A Selfie Intervention

Okay, so I guess I didn’t really get an intervention for my selfie addiction back in my teen days. Although, I’ve gotten a talking-to from a couple friends when we were out in public and I was paying far too much attention to my camera. Still, I’ve overcome my selfie addiction. (It might also have something to do with the fact that I’ve been modeling since then. . .you get tired of the camera.) My friend asked me to write an article about selfies, and so I did. I’ve also included some of my infamous selfies from my gap year in Austria that got me in trouble with friends. You can read it if you want to.  Click here to read it. If you’ve been wondering what’s up with the selfie trend and why folks are so into it, I think my attitude toward selfies as a teen pretty much sums up others’ reasons to do this. I do give reasons as to why–at least–I did this.

I do have a twitter, and I see that selfies are a popular thing to post there. I’ve never really gotten into that on Twitter. I guess I don’t have as much to show off anymore regarding my face. (There are only so many faces I know how to make.)

 

 

 

 

The Article that Funded my Trip to a Black/Death Metal Festival in Belgium is Up

You can read it here.

At the last minute, we decided that I would write an article about why students at my university who will be studying abroad through our sibling schools program should consider Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. However, I did take two trips to Gent and Brussels while in Belgium and did some cultural/aesthetic sight-seeing, so I was perfectly equipped to write an article about why you should go to Belgium/what there is to do in Belgium. But if you are interested in reading about my trip to Belgium, I have a blog entry about it here.

My Blog was Nominated for the Liebster Award! (Part I: Shout-out to Writing Gallery and Q&A)

Due to my hectic schedule and infrequent posts on here though, I haven’t been able to respond to that nomination in a timely manner. I feel a bit guilty that someone thought of me and wanted to recognize my blog, and that I haven’t been able to respond. My requirements I must fulfill for the award will be broken up into two posts. The second post will cover my four nominations for the Liebster Award and my questions. This post though, will cover the first two requirements.

I was nominated for this award by Writing Gallery, who runs her blog mostly just to practice English, being a non-native speaker, and speaks English already almost like a native speaker with very minimal exceptions. Popular topics she discusses are dealing with conflict and stress, improving one’s writing and foreign language skills (an interesting topic for me, because of my career interests). If you’re looking for a casual, laid back but well-done blog to read, you should check out Writing Gallery.

Here are the questions that Writing Gallery came up with for her nominees to answer.

1.) Iphone or Galaxy?

Neither. Due to Apple’s recent treatment of their employees in China and other countries outside of the U.S. and their massive price hikes and general unwillingness to help customers with Itunes related issues just because they don’t have a recently purchased apple device or this new Apple limited warranty service that you now have to pay extra for–although when I got my Ipod Nano it was included free for about 2 years–I haven’t bought any new Apple products in 5 years and won’t be. I don’t have a Galaxy either, but I have no issues with Samsung as a company. I actually have an Android Transform at the moment, but I’m due for an upgrade soon.

2.) What’s your favorite book?

Well, that is difficult to answer with just one title. Being a writer and a literary translator, I read a lot of books. Actually, I have a post from around February or March of this year that details some really good world literature that I hold dear to my heart. But, I won’t do the lazy thing and link to that–I’ll answer the question, with updated information, because I have read quite a lot since then. *Pulls up Goodreads page*

I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar once about every three years, so I guess you could say that there’s something about the prose and feelings in that book that cause me to return to it again and again. I also enjoy short story compilations and the journals and letters of Franz Kafka. I’ve read his most famous stories in both English and German, but the journals and some of his lesser known stories, I’ve read just in German. The complexity caused by the sheer length of his behemoth sentences provide me a good warm-up for translation projects. I’m also exploring the short stories of Anne Valente, a native of St. Louis, Missouri–where I am also from. I first read a short story from her in the online literary magazine, Memorious, and have been exploring the works accessible through her portfolio. I think she has a very interesting perspective.

As for whole books, other than The Bell Jar and selected short story compilations, I remember enjoying Edith Pattou’s East, Joanne Harris’ Runemarks–I need to get around to reading the sequel to that one of these days–Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices Series, and pretty much everything I’ve read by Libba Bray.

3.) What’s your dream job?

If I were answering this when I was thirteen, I would say guitarist of a death metal band. But having witnessed what that lifestyle does to professional musicians, I’ve since changed my mind. (I still love playing my guitar though and writing about it.) Now, my dream job is best-selling author. With the economic climate in the States though and the majority’s general disinterest in reading literature though, this dream is probably unachievable. I think I would just really like to get to a point in my life where I can just focus on my writing and have enough of a following that I can justify the ridiculous amount of time I put into writing, revising, editing, etc.

