Saturday, September 12, 2009

Integration Has Its Benefits

It seems to be a fact that most writers have, and may continue to have, a day job in order to pay the bills while they do the thing that they love most. We straddle two (or rather, multiple) worlds. A world of doing what we have to do to survive physically, so that we can do what we need to do to survive creatively or spiritually. For the most part, these two worlds can remain separate. They can be as different as night and day, and as an immiscible emulsion of oil and water. But blending these two worlds can be a benefit. Taking the tools of one world and applying it to the other can be like being ambidextrous: skillfully, and advantageously, using the skills of your day job to aid your creative side, and vice versa.

So, we're in the organizing and planning phase of the writing project. I'm noticing how I'm naturally bringing in and using the tools of my day job as an engineer to add structure to my work as a writer. And it's so helpful. I am by nature a planner. In anything, I like to think things through and formalize a viewable path so that I can see where I'm going and create a way to do it even more efficiently. To do this with the writing project, I started my a set of questions for my client. Not directly about the story, but about her. I need to understand her before I can write her story.

In the meantime, I took tools from my job as an engineer. Creating a Gantt Chart for the project helps me to see the entire schedule in time format. I can visually see what needs to be done by when, and even look for ways to cut out wasted time. Developing a time sheet of some sort, also help as well. Here, I'm logging how much I work daily and weekly, and exactly what I'm doing. In addition to helping me to work efficiently, it also shows me how much time is necessary for each component, in case I decide to do this again.

Of course, this integration can work in the opposite direction, as being a writer can be of benefit in writing business communications. Sometimes you need to be concise and direct, other times thorough, or persuasive. The ability to know what type of communication that needs to be made and to be able to deliver it is where the side passion and fuel the day job.

Call it being efficient or call it being anal. The worlds of survival and passion can actually integrate and be beneficial to both.


Thursday, September 03, 2009


You know you're in a good place when it feels like the ground beneath you feet crumble with each step you take, rain falls on your lenses and fog covers them every time you wipe it away, or when obstacles appear out of nowhere...and through all of this, you feel at peace. Ever have a day or a period of time when incident after incident happens...things that should bring you down and make you frustrated...things that takes more time than you have or cost more money that you want to spend...and somehow, you remain in good spirits? It's like, despite the dark clouds, you focus on the sunlight that peeks and pokes through, providing warm rays for you to bask in. And you do.

That's where I am today. The last couple of days, small things have happened that made me feel frustrated for a split second. It seems like it started with a blow out on my way to work, then small frustrating things at work, then my phone goes on the blink, and now, the car needs more repair work than originally thought, and this will cause a delay in my road trip for the weekend.

Normally, this would bring me down. Make me feel sad and frustrated and ruining my whole days. But no, through all of this, I feel at peace. I'm feeling an "and this too shall pass" moment. My spirits remain high and I feel relaxed. I'm feeling like these small incidences are nothing compared to trials that others have in their lives. Cars can be fixed or a new one can be purchased. Meanwhile, I have a job, plus, I can do what I love (writing). I'm living and breathing. I'm not in want of anything. I am blessed.

So, amidst the calamity all around me, I realize that it's not calamity at all, but a part of living. And my focus doesn't dwell on it, but moves beyond it to the goals I have to complete and how to get them done despite any obstacles.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Last night was the mark of a completion of a goal. I submitted my last paper for class, and thus went to bed an MBA graduate. This morning, I woke up to a new beginning and a new challenge. With school a fresh 8 hours in my past, I had already put it off to a distance. I had a fresh goal. I awoke to a writing focus and desire to plan the completion of this new goal. That's how it is with writing.

From the time I set foot on floor, my mind began to think about how to lay out the new project and what I need to know. I'm thinking about where I need to go, what I need to listen to, and what I need to experience. For this project, I need a new set of eyes. I need a new voice to convey it. Pretty much, I need to become someone else.

What does a writer do to do that? Research.

Today (well, honestly, three days ago) I began my research for my next writing project. Research is one of the most important parts of writing. It helps you to allow your story to "ring true," as they say. But it helps you to do all of the things that I mentioned above. When you research, you gain the knowledge and understand and allows you to write from another point of view. It allows you to see, feel, and understand what your character feels. Once you understand your character's world, you become your character. Research helps you to do that.

Research is also a fun part of the writing process, I think. Because, it can open another world for you. Research can be like traveling to another city, country, or another world. Takes you places you've never been before and gives you a voice you never had before. If you're not careful, you can get lost in research. At least, I can. LOL.

I love researching for writing. Or maybe I just love the fact that I'm writing again. Writing for a purpose. :-)


Sunday, August 16, 2009


I probably shouldn't admit this, but I remember sitting in my AIChE student member meeting for Chemical Engineering students, where the President was trying to get us to sign up to use this thing called the World Wide Web. It was supposed to provide us with a wealth of information and this thing was going to be H-U-G-E. Our response? Yeah, right.

