The Return of Rae!

Posted on July 13, 2011. Filed under: Editing, Musings, My Writing | Tags: , , , , |

Hello all you people in the blogdom!

I am exhausted, intrigued, excited, and thrilled. And I am home! After a year (more or less) abroad in the wide, wide world of China, I have returned to the wonderful US. It’s been a wild ride, but if you’ve kept up with my other, China-centric blog, you already know that.

After all that time away from home, I’m back and ready to revamp this blog of mine! I will probably be working on a few concepts that have been floating around my brain while participating in all kinds of things to keep me afloat. I have to get a job, of course, which could take longer than I really like to think about, but in the meantime I’ll be keeping up my online activity as well as my writing.

Speaking of writing, what was the first thing I did when I arrived home? Oh, that’s right: I gravitated instantly to the box with my CreateSpace proof copy, courtesy of the NaNoWriMo winner’s page. It arrived long before I did back in the States, and when I opened it up, I got my first taste of just what a book that I wrote could look like.

I would actually recommend purchasing a proof copy of a draft if you are an aspiring writer. It means so much more to have a professionally bound copy of your book with your name on the front in your hands, and it’s given me more motivation to edit and revise the book now that I’ve seen just how awesome it has the potential to be.

Fire & Ice Bound - Cover of my Proof Copy

As you can see, I decided to take a picture of my proof copy with my dog, Harley. Seriously, though, the cover was gorgeous. I will go ahead and admit I probably could not use the cover art if I were to self-publish the book because the amazing artist who designed it (another NaNoWriMo participant) mentioned the artwork potentially being licensed in such a way that I would need to pay for it. However, as this book is just for me at this point, I’m thoroughly enjoying the gorgeous cover.

Title Page of Fire & Ice Bound

I took quite a few photos of this to link to the NaNoWriMo forums, but the point is that seeing my name (or my pen name as the case may be) in print is enough to motivate me towards eventually ironing out all the kinks and making this shape up into a real novel.

The end result of this proof copy is a 333-page book on cream paper with few stylistic designs apart from the chapter font. The lines are spaced at 1.5, and the font is 11-point Times New Roman. It’s a little over 90,000 words long, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed rereading it since I haven’t read it since I finished writing it in February 2010 (written originally for NaNoWriMo 2009).

Random Inside Pages of My Novel

It’s stunning to see my novel in print. Like I said, I sincerely urge you to get a proof copy of your novel printed. With CreateSpace, you do nothing until you approve your proof for sale, which means you never have to approve your proof copy. So in essence, you can finish editing, revising, polishing that proof copy until you get it just right, and then you can start sending it in to agents.

A proof from CreateSpace is actually rather cheap when you get right down to it. Basic shipping will get it to most places in the States within a week of ordering, and I think it’s a definite investment in the future of my writing career to see what I’ve written in book format and really get a chance to read it like I would a novel.

The Back Cover of My Novel

I’ll probably update with a little more about how I’m using this proof copy to edit and revise my novel. I think it might be fun to do a few visual presentations on my editing process, especially if it becomes as “colorful” an experience as I imagine it will.

I thoroughly intend on doing a revision of the novel, printing it out on paper, revising again, doing a sweeping edit of grammar, and finally paying for a second proof copy from CreateSpace that will hopefully be the most polished version of the book.

Until then, there are novels to be written (in August), resumes to revamp (next week), blogs to write (soon and very soon), and other things that have to be finished.

I hope this visual blog post has warmed your little writer hearts and reminded you that I am, in fact, not dead. I will be around more soon, and hopefully we’ll see this blog revamped in the interim.

Looking forward to more posts soon –

– Rae

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Author Interviews?

Posted on February 8, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Does anyone know if authors do interviews with lowly bloggers?

I ask because I want to pick up my rusty journalism skills and start practicing again and was thinking it would be fun to be able to interview some of my favorite authors. Of course, that requires some clout, or I’m assuming it does.

I know there are bloggers out there who are well known to the publishing and writing industry. These are the bloggers who get to read the ARCs and review them for publishers. They have a highly rated blog simply by dent of having hundreds of followers, all of whom want to know about the books these people read.

I, clearly, am not one of those people. But it would be nice to find out if authors are willing to interview with a lowly blogger like myself.

Now, it’s also clear that I’m not a journalist. I studied journalism in college for a while, thinking I would double major in business and journalism and find a better job that way. But I dropped journalism shortly after starting the major, perhaps a year into it, due to personal circumstances.

