Word Count Update

Since writing my NaNoWriMo Season is Here post, I have written 1,684 more words on my novella. I’m up to page 39 and 11,050 words in total.  Considering how much traveling I’ve been doing in the last two weeks I think this is decent progress. Slowly but surely, I am building up this story’s first draft. I have been pleasantly surprised by a new character I introduced. I think he might have the potential to hijack my carefully outlined narrative a little and that is always a fun feeling. What about you, dear readers? How is your drafting going? Are you encountering any narrative surprises? Thanks for stopping by the pond!

 

Ducks under the willow by E.A. Schneider

Ducks under the willow by E.A. Schneider

NaNoWriMo Season is here!

NaNoWriMo Season is here!

 

Liftoff over the Fox river by E.A. Schneider

Liftoff over the Fox river by E.A. Schneider

Happy novel writing, NaNoWriMo scriveners! May your fingers be as nimble as your ideas are fast and may you reach your word count before the month is out. This year, I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. Instead, I’m doing more of a NaWriMo in that I want to enjoy the positive energy and social writing atmosphere of the month to write more on a project I already have rather than start a new novel from scratch. All too often as an artist in general and a writer in particular I feel like I get just so far on a project before I get distracted by another idea which I chase down instead until such time as I get distracted again like a small child in a field of so many different colored butterflies. This time, I am resolved to stay the course and persevere on a project I already have rather than chase another fluttering idea.

Long time visitors here at the pond might recall that I wrote a piece of paranormal flash fiction called Cinderella’s Ghost. For the last two years I’ve been pecking away at continuing the story as a novella. I’ve planned it out. I’ve picked it up and put it down in favor of other projects but I have always circled back to it again. For the last few weeks I’ve been making real headway on the story and I’m keen to keep the momentum going. Over the last two years I wrote 33 pages,  9,372 words, by hand in a journal using my baggie of fountain pens on the story. One major achievement today is that I finally have the whole draft computerized. Yaaaaay! The fear of sweaty hands or a spilled cup of tea obliterating my words is now defeated. Huzzah!

With this story I changed my style a little. Rather than blindly blazing an inky trail of words across the terrifying blankness of my journal’s pages, I carefully planned out all the major beats of this novella. Two years ago, I made a 21 beat outline of each major scene/event from beginning to end and I have been methodically checking off each one. So far, I’m at beat 14 so I’m a little more than halfway through. I have had to add some scenes that I hadn’t originally planned out as the story has developed but making that kind of addition is a lot easier knowing pretty much where I am aiming to end up. Having the plan also has made it a lot easier to put down and pick up the story as needed over this time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to use this technique again, I think that will depend on the story and the characters, but it’s nice to know that at least so far it can work for me.

A buddy of mine is doing NaNoWriMo in earnest and I aim to keep them company as they progress through the month. I also hope to put some word count updates here at the pond as I type away, just to keep me honest.

What about you, dear readers? Are any of you attempting to write a novel this November? Are you just trying to, like me, write away at a current project? Please comment below thanks, as always, for stopping by the pond.

 

Soaring over the Fox river in a near-perfect V by E.A. Schneider

Soaring over the Fox river in a near-perfect V by E.A. Schneider

Homemade Fox Mask & Ears

Happy belated Halloween, dear readers! I hope you had an enchanted holiday with good friends and yummy snacks. I had a lovely holiday. I got to go outside my comfort zone to attend a party for which I made a simple fox costume. Picture time!

 

Homemade fox mask and ears by E.A. Schneider

Homemade fox mask and ears by E.A. Schneider

I layered red, white, and black felt on a mask base from JoAnn. I used tacky glue to layer the pieces and give the snout piece some dimensionality. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the glue dried and how well it all held together. I made up the pattern except for the eyebrows and the white in the ears which I got from here and here. I layered the ear felt on top of green floral wire. I wrapped the wire around a simple black headband and it worked amazingly well. I liked  how I could tilt and angle the ears when I wore them.

Action shot:

Simple fox costume in action by E.A. Schneider

Simple fox costume in action by E.A. Schneider

I got the question a lot that night about whether this was a “What the Fox says,” costume. It’s not. As entertaining as that youtube video is, I just really like Vulpes vulpes a lot. Long time visitors to the pond might remember my flash fiction pieces featuring foxes from here and here. Foxes are just cool! They are the ultimate survivors. They can adapt to every environment, every circumstance, and persist, that is pretty darn amazing.

Thanks for visiting the pond, dear readers!

Study Habits of Successful College Students

I tutor students as a way to supplement my income, get valuable teaching experience, and have an excuse to talk about some of my favorite subjects because I am an enthusiastic nerd.

