Knowing My Place

Knowing My Place

Most of the time, I know my place. I love my place – it’s got hubby in it, and my kids, my cat, my relatives, my friends, a terrific garden and a comfy bed to snuggle into at night. It’s also got stuffed animals that like to greet me when I come home from a writer’s conference.

My welcome home from Desert Dreams – stuffed animals guarding an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne. Isn’t my hubby the sweetest?

But it’s taken me some time to get to this place. I stumbled across what I thought was a brand-new journal book and took it along to a new playwright’s workshop I take on Monday nights. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found notes from a scam possible job opportunity, back in May of 2010.

I read through my notes (which were substantial – I believe I went to a week’s worth of “training”). There was a lot of leadership stuff in there – really good leadership stuff, I might add, which I will re-read again. Plus there was a lot of manipulation stuff in there, too; which bugged me at the time. But it took actually trying to sell this stuff before I realized that this job was not for me, no matter how much money I could make doing it.

Which got me to thinking about another job I had, spanning four months, not many months before I checked into the scam other possible job opportunity. That was a real job, with a real paycheck and real expense reports and real work. I was good at it, too. By the fourth month, I knew what I was doing, I could handle the work with my eyes shut and hands tied behind my back, and I was absolutely and positively miserable. Part of the misery was some family issues that were happening, and I was far away from home each day. So when I quit – and that, in fact, has been the only job I have quit – I did so as politely as I could, telling them that I was needed at home and this job wasn’t the right fit for me. They tried to keep me but I held firm. More money wouldn’t have done it (and boy was I underpaid). I spent the next two weeks getting everything in order, making sure the people who were taking my accounts knew what was going on in each area, copying my boss on all the details. I didn’t want to be badmouthed about my work when I left, and I wanted to make sure that if I ever HAD to, I could go back.

I have thought about these two jobs quite a bit in the last few days. I knew I could have handled them both, but there comes a time when you should just back away. Just because you CAN do a job doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. Not at the expense of your own personal health and happiness, or how your mood affects your family.

Writing is a job. Luckily, I can and should and do write, and even though it can be difficult at times I never feel like I’m wearing ill-fitting clothes. I never feel out of place. I am never insanely miserable.

Writing, I’m happy to say, is my “place”. (So is my current day job, which I’m lucky to have and I’m grateful that it’s a good fit for my personality.)

Desert Dreams Booksigning

At Desert Dreams Booksigning, with a part of the Arizona contingent of the Ashworth clan. One of the good writing days! (The one that voids warranties is Young Son.)

I’m thinking young people today are trying to find their own “place” almost too quickly, thereby abandoning part of the journey to self discovery for “place”. Later, they wonder why they’re unhappy. Maybe choosing your “place” too young is a bad thing?

Or maybe not enough people are lucky enough to find their “place” early in life? I don’t know. But heck, I’m happy where I am.

I guess you could say I’m in my happy place, lol, every time I sit down to write or go to the day job. Yes, I count myself lucky!

I also know that I’m a strong, intelligent woman and I’m friends with other strong, intelligent women (and men). Amidst all the change and upheaval and births and deaths and angst and incredible happiness and terrible storms, it helps to remember we are all human. What divides is is minor compared to what should unite us. We are strong and breakable; we all live, love, laugh, cry, eat, sleep, dream, bleed and die, and the earth is our “place”. Right now, it’s the only earth we’ve got.

I guess I’ve said enough. I’ve got dinner to make and more words to write. Peace out, people – and remember to be gentle with each other, even when we may disagree. Hugs!

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

Dizzy in Today’s Publishing World

Dizzy in Today’s Publishing World

So, I just came back from the Desert Dreams conference, which was a wonderful experience (thanks to the Desert Rose chapter of RWA for a FABULOUS time!). I really want a partner in this writing endeavor, so I was focused on meeting with agents and hoping to stir some interest in my work – which I did, so yay me. (Now I’m behind. Again. So it goes!)

I also got to speak very informally with one of my editor-crushes, Brenda Chin (she’s just fantastic, and I’d go kayaking with her any time).  A big step for me – a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have known what to say or how to act. Anyway…

A good conference. No, a GREAT conference. Lots of goodness – lots of hugging old friends, meeting and cheering on new friends, and I’ve even been asked by a couple local RWA chapters to speak at their monthly meetings, so that was a kick. (I must get back to those ladies…)

And then, I opened my email today and saw this post from Kristen Lamb who I absolutely adore. It’s titled BIG SIX PUBLISHING IS DEAD – WELCOME THE MASSIVE THREE . Go ahead and click on that and read the article – I’ll wait.

Back already? So, basically, she says (and it’s really hard to disagree with her logic) that Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft/B&N are the new beasts on the publishing playground, and they will devour traditional publishing the way Apple first devoured music stores, and then devoured Kodak and their traditional film cameras (does anyone carry a camera any more?).  This is also much in alignment with what I heard from Bob Mayer this past weekend.

