Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

First off… you’ll notice that I changed the title of this post. It went from “Balancing Hats of the Self-Employed” to “Self-Employment & Balancing Many Hats” to “Adventures in Self-Employment” which I find fits this story best overall.

Anyway, in Part 1 of this blog post I wrote about my adventures in self-employment at an early age and my rise and fall as Godfather of an underground candy redistribution enterprise. I went from a kid selling stationary door-to-door in my neighborhood to pushing candy like a crack dealer in high school (and getting shut down by “The Man” in the process) only to find myself flipping burgers in the fast-food industry and eventually getting assimilated into an office drone.

I’ve always wanted to be independently employed, and while I’ve enjoyed most of the traditional jobs that I’ve had, there’s just something about self-employment that has always picked at my soul. The entrepreneurial bug bit me again in 1997 while I was living in Austin, Texas and working as a tour operations assistant at a privately owned international bird-watching tour and travel agency. My best friend called me one day to tell me about an exciting business opportunity that a friend of his introduced him to. He told me that it was a legitimate business that has been around since 1959 and the potential to make big money was staggering. He sounded like an infomercial, but I listened to him give me the basic formula of how this business worked where you owned your own product distribution business with access to a huge catalog of household products, electronics, jewelry, food, etc., etc. It sounded like door-to-door sales to me. I wasn’t interested.

My friend further explained that the cool thing about this business is that if you got enough people in your network, you would earn commissions off the people in your network. The more people in your network, the more passive income you would make. The whole idea was that every independent business owner in the network would buy their basic household products from their own business. If you needed laundry detergent, paper towels, vitamins, batteries, etc., instead of going to the local Wal-Mart, you’d just order direct from “your” company. Plus, there was an extensive catalog of affiliate big name brand partners that you had access to for radios, CD players, telephones, even TVs… all at a discounted rate because you were buying direct, cutting out the middleman. All you had to do was convince your friends and family to start their own product distribution business, buy from themselves and get others to join up under them and so forth. If you had enough people in your network, you eventually wouldn’t have to work because you would be living off of the commissions of your network.

The whole thing sounded interesting, but it also sounded a bit complicated and too good to be true. However, I figured I would give my friend the benefit of the doubt and at least meet with him and his “business sponsors” for a demonstration of the parent company’s products and more details on how exactly this business worked. So, that weekend I drove two hours with no intention of actually agreeing to anything. It was more out of courtesy to my friend than anything. After all, we went to high school together and had been friends for several years.

I have to admit that I was impressed with the product demonstration, which mainly consisted of household cleaners and detergents. After selling me on the core line of products, Mr. and Mrs. Business Sponsor explained the ins and outs of the business network with a nice little drawing of circles and legs linking to other circles with their own legs linking to other circles. My name was in the top circle. Mrs. Business Sponsor asked me if I knew three people that I thought would be interested in starting their own business on a part-time basis and making some extra money. The theory would be that each of them would then get three other people to participate, and those three people would get three people, and so forth. Mr. and Mrs. Business Sponsor then explained how commissions from product sales were distributed. I don’t remember exactly what those percentages were but it all made sense and looked good on paper. The parent company also paid every independent business owner directly, which apparently was a problem back in the day when the business sponsors were responsible for distributing commission checks.

So, with all of this explained, there was only one main question that I had. What was the name of this company? When they told me it was Amway, I was ready to walk out the door. This was the same company that had people selling soap door-to-door, right? Yep, it was the same company. I had heard of Amway before and it didn’t have a great reputation, but the company had been around since 1959, was still going strong, and apparently had gone through a lot of changes including incorporating technological improvements. They now had a website where business owners could process orders, track commissions, etc. After taking a few days to think about it, I signed up and paid my set up fee and also purchased a product start up kit at a discount. This kit also had several samples to use for demonstrations.

After getting an assumed name license for Jireh Distribution and opening a small business checking account, I began my training. My friend and his sponsors helped me get started. I attended business meetings, met some other Amway business owners higher up in our network, and started demonstrating Amway’s core products to my family, friends and coworkers. They particularly loved the detergent and would even reorder from me when they ran out of product. I made a few bucks from commissions, but nowhere near enough to quit my job (kind of sounds like my book royalties 🙂 ). My friend said that I needed to get some people to start their own Amway distribution business and get them to do the same thing before the money started rolling in. My best friend’s, sponsor’s, sponsor’s, sponsor (no I didn’t stutter) had recently quit his high paying job at DuPont because his network was so big that he didn’t have to work a traditional job anymore. That was encouraging I guess, but the three people that I thought would be on board weren’t interested.

