Breathing Life Back…

…into this poor, sad blog.

I decided to come back and make a few tweaks and changes to my little blog. I’m debating about working on making writing a blog a new career move for myself, and I’d like to have a more aesthetically pleasing blog to share with people if I do follow through with this change.

Why, might you ask, would I be considering this?

For the same reasons I’m doing lots of new things these days. I am choosing to indulge in healthier habits, taking pride in my job, finding passions in my life I wasn’t aware of, and becoming a bit of a fan of adding creativity back into my world. I’d like to share that with people, even if I’m not sharing things that I was sharing before.

My blog may change a bit as a result.

However, I wanted to address a few fun things:

  • I’m still writing! I have been working on a novel and am committed to completing and posting Anti-Hero to Wattpad. Those of you who follow me there may notice there is a fancy bit of cover art I recently put up, and it has inspired me to move toward completing my current novel so I can finish Anti-Hero. 
  • I’m actually teaching ESL or English as a Second Language, and I absolutely love it! In fact, I may begin sharing some tips and tricks of the trade on my blog as I continue in this new profession. I never would have expected to find this job to be so exciting, but it’s become something I’m quite passionate about and am now considering pursuing further education in to make it a full-time career.
  • Fernando and I are still enjoying married life, much like two no longer newly weds would be, and we’ve settled into routines. If you check out the new design of the blog, you’ll see I’ve linked to my Instagram account where you can find pictures of us both as well as our favorite Dobby the House Corgi.
  • I’ve become quite a fan of exploring Pinterest ideas and putting them into practice in my little apartment. They tend to make a small space brighter, larger, and more pleasant. Feel free to check out my Pinterest link in the sidebar and get ready for upcoming posts sharing all my adventures with Pinterest creativity.
  • Last but not least, I’m becoming pretty obsessed with these little things called essential oils. I won’t go into too much detail in this post, but if you haven’t heard of the various companies out there that sell them, you should take a look at Young Living Essential Oils. I’ve been getting oils for several months now and have quite enjoyed incorporating them into my life.

Phew! You didn’t know you’d be reading a book of life changes, did you? Well, prepare for more to come as I hopefully am going to be sharing more with you about my writing, creating, teaching, loving life.

By the way, the title of my blog might seem a bit misleading, but I think I’ll also be doing a series on how I’ve been escaping cubed life over the past several years and what it’s done for me.

If you’ve hung in with me this long, thanks! Look forward to more from me, and I’ll be sharing more about life in a Cubed world.

– RaeNezL

A Novel New Post

It’s been ages since I posted anything here, yet again. I apologize for being so slow to post things, but as it stands, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with a new job starting, among other things!

That said, let me tell you about the novel I’m posting to Wattpad. If you want to learn more, you’ll find the link to my story, Anti-Hero, here. You’re more than welcome to join the Wattpad community, read my story, and see for yourself what my current project has become so far.

Here’s a little more about the story before you decide to commit either way!

 

Anti-Hero is the story of an alternate universe earth, specifically an alternate universe United States. It’s in the Southern states, also known as the Bible belt, that the story takes place. This is where the diseased of the country have holed away from the rest of society behind walls put up for the protection of “normal” citizens.

It was the Bible belt that became afflicted by the disease in the 1960s and 1970s. It began as a simple enough STD and grew into something much more complex. As more people became affected, it was clear the disease was something more than just an STD.

Those who experienced the disease began developing psychic and physical super powers that manifested at random, causing shock and awe in those witnessing the effects. However, as with all STDs, this one too has been shown to wreak havoc on the person’s immune system, weakening it to the point of a slow death in older sufferers.

We come into the story during a time when the “second generation” of diseased have grown up and begun their own families, seemingly safe behind the walls of the Bible belt and away from the oversight of an increasingly militaristic government.

