Okay, this is not a self improvement blog – at least it’s not in the usual way – but first of all we are all suffering from The Great Depression (by which I mean more psychological than financial.)

Actually I have no idea how universal the great depression is, but I think it’s pretty wide spread.  First of all, at any given time, I know at least two and often three people at risk of losing their job – I’m not talking young and flighty people, who are moving from job to job and trying to find themselves, but people my age or ten years younger, who have had a completely stable career so far, and who  have families and obligations.  Yes, some of them don’t lose them, but the ax remains poised.

I think I know ONE person who is secure in his job for a year or so.  Everyone else is going day to day and biting his/her nails.  None of the young people – my kids included – are finding jobs or moving out on their own.  For people like my kids, who are in college, we, parents, had to compromise and send the kid to state school because we couldn’t afford better and this is no time to be taking on debt.  (And frankly, though parental opinions may vary, ours got told “STEM or no help from us.”  It’s not that we disdain the liberal arts (though these days they’re more liberal and less art) but I think the chances of getting your money back on those are slim and also I’ve found that with the exception of art or other hands-on work, languages and the hard sciences [and some of those] you can teach yourself practically everything. Of at least I can.  And yeah, I know some people can learn languages on their own.  I think I need – at minimum – a study partner, or I don’t stay on it regularly enough to learn.)

I’m oddly more secure at the writing thing than I’ve been in years, but just in case, because life is insane and the economic seas are choppy and tomorrow a meteor might fall on Baen headquarters (I hope not, since most of the people there are friends!) I feel a need to work indie too, which means I’m working three jobs, and one of them barely pays for now.  And of course the bulk of our income comes from my husband’s work, which has been giving us the cold grue for a while.

The places where I used to walk, downtown, are now boarded up.  Granted this is only partly because of the recession, and partly because of the city’s anti-broken-windows, no-vagrant-shall-be-picked-up services which, coupled with lavish services (granted a lot of them provided by churches and such) have cities as far away as Kansas putting their “homeless” on a bus to our city.

There is an odd quality to all of life, right now.  My friend Kate pinned it, the other day, when she said that it’s like everyone is trying to go about their normal routine, while pretending they don’t see the ice crack under their feet.

Perhaps that’s just our peculiar view of the world, in the “skilled middle class” and most of my friends with at least one foot in writing, a profession undergoing catastrophic technological change.  Maybe.  But I see the same tension in the faces of total strangers, and frankly people are driving like their minds are on something else.  No, that last is not up for debate.  Yes, I know any number of people drive while texting or talking on the phone, or generally not paying attention.  But there is a peculiar type of mistake one makes when one is really worried – like when I found out my three year old had a serious heart defect (he grew out of it.  The problem with that kid was not being FINISHED when we got him.  Next time we pay more) and drove out of the pediatrician office and turned THE WRONG WAY, onto six lanes of oncoming traffic.  I was lucky and managed to get onto my proper lane FAST, but consider I never drove in England or another country that drives on the other side of the road.  There was no excuse for it, except my brain leaving my body on automatic, and my body getting turned around on its sense of direction.  I wasn’t even seeing the surroundings.

I see this type of mistake from someone else at least once per day I go out driving.  That’s an incidence I wouldn’t expect.

You know how we learn about Weimar, and how it had a veneer of frantic merriment against the certainty of disaster?  Well, I feel like we’re doing the same, but, because we’re Americans and not decadent Europeans, we do it with normalcy instead.

In a way, maybe that’s keeping us sane, but I don’t think so.  I also think in the long run it’s not particularly productive.  Our “normal” was designed around a world that in many ways no longer exists.

There is absolutely no point to sticking your fingers in your ears and going “lalalalala, I’ll work another five years and retire” when your pension may not be there, and your social security benefits almost certainly won’t.  If you’re in one of the professions undergoing catastrophic change, like writing or journalism, or teaching, it’s all very well to keep a foot on the traditional way of doing things while it’s working for you, but to say “Oh, the main publishers are doing fine, they’re still submitting books for awards” as a newby told me the other day is to be foolish beyond permission (or reason.)  Just because the corpse is still twitching it doesn’t mean it’s alive.  (And look at what they’re doing with the self-publishing scam.  “Author Solutions” indeed. And their new epub lines which grab books for the life of copyright. These people are desperate.)

To insist things must go on as they have is to be an aristocrat after the plague killed a third of your people and sent the rest fleeing from the domain insisting that your feudal domain will still support you, because that’s the way  it’s always been.

The old order has passed away. And while pretending that everything is just the same will keep you from having the screaming megrims out of sheer anxiety, it will NOT make things go back the way they were.  (Not even if you hold your breath until they put it back.)

We’re dealing with instability and upending at a level most of us can’t even dream of influencing.  Yes, some of it is brought about by sheer incompetence at high levels.  But that was brought on by either enemy action or fantasy theory teaching, or both.  I mean, these people are exquisitely educated… for a parallel world that never existed.  Their education could kind of pretend to connect to the world as it was, but most of them are completely blind to the changes taking place.  The average person might be wishing things will be put back, but these people KNOW they’ll be put back.  Because they have to be.

They’re those feudal aristocrats in every play and funny poem, who demand their due even as the world moves past them.

What this means is that you can’t count on them – any of them – to come to their senses and get us out of it.  You have to.  You and you and you and you.  You have to look at your life and start building parallel structures and side lines.  (I don’t have time to go into it, but trust me “multiple streams of income” even small ones.  It’s the way to go.)

This means you have to wake up.  You have to stop pretending that everything will go back to normal just-any-minute-now.  It won’t.  You want to stay upright, you have to learn to roll with the punches.  And there will be punches.  And I’m not telling you the time till you have something else in place won’t be rough.  It will.  You do as much as you can, as fast as you can and you move on.  But this is part of the reason you have to start now.

And if you’re sitting there going “but Sarah, for now I still have this nine to midnight job – because I’m doing four people’s jobs unpaid – and I can’t afford to lose it, and what should I do?”

And we’ve entered the self-improvement portion of this blog…

First of all, I can answer your question from my own experience “with extreme difficulty.”

I acknowledge most of us still employed are overworked, most of us not employed are depressed.  Even the ones with kids still in the house are having to negotiate protocols for a household of adults with young adults who are not used to being responsible for the house as you are, and who do cause work even if they don’t mean to.

I acknowledge that finding time to start an indie career/start your own news blog/starting a craft/clothes business, whatever the escape hatch that applies to you is not easy.  It will cost you comfort and free time.  BUT it can – in the end – save your life or at least your financial life and your sanity.

And, hey, compare yourself to your grandparents.  They worked a lot harder even than you do now.  You DO have some free time somewhere, might not be a lot of time, but there is some.  There is something you’re doing less than efficiently, things you could do faster and with less pain.  (Yes, I’m talking to myself here.)

Since I don’t know each of you, I can’t speak to each of you.  However…

We get in habits.  I know I do.  There are things I do now – like laundry – that probably cost me more than if I sent them out to be done, in terms of lost income, etc.  There’s the fact I’m cooking every day (which is about to stop) when I have a very talented cook in the house, who should take over three or four of the meals a week.

Anyway, you have to look at your day, and see which habits you can sacrifice (and I don’t mean your relaxing or fun habits.  You might actually have to pick up some of those.  I’ve taken up crochet again and make it a point of taking an hour off before bed to watch something (right now old episodes of Columbo) with my husband, and crochet.  It’s helping.)  I mean routines you’ve got into that serve nothing and take up too much of your time.  No matter how busy you are, I bet you have some.  And if not, then you might need to introduce time for fun and relaxation, which will (trust me) help you do your job faster.

