NaNoWriMo2020

Caught on Film

It wasn’t as if she knew what she was doing.

Okay. She didn’t know what she was doing.

Whitney reached into her car and grabbed her camera bag. She unzipped it and pulled out her DLSR and lens. She hooked the strap around her neck and stuffed an extra battery into the pocket of her jacket. She was slipping her phone in her other jacket pocket when it dinged.

Where are you?

She stuck her car keys in the pocket of her jeans and locked the car before answering.

At Cricket Falls. Taking pictures for class. 

You’re still on the photography kick? 

You make it sound like a hobby.

Isn’t it?

Listen Seth, I have spent a lot of money on classes and I need to practice. I really want to make this into something. Why can’t you support me?

Because it’s stupid and a pipe dream. Stick with the bank. You have a future there.

Whitney sighed and rolled her eyes.

Why can’t you support me?? She typed furiously.

I’m trying to prevent you from making a mistake. 

Whitney was beginning to wonder if Seth was the mistake.

I can’t talk right now. I need to go before I lose the light. 

Fine.

She angrily tucked the phone into her other jeans pocket and briefly closed her eyes. She had been taking photography classes for nearly four months and she resented Seth for making her feel stupid. She wanted to enjoy the classes and he was making it impossible with his negativity and complaining.

Asshole, she thought.

She tugged a hairband in to push her curly black hair out of her eyes. She tested the door handle of her VW bug and set off toward the hiking trail. She hadn’t been to Cricket Falls in quite some time and she was looking forward to taking pictures at sunset.

She stopped just as she entered the tree line. She had forgotten her water bottle. She paused. She should probably go back and get it but it was already late afternoon and the sun would be setting in a little over two hours and it would take her nearly an hour to reach the falls.

She shrugged and continued down the path.

She stepped around tree roots and over smooth, flat rocks. She took deep, cleansing breaths. There was nothing like fresh air to clear the week’s cobwebs. She knew Seth wanted her to stay with the bank but she was bored. She wanted a job where she could be creative and spontaneous. She had no idea if she would be able to make any money at photography but she certainly wanted to try. She loved learning about F-stops and angles, lighting and focus points in class. It was challenging to look at something and then set up the perfect shot in order to try and capture the mood she wanted to portray.

The day was quickly cooling down and she was thankful she had grabbed a jacket. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind distended gray clouds and it looked like a storm front was heading in. She paused to check the weather on her phone. She had to walk up an incline in order to get a better signal. Weather was definitely coming in but she figured she had about three hours before it reached her, plenty of time to shoot some pictures and make it back to her car before it rained.

Her phone dinged. She sighed and continued walking. It was probably Seth and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with him at the moment. She just wanted to enjoy the time she had and to focus on her pictures as she was hoping to touch them up and present them at her next class for critique. She ignored the text and kept moving. She glanced up at the sky. There were now more clouds than sun and she was beginning to think maybe she should head back to her car as she didn’t want to risk getting her camera equipment wet.

She was lost in thought and seriously thinking about turning around when she rounded a bend and there, in all it’s glory, was Cricket Falls.

She paused to to fully absorb the sheer magnificence of the beautiful waterfall. The falls were not as swollen as she had seen them in the past but she knew it would only be a matter of minutes after the rain started to turn the relatively calm waters into a raging, angry flow.

She heard a crack of thunder and it made her jump into action. She lifted her camera, adjusted her settings and began taking pictures from various angles. She was actually glad the sun had disappeared behind the clouds as it provided her with better light and a somber atmosphere. After taking about twenty shots, she was placing her lens cap back on the camera when another round of thunder reverberated above. She nervously eyed the sky and turned around to head back. She paused at the fork in the path and decided to take another route back to her car. She didn’t know for sure if it was quicker, but had hiked that particular path before and felt like the way back was less rocky.

She was weaving through the trees, dodging and dunking under branches when she heard a sound.

After being in the woods for over an hour, she had gotten used to the shuffling of critters in the leaves and the wind rustling the tree branches. But this sound was different. It sounded like a soft hiss, or scrape, then as if something was being dropped onto soft earth.

She broke through some trees and her phone dinged again.

She paused and dug it out of her pocket.

Another girl has gone missing. I don’t like you being out there all alone. Come home.

Whitney sent a quick text back to Seth.

You worry too much. I got my shots and am heading back. 

He answered back immediately.

Good.

She dropped her phone back into her pocket and squelched her irritation.  He was trying. She needed to try as well.

She entered the next clump of trees, carefully picking her way through the path when she heard the strange noise again.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

What was that sound? It seemed so out-of-place in the woods and yet, she felt like she had heard that sound before.

She veered off the path and crept toward where she thought the sound was coming from. She reached out to move a low-hanging branch only for it to swing back and slap her in the face.

“Ow!” She clapped a hand over her cheek to try and quell the sting.

The sound abruptly stopped.