Unfortunately for Kaitlyn Harmon, the daughter of first gens who passed the disease on to her, she has been put in the middle of the military’s decision to stop the birth of third gens and the rebels who want nothing to do with the “normals” on the other side of the wall and actively fight against cooperation with the government. Kait works with her parents in the Center for Sexual Disease Control, where she uses her disease to help the passage of third gens between the Bible belt and normal territory as they are “adapted and adopted” into normal families.

When military leaders decree the Center’s efforts to round up the third gens not enough, the results are a trip to somewhere Kait never expected with a team of military men on a secondary mission that they may find meets somewhere in the middle. As the truth about their missions and the lives of the third gens sent to the other side of the wall comes out, Kait and her coworker Tim have to determine who they can trust to get them through the trip they’ve taken unscathed.

And in the process, they begin unraveling the depth of Kait’s disease and the power she has.

 

There you have it. That’s all you get. I hope it’s intriguing enough to set you on the path to Wattpad to enjoy my story, but if not, that’s fine, too. Feel free to leave me a comment about the blurb. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So far I have about five chapters posted and somewhere around 14 or 16 chapters written with more to come as I tackle Camp NaNoWriMo in July to add to my story. I’m looking forward to finishing Kait’s story!

– RaeNez

Background Checks & Fingerprinting – The Waiting Period

So I think I mentioned I was hired for a job with the local school system, and while it sounds great and all, I realized something…

This is more or less a waiting game.

You see, I still haven’t started that new job promised me the week of Easter. And, as you can imagine, I’d like to get started sometime very soon if possible. In fact, I called today to see what the hold-up was, and I was told… nothing. They’re simply waiting for all the background checks to come through before they decide to tell me whether I’m actually going to start or not.

Now here’s the thing: I know that unless my identity has been stolen, I should have zero criminal records of any kind. And they can check INTERPOL if they like, but to my knowledge, I’ve committed no international crimes during my various visits overseas.

So what’s taking so long?

I’ve already submitted all my personal information and agreed to their terms and basically signed my life away. I paid $45 on a fingerprinting test as well, which is rather irritating when you think about it. I don’t see why I had to pay to do something they have people do on a regular basis, but that’s really neither here nor there. There should be no hold-up.

In fact, I was approved for government clearance to access student loan files in a previous job faster than they’re getting back to me.

I get it, I do. We have to protect students and access to personal information. But I’ve never done anything in any previous jobs that makes me untrustworthy. I simply do my thing, and I do as I’m taught. That’s all. There’s no reason for me to do anything else because I probably don’t have time for that.

As they say, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

And, yes, I’m a sistah, according to one of my old clients at the call center, so I can clearly say that.

All that said, I’d like to get this show on the road. It’s getting to be a long and tiring process for me to wait for information. And when I called today, I was told that they had no information on me either and the lady would call downtown to find out what was taking so long. Did she call me back? No.

Fernando’s beginning to think I should apply for another job since this one is taking so long to get processed. But I was so hoping this would work out.

I guess sometimes things don’t always go as planned. But either way, it would really be nice to start earning money again. Especially with my funds dwindling as they are.

We’ll see if I get a call back tomorrow or not. My guess is probably not. And here I am with lots of things I need to accomplish and no money to do it on.

I’ll be back to let you know if they ever get my information processed and get me started. Until then, I’ll be rereading The Chronicles of Narnia and debating about putting my story up on Wattpad. (I’ll let you know about that, too!)

RaeNez

The Perks of Part-Time

I mentioned in my last post I wanted to share a little of my vision for this blog and where I see myself going with it in the coming months. Now it’s time to share some news and give you that information. So, with no further ado…

I got a new job!

Yes, the turnaround on that was remarkably short, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to tell you this. And as of right this moment, I haven’t started said job. I’m still waiting for paperwork to be processed. However, I’m incredibly hopeful that will be taken care of quickly and they’ll clear me to start working within the next few days.

What does that mean for me, my work, my writing, and this blog?