However, my passion for writing has never changed, and since I can’t get a job in a newspaper or magazine at the moment, it would serve me well to keep up my skills by writing for myself and my readers. I merely thought it would be fun if that writing was about established authors and could get me noticed by a few more people in the process.

So far, I’ve contacted my favorite author twice and received one response from her. It was a personal response instead of a form letter, but as Lauren Willig has become ridiculously popular, I’m not sure I could get an interview with her, even one through email.

Other authors I’d like to interview? Ted Dekker, for one. Despite not being happy with the tacked-on ending (or beginning) to his Circle Trilogy (series?), I am curious about how that man’s mind works. His characters are so vivid that I wonder if they’re not people he knows in real life. Not to mention the worlds and situations he creates.

Off-hand, I’d also like to interview one of my earliest “adult” authors: Lori Wick. I started reading her books when I was a child, but those were the books that introduced me to the world of “adult” fiction, or rather, the world of fiction that technically should have been above my reading level. Lori Wick was always one of my favorites growing up, even though I sometimes feel she’s lost some of her touch (though part of that is due to the overwhelming amount of Christian romance fiction that permeates [read: saturates] the market today).

Aside from those three authors, I wouldn’t mind interviewing Orson Scott Card as I find his ability to make me like science fiction fascinating. Francis Chan would be awesome to interview as would Diana Gabaldon.

There are so many authors who I’d love to interview simply to understand their minds and where their inspiration comes from. The unfortunate thing is that many of the authors I’d really like to interview are already dead.

What would it be like to interview C.S. Lewis or JRR Tolkien? To sit down with William Shakespeare for a cup of tea and a chat? To walk along a field with Jane Austen, pumping her for information about Mr. Darcy? Or, if you’re like me, to watch an opera with Baroness Orczy and then stay up late at night with her, sipping whiskey (or whatever alcoholic beverage was her preference) over rousing tales of Sir Percy Blakeney?

Clearly that won’t happen. But I’d like to think that some authors out there are willing to be interviewed by poor bloggers like myself. Does that happen? I’m not entirely sure and haven’t done enough research to see if it does or not.

Who would you interview if you could? And why?


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What is it about magic…

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Books, Children's, Fantasy, Musings | Tags: , , , , , |

…that makes me feel like a child again?

There’s something about children’s stories that always awaken the child in me regardless of how old I am. I hope I never lose the sense of wonder and awe that I feel when I see movies where magic happens or read books that tell tall tales of dragons and hobbits and elves.

Tonight was another magical night.

Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

My parents and I went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at the theater. I was amazed it was still out in theaters, and we went to the non-3D version of the movie. I think because we saw the regular version, which might contribute to the graphics looking a little off. In fact, I was a bit disappointed in the graphic quality of this Narnia adventure as compared to the first two.

Never mind that I finally realized they’re making the movies out of order.

I imagine it’s because they needed to have the children close to the correct ages to fit into their respective books, but I also suspect it’s because they never intended on making the entire series into movies. But then again, maybe I’m wrong about the order the novels are supposed to go in. I was looking at my old, ratty copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tonight and realized it listed the books in a different order from some of the newer copies I purchased last year. So if anyone can link me to the proper order or simply fill me in, that would be great. Is there even an official reading order? I’m not sure.

But if there’s one thing I love about Narnia it’s the story. The story always captivated me as a child. I think I’ve said this before, but I always, always wanted to be Lucy. I would spend hours playing make-believe games and going into the bedroom in my granny’s house, opening double doors on closets and whatever else I could find and pretending they were wardrobes taking me to a frozen Narnia wonderland.

I love Lucy because her faith is so simple and pure. I think she’s always inspired me to achieve some of the same kind of belief in something so amazing that it seems incredible. I don’t think I have her faith yet, but I do think I have her awe at the way things happen.

And as it happens, I’m on a children’s theme today. I’ve been reading through A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh today and found it delightful. Truthfully, I was always a Winnie-the-Pooh girl. My childhood blanket was a Pooh themed blanket that I still have. I have a Pooh picture framed in my room and a Russian Pooh nested doll that features five of the characters.

I know people always love Tigger for his energy. I love Pooh for his simplicity and adventurous nature. Instead of a silly old bear, as Christopher Robin always put it, I find Pooh to have a certain charm that makes him one of my favorite childhood characters.

Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin

Milne’s story is one I’ve never actually read; I always watched my old-school Disney VHS versions of Pooh Bear. Or I’d watch “The New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh” with that snappy theme song that started something like, “Gotta get up, gotta get movin’, ready for a brand new day…”

And, in case you were wondering, yes, I am such a Pooh fan I can sing the original Disney song.

