I have waited so, so long to announce this.
A few months ago, the University of Dayton offered me a fully-funded teaching assistantship after I was accepted into their M.A. in English: Writing and Rhetoric program. There were other offers at hand, but I didn't want to announce my decision on social media until it was set in stone.
I signed the contract today.
So, I'm a Flyer now!
It felt so good to finally sign that contract today. I've already registered for my courses, filled out the paperwork for Human Resources, and received my graduate student ID card. I'm thrilled to both continue my eduction and learn what it means to be an educator.
So, I've got the best of both worlds.
A few months ago, I drove to Sinclair Community College to give a speech about my time as a Sinclair student and my growth as a writer. It was the first time I had seen the University of Dayton since I was offered the teaching assistantship, so when I drove by it on my way to Sinclair—where my entire college career started—I cried.
It felt full circle.
I almost cried again today when I walked through campus, confused but amazed. I had no idea where I was going. In fact, I got lost twice. However, when I figured out where I was supposed to go, I wound up walking through a small garden between buildings. I entered under a tall brick arch, smelled the flowers in the breeze, and stopped to breathe it all in.
I can't wait to spend the next two years there.
So, I've been busy, but I'm back!
As a few of you have noticed, my online activity has decreased overall since roughly February/March; I should have expected it, but I didn't realize how demanding my final undergraduate semester would be. I pulled more all-nighters in that one semester than I had for my entire first three years of college. It was rough, to say the least.
But I plowed through it.
After four long years, I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English in both Rhetoric & Professional Writing AND Creative Writing Hybrid Forms. Magna Cum Laude honors, too. Since I was nominated by English faculty to be an Arts & Sciences Marshal, I was lucky enough to wear red rather than black! I also got to sit in the front row.
It was a day I'll never forget.
Most college graduates tend to take time off, celebrate a little, once they finally finish. Immediately following graduation, however, more work began. Two editing projects, to be precise.
The week of graduation, I started developmental edits on Danielle Koste's next book, What the Flower Says of Death. In late June, after she applied my suggested edits, I conducted line edits. This past week, I proofread the book one last time before sending it off into the wild (a.k.a beta readers). You can pre-order signed copies of What the Flower Says of Death now, and I've included the blurb below:
I'm absolutely bias, so I love the book. It also challenged me as an editor to remain emotionally distant due to the content and themes; it's easy to identify with Violet as a reader.
The cover reveal is on July 31st, but as editor, I may have gotten a glimpse of it. It may be absolutely gorgeous. Possibly. So, be on the lookout for that!
I enjoyed working on another one of Danielle's books these last few months, and I'm thrilled to be able to work on her next novels as well. As I've expressed to her on multiple occasions, editing her writing makes me a better writer. It's truly an honor. She was also kind enough to work with my schedule as well, because her book was not the only one I have edited so far this year.
Some backstory: my final course for my Rhetoric & Professional Writing major at the University of Cincinnati was a Rhetoric & Professional Writing Capstone. While my Creative Writing Hybrid Forms Capstone included only undergraduate students, my Rhetoric Capstone included undergraduate and graduate students. I ended up working with mixed group of students to complete a client project (creating a website, some civil war panels, a few articles, and so forth) but I became close with our lovely group leader.
She ended up inviting me to work with her on a nonfiction book project.
Aside from my education and personal dabbling in nonfiction, I never had a professional opportunity to work on a nonfiction piece. Naturally, I couldn't pass it up.
The untitled book, now planned to be called "They Call Me Nemo," is a hybrid memoir. The story is told in three ways; chapters detail his life story until the day he went to prison, letters display his daily life while incarcerated, and artwork depict his attempt to stay connected with his loved ones.
This project was both hands-on and hands-off. Our client, the author's mother, gave us the handwritten "draft." I put the quotes around draft because the content was more than 250,000 words; at the onset, this was not your typical draft for a nonfiction book. So, after transcribing the author's life story before and during prison, my partner and I constructed the 96,000+ word book (I suggested a braided structure similar to Anne Carson's lovely book Nox) before lightly editing it based off of our client's wishes. We also drafted the mother a proposal and query letter so her son could begin to research agents/publishers in the hopes of pursuing publication.
