Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

June 15, 2022

AWOL Report

Hello internet friends -

I've been quiet for a while, so I wanted to pop in and say "hello!" The good news is that I've been working (a lot)! I am so thankful for the work I am fortunate to have earned. I am working as a Technical Communications Specialist in my primary consultancy and I have a few other long-term clients in software documentation and curriculum development that I continue with too.

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash


On another note, I’ve been posting in my homesteading groups about survival preparation, and I wanted to repost some of my thoughts here:

“Learn how to shoot and acquire a rifle. Learn self defense and keep your body in shape. Practice primitive camping. Practice multiple methods of water collection. Acquire hand-powered kitchen and house tools. Build a solar oven. Live simply…”

While these are only a handful of very quick, basic thoughts about survival prepping, crafting the reply post reminded me of how much I enjoy masterminding the simple way in life and finding ways to reduce my modern impact on the world.

I hope you are all doing well and I’ll be posting again soon...


April 18, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: Question Answered

This is the seventh post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge. The challenge is to answer a question that somebody has asked you online or in-person.

I was asked in a job interview recently: How would I go about creating technical documentation for a product? Read on below to find out how I might approach a technical documentation or curriculum design project.

First, I would get to know my audience. Where is my audience posting their thoughts? Are they posting on Hacker News or Reddit; or are they reading white papers? I need to find my audience and get a picture of what’s important to them, what problems they’re having, and what kind of language they’re using to describe the tool or product. What’s they’re overall impression and what information is currently prominent about my product? These questions will give me an accurate description of who I should write for.

Next, I would learn the tool myself and document my steps starting with how to complete basic functions with the tool or product. How do they get started with the install and a basic project? If developer’s notes are available, I will integrate them into my outlined understanding of the tool. If there’s current documentation, it can be remixed or used to build new, better documentation. Sometimes this step requires some trial and error to learn how a new user would organically use a new tool.

Once I have a good understanding of the basics of a tool and an outline of the documentation started, I would then take screenshots and create images where visual support to understanding is needed. Sometimes it’s easier to complete the outline of the major functions and the instructions and then come back at the end to take screenshots when you fully understand what you’re looking at.

Lots of code on this screen. Image by Tudor Baciu.

Lastly, I would finalize the documentation and request feedback from any stakeholders available to review the documentation, ensuring its accuracy and efficiency to reaching the stated goals. I would verify the consistency of word usage, directional word usage, headings, formatting, and accessibility best practices applied. The documentation would then be deployed externally and I would appreciate feedback from any user utilizing the documentation.

Technical documentation, especially for a tool that will have updates and new features in the future, is a flexible, growing foundation for learning a product or removing headaches when a problem presents itself: A communication of solutions and pathways.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

April 5, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Favorite Influence

This is the sixth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge. The challenge is to write about somebody who has influenced you and name the 10 things you love most about them.

My Parents

Dad, mom, and me in late 1984.

I am choosing to write about my parents, Mark and Linda. My wonderful parents have greatly influenced me for the following reasons:

  1. They’re giving of themselves and their resources. Not only did my father and mother give over twenty years serving and moving for the US military, but in their second careers and into retirement, they continue to give selflessly of themselves. They serve at the food bank and independently get food for others, they volunteer at home build sites for low income people, they are always donating and finding supplies to give to the local charities, they find blankets and supplies for the animal shelters, and also their friends and neighbors know them for being giving to them too. My parents love to help other people (and animals).
  2. They’re creative. My mom is the most talented artist and my dad is super smart with anything mechanical, with building things, and systems.
  3. They’re resourceful. Everything in their house stays immaculate and is mostly amazing self- diy renovations. They are both quick witted in solving problems of all kinds.
  4. They’re unwavering in values and character. They’re so solid in their beliefs and how they choose to live an honorable, integrityful life.
  5. They’re loving. They are kind and fair. They have been there for each other for almost forty years and will always be there as they can for me and my brother (and our families).
  6. They were great parents and now great grandparents. My brother and I benefited from their wisdom and influence; and now as grandparents they pass on their life wisdom.
  7. They have great taste. In decor, in life choices, and in conservation of self, they both hold strong to their understanding of what should be in their lives and leave no sympathy for what’s left out.
  8. They’ve traveled the world. Between the two of them and together, they’ve traveled to so many places: Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Central America and the Islands, Alaska and Hawaii. They have experienced so many different kinds of people around the world.
  9. They’re thoughtful of others, neighbors, volunteering, with their friends. They celebrate birthdays with special effort, celebrate achievements, and try to make life special for others around them.
  10. They’re MY parents. Firstly, I am thankful to have parents and I realize that not everyone had the blessing of two parents living together while growing up. Second, they are a great influence because they spent time parenting me as a child and continue to provide guidance when needed as an adult. I am truly blessed to have them as my parents.

