Wednesday Check In

Hey all,

Just wanted to pop in and say hi! I finished reading The Alloy of Law last night, so you should the book review soon. Probably tomorrow.

There’s a lot of short fiction and poetry assigned this week and next for my African American Literature class. Not the most entertaining subject, but it is interesting, and a completely new genre for me. Gotta keep those horizon’s broad, right?

Anyway, if you pop on over to the “What I’m Reading” page, you’ll see updated reading. If that’s of interest to you.

This weekend is Halloween, and my costume game is strong this year. Expect pictures sometime next week.

Also, I submitted my short story Fallen Star to an ASU writing contest. It’s only for English majors, so hopefully the pool is small. Anyway, first prize gets $500, which would be ridiculous. But, I submitted on a whim, and it’s an old story. My writing has come a long way since then. So I have low expectations. I’ll know Monday the 9th, so keep an eye out for that.

Anywho, I gotta go. Lunch and then work. Then laundry and homework tonight.

I’m tired. Is it summer yet? Oh, wait, I’ll be taking summer classes…

Is it Fall 2016 yet?

See you tomorrow, Blogland!

BZ

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A Fortnight with the Princesses

It’s actually kind of cold in our apartment. I dislike it.

I just finished reading A Princess of Mars, and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by it. When one keeps the publishing date in mind, the story is really quite spectacular. My typically modern tastes and experiences with Science Fiction and Fantasy made the first few chapters of the book difficult for me. There are a lot of clichés and conventions, which in 1912 were groundbreaking, but are know fairly boring, and even irritating.

And I had a hard time letting go of those irritations. But, once I did I couldn’t put John Carter’s story aside. I loved the simple world building, and the overly generalized characters. Descriptions were quick and often straightforward, leaving nothing to the imagination, and personalities were told to the reader instead of displayed.

And yet I was thoroughly enthralled, and I plan on reading the other two stories in the original trilogy. I have to know if John Carter makes it back to Mars, and if Dejah Thoris and their unhatched child yet live!

But, before any of that, I have to start reading The Princess Bride. And Sunday I’ll start reading The Martian Chronicles. And if I can squeeze in a novella from The Kingkiller Chronicles, that’d be greeaaat.

Anyway, I just wanted to swing in and keep you all posted. I’m going to get ready for bed and start reading the next Book Club book. That meeting will be here before I know it…

Have a great night, Blogland!

BZ

Freezing in September

I’ve made a crucial mistake.

I didn’t bring a sweater with me into my Starbucks. Apparently the AC is cranked, and I’m about to die of hypothermia. I’ve sat here most of the day, working on school stuff. Orientation has officially begun, and I’m thrilled.

That’s not sarcasm.

My online orientation course is designed specifically for Sbux peeps, and I’m floored by all the awesome people taking advantage of this program.

So, I’ve been reading introductory posts from classmates, and responding in kind. I took one short quiz and learned the ins an outs of Blackboard. And now it’s time for lunch. Preferably something warm. Then I’m going to swing by Book Bin East and see if there’s a crowd for Brent Weeks yet. I honestly have no idea what to expect.

Then… Well, I don’t know how long the event will take, but after I’m going to the midnight release of Destiny, and I cannot wait! I’ve been anticipating this game for over a year, and so far it has not failed to impress those who had the chance to play it.

Now, the most important thing. Lunch. This is a big decision…

 

BZ

Meet and Greets and the School Year

I’ve mentioned quite a few times now how much I love Salem. Well, the reasons just keep piling up. Remember my post a week or so ago about all the awesome bookstores in town? Well, The Book Bin East just got that much more awesome-er!

You see, Brent Weeks, author of the Night Angel Trilogy and The Lightbringer Series, is an Oregonian. He’s touring in support of the third Lightbringer book, and he’s making a stop at Salem’s largest indie bookstore. 

Now, I own the entire Night Angel Trilogy, and I’ve read half of the first one, but I never finished the series. I also own the first Lightbringer book, The Black Prism. I enjoy Weeks’s style. It’s crisp, and clear. He creates the world and characters with very little fuss, and gives you a crystal view that does little to impede the imagination. 

