Monday, December 15, 2014

Mo' Money

In My Plan for  Financial Independence, I mentioned my husband decided he'd ditch his dead end job and return to school. I agreed, but with a few restrictions.  He would have to pay his own tuition and he would have to earn his own spending money for hanging out with the guys. That meant that I would take care of the mortgage, gas, groceries and all of the grown up stuff. I included those restrictions because one, I have my own plan for world domination and I believe in order for relationships to work me having to set aside the money to pay for tuition would negatively affect my get out of debt plan. And two, I wanted to see how hard it would be to make money without having a boss. We all know most people will never hit it big working for someone else even with a college degree and a well-paying job.  Financial independence is more likely if you work for yourself and own a business. 

This is what he has done so far to earn extra money:

Rental Income
My husband lived with me for two years before we were married. For the entire time, his one bedroom renovated 1920's house sat empty. I had been bugging him to rent it out for a while, but he refused. Secretly, I think he wanted the house to stay empty incase it didn’t work out between the two of us.

We're married now and he needed the money, so he finally decided to clear out his bed, clothes, and car parts and rent the house t. 

Monthly income: $473 
Duration: 2 hours per month
Hourly wage: $236

He's also car enthusiast who spends hours at a time looking at car porn. He walks around the rows and rows of metal caucuses and broken windshields at junk yards as a stress reliever. So selling salvaged car parts on Ebay was a no brainer. He also buys new parts from sites like Alibaba and sells them to other car obsessives from the neighborhood.

Monthly income: $200/month depending on the price of the salvaged units
Duration: 4 hours (salvaged, posting the parts online, and then shipp)
Hourly wage: $50/hour

Is it Enough
His old job paid $13 per hour, which netted $1600 per month. Now he's averaging $112/hr. He hasn't come up with enough income streams to meet his previous monthly wage, but he is making enough money to make tuition.

Since he's on winter break we're playing around with Uber and/or Lyft… I'll be posting our experience on ridesharing programs as soon as I can figure out how to get registered.  So far it's not as easy as we thought it would be.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Sanctum Series: The Boy and The Girl by Madhuri Blaylock

Before I get to the meat of my post, I wanted to let you know the first book of the Sanctum series by Madhuri Blaylock has 62 reviews on Amazon for an average review of 4.6. Wow!

Because I know you're going to want to buy the books after you read the character interview, the Amazon link is here. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers both books are free. 

Now that the important links are out of there way. Here is the character interview I did with Wyatt, a Class A Sanctum Warrior. Is it just me or does that title sound really sexy?

Constance: Tell us a little about The Sanctum and your involvement (if you can).

Wyatt: The rote answer, the one we all learn from age ten: The Sanctum is an organization, created by the gods to maintain the peace amongst Magicals and keep humans in the dark about all things “other.” The real answer, the one I’ve finally come to grips with and accepted, is that we are an organization run amok,  created to be peacekeepers, evolved into sadistic monsters.
My “involvement” is not by choice - I’m a descendent of one of the Founding Families of The Sanctum, my parents run The New York Academy, and up until a little while ago, it was assumed I would one day take over for them. I mean, that’s what The Sanctum’s most brilliant Class A Warrior does with himself, no? These days, my agenda and that of The Sanctum’s doesn’t seem to be that great a fit...

Constance: Do you have any life mantras or code that you live by?

Wyatt: I look at my life and see it like so: there was my life before Dev and my lift after Dev. Ryker likes to call it “Wyatt BD” and “Wyatt AD” and even though he’s making fun of me, giving me a hard time like only he can do, it’s true.

I think before Dev, everyone would tell you that my life mantra was “Rule with honor and peace” - The Sanctum’s motto, and one people assumed I blindly followed. But that could not be further from the truth. Just because I don’t wear my motives and agendas on my sleeve, that I don’t air my grievances and disdain for all to hear, does not mean I’m a mindless follower and don’t have my own code of honor.

My life mantra remains the same, before and after meeting Dev: at all costs, protect those I love.
Constance:  Explain this thing you have with your buddy Ryker, seem like there’s some serious bromance action going on.

