10 signs that you have a case of writing burnout

Hi, peeps! Well, I’m currently working my way through a major case of writing burnout.

Obviously, that hasn’t extended to my blog. Let us all rejoice for small miracles.

Burnout, friends, is sadly normal in our fast-paced high-stress lives. What exactly is it? Think of the flame on a match. It burns bright and sizzly and all happy and then it slowly diminishes until it’s no more. Matches are designed to do that. People, not so much.

Burnout means you run out of gas. You become physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time and it affects your job performance. It can be debilitating because it can lead to some depression, though depression can also help cause burnout, so if you’re prone to depression anyway (like I am), you need to pay attention to yourself so you can do some self-care things. with me, burnout is linked to depression and they feed each other, so I have to figure out whether my issue is true burnout or whether I’m burning out because of the depression. If it’s true burnout, then depression could follow, even if depression isn’t something you have to deal with on a daily basis.

So let’s meander further.

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Writer McCrankypants strikes again

ARGH. Kickity kick kick ARGH.


Hi, peeps.

I’ve been running around trying to get a print version of From the Hat Down up and operational.

It’s not working. It’s making me frustrated. REALLY frustrated.

The main issue is that the print people claim that the file I and my typesetter supplied is causing the print to be too light. You see, I ordered an ol’ skool paper proof, which means I ordered a preliminary version of the book, bound with the cover so I could see how it looks. The exterior looks fine. But the interior typeface is just too light. So I brought it up with the printer people who allegedly did some “tracking” to determine what the cause may be. Meanwhile, my typesetter checked, too. The settings in my typesetter’s file are fine. They’re where they need to be. The printer people insist they’re not (bless their hearts).

In the meantime, the book doesn’t get printed because I refuse to release a book whose type looks like it’s the 20th Xeroxed copy off another Xeroxed copy.

I spent around 15 years in publishing. My typesetter spent about 20. And my designer is still working in publishing. I met her 20 years ago at the press where we worked and at that point, she had a good 10-15 years of design experience under her belt. Ergo, we kind of know what we’re doing.

But the printer people are just not on the boat with us.

And this makes me Writer McCrankypants.

So, dear readers, at some point, I will have a print version available. For reals. But I want to make sure it’s a quality product that you will be able to read without thinking: “Damn. This typeface is so light.” Because that will make you Reader McCrankypants, and that is so totally not cool.

And yes, at some point, I will have some other e-formats available. Those issues are also contributing to my McCrankypants self. Send me some good ju-ju. Maybe the printer needs a ju-ju infusion, too. And all the e-platforms. Just massive good ju-ju everywhere. I think that will decidedly help. In the meantime, howsabout we listen to the playlist to From the Hat Down to make us feel better? Music always makes me feel a bit better.


LINK, in case this embedding freaks out again.

And here’s the playlist for From the Boots Up, just cuz.

LINK, in case the embedding flees this site.


Happy reading, happy writing. And happy Friday, all!

Dude, where are the women in science fiction?

Hi, all.

Whew. Sorry about the delay; I’ve been crazy busy. I finished up the edits for the third in my sci fi series, The Edge of Rebellion. Cover coming soon as well as an excerpt. I’ll post them here and on my main site don’tcha know, so stay tuned.

I’m also sending the fourth in my New Mexico series, Day of the Dead, in for edits. We’re hoping to have that out by the end of the year. WOOOO! Stay tuned for a cover and excerpt from that, too.

Thanks again, everybody, for stopping by during the (blog) Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Much appreciated. I discovered some new authors, so I’m pretty stoked. Plus it was just really great to build a bit of community.

Anyway, I wanted to bring your attention to sci fi writer Kameron Hurley. By all means, read her work, but also, for the love of goddesses, read her blogs, too, because she is on point when it comes to dealing with how women are represented in fiction and science fiction. I just recently found out about what appears to be some major sexism at the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) not only through Hurley, but also through E. Catherine Tobler.

Keep reading…

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National Book Award screw-up

Hey, kids–

I caught this story today (I’m a little late to the party) and all I could think was “FUBAR.” For those not in the know about what the means, here.

