Cassandra Starling

Writer / Blogger / Youtuber

man holding green and brown map

Photo by veerasak Piyawatanakul on Pexels.com

The Hobbit was an inspirational book to me in school for many reasons. Later in college it was nice to recall that Bilbo, a hobbit in his fifties, started his exciting adventure at a later age than what is typical in the popular opinion that only the young can under go journeys that allow us to grow as people. Inspired, I felt the world was open to many possibilities to all of us at any age and all walks of life. The older you get, the more people expect you to have “figured it out”, but life is not at all that simple and never goes entirely as planned. I am here to tell you that it is okay!

 

College acceptance of students of any age should be enough of an example of teaching people willing to learn at any age, and that new beginnings is not exclusive to those younger than thirty. You don’t have to figure out what life style or career will bring your true fulfillment by twenty-six. You can get your toes wet in fields you are interested in and try new things all you want. If you find it doesn’t meld with you- I implore you to keep looking for that sense of happiness and fulfillment. I have heard from so many sources that you must learn to just grin and bear the life of employment and it is typical to hate your job. But why must that be?

books college comfort contemporary

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It is possible to look forward to go to work every day and be happy. We hear about those who found the jobs that make them very excited. If you find that your interest and happiness is not in your current field, I would suggest starting at the bottom rung of the ladder of a new career you have interest in. Learn the trade and see if it is a right fit.

Life is full of new experiences. Try new things, dive in, and enjoy the journey we are endlessly trying to figure out.

Unemployment can be a difficult for many. The guilt in relying on others and the uncertainty of where you might end up brings most people through the worst depression. This depression says a lot about you.

 

Being upset that you don’t have a job means that you are someone who is motivated to work and better themselves and that unemployment is not for you. You know you aren’t meant to be where you are. My advice is to keep looking and building skills to become even more appealing to hire during this downtime. And first and foremost, do not solely focus on getting that job.

 

My story of unemployment is not as lengthy as most, but I still faced that wall of immobility. Sitting at home day in and day out, hunting for jobs and told “no” more times than I can remember took a hit on my self-confidence. The key to getting a job is to, not only keep looking, but not to dwell on it all the time. If you aren’t enjoying life you will wear away your resolve into nothing. There are lots of ways to entertain yourself if you need to budget: go for walks, take part in activities that don’t require a lot of money like volunteering, and you don’t need to use money to rent a book or a movie from your local library.

 

A period of unemployment may also be a time you can use to discover your own strengths, likes, and passions. There is nothing wrong in pursuing what sets your hair on fire. Your passion keeps your going, it’s what gives you steam to keep running, painting, and learning. Never let go of that fire or you risk losing yourself with it.

 

Once you find that job, and you will if you are persistent, then don’t let that stop you. Keep heading onto your own personal path. You may reach the retirement age with this employment, or you may not. Another calling can reach out to you in twenty years, a few years, or even a few months. Follow it. Don’t remain in one spot if it doesn’t build you up. Do not settle for a job that doesn’t satisfy you.

 

After saying all these cautionary words, I implore you to explore. Try something you would never try before. Life is an adventure, treat it like one. You only get one ride, so make it count. Never remain still but continue to flow with the tides and wherever the wind will take you.

depth-of-field-direction-finger-34753 copy.jpgSo we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

            Hello again! After a long break, I’ve gotten back into the blogging business. All right, I am making this blog as a personal/inspirational blog and wish to share my journey through it. Today, I would like to discuss how life is never what you planned it to be even when it seems like a flawless plan.

            Recently, someone I know lost a 30-some year career with no compensation or remorse from the Universe. This was a great shock and made the world out to be so cruel. It proved that when you believe you have everything figured out, life can come and drag you down to uncertainty until you question what your journey and struggles have all been for. Where is the justice? Don’t you deserve reward for putting in your time? I believe there is a purpose to such nasty wake-up calls the Universe sends us occasionally to keep us on our toes, even if its a cruel lesson to teach us.

            The person I am talking about has a new chance to pursue something they like or something that makes them happy. Truthfully they were worn down by their job these recent years and wanted a way out. The Universe then answered. It was still a shock to hear they had lost the future they always believed was inevitably theirs. They sat there stunned after being wrenched away from the path they had planned to follow decades before.

