Finding Me

In the year of “me,” I continue to learn so much about who I am and what I really love to do.

I spend every spare moment I can learning more about writing, photography, web design, book publishing, and so much more, and it’s just flipping magnificent!

** Let’s take a moment and notice I used the word “flipping” and not the “F” word as I normally would. I’ve encouraged my wonderful sister to use the internet more, and I’m trying to provide her with a few entries which are safe and fun to read at home. — HI SIS!! I hope all is well! **

Now, back to me. (Me! Me! Me! 🙂  )

I’ve always had a deep passion for photography. I even wrote NASA when I was eight years old and asked what it took to become a photography astronaut. I received a very lovely letter back and to be fair; they took my question very seriously. I was impressed that the response treated me as an adult, not a child. This was in the 1970s, so the letter included qualifications such as height, weight, higher level science or technology degrees (today known as STEM degrees), intelligence tests, psychology test, physical exams, military service, and much more. There was one last qualification, and it was written more like an apology, instead of part of the list. NASA explained to me that at this time an astronaut must be a male, but when I was older, they would be happy to speak to me about other positions available in the NASA organization for females.

I was very disappointed I was not able to become a photography astronaut, but I did look forward to talking to them one day about other positions. Unfortunately, as life goes on, some dreams do not come true. I did join the military, and I had an incredible career with the DOD (Department of Defense), but a job with NASA never occurred. In a strange way, I’m kind of happy I never worked for them. NASA was always my “dream job” but as the old saying goes, “Never meet your heroes.” The quote means when you put people on a pedestal, it’s hard to overlook their shortcomings when you meet them. I had this view of working with NASA, and I’m kind-of glad my perfect little dream hasn’t been ruined.

I never lost my passion for photography, and now that I’m retired, I can pursue my passions in my own way. After all these years, my love for creating something wonderful through a lens, on a canvas, or with words, hasn’t diminished at all, in fact, my love for these passions has only grown.

For me, writing and creating art is as necessary as breathing. I can’t eat, sleep, do chores, or watch TV without thinking about new ways to create stories, photos, or films. These things are my life. I crave them with ever fiber of my body. The characters in my mind, are as real as characters on a screen. They become restless, nagging me, waiting for me to give them life with each and every word I pour into their heart and souls.

While in the military, I learned how to use Harvard Graphics (yes, I’m that old), then I was allowed to attend military classes to continue adding to my knowledge. Without a computer at home, it was through these classes I was able to learn how to use clip art and basic photo editing programs. In my free time, I was allowed to act as a Public Relations Representative covering a few “feel good” stories, which later were published in military newspapers. For a while, this extracurricular activity kept my passions fulfilled, but I was always looking for new ways to add to my knowledge.

From 2009 – 2015, I did not have a lot of time to concentrate on my hobby, but I kept my skills up by taking free classes where I could, and publishing news stories in my own time. I even created a few websites for extra money. During 2015, I finally decided to make the time to follow my dreams. Even if I only pursued my dreams as a hobby, this hobby would give me something to do while I was retired.

Since December 2015 I’ve watched tons of YouTube videos, taken free online classes, I’ve learned how to use social media, and started this blog (Which was a huge learning curve. – Thank you for sticking with me as I learn how to use this thing).

Every day, I practice different skills. When I’m sick, or I don’t feel good, I watch videos. When I do feel good, I write more or add to my photo editing skills.

I loved being in the military, but my job was a necessary part of life to pay bills and care for my family, but my creativity is my soul. To catch up on all I missed is going to take many years of education and training, even longer due to my ailments, but I will do it. I’m driven to make up for lost time and apply myself to this new path just like I applied myself to my military career.

Even when my body is slowing down, learning keeps my mind alive. Yes, finding myself stuck on a problem is so frustrating, but learning a new skill to fix that problem is incredibly invigorating. Tonight I had one of those invigorating moments. I conquered one small photo editing skill I’ve been frustrated with for over a year. It has been such a pain trying to learn one little thing everyone else seems to pick up so quickly, but as soon as I figured it out, it was like leveling up in a video game, an entirely new set of tools opened up to me. This one key opened many doors to creativity I didn’t know about last year. These are the moments when all the hard work is worth it.

