New and Newish Things

As you know, my laptop crashed last month leaving me in quite the lurch and limbo, necessitating the purchase of a new laptop.

Without a steady day job and two months of no sales, let’s just say that the purchase was an incredibly painful one.

So, here are a few potential salves for that financial wound.

First of all, “Summer Rot”, which used to be over at Suburban Fool, is now available in the Freebies section. It’s quite different from most of the stuff I write and even though it’s a freebie, I think it’s still worthy of a read.

There are two new stories in the Storytime Jukebox, “There and Not” and “Erin Go Bragh”.

“There and Not” is a short little ditty about a man who has trouble trusting his senses. “Erin Go Bragh” is about a terrifying night swim. If you were around for the very beginning of my self-publishing exploits, then you’ll recognize “Erin Go Bragh”. But it’s been out of print for years, so it’s time for a revival.

For those new to this show, the Storytime Jukebox is a pay whatever endeavor. Pay whatever you want and get the story/stories you request.

I’ve also launched paperback editions of Gone Missing and The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. Consider this testing the waters of Amazon’s new paperback option. The lack of Kindle sales recently and the fact that neither of these stories has sold well as ebooks makes me wonder if they might work better as paperbacks. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

Of course, if $5.99 is too pricey for you, both are still available as ebooks. Gone Missing is only $1.99; The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys is still only $0.99 AND you can also find it in Ghostly, which is also $1.99.

In old news: there’s always time to become a Murderville patron. There’s one more episode of The Last Joke left (plus a bonus episode later in the year) and I’m working on a fun reward for the next goal.

And, of course, if you don’t want to buy any of my work or become a patron, or if you already have, you can always buy me a coffee.

Any help would be very much appreciated, so spread the word!

“Stop Working for Free in 2017!”

flame box elder penThe title of this post came from a tweet in my feed. No, it wasn’t spam or some other kind of sponsored content, though it can read that way, I suppose.

To me it reads as the truth.

I have often struggled with the concept of getting paid for my writing. I feel like I’m imposing on people by asking them for money to read my work. “You’re an artist!” a voice in my head yells. “You’re not supposed to be doing it for the money!” And then another voice pipes up and says, “Dude, seriously? You’re writing all of this shit anyway. Get paid, man.”

But still, I struggle.

The second voice is right, though. More right than the first voice. I don’t write for the money. If I did, then I’d be writing to the trends, pumping out thin stories with excellent dressing, capitalizing on whatever looks like it will be selling in the next few months. Publishing trends can be hard to predict, but they’re pretty easy to get in on, especially now with the convenience of self-publishing (not at all putting down self-publishing as that has been my primary means for the majority of my writing career). Writing, revising, and self-publishing a decent novel in a few months that fits in with a going trend is possible.

But I don’t do that.

In fact, when people ask about the nature of my career and why I don’t sell more books and why I don’t have an agent and all of that, I tell them that my biggest hang-up is that I don’t write what other people want to read. I write what I want to write, what I want to read. And my tastes are apparently far from the mainstream. It’s hard to find any traditional success when you write stuff that can only find a small audience, no matter how loyal. Publishing, after all, is a business. They are very motivated by the money.

Still. I should get paid for what I do write. There is no shame in this. I’m not asking for a handout. I’m asking to be paid for my work. It’s no different than when I get paid for child learnin’ or working floorset. Just because the paycheck isn’t as regular doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve it.

This is the mantra I’m carrying into 2017. I’m not working for free. This doesn’t mean I won’t be doing anymore freebie stories on occasion. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to start charging you guys to read these wonderful, informative blog posts.

It means that I’m not going to act like I don’t deserve to ask for money for my work. Because you know what? I do. Because writing IS work. It IS my job. It’s the job I’d like to be living off of instead of my day jobs. How do I do that? By insisting that I get paid.

The Patreon project is a step in that direction. Adjusting the prices for my existing self-published works will be next. Working on something to get traditionally published is on the To Do List.

Come 2017, I will get paid.

August Writing Projects

sunIt’s August and I’m thinking I’ve hit the dog days of summer. Or maybe it’s just a bit of floundering on my own part because I’m not sure what I want to do this month.

I finished the revisions on Open Christmas Eve so, while not spectacular, the script is long enough to not be considered bullshit and I’m good with that. I no longer feel like a fraud, just a hack, and that’s my default, so it’s fine.

