Plan for today: Novel revisions

Plan for today — I’m mostly hoping to get back to novel revisions. Some more beta-reader feedback came in over the weekend, and they are loving it, which is really very encouraging.

I admit, there’s part of me that thinks I should be focusing on getting back to the more hopefully commercial epic space opera project (set in the same Jump Space universe) that I promised my agent, but I don’t think I can settle to it until I finish this novel revision.

I don’t know if he’ll be able to sell it — this is a quiet family story in a lot of ways, and it might take a quirky press to take it on? I’m not sure. But I think I love it, and I think readers will too, so if Russ decides it’s not commercial enough to try to shop around, or if he tries and no one bites, I’m pretty sure I’ll just go ahead and shop it to small presses myself, and if THAT fails, indie publish it. Because I think it’s actually quite good, dammit.

It honestly feels a little nerve-wracking saying that, but after all the travail I’ve gone through on this particular novel (I started it, gosh, almost five years ago? before the cancer diangosis), it feels important to have it finally be something I’m proud of. A long, slow road.

I didn’t write at all this weekend — lots of gaming instead, which is also good; I think I needed to decompress. Though I got a little angry with myself late Sunday night, because all I did yesterday was gardening (major peach tree pruning, finally reorganizing the back deck and making it usable after we had it painted) and board gaming (taught some friends Terraforming Mars). But then I went and did a load of laundry and cleaned off the countertop in the bathroom, which has never quite gotten unpacked properly after the Boston trip, and then I felt better and could go to sleep with a peaceful heart.

(I feel like SUCH a New Englander sometimes; I may have left CT at 18, but those Puritan work values are embedded deep. Or maybe those are merging with South Asian immigrant values? No fun. Or at least no fun unless you’ve earned it with plenty of work!)

Okay. Plan is:

– spend the next 45 minutes working on a comic project that Margaret Treanor Frey and I are playing with — we have a meeting at 11, and I’m supposed to have some work done before that, gah. I should’ve done the work last week, so she could look at it over the weekend, but time got away from me, sigh.

– I also need to talk to Kel Bachus and schedule some time to review Sigiriya dialogue, I think? (Kel, remind me that we have to talk about the names thing.)

– Revise my bio for Feast and send that to Jeremy John Parker — check if he needs anything else from me before we order ARCs, hopefully TODAY, eep.

– Check in with Pem Hessing on rescheduling of our Feast publicity meeting — one thing I should definitely do today is get her contact info for where we submit things to the big 4 review sites (Heather, can you work on that? Um, I need to remind myself what the big 4 are…Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly….gah, blanking. Some of them will have a separate path for indie-published books). We also need to start sketching out the fall local calendar more seriously; she’ll be meeting with various people this week, and hopefully we’ll lock that down soon.

– Set up Maram writing workshops and classes with Alec Nevala-Lee and Deborah Jian Lee — I think we can do that via FB messenger. I think I’m going to offer a six-week Fiction / Nonfiction Writing Workshop, 2.5 hrs / class on Saturday mornings, suitable for beginners or intermediate prose writers; I keep meeting people in the community who are asking for that class. This will focus on elements of craft that are applicable both to fiction and creative nonfiction, such as memoir. If you’re someone who wants to reserve a spot in it, let me know — I’m probably going to cap the class at 15. It’ll be in Sept / Oct, dates to be finalized very shortly, and will probably take place at the co-working space, Oak Park Works. Tuition will be $375.

Also thinking of doing two accompanying workshops, 2.5 hrs each, one on Worldbuilding (appropriate to SF/F writers, but also surprisingly applicable to historical fiction / travel writing), one on publishing, both indie and traditional. Those’ll be $75 each, and I’m hoping to do them more panel-style, and have Alec Nevala-Lee teach them with me, if I can get the schedules to mesh. If you take both the six-week workshop and the two accompanying ones, it’ll be $475, so a $50 discount. Coffee / tea / continental breakfast will be included.

