Inspiration for “Sunk”

Earlier this summer, I published a short story called “Sunk.” I wanted to share the inspiration behind it in this blog post. The quotations are from Nancy Lamb’s book The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories.

When I was growing up, my mother would tell my sister and me stories about her childhood.  She grew up in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, and she spent her summer days outdoors from morning until night with her four older brothers and the neighborhood kids.  They had all kinds of adventures in the woods that surrounded their homes, along with their regular hangout of Heckman’s Hill.

One summer day, my mother’s older brothers dared a neighborhood boy named Timmy to ride his bike down Heckman’s Hill.  Well, he accepted the dare, and his bike sank to the bottom of Glade Lake.  Her brothers were not as creative in ways to help Timmy retrieve it, but they were very creative in ways to help him make money to pay his parents back.

The only tough part was figuring out how to start the story.  Nancy Lamb discusses the idea of the “opening gambit” (37). My first idea to begin the story was having Tyler dare Peter to ride his bike down Heckman’s Hill.  While I liked it, it also did not seem right.  Next, I tried using the sentence: “I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.”  But that did not seem right either.  Finally, I closed my eyes and pictured what would happen if I began the story as Peter’s bike was sinking into Crescent Lake.  That, according to Lamb, is a way to “uncover a problem” (37), so I began the story in medias res, or “in the middle of things” (“In Medias Res”).      After receiving valuable feedback, I decided to once again rewrite the beginning of the story, so I would not give away the climax in my opening.

This story, to me, has an image that I can feel and touch.  I have been to the top of Heckman’s Hill and rode a bike with the wind in my hair.  I have also walked in the footsteps that my mother and her brothers walked in to get to Glade Lake.  I even ventured out to the furthest part on the pier, where Timmy’s bike entered the water.  I even thought on a very clear day, that I could see the reflection of a silver Stingray bike at the bottom of the muggy lake!


Author Apparatuses I Use Part Two: Scrivener

Thanks for the great response to my first part of Author Apparatuses I Use! Without further adieu, here is Part Two!
I’ve tried lots of writing software. I’ve been a longtime Microsoft Word writer. But there’s only so much it can do and I wanted to find a program that could do more.

On a whim two years ago, I tried Scrivener. I loved all of its features and after buying it, I’ve never looked back. I use it both for writing and for my grad school classes.

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As shown above, I like how everything is in one place rather than scattered all over in separate Word documents. It breaks down a big project, like a novel, into parts.

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Also as seen above, I like that you can set up word targets right on the screen. I do that for stories or papers that have a specific word count.

I still use Microsoft Word to finalize my writing and to save it in its proper format though. But other than that, I’m a Scrivener scribbler!

Stay tuned for Part Three soon!

Happy 4th of July, everyone! 


Well, it’s official! I published my first story! Six months ago in June, I submitted a story I wrote called “A Mother for Melvin” to an online magazine called Diverse Voices Quarterly. And on December 18th, I got an email asking if the story was still available to use. All it needed was two lines of dialogue omitted and a final edit, and it was good to go.

On New Year’s Eve, I got the email that my story was published in the newest issue of DVQ, and I was so excited! It’s still a bit hard to believe, but I’m enjoying the moment. And I’m excited to see where things go from here!

If you would like to read my story, here is the link to read it online:

And here is the link to buy the issue of Diverse Voices Quarterly on Amazon:

Thank you to everyone who has read my story online or bought the issue for your Kindle on Amazon! I’m glad that you are enjoying it!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday and is having a happy 2016!

Not Fade Away: Meeting Rebecca Alexander

Before I tell you about this special event, I have to go back a bit.

Last year, I was watching The Meredith Vieira Show and there was a segment with Rebecca Alexander. Meredith is friends with her brother Peter Alexander, and both Peter and Rebecca appeared on the show to talk about Rebecca’s book Not Fade Away and the obstacles she has overcome. Rebecca has Usher syndrome, but she does not let that stop her from living life. I enjoyed the segment and her positive outlook on life, and I used a birthday gift card from my aunt to buy her book for my Kindle.

I was so inspired by Rebecca’s story and I posted on Twitter that I would be honored to meet her someday. Well, “someday” became Saturday September 26th! She had an event at the Baltimore Book Festival in Baltimore, Maryland, and she invited me there! It was so windy in Inner Harbor, but it was worth it. Rebecca told a few stories from her life and took questions from the audience. I related to her a lot, particularly with the cane issues. I know how to use one, but I do not want to be labeled. I use sighted guide. But I know I should start using the cane more because it will keep me safe. 

After her speech, Rebecca met with people and signed books. I met her dad, who was so kind. He gave my mom water bottles with Rebecca’s book cover on them for Amy and me, as well as a t-shirt with Rebecca’s mantra on it (“breathe in peace, breathe out fear”). I met a new friend named Angel, who also has usher syndrome, and her mom. They are both really nice! I’m looking forward to getting to know Angel better through Facebook and hopefully meeting up again sometime.

