Catching Up: A Whole Year of Events and Happenings #amwriting #nonfiction


Good morning. I hope you’re all well. One of the things I have not written in an extremely long time is a personal update. A lot of this had to do with my disability case and the fact that social media was initially used against me to say that this made me capable of work at forty percent of my former job as an administrative assistant.

That was nine years ago, and I was on long-term disability for eight years. However, after a year of dealing with lawyers and the insurance company through my lawyers, I’ve settled and I’m so glad to not have that hanging over my head. I can finally, relax!

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(Credit: Tao Heftiba via Unsplash.)

However, there are a few thoughts I have been thinking about sharing with you guys from the past year and currently. I think I’ll begin after I first hired the lawyers for my case and initially signing all these forms and files after Christmas. The first thing I learned was to cut my budget from 60 percent of what I was bringing in before, and that took a couple of months for me to become used to, having less available funds. I learned to carefully budget my months beforehand and where to cut spending. Even if I could save ten or twenty dollars and hold off on buying an item until the next month, often this helped my monthly budget a great deal. As well, if you’re in Canada and searching for a great Disability Law Firm, you can contact Share Lawyers. They are awesome if you are initially, denied disability or if your insurance company cuts you off.

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(Credit: Tao Heftiba via Unsplash.)

As well, I began freelancing on a site called Upwork.com and it took about three months for me to find steady work for a two to three hours some days. I do a lot of academic writing, and that was a learning curve, as writing pays terrible. But even what I earned was better than nothing at about $5 US per page. I continue to do this although I’m taking a break right now for the holiday season and it brings in from $200 to $250 on average per month in Canadian dollars.

So, that’s not bad, and I enjoy the academic research a great deal, and I have written on many topics. Dealing with difficult clients online can be frustrating as face to face communication and affirmation of instructions is much easier than messaging each other. And of course, if the client did not provide clear instructions, to begin with, that’s your fault, not theirs. However, on the other hand, I have some great communicative and thoroughly clear clients too.

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(Credit: Green Chameleon via Unsplash.)

I tend to enjoy English Literature, Creative Writing projects, Psychology, History, Philosophy, and topics related to these areas the most. Also, although they are rare, Art History and any kind of Design topic or feature is great fun to research and write. I have learned a great deal about American History after the Civil War and into modern times and how that effects present-day America and immigration and other foreign policy. Also, I love writing on favorite poets such as Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath, along with various new poets. Also, I have written on poetic works I know well such as “Beowulf” and “Dante’s Inferno” but compared these to Modern Superhero’s such as Superman or Iron. And I’ve written on feminism and the development of Disney princesses, for example.

As well, from June until September, I did do a couple of blogs per week for a company from Upwork.com on beauty topics including anything to do with eyelashes — falsies, extensions, Mascaras, growth treatments, and natural lash treatments. Also, I reviewed hair straighteners on Amazon and wrote for a business that does non-evasive cosmetic procedures such as Botox, dermal fillers, dermal lip fillers, laser skin treatments, CoolSculpting, and many other fascinating procedures to help people shed excess fat cells or to improve their youthfulness. The neat fact is that many of these cosmetic procedures have medical applications as well.

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(Credit: Johncoutu.com.)

Moreover, I learned a great deal about blog writing for companies, how conversational and informal it is compared to academic writing. At first, I had to learn to ‘dumb down’ my writing in a sense to write at a grade six to eight level at the most. I learned about a couple of tools that help me both in freelance blog writing and in academic writing. Grammarly is an awesome tool for any type of writing and is worth paying for the add-on monthly, and it works on WordPress too, to polish your writing and save time.

Also, Readable is an awesome tool to see where you need to make your writing simpler for blog or magazine type writing. I wouldn’t pay for it unless you use it 24-7, but you can use it for free a few times a day. As well, since Upwork.com charges you for working through them, you have to keep that in mind, and I would recommend if you work for a client you can trust, work off of Upwork.com, unless they’ll raise your wage. You can both save money after initial jobs on the site. For instance, I made $20 a blog piece and Upwork would take $2.50 off that. Invoicing through PayPal or another system works much better if you have clients you can trust.

Moreover, in a strange way this careful budgeting and knowing I needed to earn an extra two to three-hundred a month quickly, became apparent to me and gave pushed my boundaries. If I wanted to continue to buy my preferred skin care (Clinique), foundation, concealer, and the occasional other items that I could not find in quality drugstore makeup brands, then I had to earn more than what I was before freelancing.

