I’m Stuck At The Airport, So Let’s Talk About Bouchercon.

 

UntitledI took this picture from my hotel room this morning rather than when I arrived because I just had better things to do. But I do like to look back at these later so I wanted to have it in the collection.

My flight’s delayed and over-booked so I took the option to wait for the 9pm flight and got a $300 credit and a credit for this leg of my flight. I can take that. I have Dan Miller and the Lions online and a great book waiting for me when the game is over. All is good.

 Aside from the long and exhausting flight, this was a great Bouchercon. I saw some friends I haven’t seen in a while and some I just saw a few weeks ago. But I felt good and inspired and was really excited to be back as a writer and reader and not an editor. None of the panicked and paranoid conversations about the industry I overheard (or participated in) got me depressed or angry so that was nice.
People seemed excited to hear about and buy Murder Boy. I had an author focus session on Friday and I thought I’d be lucky if five friends showed up and we could shoot the crap for 20 minutes, but when I arrived there were already 20 people in the room and they had to add more chairs and more people kept showing up. Some of them I didn’t even know. It was surreal and very cool. I’m looking forward to next year when I have a book in hand to sell and promote and lord over everyone.
I took it easy on the late night partying this year and was in bed by midnight most nights. As such, I don’t feel too bad. My head and nose are stuffed up, but that’s more to do with how poorly by body reacts to flying. Aside from that though, I feel pretty good. I do need to start exercising and eating less crap tomorrow. More about that later.

 

 

An Impromptu Trip To Milwaukee

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This was the view from our hotel room at the Potowatami Casino and Hotel in downtown Milwaukee over the weekend. And what exactly were myself, my wife, and my 3 week old daughter doing at a casino downtown Milwaukee over the weekend? Hanging with friends of course.

I’ve attended the Murder and Mayhem conference for 7 or 8 years and was sad that it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to make it this year, the first since they moved to their new digs in Milwaukee. But on Friday, with the weather being horrible and rainy and cold and windy, the trick or treating with the kids didn’t last very long. So as we sat on the couch at 7pm trying to figure out what to have for dinner, we decided to see if we could make a trip to Milwaukee work.

At first we thought about taking all of the kids and making a family vacay out of it, but when I called the hotel and they said they didn’t have a pool or a kids activity area, we dropped that idea. But if we could unload the bigger kids on grandma and just take the baby, that had potential. So with a sleepover at grandmas secured, we loaded up Natalie for her first road trip. Our kids actual have a history of going on long road trips to mystery cons before they’re a month old. Spenser went to Baltimore for Bouchercon and Holly went to Indianapolis. Those two trips didn’t work out so well, but this one did and I was happy they came with me.

Next up is Bouchercon in 10 days in Long Beach and that will be just me this time. We’ll see how that works out.

 

 

Finally, An Utterly Frivolous Post About Shopping

The pieces here lately have been weighted way too heavily toward somber, contemplative big picture crap. That’s all well and good, considering what’s happened recently in my life, but we need some sunshine. Life is good. I have a new baby and a new job and the paychecks that come with the new job (and leftover paychecks from previously completed freelance projects that seem so much more awesome now that we don’t have to depend on them solely for our survival) so let me tell you about the shopping I’ve been up to.

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We started with new furniture. Right before the baby arrived, we completed (mostly) the first stage of our pending home revamp. We repainted everything with a nice dark brown that makes the house look more modern and covers up all of the stains and damage and crayon “art” that takes a toll over 8 years on really crappy un-washable paint. Next we needed new furniture. The stuff we had was old and stained and determined to maim and paralyze us. After a bit of looking we lucked into a combo set of love seat, sofa and recliner. It’s comfortable and loaded with built in cup holders. Next will be wood floors for that room and a fireplace remodel, but I have to wait until my father-in-law is available to help me with that one.

