My Book-less Semester Week 2: I’m Getting the Hang of This!

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I’m starting to finally find a rhythm to get into with the eBooks and doing my readings, thank goodness, making this week’s a short update (I’ve got readings to do, people!).

Most importantly: Still no screen headaches! I’m starting to think this is a myth. Or maybe my digital native status makes me immune? Who knows. Anyway, moving on…

First of all, I have to sing the praises of Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader, which allows me to have a tab constantly open while I’m at work with my current chapters to read through during my precious free time. I have the Kindle app downloaded on my laptop, but I can’t do that on my work computer, hence the Godsend that is the Cloud Reader.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Barnes & Noble and I love my Nook, but Amazon definitely knows how to deliver a user experience. While not as innovative as Nook Study (at least not that I have discovered yet), the Cloud Reader is definitely giving me some much-needed flexibility with what machines I’m reading on. I wish Barnes & Noble would do something like this. I know they have mobile apps and all that jazz, but as far as I researched, it all has to be downloaded. A browser tab is just so much more convenient when I can’t have my eReader!

This weekend, though, I had my first quizzes, and man was it tough to “click through” the pages of eBooks to look at my notes! Something I’ll have to adapt to, I suppose!

I’m also finding that having all my texts on a computer might be making me print out shorter readings (articles and such) for my current research project. It’s weird. I never used to do this – I’d usually always compile a GoogleDoc of links and citations, and download when I got back to my personal computer. Then I’d use Preview’s highlight and annotate features to mark them up.

However, as I said, I’m printing articles and highlighting them with an actual highlighter. So weird. I wonder though, if it has anything to do with the fact that it’s for my master’s research project, and not just class. The really good sources — ones I’m positive I’ll be using when writing my final report — are the ones I’m printing. Perhaps it’s one of those instinctual tendencies, an indicator that I still don’t 100% trust the Google machine to keep the articles I need under the same addresses for future review! It’s something I’ll have to keep tabs on in the next few weeks!

Want to learn more about my decision to buy 100% eBook textbooks for my second semester of graduate school? Click here.

Want to know how it was going for me last week? Click here.

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Going Paperless this Semester

Barnes & Noble nook (ebook reader device)

Barnes & Noble nook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Sunday! Hope it’s been relaxing for you all. I am preparing to go back to school and back to work tomorrow, and I’m pretty excited for a couple reasons. First, I am a huge dork and love school, and my job at the library is totally boss.

But secondly, I’m going paperless this semester and have purchased all my textbooks in eBook formats!

I can’t say this was a conscious decision from the start. As a grad student still in WAY over my head in debt from my undergrad, I’m always looking to get away on the cheap. And actually, the eBook versions of my textbooks were WAY cheaper than the physical printed books, something that’s not always the case with fiction titles. According to my math, I probably saved myself about $50 on the four books I needed this semester.

I also went with whoever had the version of the book cheaper – and I have to say that although I love my Nook and Barnes & Noble has a special place in my heart, Amazon’s Kindle book prices were better for three out of the four. So I’ll be learning to use the Kindle for Mac software too this semester!

I’m excited to see how this goes. I’ve never bought an e-textbook before. In the cases where I did purchase my books for class, I always had physical pages to write on, highlight, dog-ear, and in some cases, resell at the end of the class. But it makes sense. I’m studying instructional technology and integration of digital media in education, so eBooks for my textbooks make sense in a way.

I’ll keep you updated on how this goes. I’m nervous that the eBooks will be difficult for me to actually complete my readings. Whenever I work on the computer, I tend to also be surfing the internet, reading Twitter feeds, checking Facebook, etc. I also occasionally get headaches from staring at the screen too long if it’s too bright.

But hey, at least I’m saving a couple bucks and it’ll be a great experience to talk about in seminar! Anyone else ever gone totally print-book-less for school or work? Any tips or suggestions?

WHOA. Things have been happening…

Hello! I apologize for going off the map there for a while. I’ve taken some time to really focus on my career path, and things have been happening!

I am now working a job as a multimedia designer at my new college while also completing my master’s in instructional technology and design. I’m a substitute teacher, and, perhaps most excitingly…

I’M A FREELANCE WRITER. As in, getting PAID to WRITE.

This probably isn’t very exciting for the general public, but it’s a huge success for me. It’s definitely not the path I had imagined for myself when I was doing my undergrad at Penn State, but I’m so happy to be getting work published professionally, even if it is reporting. Everyone has to start somewhere!

I don’t hate being a reporter, but my true writing “passion” is creative. I’m hoping that freelancing can be a stepping stone into a full time job with my paper or at a magazine of some type. That’s not for a LONG time, however.

So, being a teacher, I’m going to make this a “teachable moment” for anyone stopping by to read this. KEEP trying and DO NOT give up! And do whatever you can to get your name out there to as many people as possible. I’ve already had at least three people ask me for my business card while on a freelancing assignment.

Lastly, to anyone still in college who’s facing a choice about what path to take… do as much as you can WITHOUT spreading yourself too thin. I majored in education, but I also worked at my college paper despite not being a communications major. I was also really interested in graphic design, so my electives were all in the vein.

I was really lucky to be able to pursue so many interests, and I am extremely lucky to still be able to do all the things I love now. It might not be the typical full time day-to-day job, but hey! Variety is the spice of life, right?
P.S. – I have now re-launched my website! Due to financial constraints, it’s not my own .com address, but I’m hoping to soon be able to do that. For now, you can find me (and my published works!) at katrinamwehr.weebly.com!

Use Your Experiences

This sounds pretty “white girl problems” -esque, but I turned in my apartment keys over the weekend and officially moved back home to eastern PA now that I’ve graduated from college. I thought, being a twenty-something girl who’s had her fair share of boyfriends, that I knew what heartbreak felt like. But I honestly feel like I broke up with my apartment and my heart is aching.

It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and I always get this weird mix of emotions that I absolutely cannot put words to. Never did I think I’d ever be at a loss for words to describe anything, let alone an emotion, but I am truly incapable of coming up with a word to accurately convey what I feel about the entire experience: graduating, leaving State College, and moving back home. “Nostalgia” comes close, “heartbreak” comes closer, and “depressed” is a term I usually reserve for people who are diagnosed with the noun form.

But now to tie this back into writing…

Despite how downright depressed I really do feel at times, this experience is great for getting my mind back into the creative writing mode. Each night I’ve tried to sit down to explore these emotions and try to figure out what words will describe and evoke the same feelings in readers, which is tough, considering I don’t have any established vocabulary that gets the job done the way I want it done. It’s forcing me to think long and hard and actually consider my word choices.

The point here is that when we have these tough experiences, even ones that don’t seem to be so tough in the long run, it’s important for us as writers to write about them. What better way to describe an emotion than to describe what it feels like when you’re actually feeling it at that very moment! It’s the very definition of writing what you know! And it doesn’t have to be just for sadness, but happiness, joy, excitement, relief… the list goes on. It’ll only make your writing better to readers.

With that, I’m off to try to find words for my feelings! Happy writing!