The Mid-point Post

Here I am.

This is a place that I have been only one other time. I have reached the mid-way point of Camp NaNoWriMo. I am on track, and have remained on track.

The last time I did this well, I was so squirrely by this point that the ‘week two weepies’ as other NaNo participants have put it, felt like a week two ‘neverending flood of tears and lack of sleep’. I was completely burnt out. This time, I can’t say I’m 100% energized and fresh, but I’m definitely feeling good, with a lot more fight left in me.

I guess it’s true; If you’re going to run a marathon of any kind, even if it’s only straining your carpal tunnels, you have to prepare. The daily work and word count that I have been putting in for the last few months has made a huge difference. In fact, it has made all the difference because I have never been so well-situated to win before.

My secret weapon is consistency. Butt in seat time. Practice and steady care for myself, my craft and my professionalism, which for me, means achieving a significant word count per day. Want to achieve it? Then live it, every day, and then the main event will be a breeze.

I could still burn out, and if I do, I won’t be too hard on myself. At this point, I have the pride of knowing that no matter where I end up in this, I will be doing better than I ever have.

*Walks Back In, Takes Off Shoes*

Well, it’s been a while for this blog.

I’m sure you’ve been waiting, breath held in wordless anticipation for an explanation, so here goes.

I got busy. Busy with Pop Seagull Publishing, busy with trying to find a full time job, busy working on me. Blogging was not top priority during that time, especially as I was trying to get my personal writing word count up and could not justify writing 1000 words on non-paying material. Sometimes, I think we can all agree that you just have to re-focus on what’s important, and re-orient yourself in the right direction.

So, why am I back, and why this blog, instead of Pop Seagull?

I have been resisting putting this on the internet too much, because I don’t want people to see the company as ‘out of business’ (which it most certainly is not) but Pop Seagull is now on hiatus, possibly for a few years. We are not accepting submissions, we do not have any new publications on the docket, and all accounts are settled with our current authors. I am still planning on printing new runs of our existing titles for the benefit of those featured in them, and all titles are still available for sale online. I am simply choosing not to actively promote and build the company for the time being. I do fully plan on bringing Pop Seagull back, better than ever, when I have a few things in my own life in better order.

Before I go on, I want to clarify a few other points. Pop Seagull was never in financial trouble, and in fact was doing quite well for an arts business of its size. I have been honoured by the welcome that we were given in the Canadian publishing community, and I plan on being a part of that community for a very long time. There were a few reasons that I decided to slow things down a bit on a temporary basis.

  1. When I founded the company, I planned to make it a ‘hybrid’ publisher where I published myself and others. This can work for many people, and is not necessarily a bad model, but over time I found myself falling more and more in love with building other authors up and found that there was too much conflict of interest. I want to be in a position to put my all into the people I represent. I want the company to be eligible for grants and other forms of funding that will make it more sustainable for everyone, myself included. Which brings me to…
  2. Being a micro-publisher who wears many hats is a huge amount of work, especially when you have a full-time day job, and may experience job insecurity. I spent much of my time with Pop Seagull also working as a temp in offices, and although I now have a good full-time job, it was pretty rough there for a while and did not leave any time for my own work. I concluded that for now, I need to use what time I have to focus on getting good work out there and finding ways to market my work independently of Pop Seagull. I also need time to re-do my animation portfolio to get more work in that arena. Once money is flowing in for my artistic work, I will be able to focus on getting back to running the company.
  3. I run Pop Seagull as a business, first and foremost. I have that mindset, and I am willing to look practically at what is making money and what isn’t. I took a good long look at the finances for the business and realized that the only writer in the stable not being compensated for their time was me. That will not be the case when Pop Seagull starts up again. I have a plan, and it is going to bring the company back bigger and better than ever… eventually. Just bear with me.

So what am I doing now? Well, more about that in the next post. But in short, I am writing books like crazy, knocking on agents’ doors, and planning one hell of an animation project. Oh, and I bought a really sexy mouse. It is so sleek it’s making me want to clean my office. Because my current office is not classy enough for this mouse.

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Further Updates on all my Life Stuff

So, it’s been a little while since I posted an update on what’s been going on in my life. Actually, a lot of it is quite well summarized on The Hatchery, as I’ve been working my tail feathers off getting Love, Time, Space, Magic ready for release.

However, what I don’t tend to post on The Hatchery are my feelings about what goes on, or any projects I may have going that don’t relate to the company. There has been lots going on lately, and not all of it has been Pop Seagull related.

I’ve been spending weekends in St. Catharines since the new year, to carve out time to write the nonfiction book I’m working on with the Mayholme Foundation. The first draft is due May 1st, and with the launch of Love, Time, Space, Magic now in the rear view, I’m going to be forging ahead and finishing that draft off, as well as catching up with some web design that’s been on the back burner for way too long. My mini-retreats out of town are resulting in lots of work done, and a much-needed break from the daily grind, but I will be cutting back to every other week after the manuscript is done. I’m missing my church community, and I haven’t been to as many classic movie screenings lately, which is kind of a bummer.

