What’s An Introvert To Do?

I’ve been at my new day job for seven weeks now. In that time, I’ve posted on Twitter or Facebook only a handful of times; published three blog posts here; checked my email occasionally, but not nearly as often as before. In the past, I’ve gone quiet when I’ve been overwhelmed with life — gone into hiding, in a way, from everything that threatened to topple over and bury me under its weight.

This is  not that.

I work in a place that provides a wide range of services to members of our community, most of whom don’t have other options. (more…)

Where to Start When You Want to Start Reading My Work (Fiction)

If you’re new to me as a writer (hi there!) or you’ve read a story here or there and you’d like to read more in the same vein, this sorted list might help you choose what to read next…

If you like fiction with female main characters:

If you like fiction about love, sex, and relationships set in SFF worlds:

If you like HPL-inspired/Mythos fiction:

If you like horror:

If you like fiction about robots:

If you like fiction about zombies:

  • “Mitch’s Girl” Edge Publishing’s Rigor Amortis anthology. October 1, 2010. (TW: zombie sex!)
  • “Dear Mom, This is Serious” Livingdead Press’s Emails of the Dead anthology. September 2010.

If you like mad science:

If you like noir:

  • A Different LeagueMondays are Murder web series, Akashic Books. August 26, 2013.

If you like darkly humorous or otherwise happily-ending stories:

If you want to be sad when you’re finished:

If you like stories with fighting, hunting, or soldiers:

If you like stories about books and maps:

If you like flash fiction of any stripe:

If you like Twitter Fiction:

If you like poetry:

And, if you want to read a bunch of these stories all together, please check out my first collection, Women and Other Constructs (published June 2013). Get it from me (print, epub or mobi), or from Amazon (print or Kindle).

Note: This list is presented with the most recent sales/publications first. When the story name is hyperlinked, click to read it for free online; if the title of the publication is linked, you can buy it online as well.

#SFWAPro

Money and Me: 2014 Edition

At the beginning of 2014, I started a project that would turn out to be far more ambitious than I’d expected, and ultimately change my life in big ways and small. I made a budget. For most people, that’s a small thing itself. For me –

I grew up poor, and that never really got better. I can’t remember a time I felt as though I had enough money to pay my bills, month after month, for more than a couple of months in a row. Over the years I got into bad habits with money, the kind of habits that come from knowing, for a sure and certain fact, that you will never be able to afford everything you need to get by, and you’re going to have to choose which thing to pay, and which to incur late fees on, or lose completely. Tiny, insignificant, choices, become monumental. Deciding whether to take my son to McDonalds for an order of chicken nuggets becomes a choice between giving my child a treat he’s been begging for all week, when he is cold and not feeling well and we haven’t been able to afford toys or movies or treats of any other kind and I already feel terrible that I can never do for him what other parents do for their kids — or washing a load of laundry we’ll need to get him into clean clothes for the school week. After a while, any money that comes in is paying off what’s already behind, and there’s never any hope that you’ll be able to build up savings, and the things you need to be even remotely comfortable and fed and safe are added to a growing list of things you mean to buy, someday, when you can…

The last couple of years have been the hardest for me that I’ve been through in a long time, but while all of that was happening, I figured out that I had everything I’d need for a good life right in front of me. In pieces, anyway. I had my writing, my son, the ability to do well at an administrative day job, and someone who made me want to be a better/more successful person. I had drive and skills, but those bad habits and some obstacles that felt impossible to overcome (debt, a lack of stable childcare, a horrible living situation) fed into the lack of hope that kept me from thinking any plan I put into place would actually work. Eventually I decided the future I could have was worth trying for, even though I was certain that everything I reached for would eventually be taken away. (more…)

Answers to Some Questions You Might Have Upon Discovering I Work for the Government

A few weeks ago, I was appointed to a position with the government. (The American one.) If you’ve stumbled upon this information for the first time, you may have some questions. That’s natural, and I would like to soothe your fears, and/or create new ones, by providing you with answers:

Q. Do you really work for the government?

A. Yes. Technically, many people you interact with work for the government, including the people you’d expect — like the police officer who writes you a ticket when you’ve driven the wrong way down a one-way street after too much of Grandma’s eggnog, and the staff of the DMV who make you wait for several hours before telling you that you’ve accumulated enough points on your record that you won’t be legally allowed to drive yourself home — or those you might not realize are government employees, like city bus drivers, public library librarians, or the crossing guard out front of your child’s school.

