Where's Jay Hiding?


    Not posted a blog in a while; been very busy.

    Here's the news: I'm working again, back at Microsoft, and hoping that this contract lasts. For those who need to know, I'm working on Microsoft Surface, maintaining many of their websites. As most of you know, because of this terrible economy, jobs in my field have been few and far between in the last year, and it is a relief to be getting paychecks again.

    Also, my next book is in the final pre-release stages. I have some work to do on the cover, and Karen is editing the text (she's really detailed!). When all is done, Jay will have a new stand-alone novel with new characters and a new setting - no Vikings in this novel!

    Work! Work! Work! For those of you who would like to write a book, consider this: you had best enjoy doing a lot of work. Time-off to sit with my darling and relax are few and must be scheduled or it won't happen.

    In addition to writing and editing, I spend hours every week editing images for advertisements, researching and scheduling which events I want to go to, and then reconsidering when I look at how expensive they are. I just had to order another 90 books, which is why I am not driving far from Seattle to SCA events that I'd normally attend; 90 books are not cheap. I spend more time trying to get into places, including SCA events, than I ever expected, and that is a nightmare. Some SCA merchantcrats set nearly-impossible standards, according to many of the long-time merchants, and Karen and I have been asking many of them for advice. Mundane event-o-crats are usually better, but the prices that they charge are insane; one bookstore wanted hundreds of dollars up-front and 40% of all gross sales just for 4 hours in their store. Street-fairs are crazy-insane, wanting forms filled out a year in advance, and I have had many promises from mundanes fail without warning - once they have filled their roster, they don't want to speak to you again.

    All of this takes ridiculous amounts of time and effort. Before I published The VIKINGS! Trilogy, I had no idea what would be eating up most of my time. The part that I like best, actually meeting with people and talking to them, consumes just a tiny fraction of my time.

    I don't know how other authors do it; Karen is a senior accountant, and she handles all of my financial records, finding tax rates, getting special permits, setting up business-legal bank accounts, and all of the preparation to insure that the IRS does not take a dislike to my bookkeeping. Many nights, she spends whole evenings tracking and recording sales - I would be instantly bankrupt if I had to pay her hourly salary.

    Dealing with cover art has taken more time than I ever expected. Choosing your cover art is like deciding what you want your child to look like; the future of the book strongly depends upon it. My drawing skills (see my website for examples) is adequate, but nowhere near professional enough, so you have to rely upon your artist, who does not know what you want, but understands perspective and colors and textures far more than you ever will.

    All I really want to do is write. Sadly, once you publish, writing time gets even harder to find.

    Of course, I'm reading a SF novel, listening to a series of fantasy audiobooks, reading a thick non-fiction scholastic book (research for an unwritten novel), editing a manuscript for a friend, and I have several writing projects ongoing. And a short story of mine is being proofread by another writer friend.

    But, to be honest, the stress of job-hunting is so awful that, over many months, it made writing (when I had lots of time) much harder. Unemployment is not just a situation; it is a state of mind. Financial hardships weigh on everything that you try to do while you lifestyle diminishes with your remaining funds.

    One reason that I seldom drink is that I have noticed how badly inebriation affects how your brain works even days after you have sobered up. Suffering from an illness is pretty much the same; you don't think as well for days or weeks. Unemployment and/or poverty works exactly the same: it is a sickness as well as a situation.

    I am one of the hardest-working people that I know. To be considered a 'Taker' while you are busting your butt, just because the job market has dried up, is brain-stranglingly infuriating. The current political BS only makes your situational stresses worse, and it is BS: I know many who would gladly work if they could find employers that didn't describe them as 'over-qualified'; I heard that a lot.

    And yet I have continued to spend at least 1 hour every day writing. It was not easy; no job is harder than the one that your brain seems unwilling to do. But you did it before the pressures of depression and frustration set it; you have to keep doing it.

    Hopefully things will be a little easier now. Well, actually, things will get harder with the new book coming out and tons to do, but getting over the frustration and depression will certainly make the work easier to face, if not to do.

    However, the more you do, the more is expected of you. As I work to get this new book ready for publishing, I'm already spending time preparing to publish a 2nd stand-alone novel.

    To make it plain: Jay has not been hiding or slacking; he just needs a few clones.

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