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge #love

April 4, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My City, Gainesville (Alachua)

This is the fifth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge. The challenge is to write about the town we live in and to share why we like or dislike it, with a few photos.


Gainesville is a great city to live, work, and retire in. I love many aspects of Gainesville, including the:

1. Nature, biodiversity

Even on my first visit to Gainesville, the two lane roads winding through green ravines immediately reminded me of the Appalachians. Since living here for a few years now and exploring through hiking, I have learned that there is immense biodiversity of plants and animals (and people!) in this region. Gainesville sits on the edge of the Georgia plateau as it crumbles towards the Atlantic, exposing rich, ancient sediments that support the area’s vast biodiversity.

Hoggetown waterway in Ring Park, on a hike. Photo by Amber Lee.

2. Diversity of people

I love that Gainesville celebrates people of all kinds, with county supported events for people of different gender identities, races, and heritages, and also many family events. The mix of people here in this University town for decades has strengthened the region’s collective identity and gender/race relations. Last year when Black Lives matters and All peoples lives matter became a chanting call across the nation, Gainesville had already addressed these issues years ago and stood united to stop violence in all forms, instead of pointing fingers at any one race.

Data and chart from City Data at:


Street art found on a hike. Photo by Amber Lee.

3. Weather

The climate here is nice and you get at least three Florida seasons of a warm Spring, a really hot, muggy Summer, and a tepid Fall; with a few freezes coming through in the Winter. The climate isn’t too harsh and tends to stay very temperate, except for a few hot, stale windless months during late summer. If you’re a gardener, you'll enjoy Gainesville's climate where you can easily grow year round with a greenhouse or diy plastic sheeting hoop houses.

Sunset over Gainesville school. Photo by Amber Lee.

4. People I’ve Met

The people of Gainesville are really great. I’ve met wonderful neighbors and professional contacts here. One such group of great people is the Writer's Alliance of Gainesville ( Gainesville has several great meet up groups for almost anything you'd be interested in and also has many extra supports and events for families and children.

Gainesville by drone. Footage by

5. University Influence

The university influence is seen everywhere in city business offering variety and quality; overall city cleanliness and safety, and green spaces planning.

The University of Florida football Swamp arena. Photo by Amber Lee.

6. Cool vibe here overall, like Asheville


I’m not going to detail much on why I don’t like my city because I think every city has aspects that are unliked or unsightly. I also don’t like to focus on the negatives in life. If you're looking to move to Gainesville, make sure you check the crime maps because unfortunately there are some not so nice parts.

What I don’t like:

  1. Lots of petty crimes, robberies, burglaries overall in the city. Someone attempted robbery on my brother Jason years ago at a bus stop by the university - the university is improving security in the entire downtown area including facial recognition cameras and other tracking/ identification methods.
  2. Homeless drunks begging in the street medians - its dangerous that they're in the street medians and they're everywhere in Gainesville.

I hope this gives you a little glimpse into the wonderful city that I call home. Gainesville is a great place and I hope you'll come visit sometime!

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #Gainesville #20postchallenge

February 25, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: An Interview With Dr. Lora Kosten

This is the fourth post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to interview someone that my readers would find interesting. I’ve chosen a dear colleague from the University of South Florida's education faculty, Dr. Lora Kosten, about her book A Handbook for Positive Living A Through Z. Dr. Kosten’s interview is provided below. I hope you will check out her book!


Interview Questions: A Handbook for Positive Living A Through Z


Without summarizing it in any way, what would you say your book is about?

This book is about transforming your life through Positive Living. Many times, when we think of improving our lives, we think of only diet and exercise. This book helps address ways of thinking to see things through a positive lens, use mistakes as stepping stones for growth, find balance and peace of mind, and take small steps that can become a part of a daily repertoire for Positive Living.

Without explaining why and without naming other authors or books, can you discuss the various influences on your book?