Don’t be afraid to involve your family, either in your new venture or in streamlining household routines.  It’s something that will actually help, psychologically.

And if you’re a writer and striving to improve – at least your saleability.  As I argue here, sometimes it’s hard to know what “improvement” is in this field – do the same thing.  Look at your routines.  You have some, I bet.  Look at your stuff from outside.  “What mistakes are you making over and over again?”

And then look at your life from outside and carry that thinking through (this writer, for instance, needs a regular publishing day every weekend.)

We are creatures of habit, and we get caught in snags and counterproductive routines.  The way to fix that is to change them and establish new and productive habits.

And the thing is, normally you have some room, but not now.  Right now, you need to be moving and doing.

Management, government, administrators, the people who are paid to keep things running are at best not doing it, and at worst making things harder for everyone.

Well, then, you always believed in individual rights and individual creativity, right?

We might end up like the fallen caryatide, but that’s better than not trying at all and going through life trying to pretend everything is fine.

Put your back into it and LIFT.

UPDATE: I did a blog on religion in SF for the View From The Foothills.  BTW, I want to make clear I’m not saying religion in itself is illogical, but that it accrues rituals and practices by custom and tradition and emotion so that the practice might not fit with strict theology.  (Just in case someone should desire to argue this point — I’m tired and trying to write.)

160 thoughts on “You, There, DO SOMETHING

  1. I’m doing… And there are days I lose track of why I am. Thanks, your blog has been an encouragement recently, along with the commentators who make me think, and laugh.

  2. For those with jobs, it might be useful to ignore current revenue and focus on usefulness. There are probably more opportunities in the “useful, buy I am not sure it is worth paying for” space because there are less people looking at it. And useful things tend to cluster, so being useful without a revenue stream you probably get closer to useful enough to create a revenue stream. If you don’t believe me ask Google, Facebook, audacity.con, etc.

    Sarah, may I toot my own horn and give an example of a useful but not yet profitable project?

      1. – daily tips about combat psychology.

        I took an educational concept from Orthodox Judaism (, and used it to teach combat psychology (from the works of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and with his blessing). There are now twelve thousand people on that page, and I am expanding to firefighters.

        I don’t think getting a tip every day from a book you probably already read is valuable enough to charge people. But I think doing this will prove helpful in the future.

    1. I’m still working on… “functional”. If you beat the donkey too hard, it will sit down in the middle of the street and stare at you like you are an idiot. I appreciate the thought, but I’ve been working on these assumptions since… oh, 1998 or so. Remember Y2K?

      Sometimes what you can do has to be enough.

      1. I’m also still working on functional — the publishing industry rode me hard and put me away wet for too long, and I’m frankly a mess — which is why I keep breaking down.

        1. When I think of the PU I (mostly) think of Becket’s ghostwriters starving to death while he rode to stardom on their skill.
          (not Baen– obvious counter example). I have listened to too many authors (and went to too many Iit SF cons) to be tempted to far. Good thing there are alternatives. I am lucky in that respect. The other good thing is that the fruitless thing that ruined my health is at least grist for the mill. Still, I need to have the *right kind of busy* to not spend too much time inside my own head.

  3. Well, my older son is making a stand against the “liberal (Left)” in the art world, anyway. He isn’t going to college, he’s going straight to creating his own online game, with a few other people, but he’s not fallen into the Left mindset.

        1. I don’t know if he’ll take the offer (He’s very much staying away from any offers of help, even advice. It’s bit him a few times, but maybe he’s right that it will stick better that way), but I’ll keep it in mind.

          1. No worries. I’m not terribly surprised. It’s difficult to send out my writing to anybody else to read. “But, but it’s my BABY! A piece of my soul! Waaaahhh!” I typed, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to slave over a thing like a game-” but I can. I know exactly what that’s like. So, just so he knows there are people cheering him on…

            1. Umm– I was that way the first couple of years I was writing– and it is a sign of a newby writer (or creative type). The rose gets worn after a while and then he’ll be sending out to any one who is willing to look at it. 😉

                1. Less that, honestly (really? steal my words? they’re good enough for that? wow.) than “I didn’t like it,” because that means they don’t like me, and in order to get them to like it – and therefore like me – I have to change it, and that may mean cutting out parts, or adding bits, and it’s done NAOW, and I need to write the next one, and stuff, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum . . .

                  1. “because that means they don’t like me, and in order to get them to like it”

                    Nah. I, for one, would much rather they hate me and like my work, than the other way ’round. 🙂

                    1. Oh, yes. None of this is truly rational. There’s a point where I just keep telling myself I’m good, my writing’s good, and somebody will pay me for it. I just need to find them. Also, if I don’t tell these characters’ stories, who will? And then there’s people’s reaction to it. Love it, hate it, I don’t ultimately care; just pay me for it!

                  1. Well– there is that one too– I got that one stopped early because my mother pulled the (jerked, tore, something like that) the poem out of my hand and put it in the church newsletter. I spent the entire day with my head down– hoping no one would notice me (I was 9. Then a few of the kind church members came over to tell me that they liked the poem. … Sharing stories– well… I had to learn to write them first.. and the first ones were awful.

                  2. No problem, I had the editors and technical reviewers for that.

                    For 30 years. (I wrote both fantasy (software documentation) and science fiction (hardware documentation); they weren’t intended to be fiction, it’s just *really* hard to pry the products out of the engineers’ hands before they’d changed things after the final deadline for the printer. Even after the “printer” became online docs.) Hey, it paid the bills for that long, anyway.

              1. My dad was a reporter for years, he still talks about getting edited as, “each word cut is like losing a child”

                1. When I learned the story was more important than the pretty words and sentences, then I lost that feeling. However, if someone tried to cut scenes — oh heck– there could be a bloodbath. lol

                  1. While I CAN be edited, it really has to make internal emotional sense to me — like in Noah’s Boy I meant to have a scene in, but couldn’t figure out where to fit it, so I didn’t. When the editor said “you need that scene” I went “oh, of course. Fine.” BUT if the editor’s — and it’s happened — “vision” for the book is different from mine, it’s not so much I don’t want to do it, it’s I can’t figure out HOW.

                    1. There is a skill to editing of getting the writer to write the best tale that writer can tell, as opposed to the tale the editor wants told. Editors who can do that are precious beyond words.

            2. That’s just the opposite of how I felt. I WANTED other people to read it, and to let me know how they felt about it. I NEEDED feedback. I didn’t get a lot, but what I did get was both welcome and helpful. I’ve probably given away a thousand copies of my books over the last twelve years, and would gladly give away 10,000 more, especially to a select audience. I’ve tried to find a way to give my books freely to anyone who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, been wounded, and in the recovery process. Haven’t had much success…

              1. As for my editorial issue– a part of it is the fear of awfulness. But the other part is that (for me, at least) it is hard to trust the creative process. I’m afraid, that with someone else’s ideas crowding out my own, I will loose the creative spark that started the whole thing– or I won’t be able to sort it out, or pick it up again. Stories die, and it is a tragedy when they die incomplete.

                (See… sharing it did help. I now realize how stupid this is. But you’ll be seeing the comment anyway.)

