Archive for writing life

writing life

Why Your Writer Friend Gets Testy

Inspired by some posts I’ve seen some writer friends make recently and a bit of a grumpy mood, I present to you the Reasons Your Writer Friend Sometimes Gets Testy. Publishing is a strange business that doesn’t always work the way the rest of the world works, and that means it can be really stressful to be a writer. Read this, and you’ll realizes how important it is to support writers you love, whether they’re your friends/family or people whose work you enjoy.

There’s no correlation between experience level and earnings.
In the regular business world, you generally expect that when you’re entry-level, you earn a lower salary, and then as you gain experience, you get paid more. That’s not always how it works in publishing. Sometimes it does work that way, with writers gradually getting higher advances and then more promotion so their books earn more. But quite often, a brand-new writer may sign a contract with a huge advance while an established midlist writer will keep plugging away at about the same advance level over time — a level much lower than that new writer starts with. In the business world, new people get lower salaries than experienced people because the new person is an unknown quantity with a learning curve, while the more experienced person has proven their ability, and their experience means it will cost less and take less time to train them. It’s the opposite in publishing. The new person may get a higher advance because they’re an unknown quantity — they could be the next big thing — while they already know what to expect from the established person.

There’s also no correlation between quality and earnings.
I’m sure we can all think of some horribly written, unoriginal books that were smash bestsellers, and some good books that no one’s ever heard of. Sometime, that’s on the reading public, but there are certainly times when publishers pay a lot for and then heavily promote horribly written, unoriginal books while ignoring far better books.

So, authors don’t have the usual ways of improving their earnings. Sticking it out and becoming more experienced may or may not pay off. Working harder and writing better may or may not pay off.

It’s almost always considered the book’s or author’s fault if a book doesn’t do well.
There are lots of reasons why a book doesn’t find an audience. It may not be a good book or there may not be an audience for it. But it might also be because the cover is terrible, the book doesn’t get distributed well, there’s no promotion, or there’s some other, unrelated issue. I know of an author whose book was being carried from the printer to a distribution center in a train that derailed. Those copies were all destroyed in the accident and never made it to bookstore shelves in that region, which meant it didn’t sell in that region. When it came time to negotiate her next contract, the publisher held it against her that this book didn’t sell as well as her previous books. Or there have been cases in which the publicist responsible for a book left for another job a couple of weeks before publication, and no one realized until later that she hadn’t actually done any of the publicity work she was supposed to have done. Still, those poor sales were held against the author. There are a few stories of publishers who admitted that they did a terrible job of packaging and promoting a book and who then made an effort to relaunch that book or author, but it’s possible that these are urban legends.

And it’s not just publishers. Imagine if you will an author on release day, and their in-box is full of messages. You hope there will be a lot of “I’ve started reading your new book and love it” e-mails. There may be a few of those. The rest are more likely “Why didn’t your book download to my Kindle at midnight?” or “I looked for your book at my bookstore, but I didn’t find it. Why isn’t it there?” I’ve asked as politely as I could if they asked someone who actually works for the bookstore, and sometimes the response is “Oh, I didn’t think of that.” I’m not sure I understand the impulse to ask the author where to find something in a store instead of asking someone who works there. This may be why your author friend’s eyes flip to black and their neck veins stand out when you helpfully tell them you didn’t see their book at the store when you checked. You may mean well and be imparting information rather than expecting them to do something about it, but trust me, they’ve already heard all about it.

Sometimes, the author doesn’t get the credit when a book does well.
I know an author whose editor called to excitedly tell her that her book was a bestseller, and then said, “And we just had a meeting to try to figure out what it was about that cover that sold so well.” Because it couldn’t possibly have been the book itself, I guess.

Publishers can’t make a book a bestseller, but it’s hard to be a bestseller if the publisher hasn’t tried to make that happen.
That’s all about print run, placement, and promotion. There are lead titles that are positioned to be potential bestsellers. Sometimes, publishers guess wrong and all their efforts are for nothing (I have to admit to enjoying seeing lead titles from the time my books were published on remainder tables while my books are still in print). For the rest of the list, it’s almost a mathematical impossibility just because not enough books are printed and distributed to make a bestseller list even if every single copy sells. In the days of e-books, that makes a bit less of a difference, so maybe there’s a bigger chance of something being a surprise bestseller, but that would really take a stroke of luck without the promo behind it. Non-writer friends think writers are being pessimistic when they don’t hope for a new release to hit a bestseller list, but the fact is that they probably already know whether or not that’s even possible.

Sometimes, the performance of other books can make a difference to your career.
Imagine if you didn’t get a raise or a promotion, or if you even didn’t get hired or lost your job because someone with a similar job at an entirely different company didn’t perform well. That happens to authors. If books in a similar category to what you write don’t sell well, your publisher might not want more books from you or might give up on books that haven’t been published yet. They don’t look at it as that one book not performing. Frequently, they decide that category has tanked. Ask anyone who got caught up in the chick lit purge, when the industry decided those books were over after sales declined, and authors found themselves without publishers — even if their books were actually performing well.