Whitney also stopped and stood still. She could feel her heartbeat quickening even though she forced her breathing to slow and quiet. Something felt wrong. Why did the sound stop? A flash of lightening pierced the darkening sky above her. She counted silently in her head … 1 … 2 …3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … Thunder rolled across the sky and Whitney glanced at the time on her phone. She estimated she had about thirty minutes before the rain reached her. Though she knew she needed to move, she couldn’t. It was too quiet. Though she didn’t know what the sound was, she suddenly wished it would start back up again. She instinctively knew the sound resuming was safer than not.

She continued to stay still and she silently urged the sound to continue so she could move. She didn’t know why it was so important for the sound to resume but she was spooked enough that she didn’t feel like she should move until it did.

Her phone dinged and the sound seemed to echo loudly.

“Shit,” she reached in to her pocket and quickly muted her phone. She could hear a rustling up ahead of her and she quietly moved closer to the trees, off the path and into the shadows. She felt ridiculous for playing chicken with the mysterious sound but the goosebumps on her arms was enough to give her pause.

After long minutes, the sound started back up again and she slowly released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

Hiss.

Scrape.

Plop.

She cautiously moved forward, careful to avoid disturbing the leaves and rocks in her way. She crept into a small batch of trees and tried to peer through.

She saw a flash of blue.

Was that a person?

Continue reading “Caught on Film”

Podcast

Podcast: The Left’s Insanity Continues

 

Episode description:

The Left continues to demonstrate their insanity as President Trump is released from the hospital after his COVID diagnosis.

And guess what? We started a Podcast YouTube channel! Now you can SEE us while you listen! Coming soon …!

______________________________________

Take us on the go! You can hear our podcasts on the following platforms:

Apple Podcast

Anchor.fm

Spotify

Overcast

PodBean

Google Podcasts

Breaker

RSS Feed

We upload a new podcast every Sunday. Thanks for listening!

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Jax

Hello Blogfam and welcome. I’d like to introduce Jaxson Fuller. He goes by Jax. Is that right?

Jax: Yes.

Me: Very good. Jax is the male lead in the story and Maya’s potential love interest though I believe you don’t make an appearance in the story for quite a while, is that right, Jax?

Jax: Correct.

Me: Well, welcome to my blog. Thanks for being here.

Jax: *nods and gives a small smile*

Me: So, Jax. Tell us about yourself.

Jax: I hate when people say that. Can’t you just give me a question?

Me: Okay. Tell me about your life before Maya.

Jax: I was a First Lieutenant in the Army. I served three tours in the Middle East and about five(ish) years ago, my unit was attacked. I sustained an injury and had to rethink my career. It wasn’t fun.

Me: What sort of injury?

Jax: *points to his left leg* I was shot several times in the left leg. Banged me up pretty good. I was honorably discharged shortly after that. I spent a year in rehabilitation and I can walk on it now, but I am gimpy.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.

Jax: *shrugs* Comes with the territory. After I finished rehab, I ran into a buddy of mine who works for the Secret Service. He pulled some strings and I was able to get a job.

Me: The Secret Service, eh? Sounds exciting.

Jax: It’s not really. But you do have to be super vigilant.

Me: I can imagine. Who was assigned to you. Would I have known that person?

Jax: Possibly. I would rather not say who I watched over.

Me: Of course. They don’t call it “Secret” service for no reason. *laughs*

Jax: *smiles – though clearly not as amused*

Me: How long have you been in the Secret Service?

Jax: It’s been nearly … three years now.

Me: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Jax: Definitely the people. I’m either watching someone who is totally paranoid about being attacked or someone who doesn’t take it seriously and takes all kinds of risks. It can be exhausting.

Me: Can you tell us about one of your more challenging clients?

Jax: *sits for a bit, then nods brusquely* Sure. It was about six months ago, actually. I was assigned to watch a Senator’s daughter and she took it upon herself to sneak out of her house and go to a party that none of us knew about and certainly didn’t approve she could go to. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I had to swallow some pride and call in reinforcements. It took us nearly two hours to find her and by the time we did, she was very drunk and very loud.

Me: I take that to mean, she wasn’t happy to see you.

Jax: You could say that. Her father was also not very happy to see me.

Me: Did he punish you?

Jax: No. *he flexes his jaw in irritation* He campaigned to have me fired.

Me: But it wasn’t your fault!

Jax: Doesn’t matter. She was my responsibility and I lost track of her. If something had happened to her, I would have been prosecuted and likely charged with negligence.

Me: Wow. Why do you stay in the job if there is that much pressure?

Jax: Because I’m very good at my job. I had allowed myself to become distracted in that case. That will not happen again.

Me: What distracted you?

Jax: I’d rather not say.

Me: It was a woman, wasn’t it? Was it Maya?

Jax: *face flushes a light red*

Me: Are you married?

Jax: I was.

Me: What happened?

Jax: *sighs* We were bad for each other. We were polar opposites, which was great in some ways, it was never boring. *soft smile of remembrance* But after a while, the novelty wore off and we just got tired of trying, I suppose.

