"here, we are infinite"

+ what i’ve learned this summer, by me.

As this summer comes to a close, I realized a few things. Summer is hard. It’s full of working three jobs, maintaining a working relationship, and getting into a car accident. It’s tough shit, but that doesn’t mean that I can just ignore my blog and the world around me.

So instead of not writing anything, I spent the hours working- writing. I wrote down notes for blog posts and notes for the novel I’m working on in my notepad where I keep my orders. 

Talk about confusing. 

But I noticed that I put a lot of myself in each character I create. While I was working through my car accident ordeal and such, I discovered that I wrote a short story about a girl who gets into a car accident, but then discovers that she is dead and goes back through her life, regretting everything that she’d done and the way she lived her life.

Wow. That is something that I never realized.

I always tried to keep myself away from my characters, but the more I examine my characters and my storylines that I’ve been working on, the more I realize that they are parts of me that I didn’t even know.

So, I challenge you: think about the things you are working on, whether it be a story or a painting or whatever you do and think to yourself. Where are you in your art? 

Think about it. 

+ wow, i’m still alive, by me.

OMG, HI. I’m still here.

Let me tell you about life and being busy, along with keeping up a blog. Talk about difficult. 

I’ve been spending my summer owing a ton of money. First thing, I got into a car accident and totaled my baby (Honda Accord, 2009). So I had to buy a new car (Honda Fit, 2008). He is my new baby now, but I still miss my Accord. 

Then I have a boyfriend and his birthday- talk about expensive. THEN my boyfriend’s car has been messing up and he needed help so yeah.

Thank God for working two jobs and my internship. It takes up a lot of money. But, along with that, HOW DO YOU MAKE TIME TO BLOG?

Advice is welcome because I still want to be able to live and talk to you guys.

HELP ME. 

Sincerely, 

never stops waiting tables. 

+ disgust and a boycott, by me.

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“A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

This week I’m blogging about something a little different. Abercrombie and Fitch released a statement about their clothing line. In a nutshell, A & F’s CEO said that he would not be selling over a size 10 in pants and nothing larger than a LARGE in shirts for women. Wanna know why?

Because to the CEO of A & F, fat isn’t cool enough.

I was completely disgusted by this statement because not only was I overweight for the majority of my life, but also because I didn’t know that being in a state of “obesity” means that you aren’t cool enough to wear a piece of shit overpriced pants.

This is absurd.

“He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear this clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids’.”

If you have been following my blog for some time, or know me personally, you know that my journey with weight loss has changed my life. But the fact of the matter is, it hasn’t made me forget what it’s like to be that person. And by that person, I mean that kid that is made fun of for being overweight. I was ridiculed and picked on until I couldn’t take it. And after that, then you’re known as the bully.

Because I was tired of being picked on, I became a bully.

Is anyone else offended by this statement? And yes, yes, CEO Mike Jeffries HAS released an “apology” for the words that were “taken out of context”.

I don’t buy it. I am boycotting A & F. I refuse to buy clothing from such a sick, scum that would say such things.

Mr. Jeffries, this is why an epidemic of suicide in obese teens has broken out. Thank you for contributing. (sarcasm, jerk)

If you have a story or want to comment on this, feel free to send me an inbox.

Also, if you’d like to read the article, here it is.

+ interview with barb shoup, by me.

being a social media intern for the MWW ‘13 conference is so “hard”. you don’t get to do cool things at all! (sarcasm, my dear friends). 

since becoming a social media intern, i’ve had the extraordinary chance to interview one of my mentors, Barb Shoup. she’s a writer from indiana, but she’s not just any writer. she’s a mom, a grandmother, a business woman, a wife, a daughter, an executive director. basically, you name it, she’s done it. 

and i am proud to have had the chance to speak to her about her upcoming intensive at the MWW ‘13- think like a teenager.

here is the full interview. check it out!

+ keeping the literary world afloat, by me.

