Periodic Publishing Posts – Self Publishing?

I’m 6 weeks into an 8 week hiatus from my novel, Hallelujah, and have been working through a list of to-do items prepping me to get my book published.  The last couple of weeks have completely flummoxed me.  I went into this wanting to publish traditionally.  I wanted to have Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins or Penguin Random House on the spine.  (Uh, Penguin and Random House merged?  I had no idea.)  A couple of conversations with some friends of friends has made me wonder what my next step really is.

Conversation #1 – Founder of a self-publishing firm

A dear friend of mine suggested I spend my Sunday morning walking with Polly Letofsky.  Thankfully that’s an organized event anyone can join every Sunday, so it wasn’t a weird idea.  My friend knew that Polly had written a book about her experience walking around the world and she thought Polly might have some ideas about how to get my book published.  What she didn’t know was that Polly had moved on to starting a self-publishing project management and consulting firm, My Word! Publishing.

Polly had all kinds of information about what she does and how her company works.  She encouraged me to self-publish.  She threw around a lot of words I didn’t understand about publishing and the process and encouraged me to contact her for a free evaluation.  Basically her company puts together a publishing team for you: editors, marketing people, writing coaches, and whatever else you need.  Polly told me my first step was to start my own company, which I would later use to publish my book.  This was all fascinating and overwhelming.  Here’s what I took out of my conversation with her:

  1. If you want to make money on your book, you make much less per book with a traditional publication (like $1/book) versus self publishing ($12/book).
  2. An average book sells 2,500 copies.  An average self published book sells 250.
  3. You need to understand your own goals for publishing.

The first two bullets are a math problem.  Jojo sells 2500 copies of her first book and makes $1/book.  Anna sells 250 copies of her book for $12/book.  Who made the most money publishing her book?  If you play the averages, self-publishing wins, but by only $500.  However, this is where bullet number 3 comes in.

Once I had time to think I realized that my goal is not to make lots of money.  My goal is to get lots of people to read my book.  In my dreamy dream world I want to publish a book that people want to read, which is measured by them buying lots of books.

In my limited knowledge of how all this works, I didn’t even consider self-publishing because I do not believe that I could write a book lots of people want to read by myself.  People are not interested in a book with grammar errors, writing issues, and juvenile construction.  I know I need a whole team of people around me to publish a quality book and that meant traditional publishing.  Polly opened my eyes to the fact that the consolidation of the publishing houses means that there are lots of publishing people out there waiting to support self-publishers.  Once I read my book and determine if I want to go forward with it I’ll meet with her and see how her process works.  More on that here when the meeting happens

Conversation #2 – A self-published author

Jamie Ferguson is a friend of a friend and she published With Perfect Clarity in 2013.  I read her book and we’ve had a couple of e-mail conversations back and forth.  Hopefully we can meet in person and chat about her process in detail, but what I found out from her was that she also self-published through her company, Blackbird Publishing.

When I found all this out I did a double take.  This idea of starting your own company to publish a book seemed crazy when Polly mentioned it to me, and here I already had a data point telling me that was what people really did.  Jamie had editors tell her that the book was good, but would be hard to publish traditionally and an agent who was interested, but wanted her to make big changes, so she self published.

Both these conversations were interesting, and at least opened my eyes to what self-publishing means.  I’m not as against that direction as I was, but I’m a little overwhelmed by the thought that I have to write a book and then find a team, and then pay the team to edit, market and publish my book.  (If the averages work out I have $500 I could use to pay all those people and end up cost neutral.)  The flip side is to continue to try the traditional route.  I’m torn, but I don’t know enough yet.  My next steps are to learn more by meeting with Polly and Jamie.

I’ve got two weeks left until the big read, and I’m pretty comfortable where everything stands on my list.  I’ve got some work to do on a CV, and I have two more personal connections to exercise.  (I may wait on both of those until after the first reading, because they are connections I don’t want to use unless I’m really going to publish this thing.)  The only other item on my list is an elevator pitch, and that’s got to wait until I read, because I’m starting to forget the details of my book.  That was the whole idea of this little break.