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(Credit: Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved– At my friend, T’s, June Wedding.)

Actually, the most important aspect of why I needed to make more money each month was to save for the wedding and the wedding events of my two best friends who had wedding events in June and in later fall. Even if I wanted to go out and visit friends, especially because a long bus trip would leave me exhausted before I even had a chance to visit, I knew I had to earn some kind of income. It had to be no more than $300.00 per month at the most to still receive my government benefits as a person disabled from working, and that amount was enough to buy extras and see my friends most vitally.

Both weddings were a ton of fun, and I have many great memories from Bridal showers, Stagettes, and for my one friend T, the wedding itself. Freelance writing permitted me to pay for presents, take taxis, and buy a couple pairs of dresses and shoes. LeChateau outlet is amazing for this kind of event in Canada while staying on a budget. They are an awesome trendy Montreal based clothing store in and not only an outlet.

My second friend, S, had her Bridal Shower at the very end of September and her shower Theme was a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ theme and her Stagette, a ‘1950’s Rockabilly Theme.’ They were a lot of fun, although, I did not make it to her actual marriage celebration or the following Pub night as I was having a terrible day (health-wise). While T had a traditional wedding which was awesome and a lot of fun, S’s wedding occurred on the field of our Home Canadian Football League (CFL) team field and her actual wedding for all those who could travel was in Varadero, Cuba.

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( Credit: Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved).

I was looking forward to attending the Cuba wedding initially, but my settlement had been so close to the wedding that it wasn’t possible and even making a couple of extra hundred dollars a month I couldn’t have afforded Cuba in November this year.

Anyways, both brides are deliriously happy, and my friend T is pregnant with her first child who is due in a couple of months now. I received the baby shower invite but already had the gift put together. It’s difficult not knowing if the baby will be a girl or a boy but at least her nursery theme of woodland/jungle animals is quite ‘in’ and I found outfits and blankets along with a couple other great items.

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Unknown Unsplash

Another friend found out she was having twins and twins are a great deal to handle along with her almost two-year-old. My Mom and I attended a ‘The Handmade Revolution’ craft-show, ‘MakeIt‘ and I received the business card there from a lady who makes these soft terry blankets/towels perfect for swaddling a baby and carrying a larger infant/toddler. Later, they work as towels for kids from three to five years old. I got two bundles with cream good for chapped skin, especially where babies feed. You can check out these handmade goods below if you’re interested. Here’s the online shop called OneBerrie.

Finally, one of the things I had been saving up for was a tattoo, and lucky I had saved it before my income went down last December. I found a great tattoo artist through friends at a place called Eye of Lotus. Megan is amazing, does watercolor tattoos and has a six-month waiting list at least and that’s always a sign of a talented artist along with Megan’s years of training, tattoo portfolio, and the personal artwork around her working space.

So the tattoo took two sessions and was three hours along with a touch-up session which was about thirty minutes but truly brought my tattoo to life. The touch up was only $25.00 but the other three hours were regular price for most tattoo places of repute where I live. Eye of Lotus was also rated highly as a tattoo place in Edmonton so there are also other talented artists there. Megan specializes in watercolor. Anyways, below is the final result.

The tattoo is on my right side and hip. It was not that painful. I mentally psyched myself up for much worse and truly it was pain much less worse than waxing certain areas of the body. The black lines barely hurt at all. Where the color was filled in felt like it burned at first, but I got used to it quickly. Only when the tattoo went right into my side did it hurt. The words of the tattoo have personal meaning and refer to the Bible verse in Romans 5:8.

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(Credit: Mandibelle16.(2017) All Rights Reserved).

Last but not least, I wanted to share some odds and ends with you guys. I can still apply for my MFA in Creative Writing, and I’m thinking about it. I have to act fast though as I only have a month. I’ve wanted to work on a short story for it, but it’s been hard with freelancing. Also, I do plan to work on my book now shortened to the title How Was Last Night?. I’m still on my second draft, finished until about Chapter 20 or so, maybe a bit further.

However, I’m attending a writers conference next August with my friend who is also writing a book. I have learned a great deal more in a year and want to have the third draft done for this event or at least the first quarter of the book for the conference as we do have the opportunity to pitch our work. Here’s the conference website if you are in the area for When Words Collide. Of course, there are many speakers and a fun Galla at night so I’m looking forward to this as it’s all at the hotel we’re staying at and I think the conference will be educational and fun.

(Credit: Whenwordscollide.org.)