As a literary citizen, it’s important to keep the literary world going round. There are many ways to do that, but I believe that buying books and blogging about books are the most important ways to keep the world afloat.
There is a hush, hush tactic of blogging about books. Everyone always wonders if they’re being too harsh or not harsh enough. After taking my literary citizenship class with author Cathy Day, I’ve discovered there is no right or wrong answer. Basically, all there is, is just do.
You must buy books. And you must tell people about them.
Whether you write a blog, or send a book down along the grapevine, it’s important to do this step. Especially the BUYING part. Now, I know this isn’t always easy. I’m a college student. I understand.
Dedicate your cash to 20 books a year. That’s almost two books a month. Not too bad.
But along with that, READ them. Don’t just let them gather dust in the corner of your room with your collection of Beanie Babies that your parents got you every Christmas.
Wait, is that just me? Anyway..
The fact of the matter is, people, this is how we keep the world going round.
Back to the task at hand: blogging about books.
I worked on a review of Sal Pane’s Last Call in the City of Bridges. After some tinkering, I published it on my blog, which was then reblogged by Cathy who happen to know Sal.
Rule number two: someone reading your blog or tweets will know what you’re talking about. I know that you think you’re some magical hipster that knows everything before everyone, but trust me, someone knows.
You’re not alone in your likes and dislikes. I promise.

+ a final goodbye, or is it? by me.

Another semester down, only two more to go. To say I’m nervous would be the understatement of the century. 

Normally around this time in the semester, I check out. I study for my finals and then I go to summer. And during summer, you don’t blog weekly. You don’t have a writing regimen. But if I have learned anything this semester, it’s that now I HAVE TO do this. 

I have become a literary citizen. 

If you have been following my blog weekly, you’ll recognize this term. But if you don’t and that’s okay, then you should pay attention now. 

If you are trying to become a part of the literary world, you need to realize that things have changed. You can’t just get a publicist anymore. YOU ARE YOUR OWN PUBLICIST. 

What is the saying? All you have is yourself. 

There are three things that I have learned from this semester that you need to become a literary citizen. And I have cleverly categorized each point, which is brought to you by the letter P

1. Passion. You have to have the drive to do whatever it is that you want to do. You want to write the next Harry Potter? Pick up your wand and cast those spells until you can’t anymore. And you know what helps even more? Having a group of people to cast spells with. Just sayin’. 

2. Platform. This is where I lose most people. But Rachael, that’s so much work! Pleeeease. How many times a day do you get on facebook? Or Twitter? Why not, instead of sitting around playing farmville, actually post to your friends about what you’re working on. "Hey guys, I made this blog. Check it out." Boom. Done. Platform on it’s way. 

3. People. If there is one thing that could matter most, it might just be this. Community. Before this semester, I was the odd one out in my friends. I liked to write and read and they didn’t. But this semester, I have met so many people who are LIKE ME. That sense of community that I’ve established will keep me writing. It will keep me sending pages to my friends to read. 

What I’m trying to say is just because I have finished English 405- Literary Citizenship, doesn’t mean that the class is over.

In fact, the class has just begun. 

+ reverse storyboarding: good or bad for an author?, by me.

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In my 407 section of fiction writing with Cathy Day, we were assigned a project where we had to do a reverse storyboard, It had to be over a novel that we’d read in class or at least one that Cathy had read. I chose Election by Tom Perrotta because a: I loved the book when I read it and b: because I loved the movie when I saw it. 

The book itself is a bit different from the movie adaption, so if you haven’t read it, you should. The ending is way different (spoiler). Anyway, we were assigned to storyboard this. 

What is that you may ask?

Well, let me show/tell you. Storyboarding is much like what it sounds like. It is very popular in the screenwriting department. You may know it from the writers or illustrators of a movie. This is where they draw out scene by scene the tv series or the movie that you’re about to see. You know what I’m talking about, I hope. Walt Disney did it for every movie that he did. 

Storyboarding a novel isn’t that much different except you don’t draw and thank god for that. I am no artist. 

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As you can see, I dissected Perrotta’s novel and wrote down everything that happened in every point of view in every chapter and ended up with 101 cards in total. Once I was finished writing out what happened in the novel, I then laid the cards out on my kitchen floor and, let me tell you, it took up the whole kitchen floor. My roommate was annoyed. 

By doing this, I was given a brand new view on this novel. I saw how Perrotta separated each chapters with point of views and why he did it the way he did. Why a character would disappear from a chapter or two for no reason- WELL THERE WAS A REASON.

