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Author Archives: Sunshine Mendez

Will e-books take over?

photo by Tina Phillips

So I am writing an e-book, but I didn’t realize how different and untraditional it will be.  My creative writing degree can’t help me with learning how to format my writing into html.  They don’t teach this to creative writing students or at least in the last decade it never became an option. I think that in the next decade we will see that it will be important to have courses in college on this subject.

Cracking the spine of a fresh book will be a thing of the past.  The Kindle, Nook and iPad are taking reading to a different level and I guess trees will be saved because of it.

The world will always need writers, but the world will change the way it reads.  This is where I as a writer must conform and learn how to write for a different generation.  A generation that clings to electronic devices.  I have to learn about self-publishing via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I have to learn how to design e-book covers and formatting the text of my books to be read on these newfangled devices.

So I am welcomed to a new kind of writing; one that I never learned about in obtaining my degree.  In starting my novel, I have learned that there is even writing software to help me organize myself for the writing part of this journey.  I plan to keep a little tradition and do the planning like all other novelists of the past.  I have to keep some things traditional in this world of new gadgets and new ways of publishing.

 

(photo by Tina Phillips.  To visit her portfolio you may go to the following link:  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=503)

Serenity Interrupted

A breeze rushes through the open window

Mini blinds bang along its glass

Taking in the scent of the desert rain

Listening to it crackle at the pane

Lifting my hair

Feeling the knots within my neck

I’m free

But not ready to expose

What the world won’t see

Is me without my clothes

Sending the blinds crashing as I fumble for the rope

Shutting the world outside with one quick stroke

I let the water gush forth from the corroded rusty metal

Standing

Gazing

At the woman in the mirror

In a fog I watch her disappear

Pulling back the curtain I step inside

Singing

Tide is High by Blondie

Can’t get it out of my head

Lathering

Rinsing

But

not Repeating

Suds slide gracefully down the crevice of my aching back

Yelling

Banging at the door

An interruption to my serene world

“Mommy, I got to go potty.”

All is lost in the whimper of a little boy

A Novel Idea?

I am my own worst critic.  I tend to tear up everything I have written.  I am hard on myself and delete each word I type.  Even still I have written many short stories, poems and screenplays.  When I was a child I didn’t care about the audience; I wrote from the heart.  Now that I am older, I tend to scrutinize over every single written word.  The most hindering of habits is that I worry too much over what other people will think of my writing.

I wanted to be a writer so much that I earned my BA in Creative Writing and now I’m under even more pressure to be a successful writer.  My parents keep asking me when I will write a novel.  I had no plans on doing such a thing until just recently.  My brother Shane told me that I can self-publish my writing via Amazon and that my e-book would be available through Kindle.  This was the ice that needed to be broken.  One thing I did learn in my creative writing courses was that I will get rejected.  Every good writer gets rejected.  I didn’t want to go through all that hard work and for nothing.

So here I am close to the new year and I could make a resolution to lose some weight, but instead I am going to turn one of my short stories (Secret Closet) into a novel and publish it over Amazon.  The story is something that one of my professors at UTEP thought was well written.  It is a story close to my heart.

It is about a young girl who is physically and mentally abused by her mom’s boyfriend.  Her mother keeps moving to get away from him, but he always seems to win his way back into their lives.  She always prepares herself for this by finding a secret place inside every new apartment/home they move to.  It is told from the child’s point of view, something that was difficult and will continue to be difficult to achieve.  I need to keep the novel in the same voice.

I am truly excited to get it started and hope to get it published in the coming months.  I would also love to retitle it, but am having difficulty finding a catchy title.  I guess a title will come to me when the story takes shape.

You may wonder why am I questioning if it should be written if I seem so set on what I want to do.  I am afraid by writing this story that some people in my personal life will be upset that I wrote it.  The story is derived from my own horrific experience and I think that some in my family would like to forget that it ever happened.  It will have a lot of fiction embedded in with the truth and this could be perceived as me creating lies rather than fiction.  It is not my wish to make up lies, but expand on something that I experienced as a child.  I just need to write it because it needs to be written.  I need to stop caring about what others will say and just tell the story.  How can I do this when I care too much about what my family will think?

mendezsunshine@gmail.com

Family Leaves made Easy

From L to R: Great Grandmother Vianna Sumpter Brumfield, unknown woman, Grandmother Mary Brumfield

You don’t have to be a professional genealogist to make your own family tree.  From my own family research, I have encountered a group of people who are considered professional genealogists, meaning that they have obtained a Bachelors degree in Genealogical Research.  I am not one of these people, but that doesn’t take away from my fascination with creating my own family legacy.

I am your average person, who happens to enjoy researching my roots.  I became interested in creating a family tree as a young child.  As a class, we were asked to make a tree and I was only able to get up to my great great grandparents and only on my maternal side.  I have always wanted to explore further and thus my journey continues.  Here are some things that I have found useful.

