Categories
Authoring Writing Life

The illusion of progress

Writing a whole post of accomplishment lists has led to pondering WHY I like making “I did this” lists so much. Here’s my answer: it’s a frame adjustment.

I know, I know, “WTF frame what?” Stick with me here. Start with the idea of “progress.”

See, all our lives we’re taught–both formally and informally– to find worth in achieving goals and measuring progress, but that whole plan is fundamentally mismatched with the way life WORKS.

Progress is grounded in linear concepts of direction & endpoints. It’s all about the quantifiables.

When a task is done, it’s done. When a thing is filled, it’s full. When a goal is achieved, it’s over. There are jokes about the reward for a job well done being another job, but the system is accepted as valid.

Except it ISN’T. Reality doesn’t work that way.

Life is built on multiple, interlocking circular processes: sunrise to sunset to sunrise, winter to summer to winter again. Washed dishes get dirty, dinnertime comes around again, dust returns again, plants need tending, laundry piles up AGAIN.

No wonder people feel like we’re always failing. We’re judging ourselves by a metric that’s incompatible w/the medium.

Measuring success & satisfaction by progress is like measuring slices of bread in a loaf by weight. You can do it, but it takes some mental gymnastics.

Lists are my favorite way of somersaulting past frustration & feelings of failure. They line up my position in the endless cycle of Life Doings with the idea of “done,” and presto, I HAVE DONE THINGS.

It’s not only gymnastics, it’s kinda like a magic trick when it works.

Now I’m wondering what neat tricks other people use.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you want to celebrate by curling up with a cozy kissing book, may I suggest Weaving In The Ends? I wrote it, it’s all about love, but not only and not even mostly the romance hearts & flowers kind. It’s about the prickly kind of love, sibling love, family love, and formed-family love, the patient kind and the kind that makes mistakes and owns them and makes amends.

Also, there is knitting. And empaths. Available most places books & ebooks are sold. You can find it here https://bit.ly/kmhkindle along with the other books in the Restoration collection.

Sleepy cat for everyone who got this far. Until later!

all tuckered out after a long ponder
Categories
Authoring Cons & Appearances other things Writing Life

Learning by doing: my latest project

I only did 2 virtual conventions during Our First Pandemic Year because Discord became the default interaction platform, and it was not only a New And Scary Thing, it was a complex new social one. I was already two social media programs past coping, so navigating Discord servers was overwhelming, bewildering. It was impossible for me to get bast anxiety blocks to process how Things Worked. Not the technical side, that was refreshingly clear, but in a basic, human “how do people use this thing?” way.

Learning to drive is the best analogy I can think of. Complex, multi-channel learning. It’s so difficult there are CLASSES and people have to CERTIFY, right? The difficulty has less to do with mastering the pedals, levers, and buttons to make things stop & go, and a lot more to do with learning the rules of the road, and MOST to do with learning to apply those rules to physical experience in real time so you don’t hit the wrong pedal at the wrong time and crash.

Social interaction is like that for me. ALL social interaction. But each new environment isn’t like a new car. It’s like a whole new kind of driving, period. Think car vs airplane, or electric scooter vs sailboat. New mechanics, new rules, new integration. Some elements transfer, but you don’t know which until you’ve put in the time in the new system.

With Discord, the mechanical part was simple, but there were so many different types of interactions that the patterns weren’t readily visible (To me. Things that are as clear as glass to many people are opaque to me, and vice versa. But I digress.)

Imagine trying to avoid a crash when you couldn’t learn the rules first because you’re already driving, so you can only learn the rules of the road only by watching other drivers while also learning your pedals and lever mechanics. Pretty dangerous, huh?

On social media, crashes translate as mortifying humiliation with the potential to drive me into solitude for, oh, years. That made Discord a no-go zone for me for ages. But that bugged me. Things I can’t do always bug me.

So I made Discord this year’s Hibernation Project.

Late winter is the best time for me to tackle Scary New Things. Once my energy starts to build up after the mid-winter crash, I find something shiny and carry them into my nest and get to know them better by combing & petting & squeezing the stuffing out of them.

