GREETINGS TORCH BLAZERS

Sandra Renee Hicks, is President of Solid Journey, as well as a writer and moderator on FaithWriters.com. Writer's Digest magazine voted FaithWriters one of the "101 Top Websites" in 2006.

This blog was created for your reading enjoyment, edification, and to provide exposure to the skills of writer, editor, and consultant Sandra Renee Hicks. Solid Journey was established to provide services for those who desire steadfast excellence from a place of integrity and professional reputation. This blog will present, free of charge, short stories, essays, poetry, and other written work produced by Sandra.

Please visit this blog periodically to observe the talents and skills that are on display here. Sandra is deeply appreciative of all that GOD has invested to advance His agenda.

One aim here is to encourage you to hire Sandra. Please consider using the services of Solid Journey. It is licensed in Washington, D.C. - License number 70101848. For additional information, the website is http://www.solidjourney.webs.com/

If you are not inclined to use the services of Solid Journey, please know that your visit here is appreciated.

How about it torch blazers - shall we glow together?!

Thank you for your consideration.

You are invited to comment on this blog for the purpose of making positive contributions for those who blaze here.

Copyright 2012 on this blog applies to Sandra's written content as well as the pictures, which were photographed by Sandra.

NOTE: PLEASE VISIT MY RETAIL PHOTO BLOG, PHOTO FLOURISH, at http://www.photoflourish.blogspot.com/.

NOTE: TO VIEW OLDER POSTS HERE, CLICK ON "Older Posts" AT THE END OF CURRENT PAGE CONTENT.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

AWARD PRESENTATION

Mayor of Washington, D.C., Anthony Williams, presented Sandra with a "Customer Service Excellence Award."


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TESTIMONIALS ABOUT THE WORK PERFORMANCE OF SANDRA RENEE HICKS

"I was astounded by her writing skills.  I don't recall meeting anyone who is as diligent and faithful to her word and work as Sandra.  She is truly a woman of great integrity." - Angela Rogers Ray, Publisher  

“Ms. Sandra Hicks is a gifted writer-- her writing is interesting, informative, and unique.  I find her work to be humorous, enjoyable and entertaining.” – P. Quarles, School Teacher

“Ms. Hicks has a clear and direct writing style.  Her words are spare and not elaborate, getting across her meanings and always keeping her readers on balance.  Hers is a professional kind of communication where the goal is always clarity, brevity, immediacy and succinctness,…  Her sentences, in these respects, are always grammatically correct.

"As an editor, she is also skilled.  She understands the intents and meanings of "other" writers, which is what an editor should always understand to make suggestions and improvements.” – M. Cromwell, College Instructor and PhD candidate

“You have an amazing talent for writing.” – L. Stepp, Registered Nurse

“Sandra writes with such clarity and integrity.  She's a trailblazer who has always been responsible, reliable and relentless when it comes to getting a job done.” - K. Freeman, Contract Specialist

"Thank you very much for the editing service you provided for me on my manuscript, Celebrating Men.  As I expected, you were professional, thorough, responsive to deadlines and offered great customer service overall.  The manuscript summary you prepared was exceptionally well done and very helpful." - B. Niles, Author

“Your professionalism and support reflect your dedication to excellence.  I’ve always enjoyed your ability to mold words into a vision that reflects deeper meanings.  You’ve assisted me in accomplishing something I’ve always wanted to do – write.” – Arthuretta Martin, Business Owner, Author, Consultant

Note:  More in depth testimonial information is found in the "Guest book" section on the Solid Journey website http://www.solidjourney.webs.com/.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TWO OF SANDRA'S BOOK REVIEWS THAT APPEAR ON AMAZON.COM



Sandra's review of Call to Assignment, authored by Kingsley Y. Amoah

A Slam Dunk Jewel

It is without hesitation that I highly recommend Call to Assignment: Engaging the Keys to a Fulfilled Life. This is the first book for the author Kingsley Y. Amoah. His debut published work is exceptional, in particular, because it is his first.

Call to Assignment delightfully engaged me, helpfully taught me, beneficially challenged me, certainly encouraged me, and definitely inspired me. The book is full of profound truth. It so engaged me that I read it with earnest anticipation of what would be expressed on subsequent pages. It contains numerous nuggets of wisdom and knowledge. It is my plan to read it again for a slow digest.

Amoah’s words can, no doubt, lead to changed lives for those who are so inclined.

My vote is for Mr. Amoah to write and publish more to pour additional flavorful essential content into hungry and thirsty hearts.

Sandra Renee Hicks - Copyright 2010

This book is available from Amazon.com. 

This review was published on www.amazon.com on September 13, 2010.

REVIEW #2 APPEARS AFTER THE PHOTO BELOW.



Sandra's review of Celebrating Men, authored by Beverly Niles

A Sure Journey to Benefit

I was given the blessed opportunity to preview Celebrating Men prior to publication.  Ms. Niles informs, from her place of personal experience, why she celebrates men.  She expresses with candor how she learned about the character of the men who had roles in her life.  Ms. Niles shares how what she experienced helped to mold her own character.  She credits men as well as questions them about their manly roles.  She helped me to understand more about the hearts of men – for that I am grateful.

Sandra Renee Hicks - Copyright 2010

Note: I did the editing of Celebrating Men.

This book is available from Amazon.com.

This review was published on http://www.amazon.com/ on November 23, 2010. 