From the beginning now…

“Deep in the Hundred Acres Wood, where Christopher Robin plays,

you’ll find the enchanted neighborhood… of Christopher’s childhood days…

a donkey named Eeyore is his friend, and Kanga and little Roo,

there’s Rabbit and Piglet, and there’s Owl, but most of all Winnie-the-Pooh.

Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff,

he’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, willy, nilly, silly old bear.”

So how much of a nerd am I?

I can still remember the sound of the narrator’s voice reading the book and the look of the pages as they magically turned and you saw Pooh Bear climbing along letters and commenting back to the narrator. It was always one of my favorite images as a child. And I find myself still appreciating the simplicity of Milne’s book, even down to the amusement I feel that Pooh’s name always starts as “Edward Bear.”

I’ve also got Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner on my list to read and am equally looking forward to that one. And I’ll finally finish reading Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh as well.

I’ll eventually go back and review the other two books that I’ve not reviewed yet. I still have about two chapters left of Pooh Bear to go, and I plan to finish that tonight. It makes for a nice, light read.

I hope you have something magical in your life as well! Share it with me?


P.S. Is it hypocritical to join a number of challenges based on books already on my to-be-read-2011 list? Just curious!

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On Reading Challenges for 2011

Posted on January 13, 2011. Filed under: Blogs, Books, Musings | Tags: , , , , , |

I realize it’s pretty popular to host reading challenges now. People seem to get amped up and rush into them with the banners waving. I’ve also noticed there are a ridiculous variety of these challenges.

One in particular caught my attention and got me started thinking about the challenges in general. It’s by Historically Obsessed and is a Lauren Willig Reading Challenge. Of course, if you’ve read my blog, you’ve probably gotten a little sick of my admiration for Lauren Willig’s historical spy series, but I can’t really help that; she’s one of my favorite authors.

The challenge asks readers to take on reading all the books in her series in a year. Currently there are 7 books out and one more coming in the end of January. That makes eight books total to read in the series over the course of the year. That’s not half bad, and I’ve been thinking of rereading the books on my list, so I might give it a go if the last two books have come out in paperback by the end of the year.

I started looking up reading challenges, though, and I came across this blog, which tries to stay current with all novel and non-fiction reading challenges thrown out there on the blogosphere. As I started reading through just a handful of the challenges for the year, I was struck by how serious some people are about these challenges.

Now, for the record, I’ve given myself some challenges. I plan to read at least 50 books this year, interspersed with a smattering of new authors and genres to open my outlook a bit. I think that plus the Lauren Willig Reading Challenge are all good things and things I would normally have come up with on my own.

Then there are challenges like the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge that takes a list of all books quoted, mentioned, or otherwise shown throughout all episodes and puts together a challenge for readers. Now it may be because I’m just not big into television and haven’t really caught onto a show that I wanted to watch since NCIS aired, but this strikes me a little much. The challenge files the books into categories and asks readers to pick a level, which determines how many titles from each category they will read during the year.

I like the idea of reading a variety of books, don’t get me wrong. But I think I’ll pick that out myself for now. I’ve actually already managed to branch into some books I never thought of reading before simply by picking them up from my pile and starting in on reading them. Perhaps these reading challenges are a good idea if you’re not into reading a variety of books or have gotten stuck reading a few authors and aren’t willing to branch out.

I decided last month I would try to branch out this year because I think it will make me a better author to be more well-rounded in my reading.

Does that mean I think I’m better than those of you doing reading challenges? Of course not! It just means that, for me, the reading challenges don’t seem like ones that I would enjoy. There are lots of titles on that Gilmore Girls list that I’ve put on the backburner and several that I’ve already read; so it’s not like I couldn’t join in the challenge. I’d just rather do my own challenge and read things that will both interest me and help me grow as a writer. And I’ll add that I want to do it in my own way.

If anything, I’d start a reading challenge to throw out all the other challenges and read a specified number of books within the year where you’re trying to challenge yourself to read outside your genre and author preferences. For me, the key is to read things I enjoy in between reading new genres and authors; that makes all the difference.

I hope this hasn’t come across as necessarily condescending. It’s just my thoughts for myself on reading challenges. I may yet join in the Lauren Willig one, but that’s one that I’ve been toying around with doing for a while now on my own. Joining the challenge has no real bearing on my doing it besides motivating me to post thoughtful reviews and commentary on the Historically Obsessed contest page.

Perhaps I should participate in a reading challenge this year simply to see what all the commotion is about. We’ll see.

