dagan books

Slow and Steady

Recently, a great number of loose ends have begun to weave themselves together, and goals I’ve been working on for a year or more are suddenly falling into place. That includes:

Medical

A) I don’t have cancer. After a couple of months of tests and worry, I found out a week ago that my thyroid tumor is not only benign, but collapsing in on itself, so the planned surgery to remove it is no longer necessary. (If you missed the longer version of that story, read it here.)

B) A month ago I started taking medication for me ADHD, after a lifetime of struggling to stay on top of it without help. The process to get medication took several months, and involved starting therapy with a counselor to make sure it wasn’t depression (it’s not), seeing a general practitioner to rule out a different medical problem (it’s not) and finally seeing a psychiatrist to make sure it wasn’t some other psychological problem (not that either), plus a followup to find out if what I’m taking is working correctly and is at the right dosage (it is).

C) All of the above led me to so many medical tests/blood draws/psychological exams that I have now been declared “very healthy”. Yay!

Fitness

A little over 2 years ago, I was a hundred pounds overweight. There were a lot of reasons I got there and kept it on for several years, but I knew I needed to change my life for, similarly, a lot of reasons. I’m not guessing on my goal number–it’s based on a weight I actually was, after high school, after having a child, and even then I was still a little over my medically ideal weight. My real goal is a size/level of fitness, not a number on a scale, but when you’re 100 pounds away from where you want to be, picking a goal number helps you visualize where you’re headed. My plan is to get close to that spot, and decide then if I’ve lost enough fat, need more muscle, or would be more comfortable going down one more size. I’ll never be thin, I’m built on an hourglass shape but, luckily, I love the way I look when I’m healthy.

As of now, I’ve lost 35 pounds. It took two years to lose and keep off the first 20, plus learn how to stop putting it back on. I changed my diet, in tiny ways, changed my exercise (adding more as I got healthier), learned about nutrition and portion control and how to eat enough while not giving up the food I enjoy… and the more I understand all of those things, the easier losing weight has been. The last 15 pounds came off in the last two months, and I’m finally at a place where I don’t overeat, do work out. I can see the rest coming off without too much stress, if I give it a little more time.

Plus, last night I went out, wearing a simple summer dress I’d bought on sale for $9, in a standard size, and I looked good. *grin*

Job Hunting

A) I’ve needed a stable office/administrative day job for a while now, because freelance is too unpredictable when I have a child to care for and monthly bills to pay. Getting there meant having to find after school/summer care for my son, who has autism. Last summer, he wouldn’t have been accepted to a program for typical kids–he just didn’t have enough language and social skills. After a year of being included in a mainstream class (with a one-on-one aide), and then a few months of going to a one-day-a-week after school program for kids with special needs, and getting used to being away from me with our wonderful babysitter, he was finally ready to try being more independent.

It took weeks to find someone who’d even try a special needs child in their daycare; I got him into one program that kicked him out a week later–not because he’d done anything wrong, but because he didn’t always want to play with the other kids, and they wanted to oversee their children in a group, all at once, so they’d be able to run on a smaller staff. After a few more weeks, I got him into a better (but much more expensive) program partially run by the city, and it’s been wonderful. The staff talked to me about their concerns up front, since he wouldn’t have a dedicated aide and none of the other children have special needs, but it turned out to not be an issue. My son is doing great, he follows the rules, plays where he’s told, and the other kids like him. He’ll be going back in the fall.

During the summer he’s going to be at a camp that’s mixed typical kids/special needs kids, and have an aide for part of the day (swim lessons!), and he’s very excited to start.

B) Once I had that settled, I started sending out resumes. I had three interviews last week, and am waiting to hear back. I realized it’s like submitting stories: the longer they hold on to you, the more you hope you got in. It could still be a rejection, but it’s nice to feel you’re getting close to making a sale.

Personal

More than two years after K and I separated, I am finally divorced. It was going to take even longer, but we had a conference last week and settled everything. I ultimately decided that giving up some of what I was owed was worth it if it meant being able to move on with my life. I got stuck with some debt that wasn’t really mine, and didn’t get money I should have, but I also don’t have to try to fight a contested divorce from across the country (he’s in CA). I don’t have to spend more money on lawyers, or more time dealing with this. I can just be done.

Writing

Last month I started finishing up a few pieces I began last year, wrote new flash, and created a page for Free Fiction here. This week I put together my first short story collection. I’ve got ebooks now; the print version is processing, and I’ve submitted the ebooks to other distributors. Tracking my stats all year, staying organized, and writing even when I feel like quitting, helped me keep with it even with everything else I’ve had going on. I feel like I’m finally back to where I was in 2010, when I had a clear idea of where my career was going.

Dagan Books

We posted an update to our schedule, I’ve emailed the authors for Cthulhurotica 2 and our next novella and our first single-author collection; all of those things are now concurrently being worked on. By me. Yeah. It’s going to be a busy summer.

