23 January 2020

Trying to Serve Two Masters

Acknowledging for the billionth time, I have let my personal site fall by the wayside, and I'm so embarrassed about this. For a very long period, I had trouble making the effort to post frequently, either due to real-life obligations taking up my concentration, or good old-fashioned laziness kicking in.

The good news is that in 2019 and so far into 2020, my writing has kicked up considerably! But...not here. I've been busy editing and writing for Speculative Chic!

When I joined the team in the spring of 2018, I came on solely as a content editor, tackling articles that, while under the umbrella of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, couldn't be classified as TV, movies, or books. This meant I edited articles covering anything from podcasts to conventions and random stuff in between. Later we did some reshuffling and instead of editing articles by topic, I was assigned specific authors to work with. Now, I'm working with five writers, with three of them submitting articles monthly or more frequently.

I have never been an editor for a publication before, with regular deadlines, clear-cut duties, and working with talented authors. While I worked as a proofreader for a handful of episodes of Skip Beat! and briefly on a game demo, I consider Speculative Chic my initiation into the big leagues as a legitimate editor (while occasionally writing my own articles!).

I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning and have continually learned so much about the professional world of writing and editing. I admire everyone I've worked with and am so impressed with our writers, too (many of them have published genre bestsellers and have won prestigious awards). Our stellar list of contributors, ever-growing, can be found here.

In 2019 I was pleased to take the helm of managing two regular columns in addition to my editing duties. I handle the Weekly Roundup, our summary of all the articles we've posted for the week. This is a substantial change in my writing routine, to produce new content every week. Whew! I also helm our monthly Roundtables, coming up with topics and herding our writers' opinions -- and I often contribute to them myself. I've also participated in our Resolution Projects, where contributors make a goal related to the speculative genre and writing reviews or feedback on it, whether it's reading certain works or authors, knocking through a TV series, revisiting a film franchise, and more. And next month I'll actually be hosting the Speculative Chic Book Club, where I'll lead the discussion of Jeremy C. Shipp's The Atrocities.

At the time of writing this post, I have written 53 articles for Speculative Chic since joining. I have participated in more articles without authoring them directly, but I'm not sure how many. In comparison, for this site and in the same timeframe, I've written...8. Yikes.

I very much want to get back into the groove of writing on here. I flirted briefly with the creation of a regular series, Tumble on Tuesdays, but then...Tumblr keeps emptying out, and I admit I don't get on so much, so I'm wondering if that's even a thing to pursue. I'm just not sure.

For now, I think I'll be doing posts based on writing prompts just to get back into the swing of things, and eventually I hope to have updates on actual publications of mine and my process of writing novels. If you're looking for book or convention or film reviews, I'm probably going to give those to Speculative Chic since that's more of what we do!

Over the next couple of days I'm going to do posts linking to my work at Speculative Chic to catch you up on what I've been writing, and will link to my upcoming articles in future posts here. Hooray for cross-promotion!

If you're still on this journey with me, I thank you so much for reading and for your support.

Happy 2020!

Clock image by Icons8 Team and fountain pen image by Art Losovsky, courtesy of Unsplash.

15 June 2019

It's time to share the ☆big dreams☆

Photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash
Howdy, all! I mentioned recently that I rejoined Twitter after an absence of quite a few years. I left because I was grossed out by all of the bullying and nastiness, and questioned whether or not I wanted to be associated with this kind of platform.

Then...it turns out I needed it again when I moved to Japan. Twitter is very popular here, and when I was working on my Anime Japan article for Speculative Chic I needed to find a way to contact the cosplayers I photo'd at the event, and the only way I could was through Twitter. So I rejoined, and after following them, I loaded up on following authors and my friends from graduate school. 