4.) What’s motivates you to write?

Dreams, my hectic emotions, really good books and writing, looming deadlines, finding lit. mags with intriguing themes that I would like to submit to.

5.) What’s your favorite dish (food)?

Also a very difficult question to answer with just one option. I have lived in three countries besides the U.S. and sure, those countries all have culturally similar dishes, but one dish you would find in Czech Republic for example originating in Czech would be called something else in Germany or Austria and made slightly differently. I also have traveled a lot and experiment in my kitchen to find healthy but delicious recipes. Well, I guess I am really missing my favorite Czech dish, svičková na smetaně, which is beef tenderloin in a creamy sauce served with flat, white bread dumplings (Knedliky). I also really like fishes served in various sauces with couscous or rice, Wiener Schnitzel and home-made potato salad, and anything with lots of spice, peppers, and tomatoes, or involving creative usage of avocados or pomegranate.

6.) What kind of sport do you like and why?

I don’t really like any sports. However, I did used to do ballet and pointe until I developed knee problems, and the amount of strength and conditioning and practice that goes into that rivals your typical sport, I think.

7.) Nature or urban life?

I’ve experienced both, although I have more experience with urban life. It depends on the city and country though. Like if I am living in Austria, I wouldn’t mind living out on the land in the Alps, surrounded by nature. But if I am living in Czech Republic, then give me the old, foreboding architecture of Prague any day. Brno is a runner-up just because they have awesome student life and people there are just really friendly.

8.) Who influenced you the most in your life?

I don’t know. There is no one person I want to be exactly like and when I was younger I didn’t have someone who fit the traditional definition of “role model”–someone who I would want to emulate. I had people I thought were cool and I respected because they dared to be themselves. I have the same still today, and so it is hard to say who has influenced me the most when the thing I hold most important in life is being yourself.

9.) Whose blog do you like to read every day?

Well, I don’t read blogs every day, which is why I lag behind in views and networking. I just don’t have the time during classes and when I am working and trying to save money while also trying to fit time in for catching up with my lengthy goodreads to-read list and working on my projects, while trying also to keep in touch with my closest friends on a regular basis. So I can’t name any names.

10.) What’s your favorite quote or saying?

I have a lot of quotes from Nietzsche and Kafka that I really love. But I am trying to focus on ones that do not have to do with religious or personal life philosophies that would potentially alienate people from me. I also don’t want to get preachy on this. So I will post this one from Kafka , addressed to Max Brod in a letter, that amused me:

“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”

I think it puts living with panic disorder in perspective as well. 

The part II post for the Liebster Award will be posted as soon as I gather my nominees. I fear that I may not be able to reach 10 though, given my limited time and how many people I know of who already have been nominated for this award or have more than 400 followers.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

What I’m Learning from Freelancing on Elance

I decided I would try out one job on Elance to see how I like it. Thus far, I’m really enjoying the assignment I took on. I’m writing 5 articles about guitars–something I’m genuinely passionate about–and it’s been a good exercise in making me feel like less of a writing failure. Also, it’s been good for motivating me to write at least 1,000 words a day. But after this assignment, I don’t know if I want to take on anymore jobs at Elance.

I’ve been looking for any follow-up assignments that would be similar to this one. But so far, all I’m finding are people looking for ghost writers to write their e-books, and it’s making me lose faith in the e-book author community. Do any of you write your own books?! I scrolled through 7 pages of lazy e-book “authors” (and I use that term, author, very lightly, because so many of them don’t even have a story layout for you to go by and just expect you to do all the work for $85). If I really want to sit down and write a 20k 50 Shades of Grey style romance in e-book format, I would do so and sell it under my own name and take the profit for myself. It would be better in the long-term if I am really going to devote the amount of time it takes to write a book THAT WOULD ACTUALLY SELL if I did it for me, instead of someone who wants to give me a pay-out of $85 and wants me to have it done in 6 months. Um no. That’s not how writing a book works. Try again.