Me: Any children?

Jax: One. But she died from SARS when she was four months old. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

Me: *blinks – clears throat* I’m sorry.

Jax: …..

Me: So. Any love interest now?

Jax: *arches a brow* I think you know the answer to that one.

Me: *sly grin* Just seeing if you were still with me. How did you and Maya meet?

Jax: Her dad … talked me into being her bodyguard.

Me: You didn’t volunteer for the job?

Jax; Not exactly.

Me: Why would Maya need protection?

Jax: Unclear. Though her father is head of the Secret Service to the President and when you’re that close, you tend to make enemies.

Me: What is Maya like to guard?

Jax: She’s a pain in the ass.

Me: Really? I would have thought Dree would be the pain in the ass.

Jax: Dree is tough, but she’s street smart. Maya is clueless to what goes on in the world. Thank God her father had the foresight to make her take kickboxing.

Me: *chuckles* Forgive me. But after meeting Maya, … kickboxing? Really? It just doesn’t compute.

Jax: *shrugs* Yeah. She’s a bit of a princess and her form sucks, but she’s got determination, I’ll give her that. She will get better.

Me: What makes you so sure?

Jax: Because I’ll make sure she can defend herself. You never know what life will throw at you. You need to be prepared.

Me: Sounds like an army slogan. *chuckles*

Jax: Be all you can be.

Me: Now you’re making fun of me.

Jax: *smirks*

Me: Do your parents live here?

Jax: My dad is a Colonel in the Army. Mom is a typical Army wife, sponsors fundraisers and events to help boost the troops’ families. They are stationed in West Virginia right now.

Me: So fairly close. Do you ever get to see them?

Jax: Not as often as I would like.

Me: Any siblings?

Jax: I have a younger brother, Mark.

Me: And what does Mark do?

Jax: He’s special ops. I haven’t seen him in nearly … five years, I think.

Me: Your parents must be proud – both of you serving your country.

Jax: *frown* I guess.

Me: You don’t think so?

Jax: *rubs the scruff on his face absently* No comment.

Me: Well, that’s intriguing. So Jax ..

(*a loud pop sounds outside and causes Me to jump and squeal*)

Jax: Get down! *jumps out of his chair causing it crash to the floor and whips his Glock semi automatic pistol out of his waist band. He points is at the window.

Continue reading “Interview with Jax”

Politics

Unity Does Not Mean Submitting to Group Think

Do you think we’re beyond uniting? Have we reached a time where it’s impossible to come together and work toward common goals?

Sadly, yes, I think we are beyond that point.

Why do I think this? Because we can’t even agree on fundamental things. For example: We can not agree on what a freedom and a right is. We can not agree on the fundamental values of life, let alone the details on how to ultimately achieve that goal.

And if unity means asking people who have different values or opinions from your own to sacrifice their convictions and beliefs, then no, I’m not interested in unity.

Unity, Mr. Biden, does not mean I succumb to your agenda. Unity does not mean accepting and abiding by your group think. That is not unity, that is being a dictator. And history has shown nothing good comes from that type of leadership.

So if unity is not possible, and I don’t believe it is, does this mean we will forever endure the violence, the hateful language, the name calling and the overall hate pit that our country has fallen into?

Not necessarily. I believe it’s possible to peacefully coexist but some things must be done first before that can happen.

And it won’t happen overnight and it certainly won’t happen because the party calling for unity is allegedly in charge. We should strive to peacefully coexist regardless of which party holds the executive (olive) branch.

Justin Haskins, from his opinion piece on The Hill, has this suggestion:

“Biden has repeatedly claimed, as he did during an address on Saturday, that he will “serve as a president who seeks not to divide, but unify, who doesn’t see red states or blue states, but only the United States.”

Forgive me for being a little skeptical. Biden has done little in his career to show that he is interested in bringing the country together or addressing the concerns of “red states.” In fact, during the 2020 campaign, he spent far more time trying to alleviate the worries of the socialist wing of his party than reaching out to conservatives and Americans in “flyover country,” who mostly rejected Biden on Election Day.

Biden didn’t try very hard to bring the country together during the presidential campaign. But let’s assume he sincerely wants to bring the country together. How can he go about doing that?

The only way Biden can restore a sense of national unity and alleviate the legitimate fears of conservatives, libertarians and others that a Biden-Harris administration will try to expand the power of the national government and limit individual rights is to finally put an end to the century-long strategy of attempting to force a single party’s will over a vast and diverse nation.

There is a solution, though, one that would garner support from people of all political persuasions. Instead of trying to pass gargantuan, partisan laws in Washington, D.C., that at least half the country will hate, Biden should pursue an agenda that grants to each state the ability to chart its own course. This could be done by only supporting legislation that block grants most federal funding to states, so that each can decide how best to craft policies that will fit the desires and needs of its residents.

So, for example, instead of trying to fix the health care system by imposing a “public option” and some expanded version of ObamaCare, Biden should back legislation that would allow states to create their own policies.

