They’re Like Documentaries, But In Book Form

I’ve been having trouble getting my brain to stick with anything fiction-wise lately, so in an effort to shake things up I picked up a non-fiction book from the library. It was called Theater Geek by Mickey Rapkin, the author of the book Pitch Perfect was based on and it detailed a summer he spent at a performing arts camp. It was awesome. I read the entire thing in a day. The I read a biography of Dashiell Hammett and Bossypants by Tina Fey. All very quickly. Three books in four days and it put me three books over my entire reading total for last year. I’m still not feeling any novels calling my name so I’ve been on a hunt for good non-fiction.

Right now I’m reading a book about Detroit and kind of a memoir by Charlie LeDuff who was once a reporter but is now kind of an annoying local news personality on our most annoying Fox affiliate. The book is great though and for someone like me who writes a lot about Detroit, I’m woefully under-read in it’s history and struggles. It’s also a cool way to say how another writer was made.

I got some great suggestions on Facebook about what to read next and I also picked up a book by Jay Mohr about his time as a writer with Saturday Night Live and a book by Colson Whitehead about the time Grantland sent him to Vegas to play poker. All very much right up my alley. As much as I like documentaries and short non-fiction, I’ve never really done much non-fiction reading unless it’s research for a specific book project. I think that needs to change though. I don’t want to become one of those annoying writers who gets older and says they don’t read fiction anymore, but I think there’s a balance. Hopefully it will refresh my palate for novels, because there are some new ones coming out soon I want to read.

Saturday Photo: Jock and Nerd Edition

I’ll have a longer post about my day at DetCon1 later, but here, have some photos from the day. We took a break during the middle of the day to go over to the baseball game in town. Some guy at the box office was with his son and had two extra tickets in great seats and gave them to Spenser and I. That was pretty cool. I also got to see my dad who was there in a suit with my aunt. A delightful day all around.



My DetCon1 Schedule (Including A Super Cool Opportunity To Hear Me Read From A Super Cool Project)


Holy wow, how did it get to be Friday already? Lots of work to finish up today because tomorrow I’ll be heading downtown Detroit to participate in the DetCon1 festivities. And what is DetCon, you ask? Anytime the World Science Fiction Convention is held outside of North America, there is a North American Science Fiction Convention held for those who can’t travel internationally due to cost, logistics, or secret double lives. This year it’s in Detroit. Yay!

I’ll also be bringing Spenser with me for his first full-day fandom event. I took him for a couple of hours when I went to ConFusion last year and he really enjoyed himself so this should be great for him. He keeps calling it the science fiction invention though, which I find hilarious.

So, I’ll be around, likely hanging about in the bar and panels when I’m not on a panel myself. And what might those panels be?

11am  Teens Talk to… Editors
Duluth A
Track: Teen
Type: Panel
Tony Daniel, Sarah Hans, Bryon Quertermous
We always pay attention to who wrote the book or story, but we forget the people behind the scenes. Editors talk about what they do and answer questions.

1pm  What Am I Looking For?
Mackinac East
Track: Writing
Type: Panel
Diana M. Pho (moderator), Richard Flores IV, Kate Baker, Neil Clarke, Sam Morgan, Bryon Quertermous
Agents and editors talk about the sorts of projects that interest them individually and answer general publishing questions.

5pm  Michigan Voices 2: Short Readings
Joliet A
Track: Literature
Type: Reading
Jen Haeger, Cindy Spencer Pape, Harry R. Campion (M.H. Mead), Margaret Yang (M.H. Mead), Bryon Quertermous
A group reading featuring Michigan authors.

I’m particularly excited about that reading because it will be the first time anyone has ever been exposed to the urban fantasy novel I’ve been writing on-and-off on for the last year. If you’re near Detroit, pop by and say hello.

Plugging The Hole In My Soul With A Hyper-Commercialized Mouse

Thanks to everyone who reached out after my last post, even the smart asses. I really do appreciate it. This is something I know I’m prone to but I find if I talk and write about it I stand less of a chance of wallowing in it and spiraling into the worst of it. I put myself on a schedule instead of just sleeping in late and wasting the day away, which has helped, as well as showering and shaving regularly. It’s amazing how the small bits of normalcy can contribute to a health state of mind. I also went full-on organizational nerd and did up some calendars and spreadsheets and filing systems to help me keep track of stuff and feel more in control.