I also got the Storytime Jukebox up and running, which was a thing that I wasn’t sure I could or should do, but in the end I felt like I didn’t have a choice. The response I’ve had in the few days it’s been up is more than I actually hoped for and I hope it continues. I so appreciate the help.

It’s times like these, when the malaise and scatterbrainedness hits me, that I’m glad I have an epic To Do List of Doom. I may not know exactly what I want to work on, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have plenty of options.

So at some point during this month I will probably-

-Revise a couple of more stories for the jukebox and/or

-Write the first drafts of some short stories for the next anthology and/or

-Finish the first draft of one of my other test scripts for practice and/or

-Something else I can’t remember even though I just looked at the To Do List of Doom like four minutes ago.

Yeah. The scatterbrained malaise is that bad.

But August won’t be. I will be productive.

I will get at least one thing done.

I wonder what it will be.

The Storytime Jukebox

worldartsme.com

***UPDATE***

My goal has been reached!

My undying thanks to those that contributed to the Storytime Jukebox, whether you put money in it or shared the link or sent me positive vibes. You are all wonderful, your generosity is overwhelming, and my appreciation is eternal. The bills will be paid and the writing lights will stay on! Hallelujah!

I’m going to keep the Storytime Jukebox going. The immediate need for it has passed, but it turns out that it’s a nice little niche to stick the odd story that has no home in and give it a chance to be read if someone is willing to pay a nickle or a dime or a quarter. Another crucifix against the Count Income Interruptus.

Once again, I can’t thank everyone who supported me enough because just saying “thank you” doesn’t seem sufficient. But know that those two little words come directly from my heart.

***

***UPDATE***

I’m about half-way to my goal. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out so far!

To celebrate the milestone, I’ve added two novellas to the Storytime Jukebox: The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys from Ghostly and The Monster in the Woods from People Are Terrible. Both contain an author’s note that’s exclusive to the Storytime Jukebox.

So, if you haven’t got either of these short story collections or if you have and you’re dying to know where I got the ideas for these novellas, shine up your nickles and drop them in the machine!

***

Let’s be honest about the nickels and dimes here: 2016 has not been a prosperous one for me. I’ve experienced a lot of income interruptus with both of my day jobs. Considering that they’re not exactly high-paying to begin with, any kind of money-flow hiccup is felt (and the biggest of all is coming very soon). The repeated hiccups this year have me feeling like I did during that one softball game as a kid when I got drilled in the same spot on my hip three at-bats in a row. That bruise didn’t heal until school started.

Well, to carry the analogy as far as I can before it gets ridiculous, my money bruise has barely even begun to heal and I’m facing another pitcher that wouldn’t mind dinging me.

In an attempt to earn the money I’m needing, I’ve set up this Storytime Jukebox. It works on the same basic principle as a regular jukebox: You pay what you want and I send you a story (or stories) of your choice from the list.

The goal is to raise $150 by the end of August. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but right now to me, it’s an incredible sum. I’m hoping this is the way to do it, or at the very least, help. The money is to keep the lights of my writing career on, so to speak (blog renewal, Microsoft Office renewal, etc.).

This is a new venture for me and I’m sure there’s lots of room for improvement. Any constructive feedback is welcomed.

So, if you’d like to help this broke writer in exchange for some pretty good stories to read, I’d very much appreciate it.

And as always, sharing is caring. The more people know, the better the chances of me reaching my goal.

Please, Won’t You Be My Patron?

Boob Job FundYou may have noticed that a Tip Jar link has been added to the blog. You may be wondering what that’s about.  Allow me to explain.

Patreon is a site in which a person can be a patron to creators of various kinds of art. Like what they did back in the day, according to my humanities teacher in community college. Rich people supported artists while they worked, sometimes on projects for said rich people, sometimes on their own stuff. Such is the way Patreon works, except it’s open to anyone to be a patron, not just rich people, and it’s open to anyone to be a creator, not just dead Italian artists.

In other words, I’m a creator and now you can be my patron.

Here’s how it works.

You pledge a specific amount of money, one or two dollars, per writing project, aka published novella, anthology, or novel. When I make a post on Patreon that says, “Hey! I’ve published this! Woo!”, that’s when your pledge takes effect. You get charged the first of the next month. You only pay when I finish a project and you can stop being my patron at any time. I may mentally hex you, but I’ll respect your right to spend your money as you see fit. But if you do become my patron, you’ll get some nifty stuff, depending on how much you donate and whether or not you want it.