I ended up attending an Amway convention in Kansas City that summer with my friend and his sponsors who I quickly became friends with. I think some of the sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsor’s sponsors were there too. We spent the weekend in Kansas City attending seminars and listening to testimonials from notable Amway business owners that had succeed in the business. We heard a lot of rags to riches stories. Each of these “Diamond Level Business Owners” had arrived in their million dollar luxury coaches and had them parked where everyone could easily see them. We arrived in an old minivan.

The convention was a lot of fun and it was even a bit inspirational too. As Christians we enjoyed some of the biblical principles that were incorporated in operating the business, so it almost felt like a retreat at times. We came back home to Texas energized with new strategies to build our businesses and I even managed to convince another friend of mine to start his own business. Awesome! However, he was the only person that I could convince. My other family and friends just started to get annoyed and wouldn’t answer my phone calls and would even avoid me because they thought I was either going to try to sell them something they didn’t want or need or try to convince them to join the business. My friend’s sponsor suggested that I try some cold contacting techniques that we learned. This basically involved approaching total strangers. Seriously? They wanted me to approach total strangers? While I was filling my car with gas one day, I decided what the heck. I approached a total stranger pumping gas on the other side of the gas pump, which resulted in the lady looking at me like I was completely nuts. She nonchalantly took my business card anyway. That was the one and only time I tried selling Amway to a total stranger.

Now some of my friends and family were still buying stuff from me because they liked the products, but I wasn’t very good with the whole multi-level marketing thing. After several months of work my multi-level network commissions totaled about $75 and my direct sales weren’t worth the time and effort either. When family and friends stopped reordering their products from me, I stopped caring and eventually quit the business. I told my best friend that it was nothing personal, and I did enjoy owning an Amway distribution business at first, but I kind of liked having friends outside of the business too. I was getting tired of having to talk about Amway all the time. I could only imagine what my friends and family thought. The one thing I learned very quickly is that the Amway business is a very high pressure sales business which I did not want to have anything to do with anymore. I’m not knocking Amway in general because their system works for the right people and their products are actually pretty good… It just wasn’t for me.

So, after taking off my small business hat, it was time to switch hats again and get back to working as an office drone. The following year while living in Austin, my friend told me about another business opportunity that he had started. This time it was a sure deal and he had already made $2,500 the first month! He said it was an independent business type of deal, and if I was interested he could guarantee me a spot on the team if I wanted it. He had already talked to the franchise business owner. I would have to move back to my hometown though.

After a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to put in my two-week notice at my current job and left the Texas capital city to move back to my hometown in the south Texas crossroads. Three days after I started this “awesome” business venture that my friend convinced me to quit my job in Austin for I realized that I had made a huge mistake… and my job in Austin had already been filled!

So, what was this new business opportunity of doom? Tune in next week for the next installment of “Adventures in Self-Employment” right here at Sharkbait Writes.


One of my goals as a working professional had always been to eventually leave the traditional workforce and operate my own business. I did just that in September of last year, and let me tell you as enjoyable as it has been, I’ve worn many hats up until that day that has completely transformed my vision in life. It’s been like an ongoing balancing hat trick while travelling down the different avenues of tradition employment, attempting one self-employment opportunity after another, maintain some sort of social life, finding time to write, trying to nurture myself spiritually, leisure time, paying the bills, and finding a way to balance it all out without going completely insane.

Building a business requires you to wear many hats to produce that all important stream of cash flow to pay the bills and save for the future. It requires a ton of hard work and a lot of trial and error. Working through those challenges has been part of the fun I’ve had working for myself, and I don’t regret my decision to leave my traditional full-time job in the rear view mirror. Living as an entrepreneur is something that has been a part of my DNA ever since I was a kid. However, daydreaming about what it would be like to be my own boss is one thing; making it happen and being successful at it is another. There is a lot of planning, research, and patience that goes with the territory. You also have to consider the fact that being self-employed often means working 12- to 16-hour days without depositing a dime in the bank account. A positive attitude and a strong vision is what makes a difference between keeping the momentum and pushing forward and feeling sorry for yourself and giving up. I’ve learned very quickly that you have to persevere, have faith and take it one day at a time in order to start seeing the fruits of your labor. And before you know it, those 12- to 16-hour penniless days will start to produce that all important revenue stream.

The Birth of an Entrepreneur

I was born to be an entrepreneur. I don’t expect to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but I’ve always had that entrepreneurial itch. Just ask anyone I’ve worked with over the years. Ever since I was a kid selling lemonade in front of my home in the suburbs up until my recent career in the newspaper industry, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss. And I have made quite a few attempts in my life, some more promising than others, but they all eventually failed. The important fact is that I have never given up on that professional goal.

