Social Saturday: Create Your Own Future

I have been incredibly silent on the social media front as far as my author platform is concerned. I am well aware of this. I also haven’t been that diligent toward the marketing and sales of When Stars Die. Even so, I am working on The Stars Are Infinite so that it can be released some time this year.

But crickets have been chirping on my blog for a reason.

I’ve been prioritizing my career in fitness over anything else right now. I’ve been busy building my personal training website (still super busy with this), I’ve obviously been busy with my full-time job, selling memberships and shadowing a personal trainer; I’ve been cramming my head with research to aid in my career; I’ve been hitting the weights hard to grow muscle; and I’ve just overall been busy with research to launch my business successfully when the summer comes. I’ll also be moving in with my fiance soon, and that’ll be time consuming as well.

Now that I have a planner, I can commit myself to a regular blogging schedule, but it will only be once a week, and I will dub it ‘Social Saturday.’ It’s going to basically be a recap of my entire week, a bigger, better glimpse into my life that you haven’t yet seen, where I will get real, raw, and honest. Now let’s get on to what I want to talk about today.

I somewhat regret my English degree. The somewhat part comes into play when you consider that my English degree has helped me become a better writer and self-editor. I’ve also gained many experiences from it that I otherwise would not have gained without having majored in it, like launching my own literary magazine and being a tutor for my university’s writing center. I would not give up these experiences.

I mostly regret my major because I’m in the final stretches of earning my English degree, and I know that unless I win the lottery or scholarships drop in my lap, switching my major to exercise science or something similar is no longer an option. I’m not willing to put myself in debt for an education I want to use to simply supplement my certification. At the same time, I desperately want to major in exercise science, but there is no way I’m allowing myself to be steeped in debt of up to 30,000 dollars (and I wish this were an exaggeration). The only reason I would want a BS is so that I can go on to earn an MS and conduct my own research into exercise science and write books on my discoveries. Having an MS would legitimize my research. Alas, this will not come into fruition any time soon.

I’m not brimming with regrets, though. If anything, I am currently buzzing with pride. After getting my tax return today, I was finally able to purchase liability insurance, which is the first step into launching my personal training business in the summer. All I now have to do is pay to launch my website. I am filled with so much pride because I have paid for everything myself to make becoming a personal trainer possible. This is what I have spent:

  • $799.00 for my ACE certification
  • $299.00 for my group fitness instructor certification (this one was on sale)
  • $399.00 for my functional training certification
  • About $200.00 dollars in supplementary books
  • About $60.00 for a heart monitor and calipers
  • About $17.00 for business cards
  • About $286.00 for liability insurance

Thus far, I have spent a little over 2,000 dollars to make all of this possible for me. I don’t list these prices to show off how privileged I am to be able to pay all of this off without accruing any debt. I know I am privileged. If I didn’t currently live with my parents, I’d probably be in credit card debt.

I post this to show that even though I was able to pay all of it off, I still took financial risks. I paid for some of this stuff with my credit card but was able to later quickly pay it off. I was at a point in my last job where I was very financially unstable and still in some debt from my group fitness certification, but I had to make this possible, even if that meant making just the minimum payments for my credit card.

I have decided that I want to launch my own business because currently I am salaried and also receive commission from the sales of memberships. It’s decent money. I’ve also been interning for two months and have received a pretty good insight into the life of a personal trainer. While I would still love to train at a gym, I am not willing to give up my salary and start entirely from scratch. When I move in with my fiance, I’ll have rent to pay. I still have to pay off my car. The point is that I have things to pay for, things I wouldn’t be able to pay for if I transitioned over to training full-time. My pay would be entirely contingent on training hours; building a base of clients takes time. The specific trainer I’m shadowing actually has to train on his own time in order to make ends meet. Training at a gym isn’t enough for him.

I am incredibly lucky in that my fiance is currently the primary bread winner and is able to support me in my endeavors. So I will remain a fitness consultant while also training on the side when I launch my business this summer–and hopefully surpass my fiance’s income.

