Candy Bars and the Taste of Business

Two things fascinated me as a kid: candy and the thrill of building something of my own.

I would spend my days shoveling gummy bears into my mouth while simultaneously planning out my next big project. Building a treehouse, making bicycle storage cart, collecting aluminum cans to cash in, anything was possible.

One blazing hot day in the summer 2006, I found myself staring down at my hand. $7.00 dollars. Laying in my hand, slightly crinkled, was $7.00 dollars. My weekly allowance. Not different from the last week, but for that week, something didn’t sit right with me about it. I wanted more money. 

I loved books and I loved video games. Books and video games costed money and I knew I wouldn’t get a lot with $6.00 dollars a week. It would take weeks to save up for something, then I would spend the money, and then what? Have nothing once again. It didn’t sit well with me. So I set out for something more.

In summer 2006, I opened up my first business, a candy counter store inside of my mom’s assisted care facility. At the tender age of 12 years old, it felt like a huge deal to me. I had spent around $30 (a month’s worth of pay!) on signage, decorations, menus, and so on. Using Microsoft Publisher on the computer at the library, I designed menus, logos, and other materials for the business.

Colin Ashby cafe
On June 23,2006 Colin’s Cafe was born.

I sold a variety of candy bars, chips, and sodas in the little room I called my business. Every few weeks, when the town grocery store would have the candy bars marked down to 3 for a dollar, I would rummage a bunch together and buy them. My pricing at the cafe was 0.75 cents for candy bars, 0.75 cents for 12.oz soda, and 0.60 cents for a bag of chips.

With the business up and running, I started to bring in money (which, as a 12-year-old, I thought was good money). My brothers, sisters, and parents one by one started to ask me what I was going to do with the money I had. My mind would reminisce back to the thought of the copious amount of books, video games, and other gadgets I could buy. Instead, staring down at the cash, something changed and instead I put the money aside. I opened up my first savings account (or as I liked to call it at the time, my business account). Every week, after tallying up the costs and money made, I would take all of the profits and deposit them into my savings account.

Now, at age 21, I can see why I was so keen on wanting to save my money: because everyone else around me wasn’t.

Looking back on growing up, I remember all the things people around me bought. New cars, pricey home renovations funded by credit cards, wasting money on junk food. It was weird. Me and people my age were told we needed to go to college or else we would be destined to living a life of burger flipping. Buy a new care was rationalized by saving it was being used to build one’s credit. Going to graduate school, no matter what the price tag, was seen as being able to further one’s career. People bought big houses, ones they could barely afford, because bigger was better.

While all of this was going on, I rarely ever heard discussion about retirement planning, budgeting, emergency funds, or investing. As a senior in high school, soon to leave for college, I and everyone around me was told to not worry about student loans because we would just get a job after college and be able to start paying it back.

Colin’s Cafe, my first business endeavor, gave me my first real experience with managing money. Looking back on that experience and the experiences of growing up and going through college, I noticed a lack of basic financial literacy among many people. They didn’t know how to properly save, budget, and deciding between needs and wants.

I’m not a whiz on the aspect of personal finance. So far the only things l really know are about saving, emergency funds, and using side hustles to make more. Investing, IRAs, index funds, and so on, I still have a lot to learn. And that’s the exciting thing, I want to learn more about it, and I want to share it, write about it, and help people become more knowledgable with their money.

Most of all, I want to help people take charge of their money and their life. It’s all about getting started.


photo via Unsplash 

2016 Words, Inspiration, and Thoughts


It’s the first post of the year for this little site! I’m excited about it. Throughout 2015, my posts were sporadic. There was a reason for that and I explain it more in detail in the next few weeks. For now, all I can think about is everything I want to accomplish this year.

I’m not one of those anti-resolutions people but I also don’t like to make lofty goals and not make much of an effort to fully reach them. Seeing as how I have lots of goals (professional, personal, general), I knew I needed a way to organize them all. I picked up this nifty little think called The Passion Planner. I’ve been using it for the few weeks and love it. Little sections for doodles, spots for appointments, goal setting and outlining boxes. All Type A’s and people looking to get their messy life together rejoice.

Things have been getting tweaked here and there on this site (I removed the sidebar! added buttons! haha). In all seriousness, things have been changing a lot. In that feel-good indie movie flick kinda way. I’ve talked previously about how 2015 was a year I got really inspired. I got more into the writing community, creative community, and discovered the personal finance community.

Right now, I’m getting around to reading Mindy Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me?. In addition to being really insightful and humorous, it got me thinking about the different things I want to accomplish this year.


