Sunday, October 29, 2017

My blankie

It isn't a blankie, per se.  It's books.  I have found that being surrounded by books has a significant positive effect on my mental and emotional well-being. 

I have a bookcase full of books to my left at my new desk.  I will have one to my right soon enough.  Both in my peripheral vision while I'm at my desk working (which is actually a lot of the time, now).

At the old house, we had 400 sq. ft. smaller of an area to work with.  We had three bedrooms, one living space, an eat-in kitchen, and a utility room/pantry.  One wall on the living room had bookcases (not very tall), one wall had storage cubbies, and one had the TV and DVDs.  Our bedroom held the majority of books that weren't in storage.

I love my children dearly.  I love my children enough that I gave up having a library so that the pixie and imp didn't have to share a bedroom. 

That actually put something like 3/4 of our books in storage.

Those are slowly being brought back out.  The low bookcases that were in the living room now reside one each in the kids' rooms.  Because their grandpa made them.  We have a 3 shelf bookcase in the family room with kids' books in it, a knock together 5 shelf (modified with an extra from one that fell apart), a similar quality 4 shelf one (that will likely move to the master bedroom in a few months), and two solid wood hand made 6 shelf bookcases.  Every one is packed with books, and most of our books are still in boxes in the garage. 

By the time this room is finished, we will have three bookcases full of books on the long wall with the doorway, and maybe five on the opposite wall.  The short wall shared with the family room has four big pass through openings from waist high to about a foot from the ceiling, and the outside wall has a huge window overlooking the front yard, road, and trees across the road.  And this is where my desk is set. 

For the past three and a half years, I've taught my classes in the university library.  Even though I'm not surrounded by books in the classroom, the smell pervades.  It grants a level of peace and serenity that I otherwise wouldn't have had.  For the past seven years, I've been without the majority of books at home, because until we found and purchased this beautiful place, we simply didn't have the room.

Well, that, and we didn't trust the kids (particularly the pixie) to not climb the bookcases.

But now, the kids are older (and taller, and know where the step-stools are), and we do have the room.  It may take a while (and a LOT of work), but my library is being rebuilt with solid wood replacing particle board.*

*The bookcases we had made of particle board were sagging, breaking pegs, and listing under the weight of the load of books on their shelves.  I'm glad to have solid wood ones going in.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

...and CreateSpace is back.

Good thing, too.  I'm not unhappy with the quality of Amazon's print on demand paperbacks, but I'm not happy with it, either.  It's several steps below CreateSpace--standard pulp fiction paper. 

Yes, that means I got my copy.  I'm also not happy with that process.  Where CreateSpace permits for author copies to be ordered, Amazon does not.  You have to pay full list price for one of your books. 

I admire Amazon for making the effort, but the effort falls far short of what it should turn out.  And doesn't make things simple for authors at all

Monday, October 23, 2017

Now available in Kindle:

(And yes, I have set it available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited--just like all of my other books--for those of you who are curious, but don't want to shell out a few bucks to buy them)

This went live last night.  My cover artist is on Facebook, paints a lot, and sells her work.  If you're interested in looking her up, her name is Rhonda Palmer.

I fully credit Dorothy Grant with the cover copy/description of the book.  Mine sucked.  Big time.

I am getting back to writing The Schrodinger Paradox.  I know exactly where it's going, and may have part 3 done before the end of the month.  Maybe.  I also have papers coming due as of tomorrow. 


So, since I am finishing out my final few weeks of my last semester, I've come to a few realizations.  Realization the first: I am sick of academia.  Last week, there was a Hijab Day on campus.  The Muslim Student Association hosted a series of presentations lying about what the function of the garment was for the culture, and how it was a choice to wear it.  They also had scarves and Muslim girls to teach the Western girls how to wear them, and selfie booths.  They complained, the day after, about how few people bought their bullshit were interested in what they had to say/try on the mark of being considered subhuman. 

I also have to walk on eggshells grading the papers of minorities, or trying to get anyone to question their assumptions (or even admit that there are unstated assumptions underlying claims that may make them absolutely the opposite of persuasive to those who do not share those assumptions). 

I am, and have been, sick of the atmosphere on campus for years, now.  I'm sure that the Soviet Union was worse, but only because they'd actually kill you for holding a dissenting opinion (though I'm sure Berkley would like to head in that direction). 