WRITING SAMPLE - SHORT STORY TITLED, "AT THE MALL"


     Warren Langley is about to punch out from his job as supervisor at Junction Bus Operations. He has been employed at Junction for sixteen years. A major goal for Warren is to own an event planning business where his family can be involved. His parents, Robert and Elaine, now divorced, are retired entrepreneurs who operated a catering business. Robert presently works part time as a consultant to the food industry. Warren’s wife, Belinda, is a recruiter in the government. For years, Warren has been striving to recruit her to share his dream of business ownership. 
     Belinda has a Master’s degree in economics though nothing in her attitude about personal finances is indicative that she has mastered anything profitable relative to currency. Warren had to cease to participate in any form of joint banking with his wife. Warren’s accounts are flush compared to Belinda’s. Her most earnest endeavor is to be at the malls.
     Warren begins to daydream about their early days of marriage, twenty-one years ago. For awhile, they both worked odd jobs in retail. Eventually, they landed secure well paying jobs, Belinda in government and Warren in the private sector. They had two children, first Jackson, now nineteen and then Kim who is fourteen but believes that she’s twenty-one.
     Warren remembers the days when he could be assured of regular and satisfying intimate connections, steady home cooked meals, a tidy house, and respect galore from his lovely wife. He’s not sure when Belinda changed. It didn’t occur all at once. There was a gradual shifting of her priorities. A lot can be attributed to her job. She’s very good in her position as chief recruiter. Frequent travel is necessary. Unfortunately, Belinda loves her occupation and shopping more than she loves her family. On numerous occasions, Warren has asked Belinda to quit her job to help him form an event planning business. She’s not at all interested.
     It’s Friday, time to unwind with his honey after a hard week’s labor. Warren phones Belinda to invite her to dinner. He dials her cell phone (she often has it off because she doesn’t like to be disturbed when she’s at the mall, which is often.) Surprise, surprise, she answers.
     “Hi babe, how about we meet at Fleming’s for dinner in about an hour?” Warren asks.
     “O honey, I’m on my way to the mall.”
     In exasperation, Warren states, “You stay at the mall, Belinda.” 
     “No, I don’t. I’m there a lot but I don’t stay there.”
     “You know what I mean,” snaps Warren. 
     Belinda demurs, “I won’t be long. TGI Friday’s is near the mall. I’ll pick us up dinner on my way home.”
     Angrily, Warren responds, “I’ll pass.” He hangs up the phone.         
     “Hello, Hello?” After the realization that Warren hung up on her, Belinda thinks, What is the deal with Warren these days? She turns off her cell phone and heads to the mall.
     Warren calls Tony, his friend from childhood. “Man, I invited Belinda for dinner tonight. She declined because guess where she’s going?”
     “To the mall,” responds Tony.
     “You got it,” bemoans Warren. 
     Tony senses Warren’s pain and anger. “Look, man, I can’t be Belinda but I can be your dinner companion tonight. What do you say, buddy? Let’s do it.”
     Warren laughs, “You’re right, you can’t be Belinda but she’s not going because she’s, they say in unison, at the mall.” 
     The friends agree to meet at Fleming’s.
     Linda, Belinda’s friend and fellow mall cohort, is already at the mall when Belinda arrives. They shop, and shop, and shop. At least once a week, they are at one mall or another. If malls issued frequent shopper miles, their revenue would be off the chart. The partners aren’t done. Unfortunately, the mall is closing. They’re exhausted. It’s time to head home.
     Belinda comes in the door laden with bags. 
     Jackson and Kim look at each other and roll their eyes at their mother’s love affair with the mall.
     “Hi,” says Belinda. 
     “Hi mom,” the kids sullenly respond.
     Kim tells her mother, “Dad called. He said that he was going to dinner with Mr. Tony and that you were at the mall and would bring home dinner from TGI Friday’s.”
     Belinda’s eyes widen. “Oops, I forgot. I apologize.”
     Sadly, Kim responds, “You forget us a lot, mom.”
     Belinda looks but doesn’t respond to Kim’s statement. “Let’s order pizza,” she says. 
     Jackson eagerly says, “Why not cook? We rarely get home cooked meals anymore.”
     “Yea, mom, why not cook,” encourages Kim. “I’ll help.”

