Saturday 26 August 2023

Looking for a New Job

 I'm looking for a new job. Me and my current job are incompatible. I've known this for twelve years, but it's only now that I realise I've got to go.

"But Heidi," you say, "Don't you work at the library?"  

No. I do not. I haven't worked there for twelve years. I'm glad that's the image you see of me, for when I did work at the library, I loved it. I'm glad you think of me during a time when I was happy with my job.

So, what happened?

A library is run by the local government. At the time, I was hired by the library, and worked for the Directorate that runs the libraries. Then somewhere, certain someones decided libraries didn't need their own dedicated IT specialist (how wrong they were!), so my position was eliminated. Now that I look back, maybe it would have been a kindness to simply let me go and let me fend along a different path. Instead, I was transferred to the general IT Help desk up at Council. 

Boy, did I NOT fit there! Yet, I persisted, because I had schoolies at the time. The hours fit in with their schedule and it was a source of income. Ignore the fact that I'm not really an IT Professional, at least, not the way the position wanted, nor was this a job that could be done part-time, in a team that I never fit in with. A whole lotta other crap was also going on in this job.

Eventually, it all got to me. As the last of Their Ladyships grew up, I transferred to full time hours. While that solved a few issues, it created others. Also, being a local council, they have Many Issues. This is not unique to this particular council. Every council has a whole lotta issues. I'm surprised councils don't implode.

Two things happened that tipped me over into BEC territory: perimenopause and five weeks of Long Service Leave.

Perimenopause is like going through puberty backwards. Now I understand the fearlessness and lack of filter on middle-aged women. It's hormonal and unapologetic.

Long Service Leave. Now, I've had several bouts of LSL before. I usually took November off for NaNoWriMo, but treated it more like a mini-holiday.

Not this time. This time, I told myself I was going to spend those five weeks as a full-time professional in my real career. I spent those five weeks doing audiobook narration for a three-book epic Romantasy series.  Yep. I did it full-time and loved it. Deeply, madly.

I loved it. I loved it so much, when my LSL was over, I didn't want to go back to the Day Job. My love broke me. That was several months ago and I have not been the same since.

What on Earth am I doing working this IT Job when I should be doing something--anything--else?

Reasons I haven't quit the Day Job yesterday:

  • After ten years, the Service Desk Team is actually a functional, non-toxic team. It's only been like this for the past two years. I really respect our excellent Team Leader. Supervisor one level up is also good. We've only had him a few years.
  • They pay me money regularly. 
  • It's geographically convenient.
The second point is really the main reason I stay at all. I can't just quit without some sort of alternative income. Lottery win would be nice. Sudden inheritance would be nice. Financial independence would be lovely. My real career actually turning a strong, steady income would be best, but we're not there yet, and won't be for a while. And as long as I have a Day Job, that while gets longer and longer. See, my real career depends on how many books you've got out there. The more books you have, and the more robust your marketing plan, the better you perform, financially. But writing takes time. I don't have time because I frickin' have to give it to the stupid Day Job!! I resent all the time it takes and the energy it demands.

I am willing to compromise on the third point as long as I'm not compromising too much on the other two points.

But yeah. I've had enough. I've been at this Day Job too long and need to move on.  Alas, I am not financially independent yet, nor have I been able to convince any university to take me on for a PhD (they come with a living stipend).

So, I'm looking for a new job. Been actively looking for a few months. Have had some interviews, but nothing has panned out. I shall continue to look, even though I don't know what I should be looking for. I only know what I'm NOT looking for.

Thank you for listening to my TED Talk on Fine Whine.

Sunday 23 July 2023

What can kill us

TL;DR: I updated my website and it's ugly, but it needed to be done. Forgive me.

As an author one of the things that can kill us is thinking that something has to be perfect before it can be released into the wild. How many apprentice authors never got beyond a few chapters or a few thousand words because they were trying so hard to make every word so right, so perfect before they even wrote it down? There lies unwritten, unfinished books that will never see the light of day. That's a sad thing.

Perfection is the killer that defeats us every time. This is why NaNoWriMo was invented, and why I am such a champion of it as a tool for every writer at every stage. Being able to slap words on a page and not judge them is an important skill set. Never fall into the mindset that a word can only be perfect before you write it down.