  •  Contribute to Roth IRA ($3,500 by end of year): You ever heard of a Roth IRA? If you had asked me this time last year, I would have scratched my head and gave an I don’t know shrug. After reading up on a 5-part series on Roth IRA’s, I was ready to take action. Last month I set one up. I’ve put $275 in this month and really hope to get it to $3,500 by the end of the year. Retirement planning is important! Being 21 years old, compound interest is on my side!
  • Get students loans to under $7,500: Student loans. Just saying those two words makes me shiver. Currently I have $16,200 in loans. Last year, I read up on a lot of personal finance bloggers who were able to pay off their student loans a lot faster than what they normally would have been able to, by taking on side hustles and extra money making opportunities. Making extra money, in addition to full-time job work is going to be essential to shrinking my student loan debt.


These ones are the ones I really want to accomplish.

  • Publish 1st novel: I’ve talked (albiet briefly) about my first novel I was writing. It’s taking a nap right now and I’m working on my 2nd novel. Currently on the 1st draft and I am already loving where this story is heading. Publishing my first novel is on the top of the list for a goal I really want to meet this year.
  • Start sending out an email newsletter: I’m thinking about doing a monthly newsletter. I like the idea of email newsletter and vicariously read a few of them. Weekly and even bi-weekly newsletters are too much for me (who has that much to share?!). No pop-up and/or drop down opt-in forms are going to be making any appearances on this site. It will just be on the sidebar in the blog page. The goal is to let me someone sign up if they want to, but not be too pushy about it.
  • Do a podcast: This is another thing that has been on my mind for awhile. Listening to Jen Carrington’s Make It Happen podcast and Kayla Hollatz’s Power of We series furthered my interest in doing one even more. I have a rough idea of what I want the podcast to be about. The goal is for it to be a one-time thing with 8-10 episodes. Can’t reveal too much more as of now, but stay tuned!
  • Guest post: I need to do more guest posting on other sites. My writing has been on The College Tourist and Kory Woodard’s blog. This year I will do more of it. Not sure of how to measure this, maybe one guest post per month? Still deciding.


These are all of the goals I can remember off the top of my head. My planner has a section for monthly reflections, so I’m going to be using it to stay more accountable and measure each goal. What are your goals for this year? Anything big? Let me know!





Quantity beats Quality


You usually don’t hear the saying “quantity beats quality” a lot. It’s usually the other way around, and for good reason.

Quantity, however, beats quality in certain circumstances. A perfect instance is when a person is trying to learn a new skill and/or get better at something.

We all want to learn something new. When I worked as a news reporter a few years back, several of the journalists wanted to write novels (typical stereotype, I know). When I was taking classes at Texas State University, many other mass communication students wanted to learn coding or design.

Did ever get around to learning the skills? Some did, most didn’t. In my web design class, many of the students I talked to didn’t like the progress they were making towards learning coding and building their websites. When I asked them about how often they practiced, they mentioned only working on their websites during class time (which was a once a week night class).

It brings me to a thing I’ve seen over and over, learning by immersion, making as much as possible and treating what you’re learning about seriously.

I recently read a Fast Company article about this very topic: learning a new skill by doing it every day, embracing quantity over quality (in a good way).

The article has a bunch of examples ranging from a lady who taught herself graphic design in six months and got a job as a designer and a woman who make 180 websites in 180 days.

Outside of the article, I can think of another example: coding bootcamps. Around the county there are programming bootcamps that last on average three months and teach people to code and become web developers. In most of the bootcamps, student put in between 60-80 hours a week learning how to code. They live and breath it.

During the month of November, thousands of new and seasoned writers aim to complete the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The task is to write at least 1,667 words everyday and doing word sprints everyday. 

The point is to just start doing it (whatever “it” might be) and do it everyday. One of my goals for next year is to learn a lot more about graphic and web design. I know in the beginning a lot of what I produce is going to be subpar or downright crappy, I (and you!) just have to keep going.

Even with things you can’t or shouldn’t do everyday (like say running to train for a marathon), visualize and think about it everyday. Think about how you can improve. Give it 100 is a great site for inspiration from people who have worked toward their goal everday for 100 days.

Never settle and let frustration consume you, keep moving forward and you will get better.

I have a lot I want to learn in graphic and web design. I’m going to be practicing everyday and reading up on design theory and layout.

I wish you all the best in your journey toward a new skill.

Cheers! Happy Learning!

Image credit


Why I’m Self-Publishing


Before the days of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform and paperback distributors like Createspace, the way the self-publish your novel meant going to a small indie press, they would make a few dozen of your books and you would hand them out to friends, family, and maybe put an ad in the classifieds sections of newspapers.

Things have come a long way. Self-publishing has exploded in popularity due to easy access tools like Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and many more. The industry has gained notoreity due to smash hit self-publishing successes like Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, Brenna Aubrey, and E.L James.

Although there are many indie author success stories and self-publishing being tagged with the often touted benefit of having full creative freedom over your work, these were not major reasons as to why I chose self-publishing. Below are some of the reasons why I chose the self-publishing route.

