Beatrice Celebrates 30 Years!

Finally, the big 3-0.

For years, I told myself that I would break milestones by the time I turned 30. In past years, you’ve read about how I’ve spent time with and given money to the homeless just before celebrating my birthday. You’ve also read how I created a College Bound Outreach that motivates young people to apply for college. This year, I’m facing the joys of a new home, a second marriage and pregnancy! Yep, just an ordinarily happy woman at this point in my life, with a slightly different focus.

My son Khalil (who has lived in my belly for the past 4.5 months) has made me take time for myself. He’s kicked and screamed for me to slow down on my “busy lifestyle” and cater to his maturing fetus.

In turn and in summary, I spent my birthday with my fiance and my good friends, Journei the poet and TayBlack. Journei cooked a stuffed shell and shrimp dinner and we played monopoly. A deserved restoration from a once hectic lifestyle. See everyone next year around November 16th for my 31st!

David & Goliath: Handling Big Bullies

Although the economy is tough, you shouldn’t feel forced to work for bully workplaces.

A job is like a marriage. You invest time and energy to make it work, but sometimes our partner isn’t on the same page. Sometimes in bad relationships, no matter how hard we try to rectify a situation, our partner insists that (s)he will not change. In fact, some of our partners go as far as cause emotional, physical, or mental harm. That’s when you should ask yourself if the relationship adds to you, or takes from you. In my most recent experience the company took from me more than I was comfortable with.

Somewhere between 2008 and 2012 I became a prisoner in a work environment that offered no motivation, growth, or even team comradery.  The money was great. I started in 2008 with a salary of $47,000 and by 2010 I earned $64,000. My work spoke for itself and I quickly became an asset to my managers. At the early stages, I was known for my bubbly personality, willing to chip in and be a team player. But incompetent managers, barely qualified directors and human resource specialists, all lead to my demise. I felt as if I was auditioning for a stand in role of the not so humorous comedy The Three Stooges.

As mentioned in my previous blog, Confessions of a RebelI decided to leave the company as a leap of faith. What I didn’t mention was I left the company well before I resigned. My body was there, but my mind and heart were other places. I’d often dream of being in a civilized environment where managers knew how to manage and the company supported employee morale.  I am no different of a breed than you or anyone else. I just buck at the thought of being held captive. As I mentioned to you before I don’t think in boxes, so I don’t live in boxes. The boldness of my determination, creativity and imagination often lead to surprising decisions; especially when a relationship strips me of almost everything I have to offer.

To make a long story short, a lot has changed since my last confession. I stopped applying to jobs altogether and I finally began to adjust to a simpler life. I’ve been free for nearly a month and I’ve gained most of what was stripped from me. I can recognize myself again – an invaluable accomplishment.

The most amazing thing happened last Monday. As I sat at the computer designing bookmarks for my novel, I received a phone call from American University. As background information, I’ve been applying to American University for nearly a year. It’s a school that I’d be proud to work for, and it would also offer me the opportunity to attend their amazing Master’s program for free. They match retirement by 200% and they also offer the ability to work with students. If you know my history, you know that as a former educator, I love working with students.

So anyway, they called and asked if I would be available for a phone interview. Not really taking the interview seriously, I told them I would. Needless to say, I bombed that phone interview. I was asked questions that were too high level for the position and I didn’t know how to respond. After getting off the phone I called my mother (who is like my best friend sometimes) and told her that I bombed the interview. She offered up encouraging words “If it’s for you, it will happen.” That’s all she had to say to remind me that I was living by faith. The next day, American University called me and offered an in-person interview for the following Monday.

After a very long weekend, I felt sluggish about the interview. In fact, I didn’t even care to shave my legs or apply a fresh coat of nail polish before meeting the panel of four, that later included the director.

The interview went okay, but I was more comforted by their motto “we have fun, and want someone who can contribute to our awesome family dynamic.”  Funny, that’s the very thing I yearned for in my previous employer. Furthermore, it’s the very thing I yearn for in my next employer. Needless to say, the day after my interview they offered me a job and I start Monday!

The beauty in this is that I’m not a slave to titles, or even flashy bank accounts like I was before. I’ve gained a new sense of living. I’d rather be in a FUN and encouraging environment for 8 hours a day, and making half of my old salary.