So, you can see why there are some crazy stresses that come with this job, even if it is fun work that doesn’t require going to an office and having a boss stand over you. There’s a lot of stuff you have to just let go because you can’t control it. The only thing you can do is keep writing and keep trying to be better. That’s no guarantee of success, but it might improve your odds somewhat.

writing life

Writing and Financial Security

Yesterday’s post turned out to be oddly prescient. Not long after I posted it, I got an e-mail from the HOA reminding us that they’d let us know our cable contract was running out, and saying it ended Feb. 8. So, I figured I needed to go out and get an antenna.

The one I got picks up 69 stations, but not the ABC affiliate, which is annoying because that’s the one I watch the most. However, I only watch one program on it. Otherwise, it’s the news, which I can stream live via their app.

And then I realized I was being very all or nothing about the whole thing, resisting any kind of monthly fee. I think that’s one of the bits of emotional fallout from those lean years between the time I was laid off and the time I started selling novels again. I survived those years by being frugal and not spending additional money on things that weren’t absolutely necessary, and it seems that mindset has held over. Even though I’ve been making more money than I did with my old day job, my mind approaches everything as though I might not make any money at all this year. That’s unlikely, but big ups and downs are possible, so I could earn less than I need to live on if things go badly for me. I’ll probably earn most of this year’s income in the latter half of the year, which makes me feel a bit stressed earlier in the year. I’m not sure if I’ll ever feel totally secure and like the next year won’t rip everything away from me. Maybe if I’ve got a five-book contract for six figures for each book and a TV series in development, but otherwise, I’ll probably worry and be afraid to spend money.

But I figured out that there are other possible solutions. I’m going to look into something like Sling TV that will allow me to watch ABC programming in real time, as well as giving me the cable channels for shows I’m currently watching, along with a DVR-like service, and I can drop it after the TV season ends. Then I can figure out what to do next season, depending on what’s going to be on TV. I may be able to bring in that additional channel with an external tuner, by finding a way to place the antenna higher in my house, or by getting a more powerful antenna that I can put on the second floor. Or it may not matter to me then.

In the meantime, I should be thinking more about writing books or I’ll never reach that point of a five-book contract for six figures a book (it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever be at that level, but I can’t get to that level without actually writing the book). But first, I guess this weekend I’ll be watching everything I have saved up on the DVR before I have to return it. Most of it is reference material for books, so it kind of counts as work. I’ll be taking notes.

writing life

Liberation Day

This is my Liberation Anniversary. Sixteen years ago today, I was laid off from my last “real” job. I’ve worked for myself ever since, which is longer than the time I’ve spent working for someone else.

Looking back on the time, I had very mixed feelings then. I was unhappy at work, so unhappy that a week or so earlier I found myself hoping that I’d have a miraculous, magical job offer in my e-mail (the first spark of the idea that became Enchanted, Inc.). I was actually just working part-time — 30 hours a week — and telecommuting, which had been an ideal situation for trying to fit in my writing, but after the bosses who made that possible left and after quite a bit of turmoil in the company, my job had become a lot less fun. My new supervisor seemed to see me as a threat, shutting me out of things. Her shutting me out of a major client meeting resulted in us losing that client, which was what led to me being laid off (that client then hired me as a freelancer). I was already planning to maybe take the plunge and quit my job to freelance, but later in the year when I’d had a chance to get things like insurance lined up. Since I knew we were losing that account, I already suspected what was going on and had already pulled all my files off my office laptop so I’d have work samples. I wasn’t surprised when I got the call to bring my computer and all company property to the office, that that didn’t ease the sting of the way they went about it.

But by about noon that day, I was suddenly unemployed. I’d already planned a reading binge that weekend, starting on Friday (my 30 hours a week were flexible, which meant if I worked a full day Monday through Thursday, I could take Friday off). I’d just started reading the Harry Potter series the previous fall, and had read the first three books, the ones I’d bought in England. The fourth book was only out in hardcover at the time, and my library hold for it had finally come in. I was planning to devote the weekend to reading it. I had the soundtrack for the first movie and appropriate snacks ready to go. But since I suddenly didn’t have to work, I moved my reading marathon up a day.

It proved nicely cathartic. The events toward the end of that book made me sob hysterically, and I think I needed a good cry. I’d been so numb up to that point, so determined to look on the bright side, but there were a lot of hurt feelings from the way I’d been treated. That book also helped with the ongoing development of that idea I’d had about a magical job. I so related to what was going on with Hermione in that book because it was much like my school experience, with the guys I hung out with as friends not even thinking of me as someone they might invite to a big dance because they didn’t think of me as a girl (unfortunately, I didn’t have the star jock from another school to swoop in and ask me). That made me think that I would love to read something like these books, but about adult life, with jobs, friends, etc.

