For My Misses Who Can’t See Past Their Own Expectations:  Find Your Outlet and Shine

For My Misses Who Can’t See Past Their Own Expectations:  Find Your Outlet and Shine

Hey y’all I know it has been a lil’ minute since your girl checked in but I’m a writer, so you know I stay with a good story!  It is always a struggle to balance my ambitions, and this past month or so has been nothing less than hectic. At times it feels like a bit of an overload to be honest. It’s like I have so much to express I don’t know where to start. Without a proper outlet, I am easily overwhelmed by my own thoughts – which brought me here.

Back in June I had to press pause on my modeling in order to get my fourth book done. My original plan was to wrap up the “Fast Life” series on 7/17/17, with the release of “Paradise & Promises: An End to the Fast Life.” After all, July marked my 10-year anniversary as an author, and I am a pretty big fan of symbolism. However, some unexpected news on the family front clouded my mind with too much emotion to touch upon. As much as it killed me to do so, I had to push the book back by a month.

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Needless to say, I felt janky as fuck because I pride myself on being a woman of my word. If I say I’m going to do it, you better believe it will get done. Not to mention, it is my name on that cover which means when things go wrong, I take the fall. But hey, I still accomplished my goal – even if it was a little later than intended. And although it bothered me not to deliver as promised, I take pride in my work.

With that being said, I am super proud of how this last project came out, and feel confident about the series as a whole!  I had been working so hard for so long on this book, sorting out formatting and cover issues down to the last minute, that when it was finally done and the pressure wore off, I was left to process all these mixed emotions. I was so consumed by my characters and their story that once it was over, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Now, I won’t lie, there is some relief in knowing I am finally DONE. Another part of me is sad, though, because I have to say goodbye to these characters I’ve grown up with, too. Overall, I am most excited to execute new ideas and continue to grow as a writer. As with any book, I am curious how I will be received now and in the future. It’s still too soon to tell.

All I can really say for sure is that I have been going hard all year, and it seems as if my dreams are finally starting to manifest. I can’t quite describe it. But I can feel it. In the few weeks I took a break from blogging, I have seen and heard so much that I want to share with you guys, like my experience working a NASCAR event as a brand ambassador the weekend of the Charlottesville protests, where I witnessed some young white boys walking around in Confederate flags draped like capes. Then there are the amazing 4 days I spent in LA trying to recoup from it all, but I’ll be sure to touch on those adventures in another post. Just know I am back. I am on fire. And I am hungrier than I’ve ever been.

Don’t Forget to Stop and Smell the Cotton Candy

Don’t Forget to Stop and Smell the Cotton Candy

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It’s finally starting to feel like summer. Well, that’s depending on the day if you live in Michigan, but I will say it feels nice to finally shed my coat, and in my case, more than a couple of inches off my hair this past Friday. And although the season change isn’t official until June 21st, Memorial Day marks the start of vacation season for most of us.

Or so we hope.

In my case, I am coming up on my ten-year anniversary as an author in less than 2 months. Not only that, but July just so happens to be the same month I plan to launch my second independent project, “Paradise & Promises: An End to the Fast Life,” so you know that deadline is something serious. The pressure is mounting. I can feel it. And it is so exciting and terrifying all at once.

In the meantime, promo is picking up and more modeling opportunities seem to be rolling in, which I am always grateful for. And even though I’ve always felt a need to deliver, this past weekend made me realize I’ve been so busy fighting this burnt out feeling lately, I haven’t put in much effort into fixing it. Even as I type this I have emails to answer and calls to make. I can tell you now my sleep schedule has been shit and I have the bags to prove it. Every time I looked at my manuscript, my creativity would stall out after just a few words. Despite all the ideas swirling in my head on a daily basis, I hadn’t touched my blog in at least a month. With everything I have to do this summer, I realized I had to check my inner workaholic if I had any chance of enjoying my holiday away from my computer. Because as crazy as it sounds; in order for me to keep being productive, I needed to take a break.

And I am so glad that I did.

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For me, there is just something so nostalgic about summer carnivals so any chance I get I have to go. Growing up poor in Reading, Pennsylvania meant that it was probably one of the most exciting things I’d do all summer. If you know anything about my hometown then it’s easy to understand why I felt that way and if you grew up in a single-parent home then it wouldn’t be hard to understand why that was. Even to this day, my summer almost doesn’t feel complete without at least one visit.

There is just something about the smell of French fries and funnel cakes floating through the air that makes me lick my lips just writing this. Isn’t it funny how you’re surrounded by screams and laughter, yet you tend to tune out because you’re too busy doing the same thing? Back then I was lucky if I won a goldfish, and even luckier if it lived a week, so it’s probably best that all I won this time around was a stuffed emoji face (lol).

When I was little, I was so hyped up on sugar I didn’t realize how high the Ferris wheel was, but I do now (P.S. I don’t do heights y’all). And yes, getting my face painted is still mandatory. I don’t care if I am 28.

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How I Made Rejection My Bitch

How I Made Rejection My Bitch

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Rejection sucks. But I’m sure you don’t need a blog post to tell you that.

Whether you finally got an interview for that great paying job you always wanted, you snagged a big audition you’re praying you land, or you are obsessing over that guy that is just “too busy” to take two seconds out of his life to text/call you back, the sting of rejection is always painful. And I’m speaking from first-hand experience as an author, model, and a woman. Just this past weekend, I was passed over by another major modeling agency (yet again). Over the course of the last three months, I realized the one guy who is always on my mind, clearly never thinks about me. . .

Putting yourself out there can be scary enough, especially when our vulnerability is not padded by a sense of achievement or acceptance. At least not on our timing.  Going for what you want takes a certain level of courage and bravery that may take some time to muster up, so when that risk is not immediately followed by a reward, it easy to see how a sense of failure could take a toll on your confidence. But it doesn’t have to.

When thinking of all the times I’ve been forced to swallow the bitter taste of “not being good enough,” there is one instance that sticks out most in my mind. I was in my early 20’s, and I had been working a dead-end job cashiering at Whole Foods for several years too long. In short, I was miserable waiting on snobby Ann Arborites who could barely be bothered to acknowledge my existence, while at the same, I was dying for the opportunity to write full time.

With my talent, working retail was a special type of torture that seemed to be prolonged by my negotiations with my publisher at the time, Kimani Tru. Per my contract they had first dibs on my next manuscript. Only thing was it took two years of negotiations to tell me they didn’t want it – no exaggeration. I was actually at work when I found out that I’d written a whole new book – like so many had wanted, and all that work, was for nothing. After watching my email like a hawk on a daily basis, it was back to the drawing board. And then, not even five minutes later, I am on my lunch break when I get a call informing me that my agent Mannie Barron, who helped me get my start in the industry, had passed away. It was all so overwhelming. And it all came crashing down on me in a matter of 15 minutes.

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Now, I think most people at this point would have taken this as a sign and left it at that. I could have easily said the author life is not for me and let it go, but my passion for writing would never allow it. It was then I decided to re-write what I had already written, and publish it myself, which was great because it granted me the freedom to create on my own terms. Once I wasn’t trying to fit anyone else’s criteria, I could restructure the story to my liking. However, cutting out the middle man also meant I would have more creative control as well as financial responsibility. I had a lot to learn and it was up to me to teach myself, but I still managed to launch “Love, Lies & Consequences (The Fast Life Sequel)” on my 25th birthday, after a six-year hiatus in an oversaturated industry. Coming back to the game after being gone for so long, and without a major publishing house to back me, let’s just say I had my doubts (lol). Had I listened to them, I wouldn’t be getting ready to launch book number four this summer.

So as much as it hurts, rejection has taught me to be all the more grateful for the opportunity in the first place. And instead of trying to figure out why things didn’t go the way I hoped they would, I simply accepted the outcome. I’ve learned to build off of constructive criticism without critiquing myself as a person and that most of my frustration comes from the fact that I actually do believe in myself and my abilities – not the opposite. Knowing I have what it takes, I figured I could drive myself crazy or I could channel that energy into my success. I could let it stop me or use it as fuel. After all, there is always room for improvement.

Whether it affects my personal or professional life, rejection has taught me there is good to be found in everything – especially new beginnings. So if anything, hearing the word “no” only motivates me to go harder. More promo. More photoshoots. More castings and open calls. My perseverance has no expiration when it comes to things (or people) I really want. I also realized that the more I put my name or face out there the more likely I am to be recognized for my grind later. And in this day and age, you really never know who is watching. In some cases, all it takes is one yes in order to be successful. Just know I’m not going to stop until I get it.

 

 

#formymisses Who Want That Old Thang Back: Why I Had To Leave My Old Self Where She’s At

#formymisses Who Want That Old Thang Back: Why I Had To Leave My Old Self Where She’s At

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I miss you.

Sometimes it can be hard to admit when we miss someone especially when we are talking about ourselves. And I don’t know about you but for some strange reason, my mind always tends to drift toward the past more than it does the future, especially when it rains. So if you live in Michigan then you can understand why this past weekend was one of reflection for me. I have come so far and have accomplished so much in 28 years, but there are still times where I wish I could go back. Back to when I was more open and trusting of the people around me. Back to when the idea of falling in love didn’t completely terrify me. Before I cared about book sales and book reviews. Before I was made aware of my body’s flaws and started questioning my worthiness. . .

For years, I felt like something was “missing” – not just in my life, but from me. And I’ve had this same feeling echoed back to me in conversation with some of my closest girlfriends lately. I’ve even caught similar messages while scrolling different timelines. And I am so over it!

Please know that I’m not ashamed to say I was weak for love before. I’ve been betrayed and lied to by the same person I slept next to every night. I’ve run back to friendships/relationships I knew weren’t healthy or beneficial out of loneliness and uncertainty. I stayed loyal to someone even though I was unhappy long before I was confronted with court cases, baby momma drama, and the possibility of adding “Felon” at the end of my description.

I was just entering into my early 20’s when a nightmare of a break up made me realize that even though I could identify certain characteristics I possessed, I never really knew who I was to begin with. I wasn’t prepared to lose him, but it wasn’t until I was alone that I realized I had lost myself in my relationship long before then. So many of my good qualities had laid dormant for so long, I almost forgot they were there.

It also helped me realize that by trying to get to know the girl I used to be, instead of the woman I am becoming, I would be ignoring all of the parts of me that are begging to be acknowledged, if not celebrated. Instead of seeking my old self, I had to find my true self first because there were so many parts of my past where I wish I had done things differently, that if I didn’t, I would continue to rob myself of every moment or possibly my future. So trust me when I say there have been plenty of instances where I wished I had spoken up. And times, I wished I hadn’t. Like most young people, my needs easily overrode my instincts until I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I knew something had to change. I just didn’t know it was me.

So my question for all of my ladies who miss their former selves is; what happens when you do finally get past those feelings of doubt or inadequacy? Will you be stuck on the fact that you remained stagnant during that time and turn that into another reason to be angry at yourself? How often will you wonder “If only. . .?” And if you answered yes to any of these questions, where is the growth in that? I had to ask myself the same thing.

But for those of you who are REALLY determined to back track to the girl you used to be, even if you do “make it back”, what if your old self does not serve you anymore? What do you tell her? Would you even recognize yourself? Through my own experiences I’ve found that a major source of unhappiness came from not accepting who my pain made me. Because let’s face it – pain changes people and in more profound ways than joy unfortunately. No one stays the same, and if they did, would that really be a good thing?

In all honesty, I have absolutely no desire to be the girl I once was because if I would have stayed that girl I wouldn’t have made it this far. I damn sure wouldn’t be blogging and telling y’all my business like this lol. But I am much more confident now. Even in the first pic I posted on this blog you notice I’m facing forward. I’m done looking back. There is nothing for me there. All of the things I’ve endured have made me stronger and smarter than I’ve ever been and I am much more accepting of myself – including my mistakes. Instead of fighting my disappointments, I’ve allowed them to guide me back to the right path. Back to the real me.

Black & White Beginnings

Black & White Beginnings

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Photography by Christian Davis

For as long as I have been an author, I’ve had people on my head about a blog. I mean, we’re talking yearssss. And while I dabbled with the idea back in 2013-2014, my own motivation and inspiration quickly died out not long after I launched 16dreams. It was apparent that I was writing more for others than for myself and was way more concerned with their thoughts or reception – at least to me anyway. As a writer, I felt so constricted, like I was still trying to fit my ideas into a theme I had since outgrown.

But this blog? This blog here is different. I will tell you upfront I am not a big fan of censorship and I rarely care enough to lie so brace yourself for some real shit. I’m wordy so I will warn you now that most posts will probably be pretty long. But the idea of “For My Misses” actually stems from my social media handle @callmemisscarta. I came up with that name given the fact that I actually had my peers addressing me as “Miss Carta” back in high school – and I still do. Plus, we all know us millennials don’t just go around using “sir” and “miss” on a regular basis so I felt like that title was given out of respect and that was something I wanted to share with others, especially other women.

And for the sake of pure honesty, I was also partially inspired by Drunken Master’s “50 Playas Deep” (True Story) lol. So you can probably tell I can get a little hood with it at times, but if this is not proof that inspiration can be found in some of the most unexpected places then I don’t know what is!

That is also part of the reason why when I did finally decided to give blogging another try, I said I would wait until I dropped book #4 so I could give myself enough time to put it together exactly how I wanted it. I wanted to make sure I had the perfect title to match my perfect background and plenty of engaging content to kick things off. Part of me wanted to be like all the cool kids with their carefully curated feeds and photos. But then I said fuck all that.

I’m not perfect, no one is. And I don’t plan to mislead you with a blog of deep quotes and shallow entries to fake you out. I refused to be boxed in – let alone by my own damn blog. There is no topic off limits just like there is no set schedule to my posts. The less rules the better. I mean, it’s already hard enough to define yourself as just this one thing without limiting your opportunities, and I think this struggle applies to most women regardless of what we look like or where we are from. Our moods change by the minute. Our styles change with the seasons. Our interests change with age. So it only makes sense that we change with them, right?

If you’ve ever read one of my books then you know my main focus is romance, but when it came to blogging I knew I had to get out of this “me, me, me” mentality and create something more inclusive and relatable. So while I hope this blog can serve as a reflection of me and my thoughts – however that looks or feels at that time – I also see this as a way to open the door for deeper dialogue on some of the similar issues or experiences we share. Even if it’s a simple head nod in agreement. It’s always nice to be reminded you’re not alone.

I must admit this whole blog thing is still pretty new to me and I’m not sure where it will lead. All I really know is I needed to find a way to unleash any and everything I’ve been holding in without social media getting in the way and I know I can’t be the only one. This year I’ve been wrestling with an unbearable urge to use my voice outside of Facebook coupled with the desire to express some of my deepest thoughts in ways Twitter won’t allow. Now I can finally say I am ready to share my truth beyond the Gram. Just know ain’t no filters here.