Also, I have a story that is going to be part of a Cinderella Anthology. The Anthology is still being edited and I’m excited about its release. Moreover, if you want to read what I have of my novel in the second draft, it’s on Wattpad under my pen-name ‘A.M.Wilson’ and @mandibelle16. It’s still rough, even the two-thirds of it that are edited from the first draft, but unfortunately, this year has not left me much time work on it except after last Christmas.

But that will change as I’m not paying off debt anymore, due to my settlement. I do not have to freelance as much if I do not want to. Here’s the link to my unfinished novel How Was Last Night by A.M. Wilson. Any tips, thoughts, or constructive criticism can be left in the comments after each chapter so please don’t hesitate to speak up.

Lastly, something neat I found on Indigo this morning that you all might enjoy when searching for something good to read: Indigo’s Best Books of 2017. This list is their top 50 books.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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©Mandibelle16.(2017) All Rights Reserved.

Sunday Photo Fiction: Lost Dreams


Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting SPF.


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Credit: A Mixed Bag

Fifteen-years ago Chloe had visited the County Hotel for the first time in Aisling.

As a young woman, she loved how most of the boutiques and fine dining in the city were here. She adored the opulent movie theater and grand Opera House nearby. The area bustled with tourists and business people alike.

But Chloe’s favorite neighborhood Le Solas Na Greine, had aged. She decided this would be her last stay at the County Hotel. She noticed how much the decor of the hotel was worn. Even the blankets and sheets were threadbare and Chloe was afraid to go outside, except to catch a cab.

Now she visited a new hub of the city, the neighborhood of Lasaim. Yet, she was still upset such a lively and vibrant neighborhood as Le Solas Na Greine, was now the poorest and most frightening place in the city to be. It tainted her fondest memories of vacationing here.

She hoped in the future a new generation of politicians and citizens would revive her neighborhood. After all, didn’t the name of the city Aisling mean dream?


©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.

Moral Monday’s Flash Fiction: A Place To Sleep


Thank you to Nortina from Lovely Curses for hosting Moral Monday’s. Today’s moral is: “There is no place like home.” 

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http://www.123rf.com

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When I take a vacation, I like to have a nice room to stay in. I like a clean hotel or AirBnB room/apartment, with a comfortable mattress and enough soft blankets and pillows.

 This has been vital to me in the last eight-years as it never was before because my body can’t handle an entire day out. In the mid-afternoon after walking around and exploring, I need to rest before evening activities. I need to crawl into bed and sleep or watch TV. 

To be honest, the best bed in the entire world, is my bed in my room at home.

——–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Fiction: “Nerve”


Thanks to The Daily Post for the word prompt nerve.

—–

Daisy, Kyria, and Josephine were at the beach in Vancouver, watching their kids as they played in the sand and shallower lake water. 

“No, Danny not too deep!” Daisy cried to her eight-year-old son as he attempted to swim into water up to his neck. “You can’t swim well enough yet, you’re only in level five,” Daisy reminded Danny who made a face at her but returned to the water up to his chest. 

Kyria patted her baby Lola who she had finished breast-feeding. Her other two daughters, Ivory and Laura, were building sand castles near by. Kyria was talking to Josphine whose nine-year-old Michael played with Danny in the lake. Danny and Michael both had floating crocodiles that they sat on pretending to eat each other.

The three friends and mothers talked to one another inbetween yelling at their kids. But all conversation ceased when a curvy bombshell walked infront of them in a skimpy bikini. The bombshell had long strawberry-blonde hair and pretty freckles on her pale cheeks. She may not have been tanned but it was evident she was beautiful.

——

Amber felt like some mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. It was her day-off from work as an administrative assistant and she had been so excited when she heard the weather was going to be hot and sunny that morning. She had changed into her favourite emerald green bikini and threw a beach dress over top before sliding into flip flops. 

Amber passed three mothers watching their children, walking to the ice cream store on the beach. She thought how lucky those women were to be able to have kids. Tegan (her husband) and Amber, had tried to have kids but with no success for the past three-years. At least, Amber thought, being able to look great in a bikini was some conselation.

—–

Kyria gapped at the bombshell as she passed them. The girl flung her strawberry-blond hair back and brushed her fingers through the strands. Her hips wiggled as she walked and she ran her hands down her waist and flat stomach. Kyria watched distainfully, as the girl adjusted the straps on her emerald green bikini top, ensuring her generous chest was covered.

“The nerve of that woman!” Kyria exclaimed to Daisy and Josephine.”We can all see she is skinny and a perfect hourglass shape. We don’t need her to show her body off right infront of us and our children. Who does she think she is anyways? She’s so pale too.” Kyria said with venom.