After May 1st, I will be meeting with Mayholme stakeholders and working on the next steps for the book, and reading submissions for Robotica, Pop Seagull’s next anthology. After the riotous success of Love, Time, Space, Magic at the Ad Astra launch, we are well-positioned to continue with production on future titles and grow Pop Seagull to accommodate more outside authors. For more details on that, see my post on The Hatchery, and the upcoming con report series. I’m also planning a possible local Hamilton launch for the anthology since I have confirmed local interest, and the first one went so well.

So, how am I feeling about life, the universe and everything? Pretty good, actually. The success at Ad Astra was a watershed moment for the company, where we far surpassed any evidence-based estimate I had formed for our sales and the enthusiasm of con attendees. The hard work I have put into the company, and the ongoing research and development I have committed myself to have paid off in a big way, and I’m hoping that things will only get bigger. If things continue the way they are going, I can see a day when I might derive a modest income from the company and be able to accomplish many of the larger goals I’d always had in mind.

In my non-literary life, I’ve found some stability doing regular temp work, and I’m currently at a place that I enjoy very much. Since I don’t comment online about employers, generally, that’s all I’ll say. But, the stability in my work life has enabled me to better focus on the other things that I want to do, and I’m happy for that. Robin and I are making a modest savings per month now, and as a result we’re able to worry less about the future, should there be a break in employment, and we’re seeing the eventual light at the end of the student loans tunnel, although that’s still a few years off if I don’t find a permanent job. We’re even dreaming about the day, still a long way off but closer than ever before, that we might be able to afford a cute starter house.

So, where to go from here? Well, I’m looking at some new conventions for the 2015 season after a last-minute change in the lineup, and most of the summer is going to be spent selling, working The Day Job, and working on future books. Oh, and I’m going to go camping for at least one weekend, with or without anybody else. I’m determined.

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone!

Writing Progress 24/01/2015

Since I want to make more use of this blog in the new year, I thought it might be interesting to post my progress on writing and submitting things as well as the usual local new and opinion pieces. After all, this is my personal blog, and it’s great for posting stuff that would be less pertinent, or totally self-indulgent, on the Pop Seagull blog.

So, let’s start with today. I’ve finished 2000 words of the non-fiction book I’m writing with a local non-profit, which is excellent and making me feel very accomplished. That’s probably why I’ve come online to brag about it, honestly. But, I do plan to remain accountable when I’m not doing so good.

I’ve also finished another few paragraphs on the story I’m hoping to have done by the end of the month to submit to Tesseracts. That one is becoming an issue… I think I can get past my unease with the structure, but it is threatening to become a bit of a whale, and that might be more of a problem. I think I’ll finish it, see how long it is, and then if it’s too long for the GL’s I might change the POV or start it in a different place.

And, lastly, I’ve begun work in earnest on the layout and cover design for the Love, Time, Space, Magic anthology. That’s not word count, per se, but I am really proud of it and I’m looking forward to geeking out on fonts and graphic design again. I’ve actually found some really helpful books in that arena that are helping my designs out, and I’ll probably do a separate entry on those.

So, overall, lots of progress today, which I hope will continue over the weekend and beyond. It’s great to be back working after so long being under the weather. *shakes fist at the Streptococcus Bacillus*

GenreCon, get ready!

I didn’t want to announce this earlier, as I was still working out the details, but now it’s official…

I’m an author guest at GenreCon!!!! Like, a real author guest, not just an author that plonked herself down in the dealers’ room, or maybe even the foyer… not that there’s anything wrong with foyer dwellers. It’s just nice to be loved. ❤

And we’re having a wicked awesome book launch for Distant Early Warning, which I can honestly say is just coming together better and better. I seriously wish I could post the illustrations right now… but I guess that would be cheating. You guys will just have to live with the splash page for now.

I guess what I really wanted to say right now, is that I’m so proud of this book, and myself.

Next stop… getting a better mugshot for the promos. 😛

Summer’s End, New Beginnings

August was not a good month for me, thus the lack of blog postings. My family and extended circle had three major health crises, and a series of minor scares. After an extended arm wrestle with my last job, I ended up being forced to look for work elsewhere. As I strive for professionalism in all that I do, I will not post details of that situation here, except to say that the whole thing was bogus from start to finish, and it was a wake-up call that I needed to get off my butt and get moving again. We also thought my cat ran away for a few days, which was not fun. As it turned out, she was just hiding, so that one resolved itself in a positive way.