I can't even begin to express the journey my partner and I had. There were many late nights filled with the never-ending tap of our keyboards as we transcribed this man's path towards prison, and eventually, his experiences within prison.
As someone with a previously incarcerated family member, I had a personal interest in this man's prison stay. Some of the daily letters were quite revealing, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my new friend on this project.
Actually, I feel immensely grateful overall to have worked on a fiction and nonfiction project directly after graduating with my B.A. in English. I'm so fortunate to have these new experiences under my belt at my age, and more than that, to be allowed to work on these personal pieces to begin with.
Hopefully, it's only the start.
It's hard to believe that I've been working on The Corruption Trilogy: Veriwen, and the trilogy arc itself, for nearly two years and have only just now written 100 pages.
To be fair, it's been a monumental two years, and I've accomplished quite a bit in the meantime. I finished other novels, completed other projects, balanced several opportunities, and worked my tush off for my undergraduate degree.
But it's time.
Graduate school will start in six months, then I will have almost no time to sit down and write. I've been taking stock of my productivity, and I do best in long sittings. However, this isn't the case with editing and re-writing.
So I'm going to draft the entirety of The Corruption Trilogy before I start graduate school.
If NaNoWriMo is a sprint, this is a marathon.
I know that, but I also know that the hardest part of any writing project is often the writing itself. Getting it all down. Pen on blank paper.
So I'm writing and planning. I have an entire spreadsheet outlining daily and weekly goals for the next six months to make sure this trilogy is completed, which is one pivotal part of Rachel Aaron's strategy in her old article, "How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day." I stumbled across it a few years ago, and being able to re-visit it has been a blessing.
My "Trilogy Tracker" will keep me accountable as I navigate the last few months of my undergrad, plan my wedding, and work full time.
With graduate school around the corner, it's time to get serious.
If anyone has any advice, tips, or tricks that could help make this happen, please don't be shy! I'd love to hear from you!
It's only February, and I have quite a few plans in the works already.
Danielle Koste and I worked out an editing schedule for her next publishing pursuit - What the Flower Says of Death - and we've been discussing a few possibilities for her ever-awaited novel, Extracurriculars. Fun stuff. Keep an eye out!
While I wait to hear back about graduate funding (fingers crossed, I should be hearing back very soon about assistantships), I've been working on projects of my own. It's no secret to those that know me that I have a few years worth of Writer's Digest stacked on my bookshelf at home. I use them for reference quite often, and I even referred one of Jessica Strawser's articles from two years ago to a fellow writer the other day.
They come in handy.
In fact, they especially come in handy with a secret project of mine, which I'm not quite ready to discuss yet. It's going to take several years, anyhow.
Moving forward, onto new endings, I experienced every writers' tragedy last month when I lost the plot for book three of The Corruption Trilogy. I spent twenty minutes mad at myself before vowing to write an even better plot.
Yesterday, I did.
It's a good feeling when everything seems to fall into place. To click. I'm slowly working towards multiple projects and paths I'm passionate about, and I cannot wait to see each come to life.
Thank you for joining me on this ride.
"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. " -E.L. Doctorow
I'm wrapping up Week 3 of my last semester of undergrad, and I feel my impending graduation acutely. As I write this, my forearms are swelling with goosebumps.
I'm almost there.
There doesn't feel much of anywhere, though. I'll have three months to breathe before tackling graduate school, and I'm still waiting to here back from one university about my general application and the two I've been accepted to regarding funding. Fingers crossed, you guys!
In the meantime, I'm finishing up this final semester, reading, and writing when I can. Work keeps me quite busy too, but I'm making it happen day-by-day.
I have a few writing goals this year, even though it is such a big year already, as I mentioned in my previous blog post. I don't know how many times I've written that Life Happens, but even when Life Happens, writers have to keep that ball rolling. There are so many published writers I admire for writing with vigor, continuing to push out quality work. I know right now my plate is stacked, but I strive for that output all the same.
So with almost a month of 2018 already down, here's to keeping that ball rolling for the rest of the year.