By giving states the ability to make their own policy decisions, everyone can win. Under such a system, not only would public policies more closely align with the desires of the entire electorate. It would also give the country an opportunity to see which policy ideas work and which fail. States could then learn from the mistakes and achievements of their neighbors and continuously improve public policy.”

I see where Mr. Haskins is coming from here – it’s a hybrid approach – leave it up to the federal government to iron out Bill of Rights and Constitution issues but give individual, area-specific policies to the states to figure out but it will never work. Biden, and the Democrat party are not interested in giving up power, they want it all. They want to dictate every aspect of our lives. They want to be able to tell you where to work, how much money you are allowed to make, how much money you are allowed to keep, what doctor you may, or may not, see, what car you can drive, and how much money you are required to pay them simply by “owning” your home. They want to have a thumb on every part of your life and if you’re okay with that, if you are willing to forfeit your individual freedoms to allow an entity to dictate your life and essentially “take care of you”, (though they really aren’t – they are controlling you through tax breaks, incentive programs, tax refunds that aren’t really refunds but a program that legally STEALS your money from you and then they grants you permission to get some of that back every year – but only if you didn’t strive to be successful or break any of their restrictive rules), well, I guess you have the freedom to live like that.

But that doesn’t mean everyone has that same desire. In fact, there is a large part of the population, pretty much half if the election results are any indication, that vehemently disagree with that premise. I’m one of those people. I work very hard for my money and I believe I should have the right to keep what I make. I want freedoms to CHOOSE from various options what is best for me and my family. I prefer to be left alone so that I can live my life. If I make a wrong choice, then I will deal with the consequences. I don’t need, nor want, an entity to “take care of me.” I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself, thank you very much.

And just because we disagree on how we want to live our lives, does mean my way, or your way, is better overall, it just means it’s better for ME as an individual. We are not a collective. We are individuals and a one size does not fit all solutions, which is what the Democrats strive to achieve every time they are in office, is not effective, is repulsive, dangerous and quite frankly, insulting.

I have a brain, I am not afraid to use it. I do not need an entity to guide me through life. I will make my own choices and I will learn from failures and I will celebrate my successes. If I choose to share my hard-earned successes with those less fortunate, then I will do so, but it’s wrong to MAKE me re-distribute what I’ve worked very hard for to someone who has chosen not to try as hard. It’s unfair and wrong. This does not mean I’m not willing to give to charities and help people, far from it, I just believe in hand ups, not hand outs. I believe consistently giving people hand outs is demoralizing and insulting, not to mention, it promotes dependency. How can someone take pride in their life if they are never given an opportunity to succeed on his/her own?

From the article Unifying Our Country on Psychology Today:

“What is constantly being demonstrated is that it is much easier to divide than it is to unite. It is possible, however, to unite our country through the systematic implementation of positive interdependence. Interdependence exists when two or more people (or entities) depend on each other so that their outcomes and fate are correlated. Morton Deutsch, in the late 1940s, noted that there are two types of interdependence, positive and negative. Positive interdependence is the perception that a person depends on others in a way so that he or she cannot succeed unless the other persons do and vice versa. Negative interdependence is the opposite; if a person succeeds, all others fail. In order for a democracy to function, citizens must perceive positive interdependence among all citizens. Societal members have to know that they “sink or swim together.”

Today, many Americans seem to have lost the sense of positive interdependence among citizens. Many of our politicians are more concerned about dividing citizens and creating animosity among them than uniting them. In order to unify our country, widespread positive interdependence must be reestablished and reemphasized. There are a number of ways to structure positive interdependence among citizens of our country.”

The author suggests the following things:

  1. Unite the country by establishing compelling goals that all members of our society willingly commit themselves to achieve. Positive goal interdependence exists when citizens commit themselves to mutual goals that are compelling enough to ensure that all citizens will work together to achieve them.
  2. The country may be united through establishing a national identity as an “American” that binds all citizens together.  An identity is a consistent set of attitudes that defines “who you are.”  Identity interdependence may be created by establishing a mutual identity through group symbols such as a pledge of allegiance, flag, or national anthem.
  3. Resource interdependence exists when citizens realize that in order to achieve their goals they must depend on the resources of others. Building a national economy, ensuring all citizens have the ability to communicate with each other, traveling from one part of the country to another are all examples of goals that require the resources and contributions of many citizens to achieve them.
  4. Citizens may be united through perceiving that they all receive the same rewards and benefits when national goals are achieved (i.e., reward interdependence).” (example: celebrating national holidays, receiving stimulus checks during a pandemic, tax cuts. We all benefit from a common goal – my words).

You can read the article for the rest of the points.

“In summary, if leaders and citizens wish to unite the citizens of our country, they must establish competing joint goals, a mutual identity, awareness of dependence on each other’s resources, awareness that one is rewarded only when all are rewarded, divisions of labor involving all citizens, giving citizens complementary roles, and encouraging all citizens to participate in the processes of democracy. It is through ensuring such positive interdependence exists that citizens can become aware of their unity.”

