Tough Education

Happy WIPpet Wednesday!

The end of the semester is here—exams are stressing out my students! I don’t envy them. Graduate school nearly broke me—academic hazing is what I called it. However, I am so extremely grateful for my education. The experience inspired me to write a book. So, that makes all the endless, sleepless nights of studying worth it.

For all the exam takers, you'll get through this.

For all the exam takers out there, you’ll get through this.

The Hall Speaks #fallsemester is my début novel and the sequel is my WIPpet. There are several story lines, but today I’m going to share an excerpt from Sage’s. He wears the RA position like a BOSS, making policy enforcement look cool. But the RA job has forced him into a dangerous situation. He gets a tough education—one that has nothing to do with school. I shared about him here.

For the math: May 14, 2014, just 5 sentences for the month.

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#Sage

Early Monday morning before the sun got up, Sage took off for the campus gym. He ran across the lawn as if the water called him. The distinct smell of chlorine hit him as he entered the humid, warm locker room. He went for first locker he saw and opened it, tossing in his blue bag. Alone, with only the steady humming sound of the heater, his thoughts racing just as fast.

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Thanks for reading, and comments much appreciated! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets because they are fabulous! 🙂  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading All! Stay beautiful. 

Gif credit: tumblr_inline_n4ttocoVMh1r25fcq.gif

Unusual Jobs

Interview picture

A note a staff member gave me before my interview

For this weeks snippet I’m sharing an RA interview. Another writer interviewed one of their characters last week and I really liked it! The process for the RA position is pretty intense. There’s a long, detailed application, 2-3 personal interviews, then group interviews where candidates do a series of tasks with other candidates. Organizing RA interviews and hiring can take an entire semester. It’s a big deal.

I’ve invited Carly (my character from The Hall Speaks #fallsemester) to sit with us and answer a few questions. These are real questions asked on interviews and I got them here. Hopefully it gives you a little insight into the RA job and my character. Carly wasn’t a girl I liked right away. She’s not mean but she isn’t concerned with trying to be nice. Eventually she grew on me.

The math: It’s May 7 so she will answer that many questions.  🙂

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Carly Arnold (sophomore at VBU, RA candidate)

Carly Arnold (sophomore at VBU, RA candidate)

So, Carly, thanks for meeting with me. I know you just finished interviewing with Landon for the actual RA position.  I’m going to ask you some of the same question he did but feel free to be candid. Nothing you share will get in the way of you getting the job.

1) Well, how are you?

“I’m fine…can’t wait to get out of these clothes, though. A little tight in all the wrong places if you know what I mean.” She’s wearing a lavender button down shirt and a navy skirt.

2) Ok, I won’t keep you long then. So, why do you want to be a RA?

Hm..I didn’t come to school thinking about the RA job—not at all.  My parents believe in working hard and all that, and want me to work through college. I can’t do retail or fast food stuff. No way. Being an RA seems pretty harmless. I get my own room, tell freshmen what to do, and get campus-credit. It’s really cool, when you think about it.”

She looks down at her lap for a moment, then back at me.

“Beside, it’ll be the first thing I do without my boyfriend. We’ve been together for, like– ever. So I want everyone to see that I’m more than Patrick’s girlfriend.  And the money I save my parents on room and board, they promised to give it to me after graduation. Not a bad deal.”

Pride gleams in her smile as she crosses her legs, leaning back in the chair.

3) Not a bad deal at all. And what are some of your strengths?

“I don’t really have a problem confronting people, especially if I’m right. I can keep residents in line. I’m a planner, good with numbers too. I’m an accountant major so I could maximize our RA programming funds.”

4) And what about weaknesses? What would you say those are?

“Weaknesses, Ha! I have plenty of those…like chocolate, margaritas, bakeries. In general when it comes to food I don’t discriminate. But I’ve been dating slim fast for the last 6 years so no one has to worry about me eating all the food at RA programs. But I guess my social weakness is forgetting that people have feelings. I can tend to just focus on my own,” she explains smiling with her eyes.

5) Why should we hire you?

“Because I have moves you’ve never seen.” She laughs and so do I. “I saw the original red-head, Julia Roberts,  say that in a movie once. Sorry—just wanted to see how that sounded. Why should you hire me? Well…I’m pretty awesome. But other than that, I’m reliable and really organized…I don’t stress out. School is fairly easy for me so I can handle those RA responsibilities just fine.  And I’m pretty normal. Alana’s cute if you’re into that Disney princess kind of look, but I caught her cleaning in the bathroom. I mean, who cleans public bathrooms unless it’s their job?  I’m nineteen with no major meltdowns on my record, so that should put me in the top ten on the candidate list.”

6) Carly, tell me what you would do in this situation: You notice that one of your residents doesn’t seem to want to return home for Christmas. When you approach her, she tells you she’s nervous about going home because her step-father molested her in the past. What would you do?

