Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Back to School

In Australia, the school year begins in February (or late-late January). I'm not worried about my daughters as they're old hands at this. It feels like they've been going to school their whole lives.

Instead, I'm reminiscing on my eldest daughter's first day at high school.

She got into a excellent specialist school about an hour's train ride away. I think I was more nervous than she was! I went to school in a foreign country where I walked to school every day. And here I was tossing my firstborn onto the public transport system to send her off in the wide, wily world.

She was gonna be doing this every day. Without her momma.

Okay, that first day I went with her. Being the organised creature I was, I immediately spotted any other student with the same uniform she had.... granted, this wasn't until the half-way transfer. Our train was woefully short of her fellow schoolies, but there were plenty of other students going to other schools. (Perth is very much a commuter town, with lots of students going to specialist or private schools well outside their suburb. This pleases my meritocratic soul.)

Yes, my baby had to make a transfer from one train to the other. By herself. Every day.

Except for today, as I was going with her. Fortunately, the train we hopped to was the school special. It serviced four schools along its route, dropping off the Apples, the Mellies and so on, as they came to their schools.

This bus was crammed with plenty of students for my daughter's school, along with their parents doing the same thing as me.

Best thing to do: network with these other students, as chances are they'd be commuting every day together. Not that I'd have to worry. I learn from a few people that during the commute, the students all watched each other's backs. Also, the trains had extra guards to protect the students as they travelled.

When we got to school, I dropped of my diminutive daughter and asked her if she wanted me to pick her up after school and ride the trains home with her.

"No, I've got this."

And later that day, when I picked her up from the train station, I discovered that she did.

Her Grace is gonna enjoy the First Day of School sendoff, as there's not many of them left.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Annual Guilt Post

Currently I'm in my publisher's chat room where they're discussing blogging. Regularity is one of the desirable qualities of a blog.

Guilt monkey lizard.

I'm so guilty of dropping the ball on that one. I used to be a 3x/week kind of gal, with semi-topics (like Tuesday's Tale and Interview Friday), then I wasn't (and I know why; see below).

When I post regularly (like, for A to Z Challenge or something), I get lots of readers. When I slack off, or ramble about myself, the readership drops.

Second desirable quality: be interesting. I aim for this, but sometimes I'm dull, especially when talking about myself. Rambling on about a topic, like Astronomy, tends to be more interesting to readers. I love doing a limited series on a topic. (I should do more of those. I'm open to topic suggestions.)

Now, while this blog is mostly about a Romance author (me), there is more to me than just Romance books. Besides, others are doing a very good job of single-topic blogging better than I do. I don't know if I could maintain a single topic (like, Romance, or Astronomy), and keep up a frequency without becoming bored, or having it infringe on my production time.

Frequency.  I read blogs that vary from several times a day, to once a week, to a little less often. I have an RSS aggregate that I've subscribed to so I can catch the sporadic posts.  Me, I'd love to be predictably frequent, but my life patterns don't run like that.

I used to be a regular poster, staying somewhat on-topic, then I decided to do a Blog Challenge that required I blog every day.

That burned me out. Sorry, I simply can't do that. Even when I was bingeing and scheduling, every day was too frequent. I had better things to do like write novels and study stars and make a quilt.

(That said, I've started collecting post ideas for my next A to Z Challenge. If I take my time putting something together, I can auto-load it all and avoid burnout.)

What is the purpose of your blog?  When I trawl through the A to Z Challenge roll call, I find lots of really dull blogs. Why are they dull? Sometimes it's the subject, other times it's that the blogger can't make it interesting. The dullest ones are those where people are talking about themselves in a self-focused kind of way. The me-ME-me-ness would turn off even their mother.

The best blogs are those that post about something that interests them, especially in a way where they lose themselves in the moment of why the topic fascinates them so. (Yes, I'm posting more Astronomy. Yes, I'm going hard-core, but in a friendly sort of way.)

Meanwhile, does this whole post mean I'm going to be blogging more regularly?

Honestly?  I don't know. I can't say for sure until February, when the Australian Holiday Month of January is over, and we all get back to our regular lives.

Things I'm doing that I could blog about:
  • Astronomy (especially during the semester when I'm studying)
  • Writing (but only in a way that's interesting to you)
    • Upcoming projects
    • Writer's life
    • Tuesday's Tales
  • Cat Fostering
  • Gardening/Recipes/etc
  • Audiobooks (from the production side of things)
  • TASE Day (this is always my favourite)

Her Grace is busiest in RL when she's quiet online.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Job update

So I got called in for an interview at Dream Job last week. 