Again, lofty goals. And when those circumstances occur, I think it has the potential of uniting people but I think in order for these things to occur, the leaders in charge have to want it to happen – I don’t believe most of our leaders are interested in unity. They are more concerned with dividing us because if we are divided, then they have a platform in which to swoop in and “save” us. It is not in their best interest to unite us – chaos and fear leads to control, which is the ultimate goal of many politicians.

Be honest.

So where does that leave us?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and again, and again – I believe it all starts with communication and adjusting how we use language. There is no “us” or “them” or “those people.” That automatically puts us in different corners. That implies we are starting out as divided and many times people will not be open to listen to anything outside their opinions or beliefs. We need to start saying “us, “we”, “Americans”, “humans”. What is the purpose of bringing up color? Or sexual preference? Or race? When we label people and put them in a box they are automatically ostracized. We immediately feel superior to “those people.”

We have to accept the fact that the media is all about agendas and further dividing us. They epitomize groupthink. Don’t believe me?

It’s the same message, over and over and over again. And not just in print, but on news stations. There is very little independent thought. They all regurgitate one another – groupthink. We are repeating this same message because we want to brainwash you into thinking this is the ONLY way to feel about something.

And sadly, it works on a large portion of the people. Because if you read/watch people who feel differently than you, they nearly always spout off “these talking points.” And that’s it. If you dare to ask questions or ask for examples, it’s like groupthink people’s brains short circuit and they call on emotion and anger to call you names or do anything really to distract you from the fact they don’t really know what they’re talking about – they only know what they’ve been told. Nine times out of ten, they don’t even know why they believe what they believe.

If we ever hope to unite as a country, outside a catastrophic event like 911 or this overblown pandemic (because let’s face it, when the pandemic first started and we didn’t know what it was, we all united for a brief moment), people will have to learn to communicate with one another more effectively. Which means, LISTEN. Practice EMPTAHY for one another. It’s not all about you. It’s not all about me. We all have individual needs and desires, RESPECT that difference. Be WILLING to listen to possible solutions and then COMPROMISE on a mutual solution.

Again. It’s not my way or the highway.

And our officials in charge HAVE to, HAVE TO, call for an end to the violence. It’s NOT OKAY to attack someone in the street because he/she believes differently than you. It’ NOT OKAY to paint a group of people as racists when there is very little evidence to back up that claim. Officials HAVE to start condemning these actions and show “their” people that their behavior is not acceptable. If Biden is truly interested in uniting us, then he has to recognize that BLM’s activities are wrong and not acceptable. By NOT condemning their actions, it only serves to embolden them to push their violence just that much more.

The bottom line – IT’S OKAY TO HAVE DIFFERING OPINIONS. Just because I think a certain way, you think a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY way to think or tackle a problem. It’s NEVER okay to belittle, or attack, either physically or verbally, someone else for his/her opinion. Have the maturity to stop, listen and learn. I’m betting the person who has a different opinion than you presents an aspect of the topic that you may have never taken into consideration before. And there is always more than one way to tackle any problem or issue – THAT, my friends, is DIVERSITY – Different opinions and different approaches to the same problem.

If you made it to the end of this post and you know you think/feel differently than I do, congratulations. You have taken the first step to unifying this nation – you dared to listen to a differing opinion without losing your temper or becoming violet.

Who knows who will really win this election, but if the new president is truly interested in uniting people, then it’s time to start making people accountable for their behavior.

By the way, I stumbled on an interesting website, it’s called Unify America. And you can actually get paired up with someone who thinks differently than you do and talk to them as a human being and see if you can agree to disagree. I think it’s an excellent tool to not only practice interacting with someone who thinks/feels differently than you do, but also serves to show others that it CAN be done. Check it out. (Not sponsored).

Life-condensed, Writing Mechanics

Tips for Writing a First Draft and Life Update

I was too tired this week to contribute to my word count so now I’m playing catch up. If you haven’t participated in word sprints, I would highly recommend that you do it. They are super fun and super productive. I’ve been hooked on the Word Nerds word sprints – they are doing a four-hour word sprint today that I fully intend to participate in. I’m figuring out what I want to write for that time period.

I just finished a short story which I will post tomorrow. It’s a long one – over 3000 words. It’s amazing to me how I can look at a prompt, close my eyes and my imagination just takes over and before long, I feel compelled to write. Then I go into a writing trance and it’s almost like a high – I am transported to a world of my making. It’s a pretty powerful feeling, not gonna lie. Anyway, if you’re stuck or you need some support I would highly recommend you type in word sprints into YouTube and you’ll find a bunch of fun sprints to take part in.

I spent the first half of yesterday getting my hair done. I’m determined that I will NOT go gray any time soon. I feel like coloring my hair takes ten years off my appearance and I will continue to color my hair as long as it doesn’t look stupid – i.e. I’m trying too hard and people look at me and say, “wow. Look at that old woman trying to look young” then I’ll stop.