I’m getting excited and nervous for two weeks from now.

Glimmer Train Submission

Get it Out There – The Short Story Edition

Back in June I blogged about going to see my BFF Neil Gaiman speak and his message to new writers.  Like many other established authors out there, his suggestion was to finish something, then get it out there.  Since that day I have finished a first draft of a short story and my first novel.  While waiting for my novel age, I have been working on nine tasks to get me ready for the effort of creating a second draft of my novel then finding an agent and publisher.  One of those tasks was to polish my short story, The Fisherman, and get it out there.  Well, I actually said “see how I feel about getting it out there,” but honestly, I feel pretty darn good.  It is out there.  Monday night I corrected my last few inconsistencies, paid my $15 and hit submit. My story is now officially in the Glimmer Train Press “Short-Story Award For New Writers.”  Can I get a hallelujah?!?  I’ll find out by November 1st if I win or not.  Time for more waiting.

I’m really, really glad I submit The Fisherman before tackling the editing process on my novel.  My story was SHORT (1241 words) and my novel is LONG (98,942 words).  Editing my short story was a gut wrenching crabby weekend of work.  If I edit my novel at the same rate I’m going to be crabby for 80 days!  (At one point this weekend I remembered another message from Neil Gaiman where he said people think that writing is ethereal but really it’s wandering around grouchy in a bathrobe.  Yep, he was talking second drafts, I’m sure.)  However, I learned some great stuff that I think will make editing the novel easier now that this effort is under my belt:

  1. I need a reader who believes in me, loves my work, and will remind me why I’m doing this when the bathrobe lady takes over and wants to hide in the basement burning my novel.  I’m lucky enough to have two of those readers.  One of them is my mom who also happens to be my ideal reader and my first editor.  The other one is a dear friend who makes time to encourage me even while she’s living her own crazy life.  Having that really honest joyful reassurance is so important.  Find that person. Buy them presents.  Nurture them because you are going to need them.
  2. I need a reader who is pragmatic and good at the rules of grammar.  My husband had to read my story twice this weekend.  The first time he agreed with my mom, “Yeah, you’ve got a lot of ‘ands’ in this story” and the second time he found two inconsistencies that were nit-picky but the difference between a kind-of-final draft and a final draft. Having someone who will know if your prepositions don’t match is awesome.  He never gushed about my story, but that’s okay.  Other people handled the gushing.
  3. I need a plan.  If the story doesn’t make Glimmer Train, that’s okay.  The deadline for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story competition is November 16th.  That’s where The Fisherman is going next if it doesn’t find a home at Glimmer Train.
  4. I need a deadline. Once I found my competition and realized it was due 8/31 I got motivated.  I couldn’t hang out in the bathrobe too long.  I’m hoping that I can make deadlines for my novel that mean something to me and keep me motivated.  Otherwise I might have to find some weird novel competition.  (Hopefully this means I’ll be good with deadlines if and when someone else ever cares about my stuff getting published.)

Those things are all great, but I also learned one really big writing lesson.  A game changer of a lesson.  I am chickenshit.  Once my mom and Mr. Afthead pointed out all the “ands” in my story I realized what I was doing.  I was making the reader do the work.  Description after description read,

“When the sun is low and the puffy cloud-filled sky is painted pink, purple and orange, and the shadows are deep enough to hide details of faces and bodies, the door will open and he will slip out to join the families on the banks of the river with his rod and reel.”  – 4 “ands” in one sentence

I had 69 ands in my first draft. Let’s pause and consider 69 of 1241 words were AND: almost 6%.  Ugh.  I cut that down to 31 through updates like,

“The sun must be low in a sky filled with orange puffy clouds.  The shadows must be deep enough to hide the details of face and body.  When the conditions are right he will slip out to join the families on the banks of the river with his fishing rod.” – 1 “and” in 3 sentences

What’s the difference between the first and second versions.  Lots of stuff, but in my mind the difference is that in the first version I am paranoid that the reader won’t see what I want them to see.  So I paint a very detailed picture in a very complex sentence.  I give them a magnifying glass and some paint of their own – in case they don’t like what they see – and a guided tour of the picture complete with one of those narration phones you get at a museum.  In the second version I am brave.  I assume the reader has their imagination on and can paint their own picture in their mind and we can move on together.  Are their orange puffy clouds the same as mine?  Do they really understand the conditions?  That is scary, but my favorite part of the story is the magic, but through over-describing (The child is excited and terrified.  The dad is teary-eyed and proud.) I was losing the magic.

