It’s been a year already

megrad

 

On May 16, 2014, I graduated from college. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. It’s been 365 days (give or take a day) and I can’t believe all that has happened and all that has changed. For one, my dream has changed, but it also hasn’t. It was always my dream to be a New York Times Bestselling author. I thought that was what I wanted and the only thing that mattered was achieving that. As I looked at the publishing process and what it really meant to be a NYTBA, it forced me to question what it really meant to be a NYTBA and figure out if that was what I really wanted. Is the title of New York Times Bestselling author what is most important to me or is reaching Bestselling status and having my work recognized by billions of people what I want?

For me, what’s important is knowing that there is someone that enjoys my books.  The validation and the recognition doesn’t really matter. The title would be amazing, but won’t change me as a writer or how I feel about my writing. Who doesn’t want recognition and accolades and awards, but what really matters is being able to share my stories with whoever will listen and to provide a place of refuge for the girl like me that didn’t fit in and found comfort in books. It doesn’t matter how many books are sold, just that someone find themselves at home in my book.

All I want to do it write these books and not stress about sales, but the funny thing about that is, I need to make a living somehow. I always felt like a traitor when I even thought of making a living on anything other than writing. I thought that writing was the only way I should be making money, but then I remembered a quote by Casey Neistat:

 “I always made a living, so I could make movies. I never made movies to try and make a living. And I think that is a big mistake that a lot of newcomers do is that they focus on how can my passion pay me. And I think that is a terrible place to start. If the reason why you’re doing anything creative is to make a living, then you are doing it wrong. You get into it because it is a true passion. It’s something you believe in. Or don’t get into it at all.

Every time I read this quote, I’m reminded of the genius of it. Trying to make a living off of my writing after only being out of school for a year has been stressful, so why not make a living doing something else? I could still do something that I love and this would allow to write as I please, at my own pace and not have to stress about it. It’s taken me a year to really get it and I am glad I finally did. This year has been a much needed break. I’ve learned so much about myself and the real world. This year has been a non-stop lesson and I’m thankful for every minute of it even when it was hard. This year has been a lot harder than I expected. I wasn’t prepared for the transition between college and the real world, but now I’m ready for the next stop.Now that this year is over, it’s time for me to get back to work.It’s time for me to search for a job. It’s time for me to do more, but just because I make a living doing something else doesn’t mean writing isn’t my one true passion or that I’m just going to forget about in my pursuit of a living. I’ll still be writing. I’ll still be posting on this blog and I definitely won’t be forgetting about the newsletter.  During this year, that’s one thing I know for sure, I will never stop writing. I know reality likes to rear it’s ugly head, but never forget your passion. It makes you who you are.

<3 My

I’ve had a revelation…again

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you know that I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to promote my book/ myself. It’s been hard finding something that works and something that I will keep up consistently. The most used form of online promotion is social media, but I’m sorry to say, it’s just not my thing. Even if I’m a millennial (that’s supposed to love all things social media), I find it pointless and unnecessarily time-consuming.

gasp lol

I can hear the chorus of shocked gasps already, but what can I say? Since I’m not the biggest social media fan and 75% of my business is online, you can imagine how difficult it has been to get myself out there. This doesn’t mean I haven’t tried social media at all. Believe me, I’ve tried and every time I tweet or post a Facebook status on the blog’s Facebook page, it all just feels so pointless. As I type it, I wonder if anyone is even reading it, do they care what I have to say, is this going to make a difference to my platform or am I just wasting my time? Needless to say, I’ve had a little existential crisis with this promoting. I had to take a step back and ask myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. It took me a while to come back to the internet world. If you were wondering why I was ghost for a month, now you know why.

I had to remind myself of why I do what I do. Why do I post? Why do I tweet? It is and will always be because I love to write and I genuinely want to help people with what I’ve learned and the craziness that is my life. Even though I knew this already, it needs frequent repeating. Everything I do should reflect who I am and who I want to be. I shouldn’t  just be tweeting or on social media because it will help build my platform and get me out there. I should be on social media to help and to give useful information. I think that sometimes we forget that social media has a purpose and though it is beneficial in building your platform, that shouldn’t be the only reason you’re on there. For one, people will catch on that you don’t really care about what you’re saying and are just trying to get your name seen. No one likes that person and I definitely don’t want to be that person.

