Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ready to Sever Cellular Dependency

Cell Phone Dependency | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Thousands of dollars worth of
useless equipment and accessories.
For a decade or so, we’ve been signing two-year contracts so we only have to pay about $600 to upgrade our phones every other year. We have yet to have one of our high-tech, expensive phones last two full years. A device that supposedly retails for over $300 without a discount should last at least two years if not longer. 

That’s just one of the reasons that, while everyone else continues to struggle to keep up with the latest handheld technology, I’m ready to bow out of the game and sever my dependency on cell service. 

My current smartphone is about 18 months old. It has no water or other damage. The battery works. The screen is intact. But there was an automatic upgrade that messed up its ability to charge properly. Then it stopped working altogether for no apparent reason. 

Upon examining my phone, the service rep at our local cell phone store suggested we switch to a new plan that would provide us with new phones annually. It’s a “leasing” plan, she explained. Upon reviewing the plan, I noted it would cost us more each month for the same services we receive under our current plan. She pointed out that if I convinced others to also join using the code they’d give us, we could lower our monthly rate. Basically, I’d have to sell cell phone service for my carrier to several more people just to break even. I was not interested in the “leasing” plan that seemed to work like a pyramid scheme.

She asked if we had an old phone at home that I could use. All of our old phones were purchased through a different carrier, so none of them—even if they were operational—could be activated through this carrier for use on our current account. Convenient for carriers. Costly for consumers.

If I had insurance, I could have my non-working phone replaced with a refurbished phone. I would only have to pay the $150 deductible. I did not purchase the insurance, because the cost of the monthly insurance premium plus the deductible would have been enough for me to buy a brand new model with the latest technology. But I could not afford either the insurance or the brand new model.

The cellphone industry appears to have everyone convinced its services and devices are a necessity. They have us believing it would be unsafe and impractical to live without smartphones and constant connectivity. 

But as I walked out of the store with my useless device, unable to afford to do anything about it if I wanted to continue to be able to pay our monthly bill, I realized I don’t need another phone. I don’t need to line the pockets of cell phone industry executives with gold while I struggle to balance our household budget. I don’t need to be accessible 24/7. I don’t need to access apps, read posts, play solitaire, or post updates and photos online from anywhere at anytime under any circumstance. 

When our contract is up, I so not plan to renew it. Rather, the plan is to cancel our service. By severing our dependency on cell phones, we will save over $250 per month for our family of five, plus another $600 every other year to upgrade, plus at least $200 each year for accessories. That’s $3,500 a year we can instead spend on our children’s educations. And when they graduate from college, we can use that money to upgrade the house, go on vacations, and spoil our future grandchildren. 

We’ll still have Internet access and a phone line at home. We will still be accessible via Facebook, email, and a landline. And that’s enough. It is a lot more than we had 35 years ago. We survived just fine back then. Actually, I think we might have been less stressed out and a little happier, too.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Monday, May 5, 2014

Blog Hop #MyWritingProcess

Michelle Karene | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Michelle Karéne, biomedical
engineer and aspiring
children's book author.
Each Monday, new blogs are posted as authors are tagged by their writing peers. Today, it's my turn to thank Michelle Karéne for sharing her writing process. She was tagged by Naomi Gruer. She then tagged Christy Lynn Allen and me. What a wonderful way to share each other's insights, talents, and projects. Thanks, Michelle, for reaching out to me so I could participate in this blog hopping adventure.

My Writing Process
As a columnist, blogger, and author, I'm thrilled to share my projects and process. My column is published weekly and is a calmer, more structured version of my blog. It averages about 825 words in length and the only picture that runs with it is my professional mug shot. I write about everyday life, often drizzling my snarky take on the world with anecdotes about Hubby, my boys, my mother, our pets, friends and neighbors, and anyone else who crosses my path and fails to say, "Please don't mention this in your column!" I'm confined by what editors deem appropriate for my subject matter, although I have only been told to re-write my column twice in 14 years. 

On my blog, I can write about anything and everything. It can be 200 words or 1200. I can add interesting and descriptive pictures. My honest, unfiltered opinions can be, and are, shared. Sometimes I post new material two or three times a week. Sometimes I go a week or so without posting. My blog is an extension of the style I use in my weekly column laced with the freedom of expression I crave as a writer.