Anyway, the National Book Award is a pretty prestigious deal. So when the nominees were announced last week, the authors and publishers no doubt got way excited and danced around, threw confetti, did fist pumps, and probably called tons of people with the news. However, one of those nominees wasn’t actually a nominee. Whoever put the short lists together got the wrong book, wrong author.

Yeah. The book award people announced Lauren Myracle’s Shine as a short list nominee instead of Franny Billingsley’s Chime. Both books are geared toward young adults.

Soon after the announcement, the book awards people added Chime to the list, stating that there would be six nominees instead of five in that category this year. Okay, seems fair enough, though it was a pretty big screw-up.

Today, however, Myracle has withdrawn her title from the shortlist, citing pressure from the National Book Foundation, which oversees the award. Myracle said that she was asked to withdraw her book in order to “preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work.” She agreed to do so, and she graciously gave props to the other authors nominated in the category.

Guess it was just too hard to have six books instead of five in contention. Although, if I were a conspiracy-monger (and who isn’t every now and again) or deeply, heinously cynical (and again, who isn’t now and again), I might wonder a little bit about that. Myracle’s book is about discrimination against gay youth in schools. Fortunately, I’m not necessarily a conspiracy-monger, and the National Book Foundation did agree to donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization geared toward helping LGBTQ youth.

Regardless, the Tweet-o-sphere has a “supportShine” hashtag going, and there are lots of people out there who are not happy about this decision. And yes, it was a pretty big screw-up on the part of the NBF. I’m interested to see how it plays out over the next few days.

In the meantime, happy reading, happy writing!

Food for thought

Hi, folks!

I came across a couple of interesting links the past day or so. This one is self-explanatory: DON’T PLAGIARIZE. It’s just plain sucky to do that to someone. Here’s one author’s experience with it. And yes, it does happen in the fanfic world. In this case, the plagiarizer posted the work on a fanfic site.

Plagiarism is theft. If you’re a writer (whether aspiring or not), show the world your individual creativity. You don’t need to steal somebody else’s work. Make your own. You’ll feel better about it. For reals.

And the second link has to do with ebooks and how they can threaten the livelihoods of aspiring writers. Award-winning author Graham Smith offers his concerns:

“The e-book does seem at the moment to threaten the livelihood of writers, because the way in which writers are paid for their work in the form of e-books is very much up in the air.

“I think the tendency will be that writers will get even less than they get now for their work and sadly that could mean that some potential writers will see that they can’t make a living, they will give up and the world would be poorer for the books they might have written, so in that way it is quite a serious prospect.”
source: The Telegraph

I think he has some valid concerns, especially when it comes to the idea that things in digital format should somehow be “cheaper” than things that are not. That’s a raging debate, by the way, in book land. The pricing of ebooks. The thing is, the same amount of work goes into creating a digital file as goes into a product that becomes a print book. That is, author time/effort, the various editors’ time/effort, the cover designer’s time/effort, and the typesetter’s time/effort. All that time and effort costs money. The only difference between a print book and an ebook is that one doesn’t go to a printer for binding. And that does save a little bit of money, but it doesn’t negate all the work and time that went into the back end. Make sense?

Anyway, just some stuff to ponder. Happy reading, happy writing!

Ban, baby, ban

Censorship is so last century.

That’s why I’m always surprised when I come across articles like this in HuffPo. Specifically, a Missouri school district has banned two books from the high school curriculum and library over concerns that they’ll apparently cause high school students to swear a lot and even have sex. Or something.

Which books, you may ask, have that kind of power? The unmitigated power to cause someone to suddenly start swearing like a drunken sailor on shore leave and, quite possibly, to suddenly want to have oodles of sex on a beach?

Click to find out. Oh, the horrors.

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Bummerific: A Different Light fades to black

I’m not pleased at all to report that A Different Light Bookstore in San Francisco is closing its doors.

Source: The Edge, Boston

Different Light was the oldest and probably among the most beloved LGBT bookstores — nay, institutions — in the country. It opened in 1979 and has been a beacon for thousands of people since then, an iconic Castro bookstore at which prominent members of the LGBT gay literati would gather and do readings (like Armisted Maupin, for example).

Last year, owner Bill Barker told The Bay Citizen that the store was struggling financially and that digital innovations like the Kindle had hurt in-store sales.