The purpose of a first draft is simply to exist. That's all. Git them wurdz down and worry about them later. Once you've got your first draft, then you can work on refining it. You can't edit a blank page. I hope you all have heard that before today. If not, you've heard it now.

Granted, that's not to say that you should make your first draft your last draft. Get it down, then use your skills to the best of your ability to tweak it until it's as good as you can get it. Good enough is good enough while you learn to level up.

So I present to you my new website, in all its imperfect glory: It is nowhere near finished. Certainly not perfect, but it is out there and I will continue to improve it. Right now it's doing what I need it to do--be my footprint in the world. It has the bare-bones basics an author's website needs: It has presence, it says who I am, it lists my books and it has a way to contact me.

It's ugly, far uglier than my old website, because I used a new method of creating it. I miss coding my own HTML and CSS. However, technology has exceeded my skill set and I need to learn to master the new tools. I'm not doing a good job of it, though. I hate trying to figure out Wordpress. It's a tool designed for people who don't have any background in coding webpages. It has most of the work done for you, so all you need to do is pick a theme, stick in some plug-ins and populate your pages. You struggle in putting together your design, but once that's done, you pretty much forget about it and simply update what is there. A set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.

If you are moving beyond that first vital stage of throwing down a first draft, a website is a necessary tool. It's your calling card. It's your presence in the world. It's your shingle, your footprint, your hat in the ring. Editors and agents will ask, "Do you have a website?". They don't ask, "Do you have a pretty website?". Readers will seek you out here. Sure, they will probably judge your website the way they judge the covers of your novels. Do not let that daunt you into not putting one up at all.

So if I'm pining for the fjords over the glory days of coding my own HTML, why am I trying this new thing? Because my old web site host is dying. I'm needing to move away from the host we've called home for the past thirty years. My web site is no longer secure. Certain web design protocols have advanced and I did not keep up. Certain design elements are coming into necessity and I don't have the time to learn them. Gone are the days when maverick web design was acceptable. I've got other things I need to devote my time and energy to.

Like writing very good novels.

Friday 29 January 2021

Be My Grl - A contemporary romance set in Western Australia

New release. Yay.

Let me introduce Be My Grl.

Ros Wilson had only meant to return a mis-posted package to the original sender. She never meant to have her demisexual world shaken by the thought of a hot, sweaty man, where his T-shirt clung ever so—

No. Enough of that. Sex was never her thing. She never had a crush, she never got all hot and bothered over a celebrity, she never had a single stirring in her loins. Ros was content with her job, her foster kittens and her lack of sex life. (Or was she?)

Then she met Everett Pak, with his exquisitely carved wooden boxes and delightful candy hearts. While it was nerves/lust/love? at first sight, Ros thought she'd never see him again, until her housemate texted him a flirty picture of Ros. (Honestly!)

And he replied most favourably. Maybe this flirting thing wasn't so bad. But flirting led to dating, and dating led to a relationship, and a relationship led to...  

Was Ros ready for this? Was she ready to give over her heart? Could she give more? Or would her own hang-ups ruin what promised to be the best thing to ever happen in her life?

* * *

Last year I wrote this contemporary novella for the "Be Mine: Valentine Novellas to Warm the Heart" anthology. This anthology was a limited run a bunch of us did for fun.

Then I entered it in the RuBY awards by Romance Writers of Australia. Go me.

Then I realised, if I won the RuBY, people would want to buy it and read it. So I commissioned a whimsical cover from a university graphic design student I know and I stuck it up on Amazon.

It's funny and sexy and not much like what I usually write. Also: it's got sexytimes. If you're of my delightfully large fanbase that prefers my cleaner reads, this is not for you.  But if you're okay with a little brown-chicken-brown-cow Spiciness in your Romance novellas, feel free to check it out.

Free to read on Kindle Unlimited. Might as well give it a go. It features foster kittens. 


Her Grace likes stretching her limits.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Fan Fiction: discussion from Concellation 2021

 On Facebook I am attending Concellation 2021, an online convention to make up for all the conventions that were cancelled in 2020. (I'm quite enjoying it!)

