It’s an entry-level coordinator role in a field new to me, heavy on documentation. The job is a stretch but in a good way, and I can get a certification that will ensure it’s easier to get jobs in the future.
Best part: it was originally located here, but during the second interview with the hiring managers, they said everyone is mostly remote. I told my anxiety to shut the F up and asked if it were possible to do the job out of the Boston office. They said yes!
Honestly, I never thought this would end. I’ve applied to every job I could reasonably do. I tried the hospitals, the colleges, remote work, etc. to no avail. The pandemic, my mom’s health emergency, and losing my dad on top of all the constant rejection and interview ghosting was just…ugh.
The pay is based on location. Even for here it’s better than I expected. As for the higher-COL area, it will be tight, but I lived on $5.15 an hour in California, and I’m used to being dirt poor. So I think I can manage. The hard part will be figuring out how to move. This long slog and the pandemic ate up ALL my savings. At least I’ll have money coming in.
In publishing news, I got a code for two free uploads at IngramSpark in anticipation of expanding distribution of Tunerville and Confluence paperbacks and made an account. I thought I would finally be able to broaden my distribution, but then I found out that a title transfer can take up to 30 days! So, not until I have the money to pay for the uploads. At some point, this will happen. I’ll put you on blast when you can ask your indie bookstores to order print copies.
I did tweak the covers a tad in anticipation of future shelving. Book 1:
Larger title, same font as title for the author name, and a slightly larger size on the spine.
The only change here was a drop shadow on the cover and spine text to make it stand out a little better. I’m still super happy with this particular cover.
Book 3 is proceeding slowly, but since I’ll be working again, the brain-crushing stress of unemployment is off. Once I get my work schedule sorted, I can bang out the first draft at nights and weekends a lot faster.
All I have to worry about now is how to pay for a 1200-mile move with no money. Whee! Here’s hoping it goes smoothly and within a few months, I’ll have a shiny new place of my own, with all my stuff, which I haven’t seen in more than three years. Unpacking is going to be like Christmas. I’ll probably have to live further away from work than I want to.
Lobster roll served at Steamers Seafood Market in Newton, Massachusetts.
As is typical in the life of a writer, my heavily used laptop, a nearly seven-year-old Office Depot HP something-or-other, has decided it’s pretty much done running my writing program. Or anything else, really. [ETA: I forgot to mention the constant crashes. Bleah.]
It wouldn’t run SmartEdit Writer and Word together. It wouldn’t run either while playing music. It would barely Zoom, and thanks to an unfortunate fall off the stand, the camera was broken (I did have a USB-powered backup). When you’re interviewing for out-of-state jobs, the latter two especially are less than ideal.
I truly miss Toshiba’s legacy Satellite laptops. They went from long-lived workhorses to not really existing much anymore. They would have had a customer for life if they hadn’t abandoned them.
So yesterday, after trying and failing to work on a Book 3 chapter in Word and waiting for it to keep unfreezing, I’d had enough. As much as I hated to do it, I had to dip into the little savings I have left and replace the damn thing. I spoke to a neighbor on my way out to Best Buy, and he sent me to a place called Micro Center instead.
This is not a sponsored post. But based on my short-lived experience, hoooowwwww did I not know this place existed?! (Easy; my previous city didn’t have one.) I felt like I’d driven the TARDIS back in time to Circuit City, that bastion of electronic retailers that so sadly went bust after turning itself into the gadget equivalent of Walmart. Circuit City, along with Toshiba, had me for the long haul until they made really stupid business decisions.
Dear CEOs, the old-school knowledgeable salesperson approach works. Being on a mission, I didn’t get to explore the entire sales floor. I did see a whole rack of backpacks, roller bags, etc. and my little luggage-loving heart leaped for joy. I can’t wait until I have money to go back. The chain does have a store in my target location, so if (when!) I move away, I’ll be able to explore. I hope this place NEVER goes out of business.