Finance

This is the one dark spot. Medical bills (I got my final bill for both the MRI and the biopsy), normal life expenses, and a month of having absolutely NO freelance work at all have put me behind. Too far behind to ignore.

I’ll need to raise some money for what’s due now, and will post tomorrow with links to buy my work, including signed copies of my anthologies and the new collection. Once this stuff is paid off, and I’m working again, I’ll be able to stay ahead, even put money into future Dagan Books projects, so I can see that very soon, I’ll be okay. I just need to get through this last, very stressful, moment, and move on.

From the outside it looks as if I suddenly have had a change in fortunes. Overnight, my life is better. But really it’s the cumulation of working hard over a long period of time, not letting my stress and fear get the better of me, and not giving up. That’s it. That’s my advice for all of you who’re struggling with the hard things in your lives. Don’t give up.

It can’t get better if you quit.

Jan 2013 Stats

In an effort to keep better track of the work I do as a writer, reviewer, editor, and publisher, I’m going to try to post regular stats updates. I did this one by creating a post at the beginning of the month, saving it as a draft, and then adding to it whenever I accomplished something. (Much easier than trying to put it together all at once on the day I want it to post.)

In January I …

Read

  • “After the Apocalypse”, the last story in the collection of the same name by Maureen F. McHugh. Read my review here.
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Brief review on Goodreads.
  • The Bleeding Man, and Other Science Fiction Stories, by Craig Strete. Review here.
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, issues 104, 105 & 106. Review of 104 & 105 here.
  • Started reading Nobokov’s Pale Fire.
  • and some Tony Stark/Captain America slash fic, but I blame Conni for that.

Wrote

Edited

  • A 990 word lit fiction piece from 2011 called “Skipping Ahead To The End” (see below)

Published

  • FISH. (And there was much rejoicing.) This included proofing print and ebooks several times, submitting files to markets, blog posts, a Goodreads giveaway, and so on.

I also

  • appeared on two more Functional Nerds podcasts – Episode #133 and Episode #134 (click on the links to listen)
  • appeared on an SF Signal podcast (will post in February).
  • got my Goodreads account organized, updated my bookshelf, and started using it to keep track of the books I’m reading.
    • Created a Dagan Books group for people who want to discuss our projects or authors (join it here).
    • added a page for FISH.
  • Updated the Our Staff page on the Dagan Books site; fixed date/link/spelling errors in other places on the site.
  • Updated my Non-Fiction page, and my links.
  • Chased down and corrected contract issues for two stories I sold back in Spring 2012 (as yet unpublished).
  • Critiqued two 4k word stories for a friend.
  • Spent some time in the forums at Zoetrope. It’s focused more on literary fiction than genre fiction, and I like getting that perspective on my work.
    • Read and critiqued 5 flash-length stories.
    • Submitted one of my own (“Skipping Ahead To The End”).
  • Put more story ideas into Evernote.
  • Interviewed E.C. Meyers (read it here) and Fran Wilde (here).
  • And started tracking my fiction submissions in one of these:

Old School For The Win.

Overall:

That’s about 9,300 new words of non-fiction writing for the month and 1300 of fiction. Read 22 short stories (7 unpublished) and one novel (started a second). Revised and submitted one flash piece to be critiqued & critiqued 7 stories for other writers. Was on 3 podcasts. Got an anthology prepped and published – a year later than I’d originally intended but proof that I am starting to get back on track. Plus a bunch of office work (I am my own middle manager).

I’m planning to write more fiction in February, as well as get at least one more (hopefully two) Dagan Books projects published, and move forward on the other four in-progress titles.

My advice for February:

Do one thing every day. If you can, write. A blog post, or 500 words on your current story. If not, read. A short story, chapter, a couple of articles you need for research, it’s all useful, and often easier than writing when you’ve had a long day. Make a list of the things you’ve been meaning to do and check one off. By focusing on one thing a day, you’ll end up having done 28 things by the end of the month, instead of pushing yourself to do too much and being too burnt out to work for days at a time. That’s reading several magazines, or writing your weekly blog post for the next six months, or 14,000 words on your novel…

Getting Ready for Readercon 2012

One of the best parts of pre-Readercon planning is when the program schedule finally comes online and I get to pick out the panels I hope to attend. Last year I didn’t make to everything I thought I wanted to go to, because either I got a chance to meet someone I’d only known online before, or I got drug along to a different panel with friends, or because I stole an hour to retreat to my room and take a nap. But still, I like plans, and making plans, and having plans, and being prepared …

Let me say right now that there is one place you will absolutely be able to find me this year:

Friday, 7:00 PM (VT room) Reading. Michael J. DeLuca. Michael J. DeLuca reads “Other Palimpsests,” forthcoming in the anthology Bibliotheca Fantastica from Dagan Books, edited by Claude Lalumière and Don Pizarro.

A reading from a book my company is publishing this year? Don’s first title as an editor? A chance to meet one of our authors? Hell. Yes.

