Thursday, December 18, 2014

First Spread in Ke Ola Magazine, Kona Coffee Festival

In Ke Ola Magazine, I've gotten my first spread and it is about the dedication of the long-term volunteers to the Kona Coffee Festival. Check it out in Ke Ola's November/December issue.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

First Article in Hawaii Business, GVS Transmedia Accelerator

This month my first article in Hawaii Business came out. It featured the new GVS Transmedia Accelerator, an organization which gives grants and coaching to innovative new companies.

Read the full article in the November 2014 issue of Hawaii Business Magazine.

Friday, November 28, 2014

First Article in Ke Ola Magazine, South Kona MacNut Company

This is one of my first freelance articles in Hawaii. In Ke Ola Magazine's October issue, I wrote a piece on their long time advertiser South Kona Macadamia Nut Company and their tasty treats. The piece turned out great thanks to the lovely editors and copywriter at Ke Ola Mag and their leader Renee. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kittens and Bread

My third project for Na Leo community TV channel mixes the art of Portuguese bread baking at Kona Historical Society in Kealakekua, HI with kittens from the local Humane Society.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Big Island Through New Eyes: A Cherished Time

My first 20-minute feature aired on Na Leo O Hawaii community TV channel earlier this fall. I hope to do more work showcasing The Big Island's amazing scenery and culture.

In this film, my sister Cherish Hannah, my brother Darius Hannah, and my friends Ben Watts and Tyler Bergfalk joined me in exploring the Big Island. All of their reactions are genuine, first-take, and unscripted.

Thank you for watching!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Human Beans, Talking to Kids About Diversity

Inline image 1
The Quick, Easy and Fun Way to Talk to Kids about Diversity
By Tracy Jackson
In every child’s life there comes a moment where they accept or reject others based on the way someone looks or acts. Perhaps you remember an occasion when someone did this to you? Let’s face it, we're all different, one-of-a-kind, and it’s imperative that we learn to embrace the unique qualities in both ourselves and others.
For me, teaching diversity is a passion. I know how it feels to be excluded and judged, so I devised a simple method to teach children to embrace what makes each of us unique. I call it, Human Beans. Human Beans are a gourmet jelly bean treat that encourages simple conversations powerful enough to stop bullying in its tracks.
Here’s how it works:
#1: Open a Bag of Conversation

Nothing is more natural than sharing a treat with your child.  When you tear into a package of Human Beans, you open a simple platform for talking to your child.  You see, Human Beans are just like people.  They come in different colors but you can’t really determine what’s on the inside simply by looking at the outside.  You have to get involved and actually experience the bean to know its flavor.
#2: Choose a Bean, Any Bean

Take time to ask your child which bean is his/her favorite. Ask how they choose the bean. What flavor do they think it will taste like? Why? Have them eat their bean.
Once the discussion gets rolling you can chat about friends or neighbors who may look different from you on the outside but are very similar on the inside. Human Beans come in six colors and twelve flavors all mixed up in one lovable bag. Just like the people in your life! Take a moment to talk about differences and similarities and how sometimes people think a person is one way just by how they look (act, think or feel). Just like Human Beans, we don't know anything about a person without experiencing them first.
#3 Spill the Beans

Simple conversations lead to life changing ones. Once your child understands the concept of diversity, encourage them to share the lesson with their friends. Human Beans can teach children about respecting others, appreciating differences and standing up for others.
Regardless of how you choose to use these suggestions, don’t just sit on the idea and forget about it.  Put it to good use so your kids can learn to embrace both themselves and others, which is what every parent wants right?  Of course! 
Tracy Jackson is a military wife and mother to three girls, social justice advocate and veteran entrepreneur that is passionate about diversity and teaching children to love themselves and others. For more details on Human Beans, please check out her Kickstarter project and help make the world a little sweeter!
Thank you for the consideration!
For more information, please contract Tracy Jackson:
Direct phone: 405-426-9706

Monday, November 10, 2014

Big Island Poetry Slam

This poetry slam was put on by The Spoken Word at the nightclub Amethyst in Kailua Kona. It was my second film to show on the Na Leo community channel.

Rated R for content and swearing.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Where Was Aja In October???

Sorry everyone! I could write a billion things on why I did not update my blog: breaking up with my boyfriend, traveling to Oahu alone, 8-week depression group, intensive therapy, new medications, MacBook completely broke down, etc.

But, I have good news! I'll be talking with two other authors about our first books in Hilo, HI at Petroglyph Press on November 22 at 2pm. Please join us if you can.