My goodness, it took me over a year to figure out how to make one little change to a photo, but as soon as I did, I knew for the rest of my life this skill would give me the freedom to build on these skills and eventually become the artist I’ve always dreamed of. If I had given up last year, I would not have the joy I have tonight (and trust me, as small as the skill was, conquering it was pure joy).

If you are working hard to accomplish a dream, just stick with it. Keep working hard, keep learning, keep your eye on the ball, and don’t give up. I promise the fun part is right around the corner. 

Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy.

 

*Legal Disclaimer; This blog does not support the measurement “around the corner” to mean one literal corner. I’m from the south so “around the corner” may mean a few corners or 20 corners, or even down the road, turning right at the old oak tree, but you get my meaning. Don’t quit, don’t get lost, and you’ll get there eventually. **

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning! If my blog seems cray-cray tonight, it’s just me trying out some new stuff. ** We’ll return to our normally scheduled show soon. **

If my blog seems cray-cray tonight, it’s just me trying out some new stuff.

For your inconvenience, I leave you with a proper offering to the internet gods; feral cat memes!

(Copyright disclaimer: I do not claim these memes as my own. Two memes maintain the Icanhascheesburger.com logo, but two of these creatures are lovely feral cat memes. They bring happiness wherever they roam. Their natural habitat includes all corners of the World Wide Web. If anyone should know the proper owner of these lovely feral memes, or should anyone want to make a claim to these wonderful wild memes, please contact me directly. I will gladly assign proper credit or return the said memes to the proper owners.)

I do hope this proper offering will make up for any glitches which may occur tonight due to my continued work on this back road on the information highway.

Thank you for your patience.

Your Loyal Servant

Cat meme - anti depressants

 

Cat meme -- Bored easily
Cat meme - Explain

 

Cat meme - I reget nothing

 

 

How do you grow as a writer? Work hard on the basics by collaborating with others.

In today’s installment of “Amanda isn’t an island” or “Amanda can’t create an award-winning epic in a vacuum,” I’m focusing on identifying weaknesses (some of us have more than others), creating a professional product (something to be proud of), and learning to collaborate with others to help a whole team move forward.

Working with other writers, especially those from a different background than yourself, is so vital to maturing as a writer. We must create a trusting team who will tell us the ugly truth and kick us in the hind-parts when we really need it.

Continue reading

Donald Trump Naked Statue Photos: Just say no!

To the people who created naked statues of Donald Trump,

I’m pretty sure my words will mean nothing to you, but just in case you ever read this, just know you are a terrible group of people. You just sexually harassed a professional man due to his political position and made reference to his “man hood.” How does that make you better than him?

I get that making fun of a man’s genitalia is the butt of many jokes on every college campus in America, but if we expect Trump to take this race seriously, pulling college level pranks on him certainly does not bode well for the future of the next generation.

I’m certainly not a Trump fan. Not even close. But I do not agree with the naked statues of him. That is just wrong and too far. We all get the book reference, but this is real life, dealing with real people. What you did is a disgusting show of immature behavior.

The entire female “body positive movement” has been waged so everyone feels positive about their body, including men…And yes, that includes even Donald Trump.

I know he refers to women in a negative light all the time. I know he calls women pigs, tells them they look better on their knees, and refers to bad attitudes being because of “that time of the month,” but those are words and your actions are much harsher than words. Do I get angry with him? Of course I do. But sexually harassing him back, in a much worse way, is the worst way to handle this issue. I’m not even sure how your team came up with this idea, but your idea person needs to be voted out of your group. This is just sad.

Yes, Trump is a bully. He is full of words, lots of words, all the words, but what you just did should be a crime (I’m hoping it is anyway).