But, you know, other stuff is happening too. Here’s a list of more panels I think I’ll be at:

Thursday July 12

8:00 PM G Genrecare. Elizabeth Bear (leader), Kathleen Ann Goonan, Kelly Link, Shira Lipkin, Barry N. Malzberg. In a 2011 review of Harmony by Project Itoh, Adam Roberts suggests that “the concept of ‘healthcare’ in its broadest sense is one of the keys to the modern psyche.” Yet Roberts notes “how poorly genre has tuned in to that particular aspect of contemporary life.” Similarly, in the essay “No Cure for the Future,” Kirk Hampton and Carol MacKay write that “SF is a world almost never concerned with the issues of physical frailty and malfunction.” As writers such as Nalo Hopkinson, Tricia Sullivan, and Kim Stanley Robinson explore the future of the body, how is SF dealing with the concepts of health, medicine, and what it means to be well?

Friday July 13

11:00 AM F Post-Colonial Independence and the Fantastic. Christopher Brown, Bernard Dukas (leader), Walter Hunt, Vandana Singh. Indigenous peoples in post-colonial nations often use speculative and fantastical works to explore concerns raised by colonization, wars for independence, and the colonizers’ departure. Are there commonalities to speculative stories written in immediately post-colonial nations—say, within the first 50 years of independence—around the world, such as Egypt in the early 20th century, India and the Philippines in the late 20th century, and Croatia today? What about 19th-century Haiti and 16th-century Persia? What do these works reveal about the nature of colonization and the ways that narratives are shaped by the authors’ direct personal experiences of the struggle for independence?

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Readercon 2011 Recap: Saturday / Sunday (and we’re done)

I’ve previously talked about the books I brought home from Readercon, some Readercon advice on writing an author blurb, and recapped Thursday/Friday.

Saturday morning was breakfast at Panera, then panels:

11 AM Book Design and Typography in the Digital Era Neil Clarke, Erin Kissane, Ken Liu, David G. Shaw (leader), Alicia Verlager. From this I found out that Ken knows quite a bit about the history of the book and its evolution from scroll to codex to ebook, making him officially one of my favorite people ever. This was one of the most informed panels I attended, and I felt that all of the panelists had useful things to add to the discussion. I only wished it were longer.

12:00 PM Daughters of the Female Man Matthew Cheney, Gwendolyn Clare, Elizabeth Hand (leader), Barbara Krasnoff, Chris Moriarty. I tend to avoid panels on women’s issues in fiction, honestly. I’m of the school that we should promote damn fine writers who happen to be women as opposed to promoting women writers and hoping they’re good. I come from an academic background and am particularly informed by the discussion about women’s place in art history, and the (absurd) question which always gets asked, “Why are there no good women artists?” However this panel was excellent both for it’s suggestions for further reader and for the way it didn’t focus on anything other than good writing by women. Notable for this panel was the absurd statement from the audience about how the panel should have done “a little more work” and created an annotated bibliography to hand out (you know, so we wouldn’t have to read anything on our own).

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Readercon 2011 Recap: Thursday / Friday

The drive up to Boston was easy and uneventful save for the sudden realization that I was actually driving through the Bronx. That wasn’t clear from the directions, which essentially said take 95N from NJ to Connecticut, so you can understand why the first time I drove over the George Washington bridge and into the Bronx I was a little surprised. I stopped in Orange, CT, for breakfast at a place called Chip’s Diner, home to some pretty good buttermilk pancakes. That was my halfway point, and the rest of the drive was pretty but boring. I found the hotel with little trouble, got checked into my room, unpacked my suitcase, fell onto the big, fluffy bed, relaxed in the air conditioning, and very nearly fell asleep.

That would have been bad because I was due to pick Don Pizarro up from the airport an hour later. Logan Airport was only 12 miles from the hotel, but I wanted to be early if possible so he didn’t have to wait. Plus, Bart Lieb needed Don to read at the Broken Slate/Crossed Genres reading Friday night, so he insisted that I get up. I shared the elevator back down to the lobby with another woman – we looked at each other, said, “Readercon?” and both nodded. “I’m going to the gym to try to bike off this headache,” she said. “You?” I told her I was off to the airport. “Oh, at this time? I’m sorry,” she said, as the doors opened, and we waved our goodbyes. I wondered at that, got into my car, and for the first few miles I made good time. Switching onto 93 for the other 9 miles of the trip left me in dead-stop traffic. It ultimately took me 50 minutes to travel those 9 miles, by which time, Don’s plane was due to have landed. I finally pulled in, and called – no answer. I got into the terminal, since I had his flight info I knew where I was supposed to be, called again and … no answer. I checked the Starbucks (we’re writers, of course we gravitate toward coffee and wifi) but no luck. Called again and found his plane had arrived late; he was just getting off it now. Perfect! I wasn’t late after all. We found each other easily after that, got back to the hotel faster than I’d made it out to the airport, and after dropping his stuff off, made our way to the hotel bar.

My room was near the Con Suite, which was not, as directions would suggest, out the 6th floor window.

I did mention that we were writers, right?

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