Hey! I’ve been out for a bit, buried up to my neck in telephone wires (long story), but our dear little sister sent us another piece of art work. I’m literally blown away at her talent, especially considering her age. Book Two is well underway, with a hopeful release date of early Spring in 2016. Remember, if you order the paperback version of Windmill Keepers off of Amazon, you can get the e-book version for only $0.99.
When I was younger, we spent a lot of time inside libraries. It was a free way for my parents to entertain us. When I got older, I would ride my bike to the library on my father’s air force base and spend hours sorting through books on the paranormal and epic fantasy adventures. I did this on weekends and even through summer vacations. Eventually, I would learn that my grandmother used to work for a library. It kind of makes sense that I was comfortable sitting between the stacks of books, reading about ghosts and sword fights. It’s in my veins.
My family never really had a lot of money, so buying books was rare. Libraries were a free place for us, where checking out a dozen books didn’t feel like bankrupting our budget. It was a safe haven from the summer heat, and also where I could learn anything I wanted. To me, libraries were and still are magical.
One thing I remember very clearly from my grade school days was watching Matilda. In the very beginning, the main character ends up walking to the library everyday to read a tiny mountain of books. Eventually, the librarian gives her a library card, despite her young age. That scene actually made me want to work in a library for a long time. Giving people access to books felt like one of the most important jobs in the world. In a way, I think it still is.
In 2002, a Malawian teenager named William Kamkwamba built a windmill to power appliances from his home. He went on to build even more, and eventually made a solar powered water pump for his village. He did this by reading books he found in the library. It’s amazing what people can do, when given the resources.
Even in an age where electronic sources are taking over, I still feel that libraries have a place in our world. Lending programs such as Openlibrary and KDP are proof that online libraries are possible. They should be everywhere. Books aren’t something our country should be withholding and not being able to afford education doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t have access to it. Such a barrier is a detriment to our society.
Libraries have done more than just educate me. They gave me access to adventures and magic. I found a thousand creepy stories to recite at slumber parties. Even when things were crashing down around me, the books I found gave me a place to hide and recenter myself.
Whenever I go online and look at my account on KDP, I can see how many pages someone has read of my book through the lending library. It makes me happy to know that someone stumbled upon my book and enjoyed it enough to keep reading, even on their weekends. I feel almost like the authors I found hiding in my favorite libraries.
In the end, that’s all I ever needed.
Busy Times Mean Lots of Change
One of the hardest parts about being a writer is that I cannot support myself on writing alone. Very few authors can, and many turn to other means when it comes to paying the bills. Some are lucky enough to work in another part of the English field.
I’m not very lucky.
I make my living as a sailor. Oddly enough, I’m a grounded sailor. I’ve worked at a boat station, and I’ve been several miles out into the tropical sea, but I’ve managed to stay ashore for the past two years. This is a good thing because I get seasick and I’m from the Midwest, where our oceans are made of corn and soybeans. I can navigate a corn maze just fine, but I still struggle when trying to read a chart (Why would you make the deep water white?).
Most recently, I’ve been sent to Northern California where I’m training to be a computer technician. It’s not what I envisioned myself doing two yeas ago, but it pays the rent. In five years, I hope that I’ll be teaching and writing to being home the bacon.
Writing the second book of Windmill Keepers is complicated, given my full schedule. Despite the lack of time, I recently outlined a goal I can work with. By December, I plan to have the book sent off for editing. Hopefully, it will be out by early spring. Book three should finish the series by late autumn.
I’ve already got my next book picked out from the cluster of stories in my head, as well as a short story project set for next October. I’m excited, but also a little sad to know that I’ll be closing Kite’s tale for good. Either way, I’m glad that I was able to share it with the world.
Next year is already looking chaotic. We’re due to move again in December and set to publish another book just a few months later. If finances allow, I. Kemp and I will be heading out to a convention in June. I want to start going to two or three a year. Somehow, I might do more traveling as a writer than as a sailor.
For now, my main focus is the next book and struggling my way through these last few months of training. It’s rough picking up an unfamiliar skill, but I hope to get more hands on lessons when I reach my next unit. Until then, we’ll take things one day at a time. Hopefully, we’ll have some fun along the way.