Realization the second: my Office suite comes to me through the university.  I may have to either switch to Open Office, despite not liking it nearly as well, or hope that I can continue using it for a while.  Because I can't buy a copy right now. 

Realization the third: One of the reasons I've not been writing is that I simply didn't have the energy, mental, emotional, or spiritual, to write.  The other is that I was so damn miserable that I was reading instead of writing, retreating into places other than the one I was in.  Part of that was the awful health problems (not resolved, but mitigated, and managed to the extent they could be), part was the horrid neighbors that moved in next door in '15, and part was dreading going back at the start of each semester.

Realization the fourth: Teaching takes a lot more out of me than I thought it did.  I'm capable of doing a lot more if I am not also in front of a classroom for six hours a week, interacting with students.  I don't know if it's the social interaction draining me, or if it's the way I teach (active, all over the classroom, and hanging over shoulders during group and individual worktime, monitoring how my students are doing and offering suggestions and help). 

Realization the fifth: I can be writing a LOT with it set as my fulltime "job."  I can do around 1500 words per hour.  If the story's coming well, I can do somewhere around 4-6K words per day, before I'm fried.  And my endurance may climb after a while.  And I've got work enough for a while--I have a LOT of ideas I just haven't had time or energy to develop. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A thought...

I've been noting a lot of noise surrounding Weinstein and his treatment of women.  More to the point, his assaults.  There've been a LOT of people coming forward, admitting that they've been harassed, molested, and/or raped.  It isn't just women, either--it's women, men, and children.  And from the sounds of it, it's endemic in the industry. 

Everyone knows of how Roman Polanski raped a thirteen year old girl, then flipped her over and raped her ass when she was afraid to fight him off for fear that she'd never be able to fulfill her dream of acting and told him she wasn't on the pill.  He ignored her protests, ignored her saying no, and forced himself on a child.

And Whoopi Goldberg said it wasn't "rape, rape," because she didn't fight. 

Several years ago, Corey Haim committed suicide.  Because he was repeatedly raped in his teens by directors he didn't name.  Corey Feldman almost self-destructed with drugs and alcohol for the same reason.  He still doesn't name them, but unlike all of  these other victims coming out as victims, he explained why.

It's not because he's afraid he'll never work in Hollywood again (he doesn't anymore; why would he be afraid of that?). 

It's because his predators have made it absolutely clear to him that, should he name names, they'll take him to court for defamation of character. 

They'd win, too.  They still have HUGE amounts of money rolling in.  They feel safe from being investigated, much less charged and/or convicted. 

The individuals howling for actors of all ages and sexes to name names either don't know this, or they don't care that the victims would be harmed again, would have to relive that trauma again during the lawsuits, would still lose, and all at the hands of the predators that had hurt them in the first place.

Now that the dust has settled...

"Bar Tabs" has been out for a week and a half.  And The Godshead came off the free promo as of midnight.  Stats look...surprisingly good,* considering few people actually read or like mythology.  I've got the one book I'm doing the final edits on, and have plans for one last one in the works (and a few stories scribbled down for that one), but then I'll likely do nothing more than the occasional short story in the Modern Gods universe. 

Let me get Fire and Forge all wrapped up and published (thanks again to the utterly magnificent Dorothy Grant for the help with the hardest part of the process), and we'll see what else I can get finished this month.

*"Bar Tabs" sold 7 copies outright, with another 4 copies read through KU.  I gave away a whopping 73 copies of The Godshead.  And a couple of my other, older books purchased or started as a KU read. 

Dorothy Grant is brilliant.

I hate writing the bit that goes on the back cover of a paperback.  I can never get it done quite right.  I'm always afraid I'm giving away what other people would consider spoilers, so I end up not saying enough. 

Dorothy Grant recently wrote a piece over at a blog I'm fairly fond of reading when I've got the processing capacity to spare (as I often don't) that gets into the nitty-gritty of writing and publishing fiction.  The piece she wrote was about how to write what goes on the back cover.  And she graciously helped those of us who have trouble with such.

Including me.

I'll be fiddling with it a little, but the hard part is done. 

Now to just finish up the last two edits...

Monday, October 16, 2017

My desk is already a mess.