Fast forward, uh, a few years later, and here I am, commencing research, searching for information on what to consider for a potential upcoming project. And, BAM! I got a collection of opinions over here, goo-gobs of thoughts over there, slivers of ramblings to the north, and oodles of articles, databases, PDF links to the south. Makes you extend your palms outward and say, "Whoa."

We all know this by now. For whatever subject, whatever topic, there's a wealth of information, good or bad, right or wrong. With all the different search engines and through varying your keyword searches, you can tailor the information you receive. For whatever position you want to take on a topic, there's information there to back you up. Too much information.

Maybe that's okay if you're just browsing and curious. But if you're using this information for a purpose, say as research work for your book or to make a decision about something at work, too much information can actually work against you, turn your argument upside down, and send your credibility into a nosedive.

The key is to filter through the information and find credible sources. Consider the author, their background, their credentials, etc. Depending on the topic, this can be a job within itself. It takes time to wade through the oceans of information available to us. However, if you value the integrity of your work and your credibility, you will make the commitment to verify information and carve out the time necessary to do so.

And "a-sifting I will go...a-sifting I will go..."


Friday, August 14, 2009


On her latest album, Beyonce talks about her new alter-ego, "Sasha Fierce" and sings about "Ego." Unbeknown to former coach and teammates, 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, Hershel Walker claimed multiple personalities, or "alters" before his 2008 book release of Breaking Free. When the time of your passing has come, how many people would be able to convey a distinct personality of you? Better yet, if people come forth with different descriptions of you, who would be right?

Stepping away from the point that everybody looks for a hook to hock their product, can something like this be true? Do we all have alter-egos? Do we harbor multiple personalities, choosing to display one or another to this person or that, and they're all true personalities? Barring intentional deceivers (being two-faced, con artists, manipulators, etc), I think this can be true.

I recently had a thought of how different people in my life view me in totally different, and sometimes conflicting ways. Mom sees me as colorful and gifted (what mother doesn't think that of her child?) while some friends see me as nerdy and a home body. Still, some friends see me as courageous, a risk taker, or a person who throws all caution to the wind. I have an ex that thought I was the sweetest and most giving person; another ex that considered me cocky and selfish. I have friends that think I have Christian ways, friends that think I toy with friendship with satan, and still other friends who think I'm Cosmic or borderline harikrishna. I have business associates who think I have a driver personality while others have thought I was passive. The question is, who is right?

I think they all are. I think there's two different ways a personality can be viewed. Internally, I think of myself as a certain way. Primarily quiet and reserved, borderline recluse who thinks a lot, yet loves thrill and loves being in control of my life and cannot live without goals and activity. And that description sounds like a contradiction within itself.

When it comes to others, I think they see a certain aspect of us. Our coworkers, managers, business partners may see a certain part of us that others do not. As well may fellow church goers, fellow volunteer workers, organizational and association members, etc. With others, you also have to factor in why they are in your life or what it is that they want from you. If you're not a follower and don't do what they want you to do; if you don't give them what they want, whether tangible or intangible, that may reflect in their interpretation of you.

Perhaps those that see many different sides of us are family members or long-time friends, especially those since childhood. They may have a more rounded perspective of who we are because they've seen us at high and low points, through good and bad, both guarded and unguarded.

Bottom line, while we may not have the dissociative disorder of multiple personalities, we can appear to be different to many different people based on their association with us or even at what point we are in our lives. We grow and change from our experiences as time goes on. If we reconnect with friends from 20 years ago, it could be an experience akin to meeting someone new for the very first time. And at our funeral, we can have several different people speaking about our personality, and have none of them seem to describe the same person.

Nothing to worry about though. Because I think the key to having others to realize your real personality at any given time is to be true to yourself first.


Sunday, August 09, 2009


Isn't it ironic? It seems to me, that creative people, the people who express themselves the most--whether visually, musically, or literally--are the ones who must be the most careful about freedom of expression of their own personal thoughts. Oh, the irony.

I just thought about this idea when I read blog post by Tess Gerritsen called "Why I Haven't Been Blogging." I can understand what she's saying. The joy and pleasure of blogging for her has been killed by responses to some of her posts in which readers disagreed. She states that she has been called names in response to her thoughts. As a result, she has tried to edit, edit, and edit her posts until she was sure that she wouldn't offend anyone. As a result, she then saw her blog as a marketing tool, which wasn't her original intention in blogging.

There are lots of people who blog about anything that they want and there are even those that blog with the intention of offending. But usually, those that do aren't trying to sell a product to as many people as they possibly can. They have less to lose than an artist or they are satisfied with a small audience of like minds. Even corporations are careful about statements from board members, or the organizations that they sponsor. All the time you see companies pulling advertising or contracts from persons who have expressed negative comments or have behaved in a way that most find unfavorable (whether they agree with the comments or behavior or not).