When I saw Sanderson back in March someone asked who he would choose to finish the Stormlight Archive if the worst were to happen. He said Brent Weeks, because he was closest to Brandon’s style. I agree with that, but really need to give Weeks’s works a fresh look.

So, Monday September 8th he’ll be in Salem signing books and talking to fans. And I just so happen to have the day off! I can’t wait! I’m going to meet an author that won’t leave me gasping like a fish in awe. I might actually be able to talk to this guy!

In other news, it’s freaking September already! That means that school is in session everywhere, even for this girl. Kind of. My ASU Online Orientation course starts Monday, and it’s a seven day intensive on how to manage my time and resources. All the while I have speaking appointments for French, which are going well. Mademoiselle Peyton is very nice, and extremely insightful. She’s already taught me quite a few things, and we’ve only had one appointment.

There was a mix up with textbooks, but since the actual course doesn’t start until October, I’m not too concerned. The wrong textbook is sitting on my kitchen island, unopened, waiting to be shipped back for a refund sometime tomorrow. The correct text is on its way. 

Easy peasy.

I’m also counting down the days to Disney! We leave September 29th for the Happiest Place on Earth! Disney should put our tickets in the mail on the 8th. Dang, Monday’s a busy day for me!

I’m making solid progress on ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’, though I’m not as voracious as I was with its predecessor. I think that has to do with all the other things I have going on. I’m still undecided as to what I’ll read next. I’m leaning toward Melanie Rawn, but won’t be surprised if I’m suddenly obsessed with Brent Weeks after meeting him on Monday.

But, I’m working 40 hours this week, so I doubt I’ll finish Rothfuss before the end of next week. Especially since Destiny (a video game) releases Tuesday. 

Like I said, I’m a busy lady.

Anyway, I’ve got a few hours before work starts, and I’ve got a scene simmering in my mind. I may actually get some writing done!

Have a good Tuesday, Blogland!

 

BZ

The First Day Back

I’m about to log on to Skype and have my first ‘Speaking’ appointment for my french class.

 

Ok, it’s not really my french class. It’s this sort of, ‘hey don’t be completely unprepared for french 102″ thing. I think I talked about it. Basically, my instructor is totally awesome, and offered to let me participate along with the class, so that I don’t get rusty. Or, in my case, to shake off the four years of rust I’ve layered up since my 101 class.

And though the alphabet and numbers are beyond familiar to me, I’m still really nervous. I haven’t spoken french in around four years.And I’ve never spoken into a microphone, direct into another person’s ear, so they can hear every little nuance. What if my accent is terrible? What if I completely choke and say something so incredibly wrong that she laughs at me?

Gah!

Add to it that I don’t really know how to use Skype, and I’m wigging out a little.

But, I used to be really good at French, and I have to remember that, most of the people she listens to have never spoken French before. My accent will probably be one of the better ones she hears this term.

But, I have to humble. Don’t want to get cocky in 101 only to get my ass kicked in 102.

And now I’m back to nervous…

It’s like a performance, in front of someone I don’t even know. I have no idea what she sounds like, or if she’s even nice. That’s not entirely true. She was nice enough to include me, and in my experience most professors are nice. It’s hard to be a total douche bag educator.

Fifteen minutes to go. A part of me wants to cram and re-read everything, but I know that I’m as practiced as I’m going to get. Time to put on that good old ‘fake it ’til you make it’ face.

The worst part about all these nerves? This isn’t even for a grade.

…I have really got to pull it together.

 

BZ

How Starbucks Just Changed My Life

I know I’ve talked about education on this blog before. Hell, when I first created this thing I was in my final year at Chandler Gilbert Community College. This blog has followed me through classes, graduation, and every idea I’ve had about my intellectual future since then.

I considered going to Western Oregon University, or even OSU, but when I crunched the numbers, I just couldn’t do it.

We all have our stories. Our reasons why going to college just isn’t possible. For me, it just didn’t seem worth the debt. Almost every person I know who graduated with their bachelor’s is now crippled by student loan debt.

That’s not how I want to start my life. I want to get married, by a house, and write my fiction. And I’d convinced myself that I could do all that without a college education.

And, yes, I could.

But, thanks to this amazing company that I work for, I don’t have to.

