Why DIY Your MFA

unnamedWhat is the best way to get an education? There is a debate raging in this country about the cost and need for higher education. As one of the 8% of Americans who has a master’s degree, this is an interesting statistic. As well as the statistic that tells us only about 40% of American’s has higher learning degree such as a bachelor’s degree. I found these numbers in the U.S. Census.

There is a debate raging in this country about the cost and need for higher education. As one of the 8% of Americans who has a master’s degree, this is an interesting statistic. As well as the statistic that tells us only about 40% of American’s has higher learning degree such as a bachelor’s degree. These numbers are found in the U.S. Census.

Here is another statistic: the average student loan debt after graduation is $21,000.

Of course, many people have higher debt. For instance, the last time I looked (and it has been quite a while) law school runs over $100,000.

That’s a lot of money.

While I have the degree, I also have the debt to go with it. Was it worth it? Good question.

I don’t mean to add to the debate on higher education; I am merely attempting to talk myself out of another degree.

Yes, I said another degree, as if they grow on trees or something.

Since I’ve begun writing, I have often looked into acquiring a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing. There is a debate in this arena also:

Does writing require higher education?

Does someone who is serious about their writing need to add that particular piece of paper to their wall?

For me, someone who would be a lifelong student if I had the ability, the debate begins and ends with cost. Remember those student loans I have? I am not willing to take on more student loan debt.

So, how do I improve my writing skills if I am not willing to go back to school?

Does learning only take place within the confines of an actual school, whether online or not?

The answer to this question is a resounding no.

I’ve attended conferences and classes in all areas of interest. I’ve learned through experience, research, and listening to other people.

Is this enough?

One of the websites I’ve come across is called DIY MFA. That’s right. Do It Yourself MFA. Such an interesting concept.

Gabriela Pereira, the originator of this idea, believes that people can duplicate the best things about the entire MFA process at a fraction of the cost.

Gabriela did achieve the coveted MFA and after evaluating her education, she decided that getting an MFA came down to three main areas of learning:

Write with focus

Read with purpose

Build your community

Each one of these things is within the control of anyone who desires to extend their learning. She even has as part of her website a DIY MFA Starter Kit, just for signing up, which I would recommend to anyone who would like to deepen their writing skills.

Gabriela has recently written a book, aptly named DIY MFA. I am excited about this for a couple of reasons. I like books. And I like having all of the information in one spot to ready when I am ready and need to.

Another reason I am so excited is that I am on her DIY MFA Street Team. As such, I will be able to read and review the book ahead of the anticipated August launch date. I will also be talking a bit about the DIY MFA process throughout the next couple of months.

As part of the Street Team, Gabriela sends out questions that we can discuss or not, as we chose to. The question I am focusing on this week is ‘Why DIY your MFA?”

I’ve already given the complicated answer. The simple answer is:

I love to learn. Anytime I am challenged with a problem, my first thought is to learn all I can about that problem. I believe too that learning happens in all arena’s of life as long as one is open to the idea.

I’m excited to journey with Gabriela and the rest of the Street Team as she achieves her own dream. This is just one more step on making my own dreams come true.

Enough is Enough


I haven’t been here for a while, and I’m not sure if I am truly back. But, I am here today with my one little word for the year.


A friend said to me that a word like ENOUGH would invite the universe to fulfill the word, good or bad.

I’m not sure I believed her.


I do now.

I’ve had enough and need a change.

At some point, we all reach this stage. In my daily work, I call this the full belly syndrome. You will recognize this from Thanksgiving dinner where that next bite into your full belly would be catastrophic leaving you few options. In my family, this would mean it’s time for a nap or a game at least until it is time for desert.

In daily life, the full belly syndrome is time for a change or a rest, just like after Thanksgiving dinner.

Making changes means different things to different people. For some, that means ending a job or a relationship. Changes can be big or small. Reaching this point may simply mean you need a break.

At this moment, taking a break means that I have run away from my day job – at least for a bit. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if it is that easy but I am attempting a staycation. The unfortunate part of this is that I have goals for my break.

Who does this?

Apparently, I do.

Mostly my break will consist of writing, both here on my blog and on my novel (formerly a novella – which appears to have metastasized). Other goals include spending time with my grand babies and organization around my house. And, if there is time, to begin making the gardens ready for planting, which won’t happen for several weeks.

This staycation is a welcome rest from the thoughts and emotions that have consumed me for the past year or more.

At least, I hope it will be a time of rest and relaxation.

Wish me luck!

Writing With a Heavy Heart


This post is a struggle to write. I wish I didn’t have to write these words at all.

Things in my life have taken an unexpected turn, and I need to make some changes. Changes I am reluctant to make.

There is a book on my shelf that talks about focusing your life on one thing. By one thing, the author means not having several projects in the works at the same time. The problem is life generally doesn’t work that way.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have several large projects in the works along with weekly posting. Combined with my day job duties, things have reached that point where I need to change some areas in my life.

I’m talking about priorities.

With everything in my life, finding balance is becoming increasingly difficult. I must make some changes.