Almost everyone learns better “by doing,” but it’s the only way I learn multi-channel processes. When I first wanted to understand website design, way back in the day, I bemused my friends who worked in web design by teaching myself to code sites from scratch using HTML & CSS. Why didn’t I focus on learning the web design programs, they wondered. But see, those programs didn’t make sense to me At All until I mastered the underlying language structure.

This year, I dragged Discord into the nest and made it my own. I built my own little server, nice and tidy, with all the usual parts & pieces, then brushed and polished it up to Discord’s Community Guidelines so eventually I can make it public.

That was a long read to get to the news that there now exists a Dawnrigger Discord server, huh? But there it is!

Right now it’s private, invitation only. If you’re a reader and/or fan of my books, if you have room in your Discord for a quiet little server where there’s not much clutter or content yet, you’re welcome to join Dawnrigger’s Den and share the fun.

This also means that when the day I flee Facebook inevitably arrives, I’ll still have an interactive space online, and I’m a LOT more comfortable surfing my way around other servers & occasionally even posting comments & engaging in conversations.

Not comfortable, but not as uncomfortable. And that’s progress. Wins all around.

That’s all for now. Some heavy shit happened online this week. I’m still processing, but there will be blog on ot eventually.

Until then, have a random cat with a book.

Photo by Heather McKeen on Pexels.com
Categories
Writing Life

Today as a list: a calming exercise.

It’s been a long day. I’m tired, I know I did things because I’m tired, yet I’m filled with the uneasy belief I’ve done nothing significant with all that time.

This is a familiar problem. I have a little trick: write down everything that feels significant so I can see that in fact Things Did Happen. Not in chronological order. Just as the thoughts come to me.

(Hey, I didn’t say it was a brilliant or original trick.)

Today’s high & lowlights:

  • Assembled couch bits that will live in my office
  • Wrote new words in Sharp Edge of Yesterday. Not many.
  • Avoided & procrastinated all the correspondence or reviews I planned to do.
  • Wrote a long rant about herbicide shaming which I will not post anywhere.
    (You’re welcome.)
  • read too many news stories & did WAY TOO MUCH research journal surfing.
  • Took two accidental naps
  • Took two lovely walks with Spouseman in a Work From Home win.
  • Ordered a crapton of garden supplies for quick pickup tomorrow.
  • Lost multiple tea mugs multiple times.
  • Received new, tight-fitting cloth masks made by a wonderful seamstress friend.
  • Made more lists of plants to order tomorrow.
  • lost track of time puttering around with garden stuff & missed both an open mic Zoom event AND almost all of a live online reading by a friend.

Now it’s past time for supper, and I’m feeling unhelpful & frustrated. And aggravated with myself for both feelings.)

ANYway.  It’s an even more mixy mixed bag than usual. I was flaky & achy & kept forgetting what I was doing in the middle of doing it. Which is not a rare thing.

It’s what happens when my brain is working so hard to ignore stressors that there’s no processing power left for Regular Things.

So I’m gonna give myself a break I’ve done nothing to earn, lock down the news media & the social media for 12 hours minimum & go watch TV.

Because that’s a valid choice. Even if I do feel all self-defensive and prickly about doing it. 

Until later!

 

Categories
Writing Life

A sampling of pictures.

Hello, world! Long time no post (Again. It’s a trend.)

I’ve been busy writing, mulling over a couple of serious posts I’ll eventually finish & pin up here, and stressing over Upcoming Big Life Events. 

I don’t want to totally neglect my little corner of blogland, though, so here are a few bits to keep it lively.

First, my new writing (and napping) buddy. A delightful surprise birthday-ish gift from Spouseman, she’s soft & squishy & has the cutest l’il smile. She’s keeping me safe as I navigate the thorny wilderness of revisions on Sharp Edge of Yesterday. View on Instagram http://bit.ly/2RBXbWn

Addendum: turns out sushi-roll Pusheen was an appetizer gift! Here be Big Squishy Fox, who will keep me well-supported when I am working from the couch or reading there with little Book Fox & my Kindle. My superhero Spouseman takes good care of me. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Below, next in neat things, behold the first collectible pins inspired by Rough Passages! (SO PRETTY SO SHINY) I’ll have them ready for purchase at Gen Con* along with my books. I can hardly believe it, but hhis is really happening.