                Writing is still like drinking out of a fire-hose– except what you are drinking is not homogeneous. Some of it has the real plot in it, and some if it has fine and creative nonsense that’s really just a big digression and it is tough to tell the difference. It all happens so quickly that all I can do is hope that I get it all, and get the right stuff.

                I forget things. It bothers me. So I isolate hoping to preserve them.

                I have no illusions about the existence of the unique idea. I was one of those kids who came up with a new story every week– and saw it writ large (in movies, etc) the next. I spent years sore and broken hearted over it. I gave up writing a million times– only to be dragged back in by the need to share a tale. At least I entertained doctors with my absurd narratives about how this injury happened, or colorful descriptions of that symptom. Various doctors encouraged me to write more than my English teachers did.

                But I want to share the story. I really do. This want is almost a compulsion, and some times, in order to see the idea, I have to share it with someone else. These contradictory drives work in a constant tension. I still don’t know what to do with them.

                1. There are no new stories, just your way of writing them. So ignore it at your peril. The compulsion is telling you to write so do it. You will probably have your own twist on an old story. As some one told me (can’t remember), and I have read several times. Everyone on this list can write about the same subject, but it will be a different story because we are all different. So do it.

                  1. *grin* it is no longer an issue of whether to write. More, it has been my work for the last few years to prove to myself that I MUST take it as seriously as a job.

                    The question actually is, to share, or not to share, and when is the right time? When do you have enough pile of verbiage that it is something beyond an incoherent mess? When is the right time to start organizing the pantser pile?
                    Frankly, it seems like too much work to hand off to another human being. They might want to fix it. That is work *I* should do, and I find myself getting lost.

                    Starting out with an outline is hopeless… I beat my head against that one for years and got nothing. But I also recognize that I must organize *some* time, if I want all this to be worth it.

                    BTW, thank you for responding.

                  2. NEVER steal, reuse, recycle or repurpose stories. Shakespeare never did and if it was good enough for The Bard, it is good enough for the likes of you.

                    1. maybe I should have said there are no new structures– (bones of a story)… and yes, if you use the exact words of someone else, it is plagiarism. Shakespeare used history (in some of his plays)– so once again no new stories. 😉

                    2. David Drake has frankly confessed to stealing stories from History for his Leary & Mundy RCN tales. He even tells you where to look for the serial numbers.

                    3. Some stories are such obvious archtypes that its clear why they get copied/retold so much.

                      Drake as RES mentions has redone several classic myths but he’s always stolen from more obscure history such as Belisarius who I think he’s actually swiped for more than just the obvious series with Stirling/Flint.

                      What I’ve always found interesting is how often Xenophon’s gets borrowed, I’ve seen fantasy retellings of it as well as bestseller contemporary such as Harold Coyle’s.

                    4. The number of adaptations (aka: swipes) or Xenophon probably exceeds the number of verses to Sweet Betsy of Pike, but this is probably the most notable (code for amusing):

                      The Warriors
                      The Warriors is a 1979 American cult action/thriller film directed by Walter Hill and based on Sol Yurick’s 1965 novel of the same name. Like the novel, the film borrows elements from the Anabasis by Xenophon.

                      Always steal from the best. That way there may be enough remaining to sell in spite of the way you’ve butchered it.

                2. So… you’re saying that instead of like drinking water from a fire hose, it’s more like drinking stew as it’s poured out of a commercial cookpot?

      1. First one will be small, and probably one anyone can play. His ambition overtook him for a long time, and he started trying to create a game that would take a full Gaming Company a couple of years. He was talked out of that finally and started one that he estimated would take his 10-person group 6 months, but now, with a new coder, they’re going to sidetrack with something small and quickly-done so they will get a sense of accomplishment to help them along.

          1. Legos Logic: build components which can accrue toward a larger structure.

            For one thing, it puts less strain on your capital requirements, which puts less strain on the development team.

    1. I’s a gamer, Wayne! 🙂 When I’m not drowning in schoolwork, that is (2 days to spring break, 2 days to spring break…) He have a website up for it yet, or anything? We could use some Human Wave in video games.

      1. Nothing yet, but I’ll tell him tonight that he’s got an enthusiastic test group.

  4. Great post.

    For a few years after Great Depression 2.0 hit, I kept fighting with myself. Was this really what it looked like? It took me a year or two to convince myself that it was…at which point I rearranged my priorities entirely and started striving to be debt and mortgage free. It’s a race against the full brunt of the shit-storm arriving, but it feels much better to be honest with ourselves about what we’re up against.

    1. Gaze into the crystal ball and . . .

      _If_ you’ve got a job, inflation shrinks debt. And also shrinks savings.

      _If_ you lose your job, debt is a huge weight to drag along.

      You make your choices and take your chances. I _think_ it would be better to go into a long hard slide with a newish, reliable, vehicle than an unreliable one but no debt. I _think_ spending on some tools might be a wiser investment than banking it or, G-d forbid, putting it into the stock market when it’s at an “all time high” (for some value of the dollar). Land might keep it’s “real” value . . . but going into debt to buy it might not be wise.

      When push comes to shove, I’d much rather use the money in the bank to get mortgage free. Eh. D**ned crystal ball. “Most Likely,” it says.

      1. We don’t have money in the bank to get mortgage free, but we’re considering selling and buying something smaller, as mortgage free as we can make it. Of course, it’s harder while the boys are STILL here 😉
        Without a mortgage we come close to being able to live from my income, so… that would be a benefit.

        1. Pam, Sarah,

          Agree with you both.

          My situation: all my debt is gone except for my mortgage, and at age 41 I’m trying to pay that off as quickly as I can. Five years? Fingers crossed.

          The workshop is stuffed with high quality tools, and if crap hits the fan ^H^H^H^H sand gets in the gears, I can fall back from writing Ruby on Rails and optimizing SQL queries to doing framing, working on cars, or installing hot water heaters or ductwork (done it all before, would be amazed if I don’t do it all again).

          But let’s keep out fingers crossed – perhaps it won’t be as bad as we fear. …but as we hope, let’s also prepare.

          1. Keep in mind that once you’ve paid the mortgage off you lose the escrow account and will have to pay the property taxes and insurance directly. Back when we still had mortgage payments the escrow account was about a third of the monthly payment at the start and probably topped 40% before we finished.

          2. Mortgages aren’t all bad. With inflation–sooner or later we’re going to have to officially notice it–money in the bank becomes worth less, but that mortgage is a fixed figure that you can pay down with less valuable money. Although I’ll admit that right now, you can’t count on a benevolent employer giving out raises at all, let alone raises higher than the inflation rate.

      2. I can endorse the value of getting debt free in an uncertain world from personal experience. Way less stress being between jobs with no debt hanging overhead.

        And just one data point re spending past living expenses and paying down debt – the only thing I’ve never lost money on has been firearms. Regretted selling some stuff, but never ever lost money.

        1. Oops – I forgot skills. Spending to add skills gives you something no one can ever repossess.

        2. And just one data point re spending past living expenses and paying down debt – the only thing I’ve never lost money on has been firearms. Regretted selling some stuff, but never ever lost money.”

          I second that, my only problem being I never want to sell any guns I own. They are one of the best investments out there however, that just seem to never go down in value (especially if you buy used).

          I am debt free, but tend to work on a seasonal basis, and with the economy in the toilet I have not raised my prices in years, to avoid losing sales. Inflation can really come back to bite you in such a situation. Even if you are adjusting your prices/wages for inflation, it is amazing how much it hurts when gas jumps $.75/gal and you know that you won’t be earning much money for the next 6 months, and what you had in the bank is what you have to live on. All of a sudden it doesn’t stretch as far as you expected it to.

