Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mel's Year in Review: 2014

I wonder if I should let Facebook put together my Year in Review for me.  Would they be first in pointing out that I failed in my main goal?  But wait!  2014 wasn't all that bad for me.  As with the past years, I've had failures and successes -- actually a very big success.  Let's see ... where to begin?

At the beginning of the year, I set off with a simple goal: make at least one dollar of profit.  The plan was to get some of my short stories published, to try out AdSense, and self-publish my novel Escape From the Planet Justice.  How did I do?

  • Short stories: I've come the closest to getting published (other than winning the contest in 2013).  I received my first positive custom personal rejection letter for my story "Stanley Saucer: Space Assassin."  However, I still lack a magazine credit.
  • Adsense: It was worth giving it a try.  I turned it on here on this blog, and also on my YouTube channel, earning a measly $10 over the whole year.  Woot!  Woot!  I'll give a more detailed report once I get the official numbers for 2014.
  • Planet Justice: I made a lot of progress in preparing this story for publication, but the critters website let me down, providing only one person to critique my novel, which only provided one perspective.  I made a few adjustments, adding two brand new chapters at the very beginning, and turned to my personal friends for critiquing (subsequently annoying the heck out of one of my good writing friends).

But then ... something happened to bring everything to a screeching halt.  I failed an actuarial exam in the first half of the year.  Realizing it was destroying my life, I made the decision to put everything on hold while I put all my effort in passing the stupid thing.  To get a sense of how difficult these exams are, you can read my prior posts:

Why I hate taking actuarial exams (complete with funny video that captures the essence of the experience).

Just a few days ago, (are you ready for that very big success I mentioned?), I got word that I had passed, and the good feelings have not yet gone away.  It was the first time that I had applied some newly-learned "7 Habits" techniques, and it worked.

So, now I hope that what I said the hunker-down post will come true.  Everything will open up now.  I no longer have around my neck the albatross of having to study, so I should be able to expend a lot more energy in getting published.  Plus, if the "7 Habits" techniques worked with that stupid exam, they should work in helping me accomplish my other dreams.

Already, after having finished the exam in October and while waiting for results to come out, I used a session of NaNoWriMo to put out another 50,000 words in my two-thirds done novel, Space Cadets.  Boom baby!

In short, 2014 was a good year for transition, hopefully preparing me for a very productive 2015.

Other stats for 2014:
  • 40 blog posts (including this one), same as with 2013.
  • Up to 42,311 views (up 41% from 2013).
  • Two new blogs:
  • I reviewed:
    • 8 movies
    • 8 books
    • 10 TV shows
  • My personal favorite posts:

How well did you do in 2014?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas: All About the Money?

I love Christmas.  It's by far my favorite holiday of the year.  I love the lights, the Christmas Trees, the Christmas hymns, Christmas performance, opening presents, getting presents, talking about Jesus, getting sick from gingerbread houses, and being around the family.

But this time in my mid-life years, I'm experiencing something else: Christmas fatigue.  Maybe it's from studying and doing NaNoWriMo mixed with crazy pressures from work.  Or maybe it's just looking back over the past few years, realizing that December is a month where I know I'm going to be staying up late researching Christmas presents and pulling everything together.  Then I wonder when I'm going to get any rest.

And then I realize the center of my fatigue.  It's the whole idea of having to buy presents.  That's really what Christmas has become.  It's a major boon for the retail industry.  In fact, without Christmas, we would all experience a major economic disaster.  It's become so intertwined with our economy.  It doesn't depend on your religion.  Even most atheists participate in the gift-giving.

In fact sometimes, if you don't give a Christmas present, it's bad.  You don't care for that person, or you're exhibiting ingratitude.  On the other hand, if we all gave everyone we knew presents, we'd all go broke!

It's a big conspiracy!  (But it keeps our economy going.  Heh!)

Then this cute little kitty we picked up a couple of months ago reminds me of the joy of Christmas.  Life is fun.  Christmas is having the family together.  Sure, we get to exchange presents, but then after the hustle and bustle is done, we can all relax and enjoy life.

And sleep.

To all my homies going through the Christmas fatigue, I say: let's weather the storm together.  Let's survive the crowded shopping sprees, and the online orders while remembering to clear out cookies and emails to hide our tracks from the kids.  Let's survive that Christmas Eve shopping where Daddies like me go out for those last minute gifts (yeah ... I usually see mainly guys out that night).  It'll all be worth it in the end.

And to remind us of the fun that is to come, here's another picture of our kitty: