Preorder Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy’s first book, and Help Save Shelter Cats! – Spirit Essences Store

I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to get to know their cats even better and how to communicate with them. Get in their heads and learn what you can do to make them happy!

 

Preorder Cat Daddy, Jackson Galaxy’s first book, and Help Save Shelter Cats! – Spirit Essences Store.

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Why Yes, the World DOES Revolve Around Me

Lately, I find that a lot of my worries and concerns are due to the feelings of those around me. I take on others’ problems as if they were my own and then wear myself out. If someone is sad, I’m sad. If someone is happy, conversely, I am also happy, which is the up side of this state of mind. However, I need to conserve my energy for myself. That sounds selfish to me.

I have always heard “the world doesn’t revolve around you.” But you see, it does. I am speaking of all of us. We may be compassionate to others, perform selfless acts of kindness for others, etc. At the end of the day, however, it is our own thoughts that we are hearing in our heads. It is human nature to put things in perspective with ourselves as reference. “That is not something I would do.” “In this situation, I would handle it like so.” That’s the way people think. So when someone gives you the “world doesn’t revolve” speech, think. That person is letting something effect them…. THEM. ThemSELVES. If you are really lucky, you’ll have a relationship with someone who has become as important as you are, thus adding them to the “Center of the Universe”. Even then, however, their state of mind / well-being is also connected to yourself. “My significant other is hurt. It makes ME sad.” Even though this is self-less, it is still in that same stream of consciousness that drives our every day thoughts.

My thoughts take me on a path that feels wrong. I feel guilt about things that I shouldn’t. I worry that I’ve said the wrong thing to someone; that my actions have somehow inconvenienced them. I worry about….well…everything. And it’s no way to live. Believe me, I have tried for years and years to let things roll off my back. I have the affirmations on my wall, read the books on self-esteem; I have run the entire gambit of self-help classes, all in an attempt to change my nature. Has this worked? No. Is it better than it was? Perhaps.

The comfort I can take is that I am not alone. We all have that part of ourselves that desperately wants to be accepted, to be liked. Some can handle rejection better than others. Some are trusting of others and never have a second thought to an imagined slight. Most of the time, that’s what it is: Imagined.

If I say this to my neighbor, they will probably think I am mean or that I am butting in, or that I am a bad person.” I am exaggerating slightly, but you get the idea. We put thoughts in other people’s heads, which is not fair to them. We assume they will think the worst, even without giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are decent and kind. This is a sad reflection on years of evolution into the world of doubt. And how do we un-learn these behaviors and banish these thoughts? Well, we probably can’t. We can try to control them. We can write about them or talk about them with a friend or a therapist. We can try inner makeovers. In the end, we are who we are.

Am I getting better because I’m writing these thoughts out? No. To be honest, I am mentally imagining how different people will react to this blog. Everyone who reads this is automatically relating to themselves on a personal level. They think of things in their own lives that mirror these words. Meanwhile I am thinking “oh, this person will think I’m crazy.” “This person will take it personally, that I am speaking to them and take it badly.” Hopefully none of those things are true, but it is in my nature to have the thoughts. When other writers read my work, I imagine them thinking that I have no business writing a letter let alone a book, story or blog. I can’t help it. I love positive feedback, but in the end, I hear negative feedback between-the-lines. My sentences are erratic, bordering on run-on. I skip around a lot in my stories. I imagine all the little criticisms that people will silently have. It’s not right and not fair, but there it is.

Even when there are nice people out there, it’s so easy to assume the worst. I guess my hope in writing a blog about insecurity is to gain insight into my own mind; give others a chance to evaluate themselves and decide what changes to make; to find kindred spirits that assure me that all human beings go through this at some level. And maybe, just maybe, someone will say “I feel this way, and I’m going to be more objective in the future. I’m going to be less hard on myself.” If that happens, I will feel the sense of success that comes from helping others, thus helping myself.

We are not mind readers. We can’t possibly predict what every single person we interact with is thinking. We can assume things and sometimes be right. Most likely, we’ll never really know how the things we do effect other people. We place a great amount of importance on what reactions we receive. I try to remember this: as much as we might think that someone is upset or angry about something we say, it’s more likely that the person is in their own place, thinking of things that are directed at themselves and have not given our actions a second thought. The situations vary based upon our personal lives, our interactions with friends, family and co-workers. It’s even more of a mystery when dealing with strangers or passing acquaintances.

I think that the thought I will leave you with is this: It’s ok to think of yourself. Just don’t project onto everyone around you and make yourself miserable always second guessing. It’ll work 20% of the time. The goal is to increase this percentage and see how it lightens our load. Happy Soul Searching.