Use of Genealogical Software

  • http://www.familytreemaker.com/    This is the one that I use.  I love how it does much of the work for you.  One draw back is that you have to learn how to cite your research, but this can be made easy with a simple read of the manual that comes with the software.  In order to keep the software going, you must pay a low monthly fee to have access to the large database, which includes census records, pictures, and other useful document.  The fee is well worth it as you won’t have to go further than your computer screen to find out about your family.
  • http://www.myheritage.com/  This is a free software that puts your tree on the internet.  It does have a cost if you want to access other researcher’s trees, but that is one of the drawbacks.  You can’t trust that other people have done the proper research.  I only trust what I find in documents and not what others have to say about their ancestors.  I have come across many people on this site who have incorrect documentation that I could easily back up with my census data.
  • http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/ppc-index.html?cmpid=74152  This website has various reviews and pricing on genealogy software.  There is one for every budget.

Family:  As the Best Source

You have gone the software route and you are staring at a blank screen waiting to plug-in what you already know.  How will you know the dates and full legal names of all these people? The software can’t go any further unless you already have some working knowledge of your family.

You will need to get information from the elder members of your relatives.  Your grandparents or great aunts and uncles can be of value in telling you the names and birth dates of your family.  They may even have old pictures, letters or stories that will be of value to your research.

Other Internet Sources

  • Historical Society Websites— When I find out where my ancestor has spent most of their life, I immediately look for a historical society website for that town or city.  I have found pictures of my ancestors on these sites that I couldn’t get with my ancestory.com software.
  • Simple Google Search Of course you can use any search engine, but sometimes you will find information on your ancestors just by simply doing a quick internet search.  Be sure to put the name in quotes ( “First Last”) that way the internet will only find people with that exact name.  I have found books written about my ancestors in doing this.

The most valuable tip in doing your family research is to realize that it will never end.  Pace yourself you can’t get it totally complete and you will never get it done.  It is something to enjoy and to pass down.  Have fun doing it and don’t forget to write down the stories of your family.  You will be surprised by all that you find out.

The Brother I Never Knew

I never knew that I had a brother, but he had known about me for at least half his life.  We were both born in Dayton, Ohio to the same sperm donor and when I say”sperm donor” I don’t mean our mothers went to a clinic to purchase the same sperm.  I am talking about the man who cheated on my mother repeatedly and spilled his seed every which way.

I was born in 1977 and my brother was born in 1979.  My biological father was only in the picture for brief periods, as my mother often kicked him out of the house.  It was during the summer of 79′ that he returned to introduce her to a visibly pregnant woman.  He said she was his girlfriend.  My mother was unfazed by her growing tummy and had never considered that the baby she was carrying belonged to my father.

She finally up and left Dayton in 1981 to pursue a new life in El Paso, Texas.  I was only four years old and I never shed a tear when we left because this man, that we will just call “Mike“, was never really a dad to me.  I didn’t feel a connection whatsoever.  During my childhood, I felt that something was missing and I knew that somewhere out there I had a sibling.  I felt strongly that it was a brother.

Years have passed and I have grown a bit older.  It was June 2011 and I decided to check my email.  One particular email caught my eye.  “Is your father’s name “Mike”?  If so we are related.”  It was from a man named Shane.  At first I thought it was some kind of joke or a scam artist.  I was not sure what to think, but my heart immediately dropped because I felt that Shane was going to say he was my brother.  I replied to the email and was taken aback when he told me that we had the same father.

Still curious and suspicious at the same time.  I began to ask him of what he knows about his father.  He filled in details that he couldn’t have found simply by making an internet search.  He had private knowledge of our family that I knew that I never wrote anywhere.  I was stunned to say the least.

When he told me that he lived in El Paso, Texas and only lived on the other side of town from me, I nearly collapsed.  I really wanted to meet him, but I was so nervous.  How could we both end up in the same city, miles from our hometown in Ohio?  It could only be an act of God or fate.  I was meant to meet him and his family.  This doesn’t happen everyday, so I spoke with my mom about it.  She too couldn’t believe it and told me to have him send a picture via email.  His face shape and eyes resembled so much of mine and “Mike’s” that I knew that it was true.

It has been a few months since I met him and I must say that it is strange that I am getting to know my little brother.  We have spent a lot of time together.  We went on a trip to White Sands and are planning to be together for Christmas.  He feels like a stranger, but it also feels like someone familiar to me.  Someone that has always been with me, but just couldn’t be with me.  I have contacted our biological father, but he continues to deny his son.  It is not like this 32-year-old man wants child support or anything else.  He just wanted to know the other side of his family and happily I get the honor of doing that for him.

When I asked him how he found me, he told me his mother told him his father’s name and that he had a sister named Sunshine.  If my name wasn’t so unique he probably would never find me.  He made a search for our father on the internet and found his MySpace page.  He saw that on “Mike’s” friend list that he had a friend named Sunshine Mendez.  When he searched for me online he found some of my writings along with my email address.

I hope this blog inspires those who have siblings that they need to find.  I hope that you will end up with the happy ending that I have had.

