Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Year’s Resolution

Over the Christmas holidays, my eldest daughter Miranda looked at my blog to help me figure out how to work some of the many features.  I had heard the term “widget” before but had no clue to what in the hell it was.  The thesaurus lists it as a thingamajig, thingamabob, doohickey, or doodad.   But now I know it’s computer terminology for a special tool to add components to a site.

I wanted to create a list of blogs I follow on the right hand side of my blog.  I’ve seen it done on other blogs.  Miranda doesn’t use Word Press; she had to learn along with me.  Thankfully, she knows a bit more about technology and taught me a few things.  We never could figure out how to create a widget for Blogs I Follow.   I’ll have to talk with other Word Press users to see if they know how.  I did create a section where I can list books I highly recommend (one of my New Year’s Resolutions).

So now I know a little bit more about the world of blogs.  For Christmas, Santa gave me a Kindle and a Kodak printer/scanner (I guess I’ve been a good girl this year).   I’m trying to figure out how to work them.  I’ve been thrust into the techno world.   I will eventually be proficient, but definitely never a pro.  I’m a writer.  That’s what I really want to perfect.  After this post, my main New Year’s Resolution is to focus on my writing (but then I have to seeing how school is starting back up).

Yes, a new semester is around the corner.  I’ll be back in New Hampshire for a week at the Mountain View Grand Resort where residency takes place during winter sessions (better than any classroom).  I look forward to the workshops and the fellowship with my Creative Writing classmates. I look forward to meeting my new mentor, too.  Last semester, my mentor was Jacquelyn Mitchard, best-selling author of The Deep End of the Ocean and the sequel  No Time to Wave Goodbye.  Since students can only have the same mentor twice, I’m going to request Jacquelyn for my last semester, so she will have seen my work from beginning to end (cross your fingers).  She is a fabulous teacher.  Anyone can see for his or her self what a great writer she is by reading her work.

If you’re thinking of working on an MFA in Creative Writing, SNHU is an excellent way to go.  But don’t just take my word.  Ask my fellow classmates/authors and you’ll see.

Happy New Year!  Happy Blogging!  Happy Writing!  Happy Brain Storming!

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Me and fellow travelers

Me and fellow travelers

This is me in Venice, Italy a couple of years ago. I’m learning how to upload photos! What fun!

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December 21, 2011 · 5:27 pm

Need a Little Help from My Friends

Now that I’m in the blogosphere I’ve found I’m not alone.  I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what to say on a blog site.  But after reading Every Writers Dream, an eBook by writer Jeff Goins, and checking out his website at http://goinswriter.com/  I’m slowly catching on.  I am not of the techno generation (not sure what you call this generation of youngsters).  I’m the last of the line of baby boomers!  I’m at the mid mark in my life.  Yes, I’m 50!  There, I said it.  It’s out there and I’m not ashamed.  I have learned much over the years and I’m still learning and hope to do so until the day I die.  But technology is a lot like math was for me way back when I was in high school and college.  There’s major blockage there—it seems so damned difficult that I throw my hands up and give up. (Okay, so I don’t throw my hands up—I need them to write.)  It’s just that I get a mental block similar to writer’s block when it comes to learning new things on the computer.  I am so technologically challenged; I needed my daughter’s help to even begin a blog.

So after I read the eBook, Goins mentioned needing a platform, a brand, and a voice.  So my platform is blogging; I figured that much out.  A brand can be a logo, a name, an image, a promise, a reputation, and a voice.  My name is pretty unique.  Yes, Rebel really is my name.  Maybe I could change the spelling of my last name to Soul.  Sowell is like “So? Well?” but when pronounced with a Southern/Texas drawl such as I have it sounds like Soul.  Just an idea.  What do you think?  I could get my oldest daughter to create me a logo; she’s a graphic artist.  I’d have to pay her though.  You can check out her website at http://mirasolart.blogspot.com/

As for a voice, I think I’ve developed that pretty well over the years.  My voice is simple, unpretentious, and humorous (at least I think so).   Sort of like a self-depreciating Rodney Dangerfield, except I’m female and not as ugly.  Okay, so maybe I’m not even that funny.  At least, I have a good sense of humor and I try.

It’s the marketing aspect of it all that really makes me nervous.  I’m not good at that sort of thing.  And yet, if I want to be a successful writer, I need to be able to advertise.  Right?  The whole thing still makes me feel like I’m stupid or something.  I’m not afraid to admit it.  I’m learning.  Hopefully, whoever chooses to read my blog will be able to watch my growth overtime as I develop into one of those confident bloggers I like to read.  So, if you are reading this, and you have suggestions or ideas, feel free to share.  I can use all the help I can get, and I bet I’m not the only one.  So help me brainstorm.  Pretty please!

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Blah, blah, blog

I wonder what the ghosts of great writers would think about the world of writing today.  Would they have a blog?  What would they say?  The advances in technology make my head spin; I find it difficult to keep up.  Of course, I love the computer.  It beats the hell out of pounding away on typewriter keys, paying close attention to spelling words correctly, for if you make a mistake and don’t catch it soon enough, you may have to retype the whole damn thing.  Back in the day, I’ve had to retype short stories ten times.  By the time I completed the tenth draft, I hated the story.  I was lucky, too!  I had an electric typewriter with automatic correction tape.  Writers of the past had manual typewriters, and before that invention, everything was written longhand.  Young writers today don’t know how lucky they are.