Wyatt: Ha! I don’t know what it is about our relationship, it’s been the topic of much conversation since Ryker first came to The Academy to train. We were paired together  from day one and in the beginning, I think people felt bad for him, what with my folks running The Academy and all, but that was short-lived. We clicked right away and then began all the talk of how my parents should not have let us become so close, so dependent upon one another. Lots of whispering that Class A Warriors don’t act like us, don’t carry themselves the way we do, so intertwined with one another, suggestive whispering and all kinds of nonsense, but it really made no difference because I don’t think we know any other way to be with each other.

What you see is what you get. And don’t get me wrong - we seethe and bicker and fight. It’s not all perfect and easy. There have been some moments of serious pain, some hard core brawls, but they mean nothing. We always move past them.

Maybe the best way to explain it is that Ryker’s really my better self. I think that’s why I love him so much. He’s who I strive to be, who I wish I had the nerve to be. I don’t know that I could love or respect anyone more than I do him. And I don’t know what my life would be like without him. 

Constance: So Wyatt, what’s your deal with that supernatural ladies? You seem to have a thing for them.

Wyatt: (Laughs and spits out his coffee) I think you’re confusing me with Ryker, who up until recently, had a long line of very beautiful trolls, vampires, fairies, warriors, really anyone with breasts, moving in and out of his life. I am hardly the ladies man.

Now that you mention it, I will admit, the girls I’ve spent time with aren’t my fellow warriors, which is a violation of probably all kinds of Sanctum rules, but it is what it is.

Constance:   What’s the best thing about being Class A Sanctum Warrior?

Wyatt: I’m not sure I can answer that anymore - it’s hard to say there’s anything so great about it. It’s a premier status within an organization that has lost its way - it’s become quite difficult to wear it with pride. Once upon a time, we were the greatest of warriors, sent out on the most difficult, dangerous, and important assignments. Now, we’re tools of our leaders, furthering their various agendas. It’s been a rather eye-opening and demoralizing experience - all of this revelation.   

Constance:   You have some nasty decisions to make, any chance of giving us a glimpse of what to expect from you in The Boy?

Wyatt: I made certain decisions that have unforeseen repercussions, for myself and those involved. Those decisions place me on a path of rebirth and self-discovery that’s savage, lonely, and at times just plain cruel, but also very necessary. I find myself questioning much of what I believed to be true, learning a lot about myself, and ultimately coming to terms with my place in the world. Kind of...

Wyatt sounds dreamy.... I know I'm too old for him, but whatever.  Here is the complete book blurb...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book Review: The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda

When I chose to fully throw myself into writing for young'ins, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan was the first book I read for research. I instantly loved the fast pace of the books.

I jumped at the chance to promote and review The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda, which is described as a Percy Jackson with Eastern Mythology instead of Greek Mythology.

When I finally got my grubby hands on the book, I was not disappointed. In fact, no offense to Rick Riordan, but The Savage Fortress is better. Where Riordan stays within the perceived grade level, Chadda has much more faith in his readers and their attention spans and creates a much more vivid, textured world. I was also extremely impressed with how he incorporated today's technology and teenage angst.

I enjoyed this book so much, I handed the physical copy I received from Diverse Book Tours in return for an honest review to my ten-year-old, and ordered my own Kindle copy.

Twinja book reviews has an interview with the author Sawat Chadda here. In fact, I'm going to cheat and steal my favorite part of the interview (see below). Also, Twinja is giving away a Kindle Fire, so you should definitely head over there.

Let me just tell you, I loved your "Ash Mistry" series. It was one of the first times I'd read a book that celebrated taking mythology out of the West. I'd read somewhere, Ash had been sitting with you for several years before you decided he deserved his own story. What were the turning points for you that made "The Savage Fortress" happen?