Anyway, thanks to a helpful sales geek, I ended up with an HP Victus, an entry-level gaming laptop that so far seems to be more than capable of handling my multitasking and content creation. Currently, I’m going through the tedious file transfer process.
Best part? A heavy markdown. Second best part? Because I prefer to do computer work in low lighting, something I’ve always wanted but never thought I’d have: a backlit keyboard!
Compare that to the (sadly non-glow-y) sticker alternative:
It’s such a small thing, but it really does make the experience better. You’ll be proud of me, too — despite being afflicted with very bad travel anxiety, I managed to find the store in an unfamiliar area and come back without getting lost or having a panic attack. The only drawback is a reduction in USB ports from three to two, but I’ve got a hub, so I’ll be fine. The old model, seeing its replacement, decided it wants to behave (for now). It has been relegated to emergency-only backup.
I’m happy to have a machine that works properly again. The performance lag made writing very unpleasant. I’m three chapters in on Book 3, and every time I opened the project file, I felt like crying. Doing the cover and book trailer when the time comes and writing cover letters, working remotely if the opportunity arises, etc. will all be much, much easier.
After installing my old Office programs again, I tested Word and SmartEdit; they’re good to go. Now to get through this tedious file transfer, copy over my playlists, and we’re back in business!
For the last 40 years, the American Library Association (ALA) has annually brought attention to books that are frequently banned or challenged for content, often by people who haven’t even read them.
I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, and I forgot about Banned Books Week until yesterday, when I went to the local library to work on Book 3 of the Tuner Trilogy. My hamstring is acting up—sitting in my customary chair wasn’t happening, and I noticed their display on the way out.
No one but me seems to like this chair. Probably because it’s right in the middle under a light and made out of the kind of vinyl you don’t ever want to sit on in shorts.
Photo: Elizabeth West
I was reluctant to get a library card here for a couple of reasons. First, things have been so stressful, especially in the last two years, that it’s been hard to read anything at all.
Second, in most public library systems, you must be a resident of the county to get a free card. Having one in a place I don’t plan on staying felt like giving up—and I didn’t feel like reading anyway. But several intriguing political books have come out recently from writers I follow (in particular, Sarah Kendzior and David Corn), so I got one.
Librarians, particularly children’s librarians, are specially trained to choose appropriate books for collections. They are not your child’s parents. As with TV and movies, it’s up to you to decide what you want your child to read—but you don’t have the right to keep other people from reading it.
Here are a few works that often find themselves on the receiving end of a challenge. I haven’t read a lot of the newer books on the ALA’s lists, though I enjoy children’s and young adult literature. Some of these are old and some are recent. I’ve linked to publisher websites, but I encourage you to support your local indie bookstores if you want to buy copies.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
I’m always going to list this one because I love it. A Newbery Award winner, this book is part of a series about the Logans, a Black family living in the Jim Crow South. You can guess why it always gets challenged. There are a couple in the series I don’t have, and boy, am I excited about getting them.
Taylor’s books are full of heart and eye-opening. You will feel the injustice in your bones, even as you fall in love with Cassie and her loving, steadfast family. The author gave Oprah Magazinea rare interview in 2020.
Forever by Judy Blume
I grew up reading Judy Blume, as I’m sure others reading this post did too. I mentioned this book in a Twitter thread about how keeping reading material away from high school kids almost guarantees they’ll read it—there’s nothing sweeter than forbidden fruit! This book about teenagers’ first sexual experiences (a thing you are not going to keep teenagers from discussing) is frequently challenged. Juno Dawson talks about the book in this article for the Guardian, published in 2015 before she transitioned.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
This 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning book about a formerly enslaved woman haunted by the ghost of her dead baby became a contested movie starring Oprah Winfrey, Thandiwe Newton, and Danny Glover. I can’t even describe how unforgettable this book is; you should read it for yourself. Morrison, who sadly passed away in 2019, received many honors during her illustrious career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Yep, your favorite 2012 tearjerker was banned by a middle school in Riverside, California! It was later unbanned, mostly because of a strong letter from The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), which apparently caused someone in the school district to come to their senses.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This highly honored 2017 debut YA book was challenged for promoting an anti-police message and pushing a social agenda, as well as language and adult situations. I own a copy but I haven’t read it yet. The furor surrounding it ensures that I will.