What could I possibly mean by that?

Well, it’s one of the main reasons I’ve decided set up my tip jar, so to speak. There are people that buy my work and I am grateful for their support. However, I know of a few people that do want to support me in the monetary fashion, but don’t want to buy an ebook they’re not going to read. Horror isn’t for everyone, reading isn’t for everyone (though it should be). This gives those people an opportunity to help me out. It also gives the people already buying my self-published work an opportunity to give me more money. Because why would I turn down an opportunity for more money? I wouldn’t and I shouldn’t.

What will I be doing with this money? Considering I’m only asking for one or two dollars per project (I suppose you could give more than that, but I don’t know why you’d want to), I will not be using this money to vacation in Cabo or Paris. Most likely it will be hoarded away so I can pay the blog bill and if I’m lucky, renew my Microsoft Office license. If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to do something more with print. I’m a jinx when it comes to that formatting and proofs aren’t free, my friends.

As always, though, spreading the word about my stuff is free. Be it by recommending my stories to someone or leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, it is something I deeply appreciate. So if you want to help without involving your wallet (or in addition to your wallet), this is the way to do it. Word of mouth will always be priceless to me.

So, with all that said…

Please, won’t you please, be my patron?

Charity Money

thumbs upIf you’ve been present in my social media world in the past week or so, then you know that I’ve been doing some linking to a few different things that are raising money for a couple of different causes (a teacher friend has a campaign to raise money for some hands-on math supplies for her high-poverty students at DonorsChoose.Org; The Davy Jones Equine Memorial Fund is having an auction; Davy’s Angels are selling t-shirts with the proceeds also benefiting DJEMF). In addition to trying to raise some awareness for these activities, I’ve also donated to my friend’s campaign, bought a t-shirt, and have been getting outbid left, right, and center on the nifty memorabilia at the auction.

I like to put my money where my mouth is when I can. And I try to work it so I always have money for my mouth (thought I will have no trouble running my mouth for various charities and organizations when I can’t afford to donate; that is the very least I can do).

So, I feel I should make a full-disclosure about my charity money, the money I earmark to donate to various causes, charities, organizations, and whatnot because that money might involve you, too.

My charity money is the money I make garage sale-ing my life.

That’s right. If you buy any of my crap on eBay (stuffed animals will be going up in the next month or so, BTW) or any of the stuff I’ve made and put in my Etsy shop (new bracelets should be in the shop in the next few weeks), then the money you pay me will probably go to one of my chosen organizations.

Now, it didn’t always work like this. For the longest time, that money went to pay my bills. And then, when I started making enough money through my various day jobs and a little from writing, I started saving it up. It’s never been a big cash flow. More like a nickel trickle. And last year I came to a point where I decided to put those nickels to some good use.

Why am I telling you this? Because some people like to tell other people how to spend their charity money. Even if they have absolutely no connection to that person’s charity money, they still feel the need to tell them that there are other, more deserving organizations than whatever one they chose to donate to, oh, and by the way, there’s no need to tell people that you donated to any charity because they do it all the time without needing to mention it, you unhumble jerk.

I am telling people this so they don’t make the grave mistake of buying something from me (except my books; that’s bill-paying money and I’m fairly sure folks are cool with me paying my bills) only to then have me take the hard-earned money they gave to me in exchange for goods and give it to some organization that they don’t feel is deserving and would rather I not ever mention.

I am also telling people this so I can tell the people that don’t even buy my stuff, but still have a problem with the organizations I give to, that they can just shut the fuck right up, turn right around, and give to the organizations they think are more deserving. Don’t like me talking about my organizations? Then you talk about yours louder than I talk about mine. Or don’t tell anyone at all and just mute/unfriend/hide me. Whatever trips your trigger, floats your boat, and/or tickles your fancy.

But for the love of all that is unholy, just in general, STOP TELLING PEOPLE THAT THEIR GIVING PRACTICES/AWARENESS RAISING IS WRONG. Sweet mercy, you fucking buzzkills. Shaming people because their giving/awarness-ing isn’t to your liking is just a dick move and you’re a terrible person and you should feel bad. No, really. You need to analyze your need to belittle someone trying to do something good. Because that seems like a serious hang-up to me. Major personality flaw. Also, not a good look.