Finally, it was time to meet Rebecca! I went up and said hi and thanked her for inviting me. She responded with the biggest hug, and I knew we would get along instantly! We talked about our stories and she signed books for Amy, my eye doctor, and me. She talked to Angel too. She was floored to hear about Amy being a journalist like Peter, as was her father. I enjoyed being around them and was sad to leave. I will always treasure their kindness and cannot wait to get together again sometime! 

I’m glad I was able to make some new friends this weekend! Thank you, Rebecca and Mr. Alexander for everything yesterday! Good luck with the rest of your book tour, Rebecca! See you again sometime soon!


Meeting Literary Royalty: Judy Blume and Meg Wolitzer

Hi!  Sorry I haven’t written in a while.  I was busy with a new semester of grad school, and now it is over for the summer.  I’m thankful I don’t take summer classes because I can focus on my writing while working part-time at the summer camp, which is part of the daycare center/after-school program I work for.  On the writing front, I submitted a short story for We Need Diverse Books, and I’m working on a few more to submit to some magazines.  I’m really enjoying what I am working on, and I am excited to be able to share it with everyone soon!

Anyway I wanted to blog about a fun event I went to on June 4th.  The Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA sponsored an event at Lenape Middle School where Meg Wolitzer interviewed Judy Blume about her writing, life, and new book In the Unlikely Event.  My mom took me there, and we sat in the back, which was a good thing, but I’ll explain about that in a minute.  I enjoyed the whole interview, and Judy gave a lot of great advice to help my own writing career.  I related to her so much.

After the interview was the book signing, which started with the back rows.  I was so happy we sat in the back!  The line to see Judy was so long though.  I’m sure she felt overwhelmed at all those people.  I felt overwhelmed just standing in that line!  I had brought a bag full of her books with me in the hope that she would sign them, but she only signed copies of her new book.  I was just so honored that I was getting a book signed by literary royalty!  While we waited, we talked to some people in line who noticed my Superfudge t-shirt.

Finally, I was almost up next.  But first I talked to George Cooper, Judy’s husband.  He was really nice, and he let me take a picture with him!  (Thanks, Judy!)  Then it was my turn to meet Judy.  I handed her my book and while she signed it, I thanked her for inspiring my own writing career and said I was honored to meet her.  She thanked me for my kind words.  I couldn’t get a real picture with her, but my mom took a picture of me standing there talking to her.  And I reached out and touched her hand.  She squeezed it, and I felt like she was passing on good luck vibes to me for my own writing.  I was on cloud nine after that!

Then it was time to meet Meg Wolitzer, who I had never heard of before, except on Twitter here and there.  I was able to take a picture with her, and she signed my book and drew a cartoon for me!  I mentioned that I knew Laurie Halse Anderson and asked if she knew her.  She said no, but she wanted to meet her someday!  She wished me good luck with my writing career as well!  I thanked her.  Then we left and got Chick-fil-A on the way home.

So thank you, Judy and Meg, for a wonderful evening that night!  I’m reading ITUE now, and I can’t put it down!  Next up is Meg’s book!  I am still on cloud nine now after all this time, and I still can’t believe I met literary royalty.  I do hope Judy does tour again, but if she doesn’t, then I’m glad I got to meet her now.  Thanks for everything!

Pictures from the event:   Interview

Judy’s husband George and me! 🙂

  Meeting Judy Blume !!!!!! 🙂 Meg Wolitzer and me 🙂

Janis Ian concert

Well hello!  Nice to see you again!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving!

I’m sorry I have not written in a few months.  I’ve been busy with my current grad school class.  It’ll end next week, and then I’ll be starting the next one in January.  I still have a long way to go, but I’m really enjoying it.  I believe you are never too old to stop learning.  I’ve also been busy at the center.  And I’ve been writing a lot.  Still no word on my children’s book yet, but I know it will happen when the right agent comes along.  🙂

So anyway, I’m writing now because I went to see a phenomenal singer/songwriter on November 21st.  Her name is Janis Ian.  You might know her songs “Society’s Child” and “At Seventeen,” along with others.  Well, she’s written and performed countless others.  Her lyrics are pure poetry to me.  I have all of her albums on vinyl, and I’m working on getting the rest on CD.

She performed at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center at Harrisburg Area Community College.  If you know me, then you know I went to HACC for two years before transferring to Penn State to finish my BA in English.  The auditorium was packed full of fans.  I really enjoyed the show.  She sang so many great songs, like “Jesse,” “Bright Lights and Promises,” “If I Could Hear You Sing Again” (it was originally begun by Woody Guthrie, but Janis wrote the rest and recorded it), “Society’s Child,” “At Seventeen,” and a gorgeous encore of “Over the Rainbow” that gave me goosebumps.  My late grandmother loved rainbows, and I think she would have liked Janis Ian.