What about you? Are you going to participate in any reading challenges? Which ones? Let me know what you think because I’m always curious!

Oh, and I’ll post another blog soon with my reviews on two of the books I finished this week: Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and James Patterson’s Mary, Mary. So I hope you’ll look forward to those! Now I’m off to find another book to read to satiate my book lust!


P.S. I’m enjoying that challenging myself to do the reading has gotten me reading a few of those pesky books on my list that were sitting around my room looking lonely and unloved. Have you been doing the same?

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New Year, New Goals?

Posted on January 8, 2011. Filed under: Books, Musings, Reviews, Suspense | Tags: , , , , |

Wow… it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted here, and there have been way too many things that have happened to really begin to tell you all the craziness in my life. Since you might be wondering (if you’re keeping up with this blog at all, which I wouldn’t blame you if you aren’t), I am back in the good ole’ US of A.

That’s right, folks. Rae has returned from the Far East and is currently residing peacefully at her granny’s kitchen counter where she is typing away. However, that won’t be the case for long. Tomorrow we hopefully return to Tennessee and then become cozy there for a few more weeks. But eventually I’ll be heading back to China to complete my contract.

Why am I home again? It’s a long story. I haven’t even shared it on my China blog for those of you who read that, but the basic gist is that my grandfather had a heart attack and was subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer and given a rather grim prognosis. So I’m here to visit family in between semesters and then heading back to China to finish my contract.

This is my first chance to really update this blog, and I’m actually relieved it’s still breathing, despite not having added to it in the months I’ve been gone. I have a few new goals I’m going to be working towards this year, and some of them will affect the blog. So I’ll go ahead and outline them and then give you a short review of the “first book of the New Year” that I completed earlier this morning.

My Goals In Reading and Writing

First, I have a goal to read around 50 books in a year. That might be tough given that it’s hard to come by books in China that aren’t horribly translated (from English to Chinese and back to English), but I imagine my parents will be happy to send me books with packages they send my way. I’m trying to get a head start on it while I’m home.

Second, I have a goal to read books outside my norm. I’m wanting to try some new, popular authors that I’ve never read before as well as genres I typically don’t read. This means I’m going to be reading some Patterson, Gaimon, King, or whatever else suits my fancy and doesn’t look like it’ll take me a year to actually finish reading. Anyone who has suggestions can feel free to offer them!

Third, I have to complete my NaNovel 2010. That’s right, I did participate in and complete another NaNoWriMo. My novel, In Search of Guanxi, isn’t even close to being finished, but I ideally would like to finish it by the beginning of February. My goal is to complete it by February 14th as I think Valentine’s Day would be the perfect day to finish a novel (more importantly, I fly back to China February 15th!).

And last, but not least, I need to edit my NaNovel 2009 for the CreateSpace proof copy. I never received my proof copy last year because I was too lazy to edit the novel. This year, however, I had a fellow WriMo writer and graphic designer create a beautiful cover for my novel that I want to use in the proof. She’s graciously given me her permission to use said cover for my proof copy, and I am wanting to get the novel edited and revised to match the amazingness that is the cover. For those of you not on NaNo, this woman is amazing, and she definitely deserves praise for her work. So I can only hope my novel will come close to matching the cover she made me.

In theory, I have a date of finishing revisions by April in order to get the dimensions and personalizations onto the cover and putting the whole thing together to be submitted to CreateSpace by mid-May. We’ll see how it goes. Either way, I have a goal, and now the idea is to get motivated to complete it.

I should add here that in revising I’ll probably be reading a few of the writing books I collected last year to give me ideas and tips on the process. I’ll most likely try to review said books and their processes on this blog as I come to them, but that might take me a bit of time. Either way, they’ll fall into my 50 books goal, which will be good.

Someday I’ll go back and tally up all the books I read last year. That won’t be for a while, though. Oh well.

And speaking of goals, I’ve already worked towards fulfilling two of them. I’ve finished reading my first book of the new year, and it was a great book.

I’ve never been a big suspense and thriller reader because I tend to shy away from the blood and guts. It’s not that it really bothers me, but I prefer happy, comedic moments in my fiction as opposed to shoot-em-up deaths and near-deaths. But I will read it on occasion; my preference usually is to stick with the authors I already know I can handle, though.

So reading Lisa Unger’s Beautiful Lies was going a bit out of my comfort zone. I got the book when I was working at The Book Gallery one day. The boss brought in a box of Advanced Reader Copies that he didn’t want anymore, and this book, published in 2006, was among them. I snagged it when no one else wanted it and forgot about it in the bustle of getting ready to head to China.