Thank goodness by nature I’m a taker-outter and not a putter-inner, so the edits weren’t hard once I knew what they were.  I honestly believe that every reader has “better things to do” than read a book.  They have bills to pay and mother’s to call and a house to clean and kids to bathe and endless ands to stick into their writing.  If I make them work too hard they will leave.  If I tell them exactly what they need to know, and maybe a little less, they will keep reading because they can’t stop.  They will paint their picture in their head and want to know how it turns out.  I want my stories to beg to be read, but if they are tedious because I am scared they won’t get read.  So watch out novel!  I’m coming to you and I am brave and ready to chop you down to size.  I’m bringing my cheerleader readers and my nitpicker with me too.  We are a fierce team and taking on new members if you want to join us.

Only 59 days until I find out if I won the competition or not. 23 days until I can read my novel. Tick Tick.

Pile of books and magazines on a table

Weekend Writing Update #1

It’s time for my first Weekend Writing update, where I let all you excited blog readers learn what steps I’ve been taking to inch my way toward blog publication.  Last week I came up with a list of nine items to get me started.  Shall we see how things are going?

I start all new projects at the bookstore.  I know I should start at the library, but I love owning books, especially when they are books I am going to need for some time.  Also, just the mere permanent presence of books in my home makes me better at things.  The whole shelf of parenting books with uncracked spines lead me to be a caring, disciplinarian, listening, happiness inducing ninja of a mom.  It’s a form of osmosis I think.  But, I digress.  These writing periodicals and books have already been opened and perused.  (Okay, the top three in the pile have been opened and perused.   The others are feeling jealous.)  Here is what I have learned from my study this week.

  1. If I don’t have a blog, I should start one right now.  How awesome is that.  I HAVE a blog.  Check off that item that wasn’t even on my list.  One article said I should make lists in my blog.  Yep, I’m making a list.  I’m awesome.
  2. My blog’s URL should be to make it easy for agents and publishers to find my blog.  Uh oh.  Well I’m keeping Afthead and purchased my name URL to redirect to Afthead.  If anyone is interested in the land of domain registration and how you redirect multiple domains to you blog let me know.
  3. There are short story competitions out there, and you can only publish stories that have not been published before, except on a personal blog.  What!?!?  This means I can dust off The Fisherman and submit it.  That’s my plan for the next couple of weeks.
  4. The Guide to Literary Agents freaked me out at the beginning.  All the examples of “new authors” seemed to be “Joe Smith has worked as a freelance writer since he was born, and has been editing 18 periodicals since he was weaned. He was approached by his best friend, who happened to be an agent, who asked to represent him when his novel was a mere 1000 words long.”  Translation: the only “new” authors that get published are people who have been working with words their whole life.  Downer.  However, I skipped to the back of the book and started looking at the listing of agents and lots of them take new writers.  That made me feel better.
  5. I read a fascinating article in the Novel Writing magazine about the genre of magical realism.  I’m thinking my book could be in that genre.  (Previously I was thinking science fiction or fantasy.)  The downside is that the magical realism genre is “controversial” so I should be aware of that.  I am always amazed at the specific areas of controversy sprinkled throughout all aspects of humanity.  The other plus of this article is that I realized I LOVE magical realism books and now have a whole new list of books to read.
  6. My meeting with my boss was put off for a week, but I’ve filled out our “Conflict of Interest” and “Approval for Outside Activity” forms.  Once those are signed I can actually set up my name URL and formally tie myself to Afthead and stop living this crazy double life…OR I could get a cape and a mask and start introducing myself in my best Batman voice, “I’m Afthead”.
  7. Once I’m out of the writing closet at work, I am going to see if a colleague will introduce me to his ex-wife, because she just published her first novel.   They are still friends, so this is not a completely weird request.  Before I ask him, I want to read her book.  That seems polite, right?  I’ve got it next to my bed to start tonight.
  8. My mom found an online class at our local community college on getting published.  I just missed the start date for the August class, but may sign up for the next session in September.  It’s 6 weeks and covers some things, like copyright, that I haven’t even considered.  September is an easy month at the Afthead house with school starting, coaching soccer, playing soccer, and normal work stuff., so I’ll have lots of time to take two online classes a week.  Tee hee.