It seems that whatever art that you're in, you are silenced about having an opinion regarding products of that art, lest you suffer consequences of a resulting negative image and loss of sales of your own art. The price of sharing your opinion. A visual artist who criticizes the work of another may be seen as arrogant and full of themselves. A writer who reads and shares their opinion of books, especially in the genre in which they write, can become the target of personal attacks and vicious verbal attacks of their own work, while non-writers may share the same opinions. And it may be this discerning eye of that art that may have shaped them to be the well crafted artist that they may have become.

So what do we learn? If you're an artist, the best thing that you can do is be quiet. It's hard enough trying to write what you want without someone finding something offensive in it. But to give opinions of what you love or to share with others your thoughts on various topics...well, maybe you should keep that to yourself. Of course, then, you may seem to be all about marketing and promotion only.


Friday, August 07, 2009


Have you been keeping up with the Green Apple Core Series of the Book vs. the Kindle Reader? Hilarious! If not, check out rounds 1 - 7 of the fight on the Green Apple Core blog. I've been watching for the latest updates since round 3.

And I get their point. I want an e-reader, but in no way do I expect it to replace real books for me. I cannot imagine my home with 10,000 e-books on Kindle, but no books on bookshelves or in my house. I can't imagine not going to the bookstore and getting lost in it for hours. I cannot imagine my reference material solely on Kindle. So far, I think of e-readers and e-books as an enhancement, not a replacement.

I find Green Apple Core's series very entertaining.


Sunday, August 02, 2009


Ever think about the different paths you could have taken in life? The different choices you could have made that may have brought you to a different point than where you are today? Well, I'm a thinker. Sometimes crap just pops into my mind and I sit there for a few moments--or hours--in great ponderance (Yes, ponderance. I'm going to submit that word to Webster, so give it a minute to show up).

If I were to map my crossroads, it would look like a matrix, no doubt. By high school, I knew I loved writing and considered majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications in college. But as I started the process, I realized money would be a problem and I didn't know where to turn at the time. Confused and dazed about the lack of money, I didn't go to college right out of high school. So, I felt forced to choose another path. However, when I look back, I'm actually glad that I was forced to choose something different because I don't think I would have like that choice. I now think loving to write and Journalism are 2 different things. I dislike having to write for a living. I enjoying the creative process and writing what I want. I dislike being in the public eye. I'm naturally shy. And seeing the death of newspapers and the high competition of freelance writing today, I'm glad I chose a different path.

So instead, I worked at a mall pizza store and became Assistant Manager. Had I stayed on that path, maybe I could have made store Manager by now. But I chose a different path. Thank God!

I tried signing up for the Air Force. All was well until they measured me and said that I was an inch too short. Determined to go military, I turned to the Army who was more than happy to sign me up for Infantry. But on the day that I was to leave, they determined that I was a quarter of a pound overweight so I couldn't leave until I lost the quarter pound (which could have been not drinking water for a day). Just so happened that while waiting, the Air Force Recruiter called back and said "well, if the Army can take you, so can we." So he cooked up elaborate schemes for me to tell the Army to get me out so I could sign up for the Air Force, one being that I was pregnant. So I do this, lots of back and forth, interrogation before the Army board of higher ups (Colonel somebody or another) for threats, and they finally let me out. But by that time, I was so discouraged with military that I cut off the Air Force Recruiter. I kinda regret that one. I probably would have been in the Air Force today instead of, or before being, an engineer. But I chose a different path.

So, I finally decided to do whatever it took to go to school: Pell Grants, other grants, loans, and part-time work. But even in that, I changed my major 9 different times--Radiologist, Biologist, Biochemist, Chemistry...--before settling on Chemical Engineering by chance. My last Major was Biochemistry when another ChE student said, "Hey! Why are you doing that? You should look into Chemical Engineering. It's more money." And I said, "Yeah? Cool." And changed my major for the last time. Of course, half-way through the program, I figured out why they made more money as I was getting my ass kicked. Royally. But, I made it through, and here I am today.

One commonality is that I think all of these paths would have led to me writing. But I think that each path would have produced a different story. Whether I would have self-published, gotten an agent, then become traditionally published? A question I will never be able to answer as different circumstances led me to those things today. But one thing that I do believe is that there is opportunity at the end of whatever path we choose. I don't believe there's a right or wrong choice. Even when we've chosen a path that has led to negative experiences, if we turn it around, we now have a platform in which we can share our experiences with others to encourage them to choose a different path. In other words, the glass is always half full. And every cloud has a silver lining. Yeah, all of that.

Have you ever thought about the paths you could have taken and how different your life could have been today?


Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So how would you feel if the seller of your car came to pick it up with his own set of keys, because the person that sold it to him sold it illegally? He left you money in your mailbox. But just didn't tell you. You found out when you decided to make a late night White Castle run.

