Tuesday, November 25, 2014

4 Tips To Help You Control The Crazy of Social Media

I woke up depressed and checking my social media sites just made my depression worse. Blogging seems a silly today with all of the problems we're having right now, but my post "4 Tips To Control Social Media Addiction" is being featured over at Kathryn Trattner's blog. 

It's a timely post because it'll be really hard for me to stay away from Twitter and Facebook today. But I'm going to fight to stay off these sites because most updates aren't going to focus on the injustice or the protesters just the looters.  

Anyways in the blog post, I suggest reaching for a cup of water instead of you phone, but today I am replacing the water with a prayer for healing and peace. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

My Plan For Financial Independence

My Plan For Financial Independence


I done write much about this on the blog, but besides writing I love to learn about managing my finances and budgeting  (ain't I fun). Thanks to blogs like Financial Samurai and Mr. MoneyMustache I'm slightly obsessed with early retirement and financial independence.

Background
I was raised on welfare with five brothers and sisters. More than a few times we went without electricity, water, and/or food, so I'm always scared of not having enough money to pay bills or provide for my kids.  Fear of lack inspires me to be frugal. Personal finance blogs have helped me turned my fear into a weapon. Budgeting and frugality  has helped me feel secure and save for things I love like travel. 

The Strength to Change Jobs
There are three sides to financial independence: living frugal, having multiple streams of income, and increasing pay. Because I had a pretty secure job working with people I loved, I stayed at a job that paid 30% below market.

Once I met my hubby (then fiancĂ©), I got the courage (and permission) to quit the job I loved and venture out to make more money with a seven year goal of paying off my student loans, HELOC, and our two mortgages. All in all that totaled $151,000. Paying off that amount of money sounds impossible, but according to this debtcalculator by sacrificing an extra $1,200 a month I could pay everything  in 7 years.

Not Everything Goes to Plan
Both my hubby and I found new jobs for a 30% pay increase for each of us. However, we made plans and God laughed at us. My hubby lost his job six months later.  I didn't feel confident with my new job either.  It had great people, but the work wasn't stable.   

Because I have a professional degree and I'm registered (thank you  Jesus for my aptitude for math), I ended up changing jobs again with a slight pay increase.  However, my husband’s career has gone the way of the dinosaur.  We talked about it, and instead of going back to work at his previous job, which would have gladly took him back, he decided to back to college full-time.

You'd think that pretty much destroyed my get out of debt plan, but I tweaked it.

Staying On Track
To keep some semblance of my plan to reach financial independence:

We cut out travel
In addition to writing and learning about money, I love to travel. To compensate for the loss of income, I cut travel out of our budget. Thankfully, I've been every place on my bucket list except Australia and Paris. If I go to my remaining places, I want to stay at least three weeks.  That requires no kids. So I have to wait until they are older anyway.

I decreased my retirement contributions significantly
This is horrible. It reads like I’m sacrificing my future for the present. But the security of knowing I'm not dependent on any job is priceless. Once I am out of debt, I can easily bump up the contributions. Also, according to the calculator, I'll be saving $30,000 over seven years. And the stock market isn't guaranteed, saving $30,000 is.

Used a portion of my emergency fund
This is also horrible. An emergency fund is for emergencies! But I have back-ups, I have a revolving HELOC and a Roth IRA, which I can withdraw my original funds from penalty free.

Delayed our honeymoon
My hubby and I were married in July, in lieu of presents we asked for monetary donations for our honeymoon, but because of my hubby’s job loss, we used the money to pay for the wedding. I felt bad not using the funds for their original purpose, but it’s irresponsible to honeymoon if you don't have a job. And its just delayed, not canceled.

Did the Sacrifices Pay off?
Between a wedding and a layoff, am I on track? Let's look at the numbers.
  
Original Balance February 2014
$151,089
Planned Balance November 2014
$137,632
Actual Balance November 2014
$137,121


In nine months, I was able to pay off $14,000 in debt even with my hubby being out of work. Not bad! I'm even $500 ahead of schedule. 

Do you have financial plan? What would you have to sacrifice if you're hubby was ever laid-off? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THE LIEBSTER AWARD: 10 QUESTION BLOG HOP

Kathryn Trattner tagged me in the Ten Question Blog Hop about my Work In Progress.  Kathryn writes the most beautiful flash fiction I've ever read 1, 2.  You can also check her out on Twitter . If you stop by her blog, tell her I sent you.

1. What is your WIP about? 
Book 2 of my first novel is about a boy who spent most of his life in the fey realm.  Now he's in the human realm trying to fit in with human teenagers while looking for his parents.

2. What is your main character's greatest strength?
He has a strong sense of right and wrong.

3. What is your main character's greatest flaw?
Coal's greatest flaw is his greatest strength. It challenges his loyalties because most things aren't completely right or completely wrong.

4. Name your main character's favorite food and drink.
Butterfinger. He associates the candy bar with memories of his mother.

5. What animal would your main character be and why?
Lion, he'd be perfectly happy to sit and  be served, but when he's pushed he protects his own.