Well, first of all, it means income, a huge blessing considering how low I’ve been running these last couple of weeks. Fernando is thrilled about my new opportunity because it will take some of the financial pressure off of us, and that will make things much simpler for us.

Second, it means a shift in my work-life balance. This is totally different from how I have been working in the past. Normally I look for full-time jobs and positions where I can maximize my income, advance in the company and work diligently until better opportunities come along.

This isn’t that job.

In fact, this is entirely different, and I think it will make my work-life balance so much better in the short term and long run that it will positively affect a lot of areas in my life.

I say that because this isn’t a position I pursued. Inadvertently, yes, but this time around, no. Let me explain.

I got a call from the local school system about a resume I put in before Fernando and I were married for a clerical position that never panned out. The woman worked in a different department entirely and needed clerical help, wanted to interview me for a part-time position, and asked if I was still available. I agreed to the interview.

I came in and sat down for a chat, and before I knew it, I was really interested in the position. Not only will the position be a clerical one at 28 hours per week, but I may, upon proof of my performance, have the opportunity to split those 28 hours between clerical work and a higher paying position–specifically ESL teaching!

So when I got the call that I’d gotten the call, I was pretty excited. It’s with the county school system, which means it’s through the state. So even though the state is pretty adamant they don’t want to hire anyone more than 28 hours because they’d have to pay for insurance (thanks Obamacare); there’s the potential for a higher paying job within the criteria of 28 hours per week.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity, though, because it opens the door to a number of things I haven’t let myself consider.

  • I’ll be able to spend time on my novel writing and work on publishing some of it after doing rewrites and edits, which will be a great exercise in moving towards being a real author.
  • I may get back into a full-fledged TEFL Certificate course (120-hour accredited online program) and earn my certificate to gain more traction in the ESL teaching community and market myself better.
  • Fernando and I are even talking about both of us going back to college (he for another bachelor’s, me for a master’s), which would be a crazy risk to take but totally worth it, right?

All of this said, the job will allow me to do things to promote myself as an author, explore job options I might not otherwise explore, and be present in my marriage with Fernando.

And this makes me very happy indeed. 

I think the key to keeping up with my blog is simply to have and make time for it. You’ll see in the coming weeks that I’ll be posting about the books I’m currently working on. I’ll be writing about the plans I have to market myself, and I’ll be adding news links to this blog.

Fernando is also talking about making me a real author website once he’s finished teaching himself HTML.

How cool would that be?

In the meantime, I think I’ll take Dobby the House Corgi out for a walk and work on some writing, some reading, and maybe do a bit of dabbling in photography. Because in the end, anything I do to learn how to market myself is better than nothing, right?

– RaeNez

P.S. My mood might be slightly buoyed by the fact I tried my hand at a Paleo recipe last night that turned out fabulously. I made DIY chocolate bars (similar to Hershey’s chocolate bars) from unsweetened cocoa, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and (the best part!) sea salt.

Mouthwatering!! And, yes, I chopped them into bite-sizes, just like Hershey’s… I could get used to this.  :)

How NOT To Conduct A Job Interview

I know I’ve talked about a number of different topics on this blog, and in the coming posts, I plan to tell you a little about my plans for the blog, my work life, and my writing. However, I wanted to touch on something that happened recently.

As you’re probably aware, there are a number of job related websites out there that are available for job seekers to search for jobs. These sites can run the gamut from compiling job listings from all over the web a la Indeed to allowing you to post your resume in a semi-public forum to use for applying to jobs and to allow potential employers to see your information and contact you.

Examples of the latter would be Monster and CareerBuilder.

I’ve posted my resume on both websites in the hopes it will speed up application processes. However, this has an adverse affect as well. It leads to what I’ll call the Wild Goose Chase.

The Wild Goose Chase occurs when I get a call from someone who “has my resume on file” and would like to interview me for a position they have available. Typically they give me very little information besides a company name, an interviewer name, and a date/time for the interview. Sometimes they even tell me there’s an actual position available!

