9 Ways to Reflect on the Past Year

Thanks to a little magazine I love, Daphne’s Diary, I didn’t have to plan out what I wanted to write for my reflection on 2017. I simply had to look at the page and follow the 9 Ways to Reflect on the Past Year guidance.

Here it goes:
1. I would describe the past year in one sentence as a stressful roller-coaster ride that has left me at the top of a hill and within the first week of 2018, I will know if I am going to continue the ride or finally get off of it and try a new one.
Metaphorically speaking of course. This all pertains to my day job. I have applied for a full-time position and if I get it, I will just have one place of traditional business to go to. As it stands, if I do not get the job, I will still be teaching at 4, yes 4 different colleges to piece together a full-time living without any full-time benefits.
One job means I can spend my non-work hours on myself, on my side hustle, aka writing! When teaching at 4 schools in a part time capacity, one class here, two there, four at another, it becomes a constant juggling act. It has improved my time management in ways I wasn’t even aware was lacking until I willingly boarded this ride. That is part of adjunct life, you can’t say no because you never know what the next semester will bring. Sometimes that means a full course load, sometimes it means a summer off, so all the stress of 4 colleges has to be spaced out in case one semester is empty. I already know that for one of my seated campuses I don’t have anything for the summer. Again, the full-time job eliminates this constant uncertainty. It provides stability in a way I have not known in years.

2. There were multiple events that were not so nice in 2017 to include multiple interviews for jobs that in not so many words I was told I was overqualified for and they didn’t think I would stay if another opportunity came along. This is the worst excuse an employer can give me. If I didn’t think I could spend some time in the job, I wouldn’t have applied for it. I see a relatively known schedule, job security, and a vision plan better than the one I currently have as amazing reasons to take a job that I can (bonus) earn a retirement from. My current retirement plan will have me well into my 90s at this rate. Between paying my student loans and saving for my future (ha!) the student loans tend to take the lions share of that. I’d work full-time at a lot of places right now and not feel like the job is below me. Certainly, a steady income is not a “step down” to my bank account!

3. The characteristic that has helped me the most over the past year and all the ones before it is resiliency. I am going to overcome obstacles. I always have. Sometimes that may mean turning around and finding a new path, others I can go around, climb over, dig under, or in some personal cases, cut loose the boulders truing to drown me, but each decision has to be made carefully and I have taken a lot of hits before I come out swinging, but when I do…It’s a fight to the end.

4. The events that gave me a good feeling over the past year were comments from my students, comments from my readers, comments from my friends and family, and none of those are in any particular order as they came from different sources at different times. I just like to know that I am making a difference sometimes. It helps when people confirm that for me.

5. The compliments I remember the most are the most recent book reviews on Amazon. My writing means a great deal to me and I am branching out into more territory. To get a good review on a book is a grand feeling, and I cherish that.

6. The two biggest challenges of the past year were time management (which I learned how to do in a whole new way thank you stressful life and crazy schedule) and personal health (which I failed at more than I want to admit thanks to not learning how to manage my time a bit better, and faster.)

7. In the last year, the thing I am most proud of is my research. I haven’t shared any of it, but I will be doing so on my Creative Writing Guide Facebook Page. I have been researching for a long time and this year I am finally going to share what I found and hopefully, it will add to what I am proud of in my life: giving something back.

8. The biggest lesson I learned in 2017 is that I cannot put me aside for others. I must make time to do the things I love to do or I will not be able to do anything else well.

9. My best memory of the year is creating the page to inspire others to write and to hopefully give them some free tools. Many writers, of all ages and for all purposes, need free resources. I hope that my page will give them some and inspire them to invest time and money in others as they can.

Thank you to Daphne’s Diary for the writing prompt!

Cara

Unresolved Resolutions

I’m not making any New Year resolutions for 2018. Are you?

I decided when my last birthday, Sept 9, rolled around that it was actually a bit more accurate as the start of a new year for me. I made my resolutions then and I have to tell you…

I am still working on the first one!

I was once an active duty Marine so my lack of discipline is astounding! I am also slightly allergic to chocolate, so my inability to not eat it at all is also somewhat unsettling. I simply eat the chocolate until the roof of my mouth begins to swell, then I stop. This is not a technique I suggest to anyone!

My main goal was to eat healthier. That’s it. Small steps taken each and every day to make a larger change. Only, I don’t like taking small steps. In my mind, all this sugar addiction is just a matter of me having enough discipline to say no to that Coke Cola or the truffles that arrived from Harry and David as Christmas gifts. Not to mention the cookies. Oh the cookies! I am a total Cookie Monster!

Hence my lack of motivation to create a new resolution when I am still working on the one I made just 4 months ago.

I am resolving not to make any new resolutions until I have settled into a comfortable place with my old, unresolved ones.

~Cara

September 9th and Other Thoughts

Today is my birthday. It is the beginning of a new year, a new chapter, in the book of my life. Maybe, I’m being a little melodramatic. Maybe not. There are so many things I thought I would have accomplished at this stage in my life. This isn’t to say that I haven’t accomplished a lot of things. Overall, I’m pretty happy with where I am. I just thought my goals and achievements would have lined up a little differently than they have. I suppose this happens to all of us.