This is only a small taste of the books targeted by increasingly emboldened and organized groups who seem intent on forcing the rest of us to adopt their restrictive views. You might think this is only about fiction, but the sharp reduction in local journalism and attacks on journalists keeps people from being informed when issues arise in their communities. Restricting information is dangerous.
Fight the bans by reading as many challenged books as you can. Read them in public, discuss them in your book group, and talk about them with your friends, family, and children. If you still have a local paper, subscribe! Ask your local library to do the same, and support them as much as you can. Let them know you want information kept available to everyone. By stepping up and speaking out, together we can ensure our freedom to read.
I’m sorry this has taken so long, y’all. But . . . I have officially begun writing Book 3 of the Tuner Trilogy! Taa daaaah!
You might notice I changed the word count on the little widget in the Main sidebar of the blog. Before, I’d included some unconnected passages I wrote here and there, but as I’m not entirely sure I’ll use them, I decided to erase that count and start over. If I do use them, I’ll add their word counts in later.
So far, as of this post, the count is 3,118 and I set the total at 50,000 (NaNoWriMo length), although I expect this book to be much longer than that. It’s just an easier place to start. I’m not sure that widget is still working like it should.
I intended to make the conlang fully speakable, but if you want this story to end before I die, I think I might have to just translate the phrases in Book 3 and leave it at that. I can release that later if you want a world compendium.
Anyway, I worked all afternoon and I’m hungry so I’ll see you later. Whet nost (good night)!
Gah, it’s August already and I’m still stuck here! Just kill me.
In late May, a recruiter from a staffing company I’d applied to ages ago emailed me about a temp job in the city subbing for someone who was going on vacation. The pay was decent, so I took it. For two glorious weeks, I got to pretend I had a job.
It was just basic front office work, but the people were extremely nice. They included me in their weekly breakfasts and other food orders (the company paid). Usually, the temp doesn’t get anything, but they treated me like one of their own. They didn’t have a lot of work for me to do so when I caught up, I just read a new Chuck Wendig book on my phone.
The pay from this small venture allowed me to do something I haven’t done since before I lost my stupid job: go to a fantasy creators convention in mid-June, a new one in my old city called Tremendicon. It was held at a super nice venue I’d never been to when I actually lived there.
I didn’t take any pictures while I was there, sorry. I was too busy. This convention offered a very strong writer’s track with panels all the way through. I only missed a couple on the first day because I had to check into my hotel and eat after a late start and a very long drive.
I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and learned a LOT. Topics included:
Worldbuilding (I really wanted this one for Book 3)
A note from Day 2:
Hey, I forgot my jacket. I can’t be expected to remember everything.
Saturday night, we were treated to the world premiere of the short horror film Swumpwater, written by new friend Heath Amodio and old friend Cullen Bunn. You can watch it here!
It IS a horror movie, so sorry if it grossed you out. Heh heh.
It was bittersweet to be there again. Some things have changed and others stayed the same. Over nearly twenty years, I made the drive from Springfield to St. Louis for holidays many times, but since I’m trying very hard to get out of Missouri altogether, it felt like the last one ever. If I achieve that goal, I’ll just fly in for Tremendicon or any other visits. I admit, I cried a little on the way out of town. It’s tough to say goodbye to such a significant chunk of your life. However, I’m ready for a big change. SO READY.
Besides having a butt-ton of fun, I came away with twenty-five pages of notes and enough information that I almost feel ready to secure a table at the next Tremendicon, or whatever con is closest to where I find a job, when I have a bit more product. Writer and illustrator Jennifer Stolzer told us she only had a couple of items on her first table—her present setup contained multiple books, merch, and even a display doll she hacked to look like her book character.
And of course, my haul, because you CANNOT attend a con without coming home with a haul!