(For clarity’s sake and to cut off an argument before it starts, I’m not talking about valid criticism of an organization because not all of them act on behalf of the greater good. I’m talking about people shitting on a reputable organization and/or fundraising/awareness attempts because of blah blah bullshit bitchcakes. You know what I’m talking about.)

So, in conclusion, if you buy something from me during the garage sale-ing of my life, that money will probably end up going to a organization that I dig. If that offends you, then you should not buy my stuff.

Except my books.

Always buy my books.

Rebuilding My Wardrobe

Wardrobe

Not having a steady income flow means that I’ve learned to be very cheap in order to get the bills paid. This means that the things I want are no longer options and many things I need are relegated to want status because I can find a way to live without them.

This is why I went for several years without buying new clothes. Oh, I’d buy a new shirt or a pair of jeans if I absolutely needed to, but clothes became a “want” item and I couldn’t afford to want anything. As such, my look and my style suffered. I’ve posted before about my fat girl style and let me tell you, I’m not much into fashion, but it’s a real drag when I can’t keep up with my own style the way I want to.

However, lately, the income has picked up and gotten steady and I’ve been able to capitalize on it. In other words, I’m buying new clothes.

And it’s a glorious feeling!

I’m finally able to do some of the trends that I’ve be admiring: skinny jeans tucked into boots, cute cardigans and scarves, bright colors, things that actually fit. I’ve felt so dumpy in my old stuff. I’ve got sweaters that are a decade old and are, unfortunately, showing it. I got tired of always wearing t-shirts and jeans that were patched within an inch of their lives. Like I’ve said, I’m no fashionista, but dammit, I like to look good. This is my fat body and my fat body deserves to look its best. I know other folks would rather I dress this bad bitch in a muumuu and never leave my house, but that’s not going to happen. (Unless I can find one of those fabulous 1970’s Hawaii Five-0 muumuus, but I’ll still be leaving my house to show that bad boy off.) I’m enjoying this whole experience of getting new clothes and rocking them hardcore.

But this little bit of extra money coming in doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my cheap ways. I’m still only buying clearance or sale stuff, still waiting for days when I can take an extra 25 or 30 or 40% off. I’m still trying to stretch my dollar to the limit, getting the most I can for what I pay. And there are still things I’d love to buy, but that price has to come down more first.

I’ve waited for so long to be able to get to this point in which I could buy new clothes that I’m worried that I’m overdoing it, that all of this spending, even if I’m not spending that much at a stretch, will come back to bite me in the ass. That’s the trouble with being money-less for so long. Having money doesn’t eliminate the worry of going back to not having money.

But in the meantime, while I work to make sure I’m not money-less again, I’m bound and determined to look good doing it.

So, About 2012…

Pat Hughes

I was going to do some kind of reflective, year-end post about 2012, but I’ll be honest…I don’t really feel like it.

Most of it was pretty boring. I did boring, routine things. I struggled to pay my bills, used up a big part of my savings, felt like a complete failure, failed to meet many of the writing goals, and totally lacked any kind of success on the professional front (and most of the personal front, too). Really nothing to get into or write the Internet about.

But I did rarely have the occasion to do some cool things. I went to Cubs Con and Casino Night. I saw the Cubs lose their 100th game of the season, but Pat Hughes waved at me and that totally kills any of that pain. Let me repeat that. Pat Hughes waved at me.

I was able to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (Hi, Becca!) and I met some really cool people, too (Hi, Harry!). I reconnected via social media with some people I haven’t seen in ages (Hi, Josh!) and I met some really cool people that way, too (Hi, everybody!).

I found out just what I’d do to try to make a life and a career my way and just how frustrating and hard that can be (and just how frustrating and hard I can be, too).

I changed a little, grew a little. It wasn’t all fantastic and glamorous. Most of it wasn’t. But it wasn’t an absolute waste either.

2012 was okay. And it’s a good thing I went through it because I have a feeling that 2013 won’t be much different.

I’m ready.

Freelancing Through Life

Business card origami (and kirigami)

Business card origami (and kirigami) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s been a lot of talk of jobs in my little part of the world lately and I was trying to think of how to explain my current job situation.

I say I’ve got three jobs right now. I teach basic Spanish to my homeschooled nieces three days a week. I get the neighbor boy up and ready and take him to school two/three days a week. And I work floorset a couple times a month at a clothing store at the mall.