I'll also add some stuff on breaking into the freelance writing world in Hawaii while I'm talking.

I also have four articles in Ke Ola Magazine and one in the November issue of Hawaii Business if you all have access. Please check them out and criticize me to pieces.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

AudioBooks: The Quicker Way to Read Without Cheating

I love books and I work in a library, but like most people I don't have all the time I want to read. My list of want-to reads have piled up in little stacks of paper on my desk and books I've purchased on my bookshelf. And then all of the classics I want to re-read.

I thought I would never get around to reading them. Then, I realized that I spend a lot of time driving in the car, listening to the same songs on the same radio stations. And, at work everyday, I check out audiobooks, books on CD, to patrons of all ages.

Now in the last few weeks, I've checked out and read:

The Bell Jar - I'm going to have to buy, to have and to hold
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - A good read, I like it better than the Wizard of Oz.
Son of a Witch - As good as the first book.
Fangirl - Nostalgic for me, who used to read fanfiction. It has a crazy, writer main character who doesn't get into the party in college-life.
The Valley of Amazement - Literary use of flowers as sexual organs will stay with me for years.
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Not my favorite Amy Tan book

And it counts! I hear the whole story, unabridged, and it's not cheating! I wish I had realized this in college and high school. It makes scrubbing the floor and driving to work a lot more interesting and I feel more productive.

Next up: 
A Lion Among Men

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Hawaii Freelance Writer!

Sorry, everyone!

I have recently been working with several magazines, writing freelance articles for Hawaii! Hooray! I plan to use the money to go to Thailand in the spring. Fingers crossed. Please check out those articles. There's four short ones in Ke Ola Magazine (September issue) and there will be one long one in Ke Ola (November) and a medium sized one in Hawaii Business Magazine (November issue).

I have also been busy this summer making films for Na Leo 'O Hawaii community TV channel. You can check those out on my YouTube page.

And last but not least, my siblings visited me over the summer! It's been great and it has been busy. I'll get back on track soon.

For quicker updates, follow the Facebook Fanpage which posts funny memes found across the ends of cyberspace.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Aja Participates in Fabulous Five Blog Hop

I couldn't post on Tuesday because I was preparing for the Hurricane Iselle, but here is my contribution to the Fabulous Five Blog Hop! 

C.M. Walker tagged me and did her own post a while back. Her current titles include Pledge Number Seven and Gravitational Force. Both can be downloaded from her website at and now it's my turn!

What am I working on? 
I'm working on three titles right now, including the sequel to Zarconian Island and a new stand alone novel called The Unks Catholic Poor House. The latter is set in an alternate DC, where the capitol has moved further west due to the ever-approaching front-lines of the new War. The lower-class residents of old DC struggle to survive without a government, and a strong-willed, inner city girl unwittingly takes role as savior.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My work takes the apocalyptic-popular story and gives it a new leader, a leader used to poverty and scraping by
Why do I write what I do? 
I write what I dream because I am dreamer. And I write at all because it is what makes me happy. It's what I've always done to be happy.

How does my writing process work? 
I don't know about process...I write when I can, when I want, or when I have to. I may not write for months or I may write all-day non-stop. Sometimes I edit as I write and other times I just write.

I won't be tagging anyone because I'm already late in posting. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hawaii: Where Even State Employees Live In Poverty

I do love my job as a library assistant (level III) in the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS). I have great paid vacation, paid sick leave, and health insurance benefits. I also qualify for the Federal Housing Program with the Hawaii Public Housing Authority

What a conundrum!

Despite working a 40 hour week, a full-time position with the state of Hawaii, I barely make enough to survive. I make so little-- in a state with the highest average cost of living expenses--that I can qualify to sit on a wait list to be given a place to live. I qualify for public assistance. I qualify for financial aid from the government.

How did it come to this? I went to college, graduated early and with honors. I had internships. Now, I pay my bills. I have good credit. I pay the minimum on my student loans. I pay more than necessary on my credit card. I stretch my last dollar on gas for my car (an essential piece of transportation on the Big Island because the the poor public transit system). 

And, after all of that, I flounder. I struggle. I search for part-time jobs. I try to work nearly every day of the week to keep food in my mouth and gas in my car.

One day, I hope to adopt a child. One day, I hope to inspire that child to be a productive citizen. One day, I want to do more than live paycheck to paycheck. 

But, how can I do this in a state that doesn't value it's own state employees? I make nearly $27,000/year and the income limit for people needing federal public housing assistance on the Big Island Hawai (for a family of one) is $39,100/year. Another $10,000 than I make! 

