Classes I have Taken

Udemy Classes- Writing

Writing with Flair- How to Become an Exceptional Writer

Ninja Writing- The Four Level of Writing Mastery

Creative Writing- Start writing, keep writing

Writing Dynamic Dialogue 1- Basics

Art Journal Classes

These are not teaching classes but participation through prompts for art journal pages.

Determine to Shine- 30 Day Art Journal

Blogging Courses Online

Build your Blog Bootcamp from Ruth Soukup

Blogging Made Simple- along with videos by Ruth Soukup

What to Expect When Starting Hemodialysis In-Center

Hello, I am a new patient just arriving at the dialysis center for my first in-center dialysis treatment. I’m nervous.  The only time I have been here is for a tour and it was overwhelming. I had dialysis in the hospital, but it sure looks different in here. What do I do first?  Where do I sit?  What happens next?  What should I have with me?  Does someone need to stay with me?   

All these questions bubbled through my brain when I walked into a dialysis center twenty years ago to have my first treatment.  Did I say twenty years ago?  Yes, I did. I have been on hemodialysis in-center for twenty years.  I know how it feels to walk into a dialysis center full of anxiety, not knowing what to expect.  Now you just relax.  I will walk you through a day in the life of a dialysis patient treatment in center. You have already signed the mountain of paperwork the social worker brought you.  They will give you copies of everything you signed.

Did you bring a warm blanket, some headphones and something you like to do?  Did you bring a snack (if your center allows food)? If someone is staying with you through the treatment, they will need to wait until you are on the machine before coming into the treatment area.  They will need to wear a paper smock while they sit with you.

Great.  You are now ready for the Great Adventure called In-Center Hemodialysis.   

The technician will come get you when it is your turn for treatment.  They will show you where your chair is for this treatment.   Put your things on your chair.   The first day the technician will walk you through the next steps.  In the future you will do it.

  1. Walk over to the scale and find out how much you weigh.  It is usually done in kilograms, so do not be worried when it looks different than pounds.  Sometimes there is paper and pencils to use to write the weight down or keep it in your memory until you can tell your technician.  Today the technician wrote it down for you.   You both walk back to your chair.
  2. The technician will place a blood pressure cuff on your non-fistula/graft arm and take a blood pressure with you standing beside the chair.  This gives them a baseline reading.  They will also ask how you feel and if there have been any changes. 
  3. Take a little time before you sit down to make your chair comfortable.  Put your snack bag on the chair table opposite your fistula arm. If you brought a sheet to cover the chair, put it on the chair. Make sure your things are easily accessible with one arm.  Plug your headphones into the plug on the TV/ channel changer; Or ask where it goes. Shake your blanket out so it is ready to cover you.
  4. Take a seat in the chair that will be yours for the next three to six hours, depending on your treatment time.  A nurse will come over and do an evaluation with you because this is the first time you have been here.   Usually the technician in your area will be there to hear your answers, that way they get to know you, too; and find out  if you are new to dialysis, or if you are an experienced old hand at dialysis.  They will ask you if you have a chest catheter or a fistula/graft already being used.
  5. Most new patients have a chest catheter, so we will start with that assumption. Another blood pressure called a sitting blood pressure will be taken.  A nurse place you on the machine through the chest catheter.  This process does not hurt.  The only time it may hurt is when stitches are pulled on gently, or when she is cleaning your catheter site.  After you are undergoing treatment another blood pressure will be taken.  Dialysis should not hurt, so if it does tell someone.
  6. A word about blood pressure being taken. The dialysis center is required to take a blood pressure once every thirty minutes while you are undergoing treatment.  They cannot change that.  However, if your BP is acting high or low they will decrease the time between measurements. You can help make this decision with your nurse and technician.  Blood pressure is one way they can tell how you are doing throughout dialysis treatment. Do not take the cuff off because it is uncomfortable. The dialysis machine automatically takes the BP and if the cuff is not on your arm they will alarm.
  7. You have seen how this works in the hospital.  One line in pulls blood out of your body and sends it into the filter called a kidney. Do you see the long filter looking gadget attached to the machine?  That is called a kidney and it will do some of the work your kidneys are not doing today.  Not to worry, no more than a couple of tablespoons of blood are out of your body at any time during dialysis.  The other line they attach will return the cleaned blood to your system.
  8. If you have a fistula or graft ready to go, the only difference will be they will use needles in on the access in your arm. Clean your access arm after you get your weight. This will help prevent infections.  The needles may hurt going into your skin, but there is lidocaine available to help. Also, you can buy or get a lotion prescribed to put on thirty minutes before you come in to dialysis that helps deaden the feeling in the area where the needles go.  The two needles are attached to long thin hoses: one is for venous blood, the other is for arterial blood.  Your blood makes the trip to the filter and back to you in a one-way trip.
  9. Enjoy your treatment time.  Watch TV. Do the fun things you brought.  Have your snack.
  10. Very important:  If you start to feel funny or different, let your tech or nurse know immediately.  Since this is your first treatment at the center, they will be watching you carefully anyway.  You need to tell them if you feel weak, get a giant headache, or muscles start to cramp.  Dialysis is making some serious changes during treatment to your body.  You can have some serious complications. 
  11. Today your dialysis treatment went well, and you are ready to go home.  First the nurse will come to take you off of the machine.  She will disconnect both tubes carefully.  She will check to be sure the bandage she placed over the catheter site is all right.  She will tape it all down properly.
  12. A sitting blood pressure will be taken while you are still sitting in the chair. The another will be taken after you stand up.  You will be asked how you feel.  If you start to feel dizzy, sit down immediately and report how you feel.
  13. A trip back to the scale for your weight after dialysis.  You will notice you have lost a few kilos in fluid. Give your new weight to your nurse or technician.
  14. Clean up your chair area of all your things. Unplug your headphones.  Unplug any devices you had plugged in.  Remember your cords and personal things.  Have good manners and throw your personal trash out.  Try not to leave a mess for the technicians to clean up around or on your chair.
  15. It is time to leave.  Have a good day off dialysis and we will see you for your next treatment on your MWF or TTHS schedule. 