Here’s the thing about this type of situation: if they give me a company name, I usually end up wracking my brains trying to remember when I applied to their company in the first place.

But I digress.

Recently I had just such a situation come up and found out the company was an insurance company. I’ll stop here and say that I’m immediately suspicious when I hear the words “insurance,” “sales,” or “agent” over the phone. So the fact they called out of the blue, “had my resume on file,” and had positions immediately available wasn’t giving them much credibility in my eyes.

That said, I did take a moment to ask whether this was for a sales position or something else. The woman told me they had “management” positions available in the office and other office positions available. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and came in for the interview, which I was told would be with a woman named Vicky.

Great.

I showed up a few minutes early and noticed other people entering the building. I figured it could simply be people returning from break. Then I got inside, and a woman seemed confused by my name, told me to sit and “someone” would be with me shortly. I sat next to a woman who seemed in the same position as me. Another man came in who appeared younger than me and was told the same thing.

I started feeling irritated.

Then a woman and a man exited the offices from the hallway with a couple of people in tow. They were shown to a conference room where I glimpsed a room full of other people similarly dressed. I realized then they wanted to do a group interview.

Let me be very clear about something: group interviews really only work if you’re a big company (i.e. Apple) or you’re a low-budget sales company who doesn’t have the money to pay for the labor to interview individual candidates.

Oh wait. The latter doesn’t work.

I got walked back to an office with a woman who didn’t introduce herself, so I’m going to name her Shamequia because I feel like it and because she was painfully white. Yes, that may sound racist, but it’s not. I’m just making a point that it would have certainly helped if she’d had the courtesy to introduce herself.

So Shamequia and I sat for maybe five minutes, but it was probably more like three. In that time, she told me I was there to go through a presentation with Vicky about the benefits of the company. I was not there to be interviewed for a position in the office because there wasn’t one open, in fact. And yes, it was all agent positions. That was it.

But, she said, have no fear, because this, my dear, is not high-pressure sales!

Really? Because it sure was starting to sound like it. And with your lack of professionalism, you’re really making me want to walk out that door.

She wanted to get up and take me straight to the conference room then and there, but I stopped her and asked her definition of high-pressure sales (which she’d already said was being in a position where you didn’t have to twist a person’s arm to buy insurance policies they didn’t need). She looked at me kind of funny.

Then I said my definition of high-pressure sales was quotas, commission-only pay, and setting your own sales goals. Her face got a bit pinched, and she evaded my question by saying all my questions were great and would be covered in the presentation and I should really “give Vicky a chance.”

Oh sure. I’m here already. Let’s go sit through something I clearly am not suited for.

So then we walked to the conference room where a number of women were seated. I was handed an application, sat down, and began filling out the application. A man came in a few minutes later, and before I knew it, Vicky and another gentleman came in. I was still working on my application as was the last man to enter the room.

Vicky began by introducing herself and then pointing out the two of us filling out applications. “You can fill those out later,” she said. When neither of us stopped, she repeated, “Fill those out later!” Really? Manners, lady.

She introduced her colleague as French (he sounded Southern) and dubbed him Jean with some ridiculous sounding accent of her own. Through her presentation she called him Jacque and Joel. Again, I have no idea what his name actually was. For all I know, he could have been Frank.

I get the impression the only name I needed to know was Vicky.

She began talking about the company, the usual blah blah history, blah blah money, blah blah. Then she started on the spiel about what insurance sales had done for her life. At this point she stopped and told us she didn’t want to tell us her story because she didn’t feel like it. Excuse me?

I’m afraid I didn’t hear you correctly.

Captain Picard disapproves.

I came all the way to your office on the other side of town to hear you tell me your foot hurts and you’d rather not tell your fabulous success story? Talk about professional.

Let’s just say I tuned out at that point. I started watching the guy across from me instead. His body language was incredibly put out, and I was positive he was irritated by the presentation as well. It was fun to have a silent partner in my frustration.

By the time all was said and done, Vicky told us her salary, which, let’s face it, makes little to no difference in our lives. Quite honestly, when the owner of an insurance sales company tells future potential agents her salary, it’s like a human dangling a bone three feet above the head of a dog that has a broken leg and can’t jump. We know we aren’t starting there. You’re just tempting us unnecessarily.

She handed the remainder of the presentation over to Jean/Jacque/Joel, who botched it merrily. He’s 26, has never had a full-time job before, and quite clearly knew nothing about effective presentation skills. He could easily have put me to sleep. He got caught up on one point and chewed it up and spat it out like it was golden. I thought he was slightly moronic to emphasize the point so dramatically, but what do I know.

His point? You should always pay attention and listen to your mentors in the business so you can learn from them. Really? He also said that while he was younger than some of us, he knew more about selling insurance with that company than any of us.

No kidding, Captain Obvious.

That said, he tried. And by the end when I wanted to strangle him, I didn’t. He did tell us to stay for a second round of interviews if we were still interested. (I can tell no one’s worked with him on his sales skills. He should have assumed interest and created expectation for the interviews, but whatever…) He said if we weren’t interested to pick up one of Vicky’s cards on the way out and give her a hug.

A hug?? You don’t go give strangers hugs, dude. Not even here in the South.

He left the room, and I and all but one person headed out the front door without a glance back.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to conduct a job interview.

– RaeNez

Fun Times with Great Authors

I know, I know… this isn’t quite about a job.

But, hear me out. I haven’t found a new job yet. So until I do, my posts may not be quite job related. At least I applied to three new jobs today, right? Right?

Okay, okay…

So let me share some fun news with all of y’all out there. I happen to be a rather heavy reader. I read a lot in general, and I read even more when I’m stressed. Now, bear with me, I’m not exactly stressed, but when I don’t know what to do, I either read or write, and this week has been a combination of reading and writing.

(More about the writing later.)

That said, I read two books this week that made me stop and pause. I read one book on Wattpad, and it was by this fabulous author named Lauren Nicolle Taylor, who just so happens to be Australian and has three subsequent novels in her series.

The series called The Woodlands by Lauren Taylor is a fascinating YA dystopian set in a rather unique version of the world that I can’t quite wrap my brain around. (Honest – I spent some time during the book trying to figure out if the main characters lived in a colony in Brazil or Russia. You read it and tell me if you have the same questions!)

The hyperlink above should take you directly to the first book in the series (also titled The Woodlands) on Wattpad where you can read the whole story. I won’t tell you too much about it other than to say that I’m a sucker for dystopian novels and have been ever since I read 1984 as a high schooler.

That said, Taylor’s Twitter account (which I follow) was updated recently to recommend a book by another author, E.R. Arroyo, that was out for free on all eBook readers with perhaps one exception (that being Nook, I think).

So what’s an unemployed lady to do when faced with free eBooks recommended by an already acclaimed (to her eyes) author? Obviously download and read Sovereign, the first book in Arroyo’s series.

You’re probably thinking, yeah, this is boring.

But wait! There’s more!

Yesterday, I finished Sovereign just in time to notice that Taylor had Tweeted about a Facebook event the two author’s were doing where they were switching pages with one another and promoting their books on each other’s pages. (Weird, I know… who does that?) And then I saw the bright, shiny word: giveaways!

I slavishly went back and forth on Facebook for two hours last night looking at their pages and commenting on each giveaway post in the hopes of winning a shiny.

And guess what?

I won giveaways from both authors! Do you know how cool that is? Do you know how rare it is that I win giveaways…especially giveaways of things that I actually want??