My first business venture involved a program developed for kids to learn business skills and personal responsibility. I can’t remember exactly what the name of this program was, but I do remember there was some sort of Captain America type motif in the marketing material. Anyway, my job was to sell stationary door-to-door to my neighbors. It was basically very similar to a school fundraiser, but instead of trying to raise money for a school function, my sales pitch involved the fact that I was learning how to run my own business and trying to sell enough to earn prizes. My “profits” were the prizes offered by this company, just like a fundraiser. I had a lot of fun doing it and sold a lot of overpriced stationary. I did that for about a year before I felt the prizes just weren’t worth the work; I wanted cold hard cash!

Make Me an Offer I Can’t Refuse

When I was a freshman in high school I started a “candy redistribution business” that was very successful while it lasted. My high school in Austin was located on the corner of a busy intersection in the middle of a business district. There was a grocery store across the street, so during my lunch breaks and after school I would go to the grocery store and stock up on multi-packs of Jolly Ranchers, bubble gum, and other candy that was available in bulk. I would then resell my merchandise as individual pieces of candy and made a big profit! Then a “friend” of mine took notice of my growing enterprise and decided to start up a “candy redistribution business” of his own, but he sold his merchandise a nickel less than me, thus stealing my customers. I now had competition that resulted in a nasty little price war, which cut into my profits and my relationship with this so-called friend. My solution? We formed a partnership, brought prices back up, covered more school territory and split the profits… that is until the school authorities found out about our little “illegal” operation. They shut us down and even seized our candy! Damn bureaucrats! So much for playing video games at the arcade across the street after school! That didn’t stop us, though. We just got stealthier in our sales and distribution techniques. That’s right folks! I was a rebellious candy-selling little mobster nerd! I wasn’t going to let “The Man” cut into my video game budget!

I probably would have had a whole underground network of candy-pushing mobsters with a couple of teachers on my payroll (maybe bribes with a chocolate bar or two would do the trick). But alas! At the end of my first semester as a freshman, my parents decided to open up a restaurant in my home town two hours away. Imagine the possibilities if I could have stayed in that school in Austin to continue my underground candy resell business! I could have had a global network by now with the Sharky Bar™ in every supermarket (that’s candy, not booze… although).

The Traditional Employment Bandwagon

Moving to the South Texas Crossroads away from my candy toting mob in Austin was just a bump in the road to small business ownership. It was only a matter of time before I put on another hat in search of the American dream. I was determined to never give up and keep trying until I found something that would keep me out of the status quo. I hadn’t even started my first “real” job yet and already knew that I didn’t want to be a worker drone, but I eventually got on the traditional employment bandwagon and did just what many of you reading probably did… I took a part-time job working at a fast-food restaurant. That lasted six months until money mysteriously disappeared out of my register and I was terminated. I later found out that the owner’s granddaughter and one of the crew leaders was stealing money, but I and a few others were fired for it. That was my first impression of the traditional workplace which took a bit of a toll on my self-esteem. The franchise closed later that year. That put a huge smile on my face. Justice! 🙂

During my junior year in high school I signed up for a business co-op program in high school, landed my first office job as an office clerk (gopher) at a chemical plant and was quickly transformed into an office drone. I worked in various industries and eventually made my way back to Austin to work for a birding tour company and travel agency. It was while living in Austin that the entrepreneurial bug bit me again. My best friend back home encouraged me to check into this awesome small business opportunity that was a surefire way to make good money working for ourselves. After explaining a little bit about how this business worked, he invited me to a meeting with his business sponsor. I did a little bit of research and discovered it was a legitimate business opportunity and I took the bait.

Next stop… Amway!

A Young Man’s Fight With Cancer

About a week ago my friend and fellow author Eden Baylee sent me an email about a young man who is battling Leukemia. His name is Joshua, son of Maxwell Cynn, author of .45 Caliber Jitterbug, The Collective and CybrGrrl. Joshua is a 21-year-old with three and a half years of a 4.0 GPA complete toward a degree in philosophy. Just recently Joshua was diagnosed with Acute T-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The cancer has spread to every part of his body. Joshua is a fighter, though. In fact, when he was told about the course of chemotherapy, his first question to the oncologist was, “How will I go to class?”

Joshua will not be returning to school, which devastated the young philosophy major. Max, a proud father, states in his blog that Joshua is the most brilliant man that he has ever known. He insists that’s not just the words of a loving father, but his peers and professors agree. Joshua would have been the first member of Max’s family to graduate from college.

The day after Joshua started his chemotherapy a couple of weeks ago, his heart stopped. Thankfully, the doctors, nurses and technicians in the Intensive Care Unit were able to resuscitate him. Joshua’s diagnosis with Leukemia is by no doubt a life changer for him and his family. Even with insurance, the cost of treatment is very expensive. Joshua also has a college loan that needs to be paid, a loan for a college degree that he was worked hard at earning but may never have the opportunity to complete.