     Belinda shakes her head. “No, I’m not cooking. I don’t feel like it, kids.”
     Jackson sarcastically replies, “You feel like going to that job that Dad asked you to quit. You feel like traveling often away from us, and most of all, you feel like being at the malls! But you don’t feel like cooking for your family?!”
     “Watch your tone, young man,” Belinda warns.
     Frustrated, Jackson stares at his mother. He mumbles, “I wish we had a real mother.” 
     Sharply, Belinda asks, “What did you say, Jackson?”
     Jackson turns his back and walks down the stairs to the basement.
      Belinda stomps after him, but before she gets to the first stair, her daughter causes her to reconsider.
     Kim looks long and disapprovingly at her mother. She shakes her head, and says nothing as she goes to join her brother in the basement. 
     Belinda opens her mouth to speak, but after Kim's silent message, she reconsiders and decides not to further address her children about the issue.  
     Belinda laments and thinks, I don’t understand why Jackson and Kim don’t realize how fortunate they are. She dismisses the matter from her thoughts, prepares a microwave meal, and proceeds to the den to shop online.
     Warren comes home and finds Belinda shopping on the Internet. He fumes. “Belinda, something has got to give. This addictive shopping cannot continue. I have plans and family goals to advance us. That can’t happen with your irresponsible financial conduct, and the failures in your roles as wife and mother. For years, we’ve tolerated your decline. What happened to you, Belinda?” 
     Belinda whirls around. She trembles in anger, and shouts, “Who are you calling a failure? How dare you insult and disrespect me like that. What do you mean what happened to me?” 
     “I love you, Belinda. That doesn’t mean that I’ll not call a spade a spade. We have a severe intimate disconnection, you travel too often away from us, you rarely cook, and you cease to keep a tidy house. Add to that that you have an addiction to shopping at malls, and beyond, as evidenced by you sitting here now on the Internet shopping online after shopping earlier this evening at the mall! You have a Master’s degree in economics, Belinda. I can’t tell! Your finances are in shambles yet you continue to be a poor steward of so much that is essential to an orderly life. Those define failures to me. In sum, Belinda, you’re consumed by selfishness. You can nickname it what you want; I call it what it is.”
     Belinda doesn’t want to own the truth spoken by her husband. She gives him a defiant look and strides out of the room. 
     Warren doesn’t attempt to stop her. He’s tired. He’s not sure what to do about the dismal condition of his family. 
     Jackson, a college athlete, has a baseball game today. He had asked Kim, and his parents to attend. 
     Belinda informed that she would be out of town for business. 
     Warren, Kim, and Warren’s father, Robert, attend the game to cheer Jackson on. 
     The game is exciting with memorable highlights. 
     Jackson is impressive; his talent for the game is obvious. 
     About an hour after the game begins, Warren comments to his family, “Clouds are forming; it looks like a storm’s approaching.” 
     They all agree. 
     Lightning strikes accompanied by booming thunderous sounds.

     People begin to scatter for cover. 
     The players seek refuge. 
     A loud thunder clap erupts with lightning that strikes a target. 

     The target is Jackson; he's motionless on the ground.  
     His family rushes to the field. 
     The ambulance comes and delivers him to Harmony Hospital.     

     Warren phones Belinda. 
     Her phone is off. She’s on business travel, and is, where else? At the mall. After hours of shopping, a twinge of guilt hits her. She decides to phone to ask how Jackson is doing at the game. She observes that she has a voice mail message. In horror, Belinda listens as her husband informs that Jackson was struck by lightning and is now in the ICU. 
     Belinda cries out, “O God, please don’t let my baby die!” I’ll do whatever You tell me just don’t let my baby die!” She breaks down in gut wrenching sobs. 
     Passersby stare at her but only one, Emily, stops to help.

     Belinda tells her about Jackson in the ICU.
     Emily offers to pray for Jackson.  
     Belinda accepts. 
     They walk together to Belinda’s rental car where Emily prays a fervent prayer. Then, Emily, in encouragement, squeezes Belinda’s hand, and departs. 
     Belinda rushes to pack to catch the next flight home.

     The flight seems endless. 
     At Harmony Hospital, the family anxiously waits for word on Jackson. 
     Dr. Mitchell comes out and informs that it’s touch and go. He says, “Jackson is young. That’s in his favor. You can go in now to see him two at a time.” 
     Warren and Robert go in the room first.

     Jackson is unconscious and they don’t know if he knows that they’re there. 
     Next Kim goes to his bedside. 
     Jackson remains unresponsive. 
     Hours go by. 
     Other family members join those already there. They rotate going in to Jackson. 
     Jackson doesn’t stir at all. 
     Near midnight, a despondent Belinda runs in and locates her family. 
     They tell her that, since his arrival, Jackson hasn’t responded to anyone’s presence. 
     Belinda, with her husband, enters Jackson’s room. 
     Together they pray at his bedside.
     “Dear Lord, Belinda begins, “Please save our son. Forgive me for my failures and for how I have neglected my family. Please God, don’t let our baby die!” 
     Warren cries, “Lord, please let him live!” 
     Jackson stirs. Slowly, he opens his eyes. He first sees his mother; Jackson smiles. “Hi mom, I thought you were out of town.” 
     She cries out in relief. “I came back for you. It’s now abundantly clear to me that my family is more important than a job, trips, or being at the malls. This is my wake up call. I’m done with the misplaced priorities.” She looks over at her husband who is overcome with emotion. “Will you both forgive me?” she pleads. “I promise to prove that I mean what I’ve said.” 
     Jackson reaches for his mother’s hand. He assures her, “Of course, mom. We love you.”
     Warren says nothing. He grabs his wife and embraces her in a passionate hug.
     Epilogue:
     Jackson fully recovered. 
     Belinda conquered her shopping addiction, got her finances in order, quit her job, and became a better wife than she was in the earlier days of matrimony with Warren. 
     Jackson and Kim are thrilled that they again have a quality and attentive mother.
     Warren reached his goal of business ownership. He and Belinda opened their event planning business called, Heightened Awareness. It’s consistently in the black, thanks in large part, to Belinda’s Master’s degree in economics and how she’s wisely learned to apply it.
     One event fulfilled by Heightened Awareness has particular significance. That is the reception held for Warren’s remarried parents! Another bonus is that they work part time in the family business. How’s that for Heightened Awareness, family style?!

Written by Sandra January 31, 2010
Copyright 2012


This story is included in my e-book titled, Zest and Gusto in Christian Short Stories.  It is available for $2.99 on Smashwords.com. You don't need e-readers to read e-books; they can be read online, as well. A free sample is available to read on the subject site. Here is the link  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lioneagle.