 

I was inspired by one of my students to sit down and write this guide. No one is born knowing how to study for college. It is a learned skill that has to be both carefully taught and diligently practiced. You might ask, why are you qualified to write a guide about study habits of successful college students? Good question! Well, dear reader, I was a successful college student. I got good grades and successfully graduated from both undergraduate and graduate school. I can tell you that good time management skills help facilitate the habits outlined below, however, they are habits. They can be cultivated and practiced, even if you struggle with time management.
Suppose you are a college student. You’re going to class. You’re turning in assignments. You’re using tutoring services and doing group work. You’re taking the examinations. And you’re doing poorly. What is a student to do? Re-evaluate your study habits! Whatever you’re doing, it probably isn’t working as well as you think it is. Below is a list of strategies that successful students use to succeed in school.
  1. Read ahead before class.
    1. This might sound like a big ask, but it is very useful. You have a syllabus that tells you what you will be reading every week and sometimes professors give out the powerpoint presentations (PPTs) in advance.
    2. Over the weekend, review the text you will be reading the following week.
    3. Before class, read/skim the PPT if the professor provides one.
  2. Go to class and take notes.
    1. Take notes on what a professor says, rather than what is on the PPT, if a PPT is used.
    2. Strike a balance between writing down every word you can and keeping up with the pace of the professor.
    3. If you can’t keep up, use abbreviations, pictures, and leave blanks as needed.
  3. After class, re-write your notes as soon as possible.
    1. This is important. Notes during a class are often messy and incomplete, especially if you’re trying to be detailed. Taking the time as soon as you can after a lecture to re-write the notes to fill in blanks and clarify ideas will accomplish the following:
      1. You’ll have notes that are easier to study from for tests.
      2. You’ll have a clearer understanding of what did and did not makes sense from class.
      3. You’ll know what questions to ask your prof during office hours and/or your study group and/or your tutor.
      4. You’ll actually learn the concepts, especially if you take the time to incorporate parts of the PPT into your re-copy and/or page numbers from your textbook.
  1. Work on studying your material every day.
    1. The metric for success is: for each credit hour you should be studying two to three hours outside of class.
      1. EXAMPLE: 4 credit class = 8 to 12 hours of studying outside of class per week.
    2. If you study one hour every day during the week, and one and a half hours per weekend day, you will be keeping pace with the minimum amount of studying required.
    3. If you are struggling in a class, you will need to supplement your normal 8-12 hours of weekly studying with additional study sessions with tutors and/or study groups.
  2. Use a combination of solitary and group work.
    1. Solitary studying in a quiet place where you can focus on the material is essential to succeeding in college. When you take an exam, generally, you are working in solitude. No one is going to be there to help you organize your thoughts. You have to know the material on your own.
    2. Having a tutor and/or a study group to supplement your studying can be a fantastic way to clear up questions you have, think of creative memorization tips, and cement the understanding you have of the material.
  3. Do your homework and turn it in on time.
    1. This might sound elementary, but it is fundamental to success. If you don’t do the work and turn it in on time, you won’t succeed. The homework is there to help you stay accountable and make sure you’re learning the material.
  4. Ask questions when you’re confused.
    1. It’s okay to be confused, in fact, it is expected. College is hard, it is supposed to be hard. The purpose of college is to push your limits, expand your knowledge, and eventually achieve your goals. You need to be asking questions. If something is confusing in class or in the text or as you’re re-copying/reviewing your notes, write down your question, and ask your prof during their office hours and/or ask your tutor or study group. This is how you learn.

