I Dreamed I Was Black Last Night

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I had an interesting dream last night and thought I would share, partly just because I found it weird and wonder what it meant, and partly because I think maybe there was a pearl of wisdom to be found in it about race relations.

In the dream my family and I were scared because a tornado was announced to be coming straight at our home. We don’t have a basement, so we ran to the neighbors’ house to beg them to take us in and give us shelter in their basement. The first family we asked said no. Interestingly, they were the same race as we were in the dream. The second family (a white couple with a baby) agreed, and not only did they take us in, but they offered to take in another family as well.

Now, at this point it is necessary to say that while I am about as white as you can get in real life, in the dream, myself and all my family were black, and it didn’t seem the slightest bit odd or out of place that our race had changed. The other family our neighbors agreed to take in was black as well. I remember looking around at all of us gathered together and thinking that the white couple was probably uncomfortable around that many black people. Weird thought to have, but it is honestly what I thought in the dream.

While we were all huddling together in the basement, the tornado hit and it was an experience I will never forget. It was SO painful physically. The force of the noise and the vibration was agonizing. In the dream all of us started screaming simply to try to release some of the tension in our heads and bodies from the vibration and furious sounds. I have no idea if that is what a real tornado is like or not, but it shocks me even now to think of how much it hurt in the dream and how vicious it was. It almost makes me wonder if past lives are a real thing, and if they are, if I didn’t endure a tornado in a past life. Maybe someone out there can tell me if that is anything like what a real tornado feels like.

That was pretty much the end of the dream. We all survived and the damage wasn’t really that bad to the house. But the whole race relations thing has been niggling at me all day. I feel there is something profound there for me to learn. If you want to take a shot at dream interpretation, please feel free to give it a shot in the comments!

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Fan Q&A: Favorite Musicians, Autism and Romance, Suicidal Thoughts

Hello! Today I’m sharing my most recent fan Q&A video from my YouTube vlog. In it I discuss my favorite musicians besides Michael Jackson and Nirvana, whether I believe having high-functioning autism makes it harder to have a romantic relationship, and exactly what kind of suicidal thoughts I have had in the past and why I hope people get help if they themselves are struggling with thoughts like that. If any of you have a question for me you would like answered in a future video, please ask in the comments section of this post or the video itself!

Job hunting with autism in a non-autistic world

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I’m currently searching for a part-time job. I do make some money off my writing and art, but let’s face it, it can be hard to make a living off those things alone. I hope someday to do so, but right now we need some extra money. However, hunting for a job isn’t easy for me. First off, I have some health problems. I can’t work long hours, especially if I need to be on my feet for long (due to severe Plantar Fasciitis) and I can’t lift much of anything that is heavy, which has ruled out many jobs. Add to that, the fact that I have Asperger’s Syndrome and the job market is awfully slim.

Although Asperger’s doesn’t make me unable to work, it does cause some real issues. First off, I have social anxiety which can become overwhelming if I work a job with too much forced socialization. Secondly, although I have a great eye for detail (a gift from having high-functioning autism), I am not very good at multitasking. In fact, it can cause a lot of anxiety if I have to do too much at once all the time. I also need a job that is relatively predictable every day. Too much change in environment or job duties can actually induce panic attacks, which isn’t at all uncommon among those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Then of course you have the problems with job interviews. First off, do I be totally honest about my physical problems and the issues caused by autism? If I do, I know it may ruin my chances of a job. I hate to think someone wouldn’t hire me just because I have health problems and was born a little different than everyone else, but I know it happens all the time. They may not say that is the reason, but they can still choose not to deal with the restrictions I have. Also, interviews are hell for people who feel socially awkward and nervous to begin with. Often, I can’t tell what someone thinks of me when they first meet me unless they directly tell me, so I often sit there the whole time wondering if I am bombing the interview or if I am doing ok. I am naturally bluntly honest, which can be an issue too.

All of this stress and confusion really makes me wish there were job placement services to help people with high-functioning autism. Unfortunately, almost all of the services around here require that you have a low IQ, which I do not have. In fact, my IQ is quite a bit above average, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with issues from the autism. Overall, job hunting feels like an alien world to me. One I just don’t get and will probably always have to “fake it to make it”. Unfortunately, I’m not good at faking things for long.

Tips for Publishing on Smashwords

Since I recently published my new ebook, “In Memory of Dad” on Smashwords, I have had quite a few other authors ask about how the Smashwords process works.  Many didn’t even know what Smashwords was, which didn’t surprise me too much since I only recently found out about Smashwords after being asked to review a few books published there.

Put simply, Smashwords in a website that allows you to publish your own ebook.  Even if your book is available in hard copy or is published by another company, as long as you have the rights, you can publish your book on Smashwords as well.  Not only does Smashwords allow you to publish your ebook for free, but they offer the opportunity to have your ebook distributed to other major ebook retailers, provided that you follow their guidelines.  Another thing I really like about Smashwords is that they offer your book to customers in a variety of formats, including Kindle, PDF, online reading and various popular phone apps.

If you are considering publishing an ebook and want to know more about Smashwords or what the publishing process there is like, here are a few tips:

1.  Above all else, make sure to follow the guidelines Smashwords provides when you upload your book.  If you don’t it will affect your chances of having your book distributed to other retailers.  Also, your book might look kind of wonky if you don’t follow the guidelines.  Luckily, Smashwords offers a great resource to help you at no charge, the Smashwords Style Guide.

2.  Make sure you have a good cover image for your ebook.  You can hire someone to do one for you or create one yourself like I did.  Of course, if you create it yourself, make sure it looks professional…your cover WILL affect sales.

3.  Don’t post your ebook, walk away and hope to sell millions of copies.  Realistically, there is too much competition for people to just keep randomly stumbling over your ebook and actually want to buy it.  Do some promotional work, even if it is only on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  If you can get your friends to review your book, that helps a lot too.

4.  Edit, edit, edit!  I love Smashwords and have found some great stories there, but far too many authors publish mediocre or downright painful prose.  If you don’t know how to edit yourself, find a friend who will help or consider hiring someone.  Even picking up a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and studying it would help many authors to avoid common grammar, punctuation and style errors.  Check your spelling too!

5.  Read the FAQ page on Smashwords.  This resource can help you avoid ALOT of mistakes and wasted minutes!