I have decided that the first change I must make is the I must drop out of the A to Z Challenge. This makes me sad since I did enjoy it so much last year. I’ve lost the joy in blogging regularly.

I have also decided that I will be posting less. My goal has been to post 3-4 times each week. Life has been such a roller coaster that this has been difficult in the past several months. My hope is to post one time per week, even if that post is a Thought for the Day.

This schedule will be at least through the month of April and perhaps well into May. During this time, I will be focusing on my fiction as I am in the middle of drafting a novel. Writing this novel takes the remainder of my energy each evening, and there isn’t much to begin with right now.

Thank you all for reading my posts. I’ve truly appreciated all of the comments and everything I’ve learned.

This isn’t the end, just a different beginning.

GoodBye Jesse’s Girl


Goodbye Jesse’s Girl


My brother died on a Thursday just as the year

Came to a close. I wasn’t there although I

Tried, speed and snow don’t mix. I didn’t

Recognize him, lying so still. But the

Tears of my father, nephew, friend

Convince me of the truth.

Hugs cannot comfort now.

Only time heals

The heartbroken




Wear Jesse’s

Girl and am

Reminded of the last

Time I saw him alive.

Smiling, watching a ballgame, calling me

“Brat” acceptance, in his words I don’t

want to hear. The music loud, blocking reality

Hearing muted. A dream fulfilled nearly forgetting all else.

Unwanted thoughts intrude until the screaming beat drowns them out.

I don’t write poetry often but these words bubbled out of me. My brother’s 51st birthday would have been yesterday and I struggled with thoughts of him all day. This poem is one way that I remember him.


Is It Friday Yet?

Do you remember that picture? The one of the tiny orange kitten hanging from a tree branch with the words ‘Hang on! Friday’s coming.’ That poster perfectly describes my week. I’m hanging on by my fingernails over what seems like an abyss just waiting for the weekend.

Weekends go so fast and then I’m back to the grind.

I didn’t plan this. I wanted to be a part of the A to Z Challenge and be able to enjoy myself. I’m still waiting for that. However, this is the second time that I haven’t met my own deadline for posting which is 6:00 am. Generally that means that I need to write the post the evening before, unless I’m willing to get up early in the morning.

Nope, that’s not happening.

About a week before April began, I decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo. What was I thinking?

Apparently, I was thinking that I’d been planning a story (I’d originally thought it would be a novella, I guess I was wrong) and this would be a great time to write it. Normally that would be so.

What has happened is that it has snowed nearly every day this month and I am overwhelmed. I shouldn’t be struggling with snow but that is the last thing I need in my life.

Work is overwhelming due to this being grant writing season. I am currently writing my first grant and learning about budgets. I’ve also learned that grant writing is very different from the writing I normally do.

So, how do I manage my life?

That is a fantastic question. Amazingly, I have an answer.

No, the answer isn’t going on strike although I have thought about that.

I am trying to be kind to myself. If I am tired, I spend time relaxing. I have attempted to go to my writing room each night. Sometimes I succeed but if I can’t then I’m okay with that. If the only thing I can do is a journal entry, a single blog post or a few words on my story, that is all I get done.

I’ve been taking advantage of the times when I have energy and relaxing at other times.

We’ve started eating more green stuff at home and less processed food.

The best thing that I do is yoga. I’ve found a perfect class for me in the middle of my day, appropriately named Lunchtime Yoga. This has saved my life.

I expect that the next week will be incredibly busy and my reward is a vacation when my grant is done.

Most definitely looking forward to that.

Every Month Should be SA Awareness Month


As if I don’t have enough going on in my life, today is not only part of the A to Z Challenge, it is also the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Wednesday. Though today’s post has little to do with writing insecurities, perhaps they will forgive this public service announcement.

I did promise to speak to Sexual Assault Awareness Month during this A to Z Challenge. Today is the kick off for the “Start by Believing” campaign happening in my area.

Start by Believing is a nationwide push to believe victims of sexual assault when they find the courage to report their attack. All too often, the victim is treated as the perpetrator. At the very least, a victim is looked upon with suspicion.

This campaign began in 2011 and has reached 130 communities in the U.S. and throughout the world. The goal is to be a Start by Believing nation. An online video shows the difficulties faced by victims and survivors. SBB-Logo-for-Public-Use-2014

Our community is honoring the victims and survivors throughout this month by having a walk through the streets and by a public awareness campaign. We will also be having a Self-Safety Seminar on April 26th.

Believing our victims during one of the most difficult times in their lives is important as well as walking with them throughout the process. The work never ends.

Dear Diary



Today’s post is quite late due to life but here is the “D” edition of the A to Z Challenge.



How many of us kept a diary as children?

I certainly did, or at least I tried. I never seemed to be able to keep up with the dated entries.

And, those little ones with the locks, my heart would skip a beat every time I saw one. Receiving one for Christmas was the best gift ever.

None of those little books are still around.


Journaling is a large part of my life. At last count, I have no less than 6 journals that I am currently using.

