No More Half-Measures

If you’re going to invest your time into something that you really want to do, do it with full force. No more half measures.

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Many people are guilty of this. Heck, I’m guilty of it. You want to pursue something but you’re so worried in the process of doing it that you don’t give it your all. You’re so caught up in hanging out with friends, looking busy, and focusing on menial things that you never get around to actually doing the thing you want to do.

Let’s say you want to keep a blog. You write a few posts but you never really promote it or comment on other blogs to build an audience. Writing a book may be on your bucket list. Although you never get around to doing it. The common excuse for putting it off is “Oh, I don’t have any time.”

Is there a reason for this? Why do people give an okay performance to something they’re passionate about doing? Why do people put off something they’re passionate about doing?

Example time. During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, a lot of people talk about writing a novel. They start, get 5,000 or 15,000 words, then stop. They don’t intentionally stop. It just sort of happens. They’re self critic is so loud, it drowns out the voice that got them starting in the first place.

I was guilty of this for so long as I wrote my novel. I would be writing, get a lot done, then think “Oh, this is crap, why am I doing this?” or “People have already written a book similar to this, so why am I even trying?”.

Last year I discovered a year-long project a recent college graduate was doing called A Year of Productivity. I loved the site because of how much he put into it. Productivity experiments have been doing countless times by people, yet the content he provided on his site was so refreshing. You know why? Because he was putting his perspective on it, looking at the subject from a new light, and most importantly, putting his own voice into the website.

This year I read a book called The Quarter Life Breakthough. It discusses the topic of millennials who might be having a quarter-life crisis and are on the search for meaningful work. The content of the book was thought-provoking and made me question the priorities I have in life. I loved the discussion points the author made and the exercises he gave.

In the book the author points out how he doubted writing the book because others told him “it’s already been written about a million times”. He didn’t give in to their opinions and continued writing. Since it’s release, the book has been pre-ordered in 38 countries and been featured on Fast Company, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Under 30 CEO, and The Washington Post. He’s been speaking on various college campuses and bookstores across the country.

If he had given into what people said about how the type of book had “already been written a million times” then none of the press and coverage would have happened. If you have something you’re really passionate about starting and doing, do it, and don’t give in to the noise of others. Don’t stop because of the outcome people might predict you will have.

Also, if you’re keen on doing something, then try to do it whenever you have free time. If you want to play guitar, learn how to do photography, knitting, riding a unicycle, or whatever, then invest as much time as you can into doing it. You see, many people that are crazy passionate about doing something don’t read a ton of productivity articles, or schedule exactly 30 minutes to their passion project. They work on it as much as they can.

Ksenia Anske, a self-published author, finished a draft of her new book Corners in 20 days (20 days!!). That’s dedication. Now you don’t need to do exactly what she did, but understand her work ethic.

breaking-branding-22-638If you’re going to start on something, do it with full force. If you only put a fraction of your dedication into it, people will notice. No more half-measures. Mike Ehrmantraut (from TV show Breaking Bad) would agree. Now go forth and invest large in what you want to do. A few things to get you going:

—Next time you procrastinate and put off what you’re thinking about doing, write a journal to yourself. In the journal, write about why you decided not to get started, what you can do better, and what you plan to do to improve.

—I’ve seen this is in a post by The Muse, ask yourself these six questions everyday:

  1. Did I work towards my goals today?
  2. What bad habits do I need to stop?
  3. What motivated me today?
  4. Have I been the kind of person I want to be?
  5. What mistakes did I make today, and what can I learn from them?
  6. What am I grateful for today? (three things)

Your answers to the questions doing have to be super long, they can just be two or three sentences. The point is to do it so you become more aware of yourself and the time you use. Now get started on the the think you want to do!



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Book promotion: Stop trying so hard


Writing a book…is hard. You go through the happy, yet incredibly draining, experience of churning out the work. Then you manage to round up an editor, go through edits, get a cover designed, formatted, and (ah ha!) finally published.

Then it sort of goes nowhere.

Okay, maybe not nowhere. A good pile of reviews come in, book bloggers review the book, you do a blog tour, family and friends buy the book. After a few weeks or months of the promotion, where do you go?

You didn’t write the book for the money, although you would very much appreciate if people bought the book because then you could cover all the costs you went through to get editing, design, and formatting done.

Marketing your novel doesn’t have to be a draining experience. Sometimes, just maybe, the thing you need to do most of all is…very little at all.