So, in review, you came into the center, found your chair, took your weight, had a nurse or technician put you onto a dialysis machine for your prescribed hours of treatment.  The most exciting time was when you were put on the machine and then when you were taken off it. Fairly boring for the rest of it as you slept, watched TV, ate your snack, or did things you brought with you.  You probably feel tired.  Go home, eat something, and get some rest.

Remember you dialyze to LIVE, not live to dialyze!  Do something fun between now and your next dialysis treatment.  We will see you back at the dialysis center according to your schedule, either MWF or TTHS.

 Watch your fluid intake…. but that is another topic.

My Reference Books About Writing (so far)

This is my way of tracking what I have and what I need to read or use.

diy/MFA by Gabriela Pereira

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White

The Elements if Style Workbook by Tip Top Education

Now Write Series- Fiction, Science Fiction, Nonfiction Writing prompt books-Edited by Sherry Ellis

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist

On my Kindle:

If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland

The Dictionary of Fiction Critique by Kate Jonuska

Write and Publish your First Book by Lorna F. Kopp

How I Realized I Needed to Know How to Write and What I Did About It

I was trying to write an article for a blog piece for another site, I got stuck. For goodness sake it was my own life I was writing about. How could I get stuck? I kept writing and finally found a style I could write it into. I will post a link when it goes live.

I have had story I have been trying to write for a few years. It wrote flat and I could not get the characters to come alive. I found a set of character development sheets and decided to work on something else using that. Those stories turned out so much better. I was slowly figuring things out . I was always told I was a good writer because I had a good imagination and followed the grammatically correct formats used in writing. It was better, but I wanted more.

I was online and ran across this site https://diymfa.com/

Her books says you can do your own Masters in Fine Arts at home through three things Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your community. I bought the book and joined her community on Facebook Word Nerds Unite . There will be community hub coming soon for her website members.

So far I have read her book to Chapter 19 and taken notes throughout. I am using a lot the information in it as I write and read now. The community is a great group of people.

I also have lists of other writing places to go when I am done studying this book.

I have taken three writing classes through thttps://www.udemy.com/ . I am on my fourth. I have taken Ninja Writing;Writing with Flair; Creative Writing, Get Writing, Keep Writing; Writing Dynamic Dialogue Course 1. You have to pay for these courses and there are sales all the time. I am cheap and will not pay over ten bucks for a course.

