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*

Airport Interactions

airport interactions

Airports have become something enduring to me. People zipping along in all different directions. Suitcases of all different colors, wheeling along. Everyone’s wish is to get through airport security as quickly and smoothly as possible (even though it never usually is quick and smooth).

Airports. I love them.

All the different signs around, gate calls, tagging bags. Where is each person going? Who are they visiting? What adventure are they about to embark on? It’s interesting to think about and something that keeps you from having to think about the way overpriced airport food. (anyone got $500 bucks they have to spare so I can buy a burger?)

During my last semester in college and for a few months after graduating, I was in and out of airports a lot. Going to different places and taking it all in. There’s something people often don’t talk about when they travel: airports and flying. Why?! Probably because it isn’t all that exciting most of the time. You gotta sit in those super tiny seats. And all they serve on the flight is one drink so you get super hungry.

Well, over my several flights covering a few months, I got to see a lot and meet a lot of people.


2nd time visiting Chicago in the span of a month. This 2nd time was shorter but way more exciting because I got to be a featured guest on a national talk show! (a post on that is coming soon!). Excited from the trip, I boarded my flight back to Austin. It was nighttime, the plane had been boarding for the last several minutes and no one was in my row yet. I got comfortable and thought it was nice to have an entire row to myself.

Before getting comfortable to lay down on my impromptu bed, a woman appeared before me and and pointed to the window seat over from me. We each got settled into the seats and the plane took off.

A friendly “What brought you to Chicago?” turned into an awesome conversation of the next hour. The woman and owned and operated her own writing and editing company with a small team. While on the flight, we talked about career changes, transitions, finding purpose and so much more. She talked about all the different jobs and roles she had held throughout the years and what she learned when finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship.

Shaking our empty cups of ice, we continued to talk. Being a Owner/CEO of a company, playwright on the side, and past drummer (!!), she really was such an incredible resource of experience and knowledge.

Learning more about her entrepreneurship journey, she mentioned h0w she didn’t have a full set of clients or big amount of savings when quitting her 9-5 to pursue her business full-time. Something she said about the experience was instantly quotable.

“Sometimes you aren’t ready and you just have to have this ‘fuck it’ attitude and just start doing it”

I left the flight, not only with a great trip behind me but also a great conversation full of learning.

New York City

4th trip to The Big Apple. I’m obsessed with the place. A weather storm was going on outside, flights were delayed and cancelled, and long lines and pissed off people were abundant. After waiting in line for an hour and a half to get a boarding pass for my updated flight, I sunk down into the hard faux leather chair of the flight waiting area. It was crowded and a young woman from Mexico sat down next to me.

Before long, we started talking about where we were headed. Me to New York City and her to Mexico. She worked 12-hour days at a Nisson car factory. The work was stressful. Everything was all about being quick. Get as many cars made as possible. There was no slowing down.

She mentioned how the work was hard but she lived in a town where she was one of the lucky ones because she had a decent-paying job to help support her family. So many families around her struggled to make ends meet. Her job was hard and stressful but she said she focused instead on the smile on her kids faces when she got home after a long day. The money her and her husband made from their jobs got them a house and they were able to provide for their kids.

Stop and think. Think about what you’re doing and how it is helping and hurting you. Think about ways to make your life more enjoyable. Things aren’t rosy and great all the time but even when going through a stressful time, their is always a light guiding you. Find it.


After being in NYC for the 4th time, I booked my return flight. This flight was one going from Dallas to Austin. 50 minutes. So short. Even in the short amount of time, I got to meet with Denny, an older woman who along with her husband, were going back to their Austin home after visiting their son who was in the Air Force and stationed in North Carolina.

Upon first glance, she thought I was a college kid coming back from a spring break trip. She went on to talk about other things. Crossword puzzles. This lady loved crossword puzzles. LOVED them.

Their was a challenge.

50 minute flight and a full newspaper crossword puzzle to finish. The outcome? She did it! She finished the crossword puzzle in less than 50 minutes. This woman was a wizard! I’ve never done more than three words on those things, let alone finish one in such a short time.