I take it you have never heard of the web series High MaitenanceThe show revolves around the people a weed dealer interacts with as he delivers weed to customers around New York City (interesting, right?).

Well, there is insight to be learned from the makers behind High Maintenance. They did hardly any promotion at all for the series.

They sent out the first few episodes of the series to friends, family, and acquaintances…and that was it. They didn’t constantly pester bloggers to review their series, pitch to places, and so forth. The end result of their minimalist promotion? High Maintenance developed a cult following.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Not all people that do little to zero promotion for their products end up hitting it big. In fact, doing little promotion can be super risky.

Investing tons of your time to marketing your novel (when you should be writing) is another risk you take.

Well, there are some things you can do to help cut down on the time-consuming task of marketing your book and spend it on writing your next book.

Get people to sign up for your author newsletter

People who are subscribed to your author newsletter are around 25X more likely to buy your book than some random blogger you encountered or a Twitter follower you got.

If you don’t have an author newsletter, get one. Services like MailChimp help deliver the newsletter to potential subscribers.

Reach out to other people

Ksenia Anske, author of Siren Suicides, posts her word count for the day on Twitter. She responds to things people ask her. Best yet, she compliments other people on their work.

Talk about your writing process (no, really)

Okay seriously, don’t be another one of those people that posts pictures of your perfectly placed laptop along with a Starbucks cup. Show the actual process of your writing (and include visuals!).

Ksenia Anske posts on her blog about her writing process, how she is coming along, and so forth. She shows her writing process even when it is not so glamourous. People like a raw human element to things. 

When people see you at your rawest self, they have the ability to empathize and connect with you more. These are the types of people that buy your books.

Think of cool, subtle promotional techniques you can do for your book

You know that author newsletter you send out to people? What if had first few chapters of your work in progress in one of the newsletters. Send the first few chapters of your novel out, one by one, for free. Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, did this at first. His books took off in popularity, partly due to it.

Ksenia Anske gives her books away for free, letting readers download files from the drafts of her novels. This in turn, gets her readers pumped up for the final version of the book.


Marketing a novel is hard work. Don’t let it consume your time and keep you from writing more. The purpose of your marketing should be on building a community around your books rather than just getting people to buy it.



  • This can be risky considering most self-published authors make less than $500 per year.


Never Settle, Keep Moving Forward

nQZcA7PRTyuduZPSZQ88_wanderlustWith New Year’s resolutions crossing people’s minds, and the everyday grind of work, it can be easy to feel stifled, unmotivated and wanting to be lazy. Don’t fret. Below you’ll find some awesome things to read and to use. Keep churning on!

Praytell Strategy: Never Settle 

Earlier this year, I got in contact with a startup “new school” public relations agency, Praytell Strategy. Aside from them having a freaking amazing site (I thought it was Squarespace, I thought wrong) they also have a great company blog.

One of the blog posts from earlier in the year could be super relatable to writers everywhere (even though it wasn’t even about writers). The agency’s founder, Andy Pray, goes through a rough time while drafting content for a social contest.

The post reminds me of when I was working on the first draft of my novel. Filled with doubt and an extreme critical eye, I would always not last more than thirty minutes or so of continuous writing time before getting frustrated and going on the internet, getting food, and so forth.

So what should you do as you’re trudging through writing and your self-critic won’t shut up as you try to reach your word count?

Keep going

Many times you have to go through the clutter to get the prize. If your writing isn’t working and you feel like throwing in the towel, don’t. Habits take time to build.Sometimes the grand idea is right around the corner.

Go on and read Praytell’s blog post on never settling. It’s short, to the point, and will get you thinking and ready to move.

Writers & Social Media


Social media is kind of like this mysterious black hole. Besides seeing the constant #pretty or #blessed photos and posts, you aren’t exactly sure what you’re getting out of it. You can put things into it but you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get out of it. Plus there is the bad habit of social media eating into your writing time.

We all know how important writing time is (especially with NaNoWriMo upon us). Never fear, there are measurable ways and tactics manage your social media.

Moving to the beat of those metrics

Gone are the days of just blindly posting updates/posts and never really knowing how much they were seen. There are ways to see how much exposure your Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram picture got. Facebook Insights, Inconosquare for Instagram, and Analytics for Twitter are great (and free) ways to measure the impact of your social media updates.

With these tools, you can see which weeks were better than some, days that had higher exposure than others, and so forth. No longer do you have to post a super excited tweet with your novel details on a blind eye!

Don’t stop till you hit the post

Posting only at certain times isn’t something you have to religiously follow but it is helpful to know. Whenever you have exciting details about your novel, revealing your cover, or just want to post an update, post during peak hours so as many people can see it as possible.

This helpful infographic from Hub Spot shows the best times to post and even what to include. Isn’t that nifty?

Hootsuite is your kinda sorta awesome best friend that tells you everything

I’m suprised at how many people still don’t know about Hootsuite. I use it all the time for my PRSSA organization and plan to use it even more once I start hardcore promotion for my novel next year.

With Hootsuite, you can schedule messages for future publish. You can also schedule things to post at the same time across all of your social media channels.

This feature is a hugely beneficial way of taking the constant thought of needing to update, logging into all of your channels and posting to each individually.

Once I start using this to post updates, I can set aside a designated time to craft posts. Then for the rest of my time, I can work on what really matters: finishing my novel!


Self-publishing is a lot of work…and a lot of money. You’re having to do nearly all of the marketing and engagement yourself. It takes a lot away from you. It takes a lot away from writing time. Using the right tools can make using social media a little bit more insightful so you know what you’re getting out of it.

I don’t want to promote my novel and engage with other authors without having a little insight into how much exposure I’m getting and how to maximize it. Or maybe I can just post saying I’m Colin Ashby, buy my novel!!! (note: probably wouldn’t work).

Go ahead and check the sources out and see what works for you. Happy writing!

Young Adult Novels Adhere to the Unconventional

Young adult novels…they’ve seem to have gotten repetitive. Fascinating worlds and wonderful tales fill them but many of the main characters across the book have a common shared theme:  they’re socially awkward hipsters who take off beaten paths.


I’m not saying that all young adult books are like this. There are several books to choose from that do not take this well-worn path: The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent. It is worth pointing out why many young adult books are diving in this theme of embracing the unconventional individual. Several young adult books with nerdy/awkward protagonists have become bestsellers. Young adult author John Green’s books including Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska all include having a main protagonist who isn’t very outgoing and believes in staying quiet.

Two young adult genre breakout hits of 2013 were Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Both books (written by the same author: Rainbow Rowell) deal with introverted characters who surround themselves in their own world. This Song Will Save Your Life, a novel by Leila Sales, deals with a quiet teen girl who has trouble making friends. Notice a similar theme/trend with the other books mentioned?

Perhaps this is just a trend that in the coming years will start to slow down. It’s good that many young adult authors are helping teens embrace their quirky traits and awkwardness in a world of weight pressure, body image critics, and bullying. There is room for change however. Sometimes it needs to be known when to move on and describe other types of characters. Embrace the person who likes to speak up, make things, and/or is overly vain. It would be a welcomed change.

Carnival: Book Review

This summer is running through with great novels coming out. Several binge-reading, addicting books are coming out…and a lot of them are self-published ones. The novel I’m reviewing in this post is Carnival, a new adult romance novel chronicling the life ahead for the protagonist, 18-year-old Charlie.

Carnival by K.B. Nelson

Things are a bit bumpy for Charlie at the beginning of the book. She lives in a small town that doesn’t have much. College plans loom on the horizon. Despite the exciting prospect of going somewhere new, Charlie decides not to go to college. She isn’t exactly sure what she wants to do. She’s up for anything. This carefree attitude leads to her sleeping with a carnie stranger named Blue, at the town carnival.

Blue has been living his whole life on the carnival circuit. He likes the nature of it, traveling around and not staying in one place to long. Things hit a halt when he meets Charlie. For the first time in his life, he isn’t really sure exactly what he wants to do.

Charlie and Blue come together, two people living reckless lives, wondering what choices need to be made. They start to form a bond that most wouldn’t understand. They become an outlet for one another to trust.

Now here’s the thing that might trouble some people about this novel. It isn’t some sugar-coated cliche romance story that ends with a “happily ever after” line. It’s an honest look into two types of people that are still trying to figure themselves out. They experiment with things along the way. Swearing happens throughout the novel. Bad things are done.

The novel is commendable in it’s surprising twists and turns. This isn’t some light soap opera-ish reading. It gives depth to the otherwise ordinary lives that people seem like they’re living on the surface. Nelson is good in crafting the conflict that Charlie faces, wondering what to do with her life. The characterization is very distinct.

4/5 stars: Great, gritty read. Good start to a promising series by author K.B. Nelson. Carnival releases to book retailers July 7th.