How to Study

  1. Read the book.
    1. The book is a fantastic resource that you have paid a lot of money to access.
      1. Read the chapter (or assigned portion), from the beginning to the end in a quiet place where you can focus without being disturbed (i.e. library, desk in your room, quiet kitchen table).
        1. Note: reading on the couch while texting, watching T.V., and listening to music is not a quiet environment conducive to focusing on the material.
      2. Go back through the reading and highlight significant passages and terms. Note anything you find confusing. Pay special attention to any figures, tables, or special sections/boxes incorporated into a chapter. Use any practice questions at the end of a section after you’ve read the text first.
  1. Memorize your vocabulary and key concepts.
    1. Flashcards are a fantastic tool for achieving this. Taking the time to write the cards will help you learn the material. Flashcards are portable and easy to use in odd moments of time like waiting for a class or a bus. They are great for quizzing yourself alone at home as well as in study groups.
    2. Written lists are great tools as well. Taking the time to write out a list of vocabulary and/or key concepts while reading it aloud to yourself will help fix the information in your brain using auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli. If you drill these lists, write them over and over again while reading aloud to yourself, you will definitely learn the material. This is best done in solitude so you don’t disturb others and you have no distractions.
  2. Review your class notes.
    1. This is especially helpful if you took the time to re-copy your notes and integrate it with the concepts from your textbook.
  3. Quiz Yourself
    1. There are multiple ways to do this. You can quiz yourself using concepts from the text, from your notes, and from your flashcards. You can quiz yourself using any practice questions from your professors. You can write your own quiz based on your experience of the professor’s style, wait a day, write your own answers, and then check the answers against the book/notes to make sure you got the concept. This is a great way to make connections in your brain for how the material fits together as a whole.
  4. Have others quiz you.
    1. Work with your tutor, study group, friends, or family to see if you actually understand what you think you understand.
      1. Note: This works most effectively if you’ve already done the work mentioned above.
  5. Look at any supplemental videos anyone provides you or look some up yourself.
    1. The Internet is a great resource for videos that explain complex concepts in easy to understand and memorize language, especially 3-D models of complex things like cellular processes. Professors, textbooks, and tutors frequently take the time to find/provide high quality videos on the Internet to supplement the other class material. Use this resource.
    2. Do not use supplemental materials taken from the Internet to replace the work mentioned above. Supplements build upon the primary material, not the other way around.

Final Thought

Always remember, learning is fun! Really. You’re in school because, hopefully, you want to be and you’re taking these classes either because they interest you or the classes are a necessary stepping-stone toward your dreams. It’s a lot easier to do the work when you remember how much you love something related to it. Have fun and keep up the good work!

Bumblebee on daisy by E.A. Schneider

Bumblebee on daisy by E.A. Schneider

Crows

Perched crow by E.A. Schneider

Perched crow by E.A. Schneider

Lately, dear readers, I’ve been pondering crows.

Watching a crow is always magical to me. I find them enchanting. They are like little patches of the night sky, complete with stars for eyes. Yes, I know, their eyes are black too, but, when I see them seeing me too, I swear I see a glimmer there that makes me think of stars blinking across time and space to Earth. Like stars, when I see a crow I feel compelled to stop and smile, to pause a moment and contemplate them. Even in the mundane moments of their life they seem mysterious. Why was this crow just hopping around between the branches of my tree? Was it trying to get comfortable? Was it looking for a snack? Is this the crow equivalent of step-aerobics? Flap one, flap two, and stretch those flight muscles! Maybe, as reductionist as this sounds, maybe it was just fun. I know if I had beautiful, black, glossy wings like a crow, I am pretty sure I would spend several moments of every day just flapping around for the feel of the wind in my feathers.

Wingspan by E.A. Schneider

Wingspan by E.A. Schneider

 

Spring Crafting

Hello, dear readers! I am happy to report that I have pictures of crafty projects to share with you today. This winter/spring I have been busy with an assortment of  fun little crafts. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment, it would be fantastic to get some crafty discussion going. On to the crafts!

First up is my Doctor Who purse. I used fabric from Spoonflower.com as well as bits and bobs from my stash to make this purse. This purse is really special to me because it represents my return to sewing following a health-inspired hiatus. It’s not perfect but I will never ever tell why. I made it to wear to the screening of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. It felt amazing to walk into a show I had been looking forward to for months wearing a bag I had made after weeks and weeks of being unable to craft. It felt really, really great to be back at the pedal of my Husquvarna again. I will always cherish this bag.

Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

I used glow in the dark thread to outline quilt the swirls and the TARDIS on the front. It is subtle but fun.

Back of the Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

Back of the Doctor Who purse made and designed by E.A. Schneider

The variegated fabric I used gives the illusion of more piecing than I actually did. I love it when I can do that! Mwahahahaha!

Hey look! It's bigger on the inside of the Doctor Who purse! (Not really, but the universe fabric does give a nice illusion, doesn't it?)

Hey look! It’s bigger on the inside of the Doctor Who purse! (Not really, but the universe fabric does give a nice illusion, doesn’t it?)

In this picture you can see the pocket I sewed for emergency hand sanitizer (holding actual sanitizer no less!) nestled underneath a galaxy. I used a snap clasp to close the purse. You can also see the brass ring, towards the left of the picture, that secures the strap to the bag body.

Matching potholders by E.A. Schneider

Matching potholders by E.A. Schneider

Above you can see a set of matching potholders I made for a favorite person. These are hopefully industrial strength since I used two layers of pre-quilted fabric as well as special insulated batting. No burns on my watch!

Fishing scarf by E.A. Schneider

Fishing scarf by E.A. Schneider

Another couple favorite people got fleece scarves from me this year. Long time pond visitors might remember that I like to make these scarves a lot. I forgot to take pictures of a cute one I made with turtle fabric but I get pictures of the fun fishing themed one I made above.