On the Road to NYC

This one took place on a Megabus in route to NYC, rather than at an airport or on a plane. I still thought it would be fun to include. Back last summer, I had decided I wanted to go to NYC again (I hadn’t been in five years). With not a lot of money to spare, taking a bus rather than a plane.

Anyone who has ever taken a Greyhound, Megabus or something similar knows the struggle that comes with riding on them. They suck. Close quarters, not enough space, smelly people, smelly things, and types of people way different than airplane flying people.  All of those things and more happened while on the bus from Chicago to New York City.

On route, I sat next to a a 63-year-old woman. Closing in a stop to Cleveland, Ohio. She displayed her phone to me, urging me to look at a picture of a dress. She wanted to look pretty, she said. Her 45-year high school reunion was coming up. She was excited about it and meeting people again, especially an old arch nemesis she had had while in high school.

She wanted to look good for the reunion and went through all who she wanted to meet while there and how much planning had gone into actually attending the event.

Honk. Honk. Bus stop.

We were in Cleveland, Ohio. Her destination.

She waived goodbye to me, telling me how great it was to have someone to talk to about the reunion and other life things.

I really hope she had a good time at the reunion.

Traveling. It’s a fun thing. Airports? There usually not looked at as something enjoyable. Long lines, security, and delayed flights. They’re not always like that though. Something lost in a lot of travel posts is the interactions a person can have along the way. It’s easy to just post pretty pictures of destinations. Interaction is important. Don’t forget that!

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!

The Waiting Room: Book review


Who knew a media law professor could provide me with book recommendations? A few months ago, I mentioned how I was writing a novel to my media law professor. He referenced a past student of his, Alysha Kaye. She was in the process of marketing her debut novel The Waiting Room and it was a few months before publication.

I thought, “Okay, this woman went to Texas State University just like me, so I’m automatically even more interested in her book.”

Then I read the book blurb. Afterlife, reincarnation, waiting for someone after death? It sounded really freaking cool and something I haven’t seen done a lot.

The book starts off in an interesting way: the main character dies. The story explores themes of what happens after we die. Where do we go? Is there an afterlife. 30-year-old Jude dies and wakes up in a waiting room. It’s a place where people wait to be reincarnated into their new lives. They usually are not in the waiting room for any longer than an hour yet for some reason Jude has been in the waiting room for a lot longer than everyone else.

In the waiting room there is a large window people can look out of to see their loved ones who are still living. Jude uses the window to watch his wife Nina. He watches her through the window for decades (that’s some dedication!). He watches her as she copes with his loss and starts to move on with her life.

There are so many reasons why The Waiting Room is so freaking amazing. The concept of deceased people in a waiting room, waiting to be transferring into their new life is really interesting. The book explores a lot of time periods, places, and personalities so every chapter and anecdote always feels fresh and unique.

The author has mentioned how the book morphed out of a cheesy poem she wrote to her then boyfriend. When I was first going into reading this book, I kept thinking how exactly she would navigate Jude and Nina’s relationship. Safe to say, I was blown away at the way she explored the characters relationship while keeping the book interesting and without getting overtly sappy and cliche. Bonus points on that.

My only qualm with the writing was the supporting characters. Kaye did a good job of describing the people that worked in the waiting room but not about the many people that passed through the waiting room. Given how she wanted to show the many different lives people live, it would have been fun to hear more about some of the people in the waiting room. More than just the handful of sentences she used to talk about them.

Also, the author mentioned how some people thought The Waiting Room was the first in a planned book series. I can see how this would be thought. The writing yields themes that could be explored in further books, maybe with different characters, buts still tied in somehow. It reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry and how that book spawned three more books in a loose quartet.

The Waiting Room exceeded my expectations of the romance genre and self-publishing. It doesn’t succumb to typical cliches and stays fresh and unique in it’s themes and how it approaches things. Good Read 5/5

Connect with Alysha Kaye:

Website | Blog | Twitter | The Waiting Room on Amazon

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.


Mosquitoland (2015): Book Review

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A thing’s not a thing until you say it out loud.

