Am I on a Break?

I may be in a bit of a lull creatively. I will preface this by saying that my second book is done and it could be that I just need to take a break. However, when I go through this, I scare myself because sometimes I feel as if I have nothing to say anymore and that leads to less blogs.

Of course, there are other things that are going on. My full time job has me busier than ever and since I love what I do, I make sure that I do my job well. My real job allows me to work late hours which is in my wheel house. If you know then you know that I work better later on in the day.

Also there is the fact that I’m traveling in a few weeks to New Orleans. This my yearly conference trip that took me to San Antonio last year and Orlando the year before that. I’m looking forward to adding this city to the growing list of cities that I’ve been visiting within the last 3 years. There is also some work for this that has tied up my time.

Truth be told, I’ve already come up with the basic premise for the third book. I already have a working title that I’m not ready to announce yet. There will be another time for that which will, of course, be accompanied by a blog post. With all my non writing, I’m still working in the background when it comes to things I’ve already written.

Despite all this, I’m not sure if what I feel is something remotely close to burn out. I’ve had some ideas about what my next Huffington Post blog will be but I just haven’t written it. I need to write a post for another site I’m a part of but I don’t know, I feel like I’ve been a little useless in terms of ideas unless it has to do with the novel or short story.

I have been trying to spend my time reading or listening to podcasts. I’m thinking that what I really need is to be inspired again to write blog posts. I know the hardest thing in this game is to be consistent and at one time I really was. But, I begin to wonder if it is too much.

With that being said, I think I need to start looking at writing prompts. I think I need to do more free writes. Before I think about being a in funk, I will go back to something that was told to me a few weeks ago (and I am paraphrasing), “Don’t beat yourself up for not writing enough blogs when your busy writing books.”

Good Advice, huh?

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Tipping the Hat to 2013

2013-12-31 11.32.08Usually I do some sort of year in review post. I think about it now and it may just be a little too self serving. After all, I need to really ask myself what I really did this year. Instead, I thought about being short on this post about how grateful I am for having people support me in all my efforts.

I know that the beginning of the year was bumpy for me and it made me question whether I should even be a writer anymore. I had to take a long hard look at myself to figure out if I indeed was this person that I said I was. Through this personal turmoil, I had friends help me see that I get through the tough times and lo and behold, I started the novel in March.

Since that point, everything has been a lesson for me and I appreciate the encouragement of the people who follow me. My good friends have encouraged and challenged me to get as far as I have. I have yet to figure out ways to thank them.

My family is just realizing how deep this writing game is to me. It almost make me nervous because this book is R rated. Not that we are not all adults here but its not like I have a potty mouth in person. I will have to remind them that they can’t think about me when they read the words and situations. lol

As for everyone else, thank you. I thought the site switch from blogger to word press would have been more of hassle but it turns out that it has worked out well in my favor. I’m glad that this site does get read despite the fact that I haven’t written nearly as much as I should. I look forward to updating everyone on the process of writing and self publishing.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2014 provides us all with much success.

Plagiarized

PlagiarismCartoonI was all set to post a blog this week about the Trifeca of blogs that I was able to string together last week. But then I was stopped in my tracks by something that I did not see coming. It has lead to me think very deeply about this to the point that I just have not felt like writing anything for awhile. One of my Huffington Post articles was plagiarized. This has struck me in so many different ways that I may have to give apologies out for the possible length of this post and possible hurt feelings as well.

Being a writer in any form is not easy as it is. Being a blogger or a freelancer may be a little harder because if it does pay (which in my case, it doesn’t) it simply is not enough. In most cases we are writing for the love of it and for recognition. I get satisfaction from the fact that my name is out there and people are reading what I wrote. I am always humbled by any recognition I get because I am my worst critic. Over the years, I spend time improving myself it both style and grammar. I try to make my writing as engaging as possible so that I can get complex thoughts across. For all intents and purposes, it’s my other job that I do strictly pro bono.

I took a chance by switching up my type of articles for the Huffington Post. I knew that I had to fact check what I was doing and back it up with citations if anyone wants to know where I happen to get my information from. This is the type of work that requires effort on my part. Its almost as if I was getting ready to write a 20 research paper on the historical significance of Afro Latinos. Trust me, I have the materials and I can do it (and it would be fantastic). The point here is that I made sure that I did the work I needed to do in order to create 2 articles that I am proud of.

Then it happened. I was notified by the Justice League (Latinegr@s Project) that a part of my article was plagiarized right on Tumblr. I was shocked and then I had to look it up myself. Bingo, a pure copy and paste job. A word for word account of Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez with a picture. There was no link. There was no information as to where the person got this information. I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she found the article and was so excited that this information was available that she posted it thinking that it would be ok.

