Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Man Who Quit Money

Surprisingly, I've been reading a lot of nonfiction lately. It is good for me and encourages me to consider the world more deeply--like in the case of Suelo, a dude who gave away ALL of his money (even the pennies !) and decided to live off the land.

imagined survival skills
I found the book "The Man Who Quit Money" by Mark Sundeen horrifying, inspiring, thought-provoking, harrowing and fascinating all at the same time. While I would love to envision myself as capable as a panther in the wild, I am well-aware that I am more like a fat house cat who begins to MEOW incessantly when half of my fancy feast kibble disappears.

actual survival skills

So it was fascinating to read a story about a man who literally gave up everything and still--to this day as far as I know--lives entirely off the land, trusting that the Earth will provide for him just as well as she provides for all the other creatures who live here.

And while I can't see me giving up all my worldly goods and living in a cave, I do think there was quite a bit of wisdom here that I definitely want to put into practice in my own life.

For example, the book talks about how--before Suelo gave up money--he got a job with a long commute to pay his bills and how he thought living like that--working so hard for money to buy *&^% he didn't need was insane. And I have to agree. 

Many of my most creative friends (hell, most people I know), talk about how if they only had more time or money they would do A, B, and C. And a great deal of what the book is talking about, is how you can do A, B, and C NOW--not in some imaginary future--, if you just let go of other things that aren't really enriching your life at all.

I don't know about you, but this is true for my own life at least. I wanted a better work schedule, where I would have more flexibility and time and so I started teaching online rather than in-seat classes. It took time to iron out the details, and I had to forgo the pleasure of my students' company in the classroom, but I achieved what I wanted.

And in regards to money, I think if I simply spend less money, I won't have to work as much to make money. And before many of you dismiss this, I think you will can name 3-5 things that you currently pay for that you don't HAVE to have. And imagine what your life would be like if you didn't have them? Would it be so terrible? Or would you get freedom, skills, etc. in return?

I think the real challenge for people like me will not be building the life they dream of, but instead, untangling themselves from the money system so they can do so. I can't, for example, go live in a cave while I still have student loan debt. And I imagine that if you have a house, cars, etc, you also feel like it isn't possible.

So I wonder if getting out of the money system is the answer--or even possible--or if, in what ways, we could free up a little more of our space and time?

And I think everyone would love to feel a little more free to do the things that they want to do. It is just a matter of identifying what should be discarded and having the guts to let those things go.

And it is hard. It is hard to imagine that we can live without a 4-bedroom house or a two car garage. We fill safer when we are paying into retirement and have good insurance. But no matter how much stuff we pile around us, we are not going to actually be any safer.
No really--this book reminds me of something, but I just can't quite put my finger on it..

So if we can't be safer, maybe at least we can be freer.

What are you willing to let go of, so you can be free?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Writing As A Force of Good & #FreebieFriday

I’m giving away 20 free e-copies of “Blind”. Keep reading to find out how/why I would be so cray.

I’m one of those bleeding heart do-good types. So there is no surprise to those who know me that I would write a short story and then donate the royalties from that project to a charity that supports young artists.

Sure I could just give money directlto charity (and often do), but the great thing about writing a story AND donating is that I have a chance to humanize the issue and generate awareness.

Some people might argue that there are better causes: the whales, child abuse, poverty, cancer and so on.

I don’t know about you but creativity and writing saved my life. Coming from a really dark background/childhood, my creativity and imagination provided me with the hope that a better world, or a better life existed than the one I’d been given. And if that creativity had been squashed rather than fostered, I don’t know that I would have survived my environment. So I believe this cause is important and feel so grateful that I've come far enough to be a position to support it.

I chose The Dreaming Zebra Foundation as the recipient of the royalties from “Blind”, and you can learn more about TDZF here and here.

So, now for the good stuff! In order to get your free copy of “Blind” gifted to you, you need only do the following:

Post a comment in the section below, answering the following question: If you had an art-related superpower, what would it be?

I would want to have power over paper, so I could make anything out of it. ANYTHING, be it huge buildings, shields, flying machines, etc. You name it. I would just need a sheet of paper. And really, when I think about it, I may already have this power.  ;)

Now it's your turn. First 20 comment-ers (err, commentators?) win. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In Defense of Television #amwriting

I am the guilty type. The kind of person to feel really terrible about television marathons. I could be learning French, I think, or cosmology or how to build a robot. Do I want to be lying on my deathbed regretting the lost weeks or months (hell, maybe years if we are being honest here), watching Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Haven, Bones, House, Supernatural, or True Blood—just to name a couple...

I should be writing.

And that is really what it comes down to. I feel guilty about every free moment I have that I squander instead of writing.

I have it so easy. I have a dog and a partner that do not rely on me—(*tips hat to the writer parents out there*). I have a job that I largely control—my own hours, pants optional.
I could not have it easier—which I love—and which I did a lot of work to achieve (years of rearranging my life and seizing certain opportunities so that I could be more and more my own person).

So why the guilt if instead of enjoying what I’ve sown? I worked hard to get here and should enjoy it.

Yet, I can’t help but feel like I need to make excuses for slacking and it may be because I haven’t realized all my writing dreams yet. I don’t have a Hugo or Nebula (or Nobel Peace Prize). I am not #1 New York Times Bestselling Author (or even on the list). I am not a household name—so it feels like I am sabotaging my own success every time I turn on the TV instead of barreling through that next chapter.