This is not how you handle a bully. You do not strip the bully naked and run him down the hallways of the school, allowing everyone to take photos of him. Not only is that illegal but that is facing one immature action with an over-the-top reaction which causes second and third consequences for everyone.

You can’t go around making naked statues of every person you don’t like, including politicians. There is something seriously wrong with you if you think your actions are acceptable.

I certainly do not condone what you “artists” have done to Trump. I would never condone a conservative group creating naked statues of Hillary Clinton, then placing them all over America.

I would hope most people would not like it, even if they disagreed with her.

Do I think he’s a total ass? Yep. I sure do. Do I think he is diabolical? Yep. Right again. Will I ever vote for him? Nope. Not even close.

Do I think people should show his naked body all over the world without his permission? No way! No way would I ever think this is a good idea. What you did was wrong. Had he been a female, this would be considered a crime (again, I hope it is).

His naked body will be on the internet for the rest of his life. These photos will follow him, his children, and his grandchildren, forever. He did not give his permission for these creations or these actions. He is now a victim of sexual harassment and body shaming (and in some states, online sexual bullying).

* Now, replace the word “his” with “her” and “he” with “she” and see how bad this feels.*

It makes me sick seeing all the people taking photos with those statues and putting them on the internet. Some of these people would be the first ones to stand up against female harassment or naked photos of ex girlfriends being handed out to millions of people around the world. These photos will never go away. Even if they are taken down from search engines, people will have them in their homes and on their computers. I’m asking everyone to stop and think what you are doing.

Would you take photos with an unapproved naked statue of someone you loved? I know it’s hard to imagine, but Trump is a father, a grandfather, and much more to many people. Please look at those statues for what they are and think about what they represent.

Many females are bullied off the internet because of men putting naked photos of them on social media or creating naked photos of them on social media, and yet, your group is trying to the exact same thing to Trump. You are trying to circumvent the political process by sexually harassing someone. I don’t care if it’s Trump or anyone else, this is never okay!

Not only is this action totally against raising people up, but you just undercut the real progress females have been fighting for while promoting positive body image and trying to decrease sexual harassment.

If none of this concerns you (and obviously it doesn’t), then at least think about this, your actions could actually work in his favor. He *is* a victim of sexual harassment and he *will* gain sympathy votes due to your actions and this stunt. I really hope you can live with yourself.

What makes me more livid about this is you didn’t do this for the good of the country or the voters. You did this as a social media stunt.

I did not see one video of anyone in your group handing out voter registrations while you presented your “work of art.” You tried to destroy another human being only to create news for your own self interests. You did nothing to help the cause of the nation. You did this to help yourself by hurting someone else. You provided your group name and even the name of the artist.

If you have been truly doing something for a good cause (not this), the names of your groups and the name of the artist would have been irrelevant. You did this for followers and fandom, not for social change. Trump is known for tricks like this. What makes you any better than him?

Instead of body shaming someone you disagree with, I’ve got a better solution for you, get out and vote! I can see you have great talent, so focus that talent on something a little less shameful and a little more constructive. Don’t shame people for the body they have. If you don’t like a person for any reason, then use your creative brain and get people to vote. Create a project which will inspire more people to vote to your side.

Get your school to vote. Get your whole family and friends to vote. Get strangers to vote.

Let’s all take a lesson from Donald Trump’s actions. Let’s not sexually harass and body shame people, including the people running for POTUS. It’s not very nice.

Also, let’s not forget, this is not a political statement and it’s not art. This is sexual harassment and I really hope Trump sues you.

Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy (focus on the kind part today).

