Category Archives: Daily Life

Countdown to the end

My whole life, I’ve always had “jobs” and never a “career.” I showed up for work at roughly the time I was supposed to be there (more often later than not, if I’m honest), I concentrated on my “job” or what I was supposed to do while I was there, and when quitting time rolled around, I turned off the light, clocked out, and was done.

I never brought my work home with me. I never needed to ~ I worked for a paycheck, nothing more. Through the years I’ve had a variety of different jobs with a wide range of employers, but none of them were ever what I really wanted to do.

Write.

So I wrote on my own time, and for a while, that worked. Even when I started out self-publishing, I was still able to make time for writing and marketing because I didn’t have many books to my name. When I started to work with publishers to get my books in electronic format, the burden of the “publishing process” was taken off my shoulders. No longer did I have to make time to create cover art, or lay out book files, or do anything more than my usual level of self-editing. Someone else did all that for me.

But I’m someone who likes to retain control, and often I feel like I can do something better myself. I know the books I wrote better than anyone else can possibly ever know them (with the exception of a few crazy fans ~ you know who you are!), and I know how best to market them. Not just ads and promotions but cover art, layout, the whole nine yards. I began to drift toward self-publishing again.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that running my own publishing company, in which I do 80% of the work (and thanks to Drew, Loukie, and Willem for the other 20%!), began to eat into the little time I had not at the day job. Something had to give, and unfortunately that turned out to be my own writing.

This past January, I reached a breaking point. I was stressed beyond belief ~ I lost both my long-term companion animals within days of each other (two loving cats, Jelly and Jono, whom I’d loved for 14 years), and I’m still reeling from the loss. That’s when I decided life’s too short not to do what I really love.

What I’ve always loved.

Write.

At the end of this month, June 30, I will quit the day job. I’ll work for myself, focusing on my writing and publishing through JMS Books, finally doing what I’ve always dreamed. Whether it will work out or not, I don’t know. It’s a scary step, to be sure. But if I don’t take it now, I’ll always wonder what might have been.

Fifteen days and counting. Woo!

Capital Pride 2011

Yesterday I was in D.C. for Capital Pride. It was my first time attending, and I had a vendor table selling books published by JMS Books LLC. I’m just basically a one-man show, and none of my authors live in the area, so my mother agreed to help man the booth (that’s her in the pic; click for larger image).

The whole event was, in one word, a success.

Before the day arrived, much of the talk between my mother, sister, and I revolved around the weather … or rather, what it might be like on Sunday. Talking about what the weather will be on any future date has always seemed a little pointless to me, because it’s going to do whatever it wants regardless of what I want it to be like outside, and no number of meteorologists are ever going to be right. I’ve often said I’d like a job where I can be wrong 90% of the time and not fear getting fired. The weather in DC was calling for hot (87º F or higher) with scattered thunderstorms. My sister thought we’d melt in the heat. My mother thought we’d wash away with the rain.

Neither came to pass. It was sunny most of the time ~ clouds moved in around 4:30 PM, and while there was some lightning, the rain was nothing but a light drizzle. It was hot, I won’t lie, but our booths were shaded and there was a nice breeze, and I’d bought cooling bandannas to help keep us from overheating. We had plenty of water on hand and overall it was a very pleasant day.

The main reason for that, though, had nothing to do with the weather. The crowd was immense, never faltering from the moment the event opened at 11 AM to the time we packed up a little before 5:30 PM. Traffic to our booth was steady, no doubt helped by the NARAL table beside ours that tended to stay busy (thanks guys!). I was limited on what I could bring to the event, mostly because parking was limited so I had to take only what my mother and I could carry on the Metro, but all the print catalogs I brought as promo were taken, as were all my business cards, all my promo CDs, and most of my pens.  And all the Starburst I put out to entice people to stop by the booth.

Our first sale of the day came, of course, when I left the booth to find the bathrooms. After that initial sale, we were quite busy ~ while most who stopped just took a catalog with them, many bought a book, and one guy bought four! I spoke with reviewers, librarians, and archivists interested in our titles; there were also a large number of readers who just came up to say thanks for continuing to sell in print when so much of the world is going digital. Many wanted to know if I had a local store (maybe one day, guys!), and many wanted to know how to submit their own stories, poems, and books to JMS Books.

Overall, I was very pleased with the number of books we sold. I only took two copies of each paperback I had on hand but some titles sold out (especially the lesbian and transgender ones). Some people who stopped knew who I was or had read books I’d published, and I met quite a few people I knew online (Alex Morgan and J. Rocci among them, to name a few). If every person who wanted to talk to me about publishing e-mails me, I’ll be reading submissions until the end of the year!

Like I said, Capital Pride was a success. Well worth the money in marketing alone, and I can’t wait to attend next year. I’m definitely bringing more promo with me, though!

In a holding pattern until July 1

I’ll let you in on a little secret ~ some days I just don’t feel like writing.

Lately it’s been hard for me to get up the energy and find the time to work on my stories. Between publishing and all that entails (cover art, edits, and formatting three e-books a week and four print books a month) and the dreaded day job, I usually find myself too tired at the end of the day to work on anything other than my beauty sleep. Part of the reason I’m leaving my day job is specifically because I don’t have enough time to write any more.

I used to write in the mornings before going to work. Now those two hours are filled with answering e-mails, creating cover art or e-book files, working on print layouts, etc, etc. Then it’s the office for eight hours, and not a moment more if I can help it. But the day wears me down to the point where I’m so sleepy when I get home, so I nap in the evenings after watching Family Guy on Fox (I’m not a huge fan of the show ~ if they replaced the weekday episode with American Dad, I would be much happier because I think it’s funnier). If I’m lucky, I wake up from the nap rejuvenated enough to write for an hour or so. If I’m not lucky, I crawl from the couch to the bed and call it a night.

You’d think weekends would be better. You’d be wrong. I spend a good portion of my days off from the day job trying to catch up on everything I didn’t get done during the week ~ and I don’t mean just on the publishing horizon, either. I have to run to the grocery and pet stores, to my mail box, to the post office, to Costco … and given the heat of the summer that’s already here, I come home exhausted and nap yet again. I swear, if there were an Olympic event for sleeping, I’d take home to gold, no contest.

I know the first week of July will be spent adjusting to my new, “no day job” schedule. I’ll have to learn to tell people I’m self-employed when they ask what I do for a living, instead of telling them I don’t work. I’ll have to catch up on all the website improvements I’ve been meaning to make for months now, not just to my blog or writing site but to the JMS Books web store, as well. And I’ll have to adjust my sleeping schedule if my crazy cat doesn’t stop crying at the door in the middle of the night.

But I also hope to get back to writing on a regular basis. Not just here and there, and not just on short stories, either. I want to get back to novels ~ I have two in various stages of disrepair, both of which I stopped after writing more than 25,000 words, both of which I hope to finish this year. I have several other projects up my sleeve ~ nonfiction writing books, for instance, which will be a fun diversion for me. I have print collections to compile, and shorter stories I started which I want to wrap up at some point.

I have a lot on my plate. I just hope I can find the energy to do it all once I finally have the time.