Now, I haven't interviewed for a job since... wow. What century is this?

Was I nervous? Yes. Did I comport myself well?  Seems so. I don't think I stuck my foot in my mouth too often. I handled all questions well, except for the two I wasn't expecting: current salary and expectations, and when I could start.  The first was awkward because this job was a serious step-down in hourly salary. But I let them know I was okay with that. After all, I was moving from a part-time job to a full-time, and the money in my pocket would increase for doing more of easier work.

The second question I had no idea. I tentatively offered them an average two weeks' notice period, only to learn from my current HR that because I've been at my current job for over a decade and a half, my notice period really needs to be four weeks. (I updated Dream Job with this info as soon as I got it.)

Sidebar: From the very beginning I was open with my current job that I'd applied for Dream Job, because that's how we roll. Everyone knew what was going on and were following the adventure.

So, today I'm in a big important departmental team meeting when my phone rings.  (Bad me, for failing to put it on silent in a meeting.)  I had one look at the number and my supervisor goes, "Is that The Call?!"

I slip out to take it.

Alas, I did not get the job. Everyone they'd interviewed was more than qualified to do the work, and they went with the person who would have been the best fit.

Went back into that meeting to a dozen expectant eyes.  "Nope. You all have me for another couple of years."  Commiserations all around.

ETA: I requested and got feedback from DJ's HR. Nothing wrong with me or how I interviewed. Just for their selected candidate, a couple of things were a better fit, like salary expectations and geographic location, etc. Ah, well. 

Coincidentally, my Annual Performance Review was this afternoon. There, I learned that a proposal to make my position full-time was included in the Annual Budget, pending approval. Should that happen, I'll most likely take it up, and comfort myself over not getting Library Dream Job with the 50% more salary I'll get.

(Also, my review let me know I was doing pretty good in my job and am seen as an asset to the team. Good to know.)

Now, I also made it clear that I didn't plan on staying in this job forever. They know my ambitions towards being an author, but also that I'd love to get back into the Library system. I'm in my current role by accident.  Happy to do well while I'm here, but it's not the career track I want to be in.

But these things happen. Most people spend some time in a job that's not their dream career. It's normal and not a sign that one's life has gone wrong. We end up in these jobs because they were needful in the moment. Sometimes this side quest take a bit longer, but might be necessary to keep us alive until we can get back to where we wanted to go.

To that end, I'll have career news in the upcoming Quarterly Newsletter. If you're not subscribed to the QN, do so now before 30 Dec so you can get yours.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Rare Opportunity Job

Yesterday was the deadline for applications for a Rare Opportunity Job. You bet your sweet bippy I submitted my application.

A Rare Opportunity Job (sometimes called a Dream Job) is the kind of job you want to be working at, but aren't, because the opportunity to get one rarely comes up.

I'd love to be a Google Doodler. I'd love to be a score composer. But these opportunities aren't going to happen any time soon, so I've let my dreams settle into more realistic aims.

A ROJ at a library recently arose. While I'm not actively job-hunting at the moment, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to apply.

I got my first library card at age 3. We attended at least once a fortnight or so. Would have gone more often, if a library was within my underage commute distance without needing to rely on someone to drive me there. As an adult I've worked at three libraries and loved it. Currently I do part-time IT Support peripherally to a library, but it's not quite the same as working in a library itself.

Last week a Rare Opportunity Job arose at a library. What makes this the ROJ it is?
  • It's in a library. After having worked straight IT for a while, I realised I'm much happier working in a library. I really want to go back.
  • Location. Granted, it's a good hour away. But it's close to a daughter's school, and it's in a neighbourhood I wouldn't mind working in. Besides, long-term plans involve us moving into that area anyway. 
  • Money. Sure the hourly rate is lower than what I'm making now, but as it's a full-time job, the actual amount of money that will be going into my pocket will rise. I need more money, but I also need less stress. This job will give me both.
  • Work Load. Unless this job ends up being an outlier, the work load pace and stress will be less than what I'm doing now. I'm ready for a job where I'm a wheel cog and not a fire extinguisher. I'm feeling the faint edge of burnout nibbling at my heels at my current job. While my hours keep that at bay, this leaves me stuck in a corner. I could make more money if I could get more hours, but then I'd definitely burn out faster.
  • Schedule. I confess I was considering going back to full-time work in 2-4 years time, now that Their Ladyships are much older and don't need their momma so much. Still, there's a few things they do that require me to be Mom. The work schedule, as posted with the job application, will allow me to continue being there for them when they need me. There's also the opportunity for the eldest to come to the library after school for some quiet study time, before going home with Mom (as long as she doesn't bother me too much and lets me get on with my work).  Only downside is that I will have to work one Sunday afternoon a month, and we've got afternoon church next year. 
  • One weekday RDO (see previous). This one weekday off is a boon. This will be a block of time I can use for study and writing, plus daughter support.