Tea wallets with vintage buttons by E.A. Schneider

Tea wallets with vintage buttons by E.A. Schneider

Tea wallets! I love making these tea wallets. I used a tutorial from here: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=403079.0#axzz2clJOep3z

I can make them in under two hours, use up small pieces of fabric, and customize them with vintage buttons. It is a great gift project that is perfect for two of my very favorite people.

IMG_5418

Inside of the tea wallets by E.A. Schneider

 

Finally, I will leave you with a sneak peek at another project I’m working on. Hopefully I’ll be back at the pond soon with pictures of the completed project.

I see amazing border fabric! Is that, perchance, a quillow? Yes, dear readers, it is.

I see amazing border fabric! Is that, perchance, a quillow? Yes, dear readers, it is.

 

Thanks for joining me here at the pond!

70 Books: My 2014-2015 Reading List

70 Books: My 2014-2015 Reading List

 

Launch! by E.A. Schneider

Launch! by E.A. Schneider

It’s time and past I post my updated 2014-2015 reading list. Last year I had a goal of reading 35 books, which I was able to surpass. This year, my goal is to read 40 books largely from the list below; hopefully I’ll surpass my 40 book goal, and I have no doubt some surprises will come along the way. The list is in no particular order and I am happy to say that I have read 10 books from it already. Woot! I will periodically update this post using purple text. Keep checking back and commenting, dear readers. 

Fox River by E.A. Schneider

Fox River by E.A. Schneider

  1. A Sand County Almanac with other essays on conservation from Round River by Aldo Leopold <–Done! :-)
  2. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss<–Done! :-)
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert
  4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
  5. Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
  6. Orison by Daniel Swenson<–Done! :-)
  7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  8. Deerskin by Robin McKinley<–Done! :-)
  9. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis<–Done! :-)
  10. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  11. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  12. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines<–Done! :-)
  13. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion<–Done! :-)
  14. Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling<–Done! :-)
  15. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  16. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter<–Done! :-)
  17. The Iron Heel by Jack London
  18. Almanac for the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko
  19. Landfill Meditations by Gerald Vizenor
  20. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  21. Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce
  22. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  23. Kwaidon translated by Lafcaido Hearn
  24. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  25. Beastly by Alex Finn<–Done! :-)
  26. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  27. From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne<–Done! :-)

    Maple tree buds by E.A. Schneider

    Maple tree buds by E.A. Schneider

  28. Round the Moon by Jules Verne<–Done! :-)
  29. House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  30. Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
  31. King Lear by William Shakespeare
  32. Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  33. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  34. Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
  35. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  36. Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
  37. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  38. These High Green Hills by Jan Karon
  39. The Flamingo’s Smile by Stephen Jay Gould
  40. The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick
  41. Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
  42. Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip<–Done! :-)
  43. Bluebeard edited by Heidi Anne Heiner
  44. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  45. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  46. Moon Over the Back Fence by Esther Carlson
  47. 100 selected poems by e.e. Cummings
  48. Bully for Brontosaurus by Stephen Jay Gould
  49. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  50. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  51. The Prelude by William Wordsworth
  52. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  53. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  54. Once On A Time by A.A. Milne
  55. The Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card<–Done! :-)
  56. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card <–Done! :-) 

    Willow tree buds in the wind by E.A. Schneider

    Willow tree buds in the wind by E.A. Schneider

  57. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins<–Done! :-)
  58. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins<–Done! :-)
  59. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins<–Done! :-)
  60. Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin
  61. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin
  62. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  63. Bonk by Mary Roach
  64. Gulp by Mary Roach
  65. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  66. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  67. Book One of the Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, W.J.F. Jenner (Translator)
  68. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  69. Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  70. The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit
  71. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  72. The Wood Beyond the World by William Morris
  73. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel R. Delaney

Some of the above books are re-reads, others are previously abandoned testaments to former ambitions, some are canon members I have put off, and many are recommendations from friends & lists. I am making a conscious effort to read more non-fiction and poetry with this 2014-2015 list. Considering my liberal arts education you would think I would have a stronger background in those areas but, alack, I don’t. That’s the nice thing about books: they are there on library shelves and bookstore tables waiting for me to find myself in their pages.

What do you think, dear readers, do you have your sights set on reading anything in particular over the next two years? Any gaps in your reading knowledge you are hoping to fill in 2014-2015? Thanks for stopping at the pond, dear readers, I hope to be back soon with some reviews on the 10 11 20 books I’ve read so far.

Spring Wings by E.A. Schneider

Spring Wings by E.A. Schneider