Now that I’m back, I noticed it on my bedroom floor and picked it up to add to my pile of trip books to take with me to Indiana. I started reading it and was immediately immersed in the story of Ridley Jones, whose identity is questioned throughout the story. In Ridley’s world, her life has been easy and comfortable, the daughter of a wealthy New Jersey pediatrician and adopted niece of a well-known charity endorsing man, both of whom have spent their lives protecting her identity.

Ridley’s journey begins as a series of choices, which she tells readers is what brings all people on their journeys. She says that one choice, one small change in her daily routine, is all it takes to bring her world to a crashing halt and create questions she’s not sure she’s ready to answer. With help from her new friend Jake, who Ridley spends her time questioning as much as she questions her family and childhood friends.

On her search for the truth, Ridley discovers the truth doesn’t always set you free, and sometimes it lands you in a heap of trouble. The fast-paced, first-person narrative was gripping at times, but at others, I found myself drifting a bit. That could always be because I’ve lost some of my ability to really focus on a book, though. Whatever the case, the story was fascinating and held my attention to the last page, and I really enjoyed it.

I will admit, however, that I’m not sure I’m cut out to be reading ARCs. I realize they are uncorrected proofs, and that’s why I noticed so many glaring errors that any publishing house would have eradicated before printing, but still… perhaps that kind of book is not for me. I have at least one other ARC in my collection to read, a Patterson book that I snagged from my boss as well. We’ll see if that one has as many glaring errors, and then I’ll know not to read them unless I’m not worried about perfection.

Hopefully I’ll be adding new posts more frequently now that I’m home. And when I go back to China, I should be able to continue adding posts as I have a proxy (thank heavens for people who create ways around the Great Firewall of China!) that has enabled me to visit such contraband sites as Facebook (gasp!) even in my Chinese apartment. I look forward to writing more on this blog so that it won’t be lost in the mass of the blogosphere, and even if no one keeps up with it, I think keeping it going will be my joy.

I hope you’ll bear with me as I regroup on this side of the world and get my bearings. And if you have any thoughts, feel free to share them! I’m always interested in hearing from people.

Until next time –


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Stop, drop, and find the fire extinguisher?

Posted on May 30, 2010. Filed under: Musings | Tags: , , |

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. This week has been dramatic to dizzying extremes. And I thought high school drama ended with, well, high school!

One friend admitted to having called off his engagement to the girl he’s been with for nine years. He called it off two months before his wedding no less. If that wasn’t shocking enough, another friend admitted to having a panic attack that caused her parents to demand she call off her own wedding or else lose her parents. I have no idea how I would react to that, but the ruffled feathers were finally calmed, and the wedding is officially on. That’s good cause it’s in two weeks!

Then there’s me. Amazon said they didn’t want me. China does. I’ve started the process for getting my Visa. I picked up Chinese For Dummies at work for $5.99. I’m almost finished with the book Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost. It’s a great book that deals with the more practical side of a Westerner going to China for any length of time. (He writes excessively about the pollution and over-population as well as the ridiculous amount of construction.)

You’d think that would be enough for a week to be a little overwhelming.

But no. We had to go one step further… whether we wanted to or not.

My father woke me up this morning at 4 a.m. by rushing into my room demanding, “Get out of bed. There’s smoke in the house. You have to help mom find the fire extinguisher.” I’ve never woken up so fast in my life. I jumped out of bed, slipped on my house shoes and raced down to the kitchen to find mom frantically searching the broom closet for the extinguisher. Dad was yelling for it as smoke billowed in from the garage, and I opened the pantry door and turned on the light. There it was, gleaming in all its red, pristine glory.

Mom grabbed it and raced downstairs to give it to dad. He yelled at us to let the dogs outside, so I threw open the back door. Then he yelled at us to call 911. I knew it was bad then. I grabbed mom’s cell phone and called that fateful number.

It always brings back memories of Alfalfa for me. “Quick! What’s the number for 911?” I can remember the fire truck scene from that movie, too. The kids holding onto the fire hose as it flailed wildly into the air. It’s a freaky thought that that could happen to your own house.

As I called 911, mom finished getting the dogs outside and dad ran into the garage, letting a billowing cloud of acrid, black smoke into the house. I immediately started coughing as I got a recording.

You read that right. A recording.

“Thank you for calling 911 emergency services. Your call is important to us…” Click.