My next books I am going to tackle about writing is The Elements of Style and The Elements of Style Workbook.

I am also in another writing community on Facebook Writers helping writers. I am slowly building my community.

I also write two biographies on my own invented characters in Valdemar from Mercedes Lackey books. I have fulfilled enough qualifications to be in the role play group and be Teacher-Herald Kit Katz in Queen’s Own. I have been declared so in their newsletter as Herald, next month I will be Teacher- Herald. I even drew three pictures for it.

I am also writing everyday. Either on a WIP, or from a prompt. I am trying to post some of the swill I write here, so you can read what my devious mind creates. Watch my writing get better through my learning process.

My Writing (an update)

You will all be proud to know I have read to Chapter 19 in the diy/MFA book on writing and have even taken notes. I find the information is sticking to my brain when I am writing and reading things. I even have my next book of study ready to go. I bought a book to read that goes with the WIP (Work in Progress). I even looked up old and new Wall Street maps to use as references.

I had an idea in the shower for a story and world and it will not let go of me so it is slowly being evolved. I will be drawing a map for this world as I create it more and more. I fell into RPG map making videos by accident one day so now I know how to draw maps. I did one of an island. Not bad for a first map.

I also discovered a few places for names of Fantasy characters. Very helpful.

https://donjon.bin.sh/ has a lot of things to look at when when developing a world.

https://azgaar.github.io/Fantasy-Map-Generator/ a link to map generator that has great coastlines.

https://inkarnate.com/  a great world builder tool

This guy from WASD20 has lots of Youtube videos teaching how to draw RPG maps and he makes it easy. I had no idea!

The internet is a great resource for writers but real books need to be used too.

Happy writing and reading!

Writing Prompt- Soccer Mom

Soccer Mom

Meets someone from her past

Lucky charm

Dear Moose,

     I can’t believe we ran into each other the other day.  My kids wondered who you were.  I told them you were an old friend.  They wondered why I did not invite you to stay for lunch.  I invite everybody to lunch. I always pack too much food in the picnics.  I wondered why I didn’t, too.  For a minute, then I remembered our past together.

     You know you were my first crush, my first love, my first anything.  The first time I laid eyes on you I was love struck.  But then I am sure you know this from all the love notes I gave you over our time together.  I stuck them in your locker, had friends hand them to you and once even put one on your car windshield.  I often wondered if you kept any of them. But then, you being a guy, probably not.  I’ve kept my memories of you. 

     Funny how our lives have changed.  I am a stay at home mom now with three kids, a husband who loves me, and a house that I love.    I like my life, but often wonder what if…

What if we had gone off together as my notes suggested? Would you now be my husband?  Would we still be together or broken hearted like the divorcees on TV?  Would we have had children? Would they look like you or me?

My kids are a combination of my husband and me.  To look at us together you would see the family resemblance.  My daughter looks more like him; my son more like me.  My son was the one playing soccer in the field closest to us.  My daughter was out further practicing with her team.  I wish they could have met you.  But then I would have had to tell them our tragic love story.

I miss those high school days sometimes.  We were so full of life.  We stood on the precipice of the unknown and ready to throw ourselves in to the abyss of the unknown. 

I wish we had tried harder.  We could have been good together.  We could have had that everlasting love.  If we both had worked at it.  I am not saying you did not, but you could have done things differently.  As our relationship went along you could have let me know you cared.   I was so in love with you.

What happened?  You never wrote me back.  All those love letters torn up and put into the garbage.  I heard you and your friends laughing over the hearts and poetry I sent you.  I saw you tear them up one by one.  Do you now the effort that went into each one?  The love?  My soul?  You made fun of my love.  

Well, Dear Moose, you will find that you are feeling a little funny.  Strange the things you can get from an alchemist.  The horseshoe charm is covered with the poison ink this letter was written in. I am sure it has been sitting in your hand while you read this letter. I suggest getting rid of it and burn this letter as soon as you finish it, so your dear wife does not encounter it, or your two lovely girls. 

Love does funny things to people.                                            

Love,  Lydia

Written by, Katherine Soto February 2019

Writing Prompt- Tattoo Artist

Tattoo artist

Ignores all the signs

Hair

“Dude look at my tattoo!” my client said. “What the hell happened?”