She sighs.“These questions… this makes me sad. I hate that people go through stuff like this—period. What I’d want to tell her is that while her step-dad is riding his broomstick to hell, that she can stay with me for break. My family is crazy-generous to everyone except me. Of course, I gave Landon the more censored, good-RA  answer, but honestly I couldn’t let her go home.”

7) Do you think Landon will hire you?

“Gosh, I sure hope so. He said I needed this job. Which I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that because my parents have money.  But he sounded pretty darn sure that I needed to be an RA on his staff. Yep–totally got that vibe from him.”

Well, maybe he thinks being an RA can help you as a person.

Her brows shift, moving closer together. She looks kind of offended.

I learned so much in the role and grew as a person because of it. Possibly he wants the same thing for you. Best of luck to you, Carly! I’m sure you’ll get the job. Thanks for letting me interview you. It’s nice getting the uncensored, unscripted version.

“Yeah, no problem. See ya around!”  She walks off towards a guy in a suit.

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Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets, I’ll be doing my rounds later today.  And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading all! Stay beautiful. 🙂

Hot Pink Stain–WIPpet

Have you ever met someone who has a bad attitude for no reason? Like, you ask a simple question and they snap back with a rude comment. It’s hard not to take it personally. And showing compassion for the person displaying this behavior–forget about it–not happening!  Because I know for me in those situations, I don’t exactly get this feeling:

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Well, I’ve learned that there is always a reason–not that it’s justifiable–why people are mean. I’m convinced that 90% of road-rage has nothing to do with driving. Sometimes people go through horrible things and live with residual anger.  If any of you have ever seen Anger Management you know exactly what I’m talking about. Or one of my favorites, that moment in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark just goes mad-cow disease on his boss.

The way many people feel when life just gets crazy

The way many people feel when life just gets crazy

Unfortunately for my character, Kessa Daniels, her situation has no laughter involved. She’s carrying a dark burden. A burden that was forced, one that she never imagined carrying.  But she holds it with an attitude because it’s the only way to deal with the pain. Some folks smile the pain away, while others push everyone away.

In my first novel, The Hall Speaks #fallsemester, Kessa is introduced during RA training. She is playing the role of a cutter during the scenario and is so believable the other RAs get emotional watching. This happens during that scene:

But for Kessa, conjuring up tears was as easy as brushing her teeth.

She had more to cry about then any of them could ever know. 

My WIP scene is connected to this one, and it’s from RA Marcus Johnson’s POV. They are ‘just friends’ and he’s finally getting Kessa to trust him. Marcus asked Kessa to attend a divine nine fraternity banquet with him.

The math: April 2, 2014 so I’m giving you 22 lines (14+2+2+4) from blog post 8 (4th month multiplied by 2).

#Marcus

“Never mind, Marcus, I’ll get it myself,” she demanded, snatching the cup from his hand.

“Look–I’m sorry.”

Her expression softened. No one could be mad at Marcus for long. His dimples appeared when he talked. He accepted people and they accepted him right back.

Kessa gave him a quick smile. “It’s ok, I’m sorry too.”

“Hey, let me introduce you to one of the pillars in KSG…” Marcus shifted to the side, revealing the dark-skinned guy behind him. “This is Drake,” he introduced, patting his high set shoulders.

The most peculiar smile shaped Drake’s slender face as he studied Kessa’s form. Marcus frowned slightly because Drake stared at Kessa like he knew her in that way. He glanced at Kessa and felt even more lost.

She stood there, still as a tree in the eye of a storm. Her dark brown eyes focused on Drake, watering from a new emotion. Her fingers twitched. Before Marcus could mutter another word, she flung her drink in Drakes’ face. The red liquid dripped down his neck, staining his white collared shirt hot pink.

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Always, thanks for reading! If you’d like to take part in WIPpet just go here.  Be sure to check out other WIPpets, I’ll be doing my rounds tomorrow. And thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting! Happy reading and let’s all keep writing!

Photo/Gif Credit: www.tucsonweekly.comgiphy.com245 × 235

 

The Most Important Work of A Writer

I volunteer at my son’s elementary school.  Eighty-five percent of his classmates are learning English, along with this rigorous Kindergarten curriculum. And yes, it is actually a hard workload for a five-year-old: book reports, addition and substation, spelling tests.

I’m not sure about you, but my first schooling experience pretty much consisted of naps, magical story-times, and snacks.

Helping these kids with English, led me to think deeper about my writing. I wondered if my writing would translate—the way I intended it—in other languages.  Although hundreds of books are translated, thinking about my novel in a different language never crossed my mind. I imagine an author would need a ton of guidance to make sure the translation is as close to the original as possible.

writing

As writers, we can tend to spend an exhausting amount of time looking for the perfect word to capture a scene or emotion. But how important is this to the story? Especially if it has potential to reach worldwide status.  I’m sure the writing style changes a bit during the translation process. But there is one thing that never changes.