"Wait," you say. "Isn't being an Author your Dream Job?"

Well, yes, dear reader, it is. However, unlike a regular 9-5 Day Job, the opportunity to succeed as an author doesn't come along as a job application that you score an interview and then a job offer and then you're in until ded or fled.

Writing's one of those things where to succeed you need Luck, Persistence, Talent (pick two; or rather, two will pick you. Only in Persistence do you have a choice).  Even if you do score a success, you're only as good as that moment of success, and you're back to the struggle. 

It's going to be several years before writing income is sufficient to replace a day job's income. Until then, I engage in that longstanding tradition of Author with a Day Job. I know more AwDJs than I do authors who make sole income from writing.

Library jobs are rare enough as it is. The last library job I applied for received over 800 applications. Eight. Hundred.  The chances I'll get called for an interview, never mind get this job are rather slim.

But those odds are better than if I'd never applied at all.

Her Grace daydreams about going to her new library job and spends idle time working out the logistics.

Monday, 27 November 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 26 - one very tight squeeze

NaNoWriMo is all about challenging oneself to push oneself to the limits.

Granted, when one gets to a certain point in her career, she finds that cranking out 50K in a month becomes easy. An author's progress comes when she gets a regular schedule, system, pattern that works for her, and she cranks out the wordage.  Many's the time a multi-book contracted author has to meet a publisher's deadline. That's when they eschew television, a normal social life and everything else expendable--even sleep if necessary--to meet that contracted deadline. After all, that's what they're being paid for.

While NaNoWriMo's imposed deadline of 50K/30dy isn't as dire as a publishers, one still has to apply the discipline to meet that goal.

There's a good chance I might not make it.

I didn't stick to my schedule. I didn't give writing the priority I should. Lots of other things happened that got in the way of writing (granted, school is one of them, and until writing brings in enough money to pay tuition, school gets priority). I played silly little games on my phone. I read Facebook. I watched some TV. I mowed the lawn and did the dishes and played with a cat. I even applied for a Rare Opportunity Job. Much of this I could have shoved to the side in favour of wordage.

The other day I sat down and did some simple math. I could still win NaNo, but it will require some marathoning. The numbers I need are daunting, but doable. I've done those kinds of numbers before.

So, can I make it?


I don't know. But I'm gonna try.

Her Grace hasn't failed a NaNo in ever so long. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 13 - A little behind

I will openly admit I'm a little behind my wordcount. This is because Life Happened, as it does.

Being end of year (EoY), I've got one final exam and three assignments I need to finish this week, one child has EoY exams, and the other has EoY performances, etc. And Thanksgiving.  Plus, we got a new foster cat we've nicknamed Hissy Pissy until his attitude improves.

I didn't get a lick of writing done on the weekend, and only a little study.  Still, I'm a professional. I'll catch up -and- get my assignments done.

Other things, such as housework, will most likely fall by the wayside. Don't tell His Grace. He thinks I'm keeping the house clean.

Her Grace is also mostly over her infected throat so she can get back to narration as well. Oh, and singing, as rehearsals for Christmas have started.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

NaNoWriMo Day 4 - Disappointment

So I'm writing along and I needed the name of a neighbourhood. No problem. After all, I did some serious research last week and came up with the best info for worldbuilding ever.

I go look through my notes and... nothing. What? Where did all my hard work go? Why do I only have half the info I thought I did?

Because several days ago my computer fell asleep and never woke up. I had to do a hard reboot, and it appears I forgot to hit save before the computer fell asleep. I lost eight hours of research time.

Fortunately, I remembered my search terms and Google remembered which pages I'd visited, so I was able to recreate most of my research in half the time it originally took.

Still, most annoying, as those several hours recreating my work could have been better spent creating new wordage. Also annoying are those few factlets that would have been perfect, if only I could remember what they were.

Her Grace wants you to know that 19th Century clockmakers all clustered around Clerkenwell.