            I cannot help but relate with the same uncertainty. When I was a college student, you expect that the world will take notice and give you a well-paying job because you “deserve it” for getting that degree. That cannot be further from the truth. The world doesn’t care about what I believed I deserved as much as it didn’t care about my friend losing their livelihood. Earn everything in life, do not rely on things being promised to you at the end of the very long path you follow, or it is possible you will be surprised when your world turns upside down and the future you were so sure was within your grasp is wrenched away by an unfeeling higher power.

            Life can be scary with such insecurity. I perceive life now as an endless trail we must follow with so many twists, turns, and bumps as you chart your path. Thick forests on either side of you, hiding you away from other people on their own journeys. You don’t witness every challenge or hurtle they overcome, you may glimpse their successes between the trees, but they must keep moving as should you.

            Some see life as stagnant. They park their car, fixate on the surrounding scenery, unable to glimpse the road that continues beyond the bushes.

            WE must forge on.

            I battle with this fear every day, wondering “what is there for me on the path ahead,” but I know stopping will guarantee I will not grow.

            Though this all may seem rather depressing, keep in mind that life can change in ways we can never predict. 

pexels-photo-172367.jpeg

One of the most important parts of publishing a book is choosing where your book truly belongs.

Why should you decide on your genre? Well, if you are trying to convince someone to read your book, they would like to know what to expect out of it. Your readers don’t owe you their attention, so promising a certain type of story will get those people excited for your work.

There are many pros to choosing a genre. If you want to take your work to a literary agent or professional publisher, they will be more inclined to reading and using your writing if they know what genre it is classified under- unless you want your manuscript to end up in the dreaded slush pile. Genres set rules to help you form the book based on what your readership could expect and want from you. If you want to sell a lot of books, you must write what the readers want 98% of the time.

The cons of choosing a genre: Yes, it does have negative aspects. Genres can make your book limited in how your story can develop. To figure this one out, try looking for book series that is somewhat similar to yours, what are they categorized as? Another negative aspect when it comes to getting published by professional companies is that they will often require you to produce many books in the same genre so you have a brand with your name (or pen name). Authors sometimes have two pen names when writing for two different genres for this very reason. So, perhaps come up with a second name to write under.

My tips are:

1) Know Your Genre

If you don’t understand the limits of a genre or what readers would expect from a book within it, then I suggest you do a little studying. Read whatever you can get your hands on. I am not saying that you need to read every book known to man within the genre, but  read enough so that you feel comfortable in making something fans of that genre will like.

2) Decide Why You Want To Write

Are you motivated by the idea of making large amounts of money with your writing? I am not here to tell you this is the wrong motivation, because some people do it mostly for the money. In this area self help books are huge along with romances that cater to a specific group of readers and will sell decently. Scholarly books, such as text books, might require certain qualifications for people to recognize it as quality material, but the market is there for it as well.

Another goal for some writers is the fame. This is the goal I would strongly advise you to re-evaluate. Fame is not for everyone and it is REALLY hard to achieve with countless hours of hard work and  dedication under your belt (and you still might not even make it). Not everyone will want to read what you write. And if you are only focused on becoming famous, you aren’t paying enough attention to what really matters- you’re writing.

The third and last reason why someone would publish a book is because they enjoy it. This is the greatest reason a person can have to write their stories. You can write what you want and have a greater freedom, stressing less about what readers will want and focus on what you want. With this dream in mind, you don’t really care if it doesn’t sell well, just as long as you find that one person who would really love your story as much as you.

3) Don’t Falsely Advertise Your Book

It’s just not worth it. If you advertise a romance as an action adventure, the action adventure people will find it, read it, and hate it (more than likely). These readers will take to the internet and post lengthy “too much kissing”, one-star reviews. It is best to know your book’s true genre instead of angering the people you have done all this hard work for.

4) Learn Where and How to Effectively Market Your Book 

This is a no brainer. You will want to advertise your book where your target audience would see it. So more than likely a sci-fi thriller might not be appealing to advertise on websites aimed at lawn and garden enthusiasts. Learn marketing skills even if you have a publisher. It will make you seem like you really know what you are doing and  more capable to achieve greater sales for both you and the publisher.

 

So please make sure you are letting people know what they are getting into the moment they first encounter your book, whether it be at the local bookstore or while browsing the kindle store. The reader doesn’t owe you their attention. You must grab their attention by the hand and pull them in and keep them there by giving them an idea on what your story contains.

