Where I Am Now

It was November 2015 the last time I posted on this blog. Probably because I'm the worst but actually because I got a full time job and moved and had a lot of life changes (in a really good way.) Here's a quick run down of what I've done:

I graduated. I have an MA. It's pretty cool stuff. I highly recommend getting an education.

I got permission to stay in the UK for another 2.5 years. Woohoo! It cost a shit load of money and was the most stressful day of my life but I'm here with my boyfriend and that's what matters in the end.

In publishing news, I work in publishing managing permissions for several big publishers and working with my company to build an online permissions tool. It's a pretty good gig.

I won a prize for my website at London Book Fair and got drunk on the free wine. It was awesome.

I moved to London. It's busy and crowded and chaotic. It gives me hay fever. It is frustrating (it took me three hours to get to work one morning...) But it's home. I love it.

My house. 
I bought my first brand new couch--which I am sitting on currently and lovin' it.

Me in my new flat before we bought our couch. So spacious.
I bought a lot of plants--seriously.

I crocheted some new things.

I've probably gained five pounds (that I'm trying to decide if I care about or not).

I've made a shit load of new friends.

I went back to America for a week and a half. (It was weird.)

And I'm happier.

So that sums it up.


Photos from the Oxford Brookes Wellbeing Poetry Contest Prizegiving

I mentioned in my last post that I won second and third place in the Oxford Brookes Wellbeing Poetry contest and then completely forgot to follow up with some photos.

The reading was fantastic. I was in really good poetic company that night and the small audience was very receptive to all of us. I had a great time reading in front of people for the first time in a few years and my legs only shook a teeny-tiny bit.

Here's what the judges had to say about my poems, which you can read here:

Amy Ellis achieved the remarkable feat of being placed both third and second, and with poems which are radically different from one another in subject matter and tone. Her third-placed poem, ‘The Secret Keeper’ was an intense, shocking piece which the judges admired for its uncompromising approach but also for its craft - the deft use of rhyme and half-rhyme to insinuate and then stun the reader with the full force of the violence being described. The poem is constructed with considerable skill, the beginnings and ends of lines designed to complement the vivid and dynamic imagery.

Amy’s second-placed poem, ‘Stirring’, by contrast, depicts the warmth of a relationship between - what seems to be - a grandmother and granddaughter. It reflects with great tenderness upon a private moment as the speaker looks into the kitchen to see an elderly woman carrying out the everyday action of cooking. She does so selflessly, almost defiantly, making something to please the granddaughter, but in that unguarded moment, revealing her own fragility and age, offering the reader a tension between the grandmother’s repetitive action, and the knowledge of her mortality.

And as promised, a few photos of me in a probably too-short dress reading my poems:

Upcoming Poetry Reading in Oxford, UK

As always, I'm a bit last minute but I thought I'd post an invite on the blog. If you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter, two of my poems placed in the Oxford Brookes University Wellbeing Poetry Contest which was announced on National Poetry Day. This week is the prizegiving and reading which means I will be reading my winning poems at Oxford Brookes University this Tuesday at 7pm in the Enquiry Centre of the John Henry Brookes building. Everyone is welcome to attend.

All of the winners of the poetry competition will be reading their winning entries and there will also be a reading by Dan Holloway, a local poet, novelist, and publisher.

If you're in the Oxford area, stop by and see me and my peers reading some awesome poetry.

Click here for more information and to read the winning entries. 

What I've Learned This Summer

My major project is winding down. I'm a few days from being able to turn it in and I'm currently waiting for my ProWritingAid program to give me a good consistency check on my report to help me catch American spellings I wouldn't see on my own. It's been a long, uphill battle working to build a website with meaningful and helpful content while keeping in mind the whole time that it's not just a website, it's my grade, my future, my degree. No pressure.

I've spent the whole summer writing content, crying when things went wrong, jumping up and down when they finally went right, and learning that when someone asks how my project is going, they probably won't understand what I mean when I tell them the next few steps to making a part of the website happen. It has been a process. I've been in well over my head and on top of the world all at the same time. So, I've compiled a list of things I learned this summer while developing The Self-Publishing Toolbox

Here we go:

1. I learned to set up a local server. Didn't know those things existed before May. Now I can set one up in my sleep (as long as the sleep has Google for when things go [inevitably] wrong!)

2. If you've got a tech problem, someone else in the world has had that problem before too. Google it. I know a lot of people who could learn from this point. Seriously, it was VERY  rare that I asked for an outside opinion on this project because I had Google to answer all of my dumb questions for me. 

3. Sublime Text is the only text editor. Color coding my code saved my life this summer. Praise Sublime Text. 

4. SEO is a lot harder than I thought it was. It's really hard. I'm still working on it. (No, this is NOT an invitation for SEO spammers and "experts" to spam me. I will block you. You are annoying.)

5. People will follow/unfollow you on Twitter CONSTANTLY if they think you're important. That makes me so glad I didn't follow you in the first place, bro. Also, people will Tweet you book promos if they think you're important. I am a person you have never met with a website that does not promote books. Not a good marketing strategy. 

6. Free WordPress themes can be very mediocre. It took me AGES to find one I liked. I should've budgeted for a premium theme. Next time, that's probably what I'll do. 

7. Because free WordPress themes are mediocre, I had to learn way more HTML, CSS, and PHP than I thought I'd ever learn. It's like I can (kinda) read a new language now. I have a basic understanding. I will not be making my own WordPress theme any time soon but I can sure as hell edit mine with a certain level of competence. 

8. Making a website work on a flash drive is very silly but can be done. I have done it. I am also ridiculously good at moving websites from server to server at this point. Need a website moved? I can do that for you.

9. There are more tools for self-publishers than I can actually wrap my little head around. Seriously. I've spent countless hours adding tools to SPT and there are still hundreds, if not thousands, missing from the site. Whew. I've got my work cut out for me.

Anyway, I should stop procrastinating and finish this thing. Here's to the last few days of being a student! Please send chocolate and wine; I'm very tired. 

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