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Tag Archives: Creative Writing

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:


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?

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

  •    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.
  •  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.
  •  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 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.

Graduating: Why does this feel like a wedding?

I was married once, and boy was that a mistake.  I am not talking about the planning of it, but the marriage itself.  Being married taught me that I never want to go down that dreary road again.  Of course, I’m not downing those who are happily married and where exactly am I going with this?  Well lets see…

I remember the planning that went into a marriage.  I took classes from the church and picked a dress.  I had to register to pick out all the wonderful housewares that were to accompany the corners of my home.  A new life was about to begin.  I was nothing, but a stupid 19-year-old girl.  I look back at my wedding pictures and I wonder if I was truly happy, as I can’t remember ever thinking I was doing the right thing.  I think I married to get out of my parent’s grip.  Don’t get me wrong.  I had wonderful parents, but they should have stopped me from making this mistake.

Another life changing event is here.  I am graduating.  I never graduated from high school; I was the girl who ran for the GED even though I was in my senior year and my mother had the graduation pictures taken.  I am about to embark on a journey.  I finally can be defined as more than someone who did nothing with her life.  I am about to earn my Bachelors degree in Creative Writing, something that I am truly elated about.

I have spent the years having babies, getting a divorce, working menial jobs and trying to somehow fit college into the mix.  This journey started in 1996 and is about to end this December 2010.  Why does this feel like a wedding?

It feels like a wedding because I’m about to change my life.  I am now a 33-year-old woman and feel like a joyful bride as she picks out her outfit that is to be hiding under her gown and am toying with the idea of decorating the mortar board that will go upon my head.  I have ordered the graduation announcements, which cost a pretty penny.  I know I will cry on that special day.  This will be my day.  Not a commitment to another person like that of a wedding, but a commitment to myself and my accomplishments. 

I regret that I married when I did, but I know that no regrets can come of my special day.  My graduation.

Who can be thanked for this special day.  My parents, the two people who have put up with all my mistakes in life and have been my shoulder when life got rough.  I also thank my children, who even in their non-understanding of why I had to put fun days off to complete assignments, they still loved me. 

Here is to my new life.  A life of a graduate!  🙂