Note: Please click this link www.torchblazers.blogspot.com
to view the entire content on this blog.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BOOK EXCERPT, "CUSTOMER SERVICE IS AN ART"



Customer service is an art.  It's not an art field that can thrive in the abstract.  The customer service arena is an area that needs the talents of impressionists and expressionists to apply artful mastery to canvases.  It needs adept marketers who keenly feel the heart beat of what is necessary to execute service on excellent levels.  Administrators need to employ managers who are engineered to manage.  There is an array of managers who possess labels but lack leadership competency.  When managers fail to manage, frequently, employees flounder as customer service representatives.

I can expertly expound on what constitutes quality customer service.  In excess of five years, I was a Customer Service Specialist in the Washington, D.C. government.  While there, Mayor Anthony Williams presented me with a “Customer Service Excellence Award” for my skills, and strong work ethic.  In addition, in my possession are numerous copies of written commendations that I received from management throughout the course of my work history in government and in the private sector.

Media resources have shared reports of the steady decline of quality customer service.  Nationwide, complaints have soared due to lack of acceptable service.  Dissatisfied consumers are not a rarity.  Poor service has become commonplace so much so that when impressive service surfaces, it's a rare treat.  Typically, I officially commend excellent service because it needs to be recognized and reported. 

Relative to poor service performance, in some instances rude employees are reported to managers only to discover that the managers also display conduct that is indecent and rude.  Some managers go so far as to defend employees who exhibit poor performance.  And it's obvious from observances that some managers are intimidated by their subordinates.  Successful management cannot result from such practices.

I'm in the age bracket where I can hearken back to the days when quality service was the norm.  It was routine to observe managers who expertly managed, and employees who regularly provided satisfactory service.  Yes, even then we had occasions of poor performance.  Such occasions, though, were far less than what is currently on display.

Then we were more likely to hear pleasantries and courteous communication.  Body language was respectful with accommodating attitudes.  Now, so often, we get the whole series of disrespect – body language, voice tone, failure to respond, misplaced laughter, and sarcasm.  What goes on habitually now in the customer service field is a certain shame to the profession.

Largely, the current condition of the service industry is inexcusable and unacceptable.  Consumers need to do more to hold representatives accountable for the abysmal state of service performance.  The industry is in dire need of an overhaul.  Could it be that it is in such a state because not enough consumers reasonably complain?

Training that penetrates is sorely needed and long overdue.  Suitable people need to be in customer service.  The art manifests as a natural for some people in the business.  It can be taught, as well.  Those who aren't receptive to penetrative training, where they capture the art, need to be moved on and replaced by those whose hearts are inclined to master the techniques and nuances.

Now is the time to require respectable satisfactory service as a regular occurrence.  Realistically, poor service won't be entirely eliminated but we can sure do more to urge significant decreases in what is already unacceptable performance.  Responsible actions need to be in motion and continue until noticeable improvements have center stage.  Lax service is on the rise because enough good people don't demand otherwise. What are we going to do about this failed system?

Responsiveness is significant in the business of customer service.  It is less than professional to neglect consistent feedback and follow up with clientele.  The skill of listening is essential in customer service relations.  Also, consumers expect representatives to empathize relative to their concerns.  A sure turn off is to respond to consumers with robotic answers in attitudes of disinterest.  I'm aware that consumers aren't always right.  Some of them can be obnoxious and unreasonable with their requests.  Reasonably, the role of customer service specialists is to effectively and efficiently accommodate people with care and concern.  When matters escalate to places beyond the authority of specialists, management should be summoned for resolutions.

Support shouldn't be given to consumers who mistreat customer service personnel.  Admiringly, I recall reading once about a restaurant owner and how he handled some patrons who verbally abused members of his staff.  He retrieved and gave to the patrons their coats, and informed them that it wasn't acceptable for them to treat his employees in such a way.  The owner instructed the patrons to leave, which they did.  His decision was an honorable example of respect for his staff.  People are never entitled to mistreat
others – no matter what the positions.

Dress code issues need attention in any workplace environment.  Uniforms are the standard in some company operations.  Uniform usage can be helpful in the prevention of unwise clothing choices.  In places where uniforms aren't worn, it's imperative to be aware of poor presentations for the business image.  Tight and revealing attire isn't appropriate in any environment, however, in workplaces, management should require that personnel be decently attired.  Cleavage exposure, sagging pants, huge earrings and lengthy curled fingernails aren't attractive.  Chewing gum doesn't bode well for professional business images.  Individuality can be constructive but when it subtracts from environments in workplaces it needs to be adjusted to comply with acceptable business presentation.

It's not professional to converse socially with co-workers in the process of servicing customers.  It's poor practice to indulge in side conversations when engaged on phone calls with others.  If side conversations are deemed necessary, the proper procedure is to place callers on hold.  In phone communications, when people are placed on hold, it's rude to say “hold on.”  A professional response is, “hold on, please” or something similarly courteous.  Upon return to phone lines, “thank you for holding” is an appropriate and courteous statement to make.

In days gone by, it was customary for business representatives to address customers by last names.  It happens now that some of them address customers by first names.  On one such occasion, a representative asked me if he could call me Sandra.  My response was “No.”  In business mode (with some exceptions) it's my preference to address people by last names such as “Mr. Davis” etc.  It's my preference, as well, in business mode, that people address me in such manner.  The first name practice is acceptable if that's an agreed upon action.