Many writers ask, “What’s more important, the writing or the story?” I ran across a statement on Tumblr that gets us closer to the answer. A student sat in a presentation given by  Brian Doyle and here’s what they posted:

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing author, and an even better man named Brian Doyle. There are a few authors named Brian Doyle, but this one is the author from New York who wrote “Mink River” and “The Plover.” He talked about his own life and how he writes and what his process is, and it was all very standard for an author visiting a group of college students, but then he said something that really caught my attention. He said this:

“I don’t call myself a writer or an author. I call myself a story catcher. I don’t come up with stories, I live them and I take them and I keep them in my pocket until I need to tell them. I do this because stories are important. They are what we all live for. Stories are all anyone can know about anyone else. And so I challenge you to find the story that matters. Because behind everything there is a deeper story. When 9/11 happened everyone wrote about the brave firemen who rushed back into the buildings even though there was no chance that they could save everyone. Everyone wanted to write the story about the terror and the fear and the loss of an icon. But behind all the fire and tire and white ash is a more important story. Everyone tells the big story. No one tells the story about the family that sets four places at the dinner table, and has to put one plate back. I challenge you to find the important story. Find the story that really matters.”

The Story wins! 

Sky, fog, and clouds on a textured vintage paper background with grunge stains.

It’s been proven for centuries that stories are all we have, they confess the human experience. From The Great Gatsby, The Kite Runner,  Alice in Wonderland, all translated in several languages. But why? Because these stories captured a generation and continue to do so today.

I don’t know any teenagers reading original Shakespearian language for fun, but most enjoy stories from that era. We love them—like Disney, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, MacBeth, are here to stay.

So, the most important work of a writer is this: write in a way to help readers listen to the real story. It’s the story–even over time—that doesn’t change, but can change the world. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

 

Sources:

blog.writeathome.com 

http://modern-major-cannibal.tumblr.com/tagged/Brian-Doyle

letswritetogether.wikispaces.com

So, this is what happens…

tumblr_mvra4qwrYt1qcm0m3o1_500.gif ron

When classes are cancelled and the university shuts down, guess who’s babysitting? Yep, Ron Swanson! Well, not really but close. This scene is the best representation of  how Reslifers feel during inclement weather. There’s this little dot on the job description that says, “duties as assigned,” which means “wearer of many hats” for residence life staff members.

My experience includes walking around during a Nor’easter trying to get my students to stop playing football in flooded areas. Without the structure of classes students go a little crazy, especially if they’re stuck in a dorm.  To be honest, I was not happy that day. I just wanted to sleep– you know, take a day off. However, looking back on all those adventures I don’t regret a single moment. Because our experiences are the foundation for great stories.

I just wanted to share as it’s rumored we are getting another snowmageddon in the D.C. area.  Much love to my local Reslifers this week! When the snow starts falling, keep your sanity by encouraging students to watch movies, play board games, and of course read a great book! 🙂

Image Source: A Passionate Mind and whatshouldwecallstudentaffairs

Self-Segregation in College…it happens

So, I came across this video while reading an interesting article here

I’m on campus almost every day—I work with college students. Meeting new people is one of the things I love about college life. Usually the person is with their friends doing some typical college thing, like studying, eating or socializing. After a while I started noticing how many students self-segregate. Constantly I’d find groups of students solely hanging out with others that looked like them. Sometimes the most diversity I’d see in a day would be among athletes. But then again, there’s a little segregation going on there too. Now this is just my observation. But I’m a fairly nosy girl so I started asking students if self-segregation occurs, and if they had opinions about it.

Not to turn this into a research paper, I’ll just summarize the outcome. Basically, the majority of them unintentionally, self-segregated, it happened naturally within the first few weeks of school. And I think I know why. There’s an overload of newness in college. In general, students leave home for the first time, new roommates, choosing a major, new classroom structure, finding a boyfriend/girlfriend. With everything around them being so different, possibly they’re looking for somewhere to belong. Relating to others create connection–we all know that. And even though it’s superficial, race is one of the first noticeable traits. It’s a commonality, a connection, which generates an immediate sense of belonging.

Another question surfaces as I thought about students need to belong. Are there other areas where this happens? Clinging to a certain group trying to fit in, so to say. Curiosity led me to ask them if their peers played into stereotypes that, we writers, avoid displaying in our characters. They laughed like I had asked a simple question. To them it was. Because they see their peers daily living out what others might call…stereotypical. And you know what, that’s totally fine. Everyone is an individual, yes, but I also believe that certain behaviors and interests are cultural. No one should be ridiculed or labeled as they pursue acceptance or identity.

The issue lies with the belief that stereotypical behavior is less, unimportant, or negative. However, it is horrible if someone assumes a person is a certain way just because of race, gender, sexuality or ability level.

What does this mean for contemporary fiction about college students? How can we include diversity when it’s not always happening in college? I think authors should write whatever they want, so maybe it means nothing. But take a stroll across campus and try writing about what you see.  It’ll only make for a better story! 🙂