I’m not about that publishing business mindset

When you go the traditionally published route, they whip your novel into shape, promote it, do some release day publicity and then…it’s a matter of being hopeful. Hopeful that readers will buy the book, connect with it, and recommend it to others. What happens if you don’t bring in a desired amount of money? You’re cut. It’s harsh but it something that happens in the traditional publishing industry a lot. I don’t see too much of a problem with it because at the end of the day publishing companies are still businesses. They need/want to hit a certain amount and if you don’t bring in the desired amount of money, you’re cut.

I’m in a tricky, emerging and not yet fully understood genre market

New Adult fiction. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. St. Martin’s Press coined the term in 2009. A genre sometimes labeled as “older YA”, focusing on characters, age 18-25 leaving home, navigating college and career and coming into adulthood. Self-publishing had been driving the genre into popularity.  Despite the growing number of New Adult novels, traditional publishers as well as others still don’t know what to think of the genre. Stereotypes such as it being a genre for reckless behavior, lacking responsibilities and casual sex have circulated.

My novel doesn’t involve any of those things, it just focuses on a woman, recently graduated from college, trying to determine her next direction in life. It has themes of courage, hustle, tenacity, and creating one’s own legacy. Publishing companies probably wouldn’t understand my novel and where it would fit in the book market. I want to be the one to drive readers to my book and show them the struggles so many millennials face when coming into new found adulthood. I understand my brand and novel better than some publishing company would.

Money & Pricing

If I went the traditional publishing route, my book would probably sell for $9.99 for the e-book and $15.00 for the paperback. Even with a publishing company to back me and several marketing and promotional efforts, I still think not as many people would buy the book at these prices as opposed to the lower prices indie titles are at (usually $2.99 or $3.99)

I’m selling my book at a lower price to attract more readers and engage with more readers. Word of mouth and awareness for my novel is far more important than money.

You have a longer window of opportunity with self-publishing 

With traditional publishing, they release your book, do a few book signings, interviews, and after a few weeks, or months, if you can’t bring in a certain amount of money, they pull it from book stores and minimize publicity and marketing. Many traditional published authors have talked about how a lot of the book marketing falls on them after releasing and they get little help from the publishing company.

With self-publishing you months and years on end to reach readers. Maroon 5’s beloved first album, Songs About Jane, was a slow burning success and took over two years to start getting recognition. While this isn’t a self publishing story, it is a good example of how sometimes it takes a while for things to catch on and have the so called “hitting it big”. Self-publishing allows a much longer period of exposure than traditionally publishing books.


Even with the list of reasons why I’m self-publishing, there are some not so sunny sides to it. Many like to romanticize self-publishing. There are things to note when going the indie route. For one, self-publishing (depending on the way you look at it) can get expensive. Developmental editing, copyediting, cover design, formatting, copyrights, and more can add up. Self-publishers spend an average of $2,300 for each book they release. You can spend a lot lower or a lot higher, regardless of the price, you will have to spend a pretty (but not soo pretty) penny to yield a quality book that people would want to buy.

Even though you’re self-publishing, some tradition publishing rules still apply: put together a media kit, figure out target audience, get a good editor, get a good cover design and make a welcoming author website.

Self-publishing has it’s advantages, disadvantages and is a lot of work but I’m embracing it. I can’t wait till I have that feeling of holding my own book in my hands and being able to connect with readers.

Image by Alice Hampton

Battle Operation: NaNoWriMo


I haven’t been blogging in forever. Nothing much to say other than it’s been a combination of figuring out how to balance all adulthood entails and not having much to say. I’ve been thinking a lot this month.

Stacks upon stacks of digital paper on my current manuscript have been going through edits. The story is being restructured slightly, tweaks here and there, and some more writing going on. Things have been busy with late nights stuck at the computer with sleepy editing eyes. To picture the book finally in readers hands? That’s the dream. And guess what?

I’m walking away from it.

*mic drop*

Okay it’s not so serious. Walking away is a strong way to put it. I’m taking a “leave of absence” from it. Not for anything bad, just taking a break from it to be part of a movement for the next 30 days: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

For anyone not familiar with National Novel Writing Month, it’s a program/community writers join and commit to writing 50,000 words in one month, during the 30 days of November. It equals out to about 1,667 words per day.

To many (especially not writers), 1,667 words a day doesn’t sound like much. The whole NaNoWriMo thing doesn’t sound as nerve-wracking as everyone describes. Well…it’s not. NaNoWriMo is no easy task. It’s definitely doable but not something easy. It takes hard work, persistence, ignoring one’s inner critic, and lots of coffee.

