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.
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 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.
Betas are finished. Feedback is good. I have printed, hole-punched, and bindered my hard copy. The latter involved digging through my storage unit for the office box that contained my hole punch and manuscript binder. You see, I packed them, because I assumed I would be in my own apartment and UN-packed by the time I needed them again, but as we all know, the ‘rona is still borking everything up.
At least I think it’s the ‘rona. It could just be me. :P
Photo: Elizabeth West
Don’t pay any attention to the word count; it’s not final.
At any rate, we’re rounding third base and headed toward home now. I recently finished the book trailer for Confluence and I cannot WAIT to show it to you. You’ll get it when the book goes on pre-order. I have better software. It’s so good I can’t stop watching it.
In fact, it’s so much better than the other one that I actually redid and replaced the second Tunerville book trailer. It’s exactly the same; it just plays and looks much smoother overall. Since that video is linked to my portfolio, I decided I’d rather have a better-quality version, instead of the one I made in PowerPoint. Embarrassing!
The next thing you’ll get from me is probably a cover reveal. I will do that before I drop the trailer. Now to make the inside as spiffy as the rest of my materials, haha.
If I can stay off Iceland’s Geldingadalir volcano feeds, that is. I may be slightly obsessed with this thing. But can you blame me?
It is almost July! Still no job! Fuck everyone and everything! Burn it all!
Now that’s out of my system, it’s not all bad. I’ve had a couple of interviews, including a second one (although that company hasn’t contacted me yet; I plan to follow up on Monday but I suspect they went with someone else). I also actually DID get hired for a contract job in March, helping Alison Green of Ask A Manager get her pages and pages of December updates sorted.
I took the CompTIA test—AND PASSED IT! I’m Project+ certified! I don’t ever have to take that test again!
Burying the lede; Confluence has been sent to my two beta readers. I still have to do a hard copy edit, but I didn’t want to do that until I received some feedback, in case I have to move or delete anything. I haven’t even looked at it since I sent it. Instead, I had to study for the test.
Since I passed the test and don’t have to study for it anymore, the project activity list in my WBS (jargon, heh) looks like this:
– Conlang (depending on how extra I decide to be and how far I decide to take it, it could be just an artlang or a whole-ass separate thing). – Beta edits. – Hard copy edit. – Trailer: – Video edits. – Audio edits. – Assembly.
A note here: I know the first trailer was laughably amateurish, and the second wasn’t much better except for the fabulous voiceover. I’ve been watching a lot of professionally produced videos on Twitter and elsewhere and I noticed I’m seeing shots now instead of just content. Seriously, there’s nowhere to go from here but up!
– Back cover layout (I’ve got the front cover the way I want it). I can’t do this until I know for sure how many pages the paperback will have, because Amazon templates depend on page count. – Inside layout (easy; I already did it with Tunerville and all three books will be the same). – Set up pre-orders (if I can figure it out) and submit to KDP. – Paperback proofread. – Get a damn job so I can find another distributor because Amazon
I have a world compendium too, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s just for me or if it will be for you too.
I am so, so tired of job hunting, y’all. Even though working again will mean less hours in the day to write/produce, I think having my own space again will help a lot. The current situation is not good for my mental health, and that does affect my creativity. I’m hoping for a change of scenery far away from here, but we’ll have to see what we get.
I’m very anxious about what my betas will say. The extra outside edit with Tunerville has not happened this time. I just want to finish the story, but I want to give you the best version of it. I was hoping to have Confluence out and Book 3 started by now—between the CompTIA class and the Momergency, it’s just been crazy. (Once again, know the signs of a stroke; when in doubt, call 911 immediately.)
But I’ve begun to move into Book 3 headspace. So the machinery is ramping up again.
Although I’ve tried to make Confluence a self-contained story as much as I can, in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back, it’s still a middle bit. Obligatory plug: If you haven’t read Tunerville yet, get it here.
I’m excited about Book 3. I really am. It’s gonna be FUN.
Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. Still no job, still no new place.
This week, I finished a rough cut of the trailer for Confluence and the IRS dropped the $600 stimmy into my account (finally), so I sent off the contract to my voice-over actor. The trailer is much smoother than the first one because I used Movie Maker instead of PowerPoint this time. Making these is kinda fun, I must admit.
I can’t wait to show off my cover! Seriously, I’m really happy with it. Now I’m combing through the manuscript again before I send it to beta readers.
In other news, Mom got Moderna COVID vaccine number one a week or two ago through the county health department. She’s set to get her second shot at the end of this month. She had NO side effects whatsoever, not even a sore arm. I signed up through the health department and a different healthcare system. The latter contacted me first for an appointment.
So, as of yesterday:
You get whatever flavor they have—in my case, it was Pfizer. Side effects so far have included sleepiness (I went to bed at 10:00 pm last night, unheard of for me), a sore arm this morning, and a little dizziness and fatigue, nothing serious. I do have a bit of a headache. But it’s difficult to tell if that’s vaccine-related or because it was very windy yesterday and we’re into allergy season.