After the show, Mom and I waited in line (which was long) to meet Janis.  One thing that I will always love about her is that no matter how tired she is after a show, she will meet and talk to every single fan in line.  And she is so kind.  I met her before at Kutztown University, and she gave me a hug and encouragement for my writing career, along with a good luck gift (a necklace she was wearing).  This time, she remembered who I was (I wore the necklace) and told me where to send my writing to her :-).  She took a picture with me, and signed everything I brought (her autobiography, two vinyl record sleeves) and what Mom bought for me (The Tiny Mouse book, her Strictly Solo CD).  Then we talked about the albums I have of hers (my favorite is Between the Lines), and she asked if I had any of her CDs.  No, just the ones I bought that night.  So she turned to her merchandise manager and asked him to get a few of them for me.  They had run out of a bunch of them, but he found her Hunger CD for me, and she signed it.  I thanked her for it.  It is a beautiful CD with great songs.  I’m still floored that she just gave it to me, not expecting anything in return.  It is definitely clear that she appreciates her fans because they helped her get to where she is.  I am looking forward to the next time I can see her in concert because her performances are worth every penny and more.

Thank you, Janis Ian, for a wonderful evening full of beautiful music and for taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet your fans.  I will always appreciate it.


Heaven has gained a beautiful rainbow in the clouds

This morning started like every other morning. I woke up, got dressed and ready for the day, and opened up my twitter and Facebook feeds to see what went on while I was sleeping. Then I saw a tweet from LeAnn Rimes (the country singer) about Maya Angelou’s death. As more and more tweets and Facebook posts poured in as tributes to this woman who had a wonderful way with words, I thought back to October 2nd, 2012. That was the day my mom took me to see Maya Angelou give a lecture at the forum in Harrisburg,PA. The following is from the entry I wrote the week after I saw her:

last week, my mom and i went and saw maya angelou speak in harrisburg! it was such an honor to be able to hear her speak! she’s a literary legend. i didn’t get to meet her, but it was so neat to just be able to see her live and in person. my mom said she looked like she could not see well (she was wearing dark glasses). the main theme of her lecture was being a rainbow in someone else’s life. it was so beautiful. she was so inspirational. she overcame so many obstacles in her life (racism, rape, teen motherhood, and so much more). mom tried to get a few pictures, but she was hidden by plants. it’s okay though; i’ll find one online. there’s just something special about maya angelou. i remember watching her as a little girl on sesame street…and i thought there was something special about her even then. in another sketch (which is not on youtube yet), big bird and maya are playing with a group of kids. big bird introduced maya as “dr. maya angelou,” and i remember asking my mom, “why do they call her doctor? she’s not a doctor!” at that time, i didn’t know that it was possible for people to be called “doctor” if they had a PhD; i just thought of a doctor as a medical doctor. eventually, i figured it out when i was older, but back then, i had no clue.

Since this is a writing blog, I wanted to also talk about the influence Maya Angelou had on my writing. Aside from Sesame Street, the only time I ever saw her on tv was on awards shows and talk shows. When she started putting quotations on journals, photo frames, and other things (her collection was called “life mosaic”), I bought some of the journals and a photo album. The photo album remains blank, but I used the journal during my freshman year of high school. I didn’t read her books until my junior year of high school, but I had read her poetry. When we were allowed to pick a book for my English class for an assignment, I picked I know why the caged bird sings. It spoke to me as I learned about Maya’s trials and tribulations as she grew up in the American south (Arkansas, St.,Louis, and San Francisco) and witnessed things like racism, poverty, sexual abuse, teen motherhood, and more. During her lecture that I attended, Maya spoke about the many rainbows in her life. She compared rainbows to people who helped her out when she needed it. But she also used rainbows to describe poetry.

In Genesis, we’re told that it rained unrelentingly and people thought it would never cease. And in an attempt to put people at ease, God put a rainbow in the sky. Well, in the 19th century, some African-American poet, probably a woman, said God put a rainbow not just in the sky, but in the clouds . . . because if the rainbow is in the cloud itself, the viewer can see the possibility of release, of hope. Poetry to me is a rainbow in the clouds.

Maya Angelou will be dearly missed by her friends, family and loved ones, readers, and fans around the world.  While she is gone, Heaven has now gained the most beautiful rainbow in the clouds with her presence.  RIP, Maya Angelou.

Authors I Admire

First I would like to say thank you for reading my blog and visiting my website!  I am really looking forward to sharing my journey with you!

And second, I wanted to thank many of the authors who I have admired and whose books have influenced my life and writing over the years.  I, as an aspiring author, have read a lot of books throughout my childhood and in school.  I still enjoy reading.  To me, a good story draws you in from the first page, and you get lost in the character’s world as you keep reading until you turn to the last page.  Here is a list of the authors I admire, and this list keeps growing each year!

  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Judy Blume
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Harper Lee
  • Johanna Hurwitz
  • Gayle Forman
  • Lois Lowry
  • Roald Dahl
  • Lisa Grunwald
  • Janis Ian
  • Emma Donoghue
  • Shel SIlverstein
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Stan and Jan Bernstein
  • Mercer Mayer
  • and many more


p>There are many more than I could ever fit on this list, but I wanted to thank each of them for writing the books that they have and for having an influence on me as an author.

I’ve also been busy working on a new novel idea, and I have been doing a lot of research on it.  I’ll post more about it when I can.  More later!