Not feeling that? Well what if the local bookstore just came to your house and picked two books off your bookself and left money in their place? You realized it when you saw two empty spaces on your shelf. Okay, now you want to kill somebody, right? That's apparently how a lot of readers felt who downloaded two books on their Kindle reader, only to have them erased and their money refunded. Apparently, Amazon explained later that the seller of the e-books had no rights to sell them. That's understandable. But the matter of how Amazon handled it got readers in an uproar. It was the after-the-fact approach that seemed to tick some readers off. Perhaps if Amazon had explained the situation beforehand and what they needed to do to resolve it, and what the readers options were, there would not have been an issue. But to snatch up a purchased product and not provide explanation until readers emailed questions, well, not such a good thing to do.

Now their method brings to light the "big brother" type of capability Amazon has with its Kindle reader. This may not have been thought of if this incident didn't happen. Once a reader purchases an e-book, Amazon has the power at any time to delete any book from anybody's Kindle without warning or notification. If we go far off the deep end, we can imagine scenarios of book banning, censorship, etc., etc. Do I think it's that serious? No. Amazon is very regretful after the backlash they've received from it. Especially at a time when Barnes & Noble is opening it's e-book store and Apple is coming out with a tablet with e-book reading capability. Now is not the time to anger readers. Amazon is taking steps to ensure that this will never happen again. But still, the thought of another entity being able to come into my domain and take something that I've purchased without warning or explanation leaves me with that not so fresh feeling.


Sunday, July 26, 2009


I've never been one to collect events, however, on my trip to the Barnes & Noble Cafe yesterday, I did pick up a Michael Jackson commemorative book. First of all, they were hard to avoid. I've never seen MJ on so many covers at one time. He had the covers of various mags within the racks, a special MJ section with all of them together in the magazine section, and then another rack of "In Remembrance Of" which had about 10 MJ covers and one of Farrah Fawcett.

I didn't flip through them all. I don't think anyone has that amount of time. But I flipped through a few and was actually kind of turned off. Just more sensationalism with a hard focus of the troubled and questionable side. I was about to leave when I saw that Ebony had a commeorative book. For some reason, I expected quality from Ebony on the subject matter, and I was not disappointed. Ebony's book has a collection of beautiful pictures (including the cover), words from interviews with the singer, words from's all tastefully done. I was so impressed that me, the non-buyer of commemorative items, actually picked it up and purchased it to keep in memorandum. I believe Ebony's commemorative book is the best one out there.

Kudos to Ebony.


Saturday, July 25, 2009


I'm looking at my empty living room and counting down the days when I will have the time to go sofa shopping. Well, actually, I know the sofa that I want. Found it online months ago. But I want to go see it at the store to be sure that I really do like it and I haven't had the time to do so. My main concern? Size. I want to make sure it's not to big where it will take up a lot of space. To say I love spacious rooms is probably an understatement. I like it darn near bare. The least amount of furniture and furnishings as possible.

This concept extends further for me. I actually don't like large spaces. Feel uncomfortable in big houses or apartments. Prefer studio condo or apartment living in a nice highrise with a view (non existent where I am now). I like simple color schemes. Basic white, off-white or beige with dark furniture. Totally white bathroom: shower curtain, hamper, all towels. White kitchen: plain white dishes, matching colored cups. I dislike the clutter of entertainment systems and devices and upscale toys everywhere.

I like small spaces that are free of expensive clutter with lines and bookcases of books at every turn; and, open windows with views of the sunrise or sunset and a body of water, if possible.

Not that everything needs a reason, but I do wonder why sometimes. When I bought a 2-bedroom condo, I stayed in one room all the time and ended up hating the beautiful place. Hated both the size of it and the fact that I felt tied down. And I think that maybe that's it. I like freedom of movement. Seems like I move every 2 years or less to change my environment. The more furniture I have, the more cumbersome it is to move.

So maybe, I come full circle again....maybe I'm just afraid of commitment...hmmmm...


Friday, July 24, 2009


I'm one of many readers and writers who have been saddened by today's sudden loss of E. Lynn Harris. He was a true literary legend in African American fiction. A great writer who had such a gift at telling untold stories. He will be very much missed.


Monday, July 20, 2009


Wow! Got to hurry and finish up an assignment and submit it tonight. But, I just HAD to share the post of Tayari Jones regarding the mistaken arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr.. All I can say is...WOW!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Positive Thinking

Before I knew about positive thinking, I find that I engaged in a lot of positive thinking that has gotten me to where I am today. Before I knew that there was a technique, method, or philosophy surrounding positive thinking, I found myself thinking of major things I wanted to do in my life and focused in on it until I achieved it. What I thought could be described as stubborness or a one-track mind I can see as being positive thinking. I don't remember a discussion, readings, or TV shows on the approach like you can find today. Rather, I was one of those depressed teenagers who couldn't find the joy in living. When I emerged from that phase, I was determined never to go back to that mindset again (and have been overly successful at that). From that point on, my parents, friends, or no one could hold be back from what I wanted to do in life.