I’m not finding any assignments similar to what I’m doing now, just these propositions to get cheap freelancers to write books for people who would then market themselves as authors. Since I’m considering e-publishing my book when I am finished with it and if I don’t find a traditional publisher for it, I’m fairly active in the e-publishing community. If I read a good e-book, I like to promote it and help the author out. But seeing this is disheartening and making me honestly question an author before I actually help them out, because I have absolutely ZERO respect for people who market themselves as something they are not. (And no, you’re not an author and you have no right to call yourself that if you didn’t write your own book and I won’t read your book, because marketing someone else’s work as your own is dishonest and cheating.) It is insulting to me that I put in all this time on my book because it is an act of love and something I am very passionate about, as are most other people who write for a living, and there are people out there who approach this industry as a way of making “easy money” and can’t even be bothered with penning their own works.

Anyway, this isn’t just about how many fakes there are out there marketing themselves as authors. I actually wanted to write a pretty good review of my experiences so far with Elance, for anyone who is considering trying the site out. I originally signed up on Elance for translation jobs, but there aren’t a lot of translations for the particular skills I have (I do German to English and English to German translation). Or, if I do find a job in that area, they are asking for a native German speaker (and I understand why, because American universities have such low standards for how much formal training you actually need in order to get a Bachelor’s degree in foreign language, that a lot of the majors I’ve met who haven’t spent any time abroad for real-life language practice are not equipped to do certain translations) and refuse anyone other than that, no matter if you have the credentials or a very good portfolio. They just won’t even look at your proposal. The translation thing hasn’t really been working out on Elance for me.

But if I could find more jobs similar to what I’m doing now (in-depth informative content writing jobs for around the same amount of money I’m being per article), I’d totally be content with Elance. I’m not finding that though. I’m really disappointed with the types of jobs I’m finding there. There are so many firms that want you to write 10 articles in a very small amount of time for only $1-$5 per article, and I just don’t think that’s worth it. If you want me to write 10 articles in a day, you need to pay me more than $5 per article, especially if you want something that’s more than 500 words and you require extensive research into the subject. Research takes time and if I have to do 10 of these in a day, it’s just not happening. . .especially not a $1 per article (and I’m not exaggerating, the pay is really that low).

My experience with Elance ultimately has clued me in to what society seems to think of freelancers. They seem to think we’re gullible, desperate sods who would do huge amounts of work for basically free. But it hasn’t been an entirely negative experience. There are some good jobs on there occasionally, but they do get claimed pretty fast.

“Having too Many Ideas sometimes Equals Having no Ideas at all”

I’m kind of borrowing this topic from somebody else. Someone on helpmewrite.co posted this idea as something they would want to write, and I’ll totally support them and read their take on it when they write their version. But this statement is just so true to my personal experience as a writer–and in particular my experience with writing in the last 3 months. I feel like oftentimes I’m stuck because I have too many ideas and too many projects going. I think I’ve been going on and on about being split between my short story project, my novel “Mind Terrorist”, and my fantasy project. (Oh, and let’s not forget my scholarly project of translating a Belphegor Interview.) I wish I could multitask to the scale of being able to write multiple projects simultaneously.

People keep telling me I really need to prioritize to regain control of my writing project situation. Well, people, it’s harder for me than you think. I am genuinely trying to stick to the checklist I wrote last month (first priority: Mind Terrorist, second priority: short stories anthology, third priority: Fantasy project). But I have a new idea every day and writing it out is extremely enticing!

A lot of the time, I end up getting frustrating with my lack of an ability to concentrate (because I’m torn between two projects) and just mess around on Facebook or look for new blogs. The good news though, is that I wrote myself out of the predicament I was talking about yesterday in “Mind Terrorist”. The bad news is that I’m now suddenly also torn between writing another short story for my short story anthology and working on “Mind Terrorist”.

But what do you think? Do you think you can have too many ideas sometimes?

The Summer of Frustration: My Summer of Striving to Write Realistic Mental Illness, Professional first Translation Projects, and Getting Myself Interested in my own writing again

I feel like I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to my writing. I have to admit that I haven’t been able to move the plot line of Mind Terrorist forward because I just feel iffy about the scene I’m currently writing. In it, Lenore has wandered away from a bar and her friends and gotten herself lost in Prague. She gets picked up by the police in the city park and tries to evade arrest by running. (For those of you just passing by, I should mention that Lenore is no ordinary special flower. She’s just had a mental breakdown and is trekking through Europe intending to kill the man she believes is controlling her thoughts. Her friends know this and this is why the police were called.) I’m hesitant about finishing this scene, because afterwards I’m unsure where the story is going. I can’t decide if I want her to spend a night in jail or spend the night with her friends (who have become more pushy and less patient with her). It’s too early in the book for her to land in the hospital. I don’t want this to be a hospital novel, because I feel like the niche market for books about people struggling with mental illness is overpopulated by narrators in mental institutions and psych wards–I mean, that’s the most obvious place you’d look when you want to find people who are mentally ill. But the reality of the situation (and I’m more interested in my book being realistic and believable) is that the police would probably take her to the hospital, and the hospital would try to find a way to keep her since she is such an extreme danger to herself and others.

