Adulting as a Writer, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Chaos

Most people I know, particularly most writers I know, don’t enjoy adulting. I hated adulting so much I told myself I was happy with part-time service industry jobs for 10 years before I finally went to college. At the time, I thought I was going back to college so that I could get on with conforming to adulthood. By the time I graduated last summer at the age of 32, I’d realized, thanks to friends and most of all professors, that being a responsible adult does not mean a soul-crushing 9-5 job, and that my skills as a person are, actually, valuable in the “real world,” no matter what anyone outside my fields of expertise might tell me to the contrary. It has been an inspiring and revealing year for me as a young-30’s writer.

I got a degree in anthropology because I wanted to do archaeology. I got a job with a local archaeology firm before I graduated. I still work for that firm, and people still tell me there are no jobs in archaeology. When people ask if it’s full time and I say, “Not at the moment,” they often look smug, and I look smug right back, because here’s the thing: I never wanted to devote all my time and energy to one thing. The best way for me to go from loving something to being soul-crushingly bored by it is to do it all the time. Granted, archaeology has enough variety in itself that 40 hour weeks would definitely not be a problem. But I get to work in my chosen field with people I get along with, getting exercise and spending time in nature frequently as part of my job. My favorite pastime as a child was playing in dirt and finding stuff to put in my “museum” (i.e. playhouse).

The rest of my work week consists of researching and writing articles for the history website Clio, and doing freelance editing for other writers. Which makes for a nice triad of activities to keep me (1) paid and (2) interested in everything I’m doing. Physical work and research/writing for reports at Corn Island Archaeology, historic research and article writing for the Clio, and reading fiction and working through edits for my own business…it’s a good mix for me. It keeps me a little busier than I’d ever intended to be, and I work more than 40 hours a week, but I enjoy it all and I make a living! I get paid to do things I grew up doing for fun! What better way to adult??? Funny thing is, I still didn’t think of myself as a successful adult until my mother pointed this perspective out to me. (This is one of many reasons I am lucky my mom is also a writer and is awesome.)

Perhaps because I’ve learned to live in chaos and a perpetual state of having something I should be working on, I’ve rePerBastet_tallcatcently added to my agenda the role of Marketing Director for Per Bastet Publications, the house through which my own novel, The Life and Death (but mostly the death) of Erica Flynn, is now published. Strangely, taking on more in this case has made me feel more driven to work on my own fiction, something I’ve let slide far too much this year. The more I think of what the press offers (so far, a number of excellent speculative fiction novels and collections of short stories!) the more I find myself wanting to write more stuff, wanting to actively work to share more of the ideas that bounce around in my head all the time with readers.

So, you might be wondering, what am I writing these days? I’ve got two projects in the fire at the moment, both of which I’m actively working on (most days), as my schedule allows. 1. A sequel to Erica Flynn, which I have around 20,000 words on and no title for yet. 2. A series of interconnected steampunk/cyberpunk short stories featuring Penelope and Puddingfoot in post-apocalyptic (no zombies) adventures across America (the first of which was published in the Circuits & Steam anthology). I’m working on the second story now, with a four-story plot arc lined up.

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The Pros of Cons

Last weekend, I attended the first annual Imaginarium Louisville – a convention for writers, readers, and cover artists.  This was easily the best-organized, friendliest, and best-programmed convention I’ve attended in the last 5 years or more.  And it wasn’t just the folks running the event who made it awesome.  I met some intensely creative, fun, and interesting people last weekend that I look forward to seeing at next year’s Imaginarium (if not at another event in the meantime!)  One of the things I’ve always appreciated about being around other writers is that 99% of all writers I’ve met are generous with advice, interested in everything, and respectful of others’ styles and ideas.

The only down side is, now I’m so fired up about writing AND I HAVE NO TIME TO DO IT!!!!!  School, much as I enjoy it, and work (lucky as I am to have two part-time jobs that I love) and all things related to school and work take up pretty much all of my time…and what little I have left is used on maintaining my sanity and doing things like, you know, sleeping, eating, and taking showers on a daily basis.  However, winter break will be here before I know it…  If I am never NOT insanely busy (and I hate being busy, so this is fairly likely), here are the things I want to work on:

1. The second edition of The Life and Death (but mostly the death) of Erica Flynn, which will be released through Per Bastet Publications as soon as I finish proofreading it and writing the new “director’s cut” scene in the final 1/3 of the book.  This will hopefully happen in early October!

2. The second book of the trilogy (yes, I said trilogy), which is partially underway.

3. A full collection of post-apocalyptic short stories, all set in the same world as “She Who Dines on Heavenly Food,” my cyber/steam punk crossover starring Penelope & Puddingfoot.  And yes, I want to write a second Penelope & Puddingfoot story…I’ve already written the beginning.

4. Another book of speculative fiction short stories (which I haven’t started) based on pieces of Russian history.

Now, all I have to do is graduate…

The Steampunk World’s Fair

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Steampunk Welsh Corgi

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This girl’s costume is beautiful! She’s already hooked on a kids’ supernatural book by my fellow author, K.A. Davur!