The travelling. I read somewhere writing is a great second career and heartily agree. Go out and explore. See things and wonder at them. Try this and that. Gather up experiences beyond the written word. Live a life and go out and meet people.Ash Mistry has been on my mind since 1994. I knew I wanted to do something based on Indian mythology and set in the East. At first I had a go and creating a graphic novel. I’ve a few pages of it lying around somewhere. It was great fun but didn’t really get anywhere. I’ve always been interested in Eastern culture. I lived in Hong Kong and travelled the length and breath of China, Mongolia, Tibet and of course India. It’s so radically different from here, a bewildering experience. Maybe I needed distance of time to make sense of the story and that’s how Ash Mistry came into being. It’s about a boy grown up in the gap between East and West. About how he takes both and creates a new hybrid, the best of both.

It’s the story I wanted to tell. We hear so much about the differences between people. Between this culture and that and this religion and that one, and are led to believe there is no common ground.

Rubbish. We are all human. We all want the same thing. Respect. Love. A better life for ourselves and our loved ones. Some of us live extraordinarly hard lives, and have to make extraordinarily hard choices. But going out your door and meeting these people you find that they’re not that different, not really.

Monday, December 8, 2014

White Girl Flow

For fans of MEDUSA, I'm playing around with Tablo and writing Part Two, White Girl Flow, here

And if you haven't read MEDUSA yet, it's on sale at Amazon for 99 cent.

The Seven-Year Itch

The Seven Year Itch
Things I Wish I Would Have Known Seven Years Ago

A friend told me her doctor told her that every seven years our taste buds change. This statement piqued my interested, because it touched on something I've been wondering about. I wonder in general if everything in our life should, or must, be changed every seven years. Our desire, our jobs, our lives, and even our relationships are prone to change.

Thinking out loud, here is something I think we should be flexible with, keeping mind we may want to change out something every seven years. So here is some advice I would have given myself seven to ten years ago.

Rent instead of Own 
It didn't occur to me to rent after I graduated college. I had been taught renting was for suckers and people with low credit scores. So once I graduated from college, with the help of student loans, I got myself a beautiful three bedroom home with a 30 year note.

If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't buy a house unless I could pay it off in seven years or have the mortgage low enough where if it was rented out, the rental income would be enough to cover the mortgage.

Follow the Money
I jumped on my first job offer right out of college and stayed there for a number of years, if I had to do it over again, I would have moved as soon as I was offered a job making more money with lots of potential growth. Then I would aggressively change jobs while aggressively saving and paying off debt.  That way when, or if, the seven year itch hit, I could change career fields altogether without too much trouble.

Wait For Love
Wait until later to get married (this rule I did follow). Tastes change every seven years and the chances for couples to grow apart can be great. Marrying someone when you've been through a lot will make divorce less likely. I'm 37 and I was married six months ago.  Let's see if this hold true in seven years. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dia of the Dead

Last weekend, I had the extreme pleasure of reading Brit Brinson's debut novel DIA OF THE DEAD. It was awesome!!! I loved Dia, the main character, so much I had to have an interview. Luckily for all of us she agreed:

So Ms. Dia Summers, you’re the star of a hit series show on one of the biggest networks on tv. How did you get your start into acting?
Dia of the Dead is not only my first starring role, it’s also my first role. Other than acting out scenes from my favorite movies in my living room for my dog, Frank, I haven’t done much acting.
How did you land a deal like “Dia of The Dead?”
With a little bit of luck [laughs]. I attended a cattle call for a new show on Bixby. There were tons of other girls there. Some I’d seen on other shows. I didn’t think I would get the part but my mom gave me a pep talk before I went in to read. I must’ve done well because they called me back for a second audition [laughs].
What can you tell us about your hit show “Dia Of The Dead?”
Dia of the Dead is a show about Dia Muerto--zombie high school student by day, kick-butt crime fighter by night. Dia was once a regular old ninth grader until she got into a freak accident and was brought back to life by Romero, California’s resident mad scientist, Dr. Fink. He kinda acts like her dad but not even he knows she protects the town from all the supernatural baddies that stop by to wreak havoc. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.
Anything “crazy” ever happen on set?
Once my co-star Mason Jackson brought his pet pig Li’l Mason with him to set. He was supposed to keep the pig in his dressing room but somehow it ended up on set and ran through the studio audience. It look like three hours for people to catch him. We had to end filming early.
Do you do your own stunts?
I typically do but we have used a stunt double once or twice.
We just have to know? Any Bixby Studio set romances brewing? I hear Mason and Brendan are totally single!
[Giggles] No comment.
Who’s been the most exciting person to work with on set?
I’m going to say Kaci Miller. Even though she plays Addison, Dia’s nemesis at Romero High, Kaci is totally not like her character at all. She has the ability to turn a long day of filming into a party. She’s really fun to work with and so friendly and caring. I just love her.
What is it like for an actress of color to retain a presence on screen for a MAJOR network?
It’s an honor. My mom and I talk about this all the time. When I first got the role of Dia Muerto, it was a big deal but I didn’t think it was a big-BIG deal but my mom…my mom like broke it down for me. She explained how important I could be to some little girl or boy of color that sees me on TV because the media needs more diversity. She said seeing me as Dia Muerto might inspire them to
pursue their dreams. If I were able to actually do that, it would make me so happy.
 What’s the best advice you’ve learned in the industry?Be yourself. While it might seem pretty simple, sometimes it’s really hard to do.
Have anything next lined up and where can we see you next!I have a few scripts for movies that I’m looking currently looking over so hopefully you all will see me on the big screen soon!