(P.S. This is the lowest maximum amount a person of one can make in Hawaii. On Oahu, you can make $54,850 and can still turn to the federal housing program after struggling to keep a roof over your head.)

Interestingly enough, if you want to apply for the state housing program in Hawaii (never having been admitted before), you have to make less than $24,450. This is a little lower than the same maximum you can make and still apply for Hawaii food stamps. I don't even make $500 more than that limit.

I ask you: When a state cannot provide for its own employees, how will it provide for its public? When a state cannot pay livable wages to its full-time staff, how will it prosper economically?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Prostitution on Paper or Marketable Skills Employers Want

Earlier in the week, the Community Manager of Webucator approached me and asked if I could write a blog about the most marketable skills employers are looking for in new employees. 

I told him yes. 

Now, I'm sitting at the computer with the 2010 edition of "10 Things Employers Want You To Learn in College" and realizing how ridiculous this is.

Honestly, if I knew what certain skills will get you an interview or secure a job, I would share them. But, truly I don't. Employers are all different. Employers are all looking for something else especially depending on position.

Let me tell you what I do know about being "marketable" because I learned it the hard way. It doesn't matter what skills you have or don't have. It doesn't matter: the school you went to, the degree you earned. It's not a skill to list on an application. 

What matters is Prostitution

You must do this to get anywhere. You must learn to sell yourself, and it starts before the interview. 

Someone that knows how to prostitute themselves on paper will get the job. Shit, people with less experience, less education, less basic knowledge will surpass you. All because they know how to present their goods to the employer. 

Qualities of the Best Prostitutes (On Paper):

  • They know what he wants and they will be sure to tell him how they can give it to him good. (Address the qualifications listed on the advertisement or their website.)
  • They'll make him feel like he's the best choice out there, that they want him. (Pretend they are your first choice, your dream job. Not your launching pad.)
  • But that they don't need him because they could have anyone they wanted as well. (Do not seem desperate.)
  • They embellish. (Don't lie, but finesse. That unpaid internship is listed under work experience.) 
  • They know a little bit of everything. Sure, they master something, but the smartest and best paid know how to charm every kind of customer. (Honestly, any skill can be learned on the internet. SEO-search engine optimization-is a big skill to have now and can be learned about in one afternoon surfing online.)
These prostitutes on paper also, usually, have someone or something backing them. 
  • A reputation. (A strong online platform or established references in the industry)
  • A Pimp. (A sorority sister or fraternity brother in the industry)
  • A Madam. (An Alumn else on the inside: tips on maximizing alumn network)
So, yes, the job market is a daunting place (especially for an introvert like me). But if I can be a prostitute on paper, then so can you!

Friday, June 13, 2014

5 Ways The Public Annoys Me (Library Employee)

I have worked in several libraries (public, school, and private). I'm always happy to see people coming into the library, reading, and generally using this community resource. However, I am a public servant so I do interact with the public on a daily basis and people tend to believe they are special.

Here are ways that (in general) people most annoy me and my library staff on a regular basis:
  1. I don't have a library card but I need to get on the computer to print something really quick. Library staff have heard this, every variation of this, since the dawn of computers. We've seen the criers and the screamers, the disbelievers and the bribers. Sometimes we feel for you, sometimes we don't. The problem is we can't do it. By policy, we are not allowed to put you on a computer if you are not a library member. And, unless we hand you our personal library card and tell you the pin number, we cannot log you in anyway. We have to have a barcode and pin number to enter to get onto the computers. We have given you the options, paying for a visitor/replacement card or visiting the computer place down the street (which will also charge).
  2. I couldn't return my stuff on time because I had to blah blah blah and by that time you guys had closed. Wow. That sucks because we super don't care. Unless someone died, we won't and can't do much beside apologize to you for you on your behalf. You could have put the stuff in the drop box out front, which is what that box is for. We back check it to the last day we were open, which means you could literally turn the materials into the drop box two minutes before we open on Monday morning and we will check it in as if it were still Friday. You could have also renewed your materials online, called an open library, called our 1-800 number, or came inside to renew the books any time we were open. Also, library fines are typically nominal like $.25 a day so . . . sucks.
  3. You should have told me my stuff was overdue! You should have called me! Ugh, no. No, I shouldn't because we have literally thousands of patrons and at least a hundred of those have stuff overdue everyday. No, I'm not calling you. No, you are not special. Besides, that is your responsibility. You could have checked the due date online, you could have called into any open library in the system, you could have come into the library and asked. And, for God's sake, we stamp the due date on the inside of the books! Now pay the fine so we can buy more books that you won't return on time.
  4. I know you're closing in five minutes, but I really need to print something and the computers are shut down! Can you turn them back on for me? The computers shut down 10 minutes before we close and so does the Wi-Fi. Chances are your library staff does not have the ability to turn it back on. It's remotely shut down by IT.
  5. You closed just one minute ago but I want to check out a book/use your bathroom/ask you questions/return something that can't be put in the bookdrop. I can still see you inside. Why won't you open the door for me? The quickest and easiest answer is: We won't help you because we want to go home. We are mostly salaried employees so those few minutes you want to take will be on our own dollar. Also, we can't open the doors and let people into (what is actually) a government building after closing time. Usually the register is open because we are doing cash reports and securing the day's money. Libraries do get robbed for our chump change. It's not safe for you or us, and it is against policy. Please just go home.