Tentative goal for this week for Maram — actually schedule out fall and spring calendar? We might not know exactly which workshops will go in where, but we can pencil in dates / times at least.

– And along with all that, revise the novel. I think I can revise chapter 4 this afternoon; we’ll see. 

Central themes for Maram

Thinking about how we’re describing our central themes for Maram right now — I’ve been using futurist, heritage / culture, and sustainability. But in a lot of ways, I really think it all falls under tech, just not in ways people are used to thinking about tech. ‘Tech’ as ‘application of complex, structured skills’?

Tech (futurist): 3D printing, wearable electronics

Tech (heritage): sashiko embroidery, stranded knitting, sourdough bread-making, beer-making, ethnic heritage cuisines

Tech (sustainable): worm composting, decorative mending

And I really want to keep interrogating that, especially given the gender divisions that people keep wanting to reinforce, where some types of tech get coded male, and some get coded female.

I swear, sometimes I want to start a men’s textile arts group, just to start pushing back against this. Maybe I can hold a free ‘learn to crochet class’ for men in our community. Or ‘learn to sew on a damned button.’

Would anyone come? Model this kind of knowledge and skill for your sons, dads! Let your daughters see you with a needle in that big, manly hand.

So proud of Anand

Anand is getting suddenly so grown up. We got into O’Hare around 11 p.m. on Sunday, and everyone was tired, but Kavi was particularly crashing; she’d fallen asleep hard on the plane, and was having a tough time coming out of it. Anand saw that she was tired, and he just went over and got her suitcase and started pulling it for her, without needing to be asked. Proud of my baby. 🙂

Sketching out a MakerFaire

Does it look like the beginning of a MakerFaire? It does!

Maram is going to be hosting a set of demos at the OP Main Library August 25, 2-5 — save the date! 3D printing, an embroidery machine, a poetry booth, spice grinding, and more… Free and open to the public. 🙂

A picture of a piece of white paper. There is a sketch of a table layout, with a large central table labeled ‘writing’, surrounded on three sides with additional smaller tables, labeled with various crafts, with a large walkway between the inner and outer table.

Publicist for Feast

I’m hiring a local friend with marketing background to serve as a publicist for Feast, but of course, I’m not a publicist, and she hasn’t worked as a book publicist. She asked me to put together a bullet-point list, and this is what I came up with — anything I’m missing? Thoughts?

– put together timeline for release (most urgent) — ARC (advance review copies) are ready now, and need to be shipped 2-3 months in advance of launch to big review sites like Publisher’s Weekly. So tentatively, launch can happen anytime after mid-September

– schedule local launch events, coordinating with Eastgate (if doing), Book Table / Beer Shop, Jake’s Place, SugarBeet, MA’s own party

– help brainstorm, plan, and host local events

– draft press release

– research and send out press releases to other relevant venues, like food magazines, shelter magazines that might feature it as fall reading, etc.

– work with MA to have her pitch articles she’d write to those same magazines; she has a list, just needs prodding to brainstorm article topics, and actually draft and pitch them

– brainstorm other publicity possibilities, such as blog tour, online giveaways for launch week, etc.

– schedule out of town events, sending press release to relevant venues (MA will help put together list of venues to contact) and following up to see if interested; make sure MA gets travel plans into calendar. Will mostly try to coordinate with other travel she’s already doing for work, but may add in a few more stops, if it makes sense budget-wise; may also do some road-tripping next summer with Ben Rosenbaum for joint event (possibly coordinating this piece with Heather)

– draft publicity flyer, coordinate with MA’s daughter’s friends for posting around town

– look at the PR materials MA already has, think about how best to use them — there’s a big stack of book promo postcards, book stickers, plus greeting cards and postcards that can be used for giveaways or for sale cheaply

How is that? I’m not sure of everything that goes into a publicity plan! But this seems like a lot. 