          1. I can only add to this that the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to get out of debt.
            If you have debt and you get into an economic problem like job-loss, your engine exploding, you get transferred to the main office 60 miles away, it is like being close on a lee shore with a storm coming on. You have no choice but to claw off before you can do anything else. With no debt, you aren’t so close in and you can focus a few steps ahead.
            And your ulcers aren’t twinging all the time from suppressed panic.

  5. Even those of us who are certain they’re going to remain employed (I hope, I hope that I’m not alone on that), may not be too certain what we’ll be doing for our company. I remain a highly versatile, flexible, troubleshooting cog. And they keep switching which machine I’m in, because I’m so useful… what is this stability and 40-hour workweek people speak of? And when will this weather quit switching from baking to freezing so I can plant these seedlings?

    I’m still trying to find ways to help my husband, because he’s trying to do all the housework, the cooking, keep his blog up and get the books ready for publication between everything else.

    Thank goodness for indie! With the sense of urgency that’s spreading as I hear the ice crack not that far off, I don’t feel we have the time to wait a year as Baen reads through their slush pile.

    1. This was me – utility infielder, moved around to solve problems, always got great reviews, thought I was pretty safe. Then I landed under a manager who did not understand how to write reviews using the HR corporate culture vocabulary, and so did not use the right magic words. But higher ups knew me and my work, so I was still safe…until the company was sold, all the VP and up executives were pushed out under their golden parachutes, the new owners read everyone’s last review or two and I (and coincidentally all the rest of my manager’s reports) somehow fell below the red line.

      I’m one of those folks who do really well once I get in someplace, but apparently I suck at looking for gigs, so I’m still slogging ahead continuing to look, and also trying to maintain momentum on writing something I’ve been wanting to write for a while that is currently threatening mitosis, splitting into two only tangentially related stories.

      One of the bright spots for me is the whole indie thing – the opportunity to get exposure (and thus start another income stream) without running the major house submittal/rejection gauntlet is really an amazing change, especially as I read some of the ebooks out via Amazon that’s far better than crap I’ve read from the major houses (excepting Baen – I honestly haven’t seen any crap from them). Very encouraging – I feel like this one is an obstacle course I can get through.

      But Sarah’s point is valid across the board – things have been changing across the industry I’ve been working in (semiconductors) as well as the other tech stuff here in silicon valley for as long as I’ve been working (I’m Sarah’s age), and the rate of change has been and continues to increase. A lot of folks here are used to pretty rapid change, but change is starting to impact basic business models, and I think the whole structure is going to undergo radical transformation, to the point that the basic structure of business and individual work will change into something much more fragmented and modular.

      All I have to do is get a hook or three into the new modular work world.

      1. This is where the governmental stupid hooks in with the tech and might actually work best. In the future, everyone is a contractor working two or three jobs from home. Okay, no crystal ball, but the tech and the (groan) health care stoopid seem to be pushing that way jointly. This of course would lead to a highly flexible skill marketplace, best suited for the sort of tectonic plate shift we’re experiencing. Which means America might yet, once we pull head out of… er… yes, once more lead the world in “how to meet the future.” This is why Bill Whittle says the Future Comes From America.

        1. Right now the world is in a constant state of flux. Old systems are collapsing while new systems are developed,tested, implemented, and fail. Government, as we know it today, is designed to work in the industrial age and not the information age. It is a top down, top heavy behemoth whose heart as already stopped but the brain is so far away it does not know it is dead yet. If we can survive long enough, and the behemoth does not destroy everything when it falls dead the future looks bright for the adaptable. The trick is to know what tree to take cover under while all hell breaks loose.

          1. Yes, exactly. Also, you know, I was thinking — this is why we have such mediocrities at the top — they’re the ones who don’t see/aren’t excited by the future.

            The future and its enemies, indeed.

        2. If you are going to go Independent Contractor, you may find that your customers may be very leery of hiring you. This might be because there is a long history of an IC making a bad deal and then suing the contractee for back wages and overtime – which is vile in my book, but it happens far too often. The states tend to come down hard since IC is a way for an employer to not pay minimum wage and overtime, and skate out of withholding taxes and workers comp and all the million other legal things they get to tax. And the states can charge penalties for this “evasion”.
          It is not enough to declare yourself a company or register with the business division of the state. Most states either use a “right to control” test, or follow the USDoL’s Economic Reality test. Some use both tests, depending on the agency. Both tests look at the employment and see if you have multiple customers, and if the work is typically IC, Who owns the means of production (tools, contacts, physical plant) and who gets to tell who how many hours and how to get the job done.
          Some work doesn’t qualify anyhow or anyways: You will have to show special circumstances to qualify as IC if you are a dishwasher, receptionist or line-worker.
          So if you are trying to go IC and you keep getting wierd turn-downs, you may be hitting that concern. So have a frank discussion with your potential client and explain how you cannot be mistaken for an employee.

          1. What I meant was that it will become a way of life. No, I’m afraid most dishwashers, receptionists and line-workers will end up working two jobs, because of being 29ers (Twenty-nine-hours a week “part-timers”)
            In computers contractors don’t have that reputation (I think it’s mostly in the construction trades that the cost overruns etc. are common. At least we kept hearing about workmen’s liens on houses, when we were buying 10 years ago.) I am by nature a contractor. I just see this spreading across all skilled trades.
            Though I know a retail clerk who is hired/paid as IC — but I suspect that’s not QUITE right. (I’ve had a friend have to prove he was an IC before, and you have to work for more than one person, provide your own tools, etc. none of which applies to my clerk friend.) OF course if his boss is audited friend loses job. Yes, we’re going to see a lot of that, too.

            1. I want to file a complaint against WordPress getting rid of the recent comments list on the side of your blog. Is there some place where I can send the complaint to Word Press?

                  1. ayup. very handy. (Although, when you have a really busy week and, and then come back and see the According To Hoyt folder with a 1300+ unread counter next to it, it can be a *leetle* frightening. Or awe-inspiring. Either one, really. Man, we’re chatty around here! NTTAWWT…)

                    1. I’m just glad Gmail automatically stacks them, since it doesn’t use folders.

                    2. I’ve never gotten the hang of all the cool little things Gmail does – labels and all that. I’ve got a couple different accounts from various services, so I just use Thunderbird to keep them all in one place. Thunderbird’s got plenty of cool little things of it’s own, of course, but since I use them to do all my mail-managing, whenever I look at the my actual gmail inbox on the web, I never know where anything is.

                    3. Just got emailed a request for an appointment during GDC for a vendor. they attached a .ics file. Gmail read it and when i went to put the appointment into my Google Calendar , which gets synced with my android phone, it was already there, with a “Will you attend?” tag on it. Is it not nifty?

                    4. muy nifty. I’ve convinced thunderbird’s calendar to talk to google calender, but I dunno what it’d do if I handed it an .ics. hmmm…

            2. If any of you have seen the stuff on Facebook where VFX artists have turned their profile pics into squares of greenscreen in protest, well, thats one of the thigns they are protesting. For years, many VFX houses (including ‘big’ VFX houses) have scammed around paying benefits of any kind for their employees by hiring the artists as ‘independent contractors’. Mind you, these ‘independent contractors’ are expected to come into the office every day and work crazy hours (fifty plus hour minimums are *common*) using their software on their equipment…. part of the scam is that you are a ‘project hire’ ‘independent contractor’ and not an actual employee. PHUH.