Don't get me wrong, I listened to points of view. But the ultimate decision was mine. I never had the believe that if I thought about something enough, it would happen. From the start, I believed that I had to work to make things happen. I had to get degrees to qualify. I had to take classes to learn techniques of writing. I had to study to publish. And I had to put in the work. Positive thinking doesn't defy reality, but it's realizing my true situation and making whatever necessary changes for success. It's not covering up your fears, but facing and dealing them. It means realizing that you will still have challenges and unexpected obstacles that you will have to deal with...positively.

But to me, one of the main thing that positive thinking is not is thinking about what I don't want, but rather, what I actually want. It's not thinking about how I don't want to be poor or sick or homeless. But rather, it's me thinking about the level of managment I want to achieve, the number and quality of books I want to publish, and the health status I want to achieve.

And another thing positive thinking definitely is not to me, is acknowledging haters. Over the years, in day-to-day conversation and in music, I hear of people acknowledging, thanking, and pissing on "their haters." For me, that's wasted energy. To do that, you have to think about them. It would be acknowledgment of their existance and their affect on me. I believe the energy given to them would take from the positive energy I feed my endeavors. And I'd rather take that energy and use it to fuel my next goal.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

I noticed I have a morning routine before I do anything. Whether it be going to work, school work, writing, or just getting up in general. I have a list of things that I do, but not necessarily in the exact same order.

Before I start my day, I must relax and reflect. Meditate. It's hard for me to just get up and go. I have to take at least 30 minutes to lay while away, or else, "my ass is grass" for the rest of the day. This rolls right into lighting incense and meditating. Right now, I meditate in my bed. When I get around to it, I want to buy a new zebuton and zafu set to meditate on the floor, at sunrise, in front of the sliding glass door.

Then I have to have at least one cup of coffee. Two cups on Saturday and Sundays, spaced between a couple of hours. While I'm drinking coffee, I'm on the net. Twitter and Facebook are routine. I browse for inspirational quotes to post for status updates. I then look at my phone to go through emails in 3 different email accounts. One is for motorcycle related stuff, one is for author stuff, the other is for personal stuff like bill payment alerts, receipts, bank account info, etc.

Okay, from there, if I have time, I'll browse a couple of blogs and comment if I have something to say about it. I'm trying to get back into writing to my own blog. Right now, the goal is once a week. In September, I want to increase it, but no set goal yet. I also want to increase my surfing on the net. Not spend hours a day, but a quick browse. The internet is such a great and fast tool for writers to use. This thing is a godsend. Although you have to be careful, a lot of information can be gathered and shared.

Another thing that I want to add to the routine is a quick early morning workout a couple of days during the week.

So those are my must do morning routine items before I'm able to get into anything on the agenda for the day. Do you have a set routine?


Saturday, July 11, 2009

In a situation regarding trauma, one advantage a writer may have is the immediate therapy that writing can provide. While this is a tool available to anyone, the writer may feel the most comfortable with this form of therapy and may be able to get to it quickly without worry about how is done. They may be able to just pick up the pen, remove themselves, and just let emotions fill the page.

I feel that I have an advantage.

Memories from the back of my mind, in the recessed part of my brain, have slowly been coming to the forefront over the past few years. I have two major traumatic experiences from my past, and a couple of little ones that stem from one of the major one. Despite these incidences, I have managed to put them behind me and strive for success in whatever I decided to do. But as I run toward success, the past is finally catching up to me and forcing me to take notice. It's actually not a bad thing. I think it's going to be a blessing.

For the first time, I'm realizing that the two major traumas may actually be related. One may have caused the other. For years, I couldn't understand either. But now, after never speaking on either, I feel compelled to let it out in writing. I've forgiven the person who caused trauma in my past, but I haven't been able to forget, and that has led me to distance or divorce myself from a normally prominent figure in ones life.

Writing has long been used as a tool to assist people in facing traumatic experiences, past pains, or to confront hurtful matters. The Veterens Administration has used writing workshops to help veterens deal with the traumatic experience of the Vietnamese War. Putting bad experiences in words can lift them off of your spirits and provide relief for a person. It can leave a person feeling happier, healthier, and more carefree because they are "releasing the demons" that are holding their mind hostage. Writing can be therapeutic for the mind and body.

I'm feeling a pull to do this. It's a sudden realization and a sudden connection of events that may provide explanation to events that I had no clue about. It also may be the initiation of a new calling. I don't know. But when you're quiet and you're listening, and you keep hearing the same thing over and over, what you have to do is listen, be obedient, and don't worry about where the path may lead. You have to trust in the fact that your Creator has brought you to the place in which you now reside and that He will take you to the place where you are to be. Whatever it is that you were put on this earth to do.