After the weekend I just had, this news (which isn’t really news) makes me dizzy. I am still firmly of the opinion that I don’t want to be my own publisher – I don’t want to work that hard. Writing the book is hard enough, thank you very much. However – I feel very much whipped around, like I’m on the edge of the tornado that is publishing now.

a photo of a tornado

Maybe I’ll “grow up” and get over it, and pub my own stuff. Maybe not. It’s still a discoverability issue – even if you get 70% of royalties on stuff you pub, if no one can find it and if no one buys it, that’s zero dollars. Actually, negative dollars since you’ve paid for the cover/editing/etc. If you make your work free, whoopee – that’s still no cash in your pocket, and no guarantee that anyone will go on to purchase from you. And no matter how much I love writing, am I willing to put book after book out there with no return? To be honest, I really don’t know. But it’s hard to put food on the table with a negative income, even when doing something I love.

So, still conflicted. Here’s a soothing photo of people kayaking. (Brenda, take note – if/when we work together, I’d LOVE to kayak with you!)

What about you? Are you thinking about taking the plunge? Have you already taken it? Are you resisting it with every fiber of your being, and now feel like a little dinosaur about to be eaten by the big T-Rex?

I love your opinions – lay them on me! Am I still firmly an ostrich, dancing, and is there anything wrong with that?

~ Until next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

April Writer’s Conferences

April Writer’s Conferences

I haven’t been to a conference in a year. The two I did last year weren’t really conferences – one was a workshop (Andrea Brown Agency-sponsored Big Sur workshop on writing for children, middle grade, and teens – a fabulous workshop but I felt a tad out of place), the other was a convention – Romantic Times, in Los Angeles (which was wonderful, crazy and busy and a little too – um – manic in it’s must-party atmosphere, since I was still recovering from surgery).

April, somehow, seems to be conference month. RT happened earlier this month, in Chicago; and seemingly there were more writers there than readers, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t go. Plus I am just out of costume ideas, lol.

Last weekend was the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference, which looked fantastic – so many terrific agents/editors/speakers, that you wonder how any of them get their real job done

(I know – they work on their iPads on the plane, in the restaurant, at night in their

Photo of Author Aaron Michael Ritchey

This is Aaron Michael Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer. Photo swiped from Aaron's site. Thanks, Aaron!

jammies…).  A good blog about Pike’s Peak conference is from my friend Aaron Michael Ritchey, and you can find it here.  Okay, maybe it’s not so much about the actual conference as it is about the energy supplied by the people you meet in real time for the first time and the wonderful things that happen when you get so many creative people in one room at the same time. At any rate, it’s a really interesting blog post.  (Aaron is a really interesting guy who wrote a fantastic novel called The Never Prayer. You should read it.)

This weekend is the Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona as well as the New England Conference in Salem, Mass. Before I knew the dates for the Salem conference, I signed up for DD – I’ve been there before, it’s small and mighty and I wanted to see friends and family. Plus, Salem is clear across the country and I wasn’t sure about spending the money, psychics and ghost tours notwithstanding. No – to be honest, I didn’t even know the New England conference was the same weekend and I’d hoped to do both, especially since my editor Steph Murray with Crescent Moon Press will be there, as well as a bunch of CMP authors.

But – I’m here at Chaparral Suites, my son getting ready to spend the weekend with family while I get ready to pitch to three agents and enjoy seeing friends, absorbing writing information, have a terrific book signing, and make new friends. Because after all, conferences/workshops/conventions are about making new friends, and strengthening long-time friendships as much as they are about learning craft.

When we writers climb out of our writing cave to go to a conference/workshop/convention, we get to spend time with people who understand us, who talk to people that only exist in our computer screens like we do, who look up weird facts on the internet that with anyone else would look extremely suspicious.

We’re with a huge bunch of people who get the beast. I guess, in a way, it’s like going to a convention of Bobs. Only other Bobs know what it’s like to be a Bob. Well, only other writers know what it’s like to be a writer.

Sorry this isn’t a wine blog today – I just didn’t plan ahead. Next week, I promise. In the meantime, off I go to meet relatives, hug old friends, drink a little too much wine, become good friends with new people, and in general simply bask with other writers.

Plus, have fan-girl moments. I saw both Brenda Novak (NYT Bestselling Author) and Brenda Chin (one of Harlequin’s TOP editors) at dinner last night (not together, though they were sitting in booths next to each other). It was VERY hard not to squee all over both of them – but since conference hasn’t officially started, and since they were in deep discussions with the person they were with, it seemed rude. However – at noon today, conference starts. All Squeeing will therefore be totally valid.

Have a wonderful weekend!