My First Bi-Monthly Column!

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English: Zion Schoolhouse, Toronto

English: Zion Schoolhouse, Toronto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am officially a Columnist!

I am now the Frugal Foodie for Molly Green Magazine!

Molly Green is a “The Old Schoolhouse” Magazine subsidiary, with a digital format Magazine coming out every other month. The magazine focuses on how to live simply and frugally, within a Christian context. I will be sharing how our family has managed to live on a very low-income, with a focus on food, shopping, menu planning, and recipes.

The magazine is in eBook format and is available by subscription only here: http://econobusters.com/

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Good To Be Writing Again

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I don’t try to hide the fact that my family and my service to God comes before my writing. Therefore, I was on a Sabbatical from July of 2012 to March of 2013.

Now, my girls have gotten a little older, my training of them a little more through, and my heart a little lighter. So I am ready to start writing seriously again. I am updating my blog weekly, putting in queries to publications that I would be a good fit to write for, and I am working on my first publications – a Home Economics Curriculum series for elementary aged students.

Please contact me if you have a suitable project for me.

 

A Schroader Family Blog: A Simple Life

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Schroader Family Writing Services announces their new blog: A Simple Life.

A Simple Life is a “Radical Departure from Today’s Consumer Driven World”.

It is about removing clutter, debt and things that are not healthy.

It is about finding peace, joy and calm in the simple things God has given us.

It is about one family’s walk with God and change from being driven by consumerism and flesh to being drive by heart and God.

A Simple Life is also a project to demonstrate April Schroaders’ writing ability in the Christian Writers Market.

Contact April by clicking the Hire Me link if you are interested in hiring her for your next blog, magazine or non-fiction book project.

Christian Writers Market: Published Article Clip

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My foray into freelance writing started with a look at what I knew and what I was passionate about. My heart, first and foremost, is for writing encouraging words to children and our youth today. Therefore, I started with the Christian Writers Market, focusing on writing for Children and Teens. Below is the article (before edits) accepted for syndicated publication by Churchmouse Publications last year (2010).

Bored No More – 10 Ideas for Teens and Young Adults

Are you bored? Are you spending your days flipping between Twitter, email, and Facebook waiting for “something” to happen? Are you thinking there should be something more that you should be doing? How about finding fun, joy, and spiritual fulfillment in a project to help someone else? Here are some ideas that should take the “bored” out of your heart and replace it with peace.

  1. Help someone who is sick or disabled – Find a friend and go visit with someone who is sick or disabled. The first thing that they probably need is someone to say hello and listen to how they are feeling (think about how much you want your mom to listen when you don’t feel good). You could then find out if they need an errand run (which would probably be the most fun of the tasks), housecleaning (which is why you brought a friend, maybe you could sing together or tell a stories while you clean), or bringing frozen meals to heat up (challenge the friend to cook the best meal – but don’t lose sight of what is important here). The helper here often ends up being more blessed than the one being helped.
  2. Do a secret mission – Find out about a need that someone has and try to fulfill that need – secretly. For example, if you find out there is a family whose father does not have enough work and they are struggling financially, you could gather up some food from friends and quietly drop it off at their door, being sure to disappear before they pick it up. Or, maybe an elderly couple are out-of-town and you trim up their yard for them. There is something exciting to a secret task like this.
  3. Visit the elderly in Nursing Homes and other facilities – If you and some friends or siblings can sing, play an instrument, or even read a story, setup a time to go to your local nursing home and perform for them. This is a great way to get experience using your talent in front of a usually supportive audience. For further blessing and growth, stay for a little and chat with some of the folks. This is something they don’t get enough of and you may just be enthralled as they “perform” for you, telling you stories of their youth and such.
  4. Join a group – There are many different groups out there. Some are service oriented (i.e. Big Brother / Big Sister), some are focused on learning (i.e. Scouts), and some are focused on a talent (i.e. a worship group) and some combine a little of everything (i.e. 4-H). This is will help you meet new people if you don’t know many people in your area and can open the door to all kinds of opportunities. You will learn and grow, and you may find many ways to serve others. Obviously, the group should not conflict with your Christian values.
  5. Collect “stuff” for a fund-raising Garage Sale – People generally like to give away stuff more than money, so you should have an easy time gathering up items. You should choose what the charity is ahead of time and theme your sale around that. Maybe only gather up items that relate in some way or decorate based on the charity and theme. For example, the charity could be an orphanage in Kenya. You could then have the focus be on children’s clothing and / or lightweight summer clothing. You could decorate with an African theme and have photos of the orphan children placed around the tables at the sale. Do what sparks your interest and your heart.
  6. Go on a Prayer-walk – You could take a walk around your neighborhood and pray as you go. Pray that the Lord shows you the needs of the people around you and to shows you an open door to share the gospel with someone. Pray for someone in the neighborhood that you don’t like or maybe even did something wrong towards you. Pray for the people in the neighborhood who look like the meanest, scariest, or weirdest. Do it for many days in a row. It is one of the biggest faith builders to see God answer prayer and it should leave you feeling connected and peaceful with the Lord.
  7. Create a Volunteer Scavenger Hunt – This is good if you have a lot of charity organizations near you and you would like to see which one you really want to get more involved in. Make a list of the charities, an item that can only be gotten by volunteering there, and set a minimum number of hours each participant needs to work at each one. The winner could be the one who gets the most items on the list, but in the end, you should all be winners by the time and effort you gave.
  8. Call or visit a friend – Maybe you have a friend who needs to know more about your faith or why you believe what you do. Or maybe you have a friend who is not currently in a good situation and needs to get out of their house once in a while and spend time with a Christian family. Maybe they posted something on Facebook and you have a feeling they need to talk about it. Go and get a bite to eat or visit a park or something that allows you time to really talk, and talk, and talk.
  9. Make something for someone – Have you been wanting to try wood burning, or bead making, or trimming bonsai trees? Maybe you cook, sing, or read dramatically? God asks us to use our talents. You might give this a try initially to bless someone, find you have a real talent for it, and find your future vocation in the process.
  10. Read your Bible and pray – OK, this isn’t exactly a project for someone, but sometimes, when we are searching for something, what we really need is just some quiet time with the Lord.