6. If you and your main character were in a coffee shop, what would you discuss?
I'd ask him what is the biggest difference between the fey realm and human realm. He'd probably ask me why I let his ass get kicked so much in Book One.

7. Who would your main character like to date/marry and why?
Even after all of the lying, the betraying, and the fighting, Coal still imagines that he'll marry Chalcedony. He fell in love with her the moment he saw her. But don't tell anyone. After all that's happened, he thinks that's a pretty horrible fact to admit. 

8. What superhero does your protagonist act like? Why?

He is obsessed with the hulk. He wishes he could go crazy and let his anger guide him.

9. If you made a music video starring your antagonist, what would be his or her song?
I don't have an antagonist in COAL.  At some point, you are going to both love and hate all of my main characters. But the closest person I have to an antagonist would probably say she liked "Turn down for What?" By Lil Jon because she doesn't believe you should mute yourself. Life is too short for that.

10. What fictional character do you like the most and why?

I love Ged from the Earthsea Series by Ursula K. Le Guin. He is a strong mage, but he never boasts about his strength.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Check Me Out Writing For Someone Else

I wrote my first guest post (guest blogging? I'm not sure of the term) over at Katie Cross's blog. I'm comparing Crossfit to Writing. It's a pretty awesome post. 

Please check it out and comment. 



Monday, November 17, 2014

Tablo and the Spirit of NaNoWriMo

There is a new Wattpad-ish like site on the interwebs called Tablo.  It's distinguishing itself as a start up and as a site for writers by initiating a writing contest for the best nano:

"If you publish your NaNoWriMo progress on Tablo and attract a following, you could score
a publishing deal with Momentum, the digital imprint of Pan Macmillan."

My initial reaction: Tablo's contest is not in the spirit of NaNoWriMo. National novel writing month is about finishing a novel and fostering the "I can do this" attitude most new writers don't achieve until they've finished their first nano. 

Anyways, I made up my mind to do a big rant about how the contest goes against the spirit of NaNoWriMo because it fosters the "I must edit attitude" which will kill most nano-ers. Well, I should have of created the post when I was thinking about it, because Tablo has extended their deadline.  You now have a full month after NaNoWriMo ends to refine your 50,000 words.  You hear that? A WHOLE entire month. Good luck with that.

After I've complained about it,  I want to give a shout out to Philip Overby. +Philip Overby is getting it in. He is writing his nano, The Bloody Unicorn, on Tablo and it looks good.  He might even meet the 50,000 word goal. No Pressure, +Philip Overby.  

Full disclosure: I won a contest and a character created in my likeness is in Chapter 7. See if you can tell who I am, and cheer a brother on by liking his page.  Maybe his nano will win and he'll get a publishing deal and then he hook me up. 

Aside and random:

While researching this post, I learned Tablo is also different from Wattpad because it can publish novels, short stories, or whatever you want directly to Amazon and iBooks for a 20% commission. That might be a good deal if you can get around the commission you have to pay to either site, but alas, you still have to pay:

You accept and understand that this commission is on top of any commission sought by distributors and retailers such as the 30% commission received by the Apple iBooks Store and the Amazon Kindle Store.

For example, if you set your list price to $9.99 then Apple will retain ~$3 of this list price, Tablo will then receive a ~$2 commission from this sale, and the author will receive a ~$5 royalty. Pasted from <https://tablo.io/terms>

So if you use Tablo you lose an 20% more of your profits instead of going directly to Amazon and iBooks yourself.

This post turned out more negative than I planned it to be. But ultimately any platform that gives authors a way to connect with new readers can't be all bad. And the site looks beautiful! Once I get more time, I might go over there and work on a story. Until then please hop on over to Philip's page  and check out Khanee the Big-Eyed Corpse Eater.  

Please explain to me why anyone would do this? Seriously. Let's discuss.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween. Medusa Is Live



Happy Halloween!!


In honor of my favorite holiday, I've posted my short story Medusa onto Amazon and Smashwords. (I get a bigger cut if you use Smashwords).


And don't forget Chaos is free on Amazon right now. For every honest rate/reviews of Chaos, you'll get Medusa for free in the format of your choice from Smashwords if you send me the link or a snapshot.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chaos Created by Me

Constance Burris Allen Chaos Short StoryIn honor of my birthday and because I've been given the precious gift of time, I went ahead and published my short story CHAOS to Smashwords and Amazon.  And because its my birthday, I made it free on Smashwords for today.

I always thought that if I was going to publish something it would be my novel first, but ebooks have created a big demand for short fiction. Something than can be read in one sitting or two.

The short story can be found here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/471453

I'm hoping to get 100 ratings/reviews of the book.  So if you read the book can you please rate it for me.  Good or bad, all ratings are welcome. The book blurb is below:

Dr. Michael Chauncey is a naval psychiatrist who uses his secret ability as a telepath to help his patients, but when a suspected AWOL and fellow telepath walks into his office, he’ll have to go to extraordinary lengths to learn where this woman has been for the past seven years.