            3. Sorry, I was channeling my old job, I used to give advice to employers.
              I was trying to say that one of the things you might have to prove to a prospective client, beyond that you can do the job, is that you won’t come back to sue for back wages later. A programmer, for example, can be an IC or an employee, but it is a matter of whether the programmer is his own company or is treated as an employee.
              And as for your friend, tell her to keep reeeealy good personal time records and pay records. She can review these after a couple of months to figure out if what she is putting into the job is worth what she is getting out of it….and this is true of all people working IC, salary or even straight wages.
              Sorry, channelling again.

            4. Many businesses are refusing to hire non-managerial staff directly, relying on temp placement services instead. I worked a stint for a manufacturer who used three temp providers for their assembly line workers, having just the supervisors on the company’s payroll.

              It is useful to remember that this is not the preferred choice of employers, it is their attempt to deal with the regulatory environment which they confront. Most labor law (most law) such as minimum wage or WARN Act requirements entail unanticipated consequences because unlike legislatures, employers have to keep their businesses alive.

              Which is not an argument against labor law in general, just a reminder that laws are like tailoring — you can’t just let out the shoulders and expect it to hang properly.

      2. I was going to say I have seen crap from Baen, but honestly I haven’t, I’ve seen stuff I don’t like, but it wasn’t crap. I remember David Drake saying in an interview that when Jim Baen was just starting his own company he bought several books from David. David said that Jim honestly didn’t like some of those books, but he knew he would have to do little editting on them and (the biggie) they would sell, there was a market for them. This has continued to be Baen’s business model, and it works, because it is sound business model. What the other publishers have is a semisound lobbying model, to an extent it does work as a lobbying model (less so now that there are other ways of publishing opposing viewpoints) to convince people that what they are lobbying for is the mainstream norm, and right. What it doesn’t do is create a successful business, mainly because it isn’t designed to.

  6. Well, if I’m on short time here I would like to make the suggestion that if you haven’t used you should. I very much doubt the value to Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter but Meetup puts you face to face with real people.

    I am suffering too but I now have two networking groups of which I am a founder meeting in business and financial institutions on a monthly basis and they have donated the space to us. We get it for free. We only pay for the beverages and desserts we bring. Its early morning so most of this space is unused anyway. Others are dropping out and others are sleeping late due to frustration and depression. You can fill a hole andgaping you will find businesses to partner with. Consider founding a meetup where authors, publishers and fans can meet. It may take off, it may be disappointing, it may not work at first. You will make at least one useful connection. If there is a neighborhood you would like to get exposed in and there is no formal industry group, find a hobby or social group and get the lay of the land. Many neighborhoods are quiet about business networking because they don’t want fast food places, etc. Its your chance to be an insider if you encounter that.

  7. Hm. Maybe it’s a generational thing. Folks much older than me seem to build their lives on the assumption that there’s a “normal” to return to. For me and mine, there just isn’t. “Normal” is…well…this. Constant change, and constant uncertainty. Secure employment doesn’t mean your boss likes you and your company’s doing fine, it means you’re still getting unsolicited calls from recruiters, so that when the time comes to jump ship, you can be reasonably confident there’ll be another ship to jump _to_. Secure family means that your wife still isn’t threatening to divorce you, and if you decide to go visit your mother, you won’t find yourself banned from the property (or told that it’s fine if YOU come, but SHE isn’t allowed to come with you, since she let it slip at Christmas that she wasn’t a Democrat.) And so on.

    Life is change. Sometimes, it’s change for the better. Sometimes…well…not. You just keep rolling with the punches and getting up when you get knocked down. Or else you die.

    It’s hard, really, for me to seriously believe it wasn’t always that way. But so many people seem to have built both their objective lives and their psychological assumptions in a completely incompatible way, that I must accept that the world was once otherwise.

    1. Well, things were APPARENTLY stable for the boomers, at least and they seem better off than us in that. I’m fifty. All the big changes hit my generation (and no, again, we’re not boomers. My brother born in 54 wasn’t REALLY a boomer,or only one of the late ones. By the time we came along we were dealing with the post-boomer crash in whatever our age group was — schools, jobs, etc.) Yeah on jobs. On family, LOL but close enough. I want to visit my parents, but I need to take a son as defense against getting in political arguments with my brother.

      1. Yep– I am in your category too– at 51. Getting a job was hard. Keeping a job was not so hard. But I was on the cusp of the contract change between employer and employee. Many employees worked 20 plus years for one company. Now if you work about five years for a company, then you are doing well. I saw it start–

      2. Beloved Spouse & I have chewed over this fat many times. NORMAL was the dream, the aspiration, the goal for Boomer Parents (aka, the Greatest Generation*, as opposed to their kids, the gratingest degeneration.)

        Look at the life arc of most of those people settling down to raise families and birth the Baby Boom. Average age at the end of the war would have been something like 24, meaning their earliest memories start around 1928. Their childhoods were spent in the Depression, their adolescences
        in the War. They knew nothing of normal except as tales told around the fireplace by the old folks.

        Post-war, America stood alone as THE manufacturing colossus of the world. Europe’s manufacturing base was destroyed — we had to resurrect the Germans in order to employ the tool-making equipment they had looted from France (and which had survived the bombardment of the latter days of the war.) The Soviet Union had suffered tremendous losses during the war and was paranoid with the idea those losses had been allowed/encouraged by the Western Democracies. If you were looking to buy squat it was going to be from the Americans. Without the USA the world economy was fairly non-existent.

        Which meant American jobs were secure. Following the mass production model of WWII (where most of the bright young men had learned their trade in logistics and other of the manufacturing arts) the American economy catered to its PTSD customers by offering convenience, security, NORMALITY. Like peasants suddenly elevated to the manor, most of these folks did not know what normality was, they only knew what they had peeped at through the camera lens in movie theatres. Theirs was an aping of normalcy, a veneer as shiny as it was thin.

        They believed that companies could offer life-time employment and secure retirements because … well, because they wanted to. And because there was nothing in their experience that told them otherwise. The company told them it was possible, the union told them it was possible, the politicians told them it was possible — who was going to listen to the still small voice saying “Can’t be done”?)

        And, of course, we mustn’t overlook the influence of television. With its nightly offerings of Ozzie & Harriet, Leave It To Beaver and Father Knows Best the glass teat feed the nation a flickering illusion of “normal” that most of the Boomer kids could apprehend. It was close enough to the lives we actually led for us to imagine it presented lives we could lead. For over a decade “normal” seemed a reasonable aspiration that had people dancing in place as fast as they could.

        Like all bubbles, that one eventually burst. American manufacturing grew fat and lazy and sloppy (think Robert Baretheon in Martin’s Ice and Fire) and slow to recognize — much less react to — changing conditions. Suddenly “Made In Japan” meant meticulous craftsmanship ans extraordinary quality at a reasonable price rather than “cheap and disposable.” Suddenly it took more than fins to sell a new car. The hare had to get up from its nap and pursue the tortoise. The dream of “Normal” was gone.

        And it had been a dream, the idea of normal a lingering ghost of bygone ages of feudal agricultural life before the mastery of technology created a reality where change was not just inevitable but was cranking the world’s stairmaster faster than most could keep pace. One reason America is hated worldwide is that we are Kali incarnate, surfing the chaos storm and landing on our feet.