Things are moving along on this adventure.  My book is still hiding in my desk, calling out to me when I’m in my study.  I am ignoring her though.  I reread On Writing again, and am convinced this is a good path forward for me.  I’ve still got some work to do on my pitch and CV, but that will wait for a couple more weeks.  For now I’m enjoying my little dips into this new world of publishing.  Hopefully by next week I’ll have identified a contest or two to submit to, have my paperwork done and my new domains set up.

Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever adventures come your way.

“The End” Part 2 – The Heartstrings

I’ve often thought that there is a magical moment when something really good happens in my life and I’m the only person who knows.   It’s a special time, when the good news is all mine.  No one has reacted in a way I didn’t expect.  No one has said anything weird, or worse, mean.  The good news is a flickering glow that is all mine.

That was how I felt on Sunday night when I finished my book.  I started crying as the last words were typed.  Not a big sobbing cry, but just tears welling up.  A happy cry.  A sigh of relief cry.  A quiet amazement cry.  These people and their story that had been rattling around in my afthead for so long were out.  Their story was done, or at least the first part of their story was done.  I knew what happened.  They knew what happened.

I wrote “The End.”  I saved the story.  I backed it up, twice.  I calculated how long it took for me to write the book, and wrote down how many pages and words a little piece of paper.  I’m bad at remembering numbers, and if someone cared enough to ask how long my book was I wanted to have that information at hand.

I imagined how I would tell my family and friends the big news.  Who to tell first?  What will I say?  Should I be dramatic or off-hand?  Will they hug me and spin me around in excitement, or will they cry themselves?  My husband is on a different continent.  How will I craft the text that will be the first thing he sees when he wakes up in England?  Subtle or over-the-top?  I imagine the happiness each person will express.  Everyone will be as proud and elated as I am.

However, I am not the center of the universe and the real world doesn’t work like the little movie in my head, so before I started telling I turned towards reality.  I knew everyone would be happy for me, but in the way you are happy for someone else’s good news.

So I started.  Some people were distracted by their own life and their own situation.  Some reactions were weird.  Maybe they always wanted to write a book, but have never managed to get the words down on paper.  Maybe they just had a friend die.  Maybe they are hurt that I’ve been writing this book for two years and never mentioned it to them.  For whatever reason, they are a different happy than I imagined.

There is a flip side.  Some friends and family were happy in cool brave ways.  They said things I don’t experience outside of my deepest darkest center.  They joke about when my book will be made into a movie, like The Martian.  Of course I harbor such ridiculous dreams.  Heck!  I even have a song picked out to play during the opening scene, but I would never say that out-loud.  I want to shush them, lest they attract the attention of fate who wants to squash my hubris.  They offer knowledge and information to move me onto the next phase: sites, magazines, friends and family who can help me publish.  They want to read my book.  They tell me I inspire them.  These will be my first readers.  They are the ones I will hand a huge pile of paper and say, “Tell me what you think.”

My favorite was my daughter.  She told people, “My mom finished her book.  She read me a part once.  It was about the Wizard of Oz.  It was really good.”  I love that she understands that this is a big deal and that she knows it is special that she got a sneak peek.  Only she and my husband have glimpsed the pages of the book.  My kiddo is proud of me.  Who doesn’t want that?