To help pay for Joshua’s treatment, Max is putting all the proceeds from his book sales into a fund to pay for Joshua’s treatment. He also has set up a donation link on all of his websites that will go to that fund. Any donations beyond the cost of Joshua’s treatment will go toward paying his student loans. Joshua has asked that anything beyond the cost of his treatment and college loan be donated for Leukemia research.

To read Max’s complete blog post regarding this devastating turn of events click on the link below:

Max’s Blog Post

Indie Authors Unite for Joshua

In an effort to support Joshua and his family, Eden Baylee, author of Fall Into Winter, started an Indie GoGo campaign to help fund the high cost of cancer treatment and to help with Joshua’s student loans.
The goal of this campaign is to raise $10,000 which will pay for some of the medical expenses not covered by insurance. By donating to this campaign, you will help reduce the cost of prolonged cancer treatment. As a thank you for donating, the IndieGoGo campaign is offering some amazing perks for your generosity. Not only will you get your choice of a copy of Maxwell Cynn’s book CybrrGrrl or The Collective, but depending on your donation you will also get your choice of many other books and/or services that have been donated toward this cause.

For full details on how you can join us in helping a young man win his fight against cancer and also help a fellow author, click on the campaign image.

My Commitment to This Campaign

Many of us, if not all of us, have been affected by cancer in one way or another, whether it’s through a family member, friend or battling cancer ourselves. I watched the horrible effects of cancer when my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago and a friend and co-worker’s son has also had to endure the difficult fight against cancer. Cancer research has always been important to me, which is why I try to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center when I can to help find a cure for cancer. So, naturally when Eden asked me if I wanted to donate anything towards the IndieGoGo campaign she was organizing, I told her I would be more than happy to join the army of indie writers to help support Max’s son Joshua.

I have donated two copies of Pursuit of a Dream and five author spotlight interviews. Furthermore, I have decided to donate 100% of all proceeds from sales of Pursuit of a Dream that are purchased between now and the end of the campaign.

What You Can Do To Help

If you would like to help out there are a number of ways you can do so. You can either purchase one of Maxwell Cynn’s books, The Collective or CybrGrrl or you can visit Joshua’s IndieGoGo campaign site and donate there.

As a thank you for your generous donation at the end of the campaign you will receive special perks from a number of books and services that indie authors have donated (including myself) to help Joshua in this time of need.

For full details on this IndieGoGo campaign, please visit Indies Unite for Joshua. As of this post, we have already raised $1,384 of our $10,000 goal, which is awesome! Thank you for everyone who has already helped out, including those authors who have donated books and services.

(Update: We reached the $10,000 goal on Memorial Day, and as of May 30 we have raised $10,320 for Joshua!)

Thank you for those who have contributed and considering helping Joshua out. God bless you all!

The Bucket List

My friend D.C. McMillen posted a blog about her bucket list the other day. On that list, she included that she wanted to go skydiving. My first reaction was, “Are you nuts?” Of course, I have to admit that I came very close to actually taking part of a skydiving trip with some coworkers back in 2000 when I was working in the Human Resources Department at an inbound customer service call center.

Skydiving Not For Me

One of the escalated help desk operators had the bright idea of getting a bunch of us together to take advantage of a group rate skydiving adventure. At the time we had about 800 employees, so surely he’d be able to sucker—I mean convince—enough of us to go along with him to get the discounted rate. He recruited one of the administrative support staff to help him with this effort. She eventually got around to me and stressed how much fun it would be to go skydiving as a group. We would even get a video of us plummeting to our death…I mean they would capture all of the fun we’re having while skydiving. She stressed that we would get a great rate if we got at least ten people to go (or maybe it was eight; I can’t remember exactly). Now, I’m all for a good adrenaline rush (I’m a huge fan of high-speed roller coasters with loops), but I draw the line when it comes to freefalling from an elevation of thousands of feet.

Needless to say, I didn’t do it, and I was teased for being a chicken by those who decided to go, including the guy who organized the event. The small group of coworkers went on their freefalling adventure the following weekend. Just a mental note: if you believe in the philosophy of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” skydiving is probably not for you.

Who’s the Chicken Now?

The following Monday morning, my coworkers that went skydiving that weekend told me all about their exciting trip and how much fun it was. One of them showed me a video of her freefall, and I had to admit it did look like fun. I asked if she had any video of the guy who organized the skydiving trip and she just laughed. Why was she laughing? This guy who acted all macho and told everybody how much of an adrenaline rush skydiving would be didn’t follow through himself. He chickened out! What’s more, is that he chickened out while he was on the plane as everyone else jumped out the plane. Yeah, I gave him hell for that! 🙂

A Perfectly Good Airplane

So, I guess part of the moral of this story is if you are going to plan some high adrenaline pumping adventure with some friends and coworkers, make sure you have the guts to follow through yourself. Otherwise, you WILL NOT be allowed to live that one down. On that note, I promise to never ask you to go skydiving with me, because of this simple fact…I will NEVER jump out of a PERFECTLY GOOD AIRPLANE!

