research

Values-Based Decisions

One of the things I have struggled with for pretty much my whole life has been authenticity and strength of will. One reason for this is that I am very open-minded to other people, other ways of life, and other cultures… perhaps too open-minded. In many of my travels, I have encountered people and ways of life that I learned from; then, I have adopted many conflicting beliefs and values into my life as a result. This resulted in a gargantuan amount of confusion that I have been trying to sort out for the past year or so.

The other reason is that for most of my life, I have felt pressured to change myself to please other people. Even to this day, I struggle with sharing myself, my beliefs, and my opinions with others. I’m afraid that other people will laugh at me, tell me that I’m stupid, and say that I’m completely wrong and that in order to be valid, I have to switch over and agree with them/their method/their viewpoint. Therefore for most of my life, I have changed myself, my personality, and my beliefs/values to fit in and be accepted by others.

In one of my online courses, I am studying the chakras and learning how to balance them. This past week, we defined our top values, so as to balance our solar plexus chakras. I had a really hard time with this exercise, based on my past, but I came up with the following for my top values:

1) Individuality/Uniqueness

I believe strongly in the individual. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be different, be authentic, be themselves, and be accepted for doing so. People should be honest about their truths and share themselves vulnerably with others, so as to receive emotional support back.

2) Intelligence

I really enjoy both the learning and the application parts of knowledge. Researching, studying new information, looking deep within myself, and then growing myself. I also enjoy using the new information to do critical thinking, problem solving, and planning. Change means making a smart decision and then taking action!

3) Creativity/Fun

I am a very creative person because I play two instruments and write. Not only that, but I love coming up with creative ideas and solutions to think outside of the box.

4) Love of all people

Not only do I love all people based on their individuality and uniqueness, as well as their special skillsets and talents, but also I advocate for equal rights of all people and equality in friendships/relationships. I believe that friendship is the best kind of relationship because it is equal in definition.

Furthermore, I am a very loyal friend. I will stick by anyone who does me a kind favor, especially when I am having a very rough time. I will also pay it forward and do my best to help others whenever I can.

5) Personal Accomplishment

I have many dreams and ambitions, both personal and professional. To me, success means accomplishing my goals, achieving some measure of financial success in my businesses, and working hard with grit and endurance.

6) Health and Self-Care

I am very much into healthy living and self-care in all areas (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and tasks/chores/responsibilities). I want to be successful in my life at the same time as taking good care of myself. Never sacrificing one for the other.

 

So the secret to having a strong will is to live completely by your values system. Every decision that you make should be made by your values.

Here are some decisions I’ve made recently:

  1. Leaving my old business to build my new business
  2. “Getting back together” with my mentor

I decided to leave my old business opportunity because I didn’t feel that it was authentic to me. Now, I can clearly see why. In that business model, uniformity was valued so that you could “duplicate” your business into a large-scale model. That meant that there was no room for individuality, uniqueness, or creativity. Not only that, but they were big on “submission” and “following the established process,” which meant that neither intelligence nor equal relationships were valued. Finally, many people who built that business to a successful level did so by sacrificing their health, as well as other important things like family and relationships. The only thing that I did value that they valued also was in the area of personal accomplishment, but even that was not entirely the same because I want to be personally accomplished specifically in the fields of writing and music.

So, leaving the business was the right decision, though it was a very hard decision to make. I now know that I am better off on my new path of online teaching and course creation. My new pathway agrees with all of my values. My offering is unique and showcases my individuality. The process involves me using both my intelligence and creativity to make my online course. I can love on all types of people with my product, as well as be personally accomplished. I can still prioritize my health and self-care as I am becoming successful, and there is nobody there to pressure me into feeling bad about that decision.

Now, clearly from my last two posts, I was struggling hard-core with leaving my mentor. I just was not happy with that decision and I didn’t know why. I actually have a really good understanding of it now though. I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave a really good person who had been there to help me during one of the lowest points in my life. Someone who had invested so much time into me and helped me completely recalibrate my life and my relationships. Someone who had poured belief into me even when nobody else did. I just couldn’t do it. It felt very disloyal and against my values.

Luckily, he and I were able to chat about what had happened. Turns out, there was a pretty large miscommunication and we were able to sort everything out to be friends. We have talked pretty much every day from the time we made that decision, and I literally feel so much better and so much more at ease.

He doesn’t know this yet, but I’m planning a way to give back to him in the future to show my loyalty and gratitude for what he has done for me and my life. I don’t have all the details sorted out yet, but I’m hoping it will make him really happy. Because that’s all I want.