Josephine looked at Kyria annoyed. “I don’t think she meant anything walking infront of us. She’s probably only using what her Mama gave her. Remember, we used to dress in skimpy bikinis when we went to the beach, before we all had kids — Michael stop trying to drown Danny, he’s your bestfriend!” 

Michael looked at his Mom Josephine and let Danny up from under the water, where he’d been holding Danny’s head down. Danny punched Michael and the boys returned to playing with their floating crocodiles. 

“I agree with Kyria,” Daisy said grumpily. “That girl was showing off. Why would she do that in the middle of the day, when there are mainly families at the beach. I don’t need Danny fixated on women yet, he’s only eight. That girl has some nerve.

Josphine shook her head surprised at both her friends.” I think you two are jealous. Kyria just had a baby so she is still losing weight from pregnancy and you Daisy haven’t been keeping up with our dates to the gym. You act as if that girl should be ashamed of her own body, just because her body is in mint condition. I think you’re both being mean.” Josephine remarked.

“Why shouldn’t that woman be proud of her body, while she has it? She was probably enjoying a day off at the beach. I have pictures of you both in skimpy bikinis, not too long ago. I think you’re both hypocrites and have a lot of nerve judging another woman, especially at the beach.”Daisy and Kyria were speechless. 

——

The girl in the skimpy bikini was coming back there way, licking an ice cream cone in one hand. Kyria rolled her eyes and made a disgusted noise. The girl looked up at that moment and smiled at the three ladies sitting on their blankets, underneath an umbrella in the sand. “Oh, your daughter is gorgeous,” she told Kyria walking over to Kyria, Daisy, and Josephine, “What’s her name?” 

“Her name is Lola,” Kyria said stiffly.

“You are so lucky to have her. Those two beautiful girls playing in the sand, they must be your daughters as well, they look just like you.” The girl exclaimed putting out her free hand which Kyria pretended not to notice.

 “I’m Amber, my husband Tegan, and I have been trying to have kids for three-years but I haven’t been able to become pregnant. I’m envious of you girls. You’re lucky to have kids, I want one so much.” Amber sighed and smiled at the two boys play fighting in the lake near by when Josephine pointed them out to her. Then, she gazed back at baby Lola adoringly. 

“It was nice to meet you girls, but I promised my husband I’d make him a special supper since I have the day off.” Amber smiled genuinely at the women and waved as she walked off the beach towards the parking lot.

Josephine peered at Kyria and Daisy wondering what their reaction to Amber would be now.”She’s right,” Daisy said watching her son Danny. “We’re so lucky to have our kids. I think Danny is worth not having my bikini body anymore.”

Kyria remained silent. “I still say Amber has nerve showing off her body infront of a recently, pregnant woman.” Daisy and Josephine looked at one another and sighed.

Nerve isn’t necceserily a bad thing,” Daisy said thoughtfully. “I don’t think she was trying to make you look bad, Kyria. It’s obvious to anyone who sees you with Lola, your baby is only a few months old. She can’t help that you were pregnant, or what comes along with being pregnant. She wants what you have actually.” Kyria rolled her eyes and Daisy shook her head. There was no convincing Kyria.

Josephine looked away from her friends to see Michael and Danny dripping water on her and the blankets. “Mom, we need more sunscreen,” Michael told Josephine. Josephine smiled and sprayed both boys with SPF 50 sunscreen. Indeed, Josephine felt lucky to be a Mom. But part of her admired Amber, a woman with nerve; the good kind.

——–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Desert Island


Daily Prompt:

We’ve all been asked what five objects we’d take with us to a desert island. Now it’s your best friend’s (or close relative’s) turn to be stranded: what five objects would you send him/her off with?

If my relative was stranded on a desert island I would give them these 5 objects: a machete, a water canteen, some blankets, a way to purify their water so like little capsules that did that, and soap with sunscreen it it. I’m going to assume for this situation sake, that none of the items I gave my relative ever run out, especially the tablets that purify the water, and the soap with sunscreen in it. A machete would be for chopping through jungle growth, cutting down leaves and branches to make a shelter, cutting up wood for a fire, and for hunting small animals for dinner. The canteen would be for putting purified water in of course and the soap with sunscreen would protect you from the sun and keep you clean because I don’t know about you but I would hate to be so dirty all the time for a long time. Also, the blankets would keep you warm by the ocean at night. I’d like to also include a big box of matches that don’t run out but I’m over my 5 items.