I cannot claim complete credit for that, however.  I've had help.  Furry help.  Playing "fuck that thing" with my pens and coasters, flopping and knocking off the phone charger...shoving stuff around so they can situate their furry bodies where and how they want to.  Tipping my chair over backwards.  Flopping on my keyboard while a document's open. 

I have an idea for the keyboard thing, but the rest is going to take organizers.  And a chair that fits the desk well enough I can open the drawers and use them. 

It's also going to be a bit of a fight for a while keeping my desk to myself.  The imp just loves it.  I've promised him that, when he's older and willing to get his toys out of the way, he can have his own student's desk in his room.  I'm pretty sure one can be fit in pretty easy, but not with everything else he has in there.  He'll just have to make do with doing his homework on the library table. 

Might could get him a wee bit more comfortable of a chair, though.  I swear, the one office chair I had was designed by Torquemada. 

In any case, both workspaces in the library have need of a "fuck that thing" resistant organizer.  And maybe some double stick tape, or friction backing. 

In the meantime, all I want is a comfy chair for my work desk, a footstool (because I'm short and my feet would be dangling), and something for my pens that the cats can't knock around.

And it needs to be good sized.  Because I've got at least a dozen pens I use on a regular basis.  And most of THOSE aren't small (2 Conklin Duragraphs, 1 Conklin crescent fill, 4 Jinhao 599s, a Lamy Safari, a TWSBI Eco, a TWSBI Diamond AL in turquoise, and hopefully a second in clear, a couple Parkers, and a lever fill pen older than my mother, judging by the placement of where the clip should go on the cap, of indeterminate make that has one of my all-time favorite nibs to write with). 

And yes, all of those pens DO have different colors of ink in them.  Why else have so many inked up for use?

I already have a set I want for me bookmarked.  Now I just need to find something that will work for the kids. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

That was...intense.

Yesterday, I wrote that I had found and bought a desk on Friday.  Yesterday, I set up on it with my laptop, a chair that's too short and won't slide into the knee-hole, and got to work copy editing Fire and Forge.  I actually got 202 of 208 pages (single spaced, MS Word, not quite 92K words) copy-edited.  I was at my desk for about seven hours straight, working with only bathroom breaks and snuggle the kids before bed breaks. 

I have little doubt that I'll do similar when I'm writing.  I wonder what my productivity will look like without the wariness of looking over my shoulder every little bit during office hours, with music on the stereo, with an actually comfortable chair...because without those things, I'm capable of getting about 1.5K words per hour. 

I am going to go through the printed draft I have with a pen and see where I can tighten language here, or add a little bit there, to make it a stronger book.  That should be finished by the end of next week, at the latest. 

Then, I'll start through the publishing process. 

This week will be a short and semi-easy one.  Monday and Tuesday classes are cancelled altogether for Fall Break.*  Thursday is peer editing day for paper 3.  Two and a half hours of class, and two hours of office hours.  Yeah, will probably be done by Friday, and starting the publishing process.

(In the meantime, Amazon just recommended "Bar Tabs" to me.)

I'm kinda planning to see how much writing I can get done.  Gonna start a project in November, after I finish up two others (and have Fire and Forge published) and see if I can finish it in the same month. 

*One of my students suggested, and I agree, that it would have been more convenient for everyone if the university had just given us a week at Thanksgiving, rather than two days in October, and three in November, to match Spring Break. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I have a desk!!!

Odysseus played hookey from work, yesterday (he took the first day off he's had off since...I think May our anniversary at the beginning of July, as he reminded me).  We got our address changed with the Department of Revenue (MO's DMV).  Was much less work, and much less painful than we were expecting.  They printed up a change of address card and taped it to the back of the license--I think partially because MO is moving toward the RealID BS embraced by the rest of the country (Papers, please...).

I'd also decided what I'd wanted to do in our library in front of our picture window looking out over the front yard and the trees across the road: I decided I wanted a desk.  One with, preferably, filing cabinet drawers.  I wanted to find the one I wanted so that I had a goal to save towards.

I found, instead, a desk made perhaps in the 1950s.  It's about 3 1/2 to 4' wide, maybe 18-20" deep, and a little shorter than modern desks.  Not by a lot, but definitely by a little.  The drawers are NOT wide enough OR deep enough to be filing cabinet drawers, but I have three on each side of the knee hole, and a pen drawer in the middle.  The veneer is gone on one of the front parts of the legs, and is trying to come off of one of the drawers, and another one of the drawers is missing its drawer pull.