 

1732167_PurpleMost importantly though, I’ve been updating my wardrobe. After I left my last full-time office job, I threw away almost everything I had ever worn to that job. It was a sad and depressing mix of cheap shoes, microfiber pants, cheap polo shirts, and bland, thread-bare Oxford shirts. Even though I have a new tattoo, I’ve felt the urge to move beyond jeans and t-shirts and into a more adult wardrobe. I’m almost 40 and the slobby college look has been wearing thin on me and I think contributing to some of my malaise. So I started with pants.

I had thrown away my most boring khackis and only kept a single pair of comfortable broken-in ones that I liked and a pair of cords. I got another pair of dark brown cords and a pair of blue chinos that felt wild as I bought them. I already had a couple of new shirts I bought during the interview process but I added several more patterned button downs of varying style from dress shirts to flannel. I also bought some fun socks to replace all of the boring white and black ones I got rid of.

1756930With pants and shirts taken care of, I needed shoes. I found a great pair of European-flavored utility boots that look good with chinos, cords, and jeans and are on their way to being fully broken in by now. I got almost all of this at Khol’s, which is where I’ve shopped for work clothes previously, but had much more fun this time because the clothes aren’t nearly as depressing. I also had some great coupons and store loyalty discounts that made it all even better. I think I found a nice mix of casual/artistic styling with a bit more professionalism than I needed when working from home.

j-crew-field-mechanic-jacketThe final piece I got this weekend and it’s my favorite. Until now, my fall jackets have always been zip up sweatshirts, usually gray. But I knew with this new wardrobe a hoodie wasn’t going to work, so I was on the hunt for a great light-weight jacket to top it all off. Almost immediately I locked in on the idea of a military field jacket. I’ve always loved them but I had trouble finding one that I really liked that wasn’t also ridiculously expensive. I found the perfect match at J. Crew and found it when it had just gone on sale. So I think that’s all I need for now. Once winter rolls fully in I’ll need to upgrade my sweater wardrobe a bit, but for now I feel happy and fashionable and fresh.

 

That Whooshing Sound You Hear Is All Of My Major Life Changes Passing By

Oh my.

So our baby came early, Go Natalie, and I’m sure you all saw the pics on Facebook but here’s a few if you missed them. She’s a beauty and I love her, but she still doesn’t seem real. The newborn phase has never been one of my favorites with the kids, I like them when they start developing personalities and such and doing more than drooling, but she’s already very expressive with her face and I think she gets sarcasm.

What does feel real is my new job. After a day and a half of inane and mind-numbing orientation, I got to jump in with the real work and start plotting and planning my next 3-4 years or so here (at minimum). I like having a job I’m good at and that uses my skills and experience and I also like the structure and the security of the fully-benefited 9-5 life. I signed up for dental and life insurance like a boss. I’m sure you’d all love a picture of my new cubicle so here you go:

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Tapping Out Of The Full-Time Freelance Life

I’ve known for a while that the full-time freelance lifestyle wasn’t for me. I haven’t talked about it much here because, mixed with my residual feelings about losing my Exhibit A job, I didn’t want this site to turn into a pit a negativity. But it’s been affecting me anyway. I haven’t been sleeping well, I’ve been sick and tired all of the time, and I’ve just generally been an unpleasant person. So I’ve been looking for a new job. One that I would enjoy and be good at and excel in. I set some pretty high expectations and I’m happy to say I found what I was looking for.

So as of October 13, I’l be rejoining the University of Michigan Health System as the Manager of Web Content for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I’m so excited to be rejoining one of the best universities in the country and, more importantly, I’ll be doing something I’m good at and doing it somewhere that will genuinely help better the world.

As for my freelance editing business, I’m taking a bit of a hiatus on new projects while I finish up with the projects I already have in the pipeline. I still enjoy this work and want to keep my hand it, but on a much more selective basis and not as my main source of income. And that brings me to the biggest reason I wanted out. I’m sick of the publishing industry. I’m sick of the gossip and the fear-mongering and the paranoia and the tediousness of it all. After seeing Exhibit A collapse so quickly, I’m gun shy about ever tying my family’s livelihood to that industry ever again.  As a reader I’m excited about all of the great new books I’m seeing and as a writer I think I’m set up with one of the greatest up-and-coming publishers in the business. But as an editor I hated the hustle and hated the uncertainty and hated the volatility and hated having to be part of another inane conversation about which publishing path is the best.

