Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: August 2012

Good Things

I had a chance to sit down and do some math, and my future’s looking a little rosier than I originally thought. If I’m guesstimating my take-home pay from the new job correctly, I won’t need to put in as many additional freelancing hours as I expected, so it shouldn’t be quite so difficult to make time for writing, editing and publishing. These things will take a little longer, but they’ll still get done. Hooray!

Also, I started a short story this weekend. Actually, I started it in my head about a week ago, after posting the following on my Facebook author page:

I have these recurring dreams about an amusement park. It’s in a remote location down a scarcely-traveled highway riddled with various obstacles, nestled deep in the woods, and there’s always something vaguely otherworldly about the place. The otherworldly elements change from dream to dream, but the park is always the same, laid out the same way, with the same rides and the same people making up the staff. These dreams are always so vivid and specific that I always wake up from them trying to remember if this is an actual place my parents took me to when I was a kid, but as far as I know it’s totally a product of my imagination.

Last night I had another dream about the park, but in this dream the park had closed down and all of the rides had been removed. The building at the front with the ticket counters still stood and had been turned into a museum about the park, and the surrounding area was turned into a nature preserve. The museum part contained weird artifacts, like mummified fairy corpses and shrunken heads. The abandoned grounds were crawling with tourists and former staff, lamenting the park’s closing and sharing nostalgic stories about past visits there. It was really kind of heartbreaking.

I just wish I could remember the name of the park — it has a specific name which is the same in every dream, but I’ve been wracking my brain all day and can’t recall it. I really want to set a story there.

It had been percolating all week, and on Saturday I gave in to the urge to start writing it. I’m already about 2,5oo words in, and I expect it to come out at around 15,000 (all of my short stories are either flash fic under 500 words, or novelettes over 10,000 — I never seem to land in between, for some reason). It’s turning out to be a bit of a mash-up between the dream and other spooky things that have been eating my brain lately, including some creepy pasta (Candle Cove, in particular) and the Slender Man mythos.

It shouldn’t take too long to finish, after which I plan to release it free with a  preview of Dominion in the back. Of course, you can read it before everyone else if you sign up to my mailing list.

Yes, I have a mailing list now. More on that in a later post.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve just written (as opposed to editing), and it always amazes me how much happier I am when I’m writing. Think maybe that’s a good sign that I need to take more control of steering my life toward doing it full-time? Well, that’s the plan. It’s going to be a long, tough road to get there, but I’m confident that I will get there, eventually. I just need to be patient and not let myself keep getting knocked off course.

Employed.

Welp, I got the job.

I start Tuesday, and there’s a lot to do between now and then, and I’m a little overwhelmed and paralyzed with indecision right now, honestly. I didn’t really expect to get an offer, and I was already making plans for my business and my writing as though I wasn’t getting it, so now I’ve got to switch gears and shift some plans around.

Part of my plans involved setting a definitive release date for Dominion and publicizing the heck out of it and pre-selling copies to help me pay for all of the stock images I’ll be using on the cover, but I guess I need to hold off on that until I figure out how to squeeze writing and editing (and publishing and book marketing) in between working full-time and continuing to freelance on nights and weekends. I might need to just put the book and the writing on hold until we get some debt paid off and I can start to taper off on the freelancing.

I know I’m sounding less than enthused about going back to work, which is not accurate, because I’m excited about this job. It’s just that I actually made some time this week for editing and writing and laying the groundwork for a publicity campaign for Dominion, and while doing all of that I’ve felt happier than I have in a long time. So the prospect of having to back-burner all of that is bumming me out a little. But maybe I won’t have to. Maybe I can figure out a way to fit it in with a little more juggling. I’m sure that once I get used to the new routine it will be easier to see where to slot it all into my schedule.

But all of that aside: I got a job, you guys! A job doing code and writing copy and not doing anything at all secretarial! Yaaaaaay! And the dress code appears to be on the more casual end of “business casual” so I don’t have to go further into debt to get a new work wardrobe. I’ll have to pay for downtown parking at first, but in a few weeks the office is moving to a new location that will have plenty of free parking. And they don’t open till 9 AM, so I don’t have to get up super early. And it’s only a 10 to 15 minute commute each way.