But I’m not there yet.

Anyway. I went to my salon and we’re chit-chatting and I ask her how things are going for her. They were shut down for six(ish) weeks during our lockdown in .. April (I think it was April) and that really took a toll on them. I had an appointment with them in May and they were just beaten down. It nearly destroyed them and they were working hard to play catch up. I tipped her $20 bucks back then just to try and help her in any way I could.

Fast forward to today. When I asked her how they were doing, she said not very good – they were closing their doors on December 16th. I was sick to my stomach for her. It breaks my heart that their business, and so many other small businesses, simply couldn’t sustain the insane reaction we had to this damn virus. It’s unfair and criminal, in my opinion, to strip someone’s livelihood away from them like that.

I asked her what she planned on doing next. Both her and her business partner (they have been best friends for 10 + years) had already gotten jobs in phlebotomy. I have no idea what drew them to that field but they both got a job at clinics with different medical facilities. One of them is actually going to be working for the same hospital that I work at. I told her that she should think of becoming a medical assistant. She said she had thought of that and is interested but she didn’t want to go to school for it. I told her that it wasn’t necessary to go to school for it, though of course the hospital would prefer that you did. However, we have hired several people who have not gone to school for it and have been trained on the job so she should definitely keep her eyes out for openings and apply. She asked if I was certified, which I am, and I told her that if she gets a job as a medical assistant, she has to work for one year before she can take the test. The hospital pays a bonus and you get a significant raise if you become certified because it looks good for the hospital to have CMA’s on staff. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for her and let her know if anything becomes available. With her phlebotomy experience she will be a strong candidate even without formal training.

She said she went into phlebotomy because she was tired of working in an industry that didn’t offer any security. It’s too stressful to always wonder if today will be the day she doesn’t have a job. And I can’t blame her. That’s the biggest reason I went into the medical field – because that’s a field that will ALWAYS need people and I figured the insurance would be decent. (The benefits are … fine – not that great – but not that bad, either).

It makes me wonder how many other people out there have had to rethink their professional careers because of this damn virus. And now there’s talk of shutting down again. I heard through the grapevine that my hospital is working very hard thinking of ways NOT to shut elective surgeries down again. It’s true that we have a lot of COVID cases in the hospital and that a lot of employees have been tested for COVID and that entire departments have been shut down because there hasn’t been anyone to work them, but what’s the alternative? Go into hiding and go through this again and again every time cases go up? It’s like Ground Hog day. When does it stop? No. We can’t continue to hide from this thing – we have to grit our teeth and get through this. We need to urge the groups of people that are vulnerable to COVID to stay home while the healthy get out there and live their lives. I know herd immunity is sort of a dirty phrase right now, but that is exactly what we must do to get back to normal.

And any COVID cases overflow? Let’s designate large facilities and turn them into a MASH unit and take care of them that way. That has to be a better alternative than shutting everything down further destroying the economy. We can’t sustain this insane pattern. At some point, cases WILL go down, they have to. We just have to ride this high.

The vaccine is available but thank God the hospital is not going to make us get it. I would rather continue wearing a mask than get the vaccine. You just don’t know what sorts of poisons are being injected into your body and I would rather not have any unknown long-term effects, thank you very much. No job is worth my health. Period.

Moving on to a different topic ..

I bought a new Christmas tree. We have literally had our Christmas tree for over 25 years and I noticed, for the first time last year, when I took a picture of it how ragged it looked. It’s been losing more and more needles every year and now it just looks like a six foot Charlie Brown tree. I stumbled across a Black Friday deal on the Target website and bought a 7.5 foot tree for $100. We just got it last night and I’m excited to put it up after recording our podcast. It comes in three pieces – I’m looking forward to spending a fraction of the time setting it up. Our old tree was the kind where you had to put every single branch on and then fluff. It took forever.

Not sure what we’re doing for Thanksgiving this year. I know one of Kevin’s sisters will not be joining us as her children don’t feet comfortable getting together because COVID. They only want a get together of just their immediate family. I know it’s disappointing but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Since we’re short staffed at work, management has approved over time. I will DEFINITELY be taking advantage of that these upcoming weeks. Of course, it would be happen during NaNoWriMo but that’s okay – I’ll just get less sleep. I can sleep in December, right?

Enough with the life updates, let’s get back to writing. I thought you all might enjoy Jenna’s tips on writing a first draft. I like her style – she’s informative but funny and doesn’t take herself too seriously. I have watched A LOT of writing videos and some of these writers are so snooty I can’t even stomach it. We all have different styles and ways we approach our writing – there is no wrong or right way of doing it. It takes trial and error before you find your groove. I’m finding my groove. I’m starting to understand how my brain works and what my creativity needs to be coaxed out of the recesses of my mind. I’m being a NaNoWriMo rebel this year and I’m really enjoying myself. My rule is there are no rules. I write when I want and what I want because ultimately, I’m writing and that’s all I care about, no matter what that looks like.