After teaching Developmental Writing, a course for students who did not pass the writing portion of the college entrance exam, I was astounded by what little they knew.  Oh, they can text with the speed of lightning, while driving I might add, but they can’t spell worth shit or write a complete sentence.  They think the McDonald commercial with “i’m loving it” is correct.  They think that the word “I” is only capitalized when used at the beginning of a sentence and not with a contraction.  They think “you” is simply “u”.  It’s appalling.

Of course, all this ranting, raving, and rambling leads me back to Blogging.  Can a writer exist without a blog?  I should hope so.  What if he or she is like me?  I’m just a story teller.  That’s all I want to do.  So why do I have a blog?  Because all the savvy writers say I should.  Will I be able to post new comments frequently?  Probably not.  I have to do a lot of soul searching and brainstorming just to come up with one simple idea.  Am I a moron?  No, just a woman with a lot on her mind.  Which brings me to a thought concerning women versus men writers… okay, I’ll save that for another post.  It requires some additional brainstorming.  I was told posts should be short, no longer than 600 words.  I’m up to 394 at this point.  I best rest my pen, uh, I mean my computer.

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My first post

I am a fiction writer, so writing a blog feels strange, making me a tad bit uncomfortable.   I am used to taking reality and converting it into a story where I have total control.  Nonfiction doesn’t work that way.   Supposedly, it is a good thing to get out of your comfort zone.  I’m giving it a try, but I’m cheating along the way.   I heard a fellow writer once say, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  Okay, so I won’t.  My first blog originated from an essay I wrote to apply for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing to Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).  I got accepted, I might add.

Growing up, I was not encouraged to attend college.  Instead, my mother advised me to “find a rich man and get married.”  So, throughout my high school years I did not pay as close attention to my studies as I should have, though I did enjoy reading fiction and writing poetry.

After graduation, I married (no, he was not rich) and had my first child.  When I held my baby girl I knew I wanted to be the best mother possible.  I decided to take Child Psychology (as if that would help).

I enrolled at Midland College (MC), never intending to work toward a college degree, but I enjoyed the class so much—and even made an A, which I rarely did in high school—that I decided college was for me after all.

It was not until I took Creative Writing that I decided to pursue Literature as a degree.  From that course and the professor, Rebecca Watson, I discovered I loved to write.  The critiques I received from my fellow students and Ms. Watson were invaluable.  She was the first teacher to ever tell me I had potential.  I read in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye that “potential has a shelf life.”  If that was the case, I knew I needed to get the creative juices flowing before they expired.  

While at MC, I went to several writers’ conferences and entered a few literary contests, winning Honorable Mention for two poems and Second Place for a short story.   Two years later, I transferred to The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB).   Once there, I wrote for the college newspaper and worked part time in the News and Information Office, writing News Releases and Public Service Announcements.  I continued to write short stories and won First Place Short Story through one of the university’s literary contests, as well as a second place and Honorable Mention for short stories in later contests.  The first place story “Free White Woman and Her Poetry” is about a black woman in prison who heals through poetry therapy.  The second place story “The Familiar Stranger” is about a shy and lonely woman who meets her fantasy lover, not knowing if he really exists or is just a phantom of her imagination.  “Silent Hours,” the honorable mention story, is about a woman who experiences a spiritual awakening while contemplating suicide after losing her husband from an illness and her daughter from a car accident.

While working on the university newspaper, I also received a First Place Award, Division 3 Newspaper Feature Story and a Third Place Award, Division 2 Magazine Short Story, through the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association.  The first place award was from an editorial I wrote about my personal experience and observation of the rescue efforts of Baby Jessica, the little girl who made national headlines when she fell down a well.  I just happened to live two houses down from where she fell.  The Magazine Short Story award was for “Free White Woman and Her Poetry.”

After graduation, my part time position at UTPB became a full time job that lasted over five years.   I took a short story writing course through Writer’s Digest and continued to write short stories, but found my stories kept growing longer and longer.  I knew then I needed to try writing a novel.

My writing started taking a backseat after I had my second child and began teaching Kindergarten.  I taught in various elementary grades for 13 years.  Those who have worked with small children know it is physically and mentally draining.    I did not have the energy to work as much on my writing.  I belonged to a local writers group where many of the writers were published authors.  Unfortunately, this group disbanded which was extremely disappointing.  I tend to write more when I have a deadline to meet and I can always use constructive criticism.   Writing gives me purpose, aids in my self-discovery, and pushes me to be disciplined.  I needed fiction writing back in my life.

I have since completed one novel and have two others in the works.  The completed novel, a fantasy, The Magician’s Hook, is about a woman on the verge of spiritual enlightenment who encounters a dangerous magician, a psychic vampire, who practices black magic.   My other novels, which are still works in progress, are historical fiction.  

Daughter of the Bride (my thesis at SNHU) is the story of a teenage girl whose mother, after the death of her husband, answers a newspaper ad from a young farmer seeking a bride.  The girl fights her feelings of infatuation for her new step father, but some emotions are unstoppable.  The story takes place in a fictional Texas hill country town during the late 1800s.

The Matriarch is about the women in my family, starting with my great grandmother.  I have not touched this story in some time because I came to the part that describes my mother’s life and it is still a little too fresh, a little too close to home, but I feel the story is worth finishing.

Now I am working part time at MC as a Developmental Writing Instructor.  Teaching others to write has awakened my creative juices, that potential which had been pushed to the back of the shelf.  After this semester, I will stop teaching to focus all my energy on my novel.

Because I have to do a lot of brainstorming before I come up with anything halfway worth writing about, I thought it appropriate to call my blog Brain Storm.  There are storms always brewing in my brain; I have to let them out occasionally.  So hang in there if you like and ride the storm out with me.

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