I’ve had an interesting relationship with NaNoWriMo. November 2013 was the first year I decided to do it. For the first week, it went well. Then? Things hit a brick wall. I was taking 18 hours in college, had two huge tests and a family issue. The writing stopped.

2014 wasn’t much different. I was only weeks from graduating college and was trying to devote my time to job searching and preparing for after graduation.

This year is different. There is still obstacles (I’m mainly looking at you full-time job!) but I really believe I can do NaNo this year. The Pre-Write Project ebook from She’s Novel has been a hugely helpful resource in planning and outlining my upcoming project for NaNo.

In addition to my daily word counts, I also want to make it a priority to reach out and interact a lot with other writers participating in NaNoWriMo. October has been a month where I’ve discovered the book blogger and writer community on Instagram in addition to other social media platforms.

I can’t wait to (figuratively) dive deep into my computer and start writing this new project.

I’m excited. I’m ready, let’s do this!

Feel free to add me as a writing buddy on my NaNoWriMo profile!

Thank you and let’s get writing!


Life is a Balancing Act: Experience of a Recent College Graduate


The real world? It’s complicated.

A few weeks back, two friends of a friend asked me how I was liking the real world. Both of them were still in college and wouldn’t be graduating till next May.

What was it like to come home in the evenings and not have an essay to write or exam to study for? What was it like having to pay for everything yourself now? What was it like having to (gasp) make your own doctor/dentist appointments?

Having graduated less than 10 months ago, I still have adjusting when it comes to the elusive “real world”. The biggest thing I’ve realized so far is you usually don’t have more free time in the real world than in college.

This may seem like common sense, but many soon to be graduates don’t realize it. They think since they don’t have things to formally study for anymore, they will have more free time. Well, not exactly.

There are so many things I have to plan and schedule now that I’m working a full-time job that I didn’t have to do when I was a full-time college student and working part-time. An obvious one is this blog. I used to write stuff on the fly and post it. Things aren’t like that anymore. My job extends well beyond the 9-5 boundaries. With dinner, laundry, and other errands consuming time, if I don’t make time for writing, it usually doesn’t happen.

I’m still trying to find the whole “work/life balance” thing. Sometimes after a long day at work, all I want to do is sit and do nothing. It takes effort to do extra things you want to do outside of work. Exercising, writing, various hobbies, they all take effort to carve out a time to do them outside of work.

I’m still learning. How about you?

*image credit*

My First Job



First jobs are usually never easy. You don’t have any work experience and need something to help move yourself up. Most of the time, first jobs aren’t glamourous. They involve lots hard work and leave a person with some idea as to what they do and do not want. The great team at The Ladders asked me to share my experiences of working that first job people often reminisce about.

Late summer night.

My clothes were soaked. I leaned down into my bed and didn’t have any immediate plans of getting back up. Work was tough.

Back in the spring of my junior year of high school, I started looking for a part-time job for the summer. Like most teenagers, I wanted a job so I could have some extra cash to spend on various things I wanted. The job search was tough. I had spent several weeks applying to different places only to be told I didn’t have enough experience for the cashier/server positions. Discouragement set in quick. The saving grace was a “Now Hiring” sign at the famous town barbecue restaurant.

I went in and applied. Short on cash and summer fast approaching, I was determined to get the job. The manager I talked with gave me a handshake and said he would be in touch by the end of the week. When that phone call never came, I became determined to follow up until I got a definitive yes or no. So every Monday afternoon for several weeks, I came in and asked about the position. Every week I got to meet the different managers and supervisors. After several weeks of diligently following up, I got a response:

I was hired.

The job position? Dishwasher. It wasn’t the most glamorous job compared to my lifeguarding peers but I didn’t care, I finally had a paying job! The restaurant didn’t have a dishwasher during the daytime so when I came in at 5:00pm every evening, I was greeted with a mountain of dirty dishes that took anywhere from 1.5-2 hours to finish.  Grease, dirty water and who knows what got splashed onto me during every shift. At first, I hated the job. I hated how after every shift, my clothes would be wet from dirty water. All of my clothes started to smell like sausage and brisket. I wanted to quit but knew I needed to make some money. It was my first experience in hard work. I decided to push on and keep going.

Over the next few months, I got to know many of my co-workers more. People from all walks of life. In the cashier section, there was a woman in her thirties who was juggling the job, kids, and going back to school. Many of the meat market people had been at the restaurant for several years. A few of my peers from my high school starting working at the restaurant. Break times morphed from bland 30 minute periods playing on my phone to having lively conversation with the other people I worked with.

Wanting to build up my savings as much as possible, I volunteered for shift pickups whenever the managers asked. I started working the several different catering events the restaurant did. A joke I made about being a landscape manager morphed into me getting to trim and clean the front outside area in preparation for a 4th of July celebration. I began working more with the general manager and got more responsibilities.

