Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four Non Blogs

I couldn’t get the noodle to nood today, so instead of a blog you’re getting the reasons why I couldn’t write one. Or three. I had topics to blog about but couldn’t get them to work. Here’s a rundown on what you missed.

Last week I ran into an acquaintance and former co-worker who’d just lost her job. For the last twelve years she’s been Head Compositor at our town’s weekly freebie paper, the one I used to be a proofreader for. Even before I left, they were losing pages and ads. The last couple years it got even worse. One grocery store that had been running three full-page ads since the dawn of time abruptly dropped out completely, so kiss that revenue good-bye. That sort of thing.

With work and income drying up, something had to go, and it turned out to be the Head Compositor position. She’s been out of work and searching since September. We both figure she was let go because she’d been there long enough to pull down the highest salary. She’s also in her 50s now, which ups the cost of employer-provided health coverage. The other two compositors are in their 30s, have worked there half as long, and are both married, so they may be covered by their husbands’ policies. In short, they’re taking fewer dollars out of the owner’s pocket. Used to be seniority guaranteed your job when the axe began to fall. Now it’s a death sentence. You’re better off having no experience at all. And being under 50.

Inspired by this, I started a blog about my adventures in the work force. I know where she’s coming from. My work experience includes five layoffs in four different professions. I’ve been through more interviews than Larry King Live. I’ve gotten good at spotting the signs you’re not getting the job, even if it seems you aced the interview. Hint: if you talk to somebody and they end the conversation with, “Send a resume,” you’ve just been screened out. Ditto if the interviewer ends with, “I have to clear it with (whoever).” And when they tell you they’ll contact you either way, they won’t. It’s a tough world out there.

I ended up deleting that blog. Too many bad memories, too much bitterness seeping into the words. I’ve been lucky in that my mother left me some cash when she passed, so I’ve been able to sit out the bad job market. At my last interview, two years ago, the girl told me she had to clear it with her boss, and that she’d contact me whatever they decided. Any day now, honey.

While waiting for the phone to ring, I’ve been trying to establish a fiction writing career. That would go better if I wrote faster and had a release more often. More caffeine should take care of that. I’m sure it would help if I did more promotion. Right now all I’ve got is this blog and Shapeshifter Seductions. I’m not on social media. I was going to blog on what tempts a reader to give a new (to them) writer a shot. Is it the cover? The title? The back-cover blurb? Advertising?

That blog didn’t work out either. In exploring my own reasons for trying new authors, I realized I was influenced most by word of mouth. I read Twilight, The Da Vinci Code, The Firm, and the Harry Potter series after they became best-sellers because I wondered what all the fuss was about. But what brought all those readers in to begin with? At one point those writers were unknowns. What got them known? Haven’t a clue.

I can tell you why I started reading Stephen King. It wasn’t his covers or titles, and I hadn’t come across any of his short stories. The back-cover blurbs might have helped, because blurbs let you know if this book’s going to overlap with your interests. However, Stevie was shelved in Fiction back then, and I used to beeline straight for the Science Fiction section, so I didn’t see his titles, covers or blurbs anyway. However, I did see the ‘70s movie version of Carrie. That’s what got me interested. The novel version wasn’t any great shakes. It was Stevie’s second book, ‘Salem’s Lot, that got me hooked for life. It appears the secret is to give the audience something they didn’t know they wanted, but recognize when they see it. Good luck with that. Oh, and write a damn good book so readers will come back for the next one. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

After that blog died on the vine. I decided to write about my adventures with Obamacare. I skipped last year but may not have to pay the penalty because of my low reportable income. Next year the fees go up. Lucky for me, that low reportable income means I received substantial aid from the government. I now have a nice policy that covers the basics, for a reasonable price. Lucky for me, not so much for the people with jobs whose taxes are subsidizing me. Thanks for the coverage, guys. I appreciate it.

I don’t appreciate health care’s priorities. It’s been almost two weeks since I signed up and I haven’t gotten any paperwork yet. It takes at least a week for your info to be programmed into the system, longer to get printed confirmation. In contrast, the insurance company yanked its payment out of my bank account within the first 48 hours. Wonder how long it’ll take me to get a check if I ever have to file a claim?

That’s pretty much where my health care stands right now. Not quite enough to build a full blog around. So that’s out too.

Usually when I run out of topics I either ramble for a thousand words or so, or post a book excerpt. I don’t even have an excerpt to share. However, I do have this little snippet from my WIP. Hannibal Ewing, game warden and bighorn shifter, visits Rick the mountain lion at his den to warn him the bad guy’s back in town and may be gunning for him:

“Thanks for the heads up.” Rick tilted his head to peer up at Han. “How do you people even know all this?”

Han snickered. “Sergei’s dating a wolf who works with a snake who’s living with the staff photographer on the newspaper run by Vern’s son Nick, Vern being Ma’s loving husband. Herd ties and pack bonds. You cats should try it. You live too much of your lives on your own.”

And that’s how it’s done in the small towns, kiddies. Big Brother is watching you. So are Big Sister, Big Auntie and Big Uncle, Grandpa and Grandma, all the Big Cousins and That Creepy Old Guy Down the Street. Who needs cameras? We have gossips. Enjoy your day.


Savanna Kougar said...

Oooo, luv that snippet. It's purr-fect Talbot's Peak.

I wonder if hypnosis would work to increase writing speed, while keeping the quality of your story?

Pat C. said...

Nah. That's just another excuse to take a nap.

I have a feeling as the bank account gets smaller my writing and submitting speed will pick up.

Pat C. said...

Yeah. It's like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in that town.

Savanna Kougar said...

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon... Porker's cousin? ~snigger~

Hey, I think it's 681 downloads of LOVE TO THE RESCUE at Smashwords... so there's some *hopefully* good promo.

Pat C. said...

You betcha! Slowly but surely we're taking over the world.

Savanna Kougar said...

Slowly but surely. The world is our oyster shapeshifter.

Serena Shay said...

LOL...yeah, the TP grapevine is always hard at work! You can't get away with anything in that town. ;)

Ugh, writing speed... Mine was bad to begin with, but then I went an added school to the mix and now, I've got bupkis for speed.