I have created my own future, with my own money, and I am not going to sit here and deny that I was without help. While all the money came from me, I am economically advantaged in that I didn’t have to pay for much else while investing in my education as a personal trainer. Of course, I am also very good with money and was able to make all payments on time.

What I want you to know is that if you envision a particular future for yourself and don’t think you can achieve it, you need to find ways to achieve it, no matter what sort of risks you have to take. Don’t bankrupt yourself. Simply sacrifice what you can in order to make this future possible for yourself. Budget your money. Figure out what you need and don’t need. Just go for it.

I was so tired of not being certain of what I wanted to do with my degree in English. I was so tired of my last job. I was so tired of feeling like the only thing I had going for me was writing novels. And I was so tired of letting fear hold me back.

No more. I made this future possible for myself through hard work. I found something to be passionate about other than writing novels. I found something I can make good money from while also changing people’s lives in a big way.

I found myself by finding who I want to be. And even if I want to be someone different later, at least I know I can do it through my own hard work.

foundmyself

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Purchase When Stars Die at Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble.

 

Blackout, Anxiety, and News

If you hadn’t noticed, my blog wasn’t online for about a week. This is because I was in the midst of job searching for a position as a personal trainer. It’s something my dad suggested, especially because I do talk about my eating disorder that I recovered from last April. I also share strong opinions about a few other topics that future employers could have judged me on, so I thought it safest to just temporarily take my blog offline. I also did it with my author Facebook page.

I remember the last time that I went job hunting it took me a month to land the current job I’ll be at for probably about 2-3 more weekends. But this time, it only took me a week to find a job!

So, yes, I’m a fitness consultant for Evans Fitness Center Express. In the meantime, I’ll also be shadowing some trainers during my shift, and then once I’ve gotten a good amount of sales experience selling memberships and establishing rapport with the clients and gym, I’ll transition over to personal training. I get a salary plus commission. The manager recommended I start out as a fitness consultant since trainers are only paid by the hour, so it would be a rough start for me.

I’m happy with my choice, at peace with it, essentially. When I started the job hunt, I was filled with a ridiculous amount of anxiety. Would I ever find a job? Am I going to be stuck working minimum wage for the rest of my life? What if my lack of experience dooms me? What if I’m just not meant to be a trainer?

It was a painful week.

I thought I’d be super giddy and happy when I got the job, but this sense of calm passed over me. No more money worries. No more wondering if I’m ever going to find a job. No more feeling uncertain about my future. No more feeling like my mid-20s are supposed to be spent being miserable because the job market isn’t like it was when my parents were my age. My dream job is now a reality.

There’s a song I have in mind. I can’t remember the name of the singer or singer’s band or whatever you want to call it, but the lyrics talk about how the singer wishes he could go back in time to the good old days, when he had nothing to worry about because his mom could make everything better and he wasn’t worrying about student loans.

At first I thought it was stupid. ‘You’re a singer on a mainstream radio,’ I thought. .’What do you know about student loans? What do you have to worry about? You’re probably making bunches of money and have no money worries. And even if you are going to college right now or whatever, I highly doubt you had to take out student loans.’

I then began to understand that it was a song directed toward millennials and millennial struggles. I didn’t feel that struggle until I began to lose hours at my job and then started freaking out about job hunting. Of course, this isn’t a uniquely millennial struggle, but it’s not easy finding even a minimum wage job like it used to be because the job market is so crowded.

Now I’m only speaking STRICTLY about minimum-wage jobs here. All others don’t apply to these bullet points (or they may, but I’m just talking about minimum wage):