Here’s a video I found on YouTube of people skydiving with an inflatable shark! 🙂

Video credit: joust76 /

I normally don’t participate in Internet chain games, but when I read that my friend D.C. McMillen tagged me, I figured what the heck. So, without further ado, it’s time to follow through with my commitment and answer these questions. I’ll then randomly choose two friends to tag at the end of the post.


I had one roller coaster of a year, so I’d have to say that my happiest moment of 2011 was 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2011. I brought in the new year in the reception hall of a funeral home. No joke. Remember, I used to be an obituaries coordinator and advertising sales rep. One of my old business clients invited me to a New Year’s Eve party. Don’t ask where we chilled the champagne. 🙂


My grandmother passed away in September, so that was definitely the saddest moment of the year. She was 85 years old, and up until the time of her passing had never been sick enough to require a doctor in her entire life. She also had a lot of pride of never missing one day of work throughout her career.


Respond to a “Tag” chain game. Oh, you mean in 2011. I think the most unlikely thing I did in 2011 was quit a job that I enjoyed at a company that I previously saw myself retiring from.


I want to say certain individuals that I worked with, but ultimately I’m responsible for my thoughts and feelings, regardless of how I feel I was treated. Forgiveness is very important in my book.


I have a pretty good sense of humor and love to laugh, so considering that I spent a lot of time laughing in 2011, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. Although, I can tell you my Jack Russell Terrier tends to make me laugh quite a bit by the things she does. For example, after she eats she always exerts a little petite belch. It’s so cute. LOL!


After putting a lot of money into replacing the brake system and suspension in my ’81 Corvette, after a few weeks of enjoying the new brakes and suspension I stepped inside the black “Bat Mobile”, turned the key, and…well that’s when the tears began to flow. The car wouldn’t start, and I was out of money. Sigh. That’s what happens when you buy a 30 year-old car. You fix one thing and something else dies. My therapist says that it will all be okay. The withdrawal ticks should go away too.


I think my proudest moment was after leaving my career in the newspaper industry. It felt like a free fall at first, but then when I chose to dedicate my time and energy to building my own business and also focus on writing, a sense of pride filled my soul. It’s a good feeling.


The greatest challenge I overcame was quitting a job after six and a half years of employment and stepping into the unknown. I have a very supportive family and lots of supportive friends that have helped give me the courage to pursue my dream of working for myself, which has also given me much more time and energy to write.


If I could just wave a magic wand and make it happen I think the one thing I would change in my life in 2012 would be to have a successful small business and (okay, two things) have a book published that many would enjoy reading. Success doesn’t mean wealth, by the way. Although, since we’re dreaming here…I’d have a successful business that brings in millions of dollars in revenue, I’m living in a 7,000 square foot home, drive a Ferrari F-430 Spyder, and I’m dating Sandra Bullock.

And then I’m slapped back to reality where I’m poor, peddling a Schwinn, and single. 🙂


Okay, now that I’ve fulfilled my end of the tagging bargain, it’s time to choose two writerly friends to carry the torch. Drum roll! I’ll reveal my choices after a short commercial break…

Now that you’ve visited Carolyn’s site, bought her book, and came back here to find out who I’ve chosen to tag (drawing names out of hat)…I have selected Karen DeLaBar and Tess Hardwick. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is share your own answers to the questions posted in this blog and then tag two other bloggers (optional, of course).

This message will self-destruct in 5…4…3-

The End of a Career and Making the Right Choices

On Sept. 27, 2011 I ended a career in the newspaper industry after six and a half years of employment. Let’s just say there were some professional differences of opinion of some management decisions and a certain situation was so poorly handled that it finally triggered my decision to part ways with the company. As the obituaries coordinator and an advertising sales rep, I basically sold advertising to funeral homes and handled all aspects of publishing obituaries for the region. Without boring you with the details of the actual job, while it wasn’t the most glamorous job to have, it was a job that I really enjoyed, particularly in dealing with my business clients (the funeral homes). And before you comment about how it must have been a dead-end job, how the people I worked with were a bunch of stiffs, and start chanting “Bring out your dead,” as an obituary writer, I always got the last word. 🙂

All jokes aside, there was a lot involved in publishing obituaries on a daily basis. There was the death verification process; writing and editing; photo scanning and editing; maintaining the daily death notices column (basically a list of recent deaths with funeral home contact information), keeping up with every visitation, prayer service, rosary, funeral and burial in a 13-county area and ensuring every one of them was published on the correct day with the correct times and locations; coordinating with the editorial department to determine space needed for obituaries; and designing obituary page(s) accordingly. On top of that there was the customer service (both for funeral homes and families of the deceased), payments and collections, selling advertising to funeral homes, (deep breath) and processing memoriam ads. Yeah, it was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.