Once I told all the people I walk around with in the real world, it was time to tell my blogging friends.  Really, I held out telling you because I’ve enjoyed my few days of imagining how I would tell you and how you would react.  You are in the arena with me.  You are all writers and whether it’s your quotes, your own novels, fiction, stories, or humor you are putting out there, you putting it out there too.  You are the ones who read my short story and were so wonderful and generous with your likes and your comments.  You made me brave about being willing to make something up in my head and share it.  You are the ones who will read the bits of my book that I will scalpel out in a few weeks.  The good bits that aren’t quite right for the final product.

I turn to you, just like my in-person friends, and ask, do you know what I do next?  It’s time to move to the next beginning!  Thank you for coming this far with me.  I finished my book!!!  Eeeek!!!

“The End” Part 1 – Novel Statistics

In a past blog post I told you about how my BFF Neil Gaiman told me (and several hundred other people) that as a writer I needed to finish something and get it out there.  He also told me that I had to call myself a writer.  Well as of this last Sunday this writer finished the first draft of her first novel.  Yes, dear readers, my first book is done!  I literally typed “The End” at the end because, holy crap, THE END!

So, because I am who I am, I can now start analyzing the books stats!  Are you excited?  I am!  See, I keep a spreadsheet documenting how much I write each day.  (Totally normal.  Everyone does this, I’m sure.)  Ready to discover book stats with me?

Book start date: July 15, 2013

Book end date: August 2, 2015

Book duration:  748 days

Book length (pages): 171

Book length (words): 98,942 words

The novel took me 2 years and 18 days to finish.  On average I wrote 132 words per day.  Let’s marvel over that tiny number.  132 words per day can get you a long novel in just over 2 years.  Of course that number is misleading.

Actual writing days: 88

Max words in a day: 6630

Min words in a day: 23

Average words per writing day: 1124

I only wrote 11% of the days I had available, or about 1.5 days out of every two weeks.  That seems like a paltry pace, even for a fulltime working mom.  Digging deeper I find that from October 21, 2013 to January 7, 2015 (443 days, or 1 year 78 days) I only managed to write on 7 days producing 8,018 words.  Yep, those were the Afthead family depression days when my emotional and mental energy was needed for something more personal than my novel.  Interesting though that I still averaged 1145 words per writing day during that stretch; I am consistent.  If I take out those 443 days as an anomaly I find that my book took 305 days (let’s say 10 months) and on average I wrote 29% of the days, or 4 days every two weeks.  That seems about right with my sense of how the composition went and also seems pretty reasonable.  If I start now and keep up my average writing pace, I could have book number two done in under a year.  That’s cool!  I know, I’m ignoring the second draft of book one in this number and assuming good fortune in the Afthead world.  Still, I feel proud of what I accomplished and, with caveats, confident about what I could accomplish going forward at this reasonable writing rate.

One last set of numbers for those of you still with me.

Max week = 12262 words

Days writing in max week = 3

Average words per writing day in max week = 4,087

This of course was the last week of the novel.  The end was coming and I could feel it.  At this pace, we’ll call it the QMJ (Quit My Job) pace, I could write a second book in 24 weeks.  Whoa!  That gives me some perspective about how real writers manage to produce a book a year.

That’s Part 1 of the book finishing adventure.  Next we’ll move onto part 2, the emotional part.

The End.  (Those two words.  Bliss I tell you!)

I Love Spellcheck

I’m just going to say it.  I love spellcheck.  I love that I know that spellcheck is spelled spellcheck and not spell check or spell-check because spellcheck doesn’t get a red underlined wiggly.  (Note, spell check and spell-check also don’t, so that means all three of them are right, right?)  I can’t spell.  Have never been able to spell.  Have been known to spell so poorly that when I right click on the red squiggly line it has no suggestions for me.  Buerocratic is one of my favorites.  You know the act of beuorocracy?  Why can’t spell check get what I’m trying to say?  Burocracy?  Whatever, “dumb organizational rules” gets no red wiggly line, but sometimes gets frowny faces from my boss.  (Frowney?  Frowning.  Who knew frowny wasn’t a word?)

Today spellcheck taught me two new things.  Would you like to learn them too?  if so read on!

1.  Those tiny green cabbages are Brussels sprouts.  Brussels like the country with a big B.  I had no idea.  Wikipedia tells me The Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium, and may have originated and gained its name there.  I always thought they were brussel sprouts.  Thank you spellcheck!