Doesn't she sound awesome?  Dia the Dead can be purchased from Amazon here . Stay Tuned for the plot summary:

Protecting Romero High from all things 
supernaturally spooky as Dia Muerto is a 

tough gig for sixteen-year-old actress Dia 

Summers, but it’s nothing compared to 

protecting the ones she loves from real, live—well, formerly alive—zombies. Unlike 

the zombies that shambled around on set, the real deal don’t follow a script.  

At the majorly important birthday party of her boss’ daughter, Dia experiences a series of potentially career-ruining social disasters. Before the night is over, she soon discovers that the possible cancellation of her show isn’t her biggest worry. 

Armed with what they can find around Bixby Studios, Dia and her friends band together to find out why everyone they know has begun popping up as gray-
skinned, black-eyed, limb-nomming zombies. With the ailment spreading, time is running out before Dia is swept up in Hollywood’s latest trend.

Monday, December 1, 2014

To Publish or Not To Publish

To publish or not...

 A year and a half ago, I went to a writer’s conference and pitched my idea to an agent.  He didn't like it.  In fact, he said writing about dwarves and elves were racist. That was heartbreak number 1. 

Heart break number 2: I attended a YA panel where I learned my chances of publishing a novel with a character of color was slim.

Needless to say, I walked away from the conference heartbroken. I didn't feel as if there was any point to finishing or perfecting my novel. 

However, through Google+ I met a butt load of authors who chose to self-publish and they still made a good amount of money.

Now I'm on the cusp of confidently self-publishing my first novel. But lately, traditional publishing references keep appearing on my newsfeeds.  In addition, I reconnected with a writingbuddy who is dead set on traditional publishing. Is the universe trying to tell me something; should I be looking for an agent? 

To answer those questions, I decided to look at my mission statement:
 When I was younger, I wanted to read speculative fiction with black characters. I found a few, but not nearly as much as I wanted. So my mission is to write speculative fiction from the perspective of a person of color. And at least 10% of my profits will be used to buy diverse speculative fiction books to donate to public schools"

I felt kind of silly writing this statement, but I've gone back to this more than a few times.

If you refer to the original blog post, I also talk about querying and getting a $20,000 publishing deal.

I also googled my question. Here is my favorite answer from From Harold Underdown at
... do not consider self-publishing until you have spent at least a few years working on your writing, making submissions, and learning about the business of publishing. That won't be wasted time, because even if you don't get published, if you do decide to self-publish later you will be much better equipped to do so successfully. You will have a more polished manuscript or manuscripts. You will also have learned something about what you need to do (which is, very briefly, get your book edited, illustrated, designed, promoted, reviewed, and distributed--things a publisher routinely does, but which are difficult and expensive for an individual to do.
If I'm honest with myself, I want my books to be found in school libraries and I want to be a great writer who gets invited to conferences. So as much as it pains me, I'm going to hold off on self-publisng at least until I finish Coal Book 2.  Who knows maybe by then elves and dwarves will be popular again. Hopefully, I don't die in between now and then.