When I was a Customer Service Specialist, I was trained to not allow callers to remain on lines for more than 30 seconds without returning to inform them of the status of work on their behalf.  On occasions, it would be necessary to phone people back to complete the needs.  I'm sure that for many folks there is cause for concern relative to lengthy hold time experiences.  Also, it's professional for people to identify themselves when answering business phone lines.  For instance, “Precious Metals, Mr. Stanley speaking, how may I help you?”

It certainly concerns me that there aren't sufficient professionals who execute well in phone etiquette.  What I found surprising is that it happens when engaged with personnel of large or major corporations.  Perhaps I'm biased but shouldn’t the large corporations, in particular, do better?  There is a major government switchboard operation where the employees answer the phone in a less than professional manner.  When I worked in customer service and needed to phone there, it always concerned me about how the staff answered the phones.  Initially, I thought that it was isolated.  When it happened every time that I phoned that government switchboard, it was obvious that the less than professional telephone conduct is a practice there.  Telephone usage has a definite need for improvement.

There is awareness that there are people whose intent is to regularly do contrary to what makes good sense.  They make choices to be menaces.  On our planet, dwell all sorts of characters; the good, the bad, and the indifferent.  I realize that the words on these pages won't result in absolute change in the manner in which customer service is conducted.  There is belief, however, that these words are not in vain.  People who sincerely care about decency, respect and integrity will desire to be in league with those who purpose to do that which represents excellence.

Sandra
Written April 16, 2010
© Copyright 2010

Note 1

This is included in my e-book, Championship Conduct - Excel in Care, Courtesy and Customer Service.  It's available for $3.99 on Smashwords.com.  You don't need e-readers to read e-books; they can be read online, as well.  A free sample is available to read on the subject site.  Here is the site link https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lioneagle

Note 2

If you're inclined to read more content on this blog, the entirety, please click this link http://www.torchblazers.blogspot.com/.

Thank you for your indulgence.  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - PIECE TITLED, " RIVER CRIED OUT"



Days when our cries were as a river
We had our moments
when the river cried us

One great morning
the sobbing river dried up
and now off we journey
on moist soil that is
inviting,
stimulating
and oh so abundant in satisfaction.

We crossed the river with its swelling tides
We marched over the bridges
that faithfully held us -
no collapses

Indeed we are
structured
engineered
and built to last.

Rear views have doubts and fears
Ahead are vistas captivating in splendor

Wow! this planet juice
intoxicates our senses -
no looking back
We left it where it belongs –
behind us.

Sandra 

Written Tuesday August 17, 2010
© Copyright 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - POEM TITLED, "MY ADDICTION"



My addiction is to the essence of life.
Life fuels me
as I immerse myself
in the splendor
of the gift of breath –

Ah, I breathe in
the injection
of air flavor.
I cannot flatline on this high
that has proven alive

My addiction causes creative juices
to flow as I cook up flavorful recipes
to feed this addiction to the essence of life

My addiction supplies a natural high -
Who needs dealers
when heart grown substances
fully satisfy the cravings?

I ain’t eating no cold turkey
when an eagle is nearby
Eagles fly while turkeys are grounded -
I am going with the bird that
has majesty on its side

I woke up singing because
my addiction would not be denied.
I free based
as the sunshine gave me plenty of light –
based freely
on love from its comforting rays

My addiction propels me
to skip in the streets
Who needs a line of “coke” when –
ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby?!

My addiction jump starts me daily
as I feed its robust hunger -
We indulge abundantly
as we feast succulently
on the essence of life

My addiction and me
have COMPANY for sure…

Organic all the way, baby!
It’s good for the soul.
The heart shouts a hearty “Amen!”

NOTE: For effect, minor improper grammar was used in this poem on purpose.

Sandra
Thursday July 8, 2010
© Copyright 2010

Published on website www.searchwarp.com on July 24, 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - POEM TITLED, "RAINBOW RESCUE"



Fog engulfed the sphere of my soul
visibility was low –
I sobbed under the radar
as I was fixed to surrender

SUDDENLY – to my rescue
came a series of rainbows -
in rapid succession they embraced me.
I was surrounded by their brilliance

Everywhere I turned, they were there –
tiny ones, vivid ones, curved ones
all stunning in their uniqueness

My soul began
to drink of their aura
I gleefully gulped
the delightful nectar
of the rainbow hues

A rainbow horse neighs my way
Whoa Nelly! This is a majestic thoroughbred turn on -
Away I am carried
far far above the radar
waving my sobs goodbye

On the saddle
I ride the rainbow horse
We gallop into the destiny
of rainbow heaven

Promises realized
from cherished memories
Living colors have transcended the fades –
This is technicolor galaxy
and HD TV
Rainbow style!

Sandra
Thursday July 8, 2010

© Copyright 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - POEM TITLED, "FOOD DRAMA"



Interviewer:
“What is your name?”

“Lettuce.”

“Why so wilted, Lettuce?”

“Because I am alone –
my ensemble collapsed.”

“What happened?”

“Tomatoes walked out
unhappy with
their portions -
they desired more
in the mix

Cucumbers were afraid
of the drama
so they walked
out on the job

Cheese could not
handle a twosome
just lettuce and cheese –
the cheesy message was
‘Call us if you have more.’