This is going to be a good job. Yay!

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The long wait between new updates for Marble Hornets left me flailing about a few Sundays ago, scouring Youtube for a Slender Man fix (but not yet willing to commit to one of the other Slender Man series, because the last thing I needed was another thing to obsess over and eat up all my time). And somehow I landed on The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, which A) has nothing to do with Slender Man and B) instantly became a new thing to obsess over and eat up all my time.

Hi there, irony! Won’t you have a seat?

Something always happens with me this time of year. We get into the dog days of summer, and the weather is nasty hot, and I start yearning for fall like whoa. And then I start craving good ghost stories, because they put me in mind of Halloween and my favorite month of the year. So it’s no wonder that when I stumbled onto this little gem of a vlog about a teenage girl and her mom and the scary, paranormal goings-on in their house, it really hit the spot, and suddenly I couldn’t get enough.

The series is broken up into “seasons,” each with its own story arc. Like any show, some seasons are better than others, but they’re all pretty entertaining.  The current season (which I believe is the sixth or seventh) seems to be struggling a little to find its way, especially in the wake of a rather disappointing end to the prior season’s plot line, which was building to a pretty cool climax that would have taken the show into a really interesting direction before it suddenly got dropped in rather anti-climactic fashion. I can only guess that the direction they were headed in would have outstripped their budget and resources, so they had to re-think a few things. But regardless, Sunshine Girl remains entertaining, primarily because at it’s core it’s about the mother-daughter relationship and how they stick together to weather all the weirdness in their lives; and besides, the sometimes erratic storytelling fits better with the conceit that this is a reality vlog about real people experiencing real hauntings.

But it is, in fact, a work of fiction, despite the many, many YouTube commenters who insist it’s all real and will cut you if you dare to suggest otherwise. The brainchild of Coat Tale Productions, they set out to make Sunshine Girl a sort of Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity, and I think they’ve succeeded quite nicely. I think part of what makes it work so well is it’s rather unique nature as a blend of fiction and reality. The hauntings and situations are made up and plotted out in advance and the characters are played by actors, but the dialogue is entirely unscripted; the mother and daughter are such in real life and are basically playing themselves, so all that chemistry between them is real.

So is it scary?  Sometimes. I’d say not as deeply unsettling as Marble Hornets, but there are some genuinely creepy moments that might come back to haunt you when you’re lying in the dark. Otherwise, it’s good, clean fun, and its star, the bubbly Sunshine Girl, is about as engaging and charming a heroine as you’re likely to find.

Cover Wars! Again.

All righty, gang, I finally found the time to re-redo my cover for Dominion. To refresh everybody’s memory, here is the clear favorite from the last round of cover voting:

 

And here’s the latest version, which pretty much goes in a completely different direction:

 

And to help you decide which fits best, here’s the synopsis:

When the unimaginable happens and the dead come to life to roam the earth in search of human flesh, Hannah Jordan and her infant brother Noah take refuge in their family’s backyard bomb shelter. Months later, they emerge to find a world still overrun by zombies and ruled by vampires. These new self-styled “protectors” of humanity keep their food supply “safe” inside interment camps all over the world.

Hannah and her brother are quickly rounded up and taken to such a camp, where Noah is taken as a hostage to keep Hannah in line; but in this stark new reality, infants like Noah are a rarity. He draws the attention of vampire Alexandr Konstantin, a doctor, scientist and lone champion of human rights who wants to use Noah’s pure, untainted blood in his vaccine research. Alek pulls strings to take Hannah and Noah back to his own camp at an abandoned Army base, where humans live in safety and co-exist with vampires in peace.

For a little while, life is good. But when the ruling class of vampires decide they like things the way they are, they order Alek to shut down his research, and his commune, and turn those under his protection over to the interment camps. As Alek, Hannah and the commune’s other residents prepare to do battle to defend their home, a breach in the base’s fence lets the zombie horde into the camp. As all hell breaks loose around them, can Alek and Hannah develop that vaccine in time to give what remains of humanity a fighting chance? And if they do, what will it cost them?