Keep Writing! Keep Reading! Keep Growing!

adult-business-commerce-375889 (1).jpgHappy Friday! This post I am going to be discussing the minimum wage job. So, you are fresh out high school/ college and currently looking for employment? Finding an immediate income is never a bad decision. A job is a job and it is something to be proud of. Employment gives you a sense of accomplishment and money.

I used to think I was above having a minimum wage job, that I deserved more than that slice of life. But I feel working a minimum job for a year or a life time is worth the journey. In order to be an effective worker anywhere you must humble yourself. Be proud that you have a job. Many people wish they were in your shoes.

Another part of minimum wage work is knowing that you don’t have to stay there. You can up and leave within whatever two weeks you choose. Finding a new job, no matter the wage, will bring new experiences and the ability to meet people.

The third thing is knowing that money doesn’t mean success. There are countless people who are miserable though they have more money than they can ever spend in their lives! Success is measured in your own happiness. If you are among people who understand you and make you happy, then you have accomplished what so many want to have.

My own experience with minimum wage jobs had gotten me out of my shell and released me into the world with greater understanding. I was made to communicate with so many people on a daily basis, increasing my working and problem-solving skills.

I wish everyone could take some time to work part-time at a restaurant, gas station, or any other job that deals with people from all walks of life. It is an experience of invaluable knowledge.

Please don’t tear yourself down only because of your paycheck. Look at the value in your temporary position and the memories an office job could never give you. And remember to always enjoy the ride.

 

 

We all dream of the perfect routines that will meet our writing deadlines, but do we know how to go about that? Here are tips on how to at least start a daily writing routine and reach your goals.

First, you can’t change your daily routine dramatically. If you are a late riser, eat cereal for breakfast and lunch, and never go to the gym; you can’t change suddenly start waking up early, cooking every meal, and going to the gym once a day. That would be too much of a change. It would be like being very hot and suddenly jumping into a pool full of ice cold water, your body would go into shock.

I would suggest setting one goal for yourself like waking up early every day. Once the habit is engrained into your routine, you can change something else in your lifestyle. So, writing should be the same. If you don’t write every day, setting a big 5000 words a day goal might not be advisable. Instead, I suggest writing 500-2000 words. Be sure to meet your goal every day for a week before increasing your goal.

Second, have a habit trigger. If you write with jazz music in the background and turn on jazz music every day, it can make your mind ready to write and create when you hear jazz. This habit will trigger the writing part of your mind and get you into the writing mood.

Third is to disconnect. This means to turn off the internet, put away the phone, and all other distractions that might stop you from writing your story. This does not mean you can’t look up things having to do with your writing (i.e. Google). Turn off notifications from all social media and exit out of all other apps on your phone.

Treat writing like a habit and less like a hobby. You don’t need to do it to survive, but you need to do it to better yourself as a writer and spend more time writing. If you fail to meet your goals, then try again. You can never stop trying to reach your goals.

Enjoy the journey we all love and keep writing!

Life is a busy hustle of work and sleep, but the true mystery is how can we find a balance between work and our goals while getting enough sleep. Time is the most valuable commodity a person can have no matter your background or financial status. Recognizing when you are wasting time instead of using it is the first step towards meeting your long-term goals.

The huge factor in reaching goals and working hard is a balance with work and pleasure. If you don’t take time to pause and enjoy life and enjoy the present, it is hard to continue without relaxation. So, take a day trip, go to the movies, find a part in your day you can relax and enjoy the simpler things like a good novel (I shoot for the evening hours after working all day).

In setting goals, many bloggers recommend following the SMART method. In doing this, you will track and conquer the small steps along the way of meeting your goals.

S stands for Specific. What is it you want to accomplish? Write out your plan to achieve it in great detail, setting small obstacles to overcome and climb up to your goal.

M stands for Meaning. A goal is nothing without passion or genuine reason behind why we are pursuing it. Understanding why you want something and being able to remind yourself about such a desire will keep you motivated to get it.

A stands for Achieve. This step is full of conquering and taking over the world by storm. As I stated above, setting small goals and over taking them will stoke the flames to your fire. Realistic goals you can achieve on a short term basis will bring you closer to the finish with each milestone you reach.

R stands for Relevant. Is the goal beneficial to you as an individual? If the goal is something you are not passionate about you will want to quit more often than not. So, before setting any goal ask yourself if it’s what you want and would benefit you and your happiness in the long run. You can’t live a life contradictory to your own nature for too long.

pexels-photo.jpg

Find an effective time management routine that sets the most important goals first. This will allow you to tackle the most grueling task of your goals when you’re the most motivated. Accomplishing the most urgent goals will make your feel ready to take on other goals. People have the most drive in the morning, so it might be best to conquer your daily lofty goals first thing- perhaps after a little coffee.