The Importance of Great Teachers
Hey everyone! Windmill Keepers is slowly making its way from the hands of our close friends and into the hands of their close friends. The spread begins! I’m proud to say this book has helped me come to another conclusion as well.
The day after we published to Amazon, I was talking to someone about my career and where I was headed in life. I admitted that I hadn’t been happy since I started my current job. He asked me what I wanted to be when my contract was finally up, and I didn’t have an immediate answer.
I have a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology, but it did me very little good when I graduated. There wasn’t anything open to a 23 year-old with no experience in the field, despite my fancy paper. Unable to break into investigations, as originally planned, I ended up joining a tiny, forgotten branch of the military. I managed to do some good at my last unit, but I wanted to move on in four years. I never expected to tricked into a seven-year contract. Now that I’m here, the only thing I can do is make the best of my situation and plan for my next career.
I’ve considered getting some more qualifications in forensics and working in a lab. After all, that was my concentration in college, and what I was best at. I’ve also considered going into robotics and possibly working in another country. But at the end of the day, I have a family to think of, and entry-level work at 31 sounds like financial suicide.
When I ran these options by my husband and sister, I added one more. I mentioned teaching, and they said that was where they could see me being the happiest. I can’t disagree with them.
I think having great teachers is extremely important. They’re the unsung heroes of America. In fact, their presence and words can alter a life. I can speak from experience on that one.
I was home-schooled until I was eight. When I finally started, the staff was worried I would be behind and placed me in second grade instead of third. My first teacher was Mrs. Moore. She was an old, puffy woman who wore lots of animal print button downs. Back in her golden years, teachers were still allowed to beat children who didn’t listen. To give you an indication of how that year would go for me, she missed those days terribly and often told us she wished America would bring it back.
We spent our days in a cinder block building, at the end of an abandoned road. There was nothing around us but cornfields, empty farm houses, and a military base on the horizon. The Midwestern sun turned our schoolhouse into an oven. With no air-conditioning, we had to make due with fans and open windows.
It was in the middle of this blistering heat that I remember silently crying as I wrote my mother and father an apology letter for being a bad daughter and student. Mrs. Moore watched me from her desk, tapping her long nails and lecturing to the class about how she used to beat ill-behaved children who talked in class. My face was red and hot, despite the fan blowing against the back of my neck.
When I was done, she read it to the class and said I didn’t do a good enough job because I didn’t admit to my guilt. She wrote an angry note in ugly red ink to my parents on the back. Then she told a girl across from me that once I fixed my attitude, she needed to teach me how to properly brush my hair. But I sat with my back to a fan, and it was that girl that had been talking – not me.
My parents sent me out of the room when they had a meeting with Mrs. Moore about the note. Apparently, my teacher admitted to calling me stupid in front of the class, and suggested that I couldn’t handle higher thinking. My summer vacation started a week early that year when my mother refused to send me back.
The next year, I had a new teacher, in a new grade and a new building. The old one was shutdown and replaced with an air-conditioned elementary school on base. Mrs. Guerrero had been a third grade teacher for just a little bit less than Mrs. Moore had been teaching second grade. But the difference changed my life.
Mrs. Guerrero encouraged me. She told me what I needed to work on, as well as what I was good at. With her, I won a poetry contest and placed third in the Young Authors program. She told me I was smart. When I saw Mrs. Moore in the hallway, I refused to look at her.
By fourth grade, I was in the advanced class. By seventh, I was homeschooling myself to skip eighth grade. The next year, I was a ninth grade student-worker at a college prep school. All along the way, I had amazing teachers that encouraged me and made me push myself (even if I nearly failed math in sixth grade).
Sometimes, I wonder where I would be if I had another Mrs. Moore in my life. Would I have gone to college? Would I have tried to write a book? I have a feeling I wouldn’t have.
Teachers have such a huge impact on the people around them. They can make or break a young mind. I have so much thanks to give the people that encouraged me. I want to do that for another child. I know it will be scary starting something new after 30, but I think I can do it and keep my writing career as well. I have five years to go to get my qualifications and move into something better. I know I can make that happen. And when I do, I’m going to be someone else’s Mrs. Guerrero.
P.S. Just a reminder that you can purchase the e-book version of Windmill Keepers HERE for $5.99. If you like it, share it with a friend! Or review it on Amazon. Every bit helps 🙂