April’s Resume

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Here is my professional resume:

EXPERIENCE

2010 – Current Freelance Writer, Schroader Family Writing Services

  • Textbroker, Freelance Writer, Business Writing Market, Technical Writing, Health and Wellness Writing, Travel Writing – Textbroker is an online marketplace for written articles. Currently rated as a Level 4 Writer (levels are 2 to 5).
  • Churchmouse Publishing, Freelance Writer, Christian Writing Market – A paid, syndicated / published article
  • Armoral Tuttle Public Library, New Plymouth, ID, Volunteer, – Web Content Management and Site Updates http://newplymouth.lili.org/
  • Resume Writing Services – Helping people get the job they want by assisting them in crafting a professional, quality resume

2006 – Current – Homeschooling Mother of 3 Children (and counting)

2005 – 2006 Senior Database / Backend Test Engineer, Consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through Bridge Consulting

Product Description

The GrantView System is a heavily customized Grant Making and Tracking software built on an existing product using SQL, ASP.net and XML. This new Grant making system was plugged into existing Gates Foundation systems including Financial and Reporting. ETL, the primary testing focus, consisted of using SQL DTS and SQL stored procedures to extract, transform and load data from the new GrantView system into the existing Data Mart and Reporting system, with some changes being made to the Data Mart schema to support the new data.

  • Wrote test specifications and test cases for full coverage of owned feature areas. Testing was primarily backend testing and involved mostly SQL data validation, with some data setup through the GrantView UI. Wrote SQL queries (multi-table joins, sub queries, etc…) to perform the data validation.
  • Became a feature area expert and worked closely with the team, especially the Developers, on any issues found. Performed troubleshooting, including backend analysis of issue, reading through SQL code, and using SQL tools.
  • Wrote SQL scripts to automate some of the ETL testing, mainly using complex queries and checksums to validate the data between the two systems. With some assistance from the Test Lead, plugged the SQL scripts into C# code, using Gates Foundation custom automation harness, to fully automate the testing and reporting of results and ran the automation on a nightly basis.
  • Performed document and code reviews on all documents and code related to ETL, giving feedback where useful.

2004 – 2005 Senior Test Engineer 3, Consultant to Microsoft through Volt Computer Services

Product Description

The Order Management Platform is a generic, flexible e-commerce platform built on SQL, ASP and COM that allows different product groups at Microsoft to use the components of the system in ways that suites their need to sell their products through the internet directly to their customers. Email Services and Feed Services, the primary testing focus, are Windows Services which run a series of SQL Stored Procedures at a designated interval to accomplish tasks such as importing vendor updates to orders and sending email confirmations based on new orders or updated orders.