(warning if you’re sensitive: language)

Video Summary:

1. Accept it will be bad
2. Outlines save lives
3. Don’t read it
4. Don’t edit
5. Edit if you can’t stop thinking about editing
6. Habit over motivation
7. Set goals
8. Understand your distractions
9. List your weaknesses
10. Calm down – refer to #1

My thoughts:

  1. I think this is a very important point. It’s true. Your first draft will be bad. You will re-read it and think, “wow – I suck.” But that’s normal. You can’t edit and revise something that doesn’t exist so just write it. Give it a few days before you read it and then work on making it “pretty.” I post my short stories without editing them – and I know they are not my best work, but every time I write a short story, an angel sings. At least, in my head. lol And it becomes easier for me to write the next one, then the next one. I have to exercise my writing muscles and I can’t do that unless I WRITE.
  2. Yes / no. It all depends on how you approach your writing. Remember – there is no one size fits all when it comes to writing styles and preferences. For me, I like outlining to a point, write it, then re-assess my story and where I need to go depending on where my characters took me to begin with. Then I will outline a bit more, write those bits, and so on. This works for me because it gives me just enough material to write but it doesn’t feel stale and boring.
  3. I 100% agree with this. I write it, then don’t read it again for quite some time. Then when I go back and read it, I think, “hhmm, this is not half bad.” I need some distance from my creativity – she can be an all-consuming bitch. Not to mention, people who write, then go back and edit .. I could never do that. To me, that’s like taking one step forward and two steps back – ugh, just no.
  4. I’ve never really gotten to this point because I’ve never stuck to a project long enough TO edit it. So I guess this tip doesn’t apply to me … yet.
  5. N/A
  6. This is me, hands down. I rarely have motivation to write, unless it’s NaNoWriMo and only then it’s because there are thousands of other people in the same boat and I love rewarding myself. I am working hard to make writing a habit and I hope to have that habit firmly in place in 2021.
    1. By the way – my weekly writing rewards to myself are: 1. new glasses 2. new Christmas tree 3. Rhodia bullet journal (because I’m about halfway through my first one – yes, I’m still journaling!) and 4. wireless earbuds – because my earphone jack on my phone is on the bottom and it’s super annoying trying not to yank my earbuds from my ears whenever I’m walking)
  7. Long-term goals, like quarterly goals, do not excite me. It excites me to see a daily blog post go up so that is my goal for this upcoming year – to write daily, or nearly daily, blog posts. But how many times have I said THAT in the past. (Hint: a lot).
  8. Jenna likes noise when she writes, I’m the complete opposite – it has be absolutely dead quiet when I write. I have honed my skills to always be aware of my surroundings with my job so focusing on one thing with something going around me completely derails me. I know my distractions – YouTube. But, I also think YouTube helps me because I get a lot of ideas and inspiration by watching YouTube. I love YouTube because it’s real people with real thoughts and real problems as opposed to paid actors that like to lecture me. No thanks.
  9. I know for me, writing descriptive prose is a weakness. I’m great with dialogue, not so great at describing the setting. I really need to work on that. And when I do describe a setting, I absolutely have to have a picture, or some sort of visual aid, to help me write it. Knowing this, I know that when I go back to edit, I will have to pad the story with description in order to give the reader a sense of where my characters are interacting. I hate to write setting, but it’s a necessary evil. Otherwise, my characters are in a green screen and that’s not fun to read, I’m sure.
  10. Your first draft will suck. Refer to point one.

It’s the saggy middle, ya’ll, pull your pants up and keep writing!

Podcast

Podcast: Answering Random Questions

 

Episode description:

Let’s take a step back from the political madness and answer some random questions. 

You’re welcome. 🙂 

Also – guess what? We’re on Apple Podcasts now, too! 

Okay really, there’s NO excuse not to take us with you! Thanks for listening!

And guess what else? We started a Podcast YouTube channel! Now you can SEE us while you listen! Coming soon …!

______________________________________

Take us on the go! You can hear our podcasts on the following platforms:

Anchor.fm

Spotify

Overcast

PodBean

Google Podcasts

Breaker

RSS Feed

We upload a new podcast every Sunday. Thanks for listening!

 

Writing Mechanics

How to Outline a Short Story

Uncle.

I have to admit to the world something I’ve been denying for years.

I’m a short story writer. *GASP*

I know, I KNOW. I’m not exactly ashamed of this admission, but it’s a bitter/sweet pill to swallow. I love writing short stories. I love writing scenes. I do not, however, like writing longer pieces. I think I’m going to have to accept that I may NEVER write an entire novel – I just get too bored with the same story line. Maybe I should focus more on writing short story anthologies. That is why I like writing several things at once – maybe I have attention deficit disorder when it comes to fiction. I can’t tell you the number of times I think of a story idea while reading something or even writing something entirely different. I’ve come to accept that is how my brain works. I supposed it’s time to stop fighting it.