*I’ll be at table AE on Authors Avenue, so if you’re in the area. PLEASE stop by & say hello?

Still life w/ breakfast tea.

And that’s all until later!

Categories
1. Storysculpting Promotion Writing Life

Want Books?

TL;DR summary: for the next couple of months, if you want one of my books in paperback and don’t like shopping on the ‘Zon, buying direct from me will be the only way to get them. WHICH YOU CAN DO! Just contact me by email or through the site contact form. Or come to Indy Pop Con where I’ll be in June, or visit Printers Row in Chicago the same weekend (my books will be there but not me) or…well, you get the idea.

Anyway. I digress. Onward to the rest of the post.

-*-*-*-*-

I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to make sure my books exist as real, “ink-on-paper pages wrapped in nice, pretty paperback covers” BOOKS. Books with real publisher logos on them and everything. Ones you could order from bookstores.

Well. Until recently. But not at the moment.

At the time of this post, my only paperback printer/distributor/retailer is Amazon.com. That’s a temporary situation, but one I felt you dear readers should know, just in case you might be looking to purchase a book or four from your local independent bookstore in the near future.

Beginning this summer, Ingramspark will become my primary book printer, and Ingram LightningSource will be responsible for distributing my paperbacks to print book markets.

So. There’s a switchover process. Changes are coming down the road, and that means bumps in the road. So. In the meantime…

Why start with one company and move to another? Well, now. There’s a story.

(of course there’s a story.)

Back when I was getting started in this writing & publishing gig, I seriously doubted  any humans outside my immediate friends & family circle would want Real Live Paperbacks of my stories. It was simpler (by FAR) to let Amazon handle print distribution to book retailers as well as the orders made through their site.

I mean, it wasn’t like people were hammering down the doors of their local retailers to get my books, nor was I retailing books myself. Easier just to have one-stop setup for al things book. So that’s the path I took. Least-resistance routing.

Welp, on the meandering road of life, I’ve come ’round to the same intersection again, and this time, I’m going down the road not-yet traveled.

Simpler never meant better. It didn’t even mean cheaper. It definitely didn’t mean superior quality control. So, for those reasons and more,  I’m maintaining an Amazon print account for Amazon sales only (should any more Amazon orders of my books ever occur) and moving all other paperback ordering and brick&mortar distribution needs to another company: Ingramspark Lightning Source (No, I do not know why they have such an unwieldy moniker. I can understand why they go by LSI in most situations.)

Now. A disclaimer. DO NOT IMAGINE THIS CHANGE MEANS MY BOOKS HAVE SUDDENLY BECOME POPULAR AND/OR LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE CLAMORING TO BUY THEM. That would be inaccurate. Wildly inaccurate.

Wrong, even.

I’m investing the time & money in this setup with Ingramspark because things have changed a LOT in the 5 years since I first did a print edition–both on my side, and the publishing side. Ingramspark always had a lot more to offer than Amazon, I’m at a point where I can handle that more-ness, and Ingramspark now offers me an incentive to make the jump.

They used to charge an arm & a leg to set up a title for printing & distribution. Now it’s down to $50 a title AND they credit back that $50 if  you order sufficient number of copies. In 2014 I couldn’t imagine selling 50 books. Now? Now that’s doable. Books don’t go bad like fruit, after all. I’ll go through 50 copies eventually. I won’t sell ’em fast, but I am regularly selling at conventions now & have my own Square account so mail-order is possible. (hint. hint.)

Ingramspark also offers a better selection of  bindings and formats for Print On Demand clients than Amazon’s printing service does too. HARDCOVERS, anyone? Staple-bound chapbooks for novelettes or samples? Duplex covered paperbacks that have that extra style? For me, format options inspire content creativity.

Plus they’re set up to honor sales tax exemption for resellers and retailers…like, say, me.  That balances out a slight increase in printing costs. And based on the delightfully transparent printing process, I expect to be getting a more predictable print quality too. (Fingers crossed, candles lit and all that. Testimonials from others are positive.)

Wrapping up, I have a good quantity of books on hand now, and I have the technology to make them yours, but ordering them anywhere but Amazon will not be happening for a undetermined time.

I’ll keep the world updated.

Until later.