Then the operator came on. I gave my name and address and told the immediate problem as I’d been coached to do back in middle school when they made us draw out maps of our houses to figure out the best plans of escape in case of a fire and a rendezvous point for all family members. The operator tried to ascertain where I was located and what the real problem was. All of that was information I’d oh-so-helpfully supplied in my 30 second intro to the problem.

Then I was transferred to Rural Metro, the local fire department for the city, and I immediately answered to my address and the situation again. I then explained we lived less than a minute away from the local volunteer fire department so that we could hopefully have people dispatched faster. It felt like forever as I talked to the dispatcher. I got my parents out of the house, and then dad went racing back inside to see if he could find the fire and get some shoes on. Mom tore off after him trying to get him back outside. I was left waiting as I finally heard the blessed sound of sirens.

By the end of it, we had three fire trucks, two local utility trucks, and an ambulance all packed into our little back road. Not to mention the cars of several of the firemen crowding our neighbor’s yard.

I won’t give you all the details of the scary moments as the firemen griped about not having an engine on the way to help put out the fire or the scene of the firemen running a hose into our house and down the stairs to the garage door. Suffice it to say, it was as good as, if not better than, a movie. I was afraid, my mom was afraid, and dad was talking a mile a minute, trying to explain what he’d hit with the fire extinguisher and how it might be an electrical fire.

The smoke smelled off, so I believed him.

Eventually we found out that dad actually had put out the fire. He hit two little spots of fire in the garage, but it let out a ton of smoke. The fire marshall was called in to examine the scene and see what was going on. They turned on fans to suck the smoke out of the house. And the carbon monoxide levels in the house were up to 90, and my room was the second worst after the garage. (Probably because it’s one of the two rooms over the garage!)

Two hours after I woke up, the firemen finally packed up their things and left. Our neighbors had gone back to bed, and we were allowed back into our home where we found the stench almost unbearable.

Conclusion? It was an electrical fire. One of dad’s small vacuum cleaners caught fire and burned into smithereens. That caught dad’s super expensive voltage meter on fire, and it’s charred beyond use. And from there, the gas canister caught fire.

That’s right. The gas canister. Where dad generally stores at least a gallon of gas in case of emergencies. But two days ago, he emptied the entire five gallon canister into his lawn mower instead of saving some. If he hadn’t, I’m pretty sure my room would have been in flames from the explosion of electrical fire and gas combined.

So we’re convinced that God was looking out for us. And I am very thankful for my father’s sensitive nose because he’s the only one who woke up. Our carbon monoxide alarm and smoke detectors never went off, and the dogs didn’t even bark.

I’m learning that one of the best ways to motivate myself towards spring cleaning is a house fire. And the last place you want to be put on hold? Emergency services.


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Happy 30th Anniversary, Pacman!

Posted on May 21, 2010. Filed under: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , |

So this is the 30th anniversary of Pacman’s addition to our gaming world. And what has Google done to celebrate? None other than make sure we’ll all remember Pacman by using the iconic ‘Google’ doodle title (that shifty thing that changes based on holidays at the top of the search page) to create our old friend.

You, too, can play Pacman from your browser. Though I don’t know how much longer that particular application will last for Google.

And if you’re feeling lucky? Try it with a friend.

See the button next to the “Google Search” button? It reads “Insert Coin.” That’s the button you want to press in order to play Pacman on Google in the first place. Now if you click it twice, you gain the power of Mrs. Pacman and can play two person Pacman.

What are the controls for that particular version of the game? You can use the arrow keys to control Pacman and the WASD keys to control the Mrs. See who can score the best in this game and try your luck at Pacman on Google.

And while I’m discussing it, what was your favorite game growing up? I don’t necessarily mean arcade style. Just in general. I’m curious since I was really excited about seeing Pacman on Google when I was at work today.

Personally I was a big fan of Mario, the original Mario, you know, the one with Duck Hunt. That was a classic. And, of course, like most people, we had the awesome Duck Hunting guns to really get into the games.

My mother, on the other hand, loved Dr. Mario. It was kind of like Tetris but for Mario. Do you remember that game?

Go, Dr. Mario, Go!

My mom was amazing at that particular game. I wasn’t nearly as good, but I certainly tried my hand at it a couple of times.

I’ve never been much of a gamer, but over the years I tried my hands at some of the gaming consoles that came out. I got a special “gold” version of Zelda for the Nintendo64 that I could not for the life of me figure out. And it was supposedly a special edition of the game that was worth a lot of money. I have no idea why. No one even plays that console anymore.

I think my favorite game, though, was on the original Playstation. I never got a PS2 or a PS 3. I just wasn’t interested in those, but the original? Well, that’s where I got into racing games.

Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit

My all-time favorite video game would definitely be Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit. We bought this game with our Playstation and wore it out. My dad searched online for the special cheat codes to unlock cooler cars, and we got the point where we knew all the tracks by heart.

I found all the shortcuts and could zip past people like they were sitting still when we raced with traffic on. I admit I never did very well in the pursuit mode, so I rarely played it, but I knew my favorite car and my favorite track like the back of my hand. I managed to beat my father on the game, which was a feat to be acknowledged indeed.

As weird of a post as this is, I had to do it. Pacman inspired me. And I hope you get a chance to play the game. It’s quite fun, even if I am, admittedly, rather poor at it myself!

Let me know if you get past the third level, though!


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China? For Real?

Posted on April 21, 2010. Filed under: Musings | Tags: , |

I know this blog seems to be turning into a personal journal of sorts, and I promise it won’t stay that way. However, I thought you all might be interested in a recent development of mine, and because I’m still overwhelmed at the thought, I figured I should post and let you know of my current predicament.

I’ve been applying for jobs (like the rest of the unemployed population) left and right. I mostly use connections through my university employment website. It’s convenient and lets me upload as many different resumes as I like. I can log in and submit my applications right there, so I do that frequently enough.

That’s how I got the interview for Target that I managed to not get a second interview for. It’s okay, though, because I’m not sure I really want to work retail for more than a year. The experience is good, and I know more of how it feels to be treated poorly by customers (though most of ours are pretty nice or at the worst, indifferent). I think it’s good experience in making me a nicer person.

So then I got the interview with Amazon. That would, of course, be the book lover’s dream job, even if I would be an area manager in an operations unit. I haven’t heard back from them concerning the results of my phone interview yet, so I’m not sure how well it went over.

Finally, I did something a little spontaneous. I started applying for ESL jobs. Teaching English as a second language isn’t something that’s ever really interested me before, but I thought it would give me an opportunity to go somewhere new, and as the university site had several listings for openings, I figured I’d give it a try.

I submitted a resume to several different agencies. There are a ton of them out there, and for all intents and purposes, the agents get paid by the schools as opposed to by the teachers or by taking a bit off the top of teacher salaries, so it’s in their best interests to place teachers or risk losing their pay. In any event, most of the jobs I saw concerned teaching ESL in various Asian locales.

I admit, I like learning about Asian cultures. I’m not a fanatic by any means, but I do have my vices. I read manga and watch anime and Asian dramas. I have a particular penchant for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean pop music, and I enjoy eating at Asian restaurants.

Unlike a number of my friends, however, I’ve never studied an Asian language. I’ve never been to an Asian country either for missions work or for study abroad programs. I really never dreamed of actually going to an Asian country except as an addition to my already planned dreams of going across Europe.

So this isn’t exactly something I’ve been planning for years.

However, me being me, I thought it would be fun to try for something new before I have to settle into a typical salary position forever. Or for a while anyway. And since I’ve always wanted to travel the idea of making money while being abroad is definitely not a bad one.

Well, I applied to one company representing positions in South Korea. It sounds pretty cool, actually. From my research, the typical ESL teaching teacher can save around $15,000 per year while working in South Korea. I think that would be pretty fantastic, personally.

The company I contacted immediately put my resume out with a school that’s looking for hire teachers for a May 10 start date. That’s ridiculously fast, and I’m not sure I’d be ready to leave that soon even if I were certain about this job. Not only that, but it’s for a primary school teaching position where I’d be working from 1 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

I haven’t heard anything recently about that position. I’m not sure I’d be too upset if I didn’t get it, though.

Then there’s another position I applied for, the one I’m really thinking about and considering. I got an email from my school notifying me another position had opened up in their system. It was for a university in China teaching English to undergrads. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? I sent off my resume, not thinking much of it.

I got a response asking me to reply to the attached questionnaire. It took me about a week to actually sit down and respond, really poor response time for a normal position, I know. And I figured I wouldn’t hear anything back for a while once again.

I got the second response within a few days. They offered me a position as a teacher in their university. I would start September 1 and could be teaching either standard English courses or something as closely related to my major as business classes in English.

Not only that, but I’d have the standard amenities afforded an ESL teacher. They provide teachers with apartments that are fully furnished to include even telephones, computers, and Western style toilets (an important commodity, to be sure). I’d have my own kitchen and washing machine as well, so I wouldn’t be without necessities. I’d also have a monthly salary that, from what I’ve heard, would be more than sufficient for surviving in China.