It is also a good idea to track how you are spending your time. Keep a log in how much time you spend watching the news, on social media, or maybe even napping throughout the day. Realizing where your time goes is the first step in knowing what to cut back or limit so they can’t keep you from achieving your set goals.

If you must be on YouTube at least once every day, schedule your time around your goals, maybe during a break and time the sessions. Breaks from work are recommended, but be careful to not spend too much time on them. Schedule breaks or other social media into time segments and don’t break from it!

Another practice I’ve done every day since childhood was making a to do list every night before bed. When you wake up, you will have an idea on where your day is going instead of wasting time in thinking about all you do that day.

Time management is crucial in daily success which can build up into a life filled with success and pay off! Keep striving for your lofty dreams one step at a time and don’t forget to enjoy the little things as you achieve your dreams! Good luck!

books-reading-series-narnia-159778

Maps are one of the first things your readers will see in your novel and can be the first thing to solidify your world in your mind seeing it on paper. With maps,  readers can get a clear idea on where your characters are heading and the obstacles they face.

Growing up, we studied maps in elementary school, learning where the hottest climates are and where land ends and oceans begin. Drawing the rough beginning sketches of your world, it is possible to hire an artist to put together the final draft of your map.

Surprisingly, many writers stress over having their sketch critiqued by a professional artist.  No worries! Tiffany Munro, a freelance artist, who has created many pieces of art for writers, explains the anxieties writers face: “If people are melting down from anxiety from a sketch, I let them know they can do a sketch as rough as a circle that says ‘trees here’, or record a video in which they gesture at something and talk it through, or write descriptions. I would say 90% of commissions involve a sketch of some skill level, and of the ones that don’t, half of those based on a real-world location and then the remaining 5% find other way to communicate their ideas,” (Munro). Even if the fear is crippling confidence in authors, it is common. Maps are important for any book set in a new world because readers will receive their second impression of your novel when they turn to the first page and see the world you’ve conjured up.

Although there is a lot of control on the artist’s end, the writer’s influence can be greater during the map-making process. Tiffany asks the client for a few chapters that mentions places and possibly a list of the plants, geography, and architecture.  Distance scale information can also help the artist determine the precipitation and the climate of each area.

Further connection between the map and the writer can be inspired by images the writer sends to inspire the artist. These pictures have meaning to the writer and their imagination, revealing the desired style. While asking for personalized maps, and that the map not to “look like the Lord of the Rings Map,” the writers find their own unique world that is tailored to their own inspiration and personality, (Munro).

According to Tiffany the average indie author commission takes from 2 to 4 weeks. These maps can cost around 100-300 dollars typically. Not bad for a professionally made chart.

Check out Tiffany’s work at:  http://feedthemultiverse.com/

 

Do you remember mom checking up on you while you’re out and about with friends? Well it is time put on your mom jeans because that is the attitude you need to gain for your characters in every book. I’m not talking about telling your characters to be back home before the streetlights come on- I mean you have to know the whereabouts of each character in your story the entire time. It would be a shame to forget that one of your “children” exists.

 

Even if you don’t realize it at first, because you’re focused on building a story, your readers will notice that so-and-so is not present anymore. You don’t want Billy to vanish off the face of the earth with no rhyme or reason. Making a note in your timeline that Billy is grounded in his bedroom for the next five chapters works, that way we know that Billy didn’t just up and vanish and that way you will remember to bring him back later on in the book if needed.

 

My timelines go chapter by chapter according to the characters in each book (example at the end of the article). Character timelines can create a more solid understanding in character motives throughout the story. If Shelly’s determined to get a job, you can have her pop up in and out of the story at cafes, depressed about her bad luck in finding employment. Additional knowledge about what Shelley has going on in her life can prompt a scene or dialogue, or create the illusion that other characters in the story have lives outside of the plot. It’s a neat trick to use and makes your world believable. It takes from only a few minutes to a few hours to plan and it is a changeable element!

 

Using my character timelines, I got to figure out the character development of each character by the time my main character runs into them again. Having all characters revolve around our main character is not only limiting your world, but it is unrealistic. When you go about the world, people are on their own personal story, so treat it like that. Make the outline for each character’s own book in your story.

 

Timeline