Walking by faith for the past month has allowed me to humble myself in the sight of the Lord. In turn, he’s allowed me to keep that measly savings that I told you about in Confessions of a Rebel. And although I welcomed the idea of living with my future mother-in-law, I don’t have to anymore. We can stay in our luxurious apartment while we wait to hear back from our lender on our home. And furthermore, God rewarded me by giving me a position that offers a peace of mind. The amazing thing about this story is that I applied to American University BEFORE I resigned from my company. A testament to always lay a sturdy foundation.

Ever since I can remember I’ve been a reflection of my future self. In case you’re wondering, it means I’ve lived in accordance to the woman that I want to become. As mentioned in last month’s Confessions of a Rebel  my world changed when I made the decision to leave my incredibly ridiculous company with incredibly ridiculous managers. In that blog, you noticed I struggled with what comes next.  Today, I’m updating you on my status and I hope it encourages you to evaluate your situation, whatever that may be.

Darkness surrounded me but bright light soon fell upon me. That’s what I knew when I made my decision to leave my company. I was called crazy for holding on to a dream that only I understood, but I held on tight in order to move forward. Life is way too short to be held back by fear, or even uncertainty. The decisions I’ve made have definitely shown my future self that I have risen. I’m sure she’s proud as she looks back at me.

Confessions of a Rebel

Sixth months into my position, I knew that I had to find a way out. I wasn’t sure how I would exit, but I banked on the instability of the company to release me. That was four years ago.

On Friday, March 16th I took matters in my own hands and gave myself freedom. It wasn’t easy. In fact, my nerves rippled through my body as I worried about how I would be perceived.  To the average person it meant that I was giving up stability and great pay. But no matter how I turned the tables, or how much I wrestled with the idea, I knew I had to leave.  My sanity lay on the table begging for a mercy. And I was the only one destined to save it. My confidence was next in line and so was my intellect. These were all things that were brutally beaten in the past four years by an unbelievable company with unbelievable managers. We will leave it at that.

So Friday March 16th was my last day. The truth of the matter is, I don’t have a real back up plan; just a small part-time job and a measly savings that guarantee my bills for another 6 – 8 months.  In the 7 years that I’ve been on my own I’ve never had to unindependify myself (I know that’s not a word). In fact, I got use to the idea of giving back, not borrowing or taking. So it feels uncomfortable to call a parent’s house a home, but I’m excited about the idea of starting over. For now, my preance, (a word my friend Journei made up to describe her soon to be fiancé) , Daryl and I will move in with his mother.

I’m sure you’re dying to know what life after quitting is like. To be honest, the first week is quit an adjustment.  What to do, where to go, who to visit, what to cook, and what to watch have all become routine questions. But the most important task for me has been finding how to market myself next. Finding all of these upcoming book festivals is nothing short of a dream. But the money to attend those festivals will have to remain unknown for now.

Speaking of writing, on Saturday Daryl and I watched the DVD Julie & Julia. It was the most inspiring DVD that I’d seen in a while. If you saw the movie, you understand my life, my struggles, and quite possibly my future. If you haven’t seen the movie, it details the lives of two women. One who loved to write, and the other who loved to cook. Both ended up writing and becoming famous, sacrificing a piece of their personal life in the process. The movie was nothing short of inspirational. I couldn’t have watched it at a better time.

I received word on Monday that one of my former colleagues called me stupid for quitting. Surprisingly, I took the news well and didn’t get flustered by the cluster fuck’s remark. Instead, it reassured me that not everyone will understand my decision for quitting (although I’m sure he will understand soon enough). I live with no regrets and my decision to take back my life was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. My former colleague is a dick and I’m sure that’s why he can appreciate the toxic environment in which he works. Only snakes can swim in a pool of sharks. Okay maybe that is wrong, but it sounded cool. Work with me as I try to be creative. lol

In terms of family support, I have plenty. My mother is super excited for me and my venture. She has called me every day laughing that I quit the day before I was to train new hires. I know it sounds facetious…and it is, but it’s within reason trust me. My manager deserved me quitting at the time that I did because I was underappreciated, and as with any Scorpio, we like to give you a kick in the bum every once in a while.  I wish you knew my mother personally. She is a barrel of laughs all the time and her humor is filled with corny jokes and sayings. My dad on the other hand is a bit more cautious. When I told him I quit, he lectured me about how I should not have done it until I had something else lined up. He said that he had to learn his lesson back in 1975 when he encountered a similar situation. It seems fair, but as I mentioned before, my health comes first. I will never bend over and kiss anyone’s ass or hand. So after dad lectured me, I lectured him right back. To this day he still doesn’t see that I have his blood in me. To him, I’m the only rebel. Haha.