The Eren Yeager Titan picture is a drawing—I always buy art. The cup, t-shirt, swag bag and dragon book all are from Glenn Parris, an absolutely lovely writer. He waved a merch bag at me and said, “I only have two of these left!” Sucked me right in (that’s marketing, folks!) The other book is by Jennifer Stolzer; I won that one in a drawing.
At the top is a huge bag of pan dulce from a local Mexican supermarket I dearly miss, because HOW COULD I NOT. It was just as delicious as I remember.
Although the trip took nearly all the money I made from temping, it was well worth it. Professional development is an important part of career progression. With writing, the best way to learn is to write and consume content in whatever form works best for you—there’s a lot to learn from movies, TV shows, and comics that applies to books. If you’re considering adaptation or screenwriting, you need to read screenplays and watch lots of movies.
However, some things you can only learn from other creators. I was gratified to see that I knew a lot more than I thought and that I’m basically on the right track. I’ll have to wait until I’m employed again to think about hand sellling at a con or even attending, but I have work I can do right now. (I know, like finishing my trilogy. I know!)
Speaking of which, Amazon has heavily discounted the paperback version of Tunerville. I had no say in this whatsoever. They CLAIM I will still get the same royalty, but I have my doubts. I would like to move my work to a different distributor that will widen its reach, but that will take money I don’t have currently.
Either way, you can get it for less now, so have at it!
I don’t have anything to say today except to post this, which I saw on Twitter. And to tell you to take time for self-care, whatever that may look like, because we will need strength to fight for our lives.
On June 24th, 2022 the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
We’re sending love to all of our pregnancy-capable friends, family and loved ones. We are also scared for our LGBTQIA friends whose marriages, healthcare and safety are also called into question by this opinion. It is bad and it is going to get worse.
You may want to know how to help. I am sharing some good information and resources here for those who are interested.
What Will Happen Legally:
Abortion is no longer protected at the federal level. States are able to criminalize abortion care. Abortion will remain legal in many states and clinics will be providing care.
26 states are certain or very likely to completely ban abortion (see map below). This will result in an unprecedented public health crisis, on top of the one we already had going on, along with a rapid expansion of the criminalization of pregnant people.
What Will Happen In Your Communities, to People You Love:
Abortion is a sensitive issue for a lot of people. There are strong feelings about what others should and shouldn’t do, what’s “reasonable” or too far in terms of laws. But we’re not talking about feelings. This is about sending doctors to prison, about the government forcing people to submit to pregnancy and childbirth against their will.
We will not be returning to a pre-Roe scenario with “back-alley” abortions and coat hangers. Many abortion seekers will be able to self-manage their abortions using safe and effective FDA-approved medication abortion pills, even in hostile states. BUT, we also now have a much larger, more sophisticated law enforcement infrastructure that will surveill, prosecute, and punish people for abortions and pregnancy outcomes like miscarriages. In 2022, the risks are largely legal, not medical.
A lot of people will now need to travel out-of-state, often hundreds of miles, to obtain an abortion in a clinic. Because 50 states worth of people will be trying to access care in the remaining half of states who haven’t banned it, people will have to wait weeks or even months for an appointment. Everyone everywhere will now have difficulty accessing timely abortion care and associated care, such as miscarraige management, etc..
Most (75%) of abortion seekers are poor or low-income. Most (59%) are already parents. 1 in 4 pregnancy-capable people will have an abortion in their lifetime. You know and love people who have had abortions. If they haven’t told you, consider whether you seem like a safe person to tell. Take that to heart and care enough to change.
What Can You Do?:
The most impactful thing you can do at the moment is to donate money.I know, I know. If that isn’t an option or if you want to do more, organize other people to donate money. The coolest among you will become monthly donors–even of a smaller amount, because it provides a stable cash flow for organizations which are largely volunteer-run.