  • You generally have to apply online, and I have NEVER trusted online applications. I applied to over 40 places back in 2012 and only heard back from two.
  • Calling about the status of your job application can be detrimental to your chances of even landing an interview. You would think this would help since it shows your interest in the job.
  • The job market is so crowded with people fighting for minimum-wage jobs.
  • When you’re applying online, sometimes you have to take those ridiculous personality tests that can kill your chances of even having your application looked at if you don’t pass this test.
  • You might have to go through more than one interview to try to land a job that only wants to pay you $7.25 an hour. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth the hassle, but you’ve got to keep chugging along.
  • Your hours aren’t always guaranteed, so you may have to pick up another job.
  • Hoping to get an interview that you may never get. I once applied to Walmart several times and never, ever heard back from them.
  • First impressions are everything. I understand why the interview process can be difficult for minimum-wage jobs, especially because they’re probably interviewing a bunch of people, but sometimes you feel like you should be paid more than minimum wage when you have to go through an interview process that feels like you’re applying for med school.
  • Some minimum-wage jobs want you to submit a resume. I submitted one to work at a new McDonald’s that was hiring a bunch of people. Never heard back.
  • That overqualified thing? It’s not a myth. I was applying for a job at a Japanese restaurant that I was sure I’d land because I had a friend who worked there and was well-liked by her boss. However, once her boss looked over my resume, she asked my friend why on Earth I was applying when I could get better. I’m not too good for a minimum-wage job. And, no, I couldn’t get better at the time because I didn’t–and still don’t–have a degree. I also didn’t have any special certifications in the past. The only solid experience I had was editing and tutoring, but jobs like that generally require a degree.

But hopefully all that’s over with. I hope I’m going to do well with this job, and in a few months, I’ll be a full-time personal trainer.

Seriously, though, I feel like this job was literally handed to me. I walked into the gym, handed in my resume, the manager took a look over it, and immediately recommended fitness consulting to me. All I had to do was show up a few times to check up on my resume. I didn’t receive a formal interview. I just got the job. And I’m assuming they only had one position open because the head trainer there said they were looking for SOMEONE.

That is a great feeling.

The stress can now be over with.

In other words, three poems of mine are featured in an anthology titled Purple Sparks. You can get it here. It’s a number one new release in poetry anthologies! I really hope you guys will check it out. It’s an anthology complied of poems from survivors of sexual abuse. You can check out the book’s website here.

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Purchase When Stars Die at Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble.

Say Hello to Neko!

Here’s a story about my kitty!

catcloseup

This little beauty is my kitty named Neko, which is Japanese for cat, but, hey, my friend named her, and I kept the name out of respect for that friend. So what does this little girl have to do with my blog? Well, animals are great for your health. Having a little furbaby–or featherbaby, scalebaby, whatever–can be great for your mental health. Plus, many people adore cats and can’t get enough of cute cat pictures.

I adopted her from my friend, the one who named her, when her cat had kittens. I remember her as this tiny kitten dragging around a feather duster twice her size. My friend commented that it looked like she was carrying a ham around. To me, she just looked like a walking feather duster.

During this time, I was going through what my high school freshman mind perceived to be a bad break-up. I was…

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Promotional Opportunities for Your Novel

I have been thinking about how I’d like to increase sales for When Stars Die, and this has to do with seeking out every promotional opportunity I can. I’m also a firm believer in that in order to make money, you need to spend some money. Even so, there are a variety of promotional opportunities available. You just need to be willing to put in the time to both seek them out and work hard at some of your own promotional strategies.

  1. Social Media. This one should be obvious, but social media is one way in which you can promote your work. For example, you can post a tiny excerpt on Twitter each day with a link to your work. You can connect with other authors and host a party on Facebook where each author takes a turn at hosting the party in order to promote his/her novel, along with other authors’ books, which can be used as prizes. I would also argue keeping a blog is vital, especially due to the SEO that can bring people from around the world to your blog.
  2. Newsletters. Having your own newsletter is essential. I do monthly newsletters, and I always have my book in the sidebar of it. The way to attract subscribers is by having links to it on all of your social media. Also giving potential subscribers an incentive to subscribe works, like doing a book giveaway. You can also pay to have your book included in a newsletter, like BookBrag, The Fussy Librarian, and others like it. This is what I do as well.
  3. Cover Reveals. When you get the cover for your book, you can schedule your own cover reveal and contact book bloggers to help out. You can also contact other writers as well and offer their books as giveaway prizes. You can even find a company to pay to help you set up a cover reveal–or a book blast or release party or something similar.
  4. Street Team. A street team is a great way to have free promotion. I have a small street team composed of author friends. We promote each others’ blog posts and books. I wish I could offer further advice on how to assemble one, but I have my street team simply because they were on the staff of my literary magazine. But offering incentives, like review copies of your book, may help to build a street team from people who enjoyed your work.
  5. Goodreads Giveaways. If you have print copies of your book, giving away a copy on Goodreads is one way to gain exposure for your novel, particularly if your book has a very attractive cover. I can gain a little over 2,000 entries for my novel from holding a month-long giveaway.
  6. Ads. I’ve done a Goodreads ad, and my book received over 30,000 views from that one alone. Ads, however, can be tricky, as you need a stellar cover and a short, perfect blurb to quickly catch people’s attention so that they click on your ad. You can use Google as well or even Facebook ads.