Ideas surround me again, and I’m excited that I’m regaining my creative perspective – another thing that I’m repairing.  I think in stories sometimes and movies can be a great inspiration to a great story. In fact, by the time I post this blog, I would’ve gone to the movies for the 3rd time this week. AMC offers $6 movies before Noon so I’m not really killing an already drowning budget.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’m bathing in glory right now because I freed myself from an unbelievable situation. I’m doing repairs on my ego and I’m rethinking the importance of sanity. Earlier this week, I nearly melted when I thought of life 6 – 8 months from now. Immediately I began frantically searching for a job.  But a day later I realize that I will be okay. Never again will I succumb to a job that I am not passionate about. My book is my focus and my dreams are to become successful as a writer. Nothing less.

For anyone struggling with the decision to quit, be sure to ask yourself “is it worth it?” For me, it was. Every moment leading up to my resignation was worth me quitting. There is a life after, and if you are remotely interested in entertaining the idea of a new life, be sure you have a safety net and a passion to become something more valuable than a worker bee.

That’s all for now. Please feel free to follow my success on Facebook @Beatrice McClearn. That’s where I will list my new ventures.

Beatrice Celebrates Her Birthday.

As many of you know, I’ve developed a tradition of giving back before I kick off my birthday celebrations.

Last year I met Donald as he rummaged through the trash looking for breakfast. It was my 3rd year going into the city and blessing someone living on the street.  My good deeds didn’t go in vain until this year. And I can’t wait to report how that happened.

As I mentioned in last year’s birthday blog, Donald left a lasting impression on me. Unfortunately this year I am left with another lasting impression. It’s the impression of a nameless man who sat on a park bench with his belongings next to him. He was young, near my age, and his appearance was still in tact. But before I could get two words out as to why I was there, he asked me to leave.

My fingers clinched my gift tightly as I thought to myself, “I have to bless someone before I celebrate my birthday.” It took creative thought, but eventually I found someone to share my gift with.

Well today is my special day. I’ve been with Baby D all week, and although we have been busy bots, I think today will be the laziest day of them all. I’m grateful to see another year. I’m 29 baby!!!

Publishing A Book: 101

Since the release of Diaries of an Emotional Prostitute, I’ve had requests from people asking for tips to getting their books published. I responded to some requests through e-mail, yet others still wait for my response. The truth of the matter is that there are far more questions than I have time to answer individually. Thus, I’ve drafted this response that will help almost EVERYONE in their journey to getting published.

1. Write. Edit. Rewrite. The first step to having your work published is to write. If you experience writers block, find ways to get through it without compromising the quality of your work. A lot of writers find it helpful to step away from the project for a few hours (or days) to gain fresh perspectives. However; this part can also be tricky. Be sure to remember that you are stepping away to gain clarity, not as a means to abandon your project. Set deadlines to stay on target.

You should also be sure to reread your work after a few days, just to make sure it flows the way you intend. Often times we get so caught up in our thoughts that we don’t realize our project is compromised. By stepping away, and returning to it later, you are placing yourself in the seat of the reader. Surprisingly, you may notice that your writing isn’t as clear as you intended. Thus, you will need to do edits to make sure that your message to the reader is clear. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone else read your work for editorial purposes. There’s no limit to how many times you reread your work. [Whenever I write a piece, I reread it an infinite amount of times before publishing. Even when it’s published I reread it again to make sure that I relayed the information in the manner in which I intended.]

Rewriting your work can be an ego bruiser. Especially if you really like how much of it is worded. My advice to you is to keep your ego at bay and remember that if you created two great lines, you can create hundreds more. Quality is not just in a sentence, but rather in the entire piece. Readers can tell when you sacrifice quality, and they will forever remember that. It’s better to rewrite your work in a way that is appeasing to you AND your readers. If you do this every time, you will master the art of leaving a lasting impression.

2. Create a Savvy Site. Since you’re about to be published, you might as well create a site for people to easily learn more about you. Your website doesn’t have to be only about your book. Be sure to showcase your author bio, past or current projects, beliefs, and links to your social networking sites. Sites aren’t generally free, but you can probably find some free hosting sites if you do a Google search. The sites I trust most are listed below.