New Publication

Hi everyone! I am very pleased to announce that my scientific article has been accepted for publication by the International Journal of Earth Sciences. Check it out here:

Porous Media of the Red River Formation, Williston Basin, North Dakota: A Possible Sedimentary Enhanced Geothermal System
      -International Journal of Earth Sciences (2016)
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00531-016-1398-9.

I am very pleased that my research has been published in such a prestigious journal. It took a lot of work and a lot of revision to do it, but in the end, I succeeded! I am very proud of how well the final article turned out. I can only hope that my article will be useful to other scientists who are completing similar research!

Now that both halves of my master’s thesis have been independently published (the other half was published by the Geothermal Resources Council in 2015), I want to switch gears and focus on writing my new-adult fiction novels.

I feel a calling in life to help other people. My goal in writing new-adult fiction is to talk about struggles that other people face, but that they are too ashamed to talk about. There is no shame in anybody’s struggles, regardless of whether or not they are “big” or “small,” or regardless of what those struggles even are to begin with. I want people who are struggling and suffering to know that they are not alone out there, that other people go through similar situations as they are, and that there is a way out of those situations to the other side.

I can’t wait until my novels are published. I know that I can impact a great many lives with my writing and that my writing can help to make other people’s lives better. I am still putting the final touches on my first novel, but stay ‘tuned for more updates about that!

Submissions

Hello everyone! It has been a crazy few months, but let me fill you in on all the exciting things I’ve been up to.

First, I completed a second round of revisions for my scientific article. I just finished these last week. I’m not sure how many rounds of revisions there will be before my article gets published, but IJES is very prestigious and thus there might be more revisions to complete in the future.

That being said, the revisions I made in this last round resulted in a very cohesive piece. The article now reads very well, being both concise and informative. So hopefully this set of revisions will be the last before publication, but we will see!

After I submitted my article revisions, I started working again on polishing up my novel. I actually found a new place to submit my novel unsolicited! From my preliminary research, the publisher seems to offer good contracts to their authors, so I figure it’s worth a shot!

Before I submit, I am going through the novel again to make sure that everything is on-point. I have to say, I am really digging this intro with the prologue! It’s funny how when you put something away for a few months and then work on it again, you can see it more clearly with fresh eyes for what it is. This opening works very well!

Last night I polished up the introductory frame, so now I’m working more on the middle section. From the part I read last night, the work I had done a few months ago really paid off! You would never have guessed that the main character had sounded flat at one point. Now she has a really strong voice and a lot of attitude (lol).

Anyway, with the long weekend ahead I am going to work on my novel as much as possible. I will submit very soon! I foresee lots of coffee in my future as I prepare my manuscript. 😀

Article Revisions

Hi everyone! Sorry to have gone MIA for the past few months. I have been working diligently on my revisions for my scientific article that will be published in the IJES special geothermal edition that is due out in 2017.

The good news is, I’m done (yay!). Well, almost. Tomorrow I need to read through everything one last time before I submit. Also, I need to update my annotated list of corrections with the most current info.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with scientific article revisions, here is what happens. After the article is submitted to the journal, two or three reviewers edit the article. They then provide you with a list of corrections that you must fix within the article. In addition, you must provide an annotated list of corrections that addresses every issue raised by the reviewers; here, you must list either your correction or your rebuttal, if applicable.

So, scientific revisions can take a long time. I decided to tackle the revisions by going through the list of corrections methodically, item by item, and then updating the annotated list as I went along. Some things were quick fixes (such as changes in semantics/word choice, deleting sections, etc.), but others took much longer (such as figuring out how to make a new map when your student edition of the software has already expired).

That last one was fun. Luckily, I remembered that ESRI has an online version of GIS on their website. The information I needed to include in the map was easily found on the online version, so I just did the map that way. The downfall of doing the map online is that you have no control over editing the symbols or colors in the legend or in the map itself (#GISCertNerdProblems). Unfortunately, this was a choropleth map that used varying shades of color to symbolize different categories… yet the online version decided to make the colors into shades of yellow. Yellow! Also, it chose some funky pastel purple color to represent electrical lines. I had to work some Photoshop magic and enlist the help of others with better Photoshop skills than me to help me out of this one. At least the end result shows very nice shades of red for the choropleth part and a solid green color for the power lines.

Anyway, aside from the map SNAFU, the rest of the revisions went pretty smoothly. The revisions that took the longest had to do with fixing issues with the actual content, rather than fixing syntax issues. Once I made my way through the list of revisions, I then went back and edited the article as a manuscript. This took me a bit more time to figure out, because I ended up having to combine two sections together for improved clarity. Finally though I did figure it out and it turned out great!