So, why did I leave a job that I obviously enjoyed? Since this is a public forum, I’ll answer that simply with personal reasons that many people can probably relate with when the stress level in certain aspects of the job (the professional differences of opinion…I’m being very kind there) just wasn’t worth dealing with anymore.

After leaving a company that I used to love working for and planned to retire from, I found myself unemployed and stepping into the unknown. I didn’t have another job lined up, and I spent several weeks trying to find that right job. Nothing appealed to me in this town. So, I decided to take the self-employment route.

Transitioning to Self-Employment

At the time of my departure from the newspaper, I had been working on building a home-based business (with plans on opening an office at some point in the near future) on a part-time basis. I had actually started this business venture back in 2004 with resume writing services, general small business office support (similar to outsourcing temp work), and Photo DVD production. It brought in some extra income, but I didn’t put a lot of effort into it back then. I ended up putting the business on the backburner after starting my career in the newspaper industry, but now I have decided it is time to seriously focus on my dream of small business ownership. I knew there was a lot of risk involved, a lot of trial and error, planning, and long hours of development. A friend and former manager of mine has also been building a small business since 2001 while working full-time as a human resources director. She is now self-employed and focusing 100% of her effort in building her own business. So, we are now helping each other out. I needed a regular small business client to get the small business office support services “department” off the ground, and she obviously needed the admin support. Over the past few months, things have been working very well with only minor hiccups. We have a great system going that works well for both of us. Just recently, one of my former customers from the newspaper contacted me about helping them with a project. They have a full staff, but they just didn’t have time to create all of the documents needed in house. So, they outsourced the job to me. Today I received word that the owner wants to discuss hiring me on a part-time basis. We have yet to discuss details.

So, transitioning from full-time traditional employment to self-employment hasn’t been easy and has been a bit worrisome at times, and there have been times where I thought I made a huge mistake by quitting my job. However, while I still miss my old job and my customers, the “pros” of self-employment have far outweighed the “cons” at this point of the transition. The obvious negative aspect of resigning from my position at the newspaper is the steady paycheck. While the pay wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad either…not to mention benefits (which, to tell the truth, weren’t all that great anyway). However, the steady paycheck issue may soon be resolved to some degree if everything pans out well with the part-time opportunity I mentioned earlier.

What I have most enjoyed from self-employment has been the fact that I’m the boss (although, I can be a bit of a slave driver sometimes…I worked on a project until 2 a.m. last night!) and determine my work schedule and have a lot more flexibility in prioritizing and managing projects. If I decide I want to work in the evening, so I can take care of other things during the day, I can…all while still meeting any project deadlines. Working on my terms and not having to answer to someone else’s opinion of how they think my job should be done (or even as far as treating me like I don’t have a brain) has reduced my negative stress level to near zero. That alone has been worth it!

More Time for Writing

I think one of the most significant things that has occurred ever since I quit my full-time job at the newspaper is that because my stress level has reached much healthier levels, I have been able to focus more on writing. My participation in #WIP500 has been very successful so far with over 11,000 words written in my current work-in-progress (WIP). Granted these words may not be the greatest, but the story is unfolding at a nice pace. My focus is to just get the story written and then go back to polish it up, rewrite and cut out the unnecessary fat where needed.

It feels great to be writing again and I truly believe that 2012 is going to be the best year I’ve had in a long time. I’m not talking about financially, either. I am a firm believer that money can’t buy happiness and that you can be in a job that pays well, has great benefits, but if you’re not happy, then it’s probably time to rethink your priorities. I would much rather earn less and live comfortably, than be rich, stressed out and miserable. Obviously you need money to pay the bills, and the social aspect of many jobs is important too (one thing I do miss from the traditional ball-and-chain job), so I’m not saying quit your job and become a hermit. What I am saying is that if you aren’t happy with your job, if you have the means to explore other options that will make you happy, I say the least you can do is consider it. If you have a great idea for a business that you believe has a customer base in your area, do the research, and go for it!

That goes for writing, too! If you have a story that has been floating around your head for millennia, it’s not going to write itself. Just do it! Don’t worry about whether or not you think people will buy it or not. If selling the books is your main motivation for writing, then you are writing for the wrong reason.

This brings up another topic, which I will write about in next week’s post: “Why I am a Writer…”

I hope to see you there and thanks for taking the time to read my post. Cheers!