    1. GoDaddy.com
    2. Yahoo.com
    3. HomeStead.com
    4. OfficeLive.com – Free but limited

If you aren’t tech savvy, you can probably pay someone to create a site for you. If you don’t know anyone, I would recommend a professional like Duane Davis. His e-mail is rotty120us@yahoo.com.  

3. Publishing Houses. If you are looking to be picked up by a publisher, you should know all that is involved in that process. You will need to draft query letters and contact dozens of literary agents. Literary agents work for a publishing company and decide which material gets passed along to the decision makers. If your query grasps their attention they will ask you to send more information, and possibly give you a book deal. If a publishing house gives you a book deal, they will provide you with an editor, book designer, and take care of getting your product on store shelves. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you turn your work over to a publishing house, you may

    1. Be asked to change the names of characters or scratch scenes from your book;
    2. Not have an active voice in the marketing of your work;
    3. Not have an active voice in the layout of your book design;
    4. Have to market your book to local media outlets to gain attention; and
    5. Only get 2% – 7% royalty on the number of books sold. 7% is a generous amount; most new authors get between 2% and 3%.

Self-publishing is guaranteed publishing, but it’s not without its hurdles. The benefit of self-publishing is that you keep much of your profit and you have control over how your book is marketed. The downside to self-publishing is that you pay upfront costs. These can include book printing, editorial fees, press releases, and posters. The benefit to self publishing is that reputable online companies are getting use to the idea of allowing authors to publish their work. Companies you can check out are listed below.

  1. Amazon.com
  2. Lulu.com
  3. Goodreads.com

Last, beware of vanity publishers (publishers that guarantee publishing for an upfront fee). Remember that it’s NOT okay for you to pay to get published…EVER; unless you are self publishing! If you are uncertain about a company, check the Better Business Bureau online. If the company has poor ratings, or no ratings, then don’t bother. In addition, if you do a Google search and there are too many complaints on a particular company, don’t entrust them with your valuable project. I mentioned before that you shouldn’t take short cuts in writing your project; the same goes for getting published. Do your homework. Vanity publishers will dig in your pockets before you have anything to give.

I hope these tips give you a clearer grasp on how you can meet your aspirations. If you need more help, feel free to contact me at Beatrice{at}beatricemcclearn.com

Happy Publishing!

-Beatrice McClearn

The Perfect Prayer

Lord,

Bear witness on my soul as I

Erase my wicked ways before you.

Alter my spirit in a way that is pleasing to your name; and

Teach me how to respond to all that lies before me.

Resurrect my talents; and

Ignite my passion.

Create new purpose in my life so that I may live and not  

Exist.

Marry my spirit; and

Continuously shape me.

Call me your child; and

Listen to my cries.

Ease the pain,

And keep me lifted.

Rejoice with me as I

Nestle in your bosom.

This is my prayer.

Amen.

Chain Smoker at Sixteen

I’m looking out of the window for a quick daydream getaway. But my travel is interrupted by a guy who sits in my line of sight and begins fiddling with a cigarette. He appears to be around 16, so I’m curious to watch his next move.

He begins flickering the lighter and holding it up to the cigarette which is located in front of him. I can tell it’s his first time. After a few moments of stalking him, I become frustrated that the cigarette is still not lit. I want to yell out of the window, “You have to puff on it!” But I don’t.

Finally, he puffs and the cigarette lights. I’m excited for him, but curious at the same time. “What is he going to do now? I need to go to him and tell him about the effects of smoking…”

Again, my attention is diverted to a coworker who walks over to my cube for small chit chat. After rambling on for a few moments, I look up and the young boy has left his post. The cigarette butt is on the sidewalk with smoke still coming from the tip. “Damn I missed him.”

About an hour later when while trying to drift in to another daydream, I notice the same young boy. He sits in the same spot and lights another cigarette. This time, he puffs the lung killer to light it.

“That’s it, I’m going outside to talk to him.” I think. Maybe I’ll start off with, What you doin out here?

And again, my attention is diverted. “Beatrice can I see you in my office?” My manager calls. “Sure thing,” I get up remorsefully.

Of course when I return the boy is gone. Another cigarette butt on the ground. Already a chain smoker…

Maybe he will come back tomorrow.