I may never be a social media maven, but that means I need some way to stay in contact with you outside of this blog. I’ve been doing some research and I think I’ve come up with something.

*Enormous drum roll please*

I’m going to do a newsletter!

Geez, I hope that wasn’t an anti-climatic announcement. Hear me out! A newsletter.  A No Rules, Just words newsletter filled with tips, exclusive content, awesomeness, and much, much more to help us get through this craziness that is life. It’ll keep me from having to end out random tweets that I don’t really care about to people that probably don’t care. Instead, I’ll get to create a newsletter for people that want to read them and give them information that will hopefully help them. As long as it helps at least one person, I’ll be happy and feel like I’m really doing something.This doesn’t mean I’ll stay off social media altogether. This just allow me to use another avenue to speak with you all.

If you’d like to sign up for the newsletter, please fill out the contact form below. Also, I’m open to any ideas you all might have as to what I should put in the newsletter so please put them in the contact form as well and for now the newsletter will be called NRJW Monthly. If you have any other ideas for names, also put that in the form. Maybe we can vote on some of the best ideas.

<3 My

Weight doesn’t matter!

weight2

I think I have FINALLY come to the conclusion that how much I weigh doesn’t matter. It’s no secret that I have a love-hate-and more hate relationship with my weight. It seems that no matter how much work I do, I don’t lose any weight.

For the entire month of April, I worked out 6 days a week. That may sound excessive to some, but it was simply doing something active whether it was going for a walk or doing a half hour of cardio. For most of the month, I did an exercise plan designed by Blogilates, a certified Fitness channel on YouTube. I’ve enjoyed the month of being more active, challenging myself with the exercises and overall, getting stronger.

During the month, I told myself I wouldn’t weigh myself. In fact, I hadn’t weighed myself in a while before then, at least a couple of months. Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I thought weighing myself was a good idea. Maybe it was just wishful thinking that the scale would reflect how good I was feeling. It did not. I was feeling pretty good about myself until I got on the scale and saw that I weighed 238.6 pounds. *gasp* I gained 10 pounds since my last weigh-in!!! I looked at the scale, like, seriously? I didn’t even lose a pound. This made me reflect on the month. Should I have eaten better? Eaten less fast food? Maybe I should have worked out more?

You want to know what my answer is to that? A resounding no! I worked out 6 days a week and that’s hard enough without also depriving myself of any food worth eating. Of course, I don’t gorge myself or eat more than I need to. I feel like I’m eating a lot better with the occasional fast food day, so that makes the lack of weight loss that much more depressing. And I know what you’re thinking, I should consider a diet. I’ll be honest, I enjoy life and food way too much to starve myself on a diet. I refuse to, so I won’t. Sure, my body isn’t as toned as I’d like and I’ll never look like a supermodel, but I’m happy and I’m getting in better shape than I’ve been in a while. Besides muscle weighs more than fat so there’s a good chance I’ll weigh more no matter what I do.

When met with a problem(like weight loss), you have two options either fix it or accept it. I’ve learned to accept my weight and my every bit of cellulite. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop working out, but it does mean I’ll stop stressing out about it. Worrying about my weight is doing nothing for my self-esteem and worrying is definitely not going to make me lose weight any faster, so, say it with me, “Weight Doesn’t Matter!!!”

Join the conversation: How do you feel about weight loss, exercise and all things fitness? Does weight matter to you?

<3 My

M<3: Favorites of the moment

I haven’t posted  M<3: Book Recommendations in a while. I’ve been lazy about posting them here and also am trying to limit the number of posts I do each week. The recommendation on top of my regular post was getting a little much, but if you still want to read about the books I’ve been liking, they’re on my goodreads page here.

Now to make up for slacking, I’m going to let you all know what I’ve been loving so far this year.

Favorite Movies

beyond the lights

Beyond the Lights: Wanted to see it in the theaters when it came out and I finally got to see it this year. Loved it so much!!!

book thief

The Book Thief: So poetic. The script was so beautifully written. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. I tried to read the book and it was a little difficult too read, so I saw the movie instead. Now, I might have to read the book because the movie had me and the book is usually better.

Favorite Books

meant

Meant to Be: I already wrote how much I loved this book on goodreads. Check that out here.

fault

 

The Fault in our Stars: This book was great and twice as good as the movie which is what I saw first. The review is also on goodreads. Check it out here.