This weekend was a whirlwind road trip to the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey.  Armed with 3 bags of snack food and 16 bottles of Powerade, Zak and I made the 11.5 hour drive through thunderstorms and hail and mountains, but arrived safely and met up with the rest of the gang at the 3 Fates Press tent.  Saw some incredible costumes, but unfortunately only got a couple of photos (including this fantastically cute and well-mannered steampunk corgi!) because I was otherwise too preoccupied with selling books!  I’m sorry, but the whole world stops when a cute animal walks by.  We sold out of our anthology, Circuits and Steam, before the end of the day (it will now only be available in electronic format), and Erica Flynn was selling itself by the evening.  Cutting up with my fellow authors, my cover artist (a.k.a. boyfriend), and my publisher was a blast!  My own costume was sadly lacking, compared to the other attendees, but at least it was comfortable!  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any selfies, so I can’t post my combat-boots-and-khakis style “steampunk lite” outfit.

Thankfully, the drive back contained no major storms or sliding down a mountain grade on marble-sized ice, so we actually got to enjoy the beautiful scenery through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia on our way back to Kentucky.

Next weekend, May 24-25, Erica Flynn will be much closer to home, at the Howard Steamboat Museum’s Art and Antique Jubilee (a free event in Jeffersonville, Indiana!)  Whether I will be there in person or not depends on how far along I am with arrangements for my departure to my archaeological field school in Spain next week!  Even if I don’t make it to the Jubilee, 3 Fates Press will be there with copies of the book.  I can promise many pictures and stories about the field school experience will appear on this blog in June, after my return!

Somewhere gorgeous in Maryland or Pennsylvania, I’m not sure which

Catching Up With Fiction

So I’ve made it through another school year, and have over 250 pages of essays and notes to show for it.  As usual when I don’t have time to write fiction, I’ve been missing the process of putting together stories, settings, and characters – but they say a variety of types of writing is good practice.  I know for a fact that my expository writing has improved this semester, and connecting ideas and maintaining pacing  is important in either style.  Now that it’s summer, I’m so excited about the chance to get back to fiction that I can’t decide which project to work on!

Not that my summer is going to be much less busy than the school year…for the next few weeks, I’m doing book events, hopefully getting some editing work, and preparing for my archaeological field school.  Then I head off to Spain for 3 weeks to help excavate a Celtic Iron Age necropolis (stay tuned for updates on that!)  When I get back, I’ll (*fingers crossed!*) have a job waiting – plus more book events and independent research for my senior honors thesis for next year.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you!

Still, it’s high time to make time to write.  I’ve got a sequel for Erica Flynn to work on, a follow-up story to my steampunk/cyberpunk short story for 3 Fates Press’ anthology (Circuits & Steam) and a series of other interconnected post-apocalyptic short stories to go along with it,  and a prequel story to King Kong.  I feel like a kid in a candy store just thinking about all these projects!

Events for May 2014

 

Circuits & Steam cover by Jordan Bell

From May 16th-18th, I’ll be in New Jersey, attending the Steampunk World’s Fair with 3 Fates Press!  3 Fates is releasing Circuits and Steam, a brand-new crossover anthology of steampunk & cyberpunk short stories at the fair.  My contribution features an opium-addled cocktail waitress and her slightly sociopathic automaton butler in post-apocalyptic Chicago.  There are likely several related stories forthcoming, as I had way more ideas than I could fit into one short story for these characters and this bizarre future setting!  I’ll also, of course, be selling copies of The Life and Death (but mostly the death) of Erica Flynn – and I’ve got some great Erica Flynn swag & giveaways for the table, too!  Plus, I’m putting together some pretty sweet jewelry on the theme of steam/cyber and/or death – and what’s better than shiny death jewelry???

 

May 24th-25th (10-5 / 10-4, respectively), along with 3 Fates, I’ll be attending the Howard Steamboat Museum’s Art & Antique Jubilee in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  It’s a free event!

 

Progress for Erica

It’s definitely past time to do an update here!  Happily, I have news to post.  My novel, The Life and Death (But Mostly the Death) of Erica Flynn, has changed hands – but is now back on track to publication thanks to Three Fates Press.  I signed the contract last week, and by this time next year, the book will be released!  I’m excited to be moving forward with it, and excited to be working with my new publisher, too.  I’ll add news here as things progress, of course, and attempt to get back to updating on a regular basis, also.

School is keeping me busy this semester (what’s new?) and with NaNoWriMo coming up, I’m increasingly jealous of everyone I know who is managing to find the time to participate.  I’m writing roughly 7,500 words per week of essays, which adds up to 30,000 words in one month – can I count THAT toward NaNoWriMo???!  I want to write the draft of my Erica Flynn spinoff (same Underworld, different dead people), but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I have to concentrate on schoolwork.  Blah! 

In the meantime, however, I can probably manage to use Thanksgiving Break and the first part of Winter Break to write a steampunk story for an anthology for Three Fates Press, which I’m also looking forward to.  I mean, what’s more fun than writing about a sociopathic automaton?