        *Term used here as reference to popular cultural betrayal of a generation whose kids derogated their values and sold-out their principles, then tried to make it up to the oldsters by offering low-cost reverence in their fortnightly visits to the retirement home. For my money I would match the generation of the Founders, the generation which implemented the Constitution, the generation which fought the War of Southern Succession and the generation which conquered the plains against the “Greatest” generation and give even odds who would win (and keep a sharp eye on the East German judge.)

      3. a defense against getting in political arguments with my brother.

        I have similar issues within my family. A word of advice culled from James Branch Cabell’s writings: You may be right, and I cannot say that you are wrong, but as for me, I think not.*

        Find your own phrasing and deploy as necessary. First rule if family is that it is not generally necessary/desirable to win small trivial arguments within family**. Pick battles wisely and let yourself not be goaded into unproductive squabbles. When all is said and done, your brother was your introduction to SF and remembers you as a child. Those qualities merit a little tolerance and indulgence of the less fortunate in their delusions.

        *Quote approximate, edited by twenty very odd years of memory. Read Jurgen, a Comedy of Justice. That might not be the origin of the phrase but it is a d- fine read all the same.

        **For one reason, even trivial family squabbles can often hinge on major unresolved issues and turn thermonuclear before the eye has finished blinking.

        1. [quote]First rule if family is that it is not generally necessary/desirable to win small trivial arguments within family**.[/quote]

          I’ve found that all this does it mean you have so many small ‘trivial’ disagreements that go unresolved you end up not being able to relate to each other.

          1. Unlike the Risen Christ(TM) I do not believe I was put on this Earth to enlighten the unwilling. I can spend family time pleasantly recalling old joint pleasures or harboring resentments over my brother hogging Fantastic Four Vol 1 29 (It Started On Yancy Street) that time at the barbershop. I can happily shrug off such peccadilloes, secure in the knowledge that we each have sufficient unexploded childhood ammunition to lay waste to a holiday weekend.

            I no longer seek my family’s approval, merely their acceptance. OTOH, my family is not particularly close and I have been charitably described by cats as “standoffish” so anybody contemplating my advice should be well warned.

            1. My brother and I, once, got in a reminiscing mood near mom. This meant revealing a lot of malfeasance she’d been unaware of. Her take away was “NEVER do that to me again. I didn’t realize how close you idiots came to killing yourselves, or how often.” 😛 (I think she said “you two” — but the “idiot” was implied.)

              1. I knew never to relate my adventures at the YMCA camp my father worked at and took me to work with him during the summers I was growing up. Simply knowing how many snakes I had handled in a given week would have given her fits, no matter that they were all harmless. And she didn’t really even want to think about me being on a trampoline, let alone be regaled with tales of making girls scream by performing my favorite stunt, called a ‘suicide’, which entails bouncing high, then doing a swan dive towards the mat and tucking your head under at the last instant.

                1. In contemporary America PLEASE do not refer to YMCA Camp and Snake-handling in the same paragraph. EVER! Certain people will draw invidious conclusions.

                  1. Dang! Strike “draw”, insert “reach”.

                    Don’t you hate when that happens? It’s like noticing you had hit “reply all” just as the email goes out …

                2. Since I earned my spending money in high school catching and selling poisonous snakes to the local medical research center, I can sympathize, Wayne. I could make $30-$40 a weekend by catching moccasins ($2 ea), copperheads ($3 ea), and rattlesnakes ($4 ea). We’re talking early 1960’s, when gas was $0.39 a gallon, and all night at the skating rink was $0.50. I’ve been bitten several times, but NEVER when I was actively trying to catch snakes.

              1. Yeah, well, what do you think the issue of Hulk #1 that I allowed brother and cousin to use as firestarter would fetch? Not that it would be in mint, of course. There are reasons to avoid certain arguments and let water pass under the bridge. (Besides, that brother is not only a lawyer he is head of the litigation department at his not at all small firm — I don’t think engaging him in arguments is a wise strategy.)

                  1. The way I figger it, that is why the old issues are valuable; weren’t nobody buying them and stuffing them unread into mylar snuggies. You will find very very few comics published since the back-issue market actually developed (in the mid-70s, IIRC) that appreciably appreciated. A few comics that were notably … different and required time to find a market (Gaiman’s Sandman comes to mind*) are the only ones you are likely to find that were investment worthy.

                    *N.B. – this book was “helped” by the fact it hit the market, IIRC, at a time of contraction when dealers were cutting back on orders of unknown titles because their inventories were choking on the glut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wannabees that speculators (aka, average comics buyers temporarily bereft of their senses) had suddenly realized were not likely to quadruple in “value” in a month. So dealers didn’t (couldn’t) order sufficient to backstock the book and by the time people who bought comics to actually read started giving friends the “you have absoposilutley gotta read this book” spiel the first issue was not three months old and being hoarded by them what had it.

                    1. Then theres issues like the one Hulk issue I have, from the late 80s, wihich has value because it was Todd McFarlane (Spawn fame)’s first work for Marvel (and basically his first real comic industry work), was a rematch of Hulk v. Wolverine, and Hulk was a low-circulation book at the time.

                    2. Yeah, people tend to forget that guys like Frank Miller and Alan Moore got their shots on (respectively) Daredevil and Swamp Thing because their circulation was so far into the dumper that the Powers That Be figured, “heck, let the kid do what he wants – sales can’t get any worse.”

                      See also Doom Patrol sales figures just before Grant Morrison came on board and introduced The Brotherhood of Dada.

                      So, for investor strategies: buy comics nobody is reading. Not all books are guaranteed to appreciate and some investors have been known to lose money.

                    3. Extended N.B.
                      For those who weren’t around for it, the initial reaction to Sandman #1 was mostly “Huh! What was THAT?” It was only with subsequent issues that the prologue made sense and people began to see what a wild trip Gaiman was preparing to launch into and started telling others to “check it out.”

                      Sorta what all y’all oughtta be doing with the Darkshipiverse.

                    4. RES – I got my “You have absopositively gotta read this book” review for Darkships up on Amazon – have you? 😛

                    5. Of course – Amazon had my (five-star) DSR review within 24 hrs after I finished the book. And will get my AFGM review as quickly. Sadly, it will be a few days ere I get started as I disdain to drop book in progress until completed, and even more I refuse to put up a glowing review without having actually read the book. (I do have some ethics, after all. I keep them in a velvet-lined box so they won’t get bruised.)

                      By the time I had read DST it had been long enough since publication I didn’t think any online review of mine would matter.

          2. After a night’s rest I realized a clarification was in order. My First Rule Of Families (hmmm, of, not if. Stoopid flingers) applies for adult siblings. When young and crammed all into one house (or two houses if that had to be done) your principle is necessary to avoid festering problems.

            Once you are adult and returning only for special occasions — weddings, baptisms, ba- Mitzvahs, illnesses, funerals — which is the situation that Sarah is addressing, the principle of subordination of minor disagreements prevails. It no longer matters who broke whose favourite toy (nor even whether the toy was favourite before broken) — what matters is the occasion for the gathering of family.

            Should Sarah’s brother insist on debating politics with her during a return to see father while he is still above ground, then the proper responses are: “not right time, not right place, not right circumstance”; “I do not think that a necessary topic for discussion”; and “please show some respect for our father, even if you cannot bring yourself to show respect for me” in order of ascending escalation.

            Adult siblings trying to change each other’s minds about how the world works is indicative of a lack of maturity. I welcome but do not need affirmation from my siblings — that came with donning grown-up clothes.