Perrotta did this to keep the readers on edge. So here’s a tip if you’re trying to write a novel and getting stuck: go away from the conflict and come back. This will leave the reader wondering what the hell just happened? And by them asking this question, it will keep the reader turning pages.

I believe doing this as a writer is definitely a resource. I didn’t notice that I had been doing this with my novel the entire time- just without the note cards. By doing this project, I learned about myself as a writer (I am a plotter) and as a person. I am a tactical person therefore having something to touch and move around in my hands, helped me learn more from this project rather than doing it on the computer. 

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Lessons from Ball State ladies and gentlemen. Maybe you should just go here and get taught by Cathy herself. She is a master.

+ some things you NEED to know about publishing, by me.

Last night in my Literary Citizenship class, Linda Taylor had us do one of the coolest exercises I think I’ve ever had the chance of doing. We became what is known as “Koala, Inc”- a publishing house. During the duration of the class, Linda gave us a job title and then proceeded to teach all of us, even Cathy herself, about what really goes down.

The positions included some of the following: author, agent, editor (copy editor, content editor, acquisition editor, and editor-in-chief), CEO, CFO, PR person, salesperson, book store keeper, etc. You name it, we had it. 

The exercise went along as though Kayla Weiss was pitching a manuscript to an agent to whom pitched it to the Publishing House and boom: A novel is born. This exercise was an eye opener. There was so much I didn’t even think about as we were hearing the descriptions of what most people in those positions would do. (Psst. Entry level jobs include: copy editor and proofreader) 

The entire class was basically a “Publishing 101” and the “what to know” about the entire process. Here’s a couple things I picked up.

1. MAKE SURE YOUR NOVEL IS FINISHED.. if you’re a fiction writer. You’ll want to make sure that your manuscript is completed when you pitch it. Now, if you’re a non-fiction writer, you’ll need to write up a book proposal, which is a document explaining what and why you’re writing this non-fiction novel.

2. BE SUSPICIOUS of self-publishing, but also embrace it! Now, I know that, that sounds ridiculous, but here’s why. One: There are people who have made self-publishing work for them. Examples can be found here or here. They explain how they made it work. Two: If you decide to self-publish, make sure you have a following- or at least KNOW your following because getting people to know about your book is a lot harder than it sounds. And along with that, make sure that you have someone to edit your manuscript. Sometimes you can’t see the misspellings like a fresh pair of eyes could. 

As it happens, mainstream publishers now expect all but their best-selling fiction writers to do most of their marketing themselves”

3. YOU MIGHT NOT NEED AN AGENT. From a post called “How to get your book published" by Jane Friedman, I discovered that not all writers NEED an agent. "If you’re writing for a niche market (e.g., vintage automobiles), or have an academic or literary work, then you might not need one". Jane goes on to answer basically a FAQ on publishing. 

4. PROFESSIONALIZE YOURSELF. It’s important, especially if you’re going to self-publish, that you must make yourself a person of importance. Most publishing houses are going to assume that you have some type of “platform”. What is that you may ask? Well, examine the following: do you have a Facebook? Do you have a twitter? Do you post about your writing or have people on twitter who would be willing to read stuff that you write? Would they pay for it? Do you blog? If so, what do you blog about? These are all questions that you need to ask yourself. If you have all of that, then you have the starting of a platform. It’s basically an online presence, if you will. Do people know you?

Google yourself. Try it. See how close to the top you show up. I’m number two on my search. Some other Rachael who loves her Uggs beat me! Here’s a screencap so you can see for yourself.

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5. DON’T FORGET THAT PUBLISHING IS A BUSINESS FIRST. Along with having a platform, you need to realize that publishing your novel will be a way of earning income. You can’t go on your blog and bitch about how the publisher sucks, I mean, they are going to pay you. You have to become a person that people will consider “Hey, I bet he/she means some serious business”. But don’t mistake that for being serious ALL THE TIME. One can be profession and still post pictures of themselves and their animals. Hell, just ask Cathy Day! 

6. BUY BOOKS. I can’t stress this enough. If you want to be an author, you have to contribute to this world of book buying/selling. There is such a thing as paying it forward and if you don’t know what that means, check out this trailer for the movie: Pay it Forward

7. LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST- you have to work for it. Just like everything in life, you have to work for what you want. You can’t be afraid of a little hard work or having people SEE your work (Yes, I know it’s scary, but if you want it, you have to take that leap). 