Monday, July 06, 2009

As I'm slowly easing back into writing, I'm slowly getting a look at the big picture ahead of me. Conversations with two authors helped to bring home the point of the larger task that is ahead of me. I'm speaking of that giant monster of marketing and promotion.

This weekend, I read the blog of author-friend Peggy Love, who wrote about Social Media's Exploding Frontier. I also had a chat with author Michelle McGriff and the conversation turned to marketing and promotion and social networking. The last time I was heavy into promotion was not that long ago. I spent the years 2004 through 2008 doing heavy promotion for my self-published book, then the traditionally published version of Counting Raindrops, plus the second book, First Fridays. I LOVED doing promotion. Despite my shyness and disdain for public speaking, the actual work behind marketing and promotion is enjoyable...if you just do it and don't think about it. Meaning, take it step by step and don't let it overwhelm you by looking at the big picture and trying to do everything at once.

Yet, that's exactly what I find myself doing, even as I have not completely finished book three. So much has changed since I've stopped heavy promotion, and it hasn't really even been two years. My promotion was book clubs, book events, postcards, business cards, bookmarks, mailings, newsletters, website, and blog. These things seem to still be good promotional tools, however, now we're in the age of social media and I have to admit that I'm lost on some of it. Myspace was already going and I fell right into FB and twitter. But even these are expanding and I'm probably only using 25% of their networking capabilities. Then there are sites and terms that I hear flying around that I don't yet know the ins and outs of and I don't have time at the moment to research and investigate.

So, come September, I see the need to start over. Just like it was in marketing and promoting book one, I'm going to have to sit at the computer and do research and catch up with the latest social networking and media tools. Being an author or any type of entrepreneur, keeping up with the latest marketing tools are a must if you want to have any chance of success or survival. If we didn't know it before, we should know it now by witnessing the election of President Barack Obama and as we can still see it throughout is presidency. We've been able to connect with him and keep up and informed, and even participate on town halls through Facebook and the White House website. We've also been able to track him on Twitter and YouTube. Social Media is not an optional thing for the author, but a must in order to reach a wider audience. It's not instead of the old tools, but in addition to the older tools.

To be an author or any type of business person, one must accept being an eternal student of marketing and promoting. You can't rely on publishers to do it for you. You can't rely on old promotional tools being the end and be all to targeting and reaching a wider audience. And even with all that it is today, social media and promotional tools will no doubt continue to expand. It is a must to keep up and stay on the cusp of new changes and new tools.

Yep. Time for me to take off the graduate student hat and put back on my marketing and promotion hat...and keep it on.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

I'm starting to get excited now. Six more weeks of school and I will have all my classes completed for my Master's Degree. So much has been on hold since I started school last September. I've been taking one class at a time, but the semester long class is squeezed into six weeks. Plus I'm trying to study periodically for a quality certification and a project management certification. When I started back, I tried to balace everything: work, school, writing, working out, and me time. But after awhile, things started dropping off. First the me time. Gym went from 5 - 6 days a week to 1 -2 on the weekends. Work hours got longer after three rounds of layoffs. I'd come home from work with about an hour and a half of study time, then prep for work the next day, then sleep. Weekends are filled with writing a weekly paper or doing a weekly assignment, plus all the errands of life (groceries, laundry, cleaning, etc.).

Writing was sporadic until it fell off. I tried to keep in touch with the creative side by listening to audiobooks whenever I got into the car. Everything else with writing has fallen by the wayside. No time for blogging. Website is down; no time to maintain one or to put information together. Newsletter writing and book promotion...gone. The writing life is a very busy life. Writing is the easy part. But whether you self-publish or you're traditionally published, there's a lot of work in promotion and maintenance. It's a full-time job within itself. Something that writers know, and most others don't realize. There's a lot of time and work that goes into trying to be a successful author.

One thing that most authors need is a day job. My day job helped me to publish my first book. I'm considering the time I've spent working on my MBA as an investment in my day job to further advance my writing career. And now, six more weeks to go and I'm getting pumped because I can get back to the writing life. I'm not actually even thinking about graduation or anything. My thoughts are on finally having my time freed up to concentrate on writing again. August 17th is the last day of class. August 18th, I start reviewing the first draft of my third book. Can't wait.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Six more weeks until school is over and I can go back to focusing on writing. Yay!