Vianna Sumpter Brumfield 1894-1975

Vianna Sumpter was born on January 19th, 1994 to Christopher Columbus Sumpter (b. June 1867) and Mary Swick (b. March 12th 1873 d. July 26th 1963).  It is not clear to where she born, but she was raised in Gallia County, Ohio.  She had a rough life as her

Vianna Sumpter Brumfield with husband, Sheridan Elmer Brumfield

mother, Mary Swick left her children to the care of their father, Christopher Columbus Sumpter.  She decided to start a new family with Charley Brumfield. 

Here siblings from the marriage of Christopher C. Sumpter and Mary Swick were:  James Sumpter (b. Aug 1890) and William Sumpter (b. May 1897).

Christopher C. Sumpter couldn’t take care of his children because he had to work and therefore the children were left desolate.  According to the 1910 U.S. Census:  Vianna Sumpter worked as a servant in the home of Daniel and Ora Lewis of Gallia County, Ohio.  She was only 16, but according to Vianna’s own accounts to her daughter, Mary Doris Brumfield, she had been working as a servant since she was 9 years old.  She still maintained some communication with her father Christopher C. Sumpter, but had a hard time forgiving the woman that gave birth to her. 

Vianna married Sheridan Brumfield (b. 2 June 1889 d. 7 August 1969).  He was born in Scottown, Lawrence County, Ohio.  He worked as a farmer.  Together they had the following children:  Ray Owen Brumfield (b. 17 Feb 1922 d. 8 Jun 1948); Floyd Edward Brumfield (b. 26 Aug 1925 d. 2 Jan 1998); Bernard Eugene Brumfield (b. 28 Jun 1927 d. 6 Aug 1928); Mary Doris Brumfield (b. 22 April 1929); George Christopher Brumfield (b. 20 Nov 1931). 

She is my Great Grandmother.  Her daughter Mary Doris Brumfield is my Grandmother.  If you should need any additional information on the Brumfield family or would like to have more photos of Vianna Brumfield then please feel free to contact me at mendezsunshine@gmail.com.  I have an extensive family tree prepared thanks to Ancestry.com and would be happy to share with any distant relatives.  I would only ask that you would be able to collaborate on any of your own research as together we can reveal the leaves that make up our tree.

This is a Pain in the Ass!

Sciatica, the paper read as I left the emergency room.  They equipped me with Vicodin and some sort of muscle relaxer and sent me on my merry way.  Seems simple to just lead a life in a drugged out state ignoring my work duties or duties to my family, but that exactly is the problem.  I hate taking pills.  I won’t even take an Aspirin for a headache.  I’m not one of those people who go around looking for herbal cures and detests medical intervention.  No, that isn’t it at all.  I just have this intolerance for medication.  I don’t like feeling all loopy, but most of all I can’t stand the pain that I’m in.

It started one fun Tuesday, I went to a local bar with my boyfriend.  It was karaoke night and I was primed to sing my heart out.  The thing about me is that I drink maybe once a year.  I don’t like the feeling of being drunk, but the fear of going up on stage forced me to take in more alcohol than I am used to drinking.  Well to make a long story short; I walked into this house and was so tipsy to the point that I fell over hard and almost hit my head.  Since that night I have been in so much pain.  My entire left leg is aching and painful.  I can hardly bend down to put on my socks and shoes.  I have spent nights crying. 

Of course, I am reluctant to tell the doctors that this may be the reason for my sciatic issues, the important thing is that they help me to get rid of this pain.  I find the Flexeril (muscle relaxer) makes me feel nauseous and that the Vicodin doesn’t take away my pain completely, it just makes me feel all drugged out.  I have tried the Ibuprofen, which has helped a bit, but I am reluctant to take it as it has to be taken with food and this means it will make my stomach sensitive as well.

The majority of the pain is in my left butt cheek and it runs down behind my knee where it burns severely.  From the knee it radiates down to my ankle.  I have been missing so much work lately, as I’m trying to go for treatments.  I am so glad I could get the MFLA to cover these absences from my job, but soon I will graduate from UTEP.  The problem is that the pain is worse when I sit for long periods of time. 

On December 11, 2010, I will be sitting amongst other graduates waiting for my name to be called.  I hope that by then the pain hasn’t gotten to the point that I’ll need a wheel chair.  I will be earning my BA in Creative Writing and though I could work as a freelance writer from the comfort of my bed, I think the most forseeable route for a career is in an office type setting.  Hopefully whatever I do, I will do it without this pain. 

My mother had this same condition for five years of her life, and somehow she managed to go to work each morning where she works in an office as an accountant.  She ended up having back surgery to cure her condition and often times leading up to her surgery she often cried and stayed in bed.  I feel so bad that I under estimated how much pain she was in at that time in her life.  I never expected much from her when she was suffering, but I never held her and told her that I cared. 

No one knows how debilitating sciatica is until they experienced the pain of it themselves.  I hope that there is life after sciatica; damn it there better be.