      4. BTW, I’m 37. First time on the job market was 1990. The world everyone even a couple of years older than me seemed to base their lives on was already dead by _then_. It’s amazing that, almost 23 years later, we as a society still haven’t bothered to have the wake or the funeral, or even admit that the body is getting pretty smelly. (And yeah…not so LOL on the family thing when you’re living it. My wife, I’m pretty sure, would never actually divorce me. But any holiday now, my mother _is_ going to kick both of us off the property. Despite the fact that, technically, I _own_ the property.)

    2. I have ALWAYS assumed that the Chinese saying, “this, too, shall change”, applies to me and mine. Right now, I hope to keep getting a retirement check for at least five years, after which my house will be paid for, and I’ll be debt-free. That may be an unfulfilled hope. At the same time, I’m writing twelve novels at once, trying to get enough material out there that I have an income stream other than retirement/VA/SS, which may not be there much longer. I only wish Indie had arrived ten years sooner!

      In the meantime, I’m going to start working on some coursework in history to put up on Amazon or somewhere, and see if that, too, will sell. I’ve got a ton of research material, so I might as well use it. Something for anyone who is a parent, or is planning on becoming a parent to think about — schools will NOT be exempt from the coming crash, at any level. Your children’s future will depend on how much YOU can teach them.

      1. [bquote]trying to get enough material out there that I have an income stream other than retirement/VA/SS, which may not be there much longer[/bquote]

        You and me both…

          1. This is where I plug the idea of publicly posted deadlines. We kicked it around a mite a couple weeks ago, and it’s been percolating in my head since. I’m not sure this is the proper forum for such a notion, but any increase in productivity is a good one.

            Me, I’m working on a linked series of shorts set in a – more or less – contemporary faerie-tale/Lovecraftian NYC. One of my readers is pushing for moreMoreMORE. I’m halfway through the third of the set, and see it going as many as 10-12.

            Oh, and I’ve had ideas (carefully noted down) for at least a few novels over the last week or so. Still in the planning – of sorts: I’m generally a panster, for all I don’t usually wear ’em – stages, as yet, but can be called In Progress, Lord help me.

            1. Ok, I’ll pick up the gauntlet. March 10 – finish review of stories for next e-book and send them off for real editing. March 15 – finish WIP draft. I’m currently at 51,000 words and it feels like it will wrap up as an 80k word project. Which has just announced that it will be volume 1, thank you, instead of the single-shot I’d first anticipated. March 17 – finish the latest Murphy story (the world of Fleder M. Murphy, the giant bat.)

              Note: calls to teach will set each deadline back by one day.

              1. I can’t do that round, I have to cover GTC and GDC back to back so am going to spend two weeks out of town ion places i can’t afford to eat.

            2. Oh, and my lovely wife and I are moving across half an ocean and an entire continent next month. So, y’know, life-roll. iPad writing FTW.

              1. Oh, yes. Those hit. Should Dan’s job away my writing goes on low setting while the house gets de-cluttered/painted so we can sell and move. That’s life.

                1. So, much as I’d like to fini-

                  Y’know, what? Time to gamble a bit: this My Little Eldritch Horror short story collection, first draft, by Tax Day. (Oh, bugger. Something else that needs doing. /sigh) At the very least, it’ll provide me something to show some folks at Up In The Aether in May. Also, reading material for those who want it.

            3. There’s a small problem with that… The reason I receive a VA disability is that I have a bad back, plus a bunch of other problems. There are days when getting out of bed is a medal-of-honor act. When the neck tightens up (due to pinched nerves), the head starts pounding and the writing stops. That can go on for DAYS. I try to write something every day as part of my “payment” for being here, on Facebook, and elsewhere. Progress is slow, but I’m definitely making it. We’ll see how time unfolds.

  8. Just blogged on that this morning, actually (though in the context of the coming Boomer Holocaust). I really think the answer is “turn off the bloody t.v.” It makes you inert and gives you more bad news than you’d otherwise handle, along with lots of toxic half-truths.

    Then, “turn off your t.v. and go make something.” Making things turns you out towards other people rather than in towards yourself and your fears.

  9. There’s always been and always will be incompetence at the top. What it takes to get there is different from what it takes to stay and the two skill sets are in most cases mutually exclusive. (Humanity should thank G*d for that.)

    So the people at the top are always Peter Principled and there’s always going to be churn. The longer the status quo is maintained by force, fraud, or coercion, the more violent the eventual churn will be. As it was in the beginning, it now and ever shall be. World without end, Amen.

    Blessed are they who have prepared, for they shall have increased their chances.

    HOWEVER… (and I was so delighted to hear Glenn Reynolds say this the other day)… YOU will not survive the coming apocalypse. Your best odds of survival follow working toward preventing it.


  10. Sarah,
    How can you write on multiple things? ow does your writing workflow work? I know its practically a post in and of itself, but I’m a writer of sorts… my biggest publishing in the sci-fi arena was some work I did for White Wolf’s sci-fi RPG in the late 90s. (That counts as published, right?) (Let’s not get into my disagreements at the time with my ultra-lib co-author, both at the time and subsequently….)
    My… day job? Extended freelance contract? whatever you want top call it… is writing for a computer tech site, writing articles and reviews and so I end up feeling like I should end up working on that, or pitching another article to them or lining up the next review instead of writing fiction. I’ve got story ideas and pages and pages of notes, a lot of stuff (that was originally TV series ideas) that could be adopted over to either the serialized web novel format or another format (like, short $1.99 e-books on Amazon) to get these stories OUT OF MY HEAD for chrissakes and onto paper where other people can read them instead of relating them to friends. Some of my older stuff could technically even be adapted a little bit to work as YA sci-fi (with some comic book themes).
    When you sit down to create something, do you write pages of backstory? write up a tech base if you’re dealing with exotic technologies? lay ground rules for your world? or is a lot of this kept in your head as you write…
    I’ve been lurking here for about two months, I think I followed a link here from Larry Correia’s blog. I went back through a lot of the archives and read quite a bit of older material

    1. Oy. THAT is a couple of posts.
      Whitewolfe counts as PROFESSIONALLY published, so I’d say you have the chops if you want to so some short YA novels (or non YA — 30 to 50k words counts as a novel for indie publishing. They sell for around 4.99 which is a decent profit from Amazon.)

      As for juggling stuff, I can do posts on that — but if I forget, poke me. Right now my life is sort of running from task to task, so things DO drop.

      1. Yes, I figured it was a couple of posts… But I’ve spent a couple months reading you here telling me to WRITE…

          1. So…

            You directed me to write again…

            Does that mean that any horrors I unleash on the multiverse are your fault?

            *adds multiverse to the Firefox dictionary*

                  1. You know, pink feather boas are a really common type of snakeoid on Rexellius V…

                    When in college (film school, graduated summa cum laude… and then the writers went on strike ) I took a creative writing course in addition to screenwriting courses and the rest of the class was clown away by what I did in fifteen-minute writing exercises… easy A… 😀

                    1. File off the serial number, and blaze away with it, secure in the knowledge that the literati won’t come near it sans hazmat suit anyway. I’ve got a novella that you could pretty easily drop into the MHI or Special Circumstances worlds without noticing. Thing is, the voice is mine, and – especially with Odds like Those Who Read Baen – so long as it isn’t blatant plagiarism, you’ll be fine.

                    2. If it is blatant plagiarism call it homage or a “nod to” or “in the style of” and pay your fine like a mensch. But remember: steal only from the best.