I never write about stuff like pop culture, fashion, makeup, etc. because I don't find it enjoyable to read or write about. But the passing of MJ has made me look, notice, and reflect on several things. With the passing of a musical icon, I notice the immediate reflection on negativity, gossip and speculation, and disregard for the emotions and feelings of family members. How awful it must be to have your every move tracked, your emotional highs and lows immediately published along with unconfirmed speculations. There is so much positive to focus on. For most of us that grew up on Michael Jackson's music, there are probably several songs that will spark up memories of when and where we were when we first heard it. We can remember the excitement of watching his energetic an magical performances at concerts, on TV, and in videos. We can be proud of the musical barriers he broke and how he brought the entire world together musically. We can look at the ways that he made a positive contribution to the world through giving time and money to various charities. It's a shame that we cannot take a moment to give respect to the passing of life and to reflect on the positive contributions made and celebrating his life before immediately delving into negativity. We've all had troublesome parts of our lives, but yet we want to make ourselves feel better by pointing out and highlighting someone else's troubles as greater than our own. We all have battles. And our battles are between us and our Creator, and anyone else we choose to invite in. It is not for me to judge anyone, I feel.

I'm not a music buyer, but I downloaded my favorite MJ songs onto my iPod and worked them into my workout rotation. Six weeks to's time to get back in shape. Enjoy life!


Sunday, May 03, 2009

I borrowed a dvd from the library: AGAINST ALL ODDS - THE ARTISTS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE. The interesting thing about it was some of the issues amongst black artists at that time. Of course, there was more discrimination and segregation during that time and their struggles surrounded that, as can be expected. There were argument's within the race of whether all arts should be to only show the positive side and to advance the race. This was the position of W.E.B. DuBois. On the other side was Alain Locke who felt that individual creativity was important. Questions surrounded whether to depict black life in art or whether to avoid it to make works more appealing to white audiences. The aim was to mix black arts in with other art in order to make it salable. Even when this was done, sales and recognition of black arts by non-blacks was little to non-existent.

What's interesting is that while this could be understood to exist in the '20's and '30's, these same arguments and struggles amongst black artists exist today, about 80 years later. There's still widespread debate on what the purpose of black writing should be. Should it be only positive and advance the race? To show we are intelligent? Is urban fiction a disgrace to the race? Does it bring us down? Should we not write about gangstas, pimps, hos, drugs, and violence? Why are our books segregated in an African American section in bookstores? Non-whites don't go there. Should we mix our books in with the other writers of the same genre to gain more non-black readers? Is that the problem? Is it because our books are segregated 100 feet away in a different section? If we change the location of the books, will they be purchased more?

80 years. Same internal positions. Same exterior arguments. The difference today is the rights gained through civil rights acts,and the increased avenues to publishing. Yet, our voices remain many faceted as it did in the past. Our perspectives are many. But is our perserverence and determination as strong as our predecessors? We have an additional motivation. Money. Black artists of yesterday knew they had to work. It appears that their passion drove their expression while in poverty. Notariety, showing exempilary talents, and assisting other aspiring artists seemed to be the motivations. We can learn a lot from history.

So what's going on now? I've gotten over the behind and just really need to catch up to survive syndrome to the really need to stay on top of things so I won't drown syndrome. All in all, I feel like I'm in a much better place. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for school. I'm midway through my Finance class and have 2 more classes to go after that. I should have completed my MBA program on August 17th, as of now. Yay! Hopefully the health issues won't interrupt that, however, got to take care of health first. Many women may be familiar with fibroids. Although not life threatening, it can have the potential to cause problems depending on how large and how connected to you. Well, mine has been determined to be large and removal is recommended. In the process of getting scheduled for that surgery. And I'm finding the headaches, which has extended to pain in limbs may be stemming from nerve damage from the slipped disc in my neck. So hoping I won't have to undergo surgery for that. Doing testing. We'll see.

Between work, school, and doctor visits, trying to focus on writing whenever I have a free moment, but that's slim to none. Not worried about it now because after August 17th, I can focus more on writing. In the meantime, I'm trying to stay connected by reading on structure when I can. About to order a couple of audio since I'm finding that helpful. Got to do what you can when you can.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So right after my post last month about my apparent underlying quest to be busy and innundated with chaos at all times, apparently I decide it's the perfect time to move. (Huh???) And move, like, now. And, of course it's just me and I'm in school so I have to work around all that. So I spend 2 full weeks arranging for a mover, and packing a little each night and on weekends. Move one weekend. Then unpack a little at a time and on a weekend. So that brings me up to March. Who know's what I'll decide to do this month. Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, I think it was a good choice. Decided to move from the spacious 2 bedroom to a 1 bedroom. Since I hadn't yet bought any furniture since living in my studio apartment in St. Louis, well, it was kind of empty. And I had too much time to come home to an empty apartment to think about what it would take to fill it up. Not necessarily buying the stuff. But the fact that I would HAVE the stuff. And if I HAVE stuff, when I move again, I'd have to move stuff. And I guarantee you, I will be moving again. It's gonna happen. Then I got to thinking that with the economy the way it is, now would be the perfect time for me to organize and get funds together for my FINAL move. Meaning, the next move will be the purchase of a permanent location. It will definitely be here in Georgia. I'm feeling that. So I decided to downsize now to prepare for that final move later.