The actual work was still less than ideal but the people I got to interact with were great. A stark contrast to the menial work and equally menial environment other teens endured in their first jobs. The people I worked with made my first job at the barbecue restaurant not so bad. I actually liked going into work because I knew I would get to interact with great people.

I worked that first job of mine from the summer before senior year of high school all the way through my first year of college. A lot of things were picked up from working that first job of mine.

Taking initiative: If I had never continued following up, I wouldn’t have gotten the job. I wouldn’t have gotten more responsibilities and I wouldn’t have been able to work with the general manager and seen what his workday was like. Never underestimate the power of following up and more importantly, speaking up.

Good things are around the corner if you keep your head up: I hated getting splashed with grease and dirty water every shift I worked. Like many teens, I could have quit my job at the end of the summer but I didn’t. I knew the extra money would prove valuable so I kept working. This lead to me getting more responsibilities and leaving a job with good references for my first time internships during college.

Company culture is so important: Who knew I would learn the importance of working with good people when I got a dishwashing job? Company culture is important. You can’t create good work if you don’t fit in well with the people who work at a place.

Though the additional responsibilities I picked up from the job, I felt okay putting it on my resume when applying to my first office internships during college.  Leaving the double doors for the last time, still smelling like barbecue, was bittersweet. It had been my first experience into actually working. My first experience of sticking with something for the greater good. The lessons learned from my first job are still something I carry with me to this day.


Changing Perspective & Other Adulting Things

Flying over California in route to San Francisco | Working on adventuring more!
Flying over California in route to San Francisco | Working on adventuring more!

Driving down the road, an hour and a half commute ahead of me, and air conditioning in my car had gone out a few weeks back. Ugh. Coming to a complete stop on the freeway, after consistently going 10-15 mph,  I stopped and thought about all the things I needed to spend money on. A/C in the car was broken, cell phone acting wonky, needed to change my address on my driver’s license, needed new work boots, and a host of other things.

Being an adult with responsibilities and bills is so bleh

I’ve been working so much that my website and blog have taken a backseat. I hate it. I’m trying to figure out this whole “balancing” thing. I’ve come to terms and realized some things over the past few weeks.

Job searching is an exhausting thing.

I’m glad I’m done with it (for the time being). I have a full-time job…it’s okay. But it isn’t directly related to my major. When I first started the job, I used to get frustrated by this. I wanted something where I got to do something I enjoyed (community management, outreach, web content, design).

It didn’t take long for me to come around and look on the bright side. Although I currently work a job I don’t fully feel satisfied with, it does provide some great advantages. I have health insurance, a 401k with matching, and have the obvious benefit of holding a job that helps me support myself and pay bills.

According to Mindy Kaling’s autobiography, her fresh college grad self loved having health benefits just as much as me. (side note: Mindy Kaling is freaking awesome, that is all).

I love having side projects to work on

Apparently “side hustles” are this new “it” thing to have. They are covered in numerous articles and I hear it all the time within the design, consulting, writing, and blogging fields. For the past few weeks, despite work being physically exhausting, I’ve been making headway on some personal projects of mine. The first and most important one being my debut novel. With the exception of my feature on Blots & Plots back in June, I haven’t talked about it in much detail. That will change soon! I don’t want to talk about it much until I get this next draft of it finished. I can’t wait to share more about it!

I’ve also been working on learning more about design in the little free time I have after spending it on writing my novel. Currently I’m focusing on getting better at hand-lettering and Photoshop. I completed six Skillshare classes on Photoshop and different techniques. Can’t wait to learn more!

What I've been spending my time (happily) hunched over a computer for
What I’ve been spending my time (happily) hunched over a computer for

People my age are so…bleh sometimes

Saving for retirement? Having an emergency fund? Making goals and actually working towards them? Nope. Lots of people my age don’t do that. I’m 21 years old. I graduated college with my bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years because I wanted to get a head start in the real world.

Since graduating college back in December, I’ve meet and talked with other recent college graduates. So many of them don’t live within their means and don’t think about the long term. They buy nice new cars, get nice apartments. eat out a lot more, treat themselves more often. Then they wonder why they don’t have more money and can’t make more headway on their bills and debt.

Live below your means

You don’t need to spend money (going to the movies, a nice restaurant, shopping, etc) to have fun. All it takes is a good group of people and some great conversation. In the past few months, I’ve moved away from friendships that didn’t lift me up in any way. I don’t go on mindless dates that I know won’t end up anywhere. I surround myself with uplifting, ambitious people who have goals and go after them.

Changing perspective and knocking down perfectionism

I’m not a perfectionist.

At least I didn’t think I was. I’m still not entirely sure I could be classified as one. Although many of my friends and people have commented about how I am. Still not convinced I am. I’m just a Type A person. I like plans, outlines, organization. I want the very best of the things I work on. Sometimes I just go overboard.