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Ready to get into serious shape, both physically and mentally? Cross Fit may be your thing. Check out the pictures from a recent Cross-Fit event, posted by my good friend Rebecca the Red!

Rebecca The Red

This past weekend I went to the Winter Shakedown Competition at CrossFit FAST in Westlake Village to support our team from CrossFit 310 & to snap some photos of all the fantastic athletes that came out to compete. It was a great turn out, and the event ran smoothly. They even let me inside the athlete ring to snap photos during the 1st WOD! I bought some tanks from Life AsRx, ran into & met the co-owner of WOD Gear (Gabriel Pelino) at Starbucks, who is a totally sweet guy, and I (and pretty much everyone else) also drooled over Andrea Ager’s (pictured first below) quads and sweet rope descent. Major congratulations to our 310 team Brook Epperson, Jason Tank, Brittny Burford & Graham Burford! Our gym’s continued success is a joy to watch.  – Rebecca The Red

Andrea Ager, Trainer at Brick CrossFit

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Guest blogger: Author Beth Carter: Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Let’s take this journey

Self Publishing verses Traditional Publishing

 By Beth D. Carter

As a published author I get asked many questions along the lines of “What tips can you give me so I can get published”.  For each writer, this is different journey.  When the questions turn to self publishing, I have to admit, this is an area I know little about.  However, my own experience in the publishing arena can shed some light on the do’s and don’ts and how self-publishing is looked upon in the community.

First of all, no matter what road of publishing you travel, the first thing you need is a completed manuscript.  Most publishing houses, even the small press ones, usually accept a minimum of 20,000 words.  This translates into about 85-90 publishable pages.  Dialogue has to be sharp, content has to be relatable, and characters have to have an Arc, with believable tension and drama.  If you feel you have a great manuscript, then I suggest finding critique partners who can give you honest opinions, and not your mom or dad or best friend.  One of the hardest things a writer can do is accept criticism.  Writing groups are great, either online or in person, and sometimes there are people you can pay to read and “proofread” your work.

 

Next, is editing.  One of the biggest complaints I read or heard is how self published books have horrendous grammatical and spelling mistakes.  Remember, a self publishing company simply takes your emailed submission and prints it out, without taking one look at the content.  Readers HATE obvious editorial mistakes and will badmouth your work from here to Doomsday even if you’ve written a Pulitzer Prize worthy novel.

 

These are the steps of editing I go through for getting any of my stories to print, whether ebook novella, short novel, or paperback.  First are the read throughs with the assigned editor, to make sure it’s as sound as possible.  Then it goes to the Senior editor for a yea or nay, and then off to line editors who basically are editors that read your stuff line by line marking any grammatical, spelling or continuity problems.  Then it goes through one more round called proofing, making sure any facts are true, double checking the line editors, and whatever else the proofing round does.  Yes, the editing process can be hellacious, and that is why I highly recommend hiring an editor or two if you self publish; the experience is invaluable.

 

Now, the publishing world doesn’t look favorably on the self published author.  The mentality usually is the story wasn’t good enough for any publisher, so it’s a desperation type of thing.  Even the RWA (Romance Writers of America) does not allow self-published authors to participate in their contests, a fact that many members are trying to over turn right now with a petition.  There is even an echelon of small press publishing houses, so if you try that path, make sure you do your research on them.

 

Self publishing can be very expensive for the author because you’ll be the one buying everything you need, including the printing of your book.  When a novel is accepted by a publishing house, no money is fronted by the author.  The house provides everything, including all the ISBN numbers and the translations into all the ebook formats like Kindle and Nook.  Also, be wary the self publishing house that says they will market you.  Even I, through two small press houses, have to market myself.  It’s hard, long, and frustrating work getting your name out in the internet social media circus.

 Ebook publishing is the way of the future, and if you can get your foot in the door you’re on the pioneering steps.  I will always love the feel of a book, the smell of them, the crinkle of the pages as I turn them, but technology only goes forward and soon, paperback will be an outdated custom, like it or not.

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P is for Patience

I’m always very proud when I say that I am a published author. I am thrilled at the reaction of the people that hear it. It’s very exciting to feel that someone else finds my work as interesting as I do.
 
In the case of my book, “The Night I Met John Lennon”, I have to say it. I could have done so much better.
 
I have always loved writing. I have written stories, poems, articles, reviews, etc. When I got “The Night I Met John Lennon” into my head to write, I jumped in with both feet. I was lucky enough to have a job at the time that allowed for me to pretty much write all day. I would then go home and think of different scenes. I only wrote what I could clearly see in my head so that it would be easy for others to see, as well.
 
