14 Oct 2010, 9:33am
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I’ll be out of touch today.

In my day job, I’ll be in training most of the day (I believe). So I’ll be doing something I hate for an organization I don’t care about, and I’ll have to ignore everything that matters to me.

Ah, America! Your support for the entrepreneur never ceases to amaze.

Anyway, I’m way behind in my LiveJournal/blog reading, and I may be missing things. For the past few months, I’ve been thinking of my reading list as an obligation to the people I know online, but I may have to fall down on that obligation today.

Wish me luck in Insurance Verification.

Writing, Health Care, and Job Lock

I was going to write about this later, but I just had a woman cry on the phone to me about this, so I don’t want to put it off any longer.

I’m a writer. (No kidding, right? Check out the images of book covers all over my website.) As a pro, I get all sorts of things from Random House, my publisher: I get deadlines, and publication dates, and a smart editor who gives me fantastic notes, and a copyeditor who cares about the difference between “among” and “between”, and publicity, and front-of-store displays, and a beautifully-designed book (seriously, wait till you see the inside of GAME OF CAGES) and I get those covers. Did I mention the covers?

What I don’t get from Random House is health and dental benefits for my family. more »

12 Aug 2010, 6:02am
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Another training day today

I won’t be online much. Try to enjoy yourselves without me, somehow.

Today in day-job land…

Today I’m not going to be in the office. I have to report to another building across the city for training in some new software program we’re supposed to use in our new jobs.

Not that we’ve been hired for new jobs. They still have us in the dark on who will get hired and who won’t. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a job come Halloween, but no one in authority will confirm it for anyone.

I imagine that, if I act confused or unable to handle the new software, I won’t be offered a position in the new department; I’m looking at the training we’re getting today as part of the interview process. Never mind that I haven’t shaved in days–we can go to an “interview” with a few days’ growth, yeah?

Anyway, I don’t expect to be online much today. No twitter, LJ or blog comments. I’ll catch up to email during lunch and later this evening. Have a great day.

Dear Day: Whoa.

Today was tough. Day job was crazy–one of the clinics had a fire the night before. No one was hurt, but the doc in charge decided they would open to see patients anyway, never mind the ten foot hole in the roof or the fumes in every room that made people’s skin sticky.

They closed eventually, and will be closed for several days, but there were a lot of patients to call and reschedule. Yes, the phones have been crazy.

Also, I went to be early last night, woke up early, and started writing early. Sekrit Project 1 is nearly done–with luck, I’ll finish tomorrow and move on to the essays and interviews I have to do.

I’m still at skip=90 on LJ and I’ve barely looked at Twitter today. The book giveaway posts are already written and scheduled (for this week, at least) and the first book (the Pagels book about Satan) has been won. Tonight I’ll roll a die for Thieve’s Kitchen.

And now it’s time to catch a bus home. Supposedly, traffic accidents have blocked part of my neighborhood–I’m not sure the buses will be running. The Blue Angels have been buzzing downtown all day, so I’m planning to look up as I walk to my bus stop.

Oh, and have I mentioned that I have an ARC of DREADNOUGHT (Cherie Priest’s sequel to BONESHAKER) in my greedy little hands? I haven’t? Well, now you know to be jealous.

I’m off for home. Hope everyone has had a fantastic day.

Having a crappy day at the day job today.

People, when you call a company, sometimes the person who can help you is the first person who answers the phone. Don’t be rude to them and don’t try to blow by them to the person you think can help.

Anyway.

As much as I try (try!) to make this blog a not-specifically-about-writing blog, here’s two writing-related things:

First is Rob Sawyer’s post about the end of the full-time SF novelist, and John Scalzi’s reaction.

I’m still sifting through my thoughts on both men’s ideas. I’m a fantasy writer myself, which some people might consider a close, close cousin to “SF writer” but I doubt Mr. Sawyer would agree. So, my experience is not directly transferrable to his, since we write for different but somewhat-overlapping markets.