One of the recent discussions was about fan fiction, and authors who strongly discourage it (and why).

Much good discussion ensued. 

Fan fiction is something I don't worry about. I do think about it, from time to time. Used to even write it, a long, long, LONG time ago.

Personally, I am not opposed to fan fiction. It serves a useful purpose for the developing writer (says she who has written fanfic in the past, clandesinely, of course). I don't object to fanfic of my own works by fanfic authors.

That said, if/when there is ever fanfic created for my works, I can't read it. (No matter whether I want to or not.)  This is to legally protect my Intellectual Property (IP), and maybe someone else's, maybe. But mostly mine.

For example, what if I write the next story in a series features certain characters, plots, etc, and it turns out some smart cookie dreamt up the same idea and wrote fanfic of it? If I was in the habit of reading fanfic, there's a good chance that feelings would get hurt. Doesn't matter if I saw the story or not. If I read fanfic, the possibility exists. So, my policy is I can't read any fanfic of any of my works. Sorry.

You want to write fan fiction of my work? Go ahead. For the most part, I will not mind (with caveats. Your work causes me legal or personal problems, then me an my attorneys will start paying attention). In my experience, fan fiction is mostly harmless, and could be considered a form of flattery.

But do not ask me to read it. Certainly don't ask me to bless it, or verify it or even acknowledge it. Keep it to yourself and may it bring you personal joy.

Her Grace has seen the ugly side of fanfic. Don't be those guys.

Friday 30 October 2020

Release date: CURRENTLY UNCHAPERONED - 13 January 2021

 I've got my release date for CURRENTLY UNCHAPERONED, the first book in the Currently Charmed series, out from The Wild Rose Press.

13 January 2021

I'll be talking much about this on social media over the next few months.  #CurrentlyUnchaperoned

Friday 14 August 2020

Romance Writers of Australia Conference 2020: Love in Isolation - Mid-way Report

 Hello Australian Romancelandia, and to the rest of the world watching us having fun,

Here is a brief and incomplete mid-way report for my experiences at the #RWAus20 #LoveInIsolation virtual conference, being held Not-In-Fremantle Western Australia.

First of all, kudos to this year's committee, many of whom I know in-person, for dealing with These Times and the wrench These Times have thrown in the plans of the whole world. They took an in-person conference and converted it to a virtual conference with grace and elan. I've been a SMoF. I know what it's like to run a con this size, and all the problems that come with it. For a never-done-before conversion to a new format, it's been successful in the delivery. Granted, there have been a few minor hiccups, but these have been dealt with in a timely manner. You guys have been so impressive! Overall, things have worked, and I haven't seen an issue crop up that was unsolvable.

I am hoping that future RWAus conferences will consider keeping an element of the virtual conference by recording live in-person sessions and making them available online to those who are unable to attend the full conference. I'd love to see in-person membership and a virtual membership options. That way, if one is unable to fly to the other side of the country for the full convention, one does not have to miss out entirely.

_ _ _ _ _

But yeah. Enough about that.  Here's what I've gotten out of the conference so far:

Liz Pelletier's "Best-Seller" workshop, parts 1,2,3 plus Q&A

Ogmigosh, you guyz!!  Soo much good info!!!  Absolutely NO ONE watching even one session of this workshop couldn't help but level up.

What are the elements that make a novel a best-seller?  Liz told us. She took things apart, showed us how they worked and then put them back together. She told us what the important things were an author needed to focus on, and which petty things we didn't need to sweat.

Session 1 was about the writing. Session 2 was about editing. Session 3 was the marketing. I took so many, many notes. I will also watch the replays and take more notes. Then I shall apply the notes. If I can't take all the good info Liz scooped out upon our heads and make some serious Trout money from my next three books, it will be all my fault.

This workshop alone was worth the whole convention price.

Doctor Love Panel.  A whole lotta PhDs tell us about writing about Romance from Academia. I had no idea Romance Studies was a thing. Now I know what I want to do my PhD in.  (But lemmie finish  my MSci first. one more semester...)