Q. Are any of those your job?

A. No.

Q. What do you do?

A. After careful consideration, I and my superiors feel that it would be better if that information remained classified for now.

Q. Are you a spy?

A. No.

Q. Then why can’t you tell me what you do?

A. I could tell you, but then I’d have to k- no, wait. No. I definitely don’t kill people. Let’s just say I work in “health administration”.

Q. So you work for a hospital?

A. No. Why don’t you ask me something else?

Q. If you work full-time at a day job now, does that mean you’re quitting freelancing?

A. Absolutely not! I love writing. It’s a part of my life I could never giving up. And editing isn’t just a way to use my own skills so they don’t get rusty; it’s also my way of giving back to the writing community by offering online workshops, discounted edits for those who can’t afford my standard rates, and by publishing diverse, quality speculative fiction which might not otherwise have found a home. Having a dayjob means that I won’t have to scramble for work just to pay my rent, or waste time chasing jobs which don’t materialize. I can take the work that comes to me, as I have time.

Q. You must make a lot, working for the government, right?

A. Well… no. I make a reduced hourly rate for the first nine months, while I’m in the probationary period, and out of that comes health insurance payments, mandatory payment into the pension, payment into the other retirement plan, and union dues. (Yes, I’m in a union. No, you won’t guess which one.) My take home pay will actually be just enough to pay my rent each month, and keep the heat on. Not enough to buy groceries, repair my breaking-down 20 year old car, or the clothes my son insists on growing out of every few months… But knowing that I won’t be homeless anytime soon, that’s a humongous relief. Add to that the fact that I’ve now got good health insurance, and that 25 years from now, when I do retire and spend all of my remaining time writing, I will have a retirement plan to support me.

I’ve never had a retirement plan before. I’m going to have to work every week of those next 25 years — I won’t have the freedom that came with the freelancing — but if I live long enough to retire, I’ll be protected. If I get sick next month, I’ll be protected. That’s a kind of freedom I never expected to have, and that’s worth working for.

But since I don’t get a full month’s pay this month, and I’ve still got those other bills to pay on top of the January rent which will soon be due (and I’d love to be able to get my son a Christmas present this year) please do consider taking one of my upcoming workshops.

Q. Anything else we should know?

A. I can’t be online as much as I used to, so my social media postings (Twitter, Facebook, etc) have already gone down. I’m not logging into my email every day, either. In exchange, I’ll find time to update my blog more often. I won’t be able to reveal any official secrets, but I’m sure you’ll be just as happy with the “unofficial” ones.

#SFWAPro

Almost There

Yesterday, I turned 41. It’s not as a big a milestone, traditionally, as say turning 21 or 30, but I’ll remember this birthday for a long time. We had a quiet night in. A small, brightly colored birthday cake mainly because my son wanted to “share” one with me. My first try at making sesame chicken — which turned out edible enough that I should figure out how to make it better — and snuggles on the couch, watching a Filipino movie (sadder than I expected, but still had a happy ending). My couch, my birthday cake, my son, and my comfy bed (where I slept in this morning) are all in my new apartment, which I love. I’m finally going back to work in a stable, long-term day job with good benefits and a retirement plan. I’ll soon have my finances on track, and be able to stop scrambling for freelance work. I won’t be constantly worried, stressed, unable to sleep. I’ll be able to start working on Lakeside Circus again, finish the Dagan Books reorganization, and get back to being a publisher. (Which takes money, time, and devotion — right now, I’ve got two out of three.) I can spend a lot less time pursuing work, and errant paychecks, and much more time writing, editing, and teaching. My son’s finally gotten approval and staff for an after-school program that will start this week, which take him out in the world and hold his hand while he learns all the little things people without autism often take for granted, after 2+ years of paperwork and waiting and being unable to hold down a full-time dayjob and being told “any day now” and then put off another month and another…. That lack of childcare, that humongous obstacle to working outside my home, is finally solved.

Everything is settling into place, after years of struggle. I’m almost there.

#SFWAPro