First of all, as I mentioned in the comments on Scalzi’s blog, health care is a huge issue. I would be a full-timer right now if I were a Canadian and had access to their Medicare system. I doubt I’ll even try to become a full-timer until the Affordable Care Act comes into play, and we all have a chance to see if it works.

Second, also mentioned in Scalzi’s blog, there are a lot of people who make their living off novels. The person who drives the truckload of books from the warehouse to the bookstore is one of them.

But for writers? There’s an awful lot of competition out there, and it’s getting more intense. Every time I see a 4 (out of 5) star review on Child of Fire, I feel like a minor leaguer. If I’m going to try for a career in writing, I need to max out the awesome scale as much as possible.[1] That’s the way to build readership, and that’s the way to maintain an active backlist.

Because it’s the backlist that does the heavy lifting. One of the lessons from Donald Maas’s free ebook on writing, The Career Novelist: A Literary Agent Offers Strategies for Success, was that the writers he represented who earned six-figure salaries didn’t do so with their advances, but with their backlists. That’s what I want, too.

But how much of Rob Sawyer’s concerns come from the recession rather than general publishing trends? Is the type of work he does going out of fashion? Should I dump a bucket of live bait over his head because he uses an offer of three grand for ten days of work as an example of why SF writers can’t write full time?

And for John Scalzi, he’s pretty clear that he’s coming onto the scene in a big way (he’ll become SFWA president tomorrow, among other things)–how will the market look for him in 15 years?

Great, I hope. And for Rob Sawyer, too. I hope the two of them become filthy millionaires, just like me. But Scalzi’s correct that few novelists ever get to quit their day jobs[2][3]; however, just pointing this out doesn’t speak to how many of them can do so in the future.

But this is a really bad time to be making predictions about the publishing industry. The recession is hurting a lot of folks right now, from readers to publishers to us writers, too. New delivery systems are gaining ground, and it’s still too early to judge how far they’ll penetrate the market, or how deeply. Urban fantasy is still doing well, but Christ, does that genre need to be shaken up and broken open.

On top of that, U.S. health care reform may make it possible for me to go full time with my writing. In fact, I’m hopeful that there will be a bunch of positive effects of the ACA, including a reduction in job lock, more new business startups, and more self-employed workers. How great would that be?

Which is just me saying that I want it and hope to get it. I suspect I’ll need to be way more prolific than I currently am, though.

Damn, wasn’t I supposed to talk about two writing-related things? This got a little long, so I’ll put that other topic off until the next post. Also: day job still crappy.

[1] Not that I need five stars from 100% of all readers who ever pick up my book; that would be crazy. I’ll settle for half.

[2] Why oh why didn’t I get a degree and a career back in college when I had the chance?

[3] Dean Wesley Smith talks about how many writers work full-time right now right here. Interesting stuff.

Day jobbing today

During yesterday’s lunch break I had to hustle all over downtown picking up things I needed (toner cartridge! new bed sheets! large envelopes! tickets to see my friend’s movie at SIFF!) and returned to the office a bit… misty.

All right, I was totally sweaty. Hey, I’m fat. It happens. (It used to happen before I was fat, too, but never mind).

So, self-conscious! Meeting with my boss in which I had to explain an error I made, while completely sweaty! A full afternoon spent fretting over body odor. Great day.

Last night, plans to shower were thwarted by a severe shortage of hot water. We didn’t even have luke warm water, dammit. I took an Irishman’s shower (I’m Irish–I’m allowed to make that joke) and went to bed early.

Which meant I woke up early. Hey, I had time for that shower now!

But hold on a minute. I was up early enough the catch the very first bus of the day. Taking the 5:20 instead of the 6:10 means I get an extra (mumble mumble carry the two) fifty minutes extra minutes of writing time. Do I take advantage of that extra writing time, or should do I make a concession to my co-workers’ delicate sensibility? Book or B.O.?