2018 is a new year, but it will also be a big year. It's hard to grasp that in less than four months, at twenty-one, I will graduate with a dual-English bachelor's degree in Rhetoric & Professional Writing and Creative Writing Hybrid Forms. I have three classes left, starting next week.
I still remember my first college courses. I was actually a senior in high school, studying at a vocational school in a Graphic Arts & Communications program. The program still thrives, and their students will be creating the invitations for my August wedding reception.
Graduating from college, getting married...
Oh, and graduate school.
I'm still waiting about other acceptances and assistantships, but it only adds to how massive this year is.
On top of that, PULSE by Danielle Koste - the novel I edited - finally released on the first of this month. From what I'm seeing and hearing, it's selling by the box at this point, and I could not be happier for Danielle. She has worked on this book for years, and it's finally alive and in the world.
If you're interested in purchasing a gorgeous copy of your own, you can find both digital and paperback versions through Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. She has several other outlets listed on this post.
Another collaboration with Luna Eclipse was published with Jazzy Magazine, as seen below:
The historical twist was a delightful change. Luna's pieces often tie in mythology, a subject I always wished to study but never quite found the chance.
This year, I hope to dive into mythology, screenwriting, and more. I have plans to finish the first novel in The Corruption Trilogy and start the second. On top of that, I'd like to either publish a chapbook or start on a collection.
It's a new, big year and I plan to make the most of it.
William Longgood once said: "Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination."
My semester hasn't been over for a full week and so much has happened. I received Danielle Koste's PULSE in the mail this weekend. I met this book online several years ago when it was a draft on Wattpad, and after seeking advice from Danielle, we became close friends. Editing her book is an honor and a privilege.
I mean, just look at it.
Our friends at Yonderworldly Designs crafted that gorgeous cover, and wow, does it shine. I have received several complements on their behalf.
A few days later, I was asked to represent all undergraduate Arts & Sciences students at the University of Cincinnati on the new Career Fair Steering Committee. This committee could better students' access to internships, co-ops, and careers post-graduation, and I am in shock to be asked in the first place. To represent thousands of Arts & Sciences undergraduate students is mind-blowing.
Even after accepting this opportunity, I am still in shock.
And now, I have received all my grades back. In each of my courses, and my internship with the Rhetoric & Professional Writing department, I earned an A. Not a single A minus, either. I found this out minutes ago, actually. It hasn't set in, yet. I'm a bit speechless.
What I can say in this moment, however, is that to Longgood, dreams and dedication are a powerful combination, but if you combine that with the support I have, well, I am honored and privileged and graced and so many more adjectives that elude me.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me throughout this rigorous semester, and of course, the many years leading up to it. I hope I have made you proud now, and I hope to continue doing so in the future.
Keep those fingers crossed for my graduate applications! That's the next hurdle before actual graduation.
Yesterday, I scheduled the final three courses of my undergraduate education.
Is it possible to hold your breath yet feel like you're finally able to breathe at the same time?
That's about where I am right now. In other terms, I'm choking up. I cannot believe that I registered for my last semester yesterday. They were small actions, just submitting the courses I selected weeks ago with a few clicks of my keypad. It didn't feel quite as momentous as it does now.
My (often) hour-plus commute decreased from three times a week to once a week, and rather than three classes and an internship, I only have three classes. Two of the courses are online while my Rhetoric & Professional Writing (R.P.W.) Capstone is in person. This is the final course to determine whether I have earned the R.P.W. part of my dual-English degree. Right now, as I'm sure many of you are aware, I'm currently in a Creative Writing: Hybrid Forms Capstone for my creative major.
It's hard to fathom that I will have my double-major B.A. within the next six months when I still starkly remember taking collegiate courses during my senior year in high school. I had my entire degree planned out then, and although a few courses have changed here and there.
I'm blown away by everything that I didn't expect.
At Sinclair Community College, I never anticipated working for their Writing Center or tutoring department. Additionally, with their yearly Spectrum Awards to celebrate writing of all types and at all levels, I was nominated for four different award categories. Though I won three of four, as shown on my bibliography, I was honored as the top English student that year. Because the professors believed in me. So many of them still believe in me.