So here I sit
wilted in despair.”

Meanwhile back on the ranch –
here comes Ranch dressing
to dress down the crew
He poured it on thick

Ranch calls for order
and says to one and to all
“We are a unit,
come together, will ya’ll?!
United, we mix
apart we are tossed
Come on, troopers –
let us be salad.”

There is a meeting
of the flavors -
foolishness is pushed aside
They forge an unbreakable bond
as they all jump in the bowl

Interviewer:
“It’s a wrap, folks –
Pardon me while I partake of
the new and improved salad bar.”

Sandra
Saturday July 17, 2010
© Copyright 2010

Published on website www.searchwarp.com on July 24, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - PIECE TITLED, "SORROW CAME TO VISIT"




     Heart asks, “Sorrow, what are you doing here?”
     “I came to live in you.”
     “Oh no you won’t.  You came for a short visit – the operative word being “short.”
     “We’ll see about that.”
     “No doubt, we will.”
     Heart puts on some upbeat music and begins to dance.
     Sorrow, in disappointment, watches Heart in rhythm.
     Twirling around, Heart smiles at Sorrow.
     Sorrow winces.  Sorrow starts to make loud noises to disturb the groove of Heart.
     Fingers snapping to the music, Heart tells Sorrow, “You’ll be leaving soon.”
     Sorrow struggles to hide the fear.  “I have plans to stay.”
     “Your plans will be cancelled.”
     “Sorrow states, “I did not get a round trip ticket,” and unconvincingly adds, “Because I am here to stay.”
     “It is on you that you got a one way fare from a place of assumption.  I can assure you that your status here is as a visitor.  There is no vacancy here for another resident.  This heart is a gift from my Creator and I will have you out of here in less than an hour.”
     “And how do you propose to do that?”
     “You didn’t know that I have a happy pump!”
     “What?!”
     “A happy pump. I use it to pump happiness deep down in my soul.  It came packaged from my Creator.  The accessories are peace and joy among other prized possessions.
     Every now and then, I refuel the pump with paradise juice.  When you came in, I said, “Okay pump, Sorrow is in the building.  Let’s go to work.  Music went on the notes, dancing followed, twirling ensued – you get the drift?”
     Sorrow simmers.  “I’m not leaving.  I am here to break you.”
     “Not only are you leaving but you will be leaving mad.  You came to break but failure will be your “reward.”
     “Humph,” pouts Sorrow.
     Heart dances some more – this time with singing mixed in.  Heart continues to dance to a few more songs.  Soon Heart starts laughing so merrily that tears flow from the joy that bubbles from within.
     Sorrow is too through. “I didn't expect this celebration of life.  I came here to disturb peace and to live permanently.”
     “I know what you came to do.  What you didn't know is that I was made ready for you.  You came here to break me.  What you got was a break dance, a fox trot, a waltz, an electric slide, and some twirls thrown in for good measure.  Laughter joined in with singing and tears of joy.  Actually, you were the recipient of an impromptu concert, compliments from the Heart.  Now you can take your visitor’s pass, and let yourself out while I dance over to play the next song titled, 'Sorrow Has Left the Building.' Touché"

###
The above piece is found in my e-Book titled,
"Zest and Gusto in Christian Short Stories."  For more information, here's the link www.sandrasbookdepot.blogspot.com

###


Sandra
P.O. Box 1210
Washington, DC 20013
solidjourney@gmail.com

Friday May 7, 2010

Copyright 2010

Published on website http://www.searchwarp.com/ on July 24, 2010

Published on website http://www.faithwriters.com/ on May 7, 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - SHORT STORY TITLED, "EXCESS CHANCES"