2.  The plural of eucalyptus (had to use the squiggly line to spell that one) is eucalypti.  I have never thought of eucalyptus as something having a plural.  I use eucalyptus oil when I have a chest cold to keep me from coughing all night.  I suppose it is harvested from a grove of eucalypti?  Or say that you spill many bottles of oil at Whole Foods.  Have you caused a eucalypti cleanup on aisle ten?

Now rejoice all of you at your new found smartness due to my inability to spell.  Wonder how the Afthead is ever going to realize her literary dreams when she is baffled by spelling, verb tense and comma usage.  I’m already picturing the day my novel goes to an editor.  “Well, she can’t use a comma to save her life and she’s got the past, present and future all mixed up in a single paragraph.  At least she can spell.”

Heck yeah, I can spell.  Thanks spellcheck!

Favorite Lines – Jim the Boy

“During the night something like a miracle happened: Jim’s age grew an extra digit.  He was nine years old when he went to sleep, but ten years old when he woke up.  The extra number had weight, like a muscle, and Jim hefted it like a prize.  The uncles’ ages each contained two numbers, and now Jim’s age contained two numbers as well.”

– Jim The Boy, by Tony Earley

I have not been a writer my whole life: I came to that lately.  I have been a reader my whole life, and since starting to put words to paper my love of books has grown.  I will be reading or listening to a book and have to stop to re-read or rewind a passage marveling at “how they put that”.  That said, I have always loved certain books and certain lines in certain books, so I thought I’d start to share some with you.  These phrases, they are my inspiration, and I’d love to share them with you.

This one is from Jim the Boy, by Tony Earley.  I haven’t read the book in forever, but I remember loving this line the first time I read it.  I even read it to my mom, my partner in book love, so she could hear how wonderful it was this first line in Book 1 of the novel.  Earley captures the magic of turning 10 from a child’s perspective in such a unique way.  While my daughter has always talked about how many years she has in fingers or hands, I love how Earley describes it in terms of digits, and how ten has the same number of digits as his uncles’ ages: so momentous and yet a mystery there.  Why uncles and not parents?  I tried to create a similar feel in my story The Fisherman.  Earley’s is much clearer though.  There is no question about how old Jim is or what Early is trying to convey.  But this writing thing, it’s all about learning right?

The book is a great read, and I’ve tucked it away in my backpack to enjoy again.  Watch for more favorite lines in future posts!

Gay curious, but not in the urban dictionary way

I’m finding the blogosphere to be an interesting place for book research. As my character’s lives are moving forward they are developing their own personalities. The son of my protagonist is only five, but already I know something about him that even his dad doesn’t.  He’s gay.  This leads me to writing about something I know little to nothing about. I’m not gay. I have friends who are gay, colleagues that are gay, a massage therapist that is gay, but no one I really feel comfortable asking awkward questions about gay love and gay courtship and gay feelings. I’m pretty sure human resources would get involved if I scheduled a meeting to ask my two gay teammates about the first time they fell in love.

Bloggers choose what they are open about though, and through the words of my cohorts I can learn. I’ve been fretting about the coming adulthood of my character and worried about how to handle his early relationships and his dad’s reaction. Then I came across this post on The Gay Soap Box and I was elated.  Here it was.  The story of a girl realizing that she liked other girls, and it was a great bit of writing.  I felt her awareness, her awkwardness, her bargaining, and her curiosity.  It was like I was in that bus with her sitting in her skin.

In some ways her emotions were foreign, but in many ways they reflected my own feelings in early love:  the uncertainty and the awakening.  (I’ll never forget my first lust.  That dumb Jason guy talking about how he only liked girls who gave blow jobs, and at 13 I had no idea what that was.  I did know that I would do anything for him if he would just pay attention to me. Thank goodness he never did.)  In some ways I was even jealous of her story.  At least she knew what undergarments Jen likely had on.  If you have relationships with the opposite sex everything below the top layer is a mystery early on.