With this in mind, my 1st day of my new year is filled with ideas and opportunities. I have to consider that maybe, just maybe, the universe would rather I dedicate my full-time focus on something other than being a college professor. I can continue to work part-time; however, the stress of finding a full-time spot has been exhausting, frustrating, and a detriment to my writing. This year, my new year, I am going to let it go. If something works out, it does, but my focus will no longer be on chasing something when I have an opportunity to take hold of and embrace the current path in front of me.

As an author, I’m looking at new ways to challenge myself and to expand my readership. This is why I have decided to write a couple short stories for various series in the Kindle Worlds. In addition to these short stories, I will be releasing some original work in a variety of genres.

Thank you for taking this journey with me. I’ll keep you posted on the new releases.

PhD and the many meanings behind one little degree

Pretty High Debt = My PhD
There are so many benefits to pursuing higher education. I get it. I’m an advocate for it. I just wish that I didn’t have my sights set so high and that the loan rates weren’t so low. During the times I was between jobs and between paychecks, loan money helped pay for books and bills. I know that is what it is supposed to do. Once I get this degree I am supposed to find this lucrative job that will enable me to pay all that money back. Maybe I will, but in case no one has seen the news lately, there is a real crisis in the job market these days.
I know. I have competed with people who already have a PhD for a job that required a bachelor’s. Yes, education is taking those hits too.
My journey to this degree is at the last stages. I have to complete my dissertation and I then have to defend it. Once that is over, I will have the Potentially Hirable Degree (PhD). It’s all really wild when I consider what I really want to do is teach in the English department full-time at a community college or university in Southern California.
I enjoy being in a classroom and empowering students with the gift of words and language. We really take for granted how amazing it is to have freedom of speech, to disagree or agree with one another and find ways of communicating that without violence. That is the power of words. Language incites violence sometimes, but often words are able to subdue rage or prevent events.
These words are simply meant to admit that I have this last part of this degree to finish and I am struggling with it. I am frustrated with it. I would really like for it to be over. I feel like I am in some odd world of literary hazing where people who already have this degree find ways of making me feel like I know less at this point than I did when I started the program. I just know that too much time and money has been invested. Whether the job stays the same or becomes a dream come true for me, that Potential Heart Disorder (PhD) is going to be achieved.
PhD, it is a lot more than just a degree.

Cara

Book Pirates and Me

I know there isn’t a lot I can do about book pirates and the theft of my e-books. I have tried to use digital rights management. I have limited the places I make the books for sale. All it has done is make me more angry, frustrated, and confused.

I’m pissed because these people don’t really like books or authors. They obviously don’t care that my income from my books supplements my income as an adjunct teacher. I need my sales. Not to buy bon-bons and bubble bath either. I need my royalties to my bills.

I’m confused because I don’t know if the pirates are being intentionally cruel to people or if hey are just ignorant. Maybe they don’t realize that not every book published is rolling millions of dollars towards the authors. I won’t be paying off my student loans any time soon with my royalties, and if people keep stealing my books it will take even longer!

I have heard the argument from all sides and I have tried to talk myself into just ignoring it. I can’t. I really feel like jay and Silent Bob in that movie. I want to print off all of their addresses and go to their houses and kick their asses. At least the people in that movie wrote a review. People stealing my books aren’t even doing me that favor. I mean if you’re going to fuck me in the ass, at least give a reach around, right?

Hence the frustration. At this point there isn’t much I can do about it but call people out by name and hope that someone somewhere in the chain of online communication will judge them. I mean it would be the best kind of Karma for their kids to grow up to be writers and have other people steal their work. Then they can cry to mommy and daddy and they can say, oh dear, it’s okay, I used to steal from authors all the time.  However, they wouldn’t think it was okay if it was their work or the work of their family.

I mean sure, everyone is entitled to my work for free. I mean they pad for the cover art, they sat hours and hours in a chair writing the book in the first place. They paid for an editor. Oh wait, they didn’t? Huh?  That was me? Oh, well then….why the fuck does anyone think it is okay to pirate my work?

The sites that allow this to happen make it damn near impossible to just tell them to remove the link. They know what is taking place at their websites. They turn a blind eye to it. I have to hope these people will eventually get a moral bone in their body and stop this nonsense. I mean I argued forever that e-books should be affordable, they should not cost a lot of money. I now know why they are selling at 8 and 12 bucks. They have to in order to compensate for the losses.

Then there are those who say that those people reading it online for free wouldn’t have bought it anyways. Fine, they wouldn’t have read it either. I don’t want thieves to read my work. I’d rather never sell another book in my life than to look at a site and see that my book Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off has had over 10 thousand pirated downloads. I could probably pay a bill with those kind of royalties, so yeah, it hurts, it burns, it angers.

I obviously need to get back into the gym and do some yoga and remember that what goes around comes around and all that peace and harmony stuff. What I really want is for people to take my books down off of their pirated sites. If not, then I really want them to experience it in their life someday soon so that maybe they could be less ignorant, entitled, or whatever it is that makes them feel like they can do this.

Recently these two have contributed to my frustration:

Lief77 at Mobilism not only stole my books but also put a logo on my covers! http://www.mobilism.org/viewtopic.php?f=1292&t=610713&start=0&sid=95c79a51013c3e819f5ee01d8de6a4dc&view=print …

Please ask Ukkin at Scribd to take my book down! http://www.scribd.com/doc/165088437/Get-a-Grip-Hollywood-Nights-North-Cara …