Growing One Follower at a Time

This is indeed a joyous occasion. This week, I reached a milestone. I have 200 followers on my blog. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of a big deal. I understand if I reached 500, I’d be raising banners or something. But I’ll take it for what it’s worth. 200 followers is something I didn’t think would happen. Hell, I thought I would never reach 100 followers. It’s been a slow process. And I’m sure along the way, I lost some followers. Continue reading “Growing One Follower at a Time”

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Rock the Vote

I normally don’t talk politics, but I feel compelled to write a little something from a little ordeal I encountered.

Yesterday, I woke up early to vote in my city’s and county’s elections. I had to go to two places to cast my ballots. One, at City Hall. Two, at the American Legion. It was kind of strange because that’s never happened before. It was kind of an inconvenience, which wouldn’t be a big deal if I hadn’t had to be at work early in the morning. After voting, I talked to my sister-in-law about the whole ordeal. Somehow, it turned into a conversation about how inconvenient voting can be for some people; that some demographics are discouraged to vote, that some people don’t even bother to vote.

So, what’s the point? It’s this: Continue reading “Rock the Vote”

Month in Review: August

Hello again.

I don’t know why, but it feels like it’s been months since I’ve written in this blog. I know I posted about breaking my glasses and how disappointed I was not being able to attend the Atlanta Writers Club meeting. I don’t always have a Saturday off of work, but this month I had all Saturdays off, except this past Saturday. Getting a Saturday off that isn’t requested is rare. At my work, they kind of frown upon it, especially with all the major holidays around the corner. Continue reading “Month in Review: August”

Patience

So, it’s about time I come up with something original. As exhilarating and inspirational as some of these posts from others that I’ve put on my blog, I need something fresh. And as I write this post, a question arises. Why am I in such a hurry to write this? What’s driving me? And why should I care? A sudden spark of inspiration, sure. Fulfilling a desire to write, possibly. There are a number of answers, but they revolve around one virtue: patience. Continue reading “Patience”

Project Blacklight: Goals Review

Good day, everyone!

Can’t believe we’re halfway through the year. I think time tends to go faster the older we get. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I figured I’d take the time to reflect on what I’ve done so far and review my goals. Sometimes, I go through my journals, reading the entries, reflecting on my thought processes. I don’t think I could ever create a book based on my entries alone. I don’t have stacks of journals I’ve collected over the years. And now, with a journal app on my iPhone, it kind of makes buying composition books obsolete. (Truth be told, I got tired of my daughter scribbling in my journal. It’s my fault.) So, let’s look back and evaluate where we are so far. Continue reading “Project Blacklight: Goals Review”

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: Project Blacklight’s Reflection

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

When I first heard of this A to Z Blogging Challenge, I thought “I couldn’t possibly do something like this. I haven’t written enough or been published to come up with 26 entries spanning the alphabet. I don’t have a plan. I don’t have a theme. I have nothing worthwhile to contribute.” (That last statement I could apply to this blog as a whole.) So, here I was contemplating whether or not I should even attempt to take on such an ordeal. Then one Thursday, StoryDam hosted a Twitter chat on the A to Z Challenge. I learned that I didn’t need a particular theme. I learned that it didn’t matter how experienced I was. I learned that I wasn’t alone in this quest. And the more I learned, the more my thoughts changed. From “can’t be done” to “it’s possible”.

So, I outlined my plan on Evernote on my phone. I went through several changes on topics until I nailed down something I was comfortable writing about, and some topics not so comfortable. I created reasons and statements to explore. After the planning, it was a matter of getting it out there by any means necessary. Whether that meant waking up before the crack of dawn or staying up late in the evening. In the solitude of silence or the company of Pandora, I wrote. I wrote for 26 days, covering 26 topics with no particular theme; just what I learned and hope to learn in this writing journey I’ve undertaken. A whole month later, I crossed the finish line, happier, without regrets.

So, what do I take away from this challenge?

  1. I can write on a deadline. Essentially, the A to Z Challenge was a set of deadlines that had to be met. There was no leeway to me. Either stay the course or play catch up. And catch up wasn’t an option.
  2. I can write about anything. The old adage is true: you never know what you can do when you’re forced to. I didn’t think I would come up with anything brilliant to say about the topics and subjects I picked. And yet, I did.
  3. I am not alone. I know, I know. Being on Twitter and Facebook, I have a great community of writers I can turn to for answers. When I signed up for this challenge, I had no idea the number of people participating in this thing. And the numbers grew and grew. I even found new blogs to follow and gained new followers.

I can honestly say that this challenge has been the best thing for me as a writer and blogger. In a short month, I gained a confidence I didn’t think I had. It taught me the importance of planning and thinking outside the box. I expanded my horizons and I found blogs to follow that I didn’t think to follow before. And again, it reassured me that there are people who do read and like my work.

So, I leave this year’s challenge basking in the confidence that I can do anything. Maybe next year, I will have a theme. Who knows? Until then, I will continue to write and hopefully enlighten someone with my words. Happy writing!

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: Z is for Zeal

AtoZDay26The dictionary defines “zeal” as “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective.” It’s encouraging to see someone with zeal for a just cause like the environment or civil rights. But sometimes, zeal can have a negative connotation. People can take their zeal to an extreme and use it to condemn and bash others who don’t share their views on an issue.