I'm tearing up right now.
I'm forever grateful to the faculty at Sinclair Community College. Tim Waggoner, Adrienne Cassel, Adam Williams, and Caroline Reynolds personally instructed some of my courses. Elizabeth Scarborough hired me on as a tutor; to this day, I have never loved a job more. I was also graced by the recognition and support from the Chair of the English department, Lisa Mahle-Grisez.
Because of them, and several others, Sinclair lives in my heart each day.
I have been similarly blessed at the University of Cincinnati with professors like Laura Wilson, Jonathan Kamholtz, Christine Mok, Teresa Cook, Rebecca Lindenberg, and Chris Bachelder. The internship I currently have with their R.P.W. department has been eye-opening, as well, and I've been lucky enough to learn bits and pieces of what makes an English department successful.
As I choke up about my final semester and await responses from my graduate applications, I cannot help but be thankful to the people that supported me each step of the way. I hope to make you all proud.
In my first October post, I vowed to write more.
I am happy to announce that I have!
To my novel, THE CORRUPTION TRILOGY: VERIWEN, I have added more than 4,000 words. Then, for my hopeful collection STOLEN MOMENTS, I finally nailed down the structure and organization. This revelation is a relief in itself.
Of course, coursework still comes first.
PERSEPOLIS is the next text up for discussion in my Hybrid Forms Capstone course. I am a little more than halfway through, and because I saw excerpts years ago, I know the pain is just on the horizon.
When I experience pieces like these, I am reminded of the V for Vendetta quote: "Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth."
We need more pieces like PERSEPOLIS in the world. For insight. For awareness. For honesty. For truth.
Someday, I hope to pen something even a quarter as impactful.
In the last few years, I have noticed that my writing grows congruently with my education, which is one of the many reasons why I decided to pursue graduate school. Well, this morning, while knee-deep in PERSEPOLIS, I received an acceptance email from one of the three graduate schools I applied to.
Graduate school as an institution is intimidating, so this acceptance is comforting. I am truly honored.
With all of my program applications, I also applied for teaching assistantship positions/funding, as I cannot afford to attend graduate school otherwise. With the college that accepted me this morning, their assistantship is a secondary process, so I'm waiting to see if I am offered a position.
It will be a few months yet before I hear from the other two graduate schools I applied to, but I am thrilled. So thrilled. I mentioned before, on my Facebook writer's page, that my writing sample was a risk; I am in tears knowing, for at least one institution, the risk paid off.
Keep those fingers crossed! Now, it's a waiting game.
The season of Spook is upon us, and naturally, I couldn't be happier.
I also couldn't be busier.
I'm knee-deep in my second-to-last semester at the University of Cincinnati, finalizing my graduate school applications, working full-time as a Lead for a medical alert monitoring company, and snatching every moment in-between to write. STOLEN MOMENTS - a poetry chapbook or collection, I haven't decided yet - entirely encompasses this experience. It may turn into a hybrid form as I continue, but I haven't decided yet.
I've found direction is often directionless in writing, anyway.
Despite STOLEN MOMENTS, I've been itching to write fiction. Between editing Danielle Koste's upcoming novel, PULSE, almost two months ago and reading my fellow friends' works-in-progresses, this itch is mosquito-bite unbearable. The non-traditional, dystopian-fantasy trilogy of mine has been put on hold so I can focus on my academics and graduate applications, and I am steadily submitting my YA mainstream novel, FINE, but it is not enough.
I want to pour hours into a blank page, spinning the stories screaming in my head. I want to explore new, innovative forms, much like the ones I am studying. Some, like scriptwriting, take more research. Take more time. The craving won't go away, though. It just growls in my stomach, louder and louder and louder, until I'm writing a blog post. This blog post.
It occurs to me, now, how many writers talk about writing more than actually writing, and how, now, I am aware that I am doing the same as we speak, or rather, as I write and you eventually read.
So, once I've completed my graduate application, I'll swap those hours for my fiction pursuits. I still want to publish a novel before graduate school, and if that's going to happen, it's time to find more time.
What a beautiful conundrum.