You know I chose book. No one has complained yet, but what the hell, some of these folks are heavy smokers, with all the stinkiness that implies. Plus, the person who sits closest to me claims they can’t smell me. I’m not worried about it.

I met and exceeded my daily word count goal, though.

Health and vision insurance

If my rent went up by 10 percent a year, that would be a horror show.

If my electric bill went up by 8.8 percent a year, I’d be rendering oils for my lanterns before the end of the decade.

But because these increases are happening in my vision and health care insurance (respectively), I’m supposed to be grateful, because those increases have been bartered down from 17%.

Even stranger, my supervisor and co-workers keep talking about how they “don’t know how much longer I’ll be sticking with my job” because hey! writer! As soon as I become rich enough, I’ll be ditching the old day job for self-employment! Any week now, right?

I kid you not, writing full-time is something I want so badly I can taste it. But if it takes a corporation to bargain down premium increases to “only” 8.8%, how am I going to afford insurance on my own, esp over the long term?

Real reform can’t come fast enough.

Settle an argument

There’s a certain movie that I think is Awesome Concentrate but that a certain co-worker claims is a piece of crap. I make no claims that it’s Oscar-worthy–it’s essentially a low-budget B-movie and the first ten minutes are excruciatingly awful–but it’s exactly the sort of thing I love.

For those among you who recognize the quote: “Don’t worry Dave, all we want to do is kill you,” [1] am I right, or am I right?

[1] No Googling! I’ll know.

Here I am

I’m sitting in Starbucks on a day when I’d normally be at Day Job. I’ve taken two days off this week to work on Man Bites World. Hopefully, I’ll have it close enough to done that I can send it to my agent on Saturday or Monday.

Research has been concluded (I hope). Internet squabble dabbled in.

Time to work.

4 Dec 2009, 2:04pm
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Offline

I’ve been offline all day because of malware on my office computer. Thanks for putting porn links on my work desktop, malware writers!

30 Jul 2009, 1:14pm
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OMG

I hate Microsoft Excel so much.

15 Jul 2009, 2:02pm
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Eeep!

This is me, spamming your feeds and lists…

One of my supervisors at my day job offered me a chance to do a reading. Here at work.

Here.

At work.

I… erm… thanked her and declined. I’d just as soon do a pole dance.

8 Jul 2009, 9:07am
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My work hates me

How do I know?  They have a giant cake and buckets of ice cream in the break room.

It’s like a slow motion hate crime against fat people.   :P

18 Jun 2009, 8:11am
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Three for Thursday

1) In about an hour, I’m going to have a yearly performance review for day job. Good thing I’m posting to the internet right now. (Update: not fired)

2) I wish I could find the spot in WordPress that would let me capitalize the first letter of my name. It’s so annoying seeing it that way. Of course I find it as soon as I post about it. Of course I do.

3) Last night, I asked my wife to sit down next to me and I said “I have to tell you something you’re not going to like.”

For most husbands, the next line would be something like “There’s this woman at work…” or “I spent the grocery money on a new Playstation” or whatever. My wife knows better. She knew it would be either about our son’s school or something I’d done to cause pain to my own self.

In this case it’s the latter. After being fine for 10 years, I’ve started having wrist pain again. When I told her, she immediately grabbed my arm and started working on me.

(Digression: One of the physical therapists in town has started telling people that my wife is one of the best massage practitioners in the state. The boy and I had the same reaction, separately: “Only the state?”)

She started to traction my wrist immediately, turning it this way and that, and the way it cracked as it released startled the hell out of me. Wrists shouldn’t do that. She also worked on my forearm for a while, and lemme just say that shit hurts. Yes, I’m a big wimp, but it still hurts like hell. She just about had me ready to confess to anything she wanted.

It’s better today, but I can still feel it. I see ice in my future.

Today, I pored over Everyone Loves Blue Dog, and accomplished nothing. Also, the book my wife gave me to read couldn’t be renewed. I had to strip out all her bookmarks and slip it into the conveyor belt at the library.