My children's books are the realization of a dream I had as an undergraduate at NC State University many, many years ago. Thurston T. Turtle burst forth from my psyche in the late 80s. The first book was published in 2010. My blog also serves as a website for the books, which are published through Jan-Carol Publishing. I am currently working on the manuscript for the fourth book, which will feature Mr. Possum in the title rather than Mr. Turtle. 

Thurston T Turtle books | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
There are currently three books in the
Thurston T. Turtle series. 
Each Thurston T. Turtle book is an early reader chapter book. My goal is to keep the child engaged in the story while expanding his or her vocabulary. The books are meant to accommodate and promote child and adult together reading experiences. Environmental awareness and stewardship, neighborly hospitality, and enduring friendship are themes intertwined throughout each story. When I began writing children's books, my goal was to create high-quality, timeless, educational stories.

My children's books are a lifelong dream molded by my educational and professional background. My columns and blogs give me an outlet for sharing my take on the world around me. Money and fame were never a driving force for my passion. I write because it makes me feel good. I write because I love to paint the visions in my head with words and language. The blank page is my canvas. It calls to me every day. An apropos meme crossed my Facebook newsfeed this morning. The unattributed quote declared, "A real writer doesn't just want to write; A real writer has to write." Based on the quote, I must be a real writer. 

I typically have to write first thing in the morning. That's when the ideas sharply bounce inside my head and taunt me to make my way to the keyboard. Deadlines and goals have me writing whenever there is a need. Here is a basic overview of my writing process:

1) Before I get started, I have to make sure my typewriter sounds app is turned on. That way, when I type on my quiet, meek, non-intrusive laptop, it sounds like I'm typing on a circa 1962 manual typewriter. I don't know why this helps my creative process, but it does.
Writing Feet | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Pens, pencils, scraps of paper, coffee
mugs, and tired feet typically
adorn my writing space.

2) Free-writing helps me get everything down before I forget all the brilliant ideas that popped into my enthusiastic, inspired mind.

3) Throughout the process, I have to periodically check social media outlets like Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Doing so helps absorb the affliction with which I was born--writers' ADHD.

4) Upon reaching a specific word count (825 for my column or the full manuscript for a book) I begin the editing process. For book manuscripts, the initial editing process requires chocolate and red wine for breaks taken after editing chapters. The wine calms my nerves. The chocolate keeps the, "Wow, if anyone saw this crap they'd question my writing abilities!" thoughts from taking over.
Wine for Editing | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
A glass of red wine at my favorite
wine shoppe takes the edge off
the editing process; especially when
paired with dark chocolate.

5) After writing and editing, I have to walk away from the project and let my brain work on it subconsciously. Once my brain has had time to mull things over, additional ideas will pop into my head. I'm typically hanging out with friends, grocery shopping, or working out when these editorial revelations hit me. Therefore, I never leave home without a notepad and writing utensil. 

6) Upon finding my way back to my laptop, I incorporate the new ideas and revisions my brain so thoughtfully and generously brought to my attention while I was away from the project.

7) I always run spell and grammar checks. I don't always agree with my electronic reviewers, but I give them the chance to offer suggestions. Some I accept. Some I ignore after giggling at the limitations of modern technology.

8) Another editing trick I use is reading aloud. I catch more errors when I'm reading aloud than with any other editing process or tool. I like to save this editing method for times when I'm alone in the house. The plants and pets are much less critical than household family members.

9) Upon incorporating my final edits, I submit my work to the appropriate editor. This achievement also typically warrants red wine and chocolate, although in a celebratory capacity. 

10) Finally, I have to mention social media again. Yes, I do check it often. But I also post and interact often. In today's digitally driven world, writers must be engaged in online conversations. Writers must have a presence in cyberspace. That is, unless your work is completely personal and not for sale.

Blog Hop Looking Forward
Bobbie Friazier | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Bobbie Frazier, world traveler
and children's author.
Next week, Bobbie Frazier will be posting her #mywritingprocess blog. She lives in Troy, NC, just a hop, skip, and jump from me in Asheboro. She is the author of "Dalton Discovers the Ten Commandments." She is another lifelong writer who has penned columns, articles, newsletters, and more on her extraordinary journey. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare