo, and it felt like I needed to look more into it.  I’m glad I did because while I love the song and it’s artist, and I can feel the energy in each line and what it means, watching the scene made a huge difference in what I read in it on a personal level.

Next time, I’ll have to write how the song relates to what I’m going through.  It’s like my theme song right now.

“It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through, no right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free….”

I’ll let you know.

Until Monday… 🙂

Books to Teach the Truth in a World Full of Peer Pressure

Hey y’all!

I’ve been reading a book titled Reviving Ophelia- Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, and I haven’t been able to put it down, reading it every chance I have.

It’s written by Mary Pipher who is a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D, and who has treated young women for over 20 years for problems above and beyond their mental abilities.  In other words, our children in today’s world are battling problems we wouldn’t believe because we don’t realize them.

I can remember when I was a young teenager.  Unfortunately, I can relate to some of the teenagers Mary speaks of in her book.  I wish I would have had access to this book when I was facing the issues, but to be honest, I would not have paid it any mind because while I loved to read and learn new things (mostly self-taught), it looks like another school reference book and uninteresting to a young teenage girl who prefers to read books like The Babysitter’s Club, and Goosebumps.

I’ve found reading Reviving Ophelia to be like reading anything from Chicken Soup for the Soulunderstanding and inspirational.  I wish I would’ve also had more access to Chicken Soup for the Soul during my youth because I might not have been so lost finding my way.

I couldn’t talk to anyone in school because my fellow classmates were either judging me and teasing me based on my outward appearance, overall quietness, and for the one person I did hang out with.  I didn’t want a lot of friends, but I wanted to at least establish an acquaintanceship with them.  In reality, we were all facing the same unknown territory–peer pressure and growing up.  We were no longer children, but we weren’t adults either, and our parents were just as lost as we were because even the world they knew as children had changed.

For example, I’ve mentioned several times in the past about how grateful I am for Georgia Cyber Academy and the online K12 program.  Kids are mean, vicious, and judgmental, but the problem isn’t with the kids, it’s in their homes where their parents or the structure is absent.

The summer before my 8th grade school year, we moved to the next town over, across the county line.  I began the school year as a new student, but luckily with a couple new friends I’d met over the summer, down at the park, before school started.  I still maintained a relationship with my best girlfriend from my old school until that changed after I moved back due to reasons outside my knowledgeable understanding, and way above my maturity level.  When I moved back, I learned my best friend started a rumor about me as a way to increase her popularity points.  I understand why she did it; she didn’t have any friends outside of me and her home life was confusing.

Her mother yelled at me once for not calling after she was suspended from school for a week for threatening the school system.  If I’d been the one to threaten the school, my life would have been hell, as it was, her mother took her shopping at the mall everyday that week.

I didn’t have it easy at home, but I didn’t go around spreading rumors either.  I decided staying to myself was a better option.  That’s why I started homeschooling, because there’s not enough structural support inside the schools anymore.  Every student is lost, confused on where to go and in what direction they’re going in.  When grown-ups can’t help, books can–if you’re willing to read them.

Let’s listen to what our children have to say to us, then assist and educate them because they’re lost without our guidance.  The world is much different from when we were growing up, but they can’t help that, they’re kids.  We need to open our minds to see and understand what they see.  They can’t see the world the same way we do because of their innocence.  Remember that.

Thanks for reading y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Blur

Hey y’all!  It was back to school this morning after a nice long Thanksgiving vacation.  Thanksgiving wasn’t nearly as stressing as I thought it might be which is a good thing, so getting back to Class Connect was natural.  We’re also finishing with our first semester over the next four weeks, before school lets out for Christmas and New Year’s, so we’re reviewing material the entire time.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the online tutoring company.  I’m on the edge of my seat here, waiting, eager to get started.  Completing the sample they wanted me to submit was nerve wracking, but I still enjoyed it.  Now I get the gist of their way, I’m ready to get started.  I imagine I would be able to review a paper or two a night.

Another thing I get to wait on, I finished and submitted a short narrative to Chicken Soup for the Soul titled “Christmas Crash Site of 2011”.  The submission due date is this Friday.