The knee hole is a tight 18" wide.  Finding a comfortable desk chair is going to be a challenge.

I have found one, I think.  It's going to cost double what the desk did ($27 from one of our two local DAV thrift stores).  The desk organizer set I want is going to cost almost half what we paid.  Desk organizer plus blotter will probably overshoot what the desk cost by a few bucks.

But I do have a desk.  For the first time in more than a decade, I have a desk of my own. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Well, now...

I got an email, last week, from the head of the English department of the university I work for.  "We regret to inform you that, due to a really tight schedule, we don't have any classes for you to teach in the spring semester.  We'll keep you in mind if we need to open more sections."

God's looking after me. 

I've known for the past year and a half that I can't be a good wife, good mother, good teacher, and write.  I've known for the past year that I can't be a good wife and mother as well as a good teacher.  I wouldn't have quit, but my standards for taking care of my family were sliding.  And my health was getting harder to manage a decent balance with.  And my mental well-being was slipping with the lack of writing. 

It's not an issue anymore.  Took a push, but I am not worried (much) about it.  I'll miss the classroom, and I'll miss the students, but I sure won't miss the atmosphere or the grading. 

(I now know what the constant fear of someone reporting something you say as wrongthink feels like.  Academia apparently thought Orwell's 1984 was a How-To manual for controlling people's very minds.  And the university where I work is nowhere near as bad as many others.)

Teaching is a HUGE energy drain.  It's actually more of an energy drain to teach two classes than it is to do three household chores (dishes, laundry,* picking up clutter throughout the whole house) AND do shopping.  Takes longer to recover from, and that's before you add in the grading...which is an energy drain in a different way.  I just...can't do it anymore.  And I fully admit that.  I also fully admit that without the energy drain of teaching, without that weight of dreading the next set of grading, I may well have an easier time of recovering--maybe even to the point of the CFS going into remission. 

If I am offered a couple of sections at the last minute, I'll likely take them.  It is going to be a stretch, financially not teaching--we can manage, but I'd like a little more of a pad, so I'd take the sections.  But I do think it'll be the last classes I'd take. 

*Laundry means getting the load back and into the washer, then into the dryer, then going for another load into the washer. As current energy expenditures stand, I can't move stuff from the washer to the dryer--wet clothes are heavy--and have enough left in my energy budget to do ANYTHING else. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Free for the weekend

Actually, for the next 5 days: today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Why?  Because Fire and Forge (third Modern Gods book) will be up before the end of the month in Kindle and paperback (and yes, I'll let everybody know how I'm finding the paperback publishing interface as compared to CreateSpace's). 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Writing news...

So, last night, I got off my ass and published "Bar Tabs." I've set it to be available through Kindle Unlimited, so if you subscribe to that, it's free to read. 

I also, with my darling, brilliant husband's help, got the cover art for Fire and Forge scanned in.  I started messing about with CreateSpace, since that's what I used for the previous two...but it messed the bed and wouldn't bring up the page I needed to create the cover. 

I noticed, whilst getting "Bar Tabs" set to go on Kindle, that Amazon now offers an option for publishing as a I'll be going that route with Fire and Forge

I'm doing one last, final edit, and trying--not succeeding, mind you, but trying--to come up with a cover blurb. 

This is what the cover artist came up with for the book:

Awesome, isn't it?  It's going on the wall when Odysseus gets home from work. 

To celebrate both the short story, and finally getting the scanner set up and linked up with the new laptop,* I'm setting The Godshead as a free promo, starting Thursday, and running through Monday.  If you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, it's free, anyway. 

*My cover artist took a while on this.  She had a lot of absolute and utter shit dropped in her lap just after I'd asked her to do this.  I didn't begrudge any of the time it took her to actually create this.  When she got it to me, my scanner had just shit the bed, big time.  And then my health took a huge hit (no, it hasn't recovered, but I've learned to live with it).  Then, we moved.  And my laptop quit working, requiring the purchase of a new one with Windows 10, and it and the scanner had to be talked through negotiations before they'd work together.