Even before doing everything, I missed reading. Don't have time to do it at the moment. I'd always listened to audio books here and there, but I decided to do it more since I have no time for reading. Got my library card and I go faithfully every two weeks for new "reads." Couple of weeks ago, I decided to pick up a lecture series on Plato and Aristotle and now, I'm hooked on revisiting Greek literature. I haven't read or studied since high school and even then, I don't remember it being as interesting as I'm finding it now. I don't know if it's just because I'm older and have more of an appreciation for it now. Or if it's because since high school, I've become a writer and I'm now more interested in the early works of literature. In any respect, my mind feels like it's drinking. Like it's been thirsty and it finally found something satisfying enough to qwench its thirst. I can't wait to get in my car and drive to work every morning or on the weekends because I'm ready to listen to more.

I finished Plato and Aristotle and just picked up another lecture series on the Epics. Greek and Roman, and others. And I also picked up the first epic being discussed, Odyssey by Homer. Listening, somehow I feel like I'm learning something about me. It's like getting an understanding of early writers and what made them write. That's the question people ask writers all the time: Why do you write? Although writers will have an answer, if they're like me, the real answer is "I have no earthly idea at all." Honestly, it freaks me out that I can't answer that honestly when asked. It's like there has to me an understandable reason that I can convey to people and they can understand. But truthfully, how can I do that when I don't.

All I can say is that it has nothing to do with being published or making money or being famous for writing. Just like now, I don't get a chance to write much and I miss it so dearly. I still think about my story. I think about writing all the time. I think how much I'm going to write when I finish school. I don't think about publishing or making money. I don't care. Don't get me wrong, when it comes time to promote and sell, I'll do what it takes. It's just that that's not the motivation. I don't think about publishing and money. It is truly like and urge within. It feels like anxiety. And it feels personal. Nothing I want to wear on my chest to announce to the world. I want to write for my own satisfaction. And why that is, especially when there could be nothing to gain, I honestly cannot truthfully explain to anyone. Listening to these lectures feels like a path to understanding myself, because I'm understanding the ancient works of some of the earliest writers. And I feel like I'm reading in between the lines, trying to find and understand me.


Saturday, February 07, 2009

So the day after Superbowl weekend, I'm IMing with a friend, and once again, complaining how I don't have time to do everything I want to do. How there just isn't enough time and I can't relax and enjoy myself, even when I schedule the "me time" in. You know, my usual complaint of the last five years or so. Well, then she replies back, "I think you like being busy." She pretty much says that if I had free time, that I would fill it up with something anyway.

When she said this, my thoughts actually stopped for a minute. A wrinkle (well, several wrinkles) set in on my forehead. Because it rang true. I've cut down my schedule before so that I could focus on my priorities. I've gotten to that space where if I can't do it, I have no problem telling others no. I've gotten to that place where I do only what I want to do. Now, whether that's an epiphany or just plain ol' old age I'm not quite sure. Point is, I've gotten there. But I seem to have removed those things and filled my time up with something else.

So, she goes on to tell me to make a list (don't you just hate the whole make a list and jot down everything you do and go down the list and blah, blah, blah thing) and go through each one and take off the things that don't add value to my life. Take out the things that I'm not getting anything out of. So, I do this. Not in the physical sense but I give it my best mental rendition. As I'm going down the list, I'm finding a way in which everything on my list adds value to me. Now I'm questioning, does it really add value or is that the little lying engineer in me who can make anything to be whatever I want it to be. Engineers are experts at that.

I'm still looking for the answer to this question. Bottom line, I think she's right, as I do think I would literally keel over if I had nothing to do or very little to do. As a matter of fact, I can't even see that happening. I got a waiting list of things that I want to do as soon as my schedule frees up. I want to die with a waiting list of thing to do that are yet to be fulfilled. Because it's like if I run out of goals, I run out of reasons to go on. I'm a goals oriented person and I need tasks to live. That's who I am. I want to relax but too much relaxation is the path to insanity for me.

The other sad reality is that I don't know exactly how to remedy my issue. I'm a hopeless case. *sigh*


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Second day back at work. I'm struggling trying to find a routine to balance work, school, writing, working out, AND SLEEP. I have to fit these in and be able to get 7 to 8 hours sleep, else I'm no good. I hear people all the time talking about how they can get by with only 4 or 5 hours of sleep each day. Okay, I do not find this admirable at all. LOL And that's not something that I'm striving to do. I want to balance my priorities, and still give my body (and muscles) the proper time to get well rested so I can be as fully alert as possible.

Today I'm going to try 10 - 15 minutes of strength training this mnorning, schoolwork (complete a discussion question and a response) and writing (minimum 1000 words) after work. Debating on whether I can do 40 minutes of cardio this evening.

I'm determined to find the proper balance to complete my goals in each area of my life this year.