A friend of mine told me about a place called Publish America. They were always helping new authors. I got so excited that I immediately checked them out. In my naivety, I thought that being accepted by them was tantamount of making it “big”. I was new to the world of publishing and didn’t see the forest for the trees. I dove into my work and even had my brother do cover art, etc. It was a labor of love. Later, I would find out that any Tom, Dick or LuLu could submit their manuscript for publication. The trick is what is in it for them. Well, most of the profits go to them. They set the prices, they set the locations where the book can be purchased. They give the illusion of marketing on your behalf. What is actually happening is that me, the author, does the leg work to get my friends and family to purchase the book (at an extremely inflated price) and the publisher keeps 90% of the profits. Next come the hundreds of emails about ways to get your book seen in….London, Hollywood, Europe…. seen by famous authors, seen in the inside cover of other authors’ books… Sounds cool, right? Until the next sentence sucks the brightness from the headline. “when you buy 50 copies of your own book….” There is always a catch. Always some way of hooking in the author to continue purchasing rather than selling.
 
Publish America, in fairness, did turn out a product that is very professional. The cover is nice (artwork by my brother, Jeremy Taylor), the structure is sound.  There is an ISBN on the back cover, something that allows greater ease in marketing to places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But what they’ve also done is cheapen the honor of having a published work out there.
 
I honestly didn’t care about making money. I didn’t care if I had to do a lot of the leg work. I had my eye on the end game of having a BOOK with my name on it, and people going to the stores to read my book! That was what I saw, with my limited vision of how the publishing world works. I ended up feeling like a telemarketer, pressuring people to purchase an over-priced book so that someone else could reap the rewards.
 
I blame a very large part of my ignorance on the fact that I was impatient to get it done. I wanted to see my book in print RIGHT NOW. I thought I could edit it just as well myself, hence moving the process along instead of the weeks that it would take to have someone at Publish America do it. That was a mistake. In my haste, I missed a word here and there and this has caused me stress. I couldn’t go back and get a re-print (even though they print per purchase, so why not?) and I had to suffer knowing that my friends and family were seeing these mistakes. I know that I always notice typos when reading. I don’t necessarily blame the author or editor, but it takes away from my enjoyment because I am now subconsciously looking for more errors.
 
I set myself up for the same situation. No matter how good a story is, it’s difficult to overlook glaring misspellings or incorrect grammar. Or worse: incorrect “facts”.  I wanted to have my book published, and I did.
 
I have anguished over my decision to rush things along and am now to a point where I have given my book away to anyone who expresses an interest. But I myself cannot read my own book. It’s too painful.
 
I am happy with my attempts at film making when I created a short film based on a scene from the book. I wish I could have done more with it. I was much more meticulous when it came to this, although I was very impatient during the production process in this venue, as well.
 
One of the points of my writing this blog is to emphasize that from my mistakes, maybe someone will go on to make the right choices and not look for the pay day (although not a REAL pay day).  I enjoy the story. I enjoy seeing it come alive in my head. My brain just goes a lot faster than my typing/writing and I want it to be out there so I can look on it and see the entire story unfold.
 
I also strongly lean toward my next adventure being done through self-publishing. I am not in it for the money, but that doesn’t mean I want to throw it all away.
 
Publish America is a good place for an amateur writer to break into the scene and maybe even be “discovered”. But just don’t expect too much out of it. Learn from my mistakes, please.
 
Now if I can just learn from them!!
 
 
Find out more about my book at www.taylormadediversions.com
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What’s it Going to Take?

It is the second month of the new year already and I have to say….I’ve accomplished very little. I can blame this on many different factors. I spent many months looking for employment. That was my sole focus. I didn’t use my spare time creatively at all. I was in no mood to be creative. My one motivation was to get resumes out and get interviews. When I was home and unemployed, I spent an insane amount of time either watching TV or playing video games. I was lost in a rut and was doing nothing to turn things around. I am being honest with myself. I was completely lazy.
 
I finally (thank God) got a position this past October, on my 41st birthday, actually. In my youth, I had seen this as an age far, very far off in the future. I had it in my head that I would have accomplished many of my goals well before this age and maybe even be retiring! The innocence of youth.
 
Instead, in this economy (which we tend to blame for many things…some rightly so), I am starting from scratch. As I’m learning my role and doing my best to retain the job I’ve gotten (I am a contract employee, which is not the most ideal of status when looking for long-term employment with benefits).
 
I reached a goal last year, with the help of my boyfriend, to lose a large amount of weight, which improved my health as well as my self-image. This was a great hurdle that I would have never been able to accomplish on my own.
 
Do I have ADD? Sometimes I think so. Many times I start a huge (or even medium-sized) endeavor and then am soon distracted by the next big thing. I have always had lofty goals…and have been the main obstacle in my own plans.
 
The question that we all ask ourselves at some point is, can I change? Can I change an attitude that has been bred in my bones for years.
 