I’ve kind of switched gears this summer because of the frustration I’m having with the plot of Mind Terrorist. I’m finishing a translation project I started for a friend. My friend asked me to translate a few German language interviews with two bands we really like to English so that she could read the interview. I’m fortunate to be in contact with one of the interviewees, so if I have any uncertainties about his intended meaning of a statement or if I have trouble interpreting the mood of the conversation (the first and third parts are a round table discussion between three people), I can just run the question by him. Of course, I don’t want to irritate him–he is busy–but I am striving to translate it so that the original meaning and message of the articles are not lost. (That happens sometimes with more experienced translators, and since this is my first major translation project, I know I’m not a seasoned professional yet and I don’t want to mess it up!)

The other project I’ve switched gears to is a long-running fantasy project that I have no immediate plans to publish, but that I work on between major projects or when I’m feeling demotivated about my current project. This summer, I intend to hammer out one of the major details of my fantasy world: the fashion. Luckily, I found a doll designing template on http://www.dolldivine.com for the Showtime series, “The Tudors” that features gowns and clothing visually similar to what I envisioned for my fantasy series. Also, the template is not so strict that I have to make things exactly in the way that designers of that time period would have done them, it allows me to take various clothing details from the period and mix and match them into the kind of outfit I was envisioning. I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time doing this, but the clothing worn by my characters is a lot of the times important to the central plot. (For example, one of my female characters helps free another from the dungeons by switching clothes with her.) However, I need to minimize the amount of time I’m spending on Doll Divine making dolls, because I found myself spending the entire afternoon yesterday just making duplicate outfits for one of my characters for a certain part of the book when she is probably going to be in her nightgown about 70% of the time. I think my next mini-maintenance project for my fantasy novel will be sorting out my world’s religious practices and customs, because I’m finding this is another hole in my world that I can’t visualize through what I’ve already written.

So where do you think I should go with Mind Terrorist? I’d love to hear opinions from people in the comments, especially if they have any experience dealing with severely mentally ill people. My problem is that I don’t want the story to suddenly become unrealistic, but I also don’t want it to turn into a hospital novel. Confining Lenore to a hospital would halt the action of the story dead in its tracks.  But again, telling a realistic story is also very important to me!

Travel in the United States

Should I change the name of my blog? I realize that I’m no longer in Central Europe and won’t be for a while. But I’m still working on Mind Terrorist (which takes place in Czech Republic and Austria) and most of my posts will probably be about working on that. One could say that Lenore is on quite a travel adventure in Central Europe herself. But I don’t know how many travel adventures I’ll be having in the U.S. for the next year. I did just get back from visiting relatives in Colorado Springs. That was my big trip for the summer, other than trying to get out of Europe before anyone noticed that my visa had expired. I am definitely also supposed to visit my friend, Liz, for a day this summer. Right now though, my focus should be on trying to find a job that won’t be too demanding since I am taking 15 hours this semester, but that would allow me to make enough money so that I can both save and go out for fun every once in a while.

While I was in Colorado Springs, I certainly experienced quite a lot of different severe weather scenarios. There was a flash flood in El Paso County near Manitou Springs, which carried a car away. We went down there later when it wasn’t flash-flooding and were relieved to see that the old Arcade with all its penny video games was open and mostly undamaged. We’ve gone to Manitou Springs every year that we’ve visited in Colorado and the penny arcade was always an attraction for my brother and me when we were kids.

On our way to visit my great aunt and uncle, we drove through the remains of the Black Forest fires. It was really eery, because almost every year of my childhood in the summer we would drive out to Black Forest and pass a lot of these houses and ranches that were destroyed in the fire. On a lot of properties, all that was left were debris, burnt out cars, and chimneys. It seemed so empty in Black Forest and a lot of the trees had lost their leaves and were charred black. The last time I had visited 4 years ago, the place was so alive. I had even participated with my cousins and brother in an antique car parade that year. I remember seeing so many people out on the streets that day. But when we visited this year, most people had gone away and it was just really sad.