When I was 17 years old, I went up to my boss at the BBQ restaurant I worked at, and somewhat jokingly asked him if I could start a managerial position with a 401k plan that had matching. Four weeks into starting college, I attended a job and internship fair. I happily gleamed looking down at the glossy magazine I had made for my media design class and excitedly printed out at FedEx.

Sometimes I get a little too ambitious. Life has thrown me in a loop and at first I was freaked out by it. Now I’m learning to come to terms with it and find different ways to make things happen.

Nowadays I’m doing less overthinking and more doing.

I’m ready. (& definitely set to get back on this website and share more about what I’m doing). Let’s do this *cue the rip away pants*

The Indie Author Kindle Unlimited Debate


I bring an issue to the table today, the ongoing debate of Kindle Unlimited’s affect on indie authors.

Indie Authors & Kindle Unlimited 

In Jul 2014, after a few months of speculation, Amazon announced Kindle Unlimited, allowing people to borrow as many books as they choose for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99. Indie authors quickly got skeptical.

Kindle Unlimited features over 700,000 books for subscribers to borrow. Although bestsellers and well-known books are featured in the commercials and advertisements, 85 percent of the books in KU are by self-published authors.

To be in Kindle Unlimited, a self-published author has to enroll in Kindle Select, and have their e-books remain exclusive to Amazon. In the trade-off for being exclusive, authors have access to 5 free promotional days and time-bound promotional discounting during the 90 day contract period.

Jane Friedman wrote a great blog post on the skepticism behind Kindle Unlimited.

Traditionally published e-books are paid the same amount as a sale while indie authors get paid through the Kindle Select Global Fund. When a person borrowing a book gets to the 10% read mark, the author gets paid.

What’s the pay rate?’s kinda vague and unpredictable. The global fund varies from time to time and pay rates are released on a monthly basis. In the first three months of Kindle Unlimited the pay rate averaged $1.62. Is this proper compensation? Authors getting paid $1.62 for their novel?

Let’s examine the price points for indie/self-published books. The majority are priced at $2.99 and $3.99. Publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and with the author royalty rates at 70%, an indie author would be able to take away $2.09 and $2.79 on a $2.99 and $3,99 priced e-book, respectively.

So the pay rate is higher if an indie author is not enrolled in Kindle Unlimited but…an author wouldn’t get the promotional benefits provided by Amazon.

It’s a tricky issue about whether indie authors should enroll in Kindle Select and be part of Kindle Unlimited. Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, talked about how authors who go exclusive with Amazon become more dependent (rather than independent) of Amazon.

Coker’s statement is something of note, considering many authors are focused on growing an audience and readership for their book(s). Is remaining exclusive to Amazon helpful or hurtful to authors? Is remaining exclusive to Amazon beneficial or hurtful in the short or long run?

It’s the author’s choice to decide.

21 Things


21 things learned at age 21

“Are you excited?!?” People would ask me over and over leading up to this very day.

21. I turn 21 years old last Monday. It’s one of those “big” birthdays where I’m supposed to feel different and like a new person. In some ways I do and in some ways I feel just the same (still madly into watching Parks and Recreation episodes on Netflix)

It’s been a good but bumpy year since June 2014 when I turned the big 2-0 (aka the most awkward age…not a teenage yet still not able to legally drink, check-in at a hotel, make reservations on some things, etc.)

Things are good though. I’ve accomplished a lot and have been reflecting these past few weeks about what I’ve learned so far. This was the year I became a full fledging adult, the year I started my first post-grad job. Good stuff. Below, are some 21 things I’ve learned so far.

1. If you’re going to do something, give it 100% or don’t do it at all. Taking a risk is scary. Taking a big risk, not knowing the exact outcome, is super scary. So what. That’s what you’re going to have to deal with if you want something really bad. I see so many people who want to:

-Get into photography/graphic design/consulting

-Start a successful and nicely designed blog attracting thousands of visitors each month

-write a novel

-etc. etc. etc.

So many people start things without fully knowing why they want to do it. Sometimes they only want do to something because they see others similar to them doing it so they think they should do it too.

Whatever you decide to do, figure out why you want to do it. What is the burning desire and motivation behind it? Once you figure it out, spend several hours a week doing it. When you are unable to do (commuting in the morning, grocery shopping, and so forth) continue to think about it.

2. You most likely do have time. As a recent college graduate, I’ve noticed something lately. When people start working full-time after graduation, they suddenly are always busy and never have time to do the goals they want to achieve.

Many of them come home from their full-time jobs exhausted, and instead of focusing on a project or activity they want to do, all they do for the entire evening is watch TV and make some dinner. It only starts with one episode…

Most who say they don’t have time to do the things they want probably do have time. Monitor your time and figure out how to maximize. Could you go to the bank at a different time to avoid the long line? Could you wake up earlier to go to the gym? It’s all about priorities.