This go-around, I'm having a lot more fun with Twitter and connecting with people, especially with all the things authors post. Like this one:

I didn't respond to Victoria's tweet because my list is too long and I thought, what the heck, let's make it a blog post. Here are my unabashed, impossible writing dreams, in no particular order. And wow, I have too many:

Photo by Howard Lawrence B on Unsplash
So, to be honest, when it comes to author control over the work, self-publishing appeals to me more than traditional and deep down I'd rather go indie, despite how risky it is and how competitive it is. I think I have a good eye for covers and formatting, and I want very much to control how my books look in their print and electronic forms. Therefore the first big dream is to have enough money to commission artists for extremely high quality artwork for cover design and illustrations, and pay them at appropriate rates for their work. Too many artists are overworked and underpaid, so I want to make sure they get fairly compensated! I also want to have enough money to buy the commercial licenses for high-quality fonts to use in the print and ebook versions. Designers deserve money for their work, too, and besides, I'm a font fanatic!

I would also like to have control over the audio book process. I want to have my audio books include different actors for the characters (not the narrator doing every character themselves), so that the recording comes off more like a cast reading through a script. It's not quite a radio play, because I don't want sound effects or music, but I think hearing different voices for different characters is sometimes more engaging than listening to a single performer do everything. 

Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash
Not only do I want to dictate how the audio book is read, but I also want to be able to choose the actors. I like voice actors. I'm sick of celebrities being used to voice everything! VAs are extremely talented and I want them to have more work and fair pay. Now, I don't know if audio books are their cup of tea, but if I was able to wave enough dollar bills at them to entice them to read, I'd go after some of my favorite VAs from Funimation, Sentai Filmworks, Dreamworks Animation, etc. I mentioned in an old post who I'd cast for The Name and the Key and while I don't have enough written of Son of the Siren for me to get the shape of the characters or their voices yet, I'm sure I'll have fun imagining VAs for them in the future. 

I want to be able to make enough money to travel for research. Have to admit, I get kind of jealous hearing how my fellow authors are going to Romania or Scotland or wherever because they need to see how the parapets of a structure are supported by a specific kind of flying buttress only used in the 13th century blah blah blah, and they need that info firsthand to write proper description so that readers won't contest the realism of the text. It sounds crazy and unnecessary but research trips like this sound amazing and fun. I'd love to travel for research!

I want to be able to make enough money to attend writing conventions, conferences, and workshops. I want to be able to go to World Fantasy, WorldCon, AWP, or BookExpo. And I really want to be able to go to my alma mater Seton Hill University and attend the summer workshop In Your Write Mind. Many of my classmates who graduated with me have been able to go back every summer, and I get kind of misty-eyed looking at pics of them reuniting every year. I've never had the money to be able to go, so I haven't been to SHU or seen my classmates since 2013. Every year passes, and I feel more and more disconnected from them all. In terms of other workshops, I want to be able to do online and in-person events, like Writing the Other, Clarion, and Odyssey. These programs cost more than what I can pay, and on top of that, if you want scholarships (or simply want to attend), it's highly competitive. I would just like to be in a safe place financially to even be able to apply to these places and pay on acceptance. 

I want to be able to make enough money to write full time -- no side hustles, no second jobs, nada. Honestly, I don't want to be a freelancer writing all manner of articles for all manner of websites scrambling for an income. I want to be able to use my time to write fiction, full stop. I would like to stop teaching. I always thought teaching was one of my callings, and I've been told I'm pretty good at it, but the pay sucks, the work never stops, and you're disrespected and there's no autonomy. Plus, there's no time for a home life or creative life when you're grading 60 or more 10-page papers from students on a regular basis. If I do teach, I'd like to be the cool guest author who runs a workshop or small critique workshop at an event. That's it. 

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash
I'd like to make enough money to own a house. Nothing big or grand. I just want a place of my own. Until I came to Japan (where home life seems to be quiet for the most part), I never lived in an apartment that didn't have noisy neighbors thumping around, yelling, f***ing loudly, fighting, or blasting music at a trillion decibels. Because of my mental health issues, if my sleep or solitude was disrupted at home, I'd get irritable or depressed. I've pretty much determined I can't live near or with other humans because of my own quirks and health stuff, so a little place in a decent enough neighborhood (or better yet, in nature!) would be my ideal. 