Keep wearing your masks and get your vaccine as soon as possible, folks. I recommend signing up via various platforms and also using a vaccine spotter likethis one to snag an appointment when your state opens eligibility. Outside the US, check with your local health authorities. If you’re in Brazil (I have at least one reader who is), please, do your best to stay safe!
Confluence will probably go on pre-order, something I didn’t do last time. I will definitely let you know when that will happen. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet read Tunerville, grab a copy now—you’ll have a much better reading experience with Book 2 if you read it first.
The Shiny Folk and other stories has come off expanded distribution, as it’s not selling, the royalty is much lower, and I need every penny I can get. So for now, you can only get the story collection in the U.S. I’m exploring options other than Amazon’s platform but that will have to wait until I find work.
The dream of traditional publishing has not died. As writers continue to practice their craft, they get better. Once I finish Book 3 of the Tuner Trilogy, I have another fantasy waiting in the wings. It’s all outlined and ready for me to start work. I’d hoped Tunerville would be the one, especially since I got so close. Maybe The Catalyst will. Who knows? If not, you’ll get it the indie way, unless I massively f*ck it up.
Short post is short since I’m feeling vax-tired. Till next time, keep reading. It’s not like there’s anything else to do in the (hopefully waning) days of a global pandemic.
This book series completely ignores what is going on in the world today, because it has to. I wrote Tunerville before tRumpledneckskin and COVID, and it would wreck everything if I tried to shoehorn in either of them. So I made an executive decision to leave it out. Plus, you don’t have to think about either of those things while reading it.
I sent it off early because I wanted to avoid the issue I had with the last book. By the time I found someone to do a really thorough edit, I’d done so much polishing I almost had to tear it down and rebuild it. This time, it’s rather loose, so I can shuffle things around more easily.
Writing a book is tough. Writing the second book in a trilogy is even tougher. I didn’t start out intending for Tunerville to have a sequel, but here we are. A middle book has to bridge the gap between the first book and the last and still hold up on its own.
I got some great advice from the writers on the podcast WRITERS/BLOCKBUSTERS. Although it’s a screenwriting podcast, I learn something about storytelling every time I listen. They talked at length about this in their Infinity War episode. Both this film and The Empire Strikes Back were complete stories in themselves. That is, characters had definite arcs and those arcs had resolutions, even as they led into their respective sequels.
Infinity War pulled all the threads of the MCU together and propelled us to the majestic ending in Endgame. Nobody here is getting snapped, but I drew something out of Tunerville and some shit is going down.
The ghost tuner opened up a can of worms for the characters. They’re suffering through it, and it isn’t their fault. They’re facing some strange and terrible things. But I hope they’ll find the strength they never knew they had.
Stay tuned for updates; you can follow me and my press, Boomkaart Books, on social media. I’m on Instagram but as it’s primarily a platform for pics and video, I don’t have much to post there. Nobody wants to see the four walls I stare at every day.
Once I’m out of this dungeon, that will likely change; I want to produce some video and audio content, but I can’t alter this space and my family member seems to be on a remodeling kick (yes, in the middle of a damn pandemic!). The noise level and inability to set up recording space have curtailed that for now.
Back to worldbuilding; have a good weekend and be safe. Wear the damn mask!
Y’all, I have seriously neglected you, and I’m sorry.
I have pandemic brain. Yes, you understand it. We’re all suffering from it. Time has no meaning. Days blend into one another. If you’re working, you’re either stressed from worrying about contagion or stressed from navigating your job at home, maybe around family members also working from home, kids, pets, etc.
If you’re not working, as I Still! Am! Not!, you’re stressed from that.
Last post, I mentioned I was going to republish a third and final edition of The Shiny Folk and other stories at Amazon. You can read my explanation for that move at Boomkaart Books’ Media page. Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to distribute there, but IngramSpark is too expensive. It costs me nothing to publish with KDP, even for print-on-demand. Of course, that’s by design; Jeff “Greed Dragon” Bezos makes money off me, though God knows I’m not making very much. If it’s free for you, then you’re the product.
Again, sorry my pandemic brain forgot to come over here and tell you I’d launched it, and about the free book promotion.
I’m extremely happy with the new book cover, however. I think it turned out great. It’s miles better than the last one.
I added a couple of stories—one from this blog, one I published previously in a now-defunct literary journal (that I’d put on the blog), and one brand new story, “MathLex.” If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how difficult math is for me, so guess where that one came from? The cover is black because a couple of the stories fall into the horror genre, particularly “Jack and the Bean Sprout,” which I’ve never been able to sell since it’s straight-up disturbing.
Have I been writing more stories? Well, yes and no. Short fiction isn’t my favorite medium; although I like reading it, I’m not so fond of writing it. “MathLex” is new. I started a promising work about werewolves, but honestly, I don’t have the bandwidth for it right now, between revising Confluence and job hunting.
I said January 2021 for the release of Confluence; I may have to push it out a little depending on the timing of editorial feedback. Once it’s out, I can write the final book in the trilogy—it’s all laid out in my head, and I’m toying with the idea of writing it during this year’s NaNoWriMo.
The Catalyst is on hold for now, although it’s completely outlined. I’m not worried about that one. I just don’t want to pull a George R. R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss on y’all, or leave you with an unfinished trilogy if I should get the ‘Rona or my head explodes from all the stress.
I tend to work better if I have something to work around. Like a job.
And may I just say that if a person goes to all the trouble to prepare for an interview, i.e. looking up the company website and info, setting up a nice space, dressing up, logging into Zoom, etc. etc., they at least deserve a rejection email. If you ghost me, you go on my shit list. FOREVER. And no, an email a month after the date you told me you wanted someone to start doesn’t count.
In the meantime, I’d better get back to it. There is no rest for the self-employed, and that includes writers, who don’t get paid until we actually finish the work. In between bouts of app-centered self care, that is.
The screenplay continues to grind along very slowly. I don’t think a massive online open course where people can proceed at their own pace (i.e. fall behind) is best for beginners learning a very interactive writing process. There are so many people in the class that no one can connect. The platform doesn’t allow you to follow anyone to see their progress. This is massively frustrating, since we’re required to give feedback to other writers. I would have preferred an in-person class with more interaction.
Critique is useful, but I’m tempted to just proceed on my own. I downloaded all the videos and lectures. Although I think it could be shot on a fairly low budget, I highly doubt I’ll ever do anything with it. It’s fine; this screenplay is only for learning anyway. Your first anything will never be your best.
I’ve set a release date of January 2021 for Book 2. And — I have a working title! It’s Confluence.
If I hustle, I should be able to revise and find an editor (and then revise again after that). Setting a deadline will hold me accountable. I really wish I could go somewhere else to work — the library would be good — but Missouri’s caseload keeps going up, so no.
Meanwhile, I took some time yesterday to mock up a layout of Chris’s house from Tunerville, where his maternal grandparents lived. When they died, his mother sold the house to him to keep it in the family, since Chris intended to stay in Martinsburg. Paulette and Alan moved to St. Thomas close to Chris’s brother Adam, his wife Carmen, and their grandchildren Mags and Henry. (Martinsburg and St. Thomas in Missouri are both fictional.) If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it at the title link.
Here’s the ground floor and the basement.
Image: A. Elizabeth West
Here’s the upstairs and the attic. I did these in Word, which sucks. I need to find some cheap (or free) easy-to-use room layout software.
Image: A. Elizabeth West
It helps me to have a representation of the space. When I’m writing, rooms tend to shift around in my head. During Book 1, the living room kept changing places with the dining room and the parlor / study. And the downstairs bath didn’t even exist! Chris’s bedroom also moved from the back to the front. But the kitchen has always been in that spot.
I don’t care if it’s not perfect. This is how it looks in my head. I need a solid image of the space for a pivotal scene.
In June, I attended two online workshops — How to Write Fights and Action Scenes, and Act Like a Writer — with comic book and NYT best-selling novel writer Jonathan Maberry, author of V-Wars and the Joe Ledger series, among others.
He presented scads of useful information and even took questions. Jonathan is very accessible on Twitter and prices his workshops affordably, a great help to little starveling writers like me. The proceeds from both went to an affordable housing organization, so coughing up $50 felt worth it in every way.
The Shiny Folk and other stories
I’ve taken my story collection down from the Boomkaart Books website temporarily. WordPress downgraded my ability to sell it directly from that platform unless I purchase an expensive Business account. I can’t do that presently, so the only alternative is to sell it via Amazon (ugh, I know). To do that, I have to raise the price a little and burn one of my ISBN numbers, so I’m including new content and a brand new cover. This will be the last edition of the collection. When it’s ready, I will let you know.
Conlang / Worldbuilding
Again, plugging away. I finally settled on place names for the world that goes with it. Of course, anything can change at any time as I plunge deeper into grammar, etc.
I also made a map using Inkarnate, an online map maker any Dungeons and Dragons players reading this will probably recognize. I like it despite the free version being somewhat limited. Should I stay on the high fantasy kick, I might pony up for a (very reasonable) Pro account.
Here’s a teaser:
That’s pronounced BETTHH-rah, by the way. In this language, ss is pronounced as the th in them. That’s all you’re getting. I’ve already said more than I probably should.
I’ve never gone this deep into fantasy before, and I’m not sure it will be a success, but it’s fun, so I don’t really care. If you enjoy the story, that’s all that counts.
I’ll leave you now to return to job hunting and revision. Stay safe — wash your hands, wear your masks, and avoid all the germy people (most of them).