Update: It’s now the middle of 2013 and business has been doing well and throughout 2012 I worked on my first horror-thriller Devil’s Nightmare which I published in January 2013. Leaving my traditional job was definitely the best decision I ever made. 


Profile Photo (Cropped)Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.

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Oy! Doc Says I Got Stones!

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Health, Lifestyle

A Special Thank You

Before I start writing today’s post, I want to thank everyone who sent me messages wishing me well as I’ve been battling problems with my back and chronic pains in my side. I really do appreciate the kind words. You know who you are and I thank you. Your comforting words mean more than you think. They really are like chicken soup for the soul.

Another Visit to the Clinic

My previous post “Twisted Like a Pretzel” focused on issues that I’ve been having with my back. Since then, I had to see the doc again on Saturday because of some very bad abdominal pains, along with a bad case of… how should I say it without being too graphic… Technicolor yawns. I thought I had food poisoning or something, so I went to the nearby walk-in clinic and had to wait over two hours before a nurse finally called me in to sit in a waiting room for another twenty minutes. Thankfully, I didn’t dare eat anything until after my visit to the clinic, so my nausea wasn’t that bad. The last thing I wanted to do was advertise what I ate to everyone in the waiting room. Lucky for them, I had already withdrawn my Friday night meal into the the plumbing system at home. So, I just took sips from a water bottle all morning to try and keep myself hydrated. While the nausea wasn’t near as bad as it was overnight, the discomfort in my gut was horrible. The pain was mainly around the left side just below my ribcage, which had originally started from the left side of my back.

The Diagnosis: Part Deux

I didn’t have food poisoning, but after another urinalysis, the doc told me that this time he found a trace of blood in my urine. The diagnosis… kidney stones. The intense pain I was having more than likely caused the colorful projectile yawning. So, I didn’t have food poisoning, but kidney stones isn’t what I would call a better diagnosis. Ugh! I’ve been taking my cocktail of medications and drinking a lot of water since Saturday evening. The Flomax that I’m taking is making me feel like an old man as I make frequent visits to the porcelain throne every 15 to 30 minutes. At least I’m not bowing down to the throne this time, and on the bright side, I haven’t been in too much pain. I know it’s because of the drugs, but I’ll take what I can get. To be on the safe side, I’ve also opted to stay off the road (medicine that causes drowsiness and 3500 pound vehicles do not play well together) and work from home until the little rock quarry that has developed inside my gut is put out of business. While working remote is convenient and it’s nice to be able to work from home, I still would much rather do my job from the office at work because the remote desktop tends to run very slow at times.

Pray for Sharky vV””Vv

With the nausea completely gone now, I’m back to eating solid foods today after barely eating anything this weekend, and of course, I ate chicken noodle soup. Isn’t it interesting that chicken noodle soup always seems to help you feel better when you under the weather? One thing is for certain: this latest health crisis has been a bit of a wake-up call. I’m not getting any younger and I have to start taking better care of myself. My diet is definitely going to change after going through this. I have got to cut down on the sodas, artificial sweeteners in my tea, lay off the fried foods, and of course eat more fruits and vegetables. A little more exercise wouldn’t hurt me either.

This past couple of weeks have been so miserable.

So, there you have it… the latest exciting news in the life of Robert “Sharky” Pruneda. For those of you wandering where the nicknames “Sharky” or “Sharkbait” came from, I think I may touch on that in my next post. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting. Oh, and one last thing… please pray that my health improves soon and that passing these stones isn’t too painful. (Cringe!)

Twisted Like a Pretzel

Posted: July 29, 2011 in Health, Lifestyle

Back Pain and Wobbly Legs

When I was 17 years old I was involved in a serious car accident that left me with a bad back ever since, so pain in my back and neck is pretty much an everyday issue with me. I’ve learned to live with a sore back and neck throughout my life, but last weekend I noticed the pain was worse than usual. So, while I was at the local supermarket on Sunday, I grabbed a packet of Icy/Hot medicated patches for my back pain and a bottle of Aleve, hoping that would do the trick. The medicated patch soothed the pain somewhat, but the piercing pain in my lower back and throbbing pain in my left side continued to bother me. It felt like someone was poking me with a knife and pulling and twisting my back in all directions.

I had a hard time sleeping on Sunday night, but I managed to finally get some shuteye around three o’clock in the morning. On Monday morning, the pain was pretty bad, but after taking a warm shower, the pain was more bearable. I was pretty miserable at work and started to get some piercing pain in my lower back and a slight tingling in my legs, which triggered the idea of seeing a doctor. However, I thought maybe I just needed another day of taking some Aleve and the pain would eventually go away.