Colonel Carmen Amelia Robles -- Who is this Woman?
Colonel Carmen Amelia Robles — Who is this Woman?

Let me go back and say something about the people I chose for this article. You have to realize that information about Afro Latinas in history is almost non existent. The information of names and pictures may be easy to find but not biographical information. There is a picture of a Afro Mexican woman that I have no information on other than her picture, which means I cannot write about her. Which leads me to Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez. Her picture had circulated around the internet for a few weeks. Bad-dominicana wrote some bits about her and piqued my initial interest.* I did not want to write about her. I will admit that wanted to stay away because I didn’t want to be accused of copying someone. But, when I researched her and read up on her story (there is a book about her — ask the plagiarizer if she knew that), I knew that I had to add her to my article.

The story of Dr. Evangelina Rodriguez is just an example of how hard it is to find information. I had to enlist my people at the Latinegr@s Project to help me find other Afro Latinas because I knew these women have more knowledge than I did. I had no problem putting their names in the article because that is what you are supposed to do. They put in the time to help me and thus should get credit for the help.

Which brings me to my point about plagiarism. I get the fact that people are lazy. I get the fact that sometimes people may forget to cite someone, or perhaps they don’t know how. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to just copy and paste something to make my life easier when I’m writing my research papers. Even in the editing process of my articles, I find myself changing words and phrasing because plagiarism will hurt my credibility and to a blogger, who does not get paid, that is everything. When people forget these thing or just copy and paste, they are shitting on the work of the original poster. It is essentially saying that you did the work and not me. That is like me taking the work of the original author and posting it as my own.

The point of these articles was to pass along information so that if people really are interested in learning more about those who have paved the way for us, they would do the research themselves. Go beyond my work and look up these people in libraries where there are books with actual text. There is no amount of apology that, for the moment, can be accepted. Sure, the post can be updated citing me, but as Bianca would say, “Do Better.”

You want to cite me? Here are some instructions on doing so.

*I adjusted this post due to the nature of the original language used.

Rules of Engagement

HuffcommentOne of the best things about writing in a public forum is the instant feedback. I can create a blog post that may or may not create a dialogue between me and the reader. I have seen more successful blogs in which the audience just talk amongst themselves. Media outlets have adopted this model that allows their readers to talk about any article. This can be both good and bad.

Most blogging sites will tell you that a great way to build up readership is to connect and be active with your readers. Several ways of doing that is to have questions on your blog and respond to any comments you may receive. Now, I am one who tries to be very engaging when I can, however, I don’t get many comment on my blog posts (and I am ok with that). There’s also a lot to be said about post on other people’s blogs. I believe that if you’re going to post a comment anywhere..then do not to it anonymously. Own up to your comments and people will be willing to read more about you.

I think that engaging folks can be a double edged sword that has to be wielded correctly. While there may be people who may like something I have written, there are people who don’t. Most people tend to not voice their opinion either way, but those who do will have no problem with praise or disapproval. None of these bother me because it is always good to know that for good or bad, they read what was posted. However, there are people who comment for the sake of commenting. They may say things to get s response and those are the people that need to be treated with caution.

It’s one thing to be accosted on Twitter because I can choose to just ignore very easily, but when someone writes a negative response on a blog I have posted then it becomes very hard to ignore. Negativity is not someone disagreeing with me, it is when some crosses a line. That is why I also try make a habit of just responding to everyone that may comment on this blog. However, with the Huffington Post having much more readership, responding to someone can be tricky because some people just want to say something in order to get a response.

So I think the a rule of thumb, for me, is to not be particularly agitated or excited when responding to someone. That is hard for me because I can be a very emotional person that goes on either side of the gauge. Secondly, keeping the length of a response to as short as possible is key. Think about it, if I wrote 700+ words on something, I’m pretty sure you know where I stand on something, so there is reason to go into another blog type of reply. You don’t want to be the person in any comment section that has 3-5 paragraphs because it is not getting read.

I also try not to belittle anyone I’m interacting with, even if they are trying to belittle me. Let’s face it, if anyone come on to my blog and tries to belittle me, I’ll probably come out swinging and make them look like an idiot. However, the more public the forum, the more careful one needs to be. Free Speech allows us to say anything we want and not go to jail for it, however, public opinion can really make anyone wish they just stayed quiet.

The fact of the matter is a small amount of engagement is better than none. I think that generally, in the blogging world, the more active a person is the more successful they are going to be.

4 Years (in the game).

3924015743_db56412c23“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” – Neil Gaiman

Four years ago today I started on writing a blog and since then I never stopped. From year to year I felt that at some point there might be an end to all this. Truth be told that nothing lasts forever so when I think about how indecisive I can be or (at the very least) how much I hate repetition, its very much a surprise that I am still around. I’m just glad that I never lost that drive to write.