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve won a giveaway and the number of times it’s been an item I wanted. I’ve won precisely two giveaways in my life. Once was a bottle of ant-killer at the local community fair. (Yeah… the enthusiasm is oozing off me as I type that.) The other time was at a local strip mall where I won a $75 gift certificate to a ridiculously ritzy steak restaurant called Flemings. (I totally went there on my 21st birthday with my best friend and spent more than double that – thank you, gift certificate!)

To recap what I won – from Arroyo, I won eBook copies of both her books Sovereign and The Offering; however, I’m only taking the second one since I’ve already got a copy of the first. From Taylor, I won an eBook copy of the second book in her series, The Wall. She’s even already sent me the epub version for my iPad.

I can’t tell you how cool I think this is. I can’t tell you how excited I am about these authors and their work. And I can’t express how much I want to be these authors someday: doing giveaways and Facebook page swaps for fans and simply being this awesome.

Also, if you have a chance and are interested in YA dystopian fiction (think Hunger Games series or Divergent series by Veronica Roth), I would recommend  either of these authors as an excellent alternative to the norm in YA with a number of fun twists in their writing that will keep you riveted to the page.

Granted, I haven’t finished either series, but for the first novels, that’s high praise coming from me.

All right, enough from me. I’m off to sleep and then to do more writing so I can be that writer someday.

RaeNez

I’m Entering a Writer Contest! (And Other Fun Stuff)

So now that I’m looking for a job during the day, I thought it would be worth some of my time to go back to what I’m passionate about: writing. I know I’ve mentioned this to y’all before at least a little, but writing novels is what I’d love to do with my life. If you’ve followed any of my Tweets on the little sidebar, you’ll notice I tweet other authors that I read and get super excited when they respond to me.

That said, I’ve recently come across an opportunity that I never knew about and am excited to share it with anyone else out there who would like to know about a potential contest they can enter to showcase their work to an agent!

If you’re reading this thinking it’s not for you, that’s fine, but I hope you’ll be excited for me because this is a huge step for me in putting myself out there since I almost never do stuff like this at this stage of my writing career.

So let’s go over the facts, folks.

The contest boils down to this:

It’s called “Dear Lucky Agent,” and it’s hosted by Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agent’s blog over on the Writer’s Digest website.

Apparently they do the contest on a rolling basis and change the parameters every time to include different genres and audiences, which I think is fabulous! The contest this time is open until Wednesday, April 9th to all authors of YA fiction who have full-length works ready to submit.

Wish me luck! If you enter, I’ll do the same for you!

If you check out the page, you’ll note that they don’t exactly specify what they mean by a completed manuscript, so it seems rather open to interpretation. However, Chuck has supplied an email for any questions, and I would assume a completed manuscript does, in fact, require it to be at least to an end point in the book where it’s finished.

So what am I entering to this contest?

You’re told by the contest rules to enter the first 150-200 words of your completed YA manuscript to the contest. I started looking at my one complete YA novel and realized that to really have the whole thing make sense I would have to submit the first 225 words because of where the paragraphs ended. That said, I didn’t intentionally go over the word count, I just submitted a tiny bit extra.

Edit: I realized after looking at the contest entry details that they do not consider entries that are less or more than the specified length, so I altered my word count to fit the length before submitting! I hope any of you who submit will make note of that as well before submitting because I wouldn’t want to lead anyone the wrong way with this contest!

The story I’m submitting is a book I wrote back in 2009-2010, called Fire and Ice Bound. It’s probably one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written. I love the book as a whole and intend to publish it someday. I have high hopes it will be worth reading, and even if it isn’t one of the three winners of this contest, I still feel this is a huge step in the right direction for my writing career.

I look forward to seeing how the contest plays out, but even if I don’t go far, I’ll be happy to simply keep working on my two projects that are in the works right now. It’s all worth it in my eyes.

Let me know if you decide to enter the contest, too! I’d be interested to hear how many of you are writing YA and find this contest just as exciting as I do!

– RaeNez