Finally, last night I began revising another story I’m working on to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul.  The story topic is ‘running for good’.  I have until the 15th of December to finish it.

Well y’all, I guess that sums up my weekend.  Oh, and my Georgia Bulldawgs beat the Techies 45-21.  Woot woot!  Next we play Alabama for the SEC Championship.

With a pretty busy week ahead of me, I’m looking at Friday before I’ll be able to write again, but perhaps I’ll have some ‘news’…  Either way, cross your fingers, say some prayers, think positive thoughts, and send good vibes my way.  I really want this contract.

Thanks for reading with me y’all!

Attitude is Patience

Hey y’all.

Ever since I sent the paperwork back, this past Friday night, I’m sitting on edge, waiting patiently for an email response.  I hate playing the waiting game, but I find I’m feeling more like “I can’t wait to begin”, instead of the traditional “I hope I got it”.  I know my ability to perform giving written direction when reading and reviewing papers; that’s what I’m excited for.

My husband and I took our daughter to her weekly gymnastics class recently.  While there, the lobby was filled with several mothers, waiting for their children to finish up class sessions.  I noticed one of the mothers was grading papers; what appeared to be perhaps, Elementary math?  When I was in middle school, possibly early high school, I would volunteer during my lunch time to help elementary teachers grade students work.  I’d sit and have lunch with the teacher, using the answer keys, and grade a couple stacks of completed worksheets.  It was so much fun!

I didn’t expect I’d hear anything back through the weekend, but now that the weekend is over and Monday is passing, I could receive at any moment.  I remember how I felt when I received they’re first response to my application and cover letter.  The further I read into the email, the more my heart pounded, and the faster it felt making my hands shaky.  I know it sounds drastic, but it was good news for a change.  I just hope I haven’t jinxed myself… because I really want this.

Tomorrow is another day.

Today, I finished and submitted “Chicken Slick of the Soul” to a writing contest, and I also printed it out for myself.  That’s one story for my book.

Now I’m focusing on a piece I’m submitting to Chicken Soup for the Soul, titled “Christmas Crash Site” which I’ll also print for my book, and I’m brainstorming my next piece for another ‘Chicken Soup’ submission.

“Patience is not just about waiting for something.  It’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.”  –Joyce Meyer

I’m waiting and I’m writing my way through it.  Thanks for reading with me.

“Checking In, Write A Thought”

Good morning!  The sun is shining, the birds can be heard through my currently closed office window, and all school assignments, tests, and quizzes have been completed for the week.  It’s Friday!

Since speaking one-on-one with a person from Page Publishing this past Tuesday, I’ve been working faithfully on my manuscript, literally for a couple of hours every day since.  For the past two days though, I’ve been struggling for an angle to write a certain story.  I’m writing a piece to submit for Chicken Soup for the Soul’s “The Golden Years–Life After 60” topic about how my dad and ‘bonus’ mom met, and the obstacles they fought to be together.  Yesterday, I finally broke through the wall of thought, and I think I have a much stronger lead now than I gave myself to work with the other day.  Never settle just because it’s a rough draft.  If it doesn’t ‘feel’ right or workable, it’s probably trash.  There have been times it took me three to four tries to create a working rough draft.

Since speaking with the person from Page Publishing, I won’t lie, I’ve been thinking about the next steps–cover design, the possibility of seeing and holding my physical book in hand after it’s published, and book signings.  It’s quite the new world to explore; a rather ‘large’ world and ‘large’ doesn’t even really describe it.  New authors are coming out every day, and a lot of them are coming out as New York Times Bestselling authors.  I wouldn’t mind a taste of that title, but that’s only going to be possible if my book, my memoir, is deemed ‘publish worthy’.

It will be publish worthy, because I’m writing about life.  I’m writing about the things I’ve seen, how I’ve lived, the choices I made, the bad and the good, where I came from, the things I’ve learned, and I’m writing about all of this because it can help someone else in, and during their own tough times and situations.  There are always lessons to be learned, sometimes it takes words from a book or helpful advice from a friend, neighbor, family member, or complete stranger to see the error or the solution.  I have been that friend, neighbor, family member, or complete stranger with great advice, but I’m better in writing.