My holistic counselor: Dr. Dolores Seymour was most influential. Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins too.

Without using complete sentences, can you describe what was going on in your life as you wrote this book?

Crohn’s Disease… Dr. Seymour’s Inspiration…Positive Thinking…Changing My Perspective…Taking Action…Sharing Timeless Strategies with Others…

What are some words you despise that have been used to describe your writing by readers and/or reviewers?

I do not appreciate profanity or inappropriate language, but I feel that everyone has the right to an opinion. It is important not to take things personally and to see what can be learned from comments made. If it doesn’t speak to me then I can just let it go.

If you could choose a career besides writing (irrespective of schooling requirements and/or talent) what would it be?

I am a teacher at heart and it is my hope that this book will help others acquire skills and strategies to make their lives more meaningful.

What craft elements do you think are your strong suit, and what would you like to be better at?

This book takes on Positive Living themes from alphabetized words A through Z. Each chapter addresses a theme and has assignments for reflective activities. These activities cause the reader to process the information and apply it. One does not have to read this book in any sequence which makes it an ideal resource to have on hand. The elements and craft relate to the book’s themes and the assignments to help the reader address different strategies.

How do you contend with the hubris of thinking anyone has or should have any interest in what you have to say about anything?

Chapter One conveys the importance of doing what is “right for you.” This book may be right for some but not for others, and that is ok. It plants seeds to help readers expand their repertoire for self-care and holistic wellness. People may take those seeds and do what is best for them.


You can read an excerpt or order a copy of Dr. Kosten’s book A Handbook for Positive Living A Through Z.

Interview questions are from:

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Blogging Story

This is the third post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to share why I started blogging and tell about the moment that I decided to write.

When I first started blogging, I was in my early 20s. My very first post was summer 2008 and was entitled "A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step..." I had earned a technical writing degree that gave me a little insight into writing and how to use online tools.

Life was promising but a little tough at the time: I had moved eight times in the span of just a couple years following a relationship around the country that later failed. We moved from Florida to Arizona to Pennsylvania to Maryland to Alabama and then to Texas, twice. I remember working at my computer looking out at the snow from a Texas apartment, boxes still stacked up from the last move, and trying to share with the world some of the thoughts that I have written down in my little notebook while working a part-time job as a gas station clerk.

As a creative, I needed an online platform to share my opinions and designs. I write and design a lot in my free time because that’s what I’m driven to do – it’s my gift that, like a tsunami wave, I can’t hold back and must write down the thoughts swirling into and around my head. I have notebooks saved on my bookshelves from over 20 years of writing: little scribbles, planning things out, drawing out systems or ideas. So, I take the best or most relevant ideas that I have and share them on the blog.

A blog provides me with a public platform for possible employers or other professional connections where I can create the story publicly of who I am. I want to showcase my writing and share the experiences I’ve gained with other people. I gain authority in my field by confirming my opinions and designs with others.

By maintaining a blog, it makes my own thoughts important to myself by becoming concrete and shared with the world. Sometimes thoughts come in our heads and slip away so easily. Blogging gives me a way to concretely engage with the rest of the world. It’s also not as intimidating as doing so face-to-face. I can connect with others who have similar ideas or interests through the power of the Internet.

Bloggers can add great value and richness of experience to what is presented on the web for consumption. I hope the ideas and designs I share on my blog bring you value too!

More to come about why I decided to start blogging in future posts.

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

February 17, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Favorite Quote

This is the second post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to share my favorite quotation. I’ve chosen to share a quote attributed to Dr. Maya Angelou.

Image by Amber Lee.

Dr. Maya Angelou was an influential modern American writer (to use her words, a phenomenal woman!) and fully understood both positive and negative human emotions. Her understanding of people is reflected in the quote I’ve chosen to share. In a world where everything material is treated as so important, Maya reminds us that how we treat others will be the only important remainder.

Think about your interactions with others: have you had an interaction with someone that left you feeling a little beat up? Sometimes the goal of a conversation is reached, but the participants really don’t treat each other with respect in the way they interact.

Feelings and emotional interactions are often dismissed as non-important in business and personal dealings. If feelings are prioritized, then you’re somehow weak and not focused on concrete goals. Feelings are not a reality of a situation, but simply an experience that can be controlled and thus should be easily dismissable.