Here’s where it can go (bonus points if you do them all):
Give to independent clinics, who are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, but provide 6 in 10 abortions in the U.S., including all abortion care later in pregnancy. Many clinics are struggling to stay open, to relocate, to support their staff and their patients. In states where abortion has been immediately banned, many are working to help scheduled patients travel, here’s one in Alabama.
Share good, accurate information so abortion seekers can obtain care:
Ineedana.com helps abortion seekers find a verified abortion provider and resources
Share This: a cool guide @alisonturkos made with more ideas, options and info
Offer to Volunteer at a PSO, Fund, or your local clinic: Recently, someone I am close to volunteered to help a stranger from Texas traveling hundreds of miles away for care. They desperately needed someone local to check them in and out of a clinic. They were traveling alone and the clinic required a companion. It amounted to driving across town twice, not a big lift, but it meant that person could get the care they needed–it was potentially life-changing.
You’ll note that none of our recommendations include giving to well-funded orgs like Planned Parenthood, starting your own thing when these networks exist, fighting with people on the internet, or marching. Our informed advice is to prioritize mutual aid through local organizations.
Sure, But Then What?:
You may be wondering what we can do to fix all of this? Surely somebody has a plan!
There’s not much that can be done in the short-term other than helping people get care. There is no immediate political or legal solution due to the composure of the court, the makeup of the Senate, and GOP control of state governments. This will be our reality for a while.
The best we can do is really engage in state-level efforts, where abortion will be regulated (banned or protected): support the election of good state representatives, local prosecutors and judges who don’t want to criminalize abortion care or pregnancy outcomes. Support efforts to protect voting rights, trans rights, and to create alternatives to policing and punishment. Encourage prosecutors not to go after pregnant people.
To be clear, there is something to do in every state and not enough people doing it.
And finally, don’t despair.
Get mad, get engaged, get organized, but focus on constructive actions.
In the words of the PIC abolitionist, Mariame Kaba:
“Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.”
If ever we need to have each other’s backs, it’s now.
A week ago, he had a heart attack, most likely secondary to his ongoing diabetes. He was reluctant to go to the hospital, but my brother saw him while it was ongoing and persuaded him. On Friday, March 11, they took Dad for a scope test and he coded on the way back. They got him back after ten minutes or so, but he didn’t wake up. On St. Patrick’s Day, he slipped away peacefully without a struggle.
I got used to not seeing him much because of physical distance. It’s slowly sinking in that I never will again, until it’s my time to enter the Realm.
I love you, Daddy.
Job hunt is still ongoing. Book 3 is not on hold, but I have no bandwidth for it right now. I extract bits of the conlang and scenes here and there when I can and paste them into my SmartEdit Writer file. If you haven’t read Tunerville or Confluence yet, you can get them at boomkaartbooks.com.
Right now, everything sucks and I feel very unmoored, but don’t worry about me. I will be okay. It’ll be easier when I have a job and a new life to keep me busy. If you have a spare good vibe hanging around, I’d appreciate it if you’d send it to the Job Gods and tell them to get on it.
Tell the people you love that you love them, as often as you can.
I probably should have posted this sooner, but if you follow me or Boomkaart Books on social media, you’ll know I’ve been running a sale on the first two books of the Tuner Trilogy. Through December 25, I’ve discounted the digital and paperback editions of Tunerville and Confluence.
I may continue it through New Year’s Eve; I haven’t decided yet.
BY THE WAY — if you read Confluence and liked it, please please please leave a review. It is naked and afraid!
I also knocked the paperback price of The Shiny Folk and other stories down by a dollar, permanently. It’s now $4.99 and will remain so. That book’s not selling — story collections really don’t tend to do well, plus it’s older, so whatever. WordPress won’t let me offer it through my site anymore without ponying up for a Business plan, and I can’t afford that. So the focus has remained on the trilogy for now.
Speaking of which, I was waffling between finishing The Catalyst (working title; I have a real title in reserve) and writing the third and final Tuner book. See, here’s the thing. I wanted to keep trying for traditional publication. Tunerville got close but didn’t quite make it, and because I needed something, ANYTHING, to put on my resume, I decided to formalize the indie publishing that began with The Shiny Folk. Thus, the raw material for Boomkaart Books coalesced into reality. Sort of like the way the tuner materializes a ghost, ha ha.