Favorite Hair Products

moisturizer

Moisturizer: Simply put, my scalp gets dry and I need to moisturize. This is the absolute best moisturizer I’ve found.

shampoo

Shampoo and Conditioner: It’s a shampoo and conditioner in one. Do I need to say more?

Favorite Places

inspiration corner

My inspiration corner: I’ve done a post about this before. It’s a corner across from my bed that has loads of inspirational quotes. I read them every once in a while to keep me motivated.

 

library

Library: Do I have to explain why I love the library? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Favorite Normal Person Activity

getting healthy

Exercise: I’ve been working out 3 days a week since late January and I’ve actually kept up with it. If you know me, you know (1) my relationship with exercise/my weight and (2) my inability to keep up with anything, so my keeping up with exercise is amazing. Especially since I’m enjoying myself and am even considering working out everyday. I can see the progress and I’m ready to do more.

Favorite random activities

learn

Learning new things: I’ve been learning German and how to write in shorthand. Why am I learning these? No idea. Will I use them in the future. No idea either, but I like learning new things and doing something I wouldn’t normal do.

What have you been loving so far this year?

Until Next Time!
<3 My

 

I’ve had a revelation…

Now don’t get excited and think I’ve figured out the cure for the common cold or the meaning of life. I’ve just gotten a step closer to better understanding what the heck I’m doing with my life. Get ready for a story:
stoytell
In two months, I would have been out of college for a year. In the ten months since I’ve graduated, I have been focusing on my writing and self-published my first novel. I am also currently working on the second book of the series. Sales of the first book have been okay, nothing earth-shattering, but still amazing when I realize that there are people out there reading my book. I would have been happy selling just one book, but sadly, I can’t live off of one book’s sale. I’ll talk more about that later.
When I graduated, my parents, mostly my mom, convinced me that I needed a year off to regroup, focus on me and my writing, and really think about what I want out of my life. So, I moved back home and spent the year doing just that. The ideal situation would have been that in the year, I finish my book, publish it, and then reap the benefits. The entire year, I was hoping for the ideal situation even though realistically, according to a publishing axiom, it takes about 3 books for an author to gain traction and get noticed.
Right now, I only have one book under my belt, so it’s unlikely I’ll be reaping many benefits anytime soon. Of course, I knew this year was supposed to be about me chilling out, but I couldn’t help wanting amazing book sales, too. I mean, who wouldn’t?
I’m an optimist (maybe sometimes to a fault) and when I graduated and started working on my book, my thoughts were all best case scenario and my book was going to sell amazingly. In reality (the enemy of the optimist), sales were slow and to be honest, it was beginning to stress me out. I thought the low sales were my fault and that I wasn’t doing enough or didn’t know enough about the craft or the business to be effective. Needless to say, it has been a little disheartening even if I have that publishing axiom in my mind and obviously know I probably won’t be discovered overnight. But where you’re expecting great sales and don’t get them, no amount of axioms and logic can make you feel better and on top of that, my year was a complete break meaning I haven’t been working so I could focus solely on my writing. So, that means I have low sales and no money. Luckily, I live at home and don’t have bills/rent/food to pay for, but still, it’s depressing. It’s depressing just writing this , but I promise this story is about to get a lot more positive real soon.
Where was I? So, I was sitting there, a little depressed, not sure what I should be doing next and then… I watch a YouTube video.You should already know my love of YouTube, but I don’t think I have ever found a video that I spoke to me as much as this one did.The video was words of wisdom from Casey Neistat, a filmmaker. Here’s the link if you would like to watch it in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxatKNdEw8w.
About 2 minutes in was what spoke to me. Casey said, “I always made a living so I could make movies. I never made movies to try and make a living. And I think that is a big mistake that a lot of newcomers do is that they focus on how can my passion pay me. And I think that is a terrible place to start. If the reason why you’re doing anything creative is to make a living, then you are doing it wrong. You get into it because it is a true passion. It’s something you believe in. Or don’t get into it at all.
I saw the video and it was like all of the lights came on. I was looking to my writing to make me money and to make a living when it would probably be a little easier to make a living so I can write. It made so much sense that I wondered why I hadn’t figured it out before. And just because I start working doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my writing. It just allows me to save up for what I need and  write without being a starving artist or having to stress  about sales. This way writing stays my passion and my love and I’m not looking to it to be my only source of income. I can write at my own pace without worry. I’ve been stressing myself out worrying about sales and writing as many books as possible, but now I know better and will do better.
I’m not sure who this is for. Maybe I just needed to write this out. Maybe there’s someone else out there in a similar situation that’s now comforted to know someone else is going though the same thing. I’m right there with you and am currently working for freelance writing jobs to “make my living.” If you happen to know of any, please send them my way. I’ve been doing a lot of searching on my own already, so if you all want, I can compile a list of all of the freelance job sites I’ve found into a blog post. Just let me know. I hope this post has helped someone and you all have enjoyed another peek into me trying to figure out my life.
 Until Next time!
<3 My