“ Man, calm down.  We can look at it and see  what happened.” Jose answered.   Bizarre things were happening today.

Jose led his client down the hallway of rooms to his client room.

“I took the bandage off this morning, took one look and put the bandage back on.  I got here sa soon as I could.”

“Okay, let’s see what we have got.”  He gently pulled on the bandage off the skin.  There was his tattoo art.  “Ummm, what’s wrong with it?”

The client yelled: “What do you mean, what’s wrong?  Do you not see the hair all in the tattoo?”

“Uh huh.  I see it” Jose answered.  “When you got the tattoo, did I not tell you there might be unusual healing?  After all the lion tattoo is a special tattoo only I do.”

“But the hair!” he exclaimed.  “In the tattoo….I don’t think it should be there!”

Jose put a clean bandage back over the tattoo.  “Like I told you already, this tattoo is a new technique.  Relax and let it heal.  Keep the bandage on for three more days, then come see me again.”  Jose led his customer up front to the cashier area and ushered him out.

“No charge today” Jose told him. 

“Better not be.” aas muttered and the client left the shop.

Jose and the cashier’s eyes met. Jose shook his head.

“My special technique seems to be surprising people.”  Jose said.  The cashier shrugged.

Jose headed down the hallway to the living area.  He debated between beer, cola or water as he opened the fridge.  HE took a cola, popped the top, and found a seat in the room.  Bossman walked in.

“Hey Jose.  I heard your client today.  Did you keep him happy?”

Yeah, I think so. Rebandaged and reminded him it was healing.”

“Great, I would hate for your special technique to bomb.”

“Yeah, me too.”  Cola finished, Jose went back to his office next to the client room. 

He sat thinking about the three tattoos he had done with his new technique.  The first one healed up and looked good.   The second time, there were a few glitched, but he managed to get it right for the client.  This third one, he did not know what was going to happen.

The hair had not been as thick in the first tow he had do0ne.  This third one looked like a real lion with a mane.  He looked over at the new ink and machine he had bought cheaply in Tijuana.   He call and have a chat with the old woman who had sold him the equipment.  She had said something to him about the equipment, but he did not listen.

He found the card that came with the equipment.  He dialed the number.

“Hello, Tijuana Mane. Can I help you?” said a voice with no Spanish accent.  Jose thought this was strange.

“Hello, may I speak to Marie?”

“May I ask who is calling?”

“Tell her I bought some tattoo equipment from her last month.”

“Okay, hang on”

Jose heard the girl yell for Marie.  She told her what he wanted.  Marie came on the phone.

“Oh, I am so glad you called, that equipment I sold you was the wrong equipment.  Tell me you have not used it yet.”

“Only three times.  Why?” Jose was puzzled.

“I will bring you new equipment, better equipment today.  Whatever you do, do not use the stuff you bought from me.”

“Okay, okay.” Jose said reacting to the panic he heard in Marie’s voice. “What time you think you will be here?”

“About three.  Again, put the stuff away and do not use it again. Lock it up if you have to, but do not use it.”

Jose hung up the phone.  It was two hours until three.  He took the equipment down off the shelves.  He managed to find all the ink he had bought from her.  He noticed skulls on the jars that he had not seen before.  He was getting worried as he gathered everything together.  He liked this tattoo machine.  It fit his hand perfectly.  Even the ink was smooth, gliding out of it perfectly.  Jose placed the equipment and ink into a box and closed the lid.  It was hard to walk away from it.

He went up to the front of the store at a quarter to three to wait on Marie.  When Marie finally walked in a half hour late, Jose was shocked.  She was not the lady he had bought the equipment from in Tijuana.  She was carrying a box and was grateful when he took it.

“As promised, new equipment for the old equipment.  Can I have it back please?”  Marie said.

“Sure, let me go get it.” Jose answered.  He walked to his office and retrieved the box.  Marie looked relieved to have it.  She checked the contents very carefully. 

“Good it is all here.  Thanks.”  She turned to go.

“Hey. Don’t I get an explanation?” Jose queried.

“Let me put this in the car where it will be safe.  I will comeback and tell you a story.”