Energized by this blog post I started searching WordPress for other enlightening stories using tags like “Gay Love”.  Uh mistake.  Apparently WordPress is not just about words, but about images too.  Thankfully I was on my home computer by myself.  I already knew that I wasn’t a heterosexual voyeur, and now I know I’m not a homosexual voyeur either.  Give me your racy novels, but keep your videos and images to yourself, thanks.  I am a visual prude.

Undaunted I started looking again, but more cautiously.   Nothing yet has spoken to me the way The Gay Soap Box did, but as I’ve been searching I have also been thinking.  Maybe there isn’t a formula for awakening sexual love: gay or straight.  My worries and fears and biases are different from yours regardless of your orientation.  (For example, you might like pictures.)  Maybe love is a thing without rules and without trends.  Am I arrogant to think that I can now write about gay male love because I read a post about gay female love and I have some experience in straight love?  Can I use my own experiences as proxy for homosexual, or even other heterosexual, relationships?  Was being shunned by a boyfriend’s Jewish parents because I didn’t share their son’s faith similar to a man being shunned by his parents or his lover’s parents because he is gay?  I had a crush on a black guy in college and I never acted on it because I didn’t know if he liked girls “like me.”  Can I now empathize with a gay woman approaching another woman of unknown orientation?  I don’t know, but what I do know is that I am thankful for The Gay Soap Box author for her post, because she was brave, and her risky post made me wiling to write mine.  My apologies if I sound naïve, callous or unenlightened in this space.  My missteps weren’t made out of malice or intolerance but out of simple curiosity; I’d like to begin this conversation.

The Nutcracker Redeployment

“Well troops, today is the day where we must migrate from our dignified post across the staircase and return to our plastic storage container home.”

Several of the older more claustrophobic nutcrackers faint at the news.

A new-this-year nutcracker pipes up, “What do you mean?  Do we have to go back to our boxes?”

“No, no.” The lead nutcracker chuckles, “Your new home is this industrial grey box, but take comfort that once a year we will return to the glory of the shelf and again be organized in formation from tallest to shortest.”

Nutcrackers in a bin
As the leader of you troops, and the tallest, I’ll be residing in the green bin with the wrapping paper.

(Part of me really believes these guys are alive.  I anthropomorphize everything.  No wonder I hate those elves on shelves, huh?)

Have courage brave soldiers!  Until we meet again in December!


I guess the first step here is to introduce myself.  So far I’ve been yammering on like a new hire at orientation without the good sense to tell you a bit about myself.  By now you are probably rolling your eyes and wishing you had sat next to someone else.  My apologies for being rude and self absorbed.  I’ve never been much for small talk. So here goes:

  • I am a manager of a team of 13 web developers, database administrators, analysts and projects managers and have a degree in chemical engineering
  • I am a mom to a first grader which means I am also a soccer coach, a working mother, a doer of laundry, and owner of two cats, one hamster, about 50 snails and a host of roly polies.
  • I am a crafter with a primary focus on knitting, but also enjoy sewing
  • I am a reader, currently engrossed in John Scalzi’s “Lock In” and listening to Stephen King’s “On Writing”

While I think this all makes me a fascinating well rounded person, it does not explain why I am publically entering the blogosphere.  I am also an aspiring writer and novelist (holy crap it is scary to write that out loud.)  My first book is about half done and was abandoned because my second book couldn’t be ignored.  It flew out of me in a frenzy, and the story took my breath away.  I was about three quarters done when my husband suffered a major depressive episode.  (He doesn’t believe in half-assing anything.)  I sporadically worked on my book, but life took so much out of me that I had no emotional energy left to give and the project languished.

In November my husband was declared cured, for this episode, and I had my own mini-breakdown.  Then, my characters started calling to me again, so it’s time to start writing.  This time I’m going two directions: the blog and the novel.

Why the blog?  Well, it’s really because I could buy the afthead domain and I love the idea of aftheads.  I also have the occasional story that has nothing to do with my novel.  I am not really sure what I hope to get out of the blog.  I make a good living, so I don’t need to make money from it.   I guess I’m looking for some virtual companionship while I go on this new journey into the writing world.

Nice to meet you!