If I want to be fair to myself, I must admit that I DID have that get-up-and-go attitude at one point. I went to college, I tried many different majors, but in the end, my goal after graduation was always to be a film maker. Even before that, as early as age 10, I was writing “books” for myself and my family to enjoy. I love a good story. I like the idea of being able to create people and situations which may be vicarious dreams of my own, or inspired by something I saw, read or heard. It doesn’t matter. That was the driving force in my decisions after that. Not all wise ones, but character-building none-the-less.  I moved to California to be around the “business”. I worked at Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Sony and CBS. I worked on my own short film and somehow paid for it while working as a tour guide at Paramount. I met so many amazing people with talent that exceeded my own by far.
 
And that is where it began to unravel. I lived in the world I’d always dreamed of. It may not have been as thrilling as I’d expected, but it was still creating new stories and people. I wrote a book based on the inner workings of my imagination and had a lot of support from some highly successful people. I was on top of the world.
 
Then things started to change. I was thrown into the post-9/11 world of unemployment. I was nervous about my future as it wasn’t proving stable enough to keep me afloat. I was hurtling through my 30’s hoping with all of my might that I could continue on my path in the entertainment business. Alas, it wasn’t to be.
 
I have seen many people come out to L.A., get their foot in the door, and never give up. Ever. I wish I could say the same. I was lured into the world of “job security” instead. I wanted a steady paycheck. I wanted Health insurance. I wanted to not have to worry about where my next paycheck was coming and if I’d have rent next month. I sold out. I could have done it. I could have temped and kept working the free gigs out there, hob-nobbed with industry people who could perhaps help me down the line. I could still be doing that.
 
I don’t want to say that I “grew up”, because that is a very relative term. I will just say that I fell into a life of work and home, sometimes doing a little creative work here and there.
 
I am giving a great deal of background on my life to stress the importance of this monumental task I have set for myself. CHANGE.
 
I look at some of the people I’ve been privileged enough to know and see the successes they’ve become. Not out of luck. Not out of some mediocre effort. But from perseverance in all aspects of life. I am a late bloomer. I have frittered away the most energetic time of my life and now I have to look at my life and take stock.
 
I don’t begrudge anyone the life they have chosen for themselves, just as I hope they do not judge me. I have attained some of my goals; I have employment, I have a wonderful boyfriend. I have a roof over my head, pets that I adore. Admittedly, I did think that by now I would have some little two-legged critters running around the house. It’s not going to be that easy. I am essentially content…on the surface.
 
I have devoted my life to using my imagination. Sometimes it’s just to entertain myself and sometimes I want to entertain others. I see the success of my friends because they never veered from their path. They set their goals and have never stopped trying to achieve them. Even when they were, by all views, attained, they just set higher goals.
 
I should be ashamed of myself. I talk a big talk. I wrote one book and think I’m a writer. It isn’t even the best I could do. I have tried my hand at blogs (and here I go again) and articles, reviews, interviews. You know what I see? I see half-hearted work. I see me taking the easy way out. I see someone who is but a shadow of who I used to be.
 
How to get that back? Is it possible? Is it yet another goal that will dwindle and then peter out? I hope not.
 
I am, as they say, not getting any younger. I need to make decisions that are best for myself and my family, but also to serve that inner artist who wants to come out and add to the world’s creative society.
 
It is a daunting task. Again, I am surrounded by very talented people and part of me immediately goes to that place of “I can never be that good.”   Then the other part of me says “why not?”  That is the part of myself that I really want to develop.
 
I am someone who needs a lot of positive reinforcement. I would probably do better if I could find a way to give myself the confidence that I once had. I knew what I wanted and would make it happen, even if it defied odds. Some of the things I got, I realized in hind sight were not good for me.
 
Folks, I have become complacent. I have fallen into the rut of everyday life. I have lost sight of the prize. That is to achieve something that makes me feel that I have not wasted the time given to me on this earth. It is finite. It scares me to imagine my death bed regrets. We will all have them, but no sense not trying to keep them to a minimum.
 
I need to be accountable. I need to be necessary. If that means changing this fundamental “laziness” that has swept over my life, I need to do it.
 
Won’t you come on this journey with me? My promise to myself and my supporters is to remember what I was shooting for and get back on course. This means opening up my mind to creative possibilities and diminishing that self-destructive part of me that sets me up to fail every time.
 
It’s 2012. I want to be able to say that I didn’t waste it. I want to be able to re-visit this blog from time to time and share my successes, even if they are minute compared to what I would hope to achieve.
 
This is what I want. I need to take it. I need to unravel my insecurities and turn them into fodder for my cannon of imagination.
 
What do you think about THAT?
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