We are not doing what you want because:
  • You are not special.
  • We literally have no control over the situation.
  • It is against policy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Be Thankful or Step Two to Being a Better Person

As I stated in part one, I have had the desire to become a better, a more human and caring person. While the first part dealt with apologies and the proper ways to do them, the second part will be gratitude. I need to  let my peers, friends, and family know that I appreciate them. There have been times when I was down, broke or broken, and these people have lifted me up. I need to thank them.

Some I have already thanked privately like Lauren and Junette. Others I will thank in person or in detailed letter, and still others I will thank with the words in this post. Unlike an apology, these deeds can and need to be expressed to the public. There is no humiliation, no necessity to hide what they and I have done.

While everyone should should be given thanks, there isn't the time or space in this post to do so. Instead, I will point out a few (of the many) people that have helped me at key moments in my life.
Ken - Thank you for being the older brother I never had in Colorado, for sitting on the bench outside of our dormitory while I moaned about lost loves, for being the first fellow writer/artist on my level that I could talk to about the trade, and for always having my back.

Nate - Thank you for teaching me how to open my heart again and to emotionally love without being physical. Never before. Thank you for living a few doors down and carrying my backpack so I could hike with you even after I dislocated my shoulder.

My Siblings - Thank you for still being close despite my living thousands of miles away and despite our parents' divorce. They were right about one thing: When we have no one else, we will always have each other.
Tabitha - Thank you for being the first real friend I had in Hawaii, for giving me a bicycle, and a person to call as an emergency contact.
Snoopy Group - Thank you for giving me a place to belong in middle school and high school, and in a book especially! When I could've been all alone, when I could've succumbed to peer pressure and depression, you all took me in and gave me friendships that have lasted through the years.
Nikki - Thank you for being my first real grown-up girlfriend, for telling me stories about men, and kissing me in the bar after I did that handstand that one time. 

Ms. Rader - Thank you for talking to me in school about the real issues, for writing me a letter of recommendation, for being hard on me, for taking our small class to Italy, for giving me a role model for maybe the first time in my life.

Aunt Diana - Thank you for being the only one to sign on my student loans even though you were barely over your stroke and able to sign your name anyway. With your help, I went to the college of my choice and I was the first in my family to graduate.

Nikko - Thank you for being the first one to approach me at Lime Kiln, to joke with me, to get me dancing at my first high school dance (Hawaii themed), and help me blend in when I was the new kid. You did this for everyone, no matter who they were or how they dressed or what group they belonged to.

Thank you to all my fans and those that have supported my book.

Thank you to everyone that has critiqued and criticized my book. It has made me a better writer.
And to everyone else, my elementary school friends, my extended family, my parents, my middle school redistricted buddies, my high school classmates, and my college peers. To the people on my student newspapers and literary magazines. To my gymnastics teammates, my track teammates, my cheerleader friends and enemies. To my teachers, old and young. To the geniuses I met in Wyoming and Colorado, to the children I have worked with and their parents. To the neighbors that talked to my family and to the neighbors that avoided us. To my coworkers from my first part-time job as a grocery store cashier, to my coworkers at my full-time job as a library assistant. To my former lovers and to my current one. 

You've molded me in your own way, changed me for the better. You opened my mind to new points, new information, new paths in my life. You've given me music to appreciate, letters to cherish, letters to burn. You've taken photos with m, ugly and beautiful, deleted and saved. You pushed me to excel, you challenged me to win. You gave me writing material, encouraged me when I was depressed, supported me when I had nothing. Some of you gave me friendship while others gave me competition, and fewer still provided both.

You have been my turning points, made me who I am, and will continue to make me into the woman I will be. Sometimes I have gone willingly and sometimes I've needed pushing.

But thank you for being you because it has made me, me.