+ in print: a festival of first books, by me.

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(Me with author Eugene Cross, talking about who knows what! Photo Credit to: Jackson Eflin)

Last week, Ball State offered a small writer’s conference called In-Print. Being a junior at Ball State, I am ashamed to say that this is my first time going to one of these conferences, and definitely not my last. Not only did I meet some amazing people, but I learned more than I thought I would.

This entire week, Ball State offers aspiring authors the experience to speak to these writers that have published their first works. The first night was a reading with each of the writers, that includes: Marcus Wicker (poet), Eugene Cross (fiction writer), and Elena Passarello (non-fiction writer).

Each author not only read their stories, but they made their personalities known. Elena, with the ability to manipulate her voice to fit any situation, gave a roaring reading of her story about Judy Garland in her book, Let Me Clear My Throat. When Judy was supposed to sing in the narrative, Elena sang.  

Next up was Marcus Wicker, a humble, quiet man. He got up there and began with his love letter to Ru Paul. His collection of poems, Maybe the Saddest Thing, had the crowd cackling with laughter all the way through. 

Last, but certainly not least, was Eugene Cross. He read one of his short stories,  from the collection Fires of our Choosing called, Come August. The story left the audience with tears in their eyes. 

The three authors said good night, but not goodbye. The next day, the authors and along with agent, Sarah Wells, gave talks to multiple English classes during the day. Then, that night was the big talk about publishing. That is what I was most excited for. 

Here are the things that I learned from that talk:

1. Never give up on your writing. If you want to write, then write. It’s that simple.

2. Get a day job. Have a back up because being a writer, unless you’re J.K Rowling, isn’t the best paying job in the world.

3. Look for publishers through the books that you read. If you like a certain book or a certain author, see who published them! This will lead you not only to other authors, but to other publishers that you might not have known existed. (P.S. Lit mags are another good place to find publishers!)

4. Attend other literary events. Be a good literary citizen because one day, it will catch up and it might determine the difference between someone mentioning your name to an agent. 

5. Have fun! Remember, you do this because you enjoy it. 

(P.S. Make sure you thank the authors. They took time to talk to you. They didn’t have to stay and chat, but they did. A simple thank you would suffice. I know mine did.)

After attending this conference, I know that I have earned some serious connections. Not only did I get to have a long chat with each of the authors, but now they follow me on Twitter! Who can say that? 

+ but, really, what is the next step?, by me.

"The real question is: should I go? Graduate school is where you should go to polish, not generate. If you need school to write, then you should not go." - Cathy Day

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Being a creative writing major is tough. Unless you know exactly where you are going and what you are doing, the majority of the rest of us are wandering around just trying to figure out what the hell we want. I KNOW that I want to be a writer. I KNOW that I want to edit manuscripts, but the real question I should be asking, considering that I am a junior- almost senior in college is, WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP?

If you’re a student at Ball State and a creative writing major, then last week you might just have had your question answered thanks to the awesome panel of professor, but first and foremost writers, who went to graduate school. Not only did I get to attend this awesome event, I got to plan it. 

Planning a literary event was a lot of work, but completely worth it. A team of us, including author/professor Cathy Day, sat down one night and figured out all who would be on such a panel. Narrowing it down to dates and times, we were finally set with a list of 5 worthy writers to help answer all the questions asked.  At the bottom of the post there will be a list with the authors and their blog URLs. All you have to do is click on their names and it will take you right there! Gotta love technology!  

Once we had who was coming, we needed to tell people about this event. So I made a poster and the girls put them up all over Robert Bell, which if you don’t go to Ball State is the main English area- the book nerd’s hood- if you will. Along with that, we made a Facebook page and everything was under way.

Sadly, there wasn’t that much of a turn out, but I want to thank all those who came. It was a blast to listen to the author’s experiences and the differences between the degrees. It really got me thinking about what I wanted to do. 

If you’d like to see a transcript of the panel, you can visit this, and check it out. 

The amazing panel: 

Cathy Day

Sean Lovelace 

Michael Meyerhofer 

Matt Mullins 

Jill Christman