That’s one of the chapter titles from Mosquitoland, a road-trip coming of age novel covering new territory in a familiar and oversaturated genre. Mental health is a big component to in the novel. The one-sentence first chapter is I am Mary Iris Malone and I am not okay.

And she isn’t okay. Her mother was sent off to a mental hospital and hasn’t been seen for months. Her left eye can’t see very well and her stepmom (a Denny’s waitress no less) is getting on her nerves. Mary needs out and she does just that by hopping on a Greyhound, looking at a 1,000+ journey to finally reunite with her mom again. Oh, and she doesn’t like to be called Mary. Mim, okay?

A number of characters are encountered during the trip. All of them deal with their own problems and goals. There’s a big lady with a canister full of mystery, a poncho man who keeps stalking Mim, bus toilet with hard to follow instructions, and more. This is definitely more of a character driven book than a plot driven book. And that’s what makes it so good.

Mim is the atypical quirky girl who thinks abstract thoughts, has big plans, and is wise beyond her years. She’s the type of character you might see in a John Green novel…but better, more fleshed out, and someone who has hipster is tendencies but is actually normal and cool overall. The novel is told in first person present tense in Mim’s point of view. Words and thoughts stream together seamlessly. David Arnold is an exceptional writer.

Different sorts of lively characters make each chapter pack a punch. There’s normal adults, snotty kids, ex-convicts, and bad toothed smiling people. Sayings, interactions, and thoughts become so poetic. I found myself underlining and highlighting in the book NUMEROUS times (I think I have at least three dozen underlines, ha!).

I’d go out on a limb and say Mosquitoland is one of this year’s best YA novels. The different settings and characters make it a great read for anyone. It touches on subjects like mental health and soul-searching in such poetically touching ways. Even some non-corny non-cliché romance is thrown in. A

Great Indie Films to Check Out on VOD

There’s usually a time of year when not that many movies are coming out in theaters that excite me. I lied, this is all-year long. I’ve seen The Avengers (really good) and currently waiting for Pitch Perfect 2 to come out (the Bellas are back!)

Many people voice their concern about the unoriginality of Hollywood. Sequels, big budget action flicks, and dystopian young adult conquer a lot of the movies heavily promoted and released in theaters.

Enter video on demand (VOD). A bunch of great films get released on iTunes, Amazon, and other VOD platforms. Films released on DVD don’t make up all of the VOD market. Independent films have gotten a big boost thanks to VOD.

Below are some recently released films worth checking out (Kristen Wiig in a swan boat?! Terminator in a zombie film? Heck yeah!):


maggie film review

Abigail Breslin stars as the title character who is affected by a virus that makes her into a zombie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is her dad, and is searching for her. Several reviews have commented on the great cinematography and acting in the film and called it one of Schwarzenegger’s best roles. Read more of the review here.  and the trailer here.


Ride movie review

Road-trip, coming-of-age, searching for passion movie! I’m not sure how I feel about it…These types of movies have been done over and over. It has reached the top 20 on iTunes movie downloads. Helen Hunt wrote and directed this film. Brenton Thwaites (The Giver) plays her college-bound son who goes to New York University, realizes he doesn’t like it, and moves to LA to pursue his passion for surfing. Helen Hunt finds out about this and goes after him, finding love (oh boy), renewed sense of purpose, and reconnecting with her son. Good coming to terms film situated in the middle of the mind-numbing big budget Hollywood movie season. Watch the trailer here.

Welcome to Me

welcome to me movie review


Kristen Wiig. Enough said. Okay, I’ll say more. The film is a touching that explores a subject not covered often in film, not talked about much, and not understand all that well: mental health. Wiig’s character has borderline personality disorder and is obsessed with Oprah. One day she wins the $86 million dollar jackpot and uses part of it to pay for her own talk show at a TV network. She doesn’t talk about current events or interview guests on the two hour show, she just talks about herself and her experiences…for two hours.

Kristen Wiig has been knocking it out of the part in exploring new territory outside of Saturday Night Live. She’s been doing a lot of indie dramas like Hateship Loveship, The Skeleton Twins, and now this film. And she excels in all three. You the bomb Kristen Wiig!

Watch the trailer here.