Do Ivy League Schools Expect Too Much In Their Application Essays?

I was recently asked to help an 18 year old write an Ivy League college entrance exam essay. And maybe it’s because I haven’t written one in a while, but I found it absolutely ridiculous how much experience Ivy League schools expect young people to have before even reaching the legal drinking age.

The questions they ask teenagers to answer, such as life changing and altering experiences in travel, leadership, honesty, and other things are so overrated, especially for someone who is barely legal to vote or marry. Many haven’t had the opportunity to engage in one meaningful relationship, let alone many and in various circumstances.

How many life altering things do they think really happen to the average kid before they turn 18? Or do they only hope to admit those who have lead difficult, broken, and abused lives?

But if that’s the case, then they are in fact promoting all the things that no child wants to endure – divorce, poverty, alienation, etc.. Because let’s face it, those questions require answers that come only from challenges and hardships that most parents try to shield their children from.

College should be a place where kids learn about these things. This is where kids should be exposed to all these coming of age milestones, when they are legal adults, and more physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to handle these sorts of situations.

As I was reading the question choices and considering the kinds of answers that would be most appropriate and impressive to the admissions committees, a thought dawned on me. I was the most qualified to write these essays. My life and life challenges, failures, successes and overall experiences are what would make these essays interesting and even get me into these schools.

The only problem is that I’ve already graduated with a bachelors in Communications and have no intention of continuing my education or applying to any of these universities.

Do Ivy League schools expect too much from our kids, or do we just not expect enough from our teenagers, who are constantly struggling to be treated more like adults? Perhaps if we gave kids more hardships and challenges to deal with, they would have a better chance of getting into all these prestigious universities.

But if an 18 year old had to endure all that I have gone through in over 30 years, what would that person be like when he or she finally reached true adulthood?

Perhaps in their quest to find the brightest, smartest and best individuals, Ivy League schools are actually promoting kids and their parents to engage in and lead unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles.


dogs of houston

Dogs Are Tortured & Killed in Houston and Florida Redlands for FUN

Every day, I read stories about people abusing, neglecting and even killing dogs, and it makes me so sad. Dogs are the purest souls, with so much love to give. I look at my two dogs and I can’t imagine anyone ever hurting them. Places like Houston’s 3rd Ward and the Redlands in Florida, are just two of the places in the United States that need to be addressed on the treatment of dogs. Anyone who has ever had a dog, knows the pain and suffering of losing a beloved friend and family member.
The dogs in these places may not be your family, but they are just as sweet and lovable as the ones that sleep on your couch and cuddle with you in bed. It’s bad enough that they are forced to live in the streets, unprotected from the elements and starving most of the time. They don’t deserve to have heartless people shooting them, running them over with their cars, poisoning them or throwing acid on their backs for fun. This is pure cruelty and it needs to stop!
Please, let’s work together to bring this senseless suffering of all animals to an end. If Sea World can stop their Shamu shows, surely we, the people of the land of the free and the home of the brave, the citizens of the United States of America, can stop mistreating the animals in our own front and backyards. All these dogs want is a little food and loving touch – can’t we find it our hearts to give them that, and so much more…
Thanks for reading my rant, please share and share and share to help get the word out about what’s going on.

How A New Character Is Born

People often ask me who or what inspires me. How I get my ideas for the stories I write and the characters I come up with. Sometimes it’s hard to think up an answer on the spot, but I can definitely say that a lot of my stuff comes from things I watch or read. I’m a huge fan of various television shows and books, including popular series.

So, how do I take a well known character and turn it into a brand new persona that’s virtually unrecognizable to the public as anyone else but the character as portrayed in my work?

First, I think about what I like or most easily relate to in the storyline. Is it the actual storyline? One of the characters themselves? A particular relationship? A setting?

Once, I’ve narrowed it down, I take that one detail and start playing with it. Let’s say it’s a character. We’ll call him James. And let’s pretend he’s in a television show that set in New York City, where he plays a detective, who’s in love with another detective. His character is a stand up guy, with a strong work ethic and an endearing personality. But he’s also a little brooding and very sexy.

This is definitely someone I would be attracted to and would want to put into one of my stories. But, how? First, I change his name, then I add or subtract at least five years from his age. Already, my character is taking on a little bit of a different role. But, I won’t stop there. Next, I’ll put him in a different location than the character of James is usually found in, and I might even give him a different career, with a slightly altered personality. Now, the character who used to be James, known by millions around the world, is suddenly a completely different guy, and ready to be known as anyone I want him to be.