Written by;

A Never-Trump voter

(…who would never approve of Trump being harassed like this)

 

How to write a book; When facing doubt, just keep writing

For those who are following the progress of my book, I’m at that rewriting phase of “My gosh. Who wrote this crap? I hate this so much! I want to quit.” Seriously, why in the world am I doing this to myself?
I don’t need to write a book. I can sit back and watch America’s Got Talent everyday and then flip the channel and make fun of politics. I have no clue why I’m writing a book. I’m sure at some point I enjoyed this, right? Someone remind me that I actually enjoyed writing, because I’m at the point of chasing people around with chainsaws and getting lost in hedge mazes. 
I know I do like writing. I just need to remember rewriting can be difficult. I mean, how many times can you read a book over and over before you get sick of it? Well, that sometimes applies to your own books as well. Especially when you have to read one sentence a hundred times, then you realize that it doesn’t work in the story anyway. That can become frustrating, but it’s a perfectly normal feeling (having the urge to drink is also normal, at least for me it is). 
become-a-writer
The hard part I’m facing is, this rewrite is going to take me much longer than I expected and I will need at least one more personal rewrite before I can send it to an editor. I’m not looking forward to that last rewrite. I can see me facing tons of self doubt and it won’t be pretty. I’m pretty sure there will be tears. I don’t cry the pretty TV tears. Nope. I have the red puffy eyes, swollen face, and snot running down my nose. When I cry, it’s an ugly cry. 
It’s no secret I also suffer from occasional bouts of blues, depression, anxiety, frustration, grey hair, stinky feet, and severe doubt in my personal abilities to do anything great. To be fair, if a person survived almost 50 years of living on this rock, raised a few kids, and survived a few divorces, without gaining a few mental diagnoses they weren’t trying hard enough (I just happen to have more than a few, but that’s for a different conversation). 
Now, don’t get me wrong, most of the time I actually have a strong sense of self worth and a bigger feeling of self confidence, but there are those times when I know this is all a dream (or nightmare) and the world will fall out from under me and find out none of this was real. I wake up and I’ve been living in a mental facility the whole time. Yes, I know. That’s a pretty specific fear, but the way TV portrays mental facilities, it’s a pretty rational fear. 
The crazy part is, in both my fabulous careers, I succeeded in everything I set out to do. I’m very critical of myself and I work very hard. At every step of the way, in spite of my anxieties and fears, I won many awards and made some great memories. But I always have this little voice telling me that it could be all a mistake and I’m not really good enough. (I really hope I’m not the only one who feels this way sometimes. I would feel so much better if I knew others suffer from anxiety and self doubt. It would be really good to know I’m not the only one who is slightly off balanced.) 
Before becoming a writer, I could hide these self confidence issues. I could plaster on my smile, pull my shoulders back, grab a cup of coffee, and prepare myself to tackle the day (Hiding in the bathroom from time to time to face the fact the world out there is willing to crush me like a little bug). 
When I decided to write, I found out writers are vulnerable to the public. I didn’t want strangers judging me for my shortcomings, while they were hiding behind their keyboards. I wanted to be remain nameless and unknown.  I almost quit before I even started. 
Now, I’m writing a blog, I fight against injustice, and I’m writing a book. How? I took a look at all my anxieties and instead of avoiding them, I looked those damn anxieties in the face, grabbed them by the neck, squeezed them like a shampoo bottle the day before payday. I made them into a bubble bath and jumped my butt right in a tub full of my anxieties. I wanted to keep them close and control them. The crazy part of trying to control something, sometimes it still tries to act out. Even after years of success, in many different fields, my mind still questions my abilities. 
After writing a few chapters, I look in the mirror and wonder, “Why in the world did I ever think this writing thing was a good idea?”
 
It may be a few years before I ever write another book. I’ll need time to recover from this personal beating I’ve given myself and I’ll probably need some serious therapy after this book is published (Yes. I know I need therapy now, but that’s besides the point). 
But no matter what, I’ll keep plowing forward and so help me I will finish what I started.
That’s the most important thing. If you face even a little of what I go through, don’t quit. You are allowed to acknowledge the pain and the agony of putting yourself out to the world, but don’t let those feelings paralyze you. 
 