So that’s where I am right now. I’m leaning towards taking the job at the moment. There are a lot of things to consider, and I’ve been doing a lot of research, but they respectfully requested that I give them a response by Monday, and I’m trying to make my decision to comply with that request.

Any thoughts? Got any crazy plans of your own? Let me know!


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Despite Popular Opinion…

Posted on April 15, 2010. Filed under: Musings |

…I’m not dead. Yet. Though it could happen any day, I’m not sure. As of today, however, I am very much alive and sore.

I apologize for my disappearing act. April has been a roller coaster month for me. I started a job, interviewed for other jobs, continued working towards things like teaching ESL in Asian countries, and have made new friends via my coworkers. One of said coworkers invited me out for sushi on Saturday night, and I am most pleased to say I accepted. She’s a pretty cool chick even if we are ridiculously different in almost every way.

I am happy to report that I’m doing well with my new job. You all will be so pleased with me. I’m working close to 40 hours a week, which is a good sign, and I haven’t been late once. (This is coming from the girl who is perpetually late to everything, and I do mean everything.) I get along with my coworkers and have virtual autonomy on the job as the owners (i.e. managers) live three hours away and are sporadic about their visits to town.

There’s something interesting about working in a bookstore, though. It makes me appreciate book burnings.

Let me clarify my position on that. It’s not simply because I’m seeing a deluge of titles that I totally disagree with (i.e. The God Delusion) and not because I worry about the morality of certain authors (i.e. Zane) and certainly not because I am frustrated with the tedious nature of the job itself (i.e. unloading boxes, sorting and stacking books, and packing new boxes). It’s really more because of the repetition of seeing 500 Curious George books coming from the same skid. Three skids of the monkey, and I’m going bananas.

I can see the good and bad of a nice, old-fashioned book burning.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading. On the contrary, I’m having to limit myself to three books a month in order to keep from purchasing every interesting title on my limited income. So far I’ve read two books this month and am halfway through a third. (And a fourth, if I’m being honest.)

I’ve got a slew of post ideas as well that have been brewing while I’ve been working instead of writing. So don’t worry about me just quitting on you. I’ve got a lead on a new website I want to review, a few target market research posts brewing, and a book review that I think you’ll enjoy.

With that said, I think I’m done for tonight. I did have an interview this week with Amazon that was pretty cool. I’m not holding my breath yet. Alas, I have yet to hear back from my Target interview. I’m beginning to lose hope on that one. Oh well.

What’s been going on with you all? I feel so out of touch. I’ve barely touched the computer these last few weeks. Let me know how you’re doing, and again I apologize for just dropping off the face of the planet. I should be back now; although I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting. I’ll see how I feel about attempting to keep a schedule next week.


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I’ve Never Seen That Many Boxcar Children…

Posted on March 31, 2010. Filed under: Musings | Tags: , , |

…in one store.

I started work today and was immediately immersed in the world of selling books. My only other experience with selling books has been in the online world. Today was a real test for me.

I spent most of my 7 hours sorting, stacking, boxing, lifting, and moving books. Specifically books in The Boxcar Children series. I never realized there were more than 120 volumes in that series, and I used to read it! I was part of The Boxcar Children Club and received four different books a month as a kid; I still remember receiving two of the same books one time and feeling annoyed.

In any event, we got in three gaylords of books today. Don’t ask me why it’s called a gaylord, but that appears to be the technical term. If you ask me, it should be called a gigantic box. But these boxes hold upwards of what looks like at least 1,000 books. (I might not be that great at estimating, but we lifted books out of the gaylord for a good two hours before we finished, and there were three of us working on it.)

Apparently many book resellers tend to go crazy for The Boxcar Children. Was it really that popular? I loved it, of course, but I never knew it was that popular. Though it must be since there are over 120 volumes, plus 20 specials, and an additional odd number of various seasonal specials.

Either way, we’re selling individual volumes of the book for $1.99 each, which is an amazing deal. I’m tempted to dig out all my old copies and see what ones I’m missing, but I know I’ll never finish reading the whole series, and I’m only keeping it for posterity’s sake.

Anyway, I really just wanted to write a little about my first day on the job as it’s the first job I’ve had in ages. It’s going to be interesting getting used to everything, and now I’m exhausted enough that I’ll probably go to bed soon. The good thing is I’ll probably lose some weight with this job! 😉

Well, this was kind of a lame post, but I am very tired. I didn’t expect to work 7 hours today. But I’m happy to have this new job. What’s your happiness this week? Let me know!


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