Sounds easy, right? It can be, but it can also be challenging. Of course, that’s part of the fun of writing. Giving birth to characters is one of the most rewarding aspects because then I get to sit back and watch them come to life.

Then before I know it, they’ve take on a life of their own, with conflicts, decisions, and feelings that feel as authentic as if they were my very own. Well, almost. Every character I’ve ever come up only feels complete when he or she has a part of me within them. Whether it’s a good or a not so good aspect of my personality, or some other trait like fear, hope, dream, or deep dark secret I’ve never shared, it’s safe to say that little bits of me live on, and often in very exaggerated forms, through the lives, thoughts and actions of my characters.

And that is how a character in one of my writing projects is born. As a very good writing teacher once said, nothing comes from nothing. That’s why it’s always easier and better when you can start with something and work you’re way out, or in, from there.


3 Ways I Use Twitter As a Writer

Twitter is celebrating its 10th anniversary today, which means that it’s been alive for about half of my writing career. How crazy is that? The writers of my generation have only had the ability to use Twitter for a decade, making us wonder how we ever did it before social media and the incredible experience of having hundreds of followers, retweets, likes and direct messages by people whom we’ve never met, and probably never will meet,  in the real world.

As much as writing is about the pen or pencil, the paper, and finding that void in the world that our minds just have to fill with words we hope will develop some sort of meaning and semblance of reality, it would be amiss of me not to notice the changes and advances that technology has brought to the world of writers. Twitter, being one of them. While the social network can be used for stalking celebrities, reading the latest news, and following all the latest trends (all of which I’m guilty of doing), it is also useful in many other ways, many of which can be adapted into the world of writers.

Here are 3 ways I use Twitter as a Writer:

  1. Bookmarking. The heart icon that appears on the bottom of every tweet, when pushed, indicates you like that tweet. But Twitter does more than just “like” it for you. Twitter actually bookmarks that Tweet so that you can come back to it at a later time, simply by visiting your profile page. I find this tool to be indispensable when researching topics for current or future writing projects. It’s the perfect way to bookmark material and have it all in one, easy to find place.
  2. Networking. Twitter provides writers with an amazing source of writers, agents and readers. Retweeting is also a great way to share information, linking you with an endless amount of fellow Twitterers who are both in and out of your network, helping you connect with other writers, as well as professionals in the industry. Many writers I know have found their agents using Twitter, through hashtags and special Twitter-centric pitching events.
  3. Research. What better way to learn about your audience, competition and literary goals than to use a network with millions of active users from around the world in all walks of life. Twitter has recently added a new perk that allows users to take polls, with up to four possible choices. Get usable results in just minutes. Just use the appropriate hashtags, and wait for the numbers to start rolling in. This is by far one of my all-time favorite Twitter features.

In only 10 years, Twitter has become an important part of modern society, and an integral part of how we live, do business, share information and see the world. As a writer, I am always trying to reach my readers, connect with other writers, and realize my literary goals. Twitter is not the only tool for a writer, but it definitely one that is useful and FREE.

If you’re a writer, or have used Twitter in a unique way to further your personal and/or professional life, I would love to hear from you. Follow me on Twitter, send me a DM or contact me through my website, and let me know how Twitter has affected you.

Happy 10th Birthday, Twitter! Here’s to many more years of “likes” “tweets” “mentions” “retweets” “DM’s” and “follows.”


Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I decided to update my website tonight and possibly change the theme I was using. Unfortunately, I did what I usually do in life and leapt before I looked, leaving me between a rock and a hard place – figuratively speaking. For those of you who don’t know how WordPress works, once you apply a theme to your website, WordPress doesn’t tell you what theme you were using previously, and of course, I forgot to look because I was so excited for the new theme I’d found.

Unfortunately, the new theme turned out not to be as great as its preview and that’s when the “rock” came in. Almost two seconds later, I realized that I’d forgotten which theme I was using before to make a quick fix since it was already past 1am, and so ensued the “hard place.”

Two and a half hours later, I think I’ve finally settled on this theme, called “Sela.” I’ve decided to put in here just in case I forget it the next time I decide to make spur of the moment, drastic changes.

However, tonight’s take away lesson isn’t what I expected it to be. Rather, I think that when evaluating the course of my life and all the moments when I’ve found myself in these rock and hard place situations, I’ve always found myself not only enduring, but growing in ways I didn’t anticipate. Therefore, once the rush of panic passed, and I realized that despite my poor timing, being that it’s almost 4am now, I actually did a good thing in changing things up.

My website is always a work in progress, since I’m the only one who works on it and I’m always tinkering with it and trying to make it look better and more professional. However, once I settle on a theme, at the very least, I always hope I’ve made it pretty.