3. Make exercise a priority. Exercise is obviously very important yet a lot of people don’t have it high on their list (or even on their list). Exercise makes you feel better, sleep better, and think more throughly.

Do it. You have time for it. Whether you have to wake up an hour earlier in the morning or skip watching an hour of TV in the afternoon, make time for exercising.

4. Get water at restaurants. Seriously, it’s cheaper, and better for you to drink water rather than soda. Bring those water enhancer packets if you want something more flavorful.

5. If you really want something, dedicate your time to work towards it. Even during times when you can’t work on it (commuting, down times at work, etc) at least think about it. So many people are afraid of diving into doing something because they don’t know the exact outcome. The common fear is:

“What if this is all just a big waste of time?”

Well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. Experience is experience. Trying and failing will help you sleep at night. Not trying at all will keep you up, wondering what could have been.

6. People can be really nice and helpful to you. Spring 2014, I applied to a NYC start-up PR agency and didn’t get the internship. Feeling super down, I decided to send an email to the agency’s CEO. Why not right? I didn’t thing he would respond…but he actually did. He set up a call with me and gave me great insight into starting his agency. Later on in the summer while in New York City, I got to visit the agency!

I’m sure he was helpful to me, in part, because of the personalized email I sent to him rather than some generic template email. Remember, people can and do want to help you. You just have to know how to reach out to them and ask. Lindsay Shoemake mentioned in a That Working Girl post of how she set up office visits with agencies and even got to work on some stuff! All by simply reaching out and asking.

7. People give empty promises & flake. just mentioned how people can help if you reach out to them. Well, people can also completely ignore you, give you an empty promise or just not deliver on what they said.

I experienced this last year when an article of mine went viral. Several people reached out to me and said they wanted to help me. They were going to help me find jobs, connect me with senior industry professionals, and so forth.

One of them I remember well. A news reporter from a well known station contacted me to get quotes for a feature story. She contacted me several times and said she had a flexible schedule and could talk to me whenever time opened up in my schedule. During the phone conversation, she mentioned how inspired she was by me and how if I needed any assistance in finding my first post-grad job, she would help. Things changed after the she had gotten her quotes and the story ran. When I contacted her with some questions, she responded days later saying she was busy and to just send the questions over in email.


The news reporter wasn’t the only one who backed out after saying she help me. Several of the other people who “had job offers” for me and “knew people” dried up and weren’t as responsive after the the fanfare of my article died down.

Point being, never rely too much on someone when they say they can assist you with something.

8. Don’t censor yourself. It’s something I’ve done for years and years. When I was in high school, I would talk about investing and design trends. In college, when discussing the types of jobs after graduation, I would always mention 401(k) retirement, building savings, web design lingo, indie film stuff and so forth. The people around me would always have weird looks on their faces. To them, all that mattered at the moment was drinking, partying, and trying to get through the semester with no D’s.

Don’t censor yourself. Don’t feel like you have to dumb yourself down when around people.

9. You are who you surround yourself with. It’s taken years for this to finally get nailed into my head. I found I was most productive and ambitious when I was around people who were smarter than me, and were working towards goals in the same vein as mine. Right now, I’m around people who are ambitious and have big plans. In the online world, I’ve connected with like-minded creatives through Twitter chats like Kayla Hollatz’s #createlounge.

10. Keep a journal. And write in it every day. Even if it’s just one sentence. Do it. I’ve keep a journal for the past three years and it’s so freaking awesome to see how much my perspectives on things have changed. Days aren’t lost. I get to know what did last February.  Write in detail about your day or just write a few sentences about the purpose of the day and what you did.

Time moves fast. It’s fun to reminisce every once in a while.

11. Traveling doesn’t have to be super expensive or time-consuming. Why is it when people think of traveling, they automatically think of prancing through Paris, backpacking through Europe, or visiting the “cool” places (I’m looking at you Italy, England, France, and Germany).

In this past year, I’ve visited South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX; New Orleans, LA; Chicago, IL; NYC 3 times (!!!); San Francisco; Los Angeles; and Cozumel.

Instead of jetting off to some foreign country for a week, why not visit some great sites in your home country. There are tons of great sites to explore in the US (assuming you live in the US). Embrace weekend adventures. Take Friday off of work and have a three-day adventure in Washington State, Napa Valley, The Grand Canyon, NYC, and so forth.

During my travels, I either stayed in hostel-type AirBnB rentals with other travelers or with friends. I looked for discounts on flights. Managed on when to eat out a nice restaurant or not, took lots of pictures instead of buying souvenirs, and so on.