              1. *snicker*
                Fortunately, I have a friend who wants to start doing copyediting for indies… and I trust his ability.

      2. This requires skull-sweat. Prioritize, plan, work out the logistics something fierce. Figure out what kind of space you need – both physical and mental/emotional – to write and keep writing. Right now, I need people to stay on my case. I’d like to hire somebody to do it. All the people with emotional leverage over me are busy with their own lives, and so don’t have time to hover. Yes, it should be an internal drive. I’m working on that, but I’ve never felt particularly driven to anything, so it’s slow going, and – quite frankly – straight-up weird. I’m also pretty sure I’m screwed up for anything else but lying for a living, though, and I respect myself too much to go into politics *rimshot*. Find your preferred length of work, and bum-rush it. I’m working on a novel, a trilogy, a novella (with one finished-ish) and a series of short stories right now. My mind thinks in lengthy story arcs, but I’m not sure how well that’s going to work out, as I seem to get stuck and move on. Bad me, nose to grindstone! Still, writing is getting done, and that’s important too. Also, life gets in the way. My wife and I are moving from Hawaii to Maryland next month (military orders) and I’m doing a lot to get that going and make sure it runs smoothly. Figure out your preferred markets, and work toward them. I have a friend who loves steampunk and western (for similar reasons) and she’s got shorts in a couple of anthologies, and likely confirmations for a few others. I’ve been told I need to start putting together stuff to show the other professionals at the cons I’ll be attending this year, and to make it happen now, Mister! I’m fortunate enough to have some friends who know – it seems – everybody, and I’ve taken the time to form relationships with several of their friends (who also happen to be writers whose work I love to read). If you haven’t seen the plugs yet, go check out Kris Rusch’s and Dean Smith’s blogs for their work on the changes in publishing and how to write as a business. Dean also offers online focused writing seminars through WMG Publishing (that link is to the explanation on Dean’s site, FYI). I’ve taken a couple, and they’re quite good, reasonably priced and easy to fit into a fairly busy life.

        Nota bene: This is my perspective, and what I’ve learned that helps me. If you try it and it doesn’t help, discard immediately and try something else.

          1. Heh. If you need accountability, I’d be tempted to say put a sign over the computer: “No checking ATH for a new post until you’ve written 1000 words.” Write “just finished my morning wordcount, so I can post here” in your comments, or complain about your characters, and it may become second nature that you’d better have progress to show when commenting. Or something. 😛

            But then our gracious hostess of the flying cod might whap me for being too presumptuous, so I think I’ll start running now…

            1. No, no. That’s good stuff. Which I shall implement on the morrow, as I’ve broken it all to hell and gone today. Still writing, though…

              1. Actually, now I think on it, that’s a big one. “Write your words before you read someone else’s.” Goes well with, “Just write the next sentence. And then the next. Repeat until done.”

              1. Well, there goes that exercise program… guess I’ll have to be cheekier next time. Wait, I’d have to be cheekier than RES – oh, heck, I think I might have to give up on that entirely, and go back to dragging my poor husband to the pool on my days off.

            2. While a pleasant idea, unfortunately far too many times these days if I have a thousand words in me they need to go to ‘work-related’ writing….

        1. If your really offering pay I would be happy to annoy the hell out of you daily, so you remember to write. Several people up above, including our gracious hostess recommend finding additional income streams, so I’m acting on their recommendations 😉

  11. So your comment on today’s intellectual/administrative elite being analogous to the aristocrats of the era when feudalism was fading made me think of Cervantes’ satire on that class. Perhaps it’s no accident that “Man of la Mancha” is a favorite of many boomer liberals.

    1. You know, I actually thought of Don Quixote, but was not in the mood to go check when it was set, etc. I.e. I was lazy. But you got the spirit of it right.

      1. I have read the Bible, Livy’s History of the Roman Republic and, for the last forty odd years, America’s daily papers. I have yet to see any evidence human nature has changed, merely the technology through which it is expressed.

        George Santayana was an optimist; those who learn the lessons of History still repeat it, but they can see the cream pie coming before it hits them in the face.

        1. I’m afraid in the Baen podcast I billed myself as desperately ringing the bell on the deck of the Titanic, screaming “Iceberg dead ahead.” But most people still arrange the deck chairs…

          1. Arranging the deck chairs is what they know how to do. The other stuff puts them into a fugue state. That is why, not long after 9/11 (2001, dammit) they went into Blame Bush Mode. Blaming Republicans is something they know and understand and can cuddle like a warm blankie. It has few dangers and no serious risks. Understanding why jihadis might hate America is their strong suit, that’s something they can do. Heck, they can hardly hear the jihadis‘ complaints, they are so busy loudly explaining the reasons jihadis should hate America.

            Never mind that the cultural sewage they’ve been dumping into America’s influence stream and which had slopped over into the jihadis‘ culture might be what was most enraging.

            As for economics … well, there isn’t any real reason to engage that bit stream, is there? They want to believe in unicorn farts and the people selling the fairy dust see no reason to stop.

        1. O.k. -off the top of my head idea. Feel free to throw fish or whatever. Sarah posted chapters of Witchfinder her as she wrote it, and Pam, you and Gina Marie Wylie are posting chapters of your current wip on your websites every Monday free of charge. First thing I do on Mondays is look to see if a new chapter is up and I used to do the same on Fridays for WF.

          What about asking fans to subscribe for access to the posts of the wip I don’t think it is necessarily a new idea, but it would be a way of generating some payment in advance for an indie book. Don’t get me wrong , I’m more than happy to get stuff free,but I feel a little guilty because snippets represent the writers hard work which gives me pleasure and entertainment and so deserves to be rewarded.

          In principle it would be analogous to buying an EArc and Baen has shown that plenty of fans are prepared to pay a premium to do that.

          1. That would be similar to what Tracy and Laura Hickman have been doing with the Dragon’s Bard series. They’ve had some luck with that, and have been using it to experiment with different marketing approaches. One of the books they actually published semi-traditionally (mostly just used the distribution channels), but they talked the publisher into releasing a chunk each week as an ebook leading up to release; two chapters per chunk for $2. It was a predominantly YA book, and the teens ate it up.

            He had a lot more to say about what they’ve learned about marketing and sales models from their experiments. I learned more from talking to him for an hour than I did at any three panels I attended that weekend. I’d write it up to share, but I feel funny just repackaging what he told me.

              1. I’ll write it up and shoot him an email for permission before passing it along. I don’t think he’s written about it on any of his channels I’ve seen (he scatters his content a bit, IMNSHO), but I don’t think he’ll mind. Would you be interested in having it as a guest post?

            1. Another thought (just had my morning coffee) what about a Human Wave writers website where HW authors could post snippets,or shorts and that fans could subscribe to for access – proceeds shared per contribution, or pro rata on basis of number of hits per item. Although I suppose that might be too complicated to organise.
              Anyway I do like the idea of releasing ebooks in instalments in advance. Anything that makes books more affordable and helps the money go further is welcome.
              Also takes me back to younger days when I would browse SF magazines in the newsagents every month and buy the one(s) that had a serial of a book by a favourite author. The sense of eager anticipation waiting for the next instalment and frantically searching the second hand bookstall on the local market if I missed an issue containing an instalment.

              1. I want to do this — but see today’s post. There is a reason my webpage is so out of datel (Though #2 son says he’ll do it during Spring break, so I’ll ask him about HW too.)

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