     This is the story of Tameka Elliott and Heather Dillard who grew up on the same tree-lined street, Magnolia Lane, in the heart of the bustling city, Capitol, Michigan. They are college seniors at Prospect University in Emerald, Rhode Island. 
     Prospect has one of the best business programs in the nation with the renowned business professor Addison Milford to add to its stellar reputation.
     Sandy-haired Tameka is golden brown in tone with a vibrant personality that complements her modest demeanor. She’s a lovely polite young lady with loads of charisma. Her bright eyes sparkle often with jubilant pleasure. 
     Some people believe that Tameka’s weight is a hindrance. She’s of average height with weight count that is in excess by about one hundred pounds. 
     Tameka’s mother, Cassie, frequently reminds Tameka how beautiful she is, inwardly and outwardly.
     Tameka believes that truth as her parents raised her to have healthy self-esteem with most of her concentration on the condition of her heart. 
     Cassie and her husband, Daniel, instilled in their only child the need to care and share and to be considerate of others. Cassie and Daniel continue to be deeply in love after more than twenty-seven years of blissful matrimony. 
    The Elliott’s are a God-fearing family, as evidenced by the consistent love in demonstration both at home and elsewhere.
     Heather lives with her vain single mother, Rita. Infrequently, the two get along. They don’t know the whereabouts of Heather’s father, William. He abandoned wife and daughter when Heather was ten. 
     Heather and Tameka were once fast friends. Over time, their lives diverged in different directions. Their individual choices affected their close relationship as they embraced lifestyles that weren’t in common with one another. 
     Heather, tall, slim, and some consider gorgeous, is into the party and club scenes. She has numerous admirers of the male persuasion. They dote on her physical attributes but most of her suitors soon discover that Heather’s beauty is largely surface. 
     There is one man that Heather pines for; oddly, he’s not at all her type. 
     His name is Marcus Chance. He grew up in the neighborhood but moved away for college and landed a lucrative job in Georgia. He’s a straight arrow who forsook the party scene years ago. He and his family are close with the Elliott’s.
     Tameka has an earnest aim to be a lawyer that specializes in workplace issues. 
     Heather has her mind set on being a force in the field of public relations. 
     The week of graduation approaches.
     Professor Milford informs Tameka that something in excess of what she expects will be presented on graduation day. 
     Tameka implores her professor to reveal the information. 
     He smiles but refuses; she must wait. 
     Cassie and Daniel decide to invite Marcus and his parents, Edward and Jessica, to Tameka’s graduation ceremony at Prospect.
     Tameka is pleased. She hasn’t seen Marcus for more than a year. She has had a secret crush on him since they were adolescents. There goes that sparkle in her eyes!
     Heather and Rita head to Prospect. On the way they have an argument. Neither of them is happy with how their lives have developed. They are “gorgeous” women without contentment.
     Heather has many male admirers, none of which appeal to her. She thinks of Marcus, the one man that she desires who obviously doesn’t desire her.
     At the graduation, the graduates get their diplomas, speeches are made, photos are taken, and much joy is in the air. 
     The final announcement is the clincher. 
     John Jacobs, a well-known business millionaire approaches the podium and announces that he will fully finance Tameka for law school. 
     Tameka is joyously stunned.
     Her parents leap from their seats, embrace her, and high five the Chances. 
     As Tameka, to applause, walks onstage to Mr. Jacobs, Marcus says to himself, I sure do like how she has filled out. 
     Tameka’s excess weight is a plus for Marcus. 
     He recalls what he remembers about her caring heart. And oh yeah, he thinks, she is pleasingly plump, and bright to boot! He senses within him an urge to engage Tameka on a whole new level! 
     After the ceremony, the Elliott’s and Chance’s dine together.
     Throughout the meal, Marcus and Tameka exchange admiring glances as they catch up on things. They both sense that their friendship has the potential to be more.
     A revisit of the earlier statement here in this story, “Some people believe that Tameka’s weight is a hindrance – …with weight count that is in excess by about one hundred pounds.” Oh well, so much for what those people believed.
     Marcus Chance has excess on his mind, and his heart beats with admiration for Tameka, a plus size lady of beauty. He thinks to himself, This could be an excess Chance! 
     Forward seven years:
     Tameka became a high-powered lawyer who specializes in workplace issues. Her expert skills resulted in judgments for her clients in excess of $37 million. Her success rates and monetary award amounts are unprecedented for her level of experience. She married Marcus and they are expecting their first child who they have decided to name, Justice Excess Chance. 
     Heather’s career turned into a public relations nightmare. She depended on her looks to the detriment of her career. 
     Her flame extinguished; she reflected on her unwise choices and sank into deep depression.  
     Tameka got wind of Heather’s plight and reached out to help her. She found a superb professional to counsel Heather. 
     It took months, but it proved worth it. 
     Heather found her true self and became a successful and prominent owner of a public relations firm. She named it Weight Lifted Enterprise.

Copyright 2012 - Sandra Renee Hicks 

This story is included in an e-book titled, Zest and Gusto in Christian Short Stories.  It  is available for $2.99 from Smashwords.com.  You don't need e-readers to read e-books; they can be read online, as well. A free sample is available to read on the subject site. Here is the link  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lioneagle

To view the entirety of this blog site, please click on this link
http://www.torchblazers.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

WRITING SAMPLE - PIECE TITLED, "PARACHUTES OR EAGLES WINGS?"



Greetings -

In obedience to a compelling urge, here is another chapter excerpt from my e-book,
Championship Conduct - Excel in Care, Courtesy and Customer Service - 

PARACHUTES OR EAGLES WINGS?

I am convinced that currently, in business, there are not nearly enough successful entrepreneurs. Granted, that career choice is crafted for certain types of personalities. It is not an election that should be undertaken without wise study and investigation as to the pros and cons of the endeavor. That said, more people should take the plunge into business ownership. The enterprise can provide rewards that do not exist when at work in other business environments.

Scores of people labor at jobs that do not fuel their passions. They get comfortable by the assurances of steady pay and secure benefit packages though present economic realities have greatly altered those belief systems. People daily do the work drill – they show up, go through the motions, perform with lax attitudes, count the hours to quitting time, go home and bemoan how unfulfilled they are in their jobs. They do the grind year after year because they are not inclined to forsake the parachutes to pursue work that can fulfill. No, that is not all people but far too many in the workforce fit that description.

It is a joy to witness people who love their jobs. They go about their work with enthusiasm and diligence. They demonstrate appreciation for their employment. Workplaces are better because of their presence. Numerous workers, though, settle in their occupations. They settle for less than the best because they believe “It is what it is.” The truth is, it does not need to be what it is but most people do not want to “go there.”

There are great and inspiring reports of entrepreneurs. College degrees were earned by some while others succeeded with limited formal education. Differences abound. Typically, what entrepreneurs have in common is faith with brave hearts to persevere. The stories vary – some entrepreneurs started with scarce resources but pressed on to succeed. Adequate capital was available to others who were fortunate enough to avoid financial difficulties. Full time parachute gigs provided security for many who did the entrepreneurial as side businesses – later some of that ilk forsook full time jobs and became full time entrepreneurs. Then there is that group who did not choose entrepreneurship – it chose us. We got “pink slip” bonuses which led us to seize the opportunities. What follows is a bit about my journey to the ranks of entrepreneurship.