However, if you count writing (which, in my head, I always do because it’s my constant, full-time job even if to doesn’t pay for shit most of the time), I’ve got four. And if you count jewelry making, I’ve got five. And if you count…

Of course, there are people that look at that and say I only have one job because I only work for one “real” employer. The rest is just garbage, under the table work that doesn’t count. Which is fine, but I respectfully disagree because I think anything I do to make money is a job.

But it’s getting rather crowded trying to explain my jobs.

So I’ve decided to just to say I’m a writer freelancing through life. And if anyone presses, I can fill them in on the jobs that I’m working on at that time. Since not many people would ask for clarification, it would save so much time.

What does that mean exactly?

I’m a writer. First and foremost. But I’m not in the position to support myself solely through writing (yet), so I have to have a day job. But since I technically have three day jobs right now, two of which are subject to change at any given moment (meaning the second my services are no longer required, I get the boot), and I’ve been making and selling jewelry and doing various other things to earn money to pay my bills, well, let’s face it…I’m a freelancer. A freelance writer takes on assignments and jobs. Well, that’s pretty much what I’m doing, just not with writing. I’m using my other skills to take on jobs.

I’d call it prostitution, but I feel like that would project the wrong image and get too many hopes up.

In the end, it doesn’t change the mind of the people that think I’m lazy and worthless because I don’t have a “real” job, but it does make it easier for me to explain how I make a living.

I’ll stop short of putting it on a business card, though. Writer will do just fine for that.

Tales of Money-less Woes

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

I’m having trouble making my ends meet this month. It’s not a good feeling. It’s not something I’m proud of. But it is a fact of my current existence.

There are two very good reasons why I’m having trouble this month. One, this bill period saw 3 1/2 extra bills (car sticker renewal, website renewal, a domain fee for a domain I thought I’d completely deleted but apparently I didn’t and of course that sort of thing isn’t refunded, and a little extra added onto my cell bill because I had to change plans mid-billing cycle). Two, I’ve only started one of my three new day jobs.

Had I not had one or two of the extra bills, I would have been fine. Had I started one or both of my other day jobs, I would have been fine. The combination of the two has me scrambling. If I had a couch, I’d be raiding the cushions for change.

It doesn’t help that sales have been slow the past couple of months. Books sales, jewelry sales, eBay sales, nobody is spending their money on the stuff I’m hocking. That money would have been both welcome and necessary.

Here’s the thing…I know I’ll land on my feet. The bills will get paid. They always do. I’ll find a way. I’m clever and resourceful and I know I’ll find the money I’m missing. Maybe I’ll borrow it. Maybe someone will come through in the clutch and buy something. Maybe I’ll luck out and get a quick odd job. Whatever happens, the bills will get paid.

When I was 22, this was a challenge. I didn’t like it back then, but back then I was 22. I was young. Now I’m 32. I shouldn’t be running into these problems at 32. I shouldn’t be scrounging to pay bills or borrowing money. I should be in a much better place financially and I’m not.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m not and I take responsibility for all of them that are mine. Not holding a regular 9-5 job like other grown-ups is one. My life would be so much easier if I could just be normal and work a 40 hour a week job and get that steady paycheck. But the older I get, the worse I get about submitting to that life. A flexible part-time gig is more my speed. As soon as I get all three of  my jobs going, my bills will be paid and I won’t be working more than twenty hours a week.

Being very optimistic about selling myself is another reason I’m broke. I have this stupid idea in my head that people want what I sell. That friends and family know people that want what I sell and will pass my info to those people. The reality is that those people are probably out there, but they aren’t getting word about me. And if they are, they don’t have the money to indulge themselves with my goods. My inherent awkwardness about promoting myself doesn’t help this cause.

I could go on, but I won’t. Nobody needs to see my list of money failures.

And that’s what this is. The culmination of many failures. We’ve already discussed how much of my self-esteem is tied to my bank account. Being called an ugly fat cow can’t even come close to doing the damage to my ego that borrowing money can.

Particularly now. I’m too old for this. I shouldn’t be here. Yet here I am.

With no one to blame but myself.

I’ll get through this month. I’ll get rolling on all of my jobs. I’ll sell a few more things. My bills will return to normal.

And slowly but surely I’ll find some self-worth once again.