It is also very unique to be able to have something tangible to look back on. While I do not have the time to go back and read everything I wrote, I do go back from time to time to see if my feelings on life have changed. After all, I started this blog when I was married. Now I am so far from that life that the tone of things have completely changed. I was worried that me being happy would give me less things to write about. Unfortunately, most of my writings are better when I am miserable and to make my point, I have not written a poem in about a year and half. Yet, I am glad where I am. I feel I still have a lot to say and so many challenges to face.

I did question whether I should celebrate this since I am no longer posting on my original blog. However, I think that I woke up from some kind of slumber four year ago. I am not sure I can imagine a life in which I don’t have a blank page (or screen) that allows me to fill it with words and yet, be lucky enough to have people read it. I’m very happy about that decision to put myself out there in ways I never thought were possible or even imaginable.

I think that moving blog sites was good for me. I (still) get way more page views on my original site than on this one, which is to be expected. I think I wrote some really good things and people are still reading it. I did manage to move all the blog content from that site to this one. I wanted to make sure all of those were with me. There was a brief thought that perhaps I should delete the previous site but I decided against that because I do not want anyone else to have the ability to post on that url.

I have learned many things in that last 4 years. One of those things is that branding yourself is very important. I have tried my best to brand myself and everything I do as a product. There is no bigger product than ourselves. We should spend the time, money, and resources into investing ourselves. That is a hard concept to wrap the head around, but we are the greatest asset that we can give to anyone or any company. We should already know our strengths and weaknesses. It is really up to us to cultivate those into something that is valuable.

I also feel myself changing. I’m not sure exactly what that means either. Perhaps my views on life are changing due to age and experience. I could be maturing in a whole new way that gives me a different out look. Then there is the simple point that I could be just tired of the B.S. around me. I think it is time that I take a deep look at myself because I feel that people complain to much about everything. I wonder if I am one of those people. While everyone has a right to criticize, are we becoming too critical? Are we complaining about the wrong things? I don’t know, but I think it requires a look within myself to see if perhaps I am too critical.

Another words, I think this year will be just as good as past years. I may go out a limb here and say that I may just write more blog post than I did last year. I hope you all enjoy the ride because it may be bumpy.

I will leave you with this:

Big Things

the_other_side_of_segregation

I wasn’t sure how to go about this. I am so used to writing on a different space and using WordPress is so foreign to me. Originally, I thought about treating my first post, on a new site, as this world class event with all the bells and whistles that I can muster. All that usually means is a big Facebook announcement with some mentions on Twitter and Tumblr. But, What would be the point? I am still just about the writing.

So, in thinking about it again, I decided that my first post should be more like a Free Write. Truth be told, I just want to get used to the new digs. I want to get comfortable writing here because I may just be here awhile. I have nothing against my old site but, like my 2012 life, I needed a change. I have been wanting to do something different for a very long time. I have laid out the plans of this site change back in 2011. I knew then that it was only a matter of time before I made the move from my old site.

My thought in 2011 was to have yet a another site just for my fictional writing, I would post some things, here and there, so prove that I am indeed writing. The original title for this site was called “Leafless”. It represented my feelings on novel writing without the use of paper. I thought it was cute, but then I thought the whole thing was pointless. I was not ready for this because my life was ultimately not ready. So it just remained to be yet another project sidelined by a life in limbo. When I took a second thought about the whole thing, putting my intellectual property out there for free is probably not a great idea.

Yet, I loved the idea of moving to a new site as a way to start something new. Don’t get me wrong. I love my old site. The number of hits from 2012 were the best I have ever had (58,465 page views) which come out to about 4,900 page views monthly. I barely wrote 73 posts all year and I am amazed by this. Blogger was everything I wanted when I started 2009. It was easy to just get on and write. It was all I wanted to do. I cared little for the visual presentation. As I got more comfortable, I knew that I would eventually have to make my site look as cool as the words on put on it. I tried to change looks over the years, but again, I knew I had to make more of a lasting change for me.

Let’s also be honest. Other blogs around me were getting better and looking more refined. I didn’t want to make a change for the sake of making a change. I wanted to do it in my own time and in my own right. I also didn’t want to copy anyone. Which is another reason why I waited. I didn’t want to get inspiration to be something I stole from someone else. I wanted my idea to be fully formed and fully developed (I have been watching Inception too much).

So now I am here. This looks cleaner. It feels smoother. I think that if I am going to still be about my writing, I need (you) the reader to be able to see the words crisply. No more fancy fonts in green. This is just as much about my relationship with those who choose to follow me. I am hoping all goes well here and I will say that the changes you see on this page will continue as I continue to grow. 2013 is here and expect big things to happen.

Welcome to the other side.