I was in heavy revision mode yesterday

I was heavy in revision mode yesterday, and revised an entire chapter, which is great, but pretty much neglected all paperwork, and as a result, am drowning in paperwork today. But getting through. It helps that we have Maram retreat today, and Julie has come over and is steadily working on her novel, which is helping me keep on track.

The day started with trying something new with the kids — we sketched out some tasks they need to do before having access to electronics. The goals were very small to start out with, and they knocked them out in about two hours, but we’re planning to increase that. We typed it up and added their regular family chores too; as they get older, we’re trying to have them take on more of those.

To help motivate, I added some of my own for checking off, and Kevin is going to do the same. We’ll see how it goes! I’m hoping this will help give them the tools for them to be able to manage the temptations of electronics on their own, once they leave home, along with household management skills. We’ll see!

Other than that, leaving message for plumber (leaks, sigh), asking around to try to find a good dentist for the kids who takes Delta Dental (any tips welcome — I’m having a hard time finding anyone in Oak Park), reviewing tasks with Heather, planning things for Maram and the SLF. If you’d like to help out with the upcoming Kickstarter, leave your e-mail below, please! I’m going to e-mail all the volunteers tomorrow morning, and set things in motion. Eep.

Now I need to contact Pem re: Feast publicity plan, and then type up Maram notes before our 3 p.m. meeting. First, coffee, though. Definitely need coffee.

Timelines and autonomy

Part of what I’m thinking about this morning is why it was relatively easy to set up volunteers that put in a lot of consistent work at the various magazines, and why that’s been more challenging with the non-profit orgs. Lots of reasons, but I think two of them have to do with timelines and autonomy. Specifically:

TIMELINES: For the magazines, having a regular publishing schedule kept things on track; deadlines are motivating. Surprisingly, I think in some ways it was easier to do that with Clean Sheets & Strange Horizons publishing weekly, as opposed to Jaggery, coming out 2-3 times / year, because the weekly schedule, despite being more demanding, stayed very present in peoples’ minds, and you also quickly learned who actually was willing to commit the time to the project or not.

For the SLF, the grants have annual deadlines and internal schedules for juries, etc., and even though we slip those sometimes a bit (juries require some wrangling), overall, I think the schedule helps keep it on track. I need to figure out similar schedules for the more amorphous parts of SLF administration, I think — for the operating work, such as outreach, memberships, fundraising, general organizational.

We’ve talked about a monthly meeting, but maybe I need to get on organizing that (or even weekly? joint work session on Discord, rather than a meeting?). And / or set up annual calendars for each aspects, so that people have a better sense of goals / progress.

AUTONOMY: For the magazines, I set it up so that the various departments (fiction, poetry, art, etc., including copyediting & website management) had autonomy within themselves; they were responsible for shaping the direction of their section, setting up workflows, etc. I tried to only step in if they blew a deadline, or asked for my help. I think that helped a lot with motivating them to take ownership of their areas, and responsibility for getting things done.

I feel like I haven’t done as well with that with either the SLF or Maram. The big success with the SLF is the grants, which is mostly all due to Malon Edwards taking charge of them and administering them — he puts in so much time and work, and I barely remember to thank him, gah. We need a Malon Edwards appreciation day, folks. Go read his fiction, at least!

But I need to do that for the SLF with the small press co-op, the local chapters, the international translation project if it happens, the archive of teaching / oral history material, etc. Also, if we can, with the admin sections, though I’m not sure if that’s as feasible?

And then the same thing with Maram. The latter is starting to shake out into departments for tech (KurtKentVanessa), textile (MargaretPamelaCarollinaAngela), writing (me, AlecDeborah), and cooking / gardening (PamEulàliaPetia, me). I think those will be really helpful, and I need to formalize them a bit, put everyone organizing on the masthead, and then set up a calendar and deadlines and the like. (Heather, can you put the latter on my to-do list on Trello, please, and remind me if I haven’t done it by the end of the week?)