Genre: Horror/Urban Fantasy (NOT YA)

Right, then. What say you, dear reader?

By the way, if you’re on Facebook you can also vote for your favorite cover version on my Facebook author page (which I don’t need to ask you guys to like because you’ve totally already done so, right?).

 

The Interview

Well, yesterday I had my job interview at the web & marketing agency. It seemed to go well — they liked my quirky personality and my writing and editing background, but they were less than enthused about my lack of solid programming experience. They said I still have a shot, but they need to weigh the pros and cons of having someone on staff who can write and edit copy but is only really half a programmer, vs. someone who’s really good at programming and can dive right in to their big queue of projects that need to be coded. Which is understandable.

The place had a fun, geeky-hipster vibe and it did feel like a great fit, personality-wise, and they’re getting ready to move into an office in the hipster/yuppie district of downtown that sounds like my dream office. And I would definitely have plenty of opportunity to grow my skills as a developer. The starting pay is less than I was hoping for, but there would be opportunity for raises as I increase my skills and prove myself, and they’re cool with me continuing to freelance on the side for extra income as long as I don’t do it on company time or with company equipment (natch).

The only real con that’s making me hesitant about it is that they don’t have a group insurance plan. They do help cover premiums for individual plans, but we were really hoping for a group plan. I’d like for there to at least be an option for maternity coverage if I ever need it, for one thing, and Matt really wants to get off of Medicare before it goes all to heck. So on that count, I’m a little torn as to whether I should just keep looking. But in all other respects this sounds like a dream job, so if I do get an offer I’ll most likely take it.

I’ll be pretty surprised if I do get an offer, though. They still had two or three more candidates to interview, and it’s pretty likely that at least one of those will be more qualified than I am. If I don’t get it, at least now I have a better idea of what web-industry hirers in this town are looking for, and which areas I need to focus on in expanding my knowledge and skills. Now I just need to carve out some time to practice and build up my portfolio in those areas. Yay, yet something else I need to cram into my overflowing schedule!

To that end, I actually wrote out a weekly schedule, and gave myself Tuesday and Friday afternoons to work on my portfolio and learning new skills (I also gave myself a whole entire hour each morning for writing and editing–and was able to edit two entire chapters of Dominion this morning as a result. Yay!). Now if I can just make myself stick to the schedule and not get sidetracked, I’ll be all accomplishy and stuff.

Speaking of which, schedule says time’s up, get back to work. Anyway, thanks to everyone who sent me good wishes for the interview. Love!

I have a job interview! Plus, long ramblings about why this is a really good thing.

I haven’t done quite as well as I hoped at sticking to my 30-minutes-a-day editing routine. It’s more like 20 to 30 minutes every couple of days or so. But at least I’ve got some forward momentum again, however sluggish the pace.

Part of the problem here is that, when I turned down that full-time data entry job in favor of the contract web developer job, what I failed to take into consideration is that with a contract freelance job, you don’t get paid just for showing up to work like you do with an office job. You instead only get paid for the actual billable work that you do, and when you’re as prone to distraction as I am, and working at home where your husband is also home all day and he and the pets and the house all need attention throughout the day, it’s really, really difficult (I just typed “fiddicult” and had to redo it) to rack up eight solid hours of billable work each day. The best I’ve been able to do so far is five or six (and really, averaging more like four or five), which leaves me having to work weekends to make up my hours. Also, when projects get stuck waiting for client feedback or for the programmer to do whatever he needs to do before I can continue, I don’t get paid for that, either. So the contract job is keeping me full-time busy but only amounting to part-time pay, which just isn’t cutting it in the “paying the bills and stopping the hemorrhage of money and getting us back on top of our finances” department. And projects from my other freelance clients have all dried up. Basically, it’s a stressful situation all the way around, and not having time to edit is really the least of my worries right now. Le sigh.

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