2014 - The Year So Far!
Let me wrap up 2013, real quick, then we can get on with the good stuff!
If you've been following my story, you can skim through the next 3 or 4 paragraphs... :)
In the first few months of 2013, I was in Belize, working on the roof for the new King's Children's Home. Side note, as of about Christmas, 2013, the kids are moved in, so I'm very excited about that! I left Belize in February, and took a bus through Mexico, and then walked across the border into San Diego, and took Amtrak (train) up to my Dads house, where my motorcycle was. Of course, it was still early March, so it should have been cold, but it was sunny, and there was no snow. I had actually thought about going to Florida, some of the people I met in Belize were going to be there, at a big event. So I loaded my bike up and started riding. About the Second or Third day, somewhere in Nevada, I started thinking about things, and realized I probably didn't have enough money to get to Florida, and back to Washington State. Hmmm you'd think I would have figured that before I left! But it was sunny and warm now, so I kept riding, and decided to go to Las Vegas and then consider my options. By Vegas, I had decided to stay the night, and come up with a new plan. Next day, I loaded up again, checked out Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and then rode toward Los Angeles. While there, I checked out a camera, the Red Scarlet. Lust. After that, I headed to the coast, picked up the Pacific Coast Highway, and enjoyed the twists and turns and mind blowing scenery for a few days. Oregon got rainy and cold again, keeping in mind this is still March! Crossed into Washington late afternoon, and decided I could push through to my Dad's house that night. Quick check of the weather, and I see there is a snow storm forecast, for the mountain pass, that night. I need to cross that pass, so after about 12 seconds of navigational planning, I decide if I go fast, too fast, I can probably stay ahead of the snow. I rode hard through the rain, and toward the top of the pass, started seeing white rain and slush and snow, the bike was feeling a bit twitchy, but otherwise had really good traction, so I slowed down but kept going. Then, less than a mile from the top of the pass, misfire, and silence. I had slowed down, and it was steep there, so I barely had enough speed to coast to the side of the road. I suspected a spark plug issue, but the idea of unloading most of my gear to get my tools and change the spark plug, in the snow, in the dark, on a busy freeway, not a good plan. So I did what any world traveler would do. I pulled out my cell phone, and called AAA for a tow truck! Took a while, but eventually a truck showed up, we loaded the bike, and I got the last 100 miles in the heated cab. The road was bare and dry the rest of the way home. That bugged me a lot, but I got over it!
I spent a couple weeks in Wenatchee, WA. , did some odd jobs, looked around at options, and decided to move to Texas. Just like that :) People ask why Texas. Because, I haven't been there before. Seriously! Ok, there had been several conversations, or even snippets, that all pointed to Texas. I'm kind of aware of those kind of things. It kept coming up, randomly, different people, just kept happening. So I had a choice of where in Texas. Apparently Texas is kind of big. Short listed it to Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. Dallas never made the list. Not sure why, just didn't have the same vibe for me. Houston was quickly eliminated, too close to the coast. I like the coast, but don't like Hurricanes. There are several companies I know of in Texas. HostGator is one, in fact, I've used their web servers for several years. This website is on one of their servers. So I thought hey, I'll go work there. I made contact with them before I left Washington state. Sure, we would like to interview you, when you get to town. Ok, fair enough. I find them on Google Maps, then do a quick Craig's List search for apartments, find some in walking distance. Then I find a Motel 6 in walking distance of both the apartment and HostGator. I thougth it might be nice to just park the motorcycle for a while, once I got there. Fully loaded, its a bit of a pain in city traffic. So after a few days riding, from WA, through Oregon, Nevada, Utah (Zion National Park), Arizona (Grand Canyon), New Mexico, ... and into Texas! I took a lot of the secondary highways, back roads, and did some general exploring. Where on the Alaska trip I had all kinds of camping opportunities, I have found on this end of the trip, its just easier to get a motel. I think in the future, I'll probably go a lot lighter on camping gear, and set the bike up differently. Or a different bike. Or maybe a SUV :) Anyway, got into Austin 22nd of April, got a job offer on the 25th of April, moved into my apartment 3rd of May, and started at HostGator on the 6th of May. It was one of my best moves, ever! Took about an hour to unload the motorcycle and carry everything up the stairs. Of course, I had no furnature at all, and basically no kitchen stuff, but it was done. Then I took a bus ride to GoodWill and WalMart to stock up! Since HostGator was a block from both GoodWill and WalMart, I could just pick things up after work and then take the bus home. I ended up selling the motorcycle about a month after I got into Austin, as it was more trouble than I had time for, to get it registered. It was a Canadian model, and I hadn't bothered to import it when I crossed the border the year before. So I got an even $1000 for it, and watched it ride away without me.
I worked at HostGator from May until October. Mostly I liked the job, and still use their services, so no hard feelings. I just couldn't solve problems fast enough it seems, and I wasn't making quota, so no raise.
As a break from the tech support, I took a "Temp to Fire" job at a warehouse, moving pallets around. That job had some promise, but the pay wasn't enough. Nice people though, its the only job I've worked where the boss and his wife took all the Veterans out for a special lunch. There were about 12 of us, and they treated is really nice.