That’s about it for now. Once I submit my revised article, then I can go back to working on polishing up my novel. I figured out that I can get a lot of writing done if I bring my Surface to work and use my lunch break to write, so I’m going to continue to do that and make more progress!

Be Master Of Your Query

As some of you already know, I am currently seeking a literary agent to represent me and my work. Once I land an agent, he or she is then going to pitch my novel to the Big Six (Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, Hachette) and negotiate a deal for publication. Most authors– myself included– dream that one day, their work will be published among the Big Six. I figured that now is the time for me to turn this dream of mine into a reality, so I say bring it!!

Before querying literary agents, it is essential to do your research. This includes finding out 1) the attributes that agents generally look for in their clients, 2) the places that you can find an agent whose goals are similar to your own, 3) the points that you should include in your query letter, and 4) the qualities that will make your sample pages captivating.

For anyone who is just beginning this process like I am, it can be very daunting. What I would recommend is that you check out all the tools available to you online to find out as much about the process as you can.

I would also recommend checking out Writer’s Digest, because they have already helped me out a lot with this process. I just completed a WD boot camp about finding literary agents that was filled with a lot of invaluable information. Similarly, I just bought some WD books about literary agents, which I can only imagine are going to be filled with lots of informative and helpful information.

Equally important to doing your research is to read your work again with fresh eyes. You need to be able to self-identify your own weaknesses so that you can improve yourself as a writer. Before this boot camp, I had let my manuscript sit for 8 months or so without even looking at it or playing with it once. When I then went back and read it again with clear eyes, a few things jumped out at me as being my weaknesses:

  1. Weak overall story structure,
  2. Overly-detailed back story, and
  3. Telling instead of showing.

My novel has a kind of a unique story structure called “the frame.” Essentially what this means is that there is a story within a story, similar to the movie Titanic or The Princess Bride. The majority of the novel occurs within the inner story of the past, but it is “framed” by the aftermath in the present time.

Because the “frame” is not very common, it needs to be pulled off with grace and confidence. It needs to work very well, by really adding validity to the inner story. In my case, that would involve clearly depicting the change in the protagonist’s character, to create a “before and after” effect that resulted from the past events.

Another thing that I noticed was that my transition from the start of the “end frame” into the actual ending of the novel is not believable. I need to somehow think of a more believable way to shift gears at the end so that I can still achieve my surprise ending.

Getting into the overly-detailed back story bit, I clearly have too much back story inside the novel for it to just be one novel. Because of this, right now I’m in the process of cutting some of it out and turning it into a prequel (or 2, or 3…)! As I’m doing this, I need to make sure to leave in some parts of the back story that are absolutely essential for enhancing the plot of the current novel. I’m also trying to leave in some of the parts that will give the reader a little bit of a taste of the prequel(s).

For those of you who don’t already know, it is generally not a good idea to have a lot of detailed back story in your novel. If you have too much back story in your novel, then your reader can easily become annoyed that the plot is not advancing quickly enough and can soon become bored. So therefore, it is best to avoid this as much as possible.

Lastly, there is the problem of telling instead of showing. I remember struggling with this concept of “show, don’t tell” that my teachers would always stress in English class growing up. Along the way, I have learned to “show” by using very active, personifying language as well as by using other literary devices like similes and metaphors. Furthermore, I have learned to “show” by describing the characters’ appearances or by describing the landscape setting.

However, there is always room for improvement! What I just discovered is that it actually works extremely well to describe the character’s body language! For instance, instead of just saying that a character lied, you can show that the character lied by describing how his eyes shifted and how his feet shuffled while he spoke. You can also show that a character is anxious and insecure by describing how she is trembling and how she has her hands stuffed all the way inside of her pants pockets. Ingenious!

Anyway, it is really important to identify your own flaws as a writer. I know that doing so will not only help me land a literary agent, but that it will also help me become that 1% better at writing.

Welcome!

Hello everyone! Welcome to my website. Feel free to sit back, relax, and make yourself a cup of coffee. Or three.

My name is Caitlin Hartig; I am a new-adult fiction writer who is transitioning from a scientific background. Just last May, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Geology (Geothermal Energy) from University of North Dakota. In May 2013, I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Geosciences from Penn State University. My research has been published in several scientific journals.

As far as fiction goes, I specialize in novels and short stories. My first novel, Smash, has been completed and is awaiting publication. My first short story, Blue Sparkles, has also been completed and is awaiting publication.

Though primarily in the new-adult genre of fiction, my work contains elements of dystopia and dark romance. My writing style has been described as raw, explicit, intense, and dramatic.

In this blog, I will share information about my search for literary agents, my publication information, and of course my writing samples. Stay tuned!