Monday night was just as bad as the night before and then Tuesday morning I could barely get out of bed; the pain was unbearable. My back felt like it was twisted around like a pretzel and the pain in my side was getting worse. However, after taking a warm shower, the muscles in my back loosened up a bit and the pain went away enough to where I thought I could function at work. When I was sitting in my comfy leather chair at my desk the pain wasn’t that bad and sometimes my back didn’t hurt at all. However, when I got up to walk to the networked printer in the Classifieds Department, the pain immediately resurfaced. It got so bad at one point that I felt like someone jabbed a knife into my lower back and twisted it. I then got a tingling sensation in both of my legs. My legs started getting numb and felt wobbly. I almost collapsed to the floor! At that point, I knew it was definitely time to make a visit to the doctor.

The Diagnosis

I went home and worked via remote desktop for a while and then called my doctor, whom I had not seen in over 15 years. While I had been fortunate enough to stay healthy for that long, despite back pains stemmed from a car accident so long ago, the fact that I hadn’t seen my doctor in so long resulted in getting classified as a new patient. My doctor was not seeing new patients, so that left me hunting for a different doctor to see me. I decided to visit a new walk-in clinic that was located about a mile away from my house. I called the walk-in clinic and was told that there wasn’t a long wait, so I immediately wobbled to my car and drove to the clinic.

I filled out some forms and waited about 20 minutes in the lobby before a nurse called my name. She weighed me, took my pulse, asked a bunch of preliminary questions and then took me to Room 3, where I waited another half hour before the doc finally walked inside to see me. I told the doc about my pain and indicated that my pain was mainly focused around the lower to middle of my back and along my left side and the rear left side of my back. After poking my back in several areas and asking if it hurt, the doc asked me if I had ever had kidney stones before. Kidney stones? I’ve heard horror stories about people with kidney stones and now I was concerned. The doc told me that I was having pain around the kidney area and told me that he needed a urine sample to find out for sure. Great. I came to the clinic so I could get the doctor to prescribe me some pain medication, but nooooooo, this doctor starts talking about kidney stones. Ugh! I reluctantly grabbed the little plastic cup, headed over to the bathroom, and provided the doc a sample for the urinalysis.

As I waited for the results of the urinalysis, I thought about the idea of having to pass kidney stones, which hurt just thinking about it. Back pains would be the least of my concerns if I had kidney stones. I waited and waited… and waited for the doctor to come back with my results. Meanwhile I could hear the staff outside my room laughing and telling jokes. Here I was pondering the possibility that there was a rock quarry building up inside my kidney and the staff was telling jokes outside my room. I envisioned the doctor opening the door with a grave look on his face to inform me that I did indeed have kidney stones and that it was going to be an even more painful experience getting rid of them. Just as the nightmare in my head began to form the details of passing those horrible stones, a nurse walked inside with a sheet of paper in his hand and told me that I was good to go. I took the sheet of paper and noticed that it was a prescription for pain medication. I asked the nurse about the urinalysis and he told me that I tested fine. No kidney stones. Thank God!

Drug Cocktail Heaven

The doc prescribed three different medications to take care of my back problem, all of which caused drowsiness. I worked from home on Wednesday and most of the workday on Thursday, and it’s a good thing, too. Taking all three of those medications made me feel REEEEAAAALLY good that day. My back was still pretty twisted, but the drugs masked the pain really well. So, at least I was comfortable enough to do my job. Talking to customers on the phone was interesting to say the least. Considering the fact that I was doped up on pain medication, I sounded like I was inebriated on alcohol. I even dozed off at the keyboard several times throughout the day, but the job got done and I met my page deadline. I was definitely in no condition to be operating a vehicle, so it’s a good thing I had remote access to my computer at work.

Today, I’m feeling quite a bit better, but the pain still comes back when the pain medication wears off. It’s nowhere near as painful as it was earlier this week, though. Hopefully in a few days my back will feel well enough that I don’t need the pain medication at all. I’m just glad I don’t have kidney stones!

Four! Virtual Golf May Be Hazardous To Your Health!

You may be wondering at this point how I actually hurt my back. Well, I hadn’t done any heavy lifting anytime recently, so after a process of elimination, it turns out that I must have hurt it during an evening of Tiger Woods Golf on my Playstation. I recently purchased a Playstation Move (basically works like the Nintendo Wii) and thought playing golf with the motion-detection controller would be fun. It is actually very fun to play with, but I must have played one too many times that my back could handle. Swinging that imaginary club around finally twisted my back enough to land me in the doctor’s office. I just didn’t feel it right away. I realize now and accept the fact that I’m nowhere near as flexible as I used to be. I think I’ll stick to using a regular controller for my golfing adventures from now on. I never would have thought that virtual golf would be hazardous to my health.