 

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Purchase When Stars Die at Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble.

 

*Picture from Jason Howle’s “Instagram and other Social Media Apps.”

Looking Back on 2015 from 2016

As I look back on 2015 and look down the sparkling maw that is 2016, I’m filled with much excitement for this year. Let’s look back on 2015 to see some of what I’ve accomplished:

  1. Landing a contract for When Stars Die with Gnome on Pig Productions.
  2. Passing my exam to be certified as a personal trainer.
  3. Earning my specialty certification in functional fitness.
  4. Starting the advanced level in ballet.
  5. Finally nailing those blasted foutte turns.
  6. Writing, completing, and publishing A Treacherous Flame. (Seriously, this is huge for me because I hadn’t written anything in a while.)
  7. Recovering from my eating disorder in April.
  8. Being free from depression for an entire year. (I’ll write a post later this week on what this feels like for me.)

Now here is what I hope to accomplish in 2016:

  1. Earning my group fitness certification.
  2. Finding a job as both a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.
  3. Getting The Stars Are Infinite published.
  4. Increasing sales for When Stars Die.
  5. Graduating with my BA.
  6. Moving in with my fiance and getting married.
  7. Studying for a specialty certification in nutrition.
  8. Having a full list of clients within three months, preferably before I earn my BA.
  9. Getting back en pointe since my shoes are dead and I screwed up my foot when I fell on it in pointe class.
  10. Building more muscle through ballet and crosstraining.
  11. Helping clients succeed with their fitness goals.
  12. Writing a novella (or novel, whatever it turns out to be) for Forevermore Publishing.
  13. Writing the third book in The Stars Trilogy.

These are all of my goals for the year of 2016. It’s a lengthy list, but I know I can succeed.

So what do you plan to accomplish in 2016?

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Purchase When Stars Die at Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, and Barnes&Noble.

Bad Bloods Cover Reveal!

Pretty!

Shannon A Thompson

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

Add November Rain, Part One on Goodreads

Then, add November Snow, Part Two on Goodreads

We are here! The covers for both Bad Bloods books can be found below, along with their descriptions. If you want extra information, don’t forget to follow the FacebookPinterest, and the Extras page—and of course, I give sneak peeks every Saturday during my #Saturdate posts. As we get closer and closer, there will be more opportunities to read first and win prizes. Today’s winners will be announced tomorrow on my Facebook page! Three helpers won an exclusive sneak peek of November Rain. Keep reading…and of course,

Let it…

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Your 2015 holiday shopping list: books, books, and books!

Samuel Snoek-Brown

It’s been a great year for books, y’all. And now that the crunch is on for gift-giving season, I wanted to share some books published in the past year by friends of mine! There is a LOT to love here — poetry, prose, anthologies, even a few adult coloring books! So I’ve included some blurbs or endorsements so you know what you’re getting into, and I’ve sorted the whole list by something like genre, as well as a couple of sections for particularly prolific publishers I love.

Click the links to zip down to the kinds of books you’re looking for, or just scroll through and buy one or two of everything.

I’ve even included a few books scheduled for publication early next year — they’re on pre-order now, so get in early and snap those up, too!

Poetry  |  Anthologies & hybrid collections | Novels & collections  |  Memoir

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