As for the LiveJournal feed for Nathan Bransford’s blog, it turns out that Mr. Bransford himself ask that it be suspended. I have no idea why; LJ syndication is just another kind of RSS, but whatever. No more “This Week in Publishing” I guess.

At work, I discovered that the intranet policy book pages I’d spent a good part of last week working on were completely useless now. The manager copy and pasted them into .mht files elsewhere on the network, breaking all the links. There were good reasons to move them to another part of the network–our system is criminally slow–but damn.

Finally, do you know what my company and I both pay, per month, for the basic health insurance my wife, son and I have? Not just what I contribute, but everything?

Over $1,600. Per month.

We need reform in this country, and we need it now.

Links! The Top 16 Worst Movie Quotes to Utter During Sex. Is it wrong of me to laugh so hard at this?

Next, another amazing animation, this one done with stop-motion. Sorta. Check it out.

Finally, tweenbots, a video art project via Jay Lake. His link described it as teh cute, but I think that misses the point. The really, really cool thing about this is that the robot is a cute, nearly helpless little thing that relies on complete strangers to help it get where it needs to go. Even if you can’t watch the video at that page, the write up is fascinating.

It seems that a lot of my posts lately have been straight link farms. I feel boring. Is there something I should post about? Something I said I would talk about but haven’t? Let me know.

Eight quick notes

One: my back is much better than it has been the last few days. I’m at the day job, I can move around pretty well, and I’m mostly sitting without pain. Yay for healing.

Two: So much for the rowing machine. I’ve been planning to take the rowing machine out of the back room into the living room (which is the only space big enough for it) but we just don’t have room. Salad Eater has pushed the TV in front of the fireplace and set up her easel, which makes me wildly happy even if she only gets to paint once a week, maybe twice. But there’s no room for the rowing machine out there; I have to let that plan go and do something else for my health. Thanks for the reminder, back pain. Better you than a heart attack or letter from my doctor about diabetes.

Three: Once or twice a week isn’t really enough for her. Once some other crap gets taken care of, we’ll figure ways for her to get more painting time.

Four: Still haven’t heard back about my proposal for Man Bites World and I haven’t gotten my notes for Everyone Loves Blue Dog. For a while, I stressed about this stuff, but at this point I’m going to shrug it off and write book three. It’ll come when it comes.

Five: Last night we made Alton Brown’s ginger ale recipe. It should be ready for tasting Saturday night. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

Six: You know how the economy slows down during a recession? It’s the same for doctors offices, too. The phones have been pretty slow–I guess people have been putting off their routine care.

Seven: On Tuesday, David Frum was on NPR (I know, I know, I forgot to post this earlier. Gimme a break!) to talk about Obama’s economic plan, the recession, and how conservatives can win back the majority in congress. His suggestion for regaining political power? Conservatives need to appeal to working class Americans again, and stop ignoring the wage stagnation of the past decade. His suggested fixes? Anti-immigration and deregulating health care Yeah, he wanted to deregulate. He said government over-regulation had made it impossible for a Sam Walton to create a nation-wide Wal-Mart of affordable health care.

These people are shameless. Worse, this sound bite of his was supposed to appeal to the working class, even though it’s the same old, same old. I guess it’s all about the marketing.

Eight: I’m reading one of Donald Westlake’s “Samuel Holt” novels, but mostly out of a sense of inertia. I’m in one of my book grouch phases; nothing satisfies me and nothing is interesting.

The not-fun day

I overslept this morning and missed my writing time. I’ll have to make it up tonight. Also, I’m at the day job. Also, I tweaked my back last night and now I’m walking around the office like igor.

Don’t expect much from me today, thanks.

 
  • The prequel to Child of Fire: see here for more details

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Starred review from Publishers Weekly

  • Named to Publishers Weekly's "Best 100 Books of 2009" list. Get the audiobook here.

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