Starbucks announced late last night that it has partnered with ASU to provide full tuition reimbursement to Juniors and Seniors. There’s even more awesome details and benefits, but this is the part that applies to me.
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I graduated from CGCC with my Associate’s, and had always intended to finish my Bachelor’s. I even applied and was accepted to ASU once upon a time. But, through some wonky credits and an Astrology class from Hell, I never truly enrolled.

A decision that changed the course of my life.

If I’d taken a science class over the summer, I would have graduated from CGCC in 2010. I would never have completed the Creative Writing Certificate, and I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful writers and Instructors. I would have missed out on so much learning.

And I probably wouldn’t have moved to Oregon when I did.

My life would have followed a similar, yet truly different path.

But now, four years later, I have re-applied to ASU for their online English degree program. And Starbucks is going to pay for it. All.

That’s right. Starbucks is going to completely reimburse me for the cost of tuition and any fees associated with my courses. The only thing I pay for out of pocket are the required textbooks.

Can we just take a moment to understand that?

The Online Degree Programs are valued at about $10,000 a year. Starbucks is going to give me a scholarship, I’m going to fill out FAFSA, and hopefully get more money, and then Starbucks pays the rest.

That’s a huge chunk of money. A huge investment in me, from the Company with a Heart.

Like I said before, I convinced myself that an education wasn’t important to me. That I could live my life and follow my passions without it. And I can. But, finishing this degree is for me. I don’t want to do it so I can get a better job. I love my job, and Starbucks gives me the flexibility to work on my fiction.

I have said this time and again. And it’s still true. But, as I watched the announcement video, and the Partner Open Forum, I couldn’t keep the tears in check. Because, ultimately, finishing my degree IS important.

It’s not about getting a better job, it’s about my self-worth.

I’m done telling myself it isn’t. I’m done pretending that I’m not disappointed in myself for never completing my Bachelor’s. I’m done settling. Because that’s what I’ve done.

I worked hard for four years to get my Associate’s in Arts, and my Certificate in Creative Writing, both with Distinction. I worked two jobs, and went to school full time. I paid for my education out of pocket, and looking back, I’m not really sure how I did it. But, when I look at my Diploma, sitting on top of my bookshelves, I feel an unparalleled sense of pride.

And for two years I’ve languished. Sure, I’ve worked hard on my fiction, and I’ve completed two novels. I’ve had four short stories published. I’ve been working full time at the Bux, and have been promoted.

But, I haven’t really worked on myself. Pursuing this degree is what I’ve been avoiding. I let fear, and doubt, and financial insecurity convince me that I didn’t need it.

Today Starbucks reminded me that, if I wanted it, I could achieve it. The life lesson I’ve always touted. How did I let myself forget?

My dad told me when I was very young, “If you want something bad enough, and you’re willing to work hard enough, there’s nothing that can keep you from it.”

I’ve applied this life philosophy to my Starbucks life. I’ve applied it to my fiction. I’ve applied it in my personal life.

And it’s time I stopped hiding it from my Intellectual Life.

This fall, I start classes online at ASU. I’ll be completing my Bachelor’s in English. There’s no concentration option, but I basically already have that, thanks to my Certificate in Creative Writing.

I’m not letting anything hold me back. Not money. Not distance. Not me.

Not anymore.

 

BZ

 

To read more about this incredible program, and the company and university that are making it possible, click here.

Desert Nights

All right, here’s a quick post while I’m killing time. And if there seem to be any bizarre typos it’s not my fault, I’m writing this from my iPhone.

So, this morning has been quite the adventure. Fell asleep at around 1-1:30 last night and woke up at 5:30 this morning. Then I drove in the dark to the park and ride on Price and Apache. From there I decided the ticket machine and boarded my first ever light rail! Gotta say, it’s exactly like riding the metro in Europe, just above ground. Thank goodness I’ve done that before though, because it really helped.

A handful if stops later and I’m on the ASU campus, wandering the malls. I’ve walked pretty far ad I’m thinking I’ve passed it when there it is:

A structure tucked away, hidden and dwarfed by its multi-storied counterparts. This quaint house on this enormous campus is my destination. The Virginia G. Piper Writer’s House, where, in 30 minutes I will check in and the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writer’s conference will begin.

Now, I just have to wait.

And where the hell is the coffee?!?