But what happens when we look at our interactions with others from a long-term perspective - when we look back on our lives and remember what truly “matters?” When all we have are achievements and amassed wealth in material or financials, does this really make a life satisfying to live? Many people might say no…

Maya is teaching us in this quote that the only things that will really matter in life is how you make someone feel. Were you kind? Did you make someone feel accepted or take extra patience when someone struggled through something? Did you help someone that needed a friend or simply a kind word? Just like you, many people have shortcomings or their own obstacles that they’re trying to overcome and a little kindness may be greatly appreciated.

When we’re kind to others, the positivity radiates into our lives too.

Let this quote encourage you to treat others with kindness and respect. Realize that there’s more to winning at life than acquiring possessions and achievements. And as writers, we can utilize feelings to drive our literary goals with an audience.

Here’s an interesting point to end this blog post: although this quote was attributed to Maya for her 70th birthday wisdom in 1998, the original quote belongs to someone else, a preacher, who published it first in the 1970s. So Maya may have liked and used this quote, but she was not the originator! Regardless, Maya seemed to love this quote herself and used it in several of her speeches later in life. 
By Office of the White House - White [1], Public Domain,

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

February 11, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: Where I Work

This is the first post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

Although the twenty-post challenge by Writer’s Write was created with “beginning bloggers” in mind, I realized that on my blog I’ve never really addressed any of the topics suggested for prompts and that maybe my readers would like to know some of these details about me and my work. Many of my posts are largely impersonal with what I choose to share with the world online. I’m just not that big into sharing my personal life or activities blasted online for everyone to see (and track, thanks big data).

Today's challenge is to share a photo of my workspace and to tell why I like my space and a little about what I do there. As you may know from my other posts, I currently work completing technical writing and instructional design projects for several different clients, so having a quiet space to meet, write, and design is essential to working effectively.

Below you can see my work area for writing and other projects located in the spare bedroom. I am thankful to have a dedicated space to work in. Often times, you’ll find me writing in the morning in this quiet, peaceful, and inspiring space.

This is my dedicated work space. Photo by Amber Lee.

Many times when I write, I prefer to use my smart phone. It’s mobile and I often have ideas on the go, so using my phone allows me to record notes whenever or wherever an interesting thought or topic comes to me. It’s also quicker for me to dictate my thoughts and use the voice-to-text phone feature: sometimes my thoughts come so fast that I can’t type them out fast enough, so I speak them. I can then go back and correct any mis-heard words or awkward phrasing, which I will usually complete at my computer.

My desk and chair are a set that a friend gave me many years ago. She has since passed, so it’s special to me that I can use the desk she gave to me to be creative and write at today. The clean, heavy desk has a great marble top and a retracting space underneath for my keyboard and mouse. It is a very nice set and I remember my friend as I use it, so I hope it will provide me with a working surface for years to come.

I built the big “A” letter you see setting on the desk about five years ago for a graduate school club recruitment event at the University of South Florida. The letter is made of styrofoam and foam board glue-gunned together with lots of masking tape for sides, which I then painted the entire creation in a wash-out blue pattern from reused paint. It was really fun to make and DIY'ing the project saved me a lot of money for a fun event prop.

I also have a fun Rick and Morty psychedelic wall tapestry that adds color to the background of my space. Rick and Morty is a fun adult cartoon. I really like color, especially blues and purples, which is prominent in my space.

On my desk, I have my computer, my whiteboard, my planner, and my notebook. I use these tools every day to keep organized and produce work on a consistent schedule. Many times I’ll write notes by hand if I’m having writers block.

You’ll also notice some extra equipment on the desk. We use this area for DJ’ing music, so there is a mixing board, speakers, and some fun lights that can be turned on. Writing and instructional design by day; DJ’ing by night - this space gets lots of use!

Using the DJ mixing board and fun colored lights at night. Photo by Amber Lee.

Underneath my desk, I keep a foot massager, a foot stool, and a soft rug: I like to be comfy when I work, as you can see by the pillows too. Ergonomics are important and this desk setup helps me keep from being in pain after being on a computer for several hours a day.

You might wonder why there aren't any little plants growing in this sunlit space. The answer is my cats: I have an older cat that loves to eat anything that resembles a plant, including fake silk plants. He then gets sick. So no plants in my house, unfortunately.

I hope this gives you a little peek into how I work every day. See you on the next post!

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write

#amberclee #20postchallenge

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