  • Wrote test specifications and test cases for full coverage of owned feature areas. Testing was primarily backend testing and involved mostly SQL data setup and validation. Wrote SQL queries (multi-table joins, sub queries, etc…) to perform the data setup and validation. The set of SQL scripts served as partial automation of the testing.
  • Quickly became the group expert in Email Services (primary test area) and learned Feed Services to assist with testing when needed (and Feed Services integrated with Email Services). Performed Analysis on some Production issues that were found in Feed Services to assist with understanding the issue and getting to the correct design approach before it came to System Test.
  • Worked closely with Developers on any issues found. Performed troubleshooting, including reading through stored procedures and running performance analysis tools.
  • Wrote on-boarding / training documentation for primary feature area. Also wrote an automation evaluation document on what it would take to fully automate the Email Services feature, along with breakdown of grouping of test cases for best ROI from the automation.

2003 – 2004 Quality Assurance and Test Lead, Consultant to Microsoft through Murphy and Associates

Product Description:

Project Codename Edison is a Partner Relationship Management and Opportunity Management web-based and data integration system built on SQL Server 2000 and Windows 2003 using technologies such as ASP.NET and XML. Edison integrates Partner, Customer, Sales and Opportunity data from various MS internal systems including MSOrg, Sibel, Feedstore, Cert Partner, MSSales, Genesis and MOSB. The product is to support the needs of the World Wide Small and Medium Business Unit (Sales and Marketing).

  • Came on board with 7 weeks left to ship 1.0 pilot – lead 4 other team members, including 3 offshore resources in India, to write and run tests (including data validation with SQL), organized bug bashes, and started the setup and organization of the Quality Assurance Team in this timeframe.
  • For the 2.0 version, came up with creative solutions (using research and other’s experiences) to plan and implement a test schedule that would fit into the ship time box. This included organizing and leading bug bashes, user testing, prioritizing testing, and coordinating with the Development Team on defect prevention (including Dev running manual and automated unit tests before check-in). Communicated risks associated with shipping product in time box with capacity short QA Team.
  • For 2.0, participated in interviews and grew the team to 10 members, including 1 additional Lead. For 2.3, participated in interviews and grew the team to 22 members, including additional offshore resources and 1 additional Lead.
  • Held some Test Management duties as the point Test Lead for all major releases through 2.1.6. This includes: scoping and estimation, work breakdown, capacity planning and work schedules, master test plans, all project leadership meetings, JAD (feature / spec) session, and Test representative for major project decision making. Involved in all aspects of the SDLC.
  • Lead the team to do spec reviews, test case writing, running tests, logging bugs, and communicating issues. Got hands on when / where needed.
  • Conjointly lead the test automation effort including high level design, how to group test cases into suites for supportability of data driven automation, and low-level design reviews and code reviews. For UI testing, the main harness was a Microsoft custom-built .NET automation driver with API, use to access controls on a web page. Scripted Test Suites in C#. For data integration testing, SQL scripts with test databases and/or xml files were used.
  • Lead other kinds of testing including Performance, Load, Localization, Unicode, Globalization, Security and Privacy.
  • Involved in or lead Best Practices including how to write good bugs, triages and general project / team process improvement such as improving documentation and communication.
  • Initially handled all test coordination with our integration partners. Currently handle coordination with the Microsoft Sibel Team and share coordination and communication with all the disciplines involved in the Edison project, including Analysis, Development, Product and Project Management, User Support and Production Support.

Additional Quality Assurance, Project Management, and QA Management Positions since 1996. Many of these positions included Technical Writing.

EDUCATION

2010 – Ongoing, self teaching writing and freelance writing business through books and online sites

2002 Continuing education courses and workshops, Volt Technical Education

File and Folder Operations with C#.NET

1997-1998 Continuing education courses and workshops, Microsoft Technical Education
Including Product Cycle Model, Survey of Testing Tools, Testing Websites I, SQL Server Basics, and Testing for the Global Environment.

1996 Computer programming courses, North Seattle Community College
Developed functional programs in BASIC and C++. Used basic Unix commands and wrote batch files using the Korn Shell. Learned data communications and networking basics.

1994 – 1995 Associate in Arts and Sciences, Bellevue Community College
Emphasis on psychology including quantitative and qualitative research and analysis. Tutored students in Algebra and Calculus.

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