If you are writing a book, you have to stick with it. Don’t let doubt get you down and Writing - Self Doubtconvince you to quit. Telling a story isn’t something that happens overnight. When you want to hit delete or toss the whole thing out, take a break, get some coffee, stretch, and breath. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to breath and take water breaks. The time is not important but sticking it out and finishing is. When you body wants to collapse from pain, your arms are weak, and your brain tells you to quit, don’t listen. Keep going. When your brain tells you no one will judge you if you drop out right now, don’t listen. Keep going. Keep typing and keep writing. You can do this. I can do this and you can do this. We can do this. 
I promise this, if readers don’t like my book, it won’t be for lack of trying. I’m pouring my heart and soul into this book. I’m going down the rabbit hole and I’m taking the readers with me.
 
In all the craziness and pain, I will bring you stories of survival and happiness. I hope you will laugh and cry with me. This is why I will keep writing. I don’t want to tell you what I’m writing, I want you to read what I’m writing. I will continue to write, no matter how many times the black dog barks at my heels, and no matter how many times doubt enters my mind, I will keep writing. 
I want you to keep writing too. 
I know it’s hard, but no matter what, never quit. Just keep writing. 
dorymeme -- just keep writing
Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy.
(and of course, when I’m done, you need to buy my book.)  

My book for my birthday. Time to “Get er dun”

The time is very near. Follow my journey into the self doubting, self abusive, mentally tiring thing we call writing.

31July2016 at midnight starts my 31 day marathon writing month. I’ll still pop in from time to time to update how I’m doing, and to take a mental break (some of my stories are super heavy), but this is my birthday present to myself.

I’m not buying myself anything “normal.” I’m paying for editors and artwork. (Unlike some people think, books don’t create themselves for free).

I’m not going out this month. I’ll be writing. The only reason I might go out is to hunt Pokemon, but only to write about them and to take those highly needed mental breaks I mentioned above.

I’m sure there will be lots of coffee, Monster drinks, and sandwiches eaten this month. When I’m done, I will celebrate with the drink of writers. I plan to purchase the best bottle of Scotch a novice writer can afford (does good Scotch come in Airplane sized bottles?) and take photos with it.

I’ve been writing and experimenting with Photography since before I can remember, so it’s time to put these passions to work.

If my phone goes to voice mail (which I don’t have set up), there are about 5 different ways people can contact me (Facebook, Twitter, text, email, blog, carrier pigeon, and my goodness, even regular mail stills delivers to my house).

I promise that I will call and email everyone back, at least every other day, twice on Sunday if I’m lucky. 🙂

For the real fans!

My first book is pretty tame compared to what I normally write about. This book is going to be about the animals in my life. It is not a children’s book at all, but real life, heart wrenching stories of love and loss, and how animals go on this journey with us. There are stories of happiness, joy, sadness, and of course, as with all animals in our lives, there are stories of tragic death. There are even a few scary stories, which include spiders and snakes.

If anyone would like to follow my writing journey and be some of the first fans know when my book will be published, feel free to join my blog and provide an email for First Look updates.

Here is the first update on my journey.

 

https://gritshugsandsweettea.com/2016/07/23/time-to-finish-my-first-book/

 

*** Seriously, you can provide a “spam” email, that’s okay with me. 🙂 I know I do when I join stuff. But I promise not to over load your email with constant updates. That’s what Facebook is for! 🙂

The reason for the email is, when my book is eventually published, the people registered for email will receive first look, discounts, and there are plans for signed postcards of animal photos I haven’t published yet, and other goodies I haven’t come up with yet.

Also, don’t fret too much. I know my grammar and spelling is sometimes horrifying, but that’s what great editors are for. They make writers, like me, look good. 🙂

Wish me luck.

 

Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy.

Meme Monday: A couple of cats and some words of wisdom (Hey! I see you. Stop laughing).

I’m spending a lot of time in the garden, playing with chickens, working on my VA packet (oh fun!), and an entire laundry list of things which all have to be completed right now, or the whole world will collapse! There’s nothing wrong with a little fun hyperbole, right?

One of the many things I’m working on this summer is this great place where readers tolerate my ramblings and venting; my blog.