I also booked a trip to Disney World with part of my severance check. That made me feel REALLY good. This will be our first time staying on Disney property and I’m so excited. I’ve already booked all of our dinner reservations and started booking FastPass activities. Staying on site with a dining plan makes it seem almost like an all-inclusive vacation. A Disney bus will be there to meet us at the airport and take us and our bags and will bring us back. No worries. And I think the kids are at a perfect age to enjoy all of it as well.

Feeling Funky But Not In The Marky Mark Kind Of Way

I’ve been in kind of a nasty funk for a while now and I’m getting sick of it. I can’t sleep, I have too much on my mind but during the day all I want to do is nap. I’m not hungry, nothing sounds good to read and I haven’t felt like writing. All I want to do all day is sit on the couch and frown. Even TV doesn’t make me feel better. Going to the movies has worked here and there (Spenser and I saw How To Train Your Dragon 2 today and it was a phenomenal movie) but I can’t spend all day every day at the movies so something needs to break.

Obviously losing my job is a big part of it, but the bigger part is what to do next. I should be eager to resume my free-wheeling freelance life. I’ve enjoyed the projects I’ve worked on so far and I have some more cool projects lined up through August, but I can’t settle in. I spend too much time looking for jobs, either more freelance work or a permanent job. This is odd for me because I’m not usually the sort who craves steady work or security. I’m guessing having a family has a lot to do with it. If I just had to worry about myself I think the feast or famine nature of freelance wouldn’t get to me as much. But lately, all I really want is a nice steady gig in a bland office tower in a downtown area with benefits and a pension plan and office potlucks.

I really hope this is just a temporary funk because the last time I felt like this I was miserable and didn’t write or read for about two years and I don’t ever want to feel anything like that again. I just need to keep on pushing, keep on surviving, and keep on trying. I picked up a non-fiction book about summer theatre camp from the guy who wrote Pitch Perfect. And I’m going to take a break from writing the Murder Boy sequel to write some more on my secret fantasy novel that I’ll be reading live from next Saturday at the North American Science Fiction Convention. Hmmm, I actually forgot until just now that’s coming up as quickly as it is. Maybe that will help break me out of this funk.

Celebration Scotch During The Mourning Phase

The celebratory bottle of Johnny Walker Blue I got for Christmas this year after taking on the Exhibit A job, has now become my go-to spirit for tasks associated with moving on from the loss of that job and reinvigorating my freelance career. Tonight, that means sipping it while putting together an Ikea bookshelf to put next to my desk.

Well, actually I’m sipping it while taking off the books from the old shelf I broke and disassembling that shelf because I just don’t have the motivation to put together the new shelf tonight. I’ll do it tomorrow when I also go out and buy a copy of Writer’s Market for the first time in ten years and sip some more expensive scotch while I browse through it and figure out how to add some writing gigs to my editing work.

And how’s your evening?

Update: Dave White so kindly pointed out that I got a book deal this year, the culmination of my life-long dream, so I have every reason to be drinking this scotch in a celebratory manner for as long as it lasts. Every once in a while that Dave is good for something.

Waiting For The Next Plot Point In The Autobiographical Movie Of My Life

I went to see Jersey Boys last night. It wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the music and the behind-the-scenes stuff, but it was a pretty standard biopic and stuck pretty hard to the tropes of that field. But those tropes and plot points have me thinking about my life.

Yesterday was my last official day with Angry Robot (actually today is my official official last day, but it also counts as a paid holiday due to Independence Day which I find kind of hilarious) and I’m officially unemployed. I can’t help but think of my life in terms of the biopic structure and wonder what’s next. If you watch enough of these movies, you realize that a very specific set of circumstances and people have to come together for success to happen and there’s usually a series of failed attempts at this along the way.

The problem is I don’t know where I am in my own story. Is this the inciting incident that sets me off on the main adventure of my life or is this the mid-point where my life shifts direction and sets me up toward the peak and the climax. I’d like to believe the worst of the plot traps are behind me, but I doubt it. If I had to guess, leaving my job last year and going freelance for the first time was the actual mid-point of my story. That truly turned my life in a new direction and set me up for a new set of complications.

Now I realize that real life doesn’t actually follow artificial narrative constructions, but I think looking at it in those terms can help work through the rough spots. So what’s next for me then? Before that change of direction last year if I would have lost my job I would have just looked for a new one. But losing two jobs in the space of a year through no fault of my own really shook my faith in the traditional job structure. I don’t think there’s such a thing as stable employment anymore.

So if you take that advantage away, freelancing looks like it might actually be the more stable option. I can spread my risk out over a few different income streams. I’m not beholden to the whims of one boss or one company and I don’t have to give away more than half of my income to someone else to watch my kids for me while I go off to work. And I get to do something I love. How many people can really say that about their job? Of course I say all this to convince myself as much as anything. I can’t say that if I was offered a permanent job I wouldn’t take it, but I do know that I would think about it much more carefully than I would have a year ago.