It’s okay not to post

I’m letting you know now that this post is going to be short. It might not even have a picture. I think I’m going to use this post as a reminder that it’s okay not to post. If a day or a week or even a month goes by and I haven’t posted then that’s okay. This blog isn’t my job, it isn’t a source of income, so I don’t technically have to post. If there isn’t anything I want to write about, I don’t have to post. If I’m just not feeling it, then I don’t have to post. I think I’ve gotten it in my head that I have to be consistent and I have to do this and I have to do that, but at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. If I force myself to do it, even when I don’t want to then it’s going to become a chore and I don’t want that. If you were hoping for a consistent schedule with engaging content all the time, then I am really sorry to disappoint you. Part of me thinks that because there are so many readers of this blog, I should be consistent and have regular content, but consistent is how I define it. Consistent is once a week, once every two weeks, once every month or even every three months. I am not stapled down a schedule (I think you all know how I feel about schedules) and I should be able to decide how often I post and if I get busy, be able to post less frequently.  If you’re wondering, I’m not saying this because of a comment I was given. I am just incredibly hard on myself when it comes to this blog, but I’m learning (and I hope all of you are okay with this) that it is okay not to post. When I post, you’ll have something funny and quirky to read and if I don’t, you have over 200 other blog posts to read and a plethora of other social media I’m on to explore. In all, I think that’s fair.

From your quirky writer friend,

My

P.S. I think I’m going to change up my ending from time to time, let me know what you think.

 

M<3: Last Look Back by Lara Sean (Book Recommendation)

book cover mockups1

Before we begin, you can read the complete summary of Last Look Back on goodreads.

This recommendation is a little different from my others. Unlike my other recommendations where I tell you my thoughts on a particular book, I’m going to share what people are saying about my book, Last Look Back by Lara Sean. I could rave about my book all day, but I think it has more clout when you hear it form someone else, so here you go:

“I love to read all types of books and every once in a while look for a good mystery/thriller story. When I received my copy of Last Look Back, it did not take me long to get involved in Octavia Steele’s life journey. Mid-way through the book, I found myself unable to put it down and realized it was 2:00 a.m. in the morning! I honestly had to force myself to read one chapter a night until the last 3-4 chapters. I finally finished the book at 3:00 a.m. that morning. Seriously! I know that I am not the only one who truly enjoyed this book and is anxiously waiting for the next one.” -Phyllis P.

“Last Look Back is a novel that kept me captivated from start to finish. I found myself immersed in a new type of mystery with twists that you’ll never see coming. This is a novel written for those who love the world of espionage, romance, and suspense all merged tastefully into one.”               – Mi’chelle W.

“Last Look Back is an exciting story that follows the main character, Octavia “Vie” Steele, and her journey to reclaim her life. Vie’s quirky attitude, strong mentality, and loyalty to those around her makes her a lovable character. The story is not predictable. It has different elements that draws readers in. I had a great time reading it. It kept me on the edge the entire time. I was engulfed in figuring out how Vie would turn out in the end.” -Dominique J.

The reviews above have been used with permission and is their honest opinion of my book.Little to no edits have been made to their original statement.

Last Look Back is available for purchase. The paperback can be found here and the ebook can be found here.

From the #1 Rule-breaker,

My

Finally getting the hang of this…

As I progress in my writer journey, I am learning how much of a business it all is. I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but the business side has not come as easy to me as the writing side has. That’s probably because I’ve been writing a lot long, but I think you understand where I’m going with this. Throughout my writing journey, I have searched the web for advice on how to sell my book and have found myself inundated with words like business plans and marketing, all of which is Greek to me. Sadly, this means I haven’t done as much marketing as I should have been doing. I stumbled upon an article a few days ago and then the light bulb when and I suddenly got it. I saw that I was looking at the wrong one. Since marketing is such a foreign term to me, I let that discourage me from doing what I needed to do.  Now, 4 months after my book’s been published, I think I have a better understanding of this marketing thing and I’m so excited.