It’s not just a store’s closing that hurts. It’s the loss of another place where LGBT people could go and be accepted, to feel safe for a while in the company of people who also identified as LGBT, and to be surrounded by books written by and for LGBT audiences. A Different Light wasn’t just a bookstore. It was a salon, a safe zone, a focal point for community, a meeting place, and a part of the tapestry that makes up the LGBT experience in this country. I’m already mourning.

Please, support your local independent booksellers, no matter how you identify.

Happy reading.

Sometimes pirates are so. not. cool.

Rant originally posted August 3, 2010 at andimarquette.com.

Hi, folks.

On June 28, 2010, a copy of one of my books was uploaded to a website that doesn’t do much by way of policing its users. That upload may have cost my publisher and me quite a few sales, because other users most likely downloaded it. My book wasn’t the only one there. I saw several titles by colleagues and I spent a lot of time alerting them and the publishers about what was going on in this dark corner of the web.

Here’s the thing. If you make unauthorized copies of something and then distribute it online, you are stealing. If you do not have written permission from the rights-holder(s) of that work to make reproductions and distribute it, you are engaging in theft and copyright infringement. If you are downloading pirated copies of stolen work, you are a thief, too.

This particular part of this particular site is geared toward lesfic readers. It’s also home to several users that I and a bunch of my colleagues are watching. A few of them are busy little pirates, and have over a hundred illegally reproduced and uploaded titles that they distribute to whomever wants them. A few are so out of bounds that they actually request a donation from downloaders. That’s right. They are making money off a book they did not write, they did not edit, they did not produce, they did not publish, they did not market, and whose copyright they are violating. That’s like coming into my house, picking up my wallet, taking part of my paycheck, and leaving.

Now, I don’t mind if people buy one of my books and share it with a few real friends. And I have been known to send free copies of my books to people I know who are having a harder financial time than I am, and who I know would buy that book if they could. So yes, pass it around among 3 or 4 of your friends. Talk about it. Recommend it. Enjoy it.

But don’t steal it. If you take that book, scan it, and post it online so dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of people can read it, you have taken a lot of money away from my publisher and from me, and by extension, you’ve impacted your fellow readers who are supporting us by buying our work. Because if that publisher isn’t getting paid, she can’t stay in business.

This is lesfic we’re talking about. It ain’t a big community. Many readers meet their fave authors in person, as well as their fave publishers. For every hundred books that are downloaded for free, that’s a bill I’m going to have a hard time paying. Some of you may know my dog, Taylor. If not, you can find her on Facebook and find out some of the medical issues she has. Some of you probably have pets yourselves. My royalties–which aren’t much, because this is a small, select audience–help pay for her medicine. I don’t have kids. Taylor’s the closest thing I’ve got to that.

Every book you steal from me affects her, as well.

My royalties also help pay my rent. I’m extremely grateful that I get those royalties, because if I have any left over, they go into an emergency account.

Every book you steal from me diminishes my emergency account. And in this day and age, every bit you save is important.

My royalties also help pay for transportation to get me to work. I have to work. But I’m not making anything even close to a six-figure salary. I’m barely scraping by, like most of you.

Every book you steal from me means I scrape harder. I count on those royalties to help me with certain bills. But every book you steal leaves me tightening my belt a little more. And certain things, like Taylor, come first in my world. So do family emergencies. And sometimes there are car situations. Or plumbing problems. Like any of the many things that can crop up.

Every book you steal from me hits me where it hurts.

I, like 99 percent of my fellow authors, work a full-time day job. I try to make a lot of stuff available for free online for readers. There are also many, many sites that offer even novels that authors post–with permission–for people to see, read, enjoy, and share. But published works are a direct result of many people working to produce something. Producers work hard. And I, personally, think that paying producers for their hard work is a reasonable thing to do. It shows you support our missions, you support the publishers who are making lesfic available to you, and you would like to keep that author writing.

Every book you steal from me ensures that my publisher doesn’t get paid, I don’t get paid, and other readers suffer because without money to keep the publishers going, they can’t pay the producers, either, and thus another resource may tank.

Every book you steal from me screws us all.