To get a taste of carnival, read the first and second teasers that the author had released so far.



Finished Netflix List? Summer Books to Check Out

Making a list of book recommendations can be pesky task to do. Thinking about books so subjective. Although film reviews are also subjective and I post those on this blog. Books are different. People get really defensive and think highly about what makes for a good read.

I try to read books with a wide perspective to see who would like them. Below I give a list of books to check out this summer. Happy reading!

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Young Adult

parkEleanor & Park (Rainbow Rowell): Set in 1986, the book is about two teens from vastly different upbringings that connect over a love of comic books and 80’s alternative music. Eleanor, age 15, is the new kid at school who is bullied for wearing “weird” clothes and being overweight. She has a bad homelife and stays quiet. Park is a boy who, despite coming from a loving household, feels like an outsider in the world.


Reason for its acclaim? The themes of not fitting in and finding oneself are universal. The story is about teens but can be enjoyed by anyone with less-than-stellar high school memories. Even John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars) loved the book!

att Looking for Alaska (John Green): Everyone has read The Fault in Our Stars by now. Looking for more Green in your life? (sorry, I couldn’t resist saying that). Looking for Alaska was John Green’s debut novel. It follows 16-year-old Miles Halter as he attends a preparatory high school for his junior year. He is going to seek “a great perhaps.” Starting his classes, he meets a unique group of friends who go by a variety of nicknames: The Colonel, Takumi. Alaska Young is the pretty but emotionally unstable girl he meets after being introduced by The Colonel.

Alaska is smart, adventurous and attracts all the boys at the school with her looks. Through a series of late night conversations, Alaska’s story of sadness, depression and unhappiness start to come to light.

Reason to read: The book is unique in that it’s told in a series of “before” and “after” intervals rather than the traditional chapters. The book goes through the struggles of growing up, dealing with painful memories and figuring out ways to move foward even in the wake of sadness. Even with its sad nature, it somehow is able to have bits of humor and leave the reader with a rediscovered sense of dealing with painful circumstances.

Other books

Attachments (Rainbow Rowell): Rowell does dialogue between characters very well. Hence the reason for giving out recommendations of two books by her.

attt Attachments is about love in the workplace. Lincoln O’Neill gets a job as an “internet security officer.” His job? To read people’s emails at the company and write up a report if he see anything bad/suspicious in nature. He comes across two workers emails, Beth and Jennifer. Reading the emails, he know he should turn them in but the emails are just so entertaining to him. He is drawn to the stories they tell in the emails.

Lincoln falls in love with Beth from the emails he reads that are hers. He knows so much about her. It’s a little late to introduce himself to her without coming off as a creep for knowing so much about her.

Reason to read: This is one of the few books about love in the workplace that heartfelt and touching to read. Most books about love in the workplace usually have a bunch of sex in them and have a soap-opera-ish vibe to them. Attachments is different. The characters are fully carved out and realistic to read. It’s one of those books (for girls and guys) that will have you biting your lip and waiting to turn to the next page.

Gone_Girl_(Flynn_novel)Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn): Read it before the movie comes out in October! If you want a novel full of suspense that will keep you wondering as you read, Gone Girl is the book to read. Flynn is a genius with her words and crafting of a great suspense story.

The novel centers on the uncertainty surrounding main character, Nick Dunne, and whether he killed his wife, Amy Dunne.

Reason to read: To read something new and refreshing. Are you tired of reading young adult/new adult novels about cliche romances and/or the typical quirky hipster? Gone Girl is a novel that will keep your eyes wide and wondering throughout the chapters. Great thriller novel full of twists and turns.





This is Where I Leave You (Book Review)

Judd Foxman’s life isn’t exactly the best at the moment. He wife has been having an affair with his cocky boss. WIth a broken marriage heading towards divorce, he becomes unemployed and starts to live in a basement. Then Judd’s father passes away after fighting cancer. A final wish of Judd’s father is for the entire Foxman family to come together and sit shiva for seven days. Judd and his three other siblings of varying nature return to their childhood home and revisit their lives so far.


This is Where I Leave You offers a dark but realistic look at the inner workings of a family. Paul, Judd’s older brother, faces a grudge against Judd for a past incident. The youngest sibling, Phillip, still hasn’t figured out how to grow up. Judd’s sister, Wendy, deals with the staleness of her marriage while revisiting an old flame.