If you’ve read Confluence, you know I went totally extra and created a conlang. In fact, the book’s dedication page contains a phrase from said language. Here it is, from the glossary in the back of the book:
The language is called Essdran. Pronounce the double ss like the th in them. It’s based loosely on English and Welsh, with a mashup of tweaked Celtic cognates.
I wanted to write the other book and then finish Book 3 while I was querying. But I’m still job hunting, and I’m too stressed to concentrate on it properly. Plus, my head keeps drifting back to the world of Ilarrya, my fictional country in which Essdran is the primary language. Sooooooo . . .
I decided to work very hard on the conlang, which will feature more prominently in Book 3, while pushing equally hard on finding a job. The language really needs to be more developed before I can dive into the story. The harder I work, the faster it will get done.
Not only that, but when Book 3 comes out, I intend to offer a discount when you buy the trilogy as a box set. Amazon will let me do this through Kindle Direct Publishing; as I’ve mentioned before, I’m still hoping to find another distributor because they suck.
I know some folks won’t buy any books in a trilogy or series until it’s finished, due to the fear that the author may not actually finish it. This poses a bigger problem for traditionally published books than indie ones — if the first book in a planned series doesn’t sell, publishers will drop it like a hot lava bomb. So buy that book, y’all.
That’s not really an issue in self-publishing. I can do whatever I want on my own timeline. Because I want you to have the complete story, and I promised I’d finish it, I will finish it first. Those of you who read Confluence and are pissed off at me over the ending (YES I WENT THERE, MWAHAHAHA) should be happy with this.
And if you like Ilarrya and want to immerse yourself in its backstory, let me know. I could probably offer the world compendium as a companion book.
As you can see from the bafflingly large (?! wtf WordPress) thumbnail in the sidebar on my homepage, Confluence is out!
Click on the picture to go straight to its Amazon page or visit boomkaartbooks.com/books. Tunerville is also on sale through Friday, September 17, just in case you haven’t read it yet (ebook only).
It’s just the ebook right now—a paperback is coming but not until I go through a proof copy. The preview looked okay, but you never know.
You can watch the trailer below. I have better software now and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not happy with this being the thumbnail, but YouTube wouldn’t pull one from the first bit, so poo on them; it’s their fault. Neener neener!
I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. My conlang needs a LOT of work, and I want to write something else. I promised to finish this trilogy (and I will!). NaNoWriMo is coming up, but in my current situation, I don’t think I’m in the best place mentally to do it, unless I find a job and a place before then.
Y’all have no idea how bad this is. Really. The system is so broken. You can’t get a job unless you already have one, because if you don’t have one you’re not a desirable employee? I mean, what is that? Why would I need a job if I already have one?
I just need someone to give me a chance. :'( My creativity has taken a hit. All I can do is my best. I hope you enjoy the new book.
Behold, the cover for Confluence, Book 2 of the Tuner Trilogy!
If you follow me on Twitter at @DameWritesalot or at @BoomkaartBooks, now you know why I kept tagging it with a hole, haha.
There will be a paperback, a bit later but the e-book is imminent. I need time to order a proof copy of the PB to make sure everything prints properly. I did not do that with The Shiny Folk and was disappointed, but oh well, no one is buying that anyway. Anyway, my beta and hard-copy edits are done. Layout is done. The paperback cover is done—I can’t usually do that until I know how many pages it will be, since I have to use a template.
I am nervous, y’all. Ner. Vous. Even though I’ve done this twice now, I’m always scared I messed something up. But I can fix it. I have that power.
Also, I think WordPress has jacked up their editor again. I can’t see headings now. They’re trying to force me to pay to upgrade and that is NOT going to happen. It can’t; I still do not have a day job.
I will make another announcement when the e-book goes live on Amazon. See you then!