Aside from editing though, I want to focus much more on my writing this time around as well. I’ve added a writing portfolio section to my website and I’m looking at freelance writing jobs as well as editing jobs. But I’m also focusing much more on my fiction writing as well. In addition to finishing the second book on my contract with Polis, I have two other novels I want to write this year and maybe write a play or screenplay as well. It all plays to that diversification of income streams.

That’s actually the main reason I started freelance editing in the first place. I knew if I was going to make a go of working from home full-time, I was going to need something other than writing to bring in money. But I experienced so much success so quickly with the editing that I lost track of the writing part of it. I want to correct that this time around.

A Brief Comment On Comments

I’ve finally done something I should have done a while ago and turned off comments for the site. I know a few of you have posted a comment here and there, and I appreciate it, but the main commenting about the content here happens on Facebook and Twitter and in nasty emails people send me when they don’t like something I write.

On one hand, comments haven’t been especially relevant here for at least four years and dealing with the spam ones is such an annoyance, but I’m also sad because the commenting feature is what kept me putting up new content here early on when I thought I was writing into the void. For a while there was a nice community here and I’ll always cherish those wild few years, but technology changes and I must change with it.

So raise a glass today to the comments of long ago and then go discuss this piece on Facebook and Twitter.

We Spent The Morning At The Dentist, Yay

Recovering from a rough trip to the dentist

And it didn’t go well. It started off fine. I had such a rotten experience with the whole sedation process last time that we all agreed laughing gas and spot numbing would be best  this time around. And it was for the first chunk. But then they got into one of the teeth and it was worse than they expected and decided to do a root canal instead of a crown. Spenser was ready to be done and started panicking. He wouldn’t breathe the gas in through his nose so things started to hurt and he freaked out more. Finely, to get him finished, I had to lay on top of him and keep him from ripping the instruments and stuff out of his mouth. I had no idea how strong and slippery that kid was.

But when we were done he calmed down and wanted to see what his mouth looked like and get his toy. He’s drugged up and resting now watching Elmo and later we’re going to the comic book store. Unfortunately we have to do this again in two more weeks and I hope he forgets by then.

UPDATE: About 30 minutes after I posted this he started feeling better. He ate some cheese and some soda and started running around. I think he’ll be just fine.

Weather Complaints: Summer Humidity Edition (With Some Comments About Cloud Drives)

So hey, it’s been *looks at archive* four months since I last complained about the weather. Way back then I was complaining about the cold and how it was sapping my energy and my motivation. Well know we have the hot end of that stick. A few weeks ago I was in Phoenix for ComicCon and they were under a heat advisory and topping 120 degrees. I spent quite a bit of time outside and enjoyed it. Yesterday it was 71 here with high humidity and after being outside for about 20 minutes killing weeds, I was sick and exhausted and ready to die.

There really is something to the dry heat crap. Also, my allergies have been in full-on assault which means I have to keep all of the doors and windows shut and the air conditioning on high. While it feels cool, that much exposure to chemical air has been giving me headaches and making me sick. Blech. This is why I love fall so much.

Anyway, what else is new? I’m at the library right now with the kids while the entire population of our town under the age of 10 watches (and sings along to) Frozen. It’s delightful and infuriating all at the same time. Just like parenting! I’ve started working on some freelance projects while I wrap up my last week with Angry Robot. I’m anticipating another wave of disappointment and melancholy over the weekend after it’s all officially over. I’ve also been fooling around with cloud drives again. Dropbox has been my #1 choice for a while and it still maintains top billing. I like how it integrates with my Mac and my iPad and allows me to use Pages to edit on my iPad. I tried to use Word on my iPad and I’m just not enthralled by it in the long run, same with OneDrive. This means I’ve moved most of my other back up and cloud storage needs to Google Drive. I’m deeply vested in the Google eco-system, so it makes sense.

I didn’t think much of Google Drive for a while because I didn’t think they had done much to update it. I was wrong. They just don’t update fancy, but there’s plenty of great backend updates and the iPad app is really great. I still love Google Docs for short memos, short stories, and invoices, but it chokes too much on long documents to be of any use to me for novel projects. One new task I’ve found it useful for is research. I have a longer, more complex project I’ve been research and planning and a Google Doc makes a great repository for everything I find. I know people swear by EverNote, but for my needs Google Docs has worked great.