Being a writer, it’s hard not to have zeal. When we finish that draft. When we get an agent. When our work is published. When our work creates a voice in the world. There’s a lot to be zealous about in the writing world. Now, I haven’t reached the pinnacle of completing a rough draft of a novel or getting an agent or sending query letters. I feel I still have a long way to go as a writer. But just saying to myself that I am a writer gives me zeal. Writing in my journal gives me joy. Writing posts for my blog is an accomplishment.

The longer I stay on this path and the more I write, the more I’ll feel zealous about writing something that matters, even if it’s for entertainment value.

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: X is for Xenia

AtoZDay24I have a list of names I keep on my Evernote app in case I run into a name that strikes my fancy. Xenia happens to be one of those names. Here’s a short piece about her.

Xenia stopped in front of the restaurant door and looked at her reflection. She ran her hair through her fingers. She hated having anyone pointing out pieces of lint or fur or whatever was stuck onto her raven-toned curls. She then brushed her silk blouse and pencil skirt. She knew appearance was important to her company.

She entered the restaurant. The line snaked across the foyer. Men, young and old, wore gray three-piece suits. Older women were dressed in lavender sundresses and oversized hats. Little girls in their flowing dresses that nearly brushed the tiles.

Xenia looked behind her and tried to peek into the dining hall to see if the guests arrived before her. No one stood out. Occupants waved toward one another, chatting about whatever was the topic of the day. Xenia inched her way to the bar. She grabbed a tray and a plastic red cup.

“Buffet, ma’am?”

Xenia nodded yes. “Has anyone from the Hardaway party arrived?”

The cashier looked back at the dining hall. Most of the tables taken were separated, seating the maximum of four people.

“I’ll see if I can find someone who can help you. In the meantime, the total will be $10.59.”

Xenia lay her clutch down and took out her American Express card. The cashier slid the card and handed it back to her. The manager, a man in a button-down shirt and red tie, approached the cashier and Xenia.

“Are you Ms. Hardaway?”

“I am.”

“Right this way.”

The manager escorted Xenia to the Boswell Wing, a private room reserved for large groups.

“Your party’s been expecting you. And I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Don’t be sorry, sir,” Xenia replied. “She wouldn’t want you to be.”

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: W is for Wired

AtoZDay23Yesterday, I teased on Twitter about starting a new project. I could have done this sooner, but it fell in line with the A to Z posts, I decided to wait. Truth be told, I thought about this even before this blog came into fruition. And to be fair, I can’t take the credit for this one. Beck Gambill and Hazy Shades of Me, two bloggers I follow on WordPress, inspired me. If you haven’t Beck’s “Dixie Lee” stories or Hazy’s “Helena” stories, they are worth the time.

“Wired” is the name of my anthology. (I’m still working on the title, so bear with me.) The story follows Greg Stephens, a 24-year-old techie and his days at the local electronics store he works. The stories chronicle his encounters with customers and employees alike. Nice and mean, old and young, and everywhere in between. He’s also a family man fighting to maintain a balance between life in and out of his career. I’ve begun drafting the first of these stories, with many more to do.

Now, if you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you know of my goal to produce five short stories by the end of the year. That is still a goal I hope to accomplish outside of this series. This series was not part of the original goals I posted this year. As far as how many stories I will produce this year, I haven’t set a goal on that yet. Maybe I’ll do three to get a feel on how I’m going to tackle this project in the midst of my normal blogging and short stories other than this series. We’ll see what will become of it. In the meantime, I am excited that I get to share the news with you about this series. I look forward to see where this series goes and what encounters will await Mr. Greg Stephens.

2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: S is for Statistics

AtoZDay19Whether we want to admit it or not, we care about statistics. It’s the measuring stick of life. Economy, politics, science, sports, sociology, technology, history. There’s not a facet of our culture climate that doesn’t have a statistic attached to it. It can be a driving force behind what we do and who we are. Think about it. How would corporate big wigs know what the next trend could be if they didn’t pay attention to statistics? They would be chastised for not listening to consumers. Now granted, people, as a whole, are fickle. (Yeah, I said it, so I include myself.) And what the consumer wants doesn’t always transition to the next great idea.

Even in the artistic world, statistics play a role. Why? Before answering that question, the creative side says, “Don’t worry about statistics, focus on your art. Thinking about statistics stifles creativity and nothing will get done.”

Now, statistics can present evidence of interests. It can be used to show a current trend and predict what might come. I’ll use blogging as an example. We check our dashboards to see how many people view our posts and even more, what posts are getting comments. We’re happy if a post receives a certain number of likes and comments and get discouraged if a post falls short of a quota we set for ourselves. But statistics can only do so much. There is no formula that will guarantee success. No one can predict how long a trend will last. Back to blogging as an example. Say a post garners a lot of attention and receives numerous comments. Sure, you can continue to post about the same subject, but the readers will want something fresh.

Statistics, for all its worth, can’t measure everything. It cannot define who we are and what we do. As a new blogger, reading a notification about fifty people following my blog means I must be doing something right. But I shouldn’t let it go to my head. I can improve. And that’s something that cannot be measured.