I believe that I became poor to come to a place of understanding what it means to truly have faith in God. When I had steady jobs, like many people, my faith was in the secure salaries, and benefits. I mean there was “safety” in the parachute mentality.

Throughout my entire work history, I received written commendations for my excellent skills, and strong work ethic. I was habitually prompt with an above average attendance record.

One year, the Mayor of Washington, D.C. presented me with a “Customer Service Excellence Award.” My commendable work history did not result in a term renewal after five years of satisfactory and excellent performance evaluations. What followed was the lengthiest period of unemployment that I have ever experienced. It would be an understatement to say that I was jolted. Where I am now about it is at a place of gratitude. Challenges and uncertainties proved profitable as I achieved new levels of confidence. Presently, I am wiser with bountiful belief in the sovereignty of God. He is why I know that obstacles can triumphantly be conquered. It gives me immense pleasure to express that truth. I state it, not as a spectator, but as a living breathing witness of the capability to rise above barriers and roadblocks placed in our paths to discourage us.

One of the many gains in my wilderness trek is that I began Solid Journey, a business that specializes in writing, editing and consulting. Writing for years, has been an avid pursuit that I engaged with a passionate zeal. Newspapers and magazines published my written work and people often commended my literary skills. Frequently, I was encouraged to expand my reach relative to my talents in the field of writing. Previously, my writing was not done as a means to receive monetary profit. I told myself that to do it was reward enough for me. It was an eagerness that convinced me of contentment without benefit of financial payment.

Well, one advantage of unemployment was the precious gift of more time to soul search. That time was used wisely to become informed and educated in additional areas. Study, research, and hands on experiences have better equipped me to invest my talents in areas where I am uniquely and skillfully endowed to make positive differences. One primary goal is to join with those who are so inclined to impact our society in ways that are profitable on an assortment of levels. If exercised prudently, the combined usage of unique talents can emerge into that which transforms on scales that astonish.

My official role as a business president began from what some perceive as a negative – unemployment. It was, in truth, a positive. The absence of my parachute led me to sprout wings. I have long admired eagles. They are known for, among other things, their extremely keen vision, and wing span.

Yes, there is purpose for parachutes - what they do can save lives. Each individual must suitably align with that which is destined. It is my firm belief that more people, from places of fear, select parachutes rather than wings. It is one thing to be destined as a parachute carrier – it is quite another to be destined for wings, but succumb to fear and then settle for parachute status.

People of purpose have supporters but also tend to draw player haters on each level of development. Entrepreneurs oftentimes possess characteristics that are misunderstood. I remember when I worked for a man who left his parachute job and formed a business with a former colleague. His wife could not comprehend why he would leave his secure job. She urged him to get a real job. He persisted in his pursuit. The marriage did not survive his move into business ownership. The business grew, and did quite well.

Most pioneers, trail blazers and innovative people were ridiculed, and mocked. They blazed the trails and endured the persecution. They had brave hearts and knew that within them were winning strategies that would produce that which would prove profitable. They forged ahead and made it happen. The doubters benefited from that which they doubted.

We should extend gratitude to path finders and those who positively go against the grain. This world could not thrive without those of such fortitude and determination. The price can be steep for choices to be boat rockers and wave makers. But if such do not exist, it is to our disadvantage. We ought to celebrate innovators for a vast array of reasons.

My next chapter will go into more detail about customer service issues. It is important that I mention here some key points. Credibility is vital for those who purpose to follow paths that lead to exemplary reputations. The best businesses adhere to principles that promote courtesy, integrity, and excellence. Clients desire to know that businesses are professional on all levels. Much of quality business is about care, dependability, image and presentation. Routinely, regular and timely follow up practices should be in place. We should arrive when we schedule, promptly respond to the needs of clientele, be honest in our transactions, and assure that our characters reflect consideration and appreciation for all. We should habitually, with intensity, strive to provide quality products and services.

Life is such that if we live our best lives, we shall have detractors – you know, the player haters who have not found themselves and thereby are angry because we know who we are. They would do good to expend their energies finding out who they are because, unless they do, they will not have contentment. It is so vital to remain true to ourselves and not yield to temptations to “go along to get along.” It is reasonable to engage with people with some needs to compromise. It is, however, unreasonable to alter the foundational scope of who we are to submit to the whims and desires of others. Keep it real, people, even if that means the loss of some “friendships.” It is better to lose people than to lose ourselves. Also, it is better to be hated for what we love to do that is positive than to be hated for not keeping it real.

There is a definite need for more successful entrepreneurs. It would do our planet good to have more who make that career choice. When done right, the benefits outweigh any challenges. Family businesses are in a valued class all their own. There can be deeper bonds formed when harmony is achieved through family work arrangements. It is certainly well-advised to promote the increase of prosperous entrepreneurs who choose to mentor others to go the route of business ownership.

…Eagle wings, yes?!

© Copyright April 11, 2010

This is included in my e-book, Championship Conduct - Excel in Care, Courtesy and Customer Service.  It's available for $3.99 on Smashwords.com.  You don't need e-readers to read e-books; they can be read online, as well.  A free sample is available on the subject site.  Here is the site link https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/lioneagle