Reading this novel may bring up a lot of funny anecdotes one may have about their own family. Jonathan Topper’s writing resonates well in the reader. The novel is full of sentiment, humor and tenderness. Topper writing expresses depressing yet realistic situations with great honesty.

The novel is categorized by many as a dark comedy. It seems to be more than that. Tina Fey’s coined term of it being an “emotional comedy” strikes the right balance of this book is. Must read if you like realism type stories of everyday life.

A film adaption is currently in post-production and scheduled to be released on September 12, 2014. It stars Jason Bateman (as Judd), Tina Fey (as Wendy), Dax Shepard (as Judd’s cocky boss, Wade) and Rose Bryne (as Penny).

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It’s a James Franco Summer

Note: I don’t normally talk about myself but…I’ve been in hiding for the past three weeks. College work and a huge pile of applications have consumed me. A bunch of great things in film and television happened and I missed it (the Parks and Recreation season finale was awesome!) Anyways, I’m back, and decided to post about James Franco’s never ending list of projects.

When you think of the upcoming summer movie season, thoughts of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars or the new Transformers film fill your mind. Well actor James Franco has managed to sneak his way into having four films coming out this summer. Every month from May to August, Franco will have a movie coming to theaters.

May 2014: Palo Alto

Based on the 2010 bestselling short story collection written by Franco himself, Palo Alto focuses on the happenings of a group of rebellious teenagers. The film is the directorial debut of Gia Coppola, granddaughter of director Francis Ford Coppola and niece of Sofia Coppola.

Coppola mentioned how she fell in love with the book when reading it and how it depicted teenagers is a realistic way. She adapted the short story collection written by Franco and collaborated with the teenage cast in order to make it more authentic.

James Franco appears in the film as a soccer coach who hits on a high schooler (Emma Roberts).

May 9, 2014

June 2014: Third Person

In this ensemble romantic drama, Franco plays a New York-based painter who fights with his ex(played by four-time co-star Mila Kunis) over the custody of their son. The film ties in several stories over the course of three cities.

June 20, 2014

July 2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


A follow-up to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the film follows Caesar, the ape, as he leads a rebellion through San Francisco. Franco makes a small cameo (leaving the lead role he had in the first film) as Will Rodman, Caesar’s former owner.  July 11, 2014

August 2014: Child of God

Lester Ballard is a murderer and an outcast in 1960’s Tennessee. Franco plays Jerry, who is part of the mob hunting down Lester.  Franco (who served as director) adapted the film from Cormac McCarthy’s critically praised 1973 novel of the same name.   August 1, 2014


Review of Ken Ilguna’s Walden on Wheels: From Debt to Freedom

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

Every so often, one can see the news articles talking about student debt. It is a hot topic right now. The average student debt continues to rise in America. People try to concoct a range of different ways in order to minimize it. One guy, Ken Ilgunas, took it to the extreme: he lived in his van to stay debt free.

Photo Courtesy of Colin Ashby
Photo Courtesy of Colin Ashby

Ken Ilguna’s book, Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom, details his experiences in tackling his $32,000 in debt, vowing to take out student loans again, and eventually living in a 1994 Ford E-150 Econoline. The book is divided into three parts: Debtor, Living a free life in spite of debt, and the eventual van dwelling part three.

The book starts off with Ilguna graduating from college, no job offers, and 32,000 in debt. He explores what his college degree (in english) is really worth and what it could do for him. No job leads on the horizon, he travels up to Coldfoot, Alaska to work a $9 dollar/hour job as a cook at a truck stop (Coldfoot has the northern most truck stop in the U.S.). The book chronicles the two and a half years after graduation of him working one low paying job to the next. Despite the low pay, through his extreme frugal living he is able to pay off the $32,000 in just two and a half years (hence the title: Walden on Wheels). After paying off the debt, he buys a van off craigslist and lives in it while going to graduate school.

There is something special about this book. It’s a coming-of-age memoir that is more than just chronicling the author’s personal self. In the book, the Ilguna raises questions about his education. Was his degree worth it? Should he have majored in something more “marketable”? He learns by the end of the book that his broad liberal studies degrees (BA in English, MA Liberal Studies) allowed him to dabble and learn in everything. From his frugal living and newfound master’s degree he sees that he is still a student, a lifelong learner. He breaks from the traditional masses view of a college degree and life. College allows him to form his own way of thinking that lead him to have some amazing life experiences.

So yes, even a liberal arts degree has some value.  :

To learn more about Ken Ilguna’s book, check it out on Amazon.