I'd like to make enough money to pay off my student loans. I'm kind of in denial about them. I know when I graduated with my MFA, my grand total from 7 years of school topped $100,000. I made too little over the years so according to my income-based repayment plan, my official payment is and almost always has been $0. But my interest is phenomenally high. I'm sure at this rate it'll be closer to $150,000-$200,000 of debt within the next couple years.

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash
 If I can't write for a living, I would like to go back to a school for a PhD to get a better shot at being hired full-time at a college or university. I never want to adjunct again. My MFA was supposed to be a terminal degree, but that's changing. And due to competition (and basic hiring requirements changing), a lot of schools now demand a PhD as the minimum degree qualification. There are creative writing PhDs out there too, which means those are preferred, and that makes my MFA's value diminish. And confession: all of this still a risk. As long as colleges continue to treat their professors abusively through adjunctification, I could still have a PhD and be stuck in adjunct hell. Bleh. But...I really love school, so in my dream world, I'd get a PhD anyway just for the joys of expanding my knowledge. 

I have more money things I could write about (like wanting to pay for decent health care and a reliable car, having an emergency fund, and hire a personal trainer and cook to get my body back in shape) but it's getting depressing, so let me go back to the writing la-la land!

 I would like to have either an online limited series of one of my works or an anime/animated adaptation.  I think I would like an online animated series more (à la Avatar or The Dragon Prince) because I love animation, but also because my work leans towards YA. Anything televised would be amazing, though. I'd also like a heavy say in casting. This is partially because I want PoC in big roles and to make sure Hollywood doesn't whitewash my characters; as far as VAs go, same thing, but I also have my personal favorites I'd love to cast!
Image Source

 Remember my admission above about self-publishing? I would like to be able to hire translators to make my book available in other countries. In addition to the more popular languages, I'd love it to be translated and distributed in Japan. I think, given the types of things I write, there's a chance for an audience there (probably not big, but young people might dig it) and honestly, I would love it if my students saw that バッキ 先生 had books at their local Tsutaya. 

 I'd like to be nominated or win some kind of award. At this point in my life, I don't think I have the skills or right kind of story to be nominated for anything, so I can't see myself winning a Locus or World Fantasy Award even in the next ten years. In this way, I'd be happy just to be nominated for something! I'd also like an excuse to wear a fancy, genre-themed dress to a fancy genre event, so there you go. 

 I'd like to be an official guest or guest of honor at a convention and have an autograph booth. I think it'd be fun to be on panels with multiple authors discussing the genre and publishing; being a guest of honor would be a huge honor (heh); and I remember as an attendee the rush and joy of being able to meet the guests, so I'd love to interact with readers in this way. 

Photo by doil oh on Unsplash
As a convention-goer, I want to make enough money from writing to ramp up my cosplay and be commission more complicated pieces. Sewing things myself is more personally rewarding, but it stresses me out (see my first cosplay post on Speculative Chic here)! And professionals really make things so polished, and are good about customizing things for me if I request it. Cosplay, even on an amateur level, really adds up. I want to continue this hobby well into the future, but bring out the fancy, too! 

 I want readers to personally connect to the books, especially the characters. I want fan art, fan fiction (even naughty fanfiction!), shipping, Tumblr discourse, Twitter treaties, cosplay, you name it. I would rather have this level of connection to the work than be nominated for an award, honestly. My books don't have to go down in the annals of history -- if they're forgotten after I die, so be it. But I would like to know that for a time on this earth, they made people happy, gave people feelings, and served as a respite from the everyday grind of life. 

~*~ 

This was the tallest of tallest orders. I don't expect 99% of them to happen, even though I'd love them to (especially #14). But dreaming big motivates me to keep trying, and I hope your dreams do the same for you. 

Readers, what are your big writing dreams? Please share in the comments below!