When I first started it, I ran with it. I didn’t care. I had words to say and come heaven or high water, I needed to get them out. Bad grammar, misspellings, and all, I didn’t care. I was going to put my words on paper (or screen) and be damned the grammar police. Now I’m a little more realistic on how much the public will put up with and I do believe I’ve reached that boundary a few times. Now has come the time when I need to go back and correct some mistakes.

I’ve figured out that readers will either put up with venting, sarcastic jokes, and cussing, or they will tolerate bad writing, but they will not tolerate both. Continue reading

An interview with Future Book founder Sam Missingham — Catch The Moon, Mary

Sharing this interview of the wonderful Sam  Missingham….

Originally posted on Words Are My Craft: Anyone who knows anything about the publishing world know that an interview with Sam Missingham is a Big Deal. Having worked for publishing giants such as the Bookseller, FutureBook and HarperCollins, she has forged an immensely successful and influential career in publishing and marketing within the books industry.…

via An interview with FutureBook founder Sam Missingham — Catch The Moon, Mary

Time to finish my first book

August is the month. The month when I will do what other writers and creative people have done for centuries. I’m going to lock myself away and not come out until I’ve accomplished my goal of finishing my first piece of serous work. Now, don’t get me wrong, “locking myself away” isn’t going to be the same as The Man in the Iron Mask. I’m thinking I’ll be more like Benjamin Franklin during the June 1787 conventions. I’ll still be sociable with people, but I’ve got to get my work done too. Plus, I’m 99% certain no one will have to come get me from a bar in the early morning hours (I leave that 1% open so I don’t make a liar out of myself and let you all down).

Many people participate in National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. This event, which takes place in November of every year, started in 1999 to encourage writers to build a habit of writing everyday. The only issue is, I love working outside in November, so I never participate. I’m not going to give my writing month any special name. I’m just going to write and write, until I can’t write anymore.

There are some wonderful tools and information on the NaNoWriMo website, so I would be remiss if I did not include it here:

National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo

Another reason why I’m not going to wait until November to finish my novel is I already have the novel written (mostly). It may read like a second grade report on the migration of ducks, but dang it, it’s written. I have written over 80,000 words and many of them actually form enjoyable sentences.

I’ll  be giving this first draft some serious TLC and personal editing. My time to do my personal editing and re-writing starts at midnight of July 31st and ends midnight August 31st. I may not finish during this time period, but I’m really going to try.

The reason why I’ve decided to give myself this deadline is the same reason many artist have a hard time letting certain paintings leave their studios; it’s not perfect enough for me.

Quotes from Amanda -2.jpg

I’ve been messing around with this manuscript for almost a year now and it’s time to either finish it and send to my editor or scrap the whole thing and start over.

Since I know I will not be scraping the whole thing, it’s time to finish it.

The problem I’m facing is my own doubt. I keep coming back to previous written chapters and re-writing them so much they no longer look like the original work. The original work I wrote with passion and love, not with a critical eye of someone who’s trying to impress others. So, it’s got to get out of here before I ruin it.

I also need to finish it now so, if for no other reason, I can start a new one. I have so many ideas for future stories, if I don’t get this one done, I’ll never get the other ones started. Even if it’s not perfect (no work of art ever is) I’ve decided I’m going to make this one as great as I can in August and hope for the best.

I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress… Maybe, I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress… Hopefully, I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress. Okay, I can’t promise this at all.

There will be so many hairs I’ll pull out and tears I’ll shed, I might take the time to load a photo of what I look like while deep down in crazyville of re-writes. I think there may be Scotch involved. Yes, Scotch. I can’t write a proper novel without the drink of authors.

During August, please expect many updates which only include photos of cats, photos of coffee cups, and photos of Scotch. Those updates may be the only thing left of me when I’m finished.

So, that’s it. Simple as can be.

No more doubts, fears, or worry. I’m going to write it and send it out on the wind to see where it grows.

(Also, I really hope all of you read it. I’m sure the Pokemon Go gods will reward you for your purchase.)

 

Until next time…be safe, be kind, and always be happy.