  1. I have a spiritual journal. If I have an internal struggle, this is the place where I put all of my thoughts.
  2. For each of my large stories (i.e. novels), I have a separate journal. Each of these books holds all of my thoughts, research and plans for the piece I am working on. Currently there are four of them on my shelf, along with smaller notebooks for the novella I am working on.
  3. A purple journal sits on my desk at work to hold all of my to do lists, which continues to grow.
  4. My everyday bag contains a few journals. These journals include: a basic writing journal for all of those ideas that come along. A date type of journal for notes from any meetings or scheduling. Finally, an actual dated notebook to keep track of personal things, this book also contains to do lists.
  5. On my nightstand, I have a dream journal. I seldom use it but it is there nevertheless.
  6. Tucked away in my desk is a gratitude journal. I use this one the least although that doesn’t mean I am not grateful. I simply forget to write them down. I should work on that.

One of the reasons to keep a diary is to keep track of the large events in our lives. A friend keeps a 5-year journal for each one of their children. Keeping the memories, even if only a few lines, is important as we tend to forget as the years go by.

Though most of my journals have very little to do with events, although I may write about those somehow, I can still track my life through them.

This tracking is what is important to me. Seeing how far I’ve come, helps me to realize how far I can go.

What types of diary’s or journal’s do you keep?



Making Compost


As I sit looking out of my writing shed at all the snow, I feel the need to plant something. We’ve gotten one snowstorm after another in that past couple of weeks; it seems that spring will never actually arrive no matter what the calendar says.

This yearning to get my hands in the rich dirt of my garden has me thinking of other parts of growing things:


April is Earth Month, and as we think of ways to honor and heal the earth, recycling is at the top of the list. Compost is one way to recycle.

At its most basic form, compost is easy.

Throw leftovers, lawn clippings, and other organic matter into a container, let it sit for a while, stirring occasionally and it will turn into compost. That is, it will become a dark, rich substance that you can use in the garden to add nutrients.

Seems simple enough.

We’ve tried it around our place, in fact, more than once, and have ended up with failures.

We’ve discovered that it takes a bit more actually to make compost. Research has turned up recipes. The following is one that we discovered:

50-70% browns (leaves, hay, dry matter)

30-50% greens (grass, garbage, manure)

0-5% black (dirt, old compost)



Recipe comes from allspecies.org

Yeah, who measures? Aren’t you supposed just to be able just to throw your rotten food and clippings from your lawn and it turn into compost?

Oh, and you need a special container, one that is durable and has air holes. You must be able to stir the materials and make sure it doesn’t dry out.

You can create an open air one, but then there is the concern that critters will get into it, dragging your precious materials around the yard.

There appears to be no end to the complications to compost.

My desire to be able to create this magical substance is to help keep unnecessary chemicals out of my food. What happens when failure hits from every side in my quest to improve the soil?

Fortunately, a couple of options present themselves:




We live across from a dairy farm which has an abundance of fertilizer and while I cannot guarantee it is without added chemicals, it is an inexpensive source of added nutrients.




Also, a commercially prepared compost product called Dairy Doo is available in my area. The actual company is about 20 miles from my home. It is also available in store and mail order.

One of my favorite ways to compost is this:chicken-837506_1280

Yes, chickens.

Although we don’t have chickens currently, that is always a possibility. These girls eat just about anything and when their droppings are mixed with the sawdust bedding, you have the raw material for compost with little work. I say compost because, in order for this to work well, it needs to set a while otherwise it is too rich.

Not to mention, when you have backyard chickens, the fresh eggs are fabulous.

I seek a simpler life where composting is easy and the garden overflows. I’m not sure I will ever find it.

Maybe, I will attempt composting again this summer, with or without the chickens.

A is for Awareness


April has begun and the showers have come a bit early. Things are quite wet in this neck of the world. Signs of spring are everywhere. The A to Z Challenge has begun.

April is also an incredibly busy month. However, April is not the busiest; a simple search shows that October is the busiest.

For instance, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. Across the country, advocates are bringing awareness to all the victims and survivors of this awful issue. My office is beginning a campaign called “Start by Believing.” More to come on this topic later.

April is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month. If you happen to see the silver and blue pinwheels planted around your area, this group of folks is working to prevent child abuse before it happens.

Earth Month also occurs in April. Regardless of which side of the “the earth is in trouble” debate, spending some time this month focusing on ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse is a good idea. Someone once said to me that we live in a world of dwindling resources. Earth Month is a way to bring awareness to this problem.

Apparently, according to Wikipedia, April is a commemorative month for many other things:

Confederate History
Financial Literacy
Jazz Appreciation
Mathematics Awareness
National 9-1-1 Education Month
National Poetry Month
National Volunteer Month
Parkinson’s Awareness Month
Prevention of Animal Cruelty
and, last but not least,
Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month

And, this list is only April. I guess there is a month for everything.

Each of these causes has a group of people, most likely in each part of the country, working to bring awareness to and/or prevent something. And, each of these causes could use volunteers. Pick one, or even two, and find out what events they are having. Join and lend a hand. You may surprise yourself.

On a side note, Camp NaNoWRiMo begins today – eek!

It’s going to be an interesting month.