Also, despite recent evidence, I’m a writer first and I’m excited about being a professional writer again. So thank you to everyone who supported me and encouraged me and gave me the breaks and contacts that made this move possible. This has been a crazy year so far and I’m so happy to once again be on top. I was getting kind of sick of whining all the time.

I’ve Been The Parent Of A Six Year Old For 24 Hours Now

How did this little guy get to be so big. Happy Birthday buddy.

 

I shouldn’t be writing this right now. For one, I’m up to my eyeballs in work (yay!) and some very important pieces of work are waaaaay behind (boo!). But also, Spenser’s birthday was yesterday and I let it pass by without commemorating it here. That’s not good. I took that picture above last night before we left to go out dinner and I was shocked how old he looked. I like having little kids and I know I won’t have little kids for very long, but it’s not rushing by me as fast as I expected it to. Part of that I think is because I document and examine every aspect of it here and other places which kind of drags the process out.

It’s important to me to document and reflect on stuff like this because this place has become more of an archive of my life than my major every day online presence. I was reading a piece over at John Scalzi’s place where he was talking about just this thing and he was wondering where his website fit into his overall online personality. For me this site has always served as a diary where I can vent and reflect and document the important (and not so important) moments in my life so I can go back and read about it later. It seems like every few days I’m checking the archives here to see what I was thinking at a particular moment or when a specific thing happened. Just yesterday I was checking to see when I got my first iPhone.  I don’t anticipate that going away any time soon either, especially as the publication of my first novel is on the horizon and my kids are getting older and getting into more activities I want to write about.

So anyway, a bit of reflection for you all to prep you for Tuesday next week which is my birthday and will result in a whole lot more self-centered reflecting. My life is many things, but unexamined is not one of them.

Julie, Julia, Chuck, and Bees

I spent most of the morning in bed watching Julie & Julia on Lifetime like a real man and it got me thinking about writing and blogging. I had a really good response to my guest post over at Chuck Wendig’s site about what a freelance editor can teach an author. I was surprised at how many people contacted me who had previously paid for an editor but were disappointed with the experience but didn’t know why. After reading my post they all realized what a quality freelance editor can offer.

Yesterday I was stung by a bunch of bees while I mowed the lawn and it sucked. The first time I was stung twice on the ankle, once on my leg, and once on my wrist. After a while I went back out again and got stung twice more on the other ankle and my toe. The next day most of the other stings are okay but the one on my wrist hurts like a mofo and is all swollen and stiff. I’ve been loading on Tylenol and Claritin to keep it under control but I’m keeping an eye on just in case. It got me thinking though about my fear of spiders and how irrational it is. I’ve never been bitten by a spider but they creep me out. But I’ve now been stung ten times by bees and they don’t bother me. Weird.

Today is much editing and some writing on my new book that I am very behind on and then more editing because I need money for bills and for the impending money suck of back-to-school and the kids’s birthdays.

Bee sting the next day. Stiff and painful.

Never Been Happier To See A Monday

Holy crap was that vacation exhausting. I think 8 days was about 3 days too many. By the time we got home Saturday we were all exhausted and crabby and sore and sunburned and tired. There were some fun parts of the trip I’m sure I’ll remember long after the bad memories fade, but for right now I’m happy to be back at my desk, back on schedule and out of the Florida-in-July weather.

I read a lot on by the pool and on the plane, which was nice, but only one of the books I read was fiction.  That was Frank Wheeler’s newest book The Good Life (coming in August from New Pulp Press). The others were books about writers and Saturday Night Live and the Spiderman Musical. I seem to be reading non-fiction SO much faster than fiction have have read most of these books in a day or two. Next up are more author biographies and then I suspect I’ll be get my itch for fiction back. Maybe.

For now I have to catch up on emails and phone calls and editorial work and it feels good to be busy doing the work I love.

If you missed any of the photos on Facebook, you can find them in my Flickr album here.