Throughout last month, I just seemed to be clinging to the mast of the ship of my life, trying to ride out storm after storm, praying that we wouldn’t go down. The business, and my writing life, was no exception. I tried a new printer for my books, hoping to save on shipping and buy Canadian, which is important to me. I will not name who it was, but the proofs were misleading and the quality on the printing was absolutely terrible. The covers were literally flaking apart. I got my money back, but that didn’t change the fact that I was short on stock for my next appearance. Also, someone who works with Pop Seagull as an editor had a personal crisis, and backed out of editing the latest book at the last minute, leaving me to find a replacement on short notice and at a disadvantage. I have mixed feelings on this, because I sympathize with their troubles but I wish they could have been honest with me when I gave them the chance to back out shortly after I heard about their life issues.

On top of all this, the historical project I’m working on stalled out completely during the chaos, as I scrambled to get enough assets ready in time for Distant Early Warning to be delivered on October 17th. The animated book trailer I’m working on also got the short end of the stick, and now we’re looking at a release for it sometime in January rather than at the book launch party, as I had hoped. I had known that one was a stretch goal, but things were on track, more or less, until all the upheaval. Now, I’m looking at presenting the work in progress as part of the book launch party as sort of a ‘behind the scenes’ treat. Hopefully I can get it up to the leica stage, which will still be understandable and entertaining for people to see.

Now that all of that is out of the way, here are the good things that happened over the last little while.

I went to the Milton Pirate Fest, and was charmed and entertained by this fun little festival. The actors that roamed around were really good, and the food and programming was fun for all ages! I really appreciated how enthusiastic everyone was about authors and reading in general, and thought that our readings had a really positive vibe to them. Other highlights were the sunshine, meeting new people, and the snow cones and turkey legs. I really hope the author group that I attended with will be going back next year. I also want to thank my author friends for being so supportive and lovely, and convincing me to go despite the botched book shipment and job drama. Catherine, Stephen, Joy, you guys really made a difference at a very low time for me.

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, loved it with all my heart, and now am curious about the comics. I have a new scifi novel bouncing around in my head right now, and I think if it were made into a movie, it would look a lot like that one, with a bit of Contact and some of the art direction of Alien thrown in there for good measure. So yeah, that was a very inspiring experience for me and I’m so glad that the movie got made, because it’s certainly not as formulaic as a lot of what comes out now.

And, lastly (but not leastly?), despite all of the setbacks, Distant Early Warning is coming out, on schedule, with a great launch slot, and we’re going to have plenty of time to prepare. It’s actually shaping up to be our nicest looking book yet, and I think that’s saying something. I did a post over at the Pop Seagull blog with a little self-interview on the book, my writing process, and some key facts about the release. It will be the first in a series of posts talking about the book, the launch, our vending platforms and pre-orders. We’re even going to have some interviews with the real VIPs… the characters.

I also want to invite all of my readers to come to the launch party on:

October 17th, 2014, from 7-9 pm at the Holiday Inn Guelph hotel and conference centre

It will be part of the festivities at Genrecon, and I think we’re going to be able to kick off the weekend with a bang! (Not the kind of bang from Denny’s shotgun, though. Homer Simpson already definitively proved that shotguns are not effective marketing tools.)

And, in conclusion, here’s a little art that I’m contributing to the book. It’s also probably going to get put on t-shirts at some point.

Splash Page/Logo Art for Distant Early Warning (Coming October 17th, 2014)

Splash Page/Logo Art for Distant Early Warning (Coming October 17th, 2014)

Con Bravo… Bravo!

This past weekend, I did an appearance at Con Bravo at the Hamilton Convention Center. I had heard mixed reviews of the convention in previous years from other vendors, but this was my first year, and I had a blast! Two thumbs way, way up.

I also tried a new format for my booth this con, choosing to join up with Ira Nayman, Karen Dales, Catherine Fitzsimmons and Stephen B. Pearl for a big, beautiful coalition table. We all really enjoyed this format, as far as I can tell, and it was a really fun weekend hanging out with my author peeps. Big thanks to Ashley, Greg and Dan, our power customers and dedicated readers who came and swept the table! That’s the spirit, guys!

Overall, the feel of the con, and the general attitude of the people we met, was so great. I totally ran out of business cards, which, besides the obvious advantages, give me an opportunity to redesign! Yay, layout! Plus, I really appreciate how helpful the staff were. I left my phone at our booth overnight, then forgot my charge cable, and the people at registration totally had me covered. It’s great to see such a fun, growing fan event developing in the downtown Hamilton area. There really seemed to be a lot of buzz on the street about it when I was walking around.

Next up, Milton Pirate Festival, which should be a really interesting new experience.

In other news, over on the Pop Seagull Blog, we’re open to submissions! If you’ve got a short story or novel you think we might like, check out our guidelines. We’ve got a couple of anthologies in the works!