Estate Planning.  Morgan Solomon, an art historian turned attorney explains the value of a good will and why a good will is important regarding your Intellectual Property (IP).  Note to self: update my will.

Getting Started in Self-Publishing.  Gone are the days when you could be a purely traditional author with a Random Penguin.  Many authors are either going hybrid, or turning to indie publishing for their entire careers. Elizabeth Stevens gave us the lowdown of what you need to know to get into self publishing and be successful. Even though I've had a hybrid side to my career for a few years now, I still learned a few new things.

Getting Ahead in Indie Publishing. Kevin Tumlinson of Draft2Digital adds on to what Elizabeth started. While I've been with D2D as part of my hybrid side, I learned of even more tools I should be taking advantage of. Author Page. I should use that more. Plus there are a few more bells and whistles I need to investigate. 

My personal business meeting with Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy.  One of the advantages of a RWAus conference is the availability of one-on-one business meetings with an industry professional. These can range from pitch sessions with a literary agent or editor to a business consultation with a pro. For me, Ricardo had a look at my author web presence and offered some good and useful advice to help me improve. Some of his advice bolstered up a few things I was already thinking. Other advice he gave me was stuff I hadn't even considered. But now he's  mentioned it, I see it for what it is and will be implementing it soon. Soo glad I met with him.

_ _ _ _ _

And now I'm out of time, for the next session is starting online.  I've taken over the home theatre, and am streaming the conference on my wide-screen projector.  

More later. Meanwhile, I'm off to have Carleton Chinner show me how to master plot structures.

Friday 6 March 2020

The Rules for Books in the Toilet

Dear Australia,

I know you're currently suffering a massive toilet paper shortage. You've stripped all supermarket shelves clean. However will you wipe your butts?

A travesty, I know.

What you may not know, having been the Lucky Country for so long, and have previously had a never-ending supply of Sorbent or Quilton, that once upon a time, people didn't always use bog rolls for keeping the nether regions clean.

In 19th Century United States, last season's Sears catalogue and last year's Farmer's Almanac were traditionally found in Ye Olde Outhouse. Even in the 20th Century, the poorer people around the world made do with yesterday's newspapers for their doo-doo.

But now, with the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, will you turn to...

Books? *gasp*

While literary types and regular patrons of Elizabeth's might be falling into a swoon, let's face it. It might come to that. If you do choose a mighty tome to replace the long-lost toilet roll, please follow these rules:

  1. Remember, everyone is reading the same book. Please be considerate.
  2. For every loo visit, you must read x + 1 pages, where x = the number of people in your household. This rule also applies for men popping in for a pee. Yeah, you might not be using any pages, but if you don't keep up, you might miss out on a scene.
  3. You are allowed only ONE PAGE from the book for wiping. Otherwise, your housemates may hunt you down and see how good your memory is.  Remember, if you use more than one page, they might not have read up that far. 
  4. ONLY TEAR FROM THE FRONT OF THE BOOK!!!  It is a travesty to tear from the back of the book. They who wipe their butt with the climax of the story before its time ruins the ending for all.

Just saying, my novel God of the Dark is available in print and currently is cheaper than a pack of toilet paper. Also unlike a pack of toilet paper, you can actually buy a copy. (I swear, TP can't be had for love nor money off most Australian grocery store shelves.)

Okay, so what if you buy the even cheaper ebook version of God of the Dark but you still need to keep clean?

Here's how to use newspaper instead:

  1. Fetch in that free Community Newspaper some poor kid keeps leaving on your driveway. Be sure to get it before your Watering Days or your neighbour pinches it.
  2. Open it up and press each sheet with a hot iron. No, really. Ironing your newspaper will set the ink and prevent it from leaving inky black streaks in your nethers.
  3. Pre-cut newspaper into squares. Tearing it at time of use is only a recipe for disaster.
  4. Just before wiping, give the newspaper several rounds of crinkling up. This will open the fibers and improve the absorption properties.
  5. Don't flush it! Your sewer system really can't handle it. Please dispose of thoughtfully in the trash can. I recommend a sealed bucket, if the scent of the tissue may become bothersome.

Her Grace is sorely wishing she'd installed a bidet when Kneale Manor was built.