Traveling doesn’t have to be this huge expense. The most important thing it takes is having an adventurous mindset.

12. “Dream jobs” take years of hard work. It’s the reality of working. The millenial generation was brought up on the mindset to “follow your passion”, “pursue your bliss” and so forth. We thought that by taking a career assessment, scoring high on marketing/fashion/PR/etc, and getting a few internships under our belt meant we would get our dream jobs right after college.

Not so quite.

Dream jobs take time. Just because you aren’t in yours yet doesn’t mean your a failure. Keep your head up, keep working, and don’t give up. Don’t stop searching and exploring.

13. Multiple sources of income are a must. I don’t want to just rely on a full-time job to provide me with income. I never want to be completely at the mercy of a job to provide me with the income I need to pay bills, rent, and life expenses.

Within the coming months, I’m going to start building up ways to make passive money to pad my monthly income.

14.Entrepreneurship is in the corner of my eye. I never thought I would want to own and operate my own business. After seeing the crazy commuting times people go through, the layers of bureaucracy corporate america has, and overall nature of many employers not treating employees well, entrepreneurship was become more attractive to me. I’m ramping up my web and graphic design skills at the moment. Within the near future, I hope to either have my own full-time business or be able to run a successful side business.

Nectar Collective had a great post on the grit and curious heart she had when building up her own design business.

15. Be very aware of your time. Since starting my full-time job, there has been some adjustments. I try to be more strategic with the time I have. Creating a routine has become vital. Here’s the loose one I’ve been following:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 4:00 a.m (Wake up)

4:00 a.m-5:00am (Shower/breakfast)

7:00 am-4:00pm (work)

4:00pm-5:30pm (commuting)

8:00pm (bedtime)

Tuesday/Thursday: Exercise days

3:00 a.m (Wake up)

3:30 a.m-4:15am (gym time)

4:30am-5:00am (shower/breakfast)

7:00 am-4:00pm (work)

4:00pm-5:30pm (commuting)

8:00pm (bedtime)

Saturday/Sunday: Exercise days

I make sure to hit the gym 4x per week. Doing it before work is a challenge since I have to be super alert on monitoring my time (I take only 5 minute showers on Tuesdays/Thursdays). I would rather just press the snooze button on waking up but going early in the morning is a lot better than the crowded evening time.

16. I love graphic and web design. I want to learn more about them. I want to go to a three month coding intensive bootcamp school.

17. Know the deep inner reason of why you want to pursue something before going after it. I want to start a design side business and finish my novel. Why do I want to start a design side business? I want to do it because reflect on the anxiety I had when being in between jobs, having to deal with bad work conditions, and struggling to make ends meet. I want to start a design side business so I can work on projects that fulfill and excite me and give me the opportunity to not be so reliant on a full-time job for a source of income.

I want to write my novel because I’ve always had a love of words. I want to prove my creative writing professor from college, who said short story wasn’t good despite the rest of the class loving it, wrong.

18. When in peril, watch Netflix or one of your favorite movies. At times, I get so consumed with all that I want to do. Burnout sets in. Watching some of my favorite inspiring movies can sometimes help me feel recharged and inspired again.

Remember though, good things are better in moderation. Don’t spend all day on Netflix watching Friends! No matter how tempting it is!

19. Your 20’s are for living below your means. After getting their first post-grad jobs, so many people start buying lots of things they may not need. Having a paycheck (and not as many bills as older adults) excites them and they go out and buy a new car, deluxe cable package (because they just have to watch Scandal), eat out a lot instead of packing their lunch at work and endlessly spend money on many things when they could just save.

Buy generic/store brands

Learn to cook at home. Plan your meals ahead of time

Hold on to your old car as long as possible and when it is time to buy another car, get a gently used pre-owned vehicle rather than a new vehicle.

Don’t worry about staying in some flashy, upscale apartment

Save. Save. Save. I’m saying you be super frugal and never go out. No way. By all means, hang out with friends and treat yourself every once in a while. There’s a balance to be struck. A balance between living in the moment while still planning for the future. Find it.

20. Having a dedicated workspace is crucial. For 12 months, I basically lived out of a suitcase. Bouncing between place to place with coffee shop visits sprinkled in. I carried my laptop, chargers, and external hard drive with me in a backpack for a portable workstation.

While it was great (I got to write my novel in several different locations across many states!) it was also distracting at times. Just last month, I finally settled into a place of living and have a desk and area where I go when I want to work on this blog, do graphic design stuff, write my novel, and so forth.

I have a space where I can go and get into “work mode”. It’s done wonders for my productivity.

21. I am going to be a published author

My novel. Oh, my dear little novel. I love it so much. I’ve been working on it on and off for two years. Lately I’ve made good progress on the editing of it. This year I will publish it. In the coming months, I’ll start to release more information on it. Get ready!