Jeremy Renner is also very excited that I finally got the hang of this.

Jeremy Renner is also very excited that I finally got the hang of this.

Before, I saw marketing as having as many social media platforms as possible and post frequently or at least consistently on them. I see now that that is only a part of it. If I want to sell my book, I first need to know the people I’m selling my book to. I can’t just post and expect all of the work to be done. I need to interact with prospective readers and fellow writers. I need to build relationships and get my name out there. That’s what’s going to sell books. So, the plan is to be even more active on the social media site that I am on. I need to go further than just posting a lot. I need to comment on posts that interest me and strike up conversations with authors if only to pick their brain about the craft. When I look at marketing as just a fancy word for networking, that makes it significantly less daunting and a lot more doable.

For the social media that I have, I am going to spend at least 15 minutes a day commenting on posts and interacting with people. The way I see it, I’m on social media at least an hour every day anyway. At least this way, I’m being more productive and getting my name out there. The only foreseeable issue is that I spend too much time and stick with whatever time limit I choose. I need to protect my writing time and ensure that my “marketing” efforts do not not encroach on the time I need to spend on my work. It  might be a good idea to figure out a schedule and see what works best for me. I will probably share the schedule so you all can get an idea of how much time I’m spending on social media. You can also let me know if what I’m doing is effective or if I need to try something else. I appreciate any feedback you can give me.

From the #1 Rule-breaker,

My

Goodbye “Storytime with My!”

It’s time we’ve said goodbye to Storytime.

GoodBye

As we say goodbye to another project, it’s got me thinking. I recently read an article about what makes people ditch a book, but what about what makes a writer ditch a project they’re working on. Is it that the project is too ambitious or overwhelming, too boring, too normal or are they just not feeling it anymore? For me, the last option is usually what causes me to give up a project and that’s why Storytime is going bye-bye. The novelty of doing a story every week has worn off and now the show as a whole is becoming more work than it’s worth. The short stories aren’t serving a purpose other than I have  4 more short stories to my collection and the show isn’t serving it’s original purpose either. It was supposed to be a break during the week, but is a lot more work than I first imagined and hard to keep us with, so I think it’s time for me to say goodbye.

If you’ve been following me for a while, or really just the last few months, you know I go through phases. I get really excited about a project or schedule and before long the excitement inevitably wanes. Despite the number of times this cycle has happened, I still find myself feeling bad about it. That I should stop giving up on projects and stick with it. But then the other side of me says that if I’m not feeling a project anymore then I should let it go. If I make myself do it, the creativity will suffer and then what’s the point. I’m a person that needs to try a lot of things before I settle on one that I like. I believe my blog is a testament to this trying and you all get a true view of what I’m like and what my process is like. Plus, I can promise that depending on the day, you’ll always find something different and I’m sure that as a reader that’s what you want. I’m glad that even though there are numerous projects that I’ve worked on, the overall framework of the blog hasn’t changed. Throughout each cycle, I’ve gotten better as a writer and found projects that I like while figuring out which projects weren’t the best for me. It’s a process that I’m thoroughly enjoying and that I don’t plan on changing. It’s who I am and I accept that.

Give it some time and “Storytime with My” might be back. This might be goodbye for now, but that’s depends completely on you all. If you’ve been enjoying “Storytime with My,” speak now and I’ll start it up again. It’ll be less frequent, but on a consistent basis, probably sometime in April. For the month of March, I’ll be working extra hard on my manuscript so the second draft is done by April and I can work on book 3 for Camp Nanowrimo. Yes, I’m doing Camp Nanowrimo for the first time this year. I’ve never been to camp so I’m extremely excited for this new virtual experience. Whether I decide to bring back Storytime or not, the responses I’ve done so far will be added to the Short Stories tab which you may have noticed in the menu above. There you will find all of the short stories I’ve written on this blog in one convenient location. You’re Welcome.

From the #Rule-breaker,

My

P.S. Looking for a good book to read? Let me recommend my book,  Last Look Back for your consideration. The paperback can be found by clicking here and the ebook can be found  here.