And maybe I do need to make adjustments to my schedule. Perhaps I am not so good at reinforcing a schedule when I have flexibility out the wahzoo. Or maybe instead, I should tout the virtues of television.

After all, isn’t good television nothing more than a good story—just like fiction? Don’t we see character development and plot? By watching vast quantities of television, it is easy to see how a character arc is stretched over a season (equivalent to that of a novel). We see examples of conflict and tension. It is easier to see how a large plot arc is developed over several seasons (just like in several of our favorite book series).

Good TV writing can also show a writer how conflict can deepen character motivation and personalities as well as add theme and depth to the story itself. When TV writers change gears or POVs, it also provides good examples of narration, its multitude of angles and all the possible ways a person can tell the same story.

And why not? Some TV is based on the book anyway (though that is no substitute! Who said I wasn’t reading!?!)

And I can’t write ALL the time. I need to fill my creativity well more than I drain it—or I will find myself blocked and worthless. And if I fill my well with good books, movies, Sims—and TV—then so be it.

So excuse me while I go watch an episode Lost Girl.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crushing Hearts & Library Love #Mondayblogs

I recently read and loved a great anthology featuring one of my friends, Rebecca Poole of Dreams2Media. I asked Rebecca and her editor to clue my readers (and me!) into the project itself—as well as the motivation behind its creation.

Let’s start by telling everyone what The Rise of the Goddess anthology is about.
The Rise of the Goddess is all about overcoming adversity. Some of the stories are very traditional in their mythology theme, while others are not, but they all show the reader that faith (rather it be in their own self or a higher power) can overcome any obstacle.

Tell us more about Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing.
CHBB was officially launched in 2012 by the fabulous author and publishing genius SJ Davis, and soon after acquired both Vamptasy Publishing and Hot Ink Press. The ever growing ranks of authors include some of today’s best selling indie minds. Beyond the success of the company and their tireless efforts to bring amazing stories to the readers, CHBB is a family with a heart.

What was the source of inspiration for this theme of The Rise’s anthology?
Though many ideas were considered by the founding members of the anthology, the idea of breathing new life into the traditional mythology came from author, contributor, and secret goddess in her own right, Sinead MacDughlas. The inspiration behind the idea was simply the want to inspire others.

The anthology also has art in addition to stories. How do you think this enriches the reader’s experience?
I believe that the pieces of art, including the cover, express the ideas held within the stories and give the reader a visual of the passion that went into every aspect of the collection. If you the images by Mr. Ford, Mrs. Poole, and Mrs. McMahon, they tell a story all their own.
Was it fun to collaborate with so many talented artists and writers? Absolutely! When working on a project like this, you get to meet so many amazing people and you become friends, you become a family. Some of these contributors I have known for years, some were brand new and I was able to give them their first break in the writing world. Still others were seasoned authors who I was able to meet for the first time. We even have our very own rock star in the group, Beth W. Patterson. I love everyone of the authors and artists, and I hope to get to work with them in the future.

This project is a charitable project, with all proceeds going to Elliott Public Library. What led to this decision?
The answer to this is simple. We wanted to give back to the world of readers for all that they have given us. We wanted a great cause to support, and what better cause can there be other than a small town library that is suffering under heavy budget cuts while the sole librarian struggles to serve over three hundred customers a month.

Was there a special reason why you chose this library as the object of your charity?
The Elliott Public Library has a very special secret; its librarian is a Goddess. Fellow CHBB/Hot Ink/Vamptasy author and long time friend of many of the contributors, Ada McEwan, works tirelessly in her position at the library out of love and kindness. Struggling with the limited funds, Mrs. McEwan strives to provide after-school programs for the children of Elliott, to upgrade the facility, to support indie authors by housing their books on a special shelf right up front, and to maintain this safe haven of books for her community.

How important do you think it is for writers and artists to give back to their communities?
I think it is absolutely vital! Authors write words, and without anyone to read them, they are just simply lines on a page. It is important give back to those people who breathe life into our stories with their imaginations and heartfelt rapture in the worlds we build. Who knows? The next Hemingway, Bronte, or Poe may very well be molded inside the walls of the Elliott Public Library on some sunny afternoon all because we helped keep the library alive and there for the children of the next generation.

Can we expect to see more charity anthologies from Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing soon?
It is my hope and desire to continue assisting CHBB with putting together charity anthologies for great causes in the future. Philanthropy is a theme within the company that already exists with authors such as Rue Volley and Sinead MacDughlas donating proceeds of their individual works to cancer research and women’s safe houses, and I believe that many others will continue to carry that torch of giving onward.

Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know about your fabulous project, ladies! I hope to talk more about writing and charity soon, but in the meantime dear Reader, please feel free to share your comments below. Do you often write for charity? Do you read anthologies? Why or why not?

You can also learn more about Rebecca here and CHBB here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Will This Be What Kills Us? #FreebieFriday

I was already in love with Roquet because of her well-done Lana Harvey Series (Her first book Graveyard Shift is free! Get it here) , so imagine how excited I was when I found out she coauthored another book.

This is not the first book to examine a "survival of the fittest" scenario. In fact, I would argue that many people are obsessed with fiction of this theme. We have tons of movies, literature, and the like to prove this theory.

So my question is: What do you think will kill us off?

Mass extinction event?

Give me your answers in the comments below and a lucky winner will receive a free copy of Ross & Roquet's Backwoods Armageddon eBook. You have until Sunday night to play! Winner announced Monday morning!