So when I watched this video, a lightbulb went on over my head. Her ideas ignited my dying embers. (How is that for sounding dramatic).

Maybe I’ll focus more on honing my short story skills.

Or maybe not.

You never know with me.

At any rate, enjoy the video. Maybe it’ll ignite your smoldering fire. (I feel like that sounds dirty …)

Discuss among yourselves. I need to go to work.

NaNoWriMo

What If No One Likes My Writing?

MAN – I needed to hear this.

Also, shut that inner editor down – you’re trying to cross a finish line.

(video warning: language if you’re sensitive).

Haters gonna hate. There is nothing you can do about that but you can control how you react to them. People are hateful for a variety of reasons and most of those reasons have nothing to do with YOU. Haters are simply projecting their unhappiness on to you and unfortunately, you happen to be in their crosshairs at that moment in time. I know it’s easier said than done to shrug off hateful comments or behavior but people are flawed and terrible behavior comes with the territory.

Communication is a learned art. Not everyone pays attention to that lesson and/or they are never taught on how to communicate effectively. I’m telling my fellow MA’s that at work all the time. You can pretty much get anyone to do anything you want them to do if you recognize the art of communication. I took a communications class in college and it changed my life. I’ll never forget when we were assigned a speech where the objective was to persuade the class to our way of thinking. My subject? Legalize marijuana. We had to submit the assignment to our instructor before we got up in front of the class to present it and my instructor thought it was SO convincing that she asked that I put in “for medical purposes” into my speech. I was highly annoyed that she would suggest that but when I took my audience into consideration, young, impressionable, bored college kids, I got it.

But I learned HOW to communicate. The first rule of thumb – consider your audience. Who are you talking to? I consider this daily at work – what kind of patient am I speaking to? If they are young and hip, then I know talking to them as an “adult” will make them tune me out. If I’m talking to an elderly person, I know I have to slow down, enunciate fully and explain everything, BUT, don’t dumb it down so much that it seems I’m treating them like a child. I give patients controlled options when I speak to them – you can pick option 1 or option 2. And if they get upset and don’t understand why I won’t give or do what they want me to do, I explain why we can’t do option 3.

I also took a grammar class where we studied Aristotle which at the time I thought was DRY as sh*t, but I learned a lot about language and the importance of HOW to phrase my words when speaking to people. For example, don’t put people on the defensive when speaking to them – YOU need to do this or YOU shouldn’t do this. Like I said, communicating is an art. And offering someone constructive criticism is TRULY an art.

So, it’s challenging to receive constructive criticism but it’s also challenging to give constructive criticism. You can almost always tell, right away, if someone is truly trying to help you or if they’re having a crappy day and you’re the target. After you have determined the objective behind the comment, then you can proceed accordingly. It’s always best to ignore the hater – they WANT you to engage. They WANT you to fight. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I do not have the time, the energy, nor the desire to deal with someone else’s issues, I have plenty of my own crap to deal with, thank you very much.

But it still stings. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t get our feelings hurt now and again. We just have to be the better person and walk away – out of sight, out of mind.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been posting a lot of fiction lately. Largely because of NaNoWriMo, OF COURSE, but I’ll be honest, it’s sort of scary. My writing style won’t please everyone and I don’t even know if it makes sense most of the time because I’m writing for quantity at this stage, not necessarily quality.

But I’m getting to know my characters and I’m having fun doing it so I guess that’s all that matters.

But putting your creative self out there is scary. I can definitely empathize with other content creators out there though I can’t imagine what it must be like to have millions of followers and EVERYONE has an opinion so that must be really hard. You’re constantly being criticized and analyzed and people think you should have done this, or shouldn’t have done that and it’s easy to have an opinion on something you didn’t sweat blood to produce. Because in case you haven’t noticed, creating something out of nothing is HARD WORK.

But it’s also strangely satisfying. However, if you’ve noticed, I don’t allow comments on my blog because quite frankly, I’m doing what I’m doing for ME, not for any one who happens to visit. If I take time to stop and read what people think, to hear constructive criticism, it will slow my momentum down and I’ll start to doubt myself. My thoughts and feelings are my own, agree or disagree, they’re still mine to share.

Also, the majority of people do not know how to effectively communicate their thoughts without attacking, name calling or just being assholes and I don’t care about those people. And I certainly don’t have time to weed through the muck to find the genuine ones so I simply don’t open myself up to that situation. It simplifies my life and right now, I think we would all agree, we need simple in our lives right now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I really don’t care anymore if anyone likes my writing or not because it’s just something I HAVE to do. I have to purge my thoughts and writing is the best way I know to do it. I let that fear hold me back for too many years and you know what? Life is getting shorter and shorter, especially for me because I’m old(ish).

Speaking of which …

Today is my birthday. Why don’t you follow me?  You want to make my special day special, right?

Just kidding. Do what you want. But I DO appreciate YOUR time when you read my crap. It means a lot. Thank you.

Have a lovely day!