Marie walked out the door to the parking lot. She opened the trunk of a white car, put the box in. and slammed the trunk lid own.  She walked back over to where Jose stood watching her.

“Got a drink?” She asked.

“Oh sure. Beer, cola, or water?” he asked.

“Beer.”

They both had cold beers in hand when they sat in Jose’s office.

“Tell me the story you promised.”

“Okay, okay.” Marie said.” Let me get a drink and my thoughts straight.”  She stared off into space as she drank a few gulps of beer.  She finally looked at Jose.

“That equipment belonged to my grandfather.  It was never meant to be sold.  My mother has tried several times to get rid of it, but it belongs to our family now.  I have had to track it down each time.  This is the last time, I am going to lock it up and bury it tonight.”

“But it is great equipment. It works great and..”

Marie interrupted him. “Have you noticed anything weird about the tattoos you did int hat ink with the equipment?”

“Well, yes.  I have had the three customers heal differently than normal.” 

“Lucky you only did three.  My grandfather did ten tattoos with it.  By the fifth tattoo things got weird. At first we thought it was the new technique he was doing, but it was the equipment combined with the strange ink.  The tattoos healed funny at first, then there was hair inside the tattoo as it healed, then the tattoos started to move.”

Jose laughed uneasily. “Tattoos do not move.”

“These did.  They would move up and down arms and legs restlessly.  We could do nothing for the clients.  It drove a few of them to suicide.  One went to get laser surgery and died from it.  Grandfather decided that the equipment was cursed and put it away.  But he could not stop using it.  I found it in his office one day and asked him what he was doing with it.  He told me he could not help it, he had to tattoo with it.  He showed me the little tattoos that were moving all over his skin.  He had tattooed himself, rather than use his clients.  He was a great tattoo artist for years before the equipment came.  Afterward he withered away into his tattoos.

Jose listened to the story with disbelief.  “Marie that sounds crazy.  But, I have seen my three client tattoos do exactly what you described.  They healed strangely.  The third one had hair growing in it.”

“I told you.” Marie said. “It’s the equipment.”  She rose off the chair she had been sitting on.  “Do not buy strange old tattoo equipment.  Most of it carries a curse.” 

Jose watched Marie leave the store, get into the big white car in the parking lot, and drive off

.Written by Katherine Soto February 2019

Response a writing prompt- Frying Pan

This is stuff I am from prompts as writing practice. Tell me what you think.

Character: Someone with nothing to lose

Situation: Professes a secret love

Prop: Frying pan

FRYING PAN

“Babe, listen to me.  I told you nothing else mattered to me but you.” Denny.

Denny’s proposal to Meredith had landed like a ton of bricks. 

“But you can’t just up and move to Atlanta with me just because….What about your job, and your family, and everything!” she said to Denny, not believing what she had heard.  The proposal came out of the blue. Meredith stood stunned.

“But I love you, Meredith. We should be together.  We are good together.” Denny responded.

It won’t work, Denny, you can’t give up everything and just be with me!  Are you crazy?” Meredith asked Denny stunned.

“I can do it.  I can move to be with you.  I can come with you anywhere.  It doesn’t matter where, Meredith.  I just need to be with you.”

“But, Denny, how can it…I don’t understand…You can’t be that in love with me.”

“But I can,” Denny answered. HE was getting a little steamed over her panic-stricken look and her talk of impossibilities.  “We can make it work.  Just say yes.  I can make it work.”

Meredith stood there watching Denny change from being full of joy from his proposal to bewildered to anger.

“Denny don’t be mad at me.  You surprised me so much.  We’ve not been together that long.  I do not even know how I feel about us as a couple yet.”

Denny snarled: “You’ve been leading me on all this time.”

“Denny I think you should leave.  Let’s think it over for a few days.” Meredith said, slowly moving towards her kitchen door that faced into the courtyard.  Denny edged backwards step by step to the door.  Meredith said: “Call me in a few days.”

Denny turned towards the door, opened it,  walked way a few steps, then turned to face Meredith  “You’ll see Meredith.  You can’t be a bitch to me all the time.” 

Meredith reached up for her large frying pan hanging over the stove. 

“Denny, I can be a bitch any time I want.”

She hurled the frying pan straight at Denny’s head.

Written by Katherine Soto February 2019