It’s all a little amorphous still, but we’re getting there.

TIMELINES / AUTONOMY are my watchwords for the next phase. 

Throwing oneself in, again

Wake up, check FB and e-mail, dress, breakfast, meds, coffee, not necessarily in that order. Say good morning to Anand and see if he needs help with breakfast; Kavi won’t be awake for a while. And all the while, the book is LOOMING, and finally, there are no more preparations to make, and you have to face it.

It’s swimming when you know the water’s cold, colder than you’d like it, and you ought to just fling yourself in, but it’s been a while. Instead you’re inching in, bit by bit, and that is self-inflicted torture and you know it, but you can’t seem to help yourself. Tomorrow, maybe, you’ll fling yourself into the ocean as if to a lover, one you can trust to catch you, but today you are suspicious, and anxiety is palpable, something you must fight through. It would be so much easier to weed the garden instead, and it needs it…

…but you’ve been clearing the decks for weeks now, and the truth is that the garden is weeded enough to get by, the house isn’t exactly clean, but it is no longer an utter disaster, the most urgent financial and other business matters have been dealt with (or are on this week’s schedule at various pre-determined points), and there is nothing actually screaming at you now, finally, nothing else that needs doing. In this next half hour, at least.

‘But half an hour isn’t enough time,’ you cry! That’s fear too. And yes, later you’ll have a four-hour stretch cleared away, which is better for the deep work; this morning, a doctor’s appointment and a trip to the DMV intervene. But something useful can still be accomplished in half an hour, even if it’s only reading over yesterday’s new scene, re-reading the next one. Setting the day’s writing wheels in motion so that the back of your brain will work while you are sitting in the doctor’s waiting room, in line at the DMV.

Soon, you are more than knee-deep. Soon, the shock of cold hitting a new inch of naked skin will become routine — you have done this before, after all, and you know it will not actually hurt you. Soon you will be waist-deep, chest-deep.

Then you will take a deep breath and throw yourself forward, submerged. A moment of shock, but then the cold forgotten in the movement of strong limbs. The water welcoming you, beloved, once again.

Publicist for Feast

I’m hiring a local friend with marketing background to serve as a publicist for Feast, but of course, I’m not a publicist, and she hasn’t worked as a book publicist. She asked me to put together a bullet-point list, and this is what I came up with — anything I’m missing? Thoughts?

– put together timeline for release (most urgent) — ARC (advance review copies) are ready now, and need to be shipped 2-3 months in advance of launch to big review sites like Publisher’s Weekly. So tentatively, launch can happen anytime after mid-September

– schedule local launch events, coordinating with Eastgate (if doing), Book Table / Beer Shop, Jake’s Place, SugarBeet, MA’s own party

– help brainstorm, plan, and host local events

– draft press release

– research and send out press releases to other relevant venues, like food magazines, shelter magazines that might feature it as fall reading, etc.

– work with MA to have her pitch articles she’d write to those same magazines; she has a list, just needs prodding to brainstorm article topics, and actually draft and pitch them

– brainstorm other publicity possibilities, such as blog tour, online giveaways for launch week, etc.

– schedule out of town events, sending press release to relevant venues (MA will help put together list of venues to contact) and following up to see if interested; make sure MA gets travel plans into calendar. Will mostly try to coordinate with other travel she’s already doing for work, but may add in a few more stops, if it makes sense budget-wise; may also do some road-tripping next summer with Ben Rosenbaum for joint event (possibly coordinating this piece with Heather)

– draft publicity flyer, coordinate with MA’s daughter’s friends for posting around town

– look at the PR materials MA already has, think about how best to use them — there’s a big stack of book promo postcards, book stickers, plus greeting cards and postcards that can be used for giveaways or for sale cheaply

How is that? I’m not sure of everything that goes into a publicity plan! But this seems like a lot.