I'm not sure how I came up with the idea, but I took a look at the USPS website one day, and saw some jobs that were worth checking out. The one I was most interested in was for Automotive Technician. With my background as a military aircraft technician, I remember thinking this should be pretty easy! (Oddly enough, this was the same mindset I had going into HostGator for my interview. Wow, talk about an eye opening and deflating experience!) On the 10th of December I applied for the job. Then over the following weeks, including holidays, I did computer based testing, interview, drivers license verification, drug testing, practical (actual vehical work) test, and finally on the 24th of January, a final interview. I'm pretty sure I got into the Navy quicker! I'm starting to understand why they seemed to need qualified applicants, most people probably didn't want to wait that long. As it is, when I was offered the position on the 24th of January, I still don't have an actual start date, I expect to get that in a few more days. The pay will be CONSIDERABLY better, it will be more of a career, not just a job, there's benefits, vacation time, uniform with my name on it, all the stuff like that.
So, the postal job, the application process has taken over a month.
In that time, I've also had some other interesting things happening...
I've noticed that book sales have been trickling in. This on books that were written in 2009, and that I haven't done any serious promotion with. I started talking with a friend on Facebook, about a project we had collaborated with. She had written a book, a collection of stories, and I had submitted some of my work for her to include. My name is listed as a contributing author, so on Amazon, my name is linked to that book, as well as 2 others. Her book recently won an award, so this may have contributed to my sales bumping up some. I think that kind of means I'm an award winning author, but I'm not sure how that works.
Then another friend of mine recommended I check out "Some book thing with Jack Canfield". Turns out there was a training / coaching program with Jack Canfield and some of the team he uses with his book publishing. It was a bit of an investment, but they had a payment option, and I thought hey, it wouldn't take that many book sales to cover the costs. And I had some ideas already for new books. Well, that's all good, and all, but then in the preview videos, before the actual course content even started, Jack was talking about all these ideas that I had never considered...
And then Elle, my friend whose book I had contributed to, mentions a big project that she's involved with, and that she needs authors with books for kids, quickly. Click, click, click, click... just like moving to Texas, all these stars were aligning. I had a team forming around me, ideas, resources, all the things I didn't even know I didn't have or need, even a month before.
And Elle tells me she had talked to a publisher about me, and they were interested... Huh? Mind. Blown. Wide. Open. Poof!
I went from having 1 book that I had started in 2009, just after the first 2 came out, that never got finished... to now having ideas and plans for 7 or 8, and 3 of those are very big deals. Like, um, spiritual calling kind of things.
This is probably going to change, but here's the rough sketched road map for now.
Little Red Welder
- A childrens book (with possible animated short video version!), based on my time in Belize, last winter, as a volunteer. I was one of the people who helped weld the steel roof structure for a Children's Home for about 80 of the King's Children. The book will be told from the Welder's perspective. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the King's Children's Home, to help with normal operations costs.
- My second Children's Book, based on my time on a US Navy ship, as an aircraft mechanic. The story will center around all the mail that was sent, to Any Service Member, during Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. The mail, and the connections we made to the people who took time to write to us.
After these 2 are done, I have a few more ideas, but not sure yet of which will be next.
A book about traveling to Mars
, as adventurers, explorers, and first settlers. I originally started a Mars book in 2009, right after I finished Desert Storm Diaries, then my life took a few turns, and it got put on hold. I'll be basing the new book on my notes and time line from the original, but will likely totally rewrite the story line around it.
There may actually be 2 or 3 parallel books there, I'm thinking of a Kids book, a Graphic Novel, and a SciFi book. Or any 2 of the 3. The more I think about it, the origional idea was very long. So will see which direction that goes in now! I have so many notes and science already figured out...
The Kids version, will be very focused around "STEM", or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
I'm hoping to help kids understand why things like Math and Science could be exciting. I personally was always fastinated by these subjects but know most people were not. If they can see past the formulas, to get a glimpse of the possibilities, I'll consider the project a success. We'll wrap it into an engaging story, maybe they won't notice it until its too late! :)
A book based on my Hurricane Katrina Survivors
video documentary. In the video, I cut up the video interviews a lot, to make it flow in one time line. I'd like to write the book based on the original interviews, and then as a follow up project, go find and interview the people again. And now that I live in Texas, that is a lot more practical than it was before!
, is a really personal project. I'm writing this as fiction, but the line is blurry. Some lines are going to be copy / pasted right out of my journals.
The plan is for the book to launch some related projects, dealing with assisting homeless, and especially homeless Veterans (The Invisible Heros). Part of the proceeds of this book will go into Veterans outreach programs. I'll be writing the book from "first person" perspective, and will be mapping out the "fictional" programs I'm developing. Much more on this as we go forward.
I made a decision to reach out to people, especially my friends on Facebook. The response so far has been very encouraging. I'm getting to know these people on a much deeper, broader level. Until now, I've just been really superficial.
I am amazed, and humbled, at the awesome people I have some how attracted into my life, and many of them have known me at some pretty low times. So, to you all, I dedicate this new year. There are BIG THINGS coming!
So, that should keep me pretty busy for the rest of the year!
By Carlin Comm posted on 2014-01-25