I was putting off actually dealing with thinking about what to do next. I figured I’d get through the weekend and then think. But my former clients who’d heard the news started calling me the next day, offering some freelance work (one benefit of working from home: my clients all had my home number). I’d saved up a lot of money in preparing to someday make the leap, and I decided to wait before trying to get a new job to see if I could get by as a freelancer so I could focus on my fiction writing. That was a bit risky, as I was in the middle of a huge career lull as a novelist, but I had other forms of income and several years worth of living expenses saved up, so I thought it was worth a try.

I still haven’t gone in search of a new regular job. I’m not sure I could find one right now, given that it’s been so long. I wouldn’t want to go back to what I was doing, but I don’t know what else I could do. I guess that means I’d better keep making the writing work.

writing life

Hibernation Season

It’s the time of year when invitations for fall events start coming in, and it’s something I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s so flattering to be invited to speak at book festivals and conventions. That makes me feel validated and loved. On the other hand, January is a bad time for me to be invited anywhere.

I’ve joked that I’m part bear because I seriously go into hibernation in the winter. I could happily go weeks without human interaction. I come up with excuses not to leave the house. I tend to go into “live out of the freezer” mode, so I don’t even need to go grocery shopping that often (fortunately, fall is the season when I go on cooking sprees, so the freezer is full of soups, stews, sauces, etc. that I just have to defrost). Any invitation I receive in January is automatically less tempting because all I can think is that I’d have to leave the house and be around people.

Once I get over that, I have to really think about what invitations to accept. For the most part, authors have to pay their own way to things like book festivals and conventions. You’re probably not going to sell enough books to cover the travel expenses, so you have to consider other things like the amount of exposure and possible media coverage you might get, what the networking opportunities might be, etc. And, flat out, will it be a fun trip? Is it to a place you’ve wanted to visit? Are there people you might see or meet there? Who will the other authors be?

And then I generally have to get over the “but I’d have to leave the house and be around people” thing again, reminding myself that I may not feel this way later in the year.

But for now, I’m working from inside my blanket fort.

writing life

Mondays

Like most people with Monday-Friday “normal” type jobs, I used to really hate Mondays — back to the grind of getting up, facing a dreadful commute, and spending the day in the office after I’d had a blissful two days of doing my own thing.

Now, though, I actually really like Mondays. It helps that I’m doing something I love, that I’m doing it at home with no commute, and I work for myself, so I set my own schedule. I let myself get a slow start on Mondays, if I want to. Weekends are often busy for me, and especially Sundays, so Monday is generally my “sleep in” day. I linger over the newspaper and a cup of tea before launching into my week, which is so much more civilized than being forced to go to work at the usual time right after a weekend. Monday is usually a day for staying at home and not dealing with people.

But I also love the sense of a fresh start that Mondays give me. It’s like a New Year’s Day every week. If I slacked off or didn’t accomplish what I wanted last week, that’s all in the past and I can make new resolutions for the new week. I can accomplish all the things, eat right, exercise, and make progress on organizing my house. I can spend time writing, get projects completed, and all those other things I really want to do. I can set up new schedules and guidelines for myself (you sometimes have to resort to tricks like this when you don’t have a boss or a strict deadline, and therefore there’s nothing to stop you from spending the day reading message boards about TV shows you don’t even watch if you don’t set up some kind of structure).

So, I’m starting today with a lot of enthusiasm, with maybe a dash of fear because I woke up this morning from the recurring “back to my old day job” nightmare. That one seems to have taken over from the “I’m running late for the final exam in the class I forgot I was taking and never actually went to, and I don’t know for sure where the exam is being held” nightmare that was my brain’s previous favorite. It’s never actually really any of my old day jobs, but it’s one like one of them, or it may be one of my old jobs in the dream, and it’s only upon waking that I realize I never actually worked at that place. The bizarre detail from this particular dream was that my boss had come into my office to talk about something, a call for her (not an actual person I’ve ever worked for — I think it might actually have been Mimi from the Enchanted, Inc. books) got forwarded to my desk, and I got out of the way so she could take it. It wasn’t just a quick answer to something, and it looked like she was settling in for a long chat, so when she sat down at my desk, I slipped out of the office to give her some privacy, only then remembering that I’d taken off my shoes while I was sitting at my desk, so now I was barefoot. When my boss finally got off the phone and left my office, she criticized me for not being at my desk, working, and asked why I wasn’t wearing shoes. Which sounds like something Mimi would do.

And now I kind of want to see if I could pull off a short story from Mimi’s perspective, where she’s running into magic but doesn’t realize it as she continues being an irrational boss.

And I really, really don’t want to have to go back to working for the kind of people who inspired Mimi, so I guess I’d better start writing.

writing life

Putting Things Off

We started children’s choir last night, and it’s a good thing my co-teacher is a Boy Whisperer because they were particularly rowdy. One kid got sent to the corner several times (first for throwing things at other people, then for leaving the corner and trying to sneak out of the room) and had the “do we need to go find your mother?” threat after he stuck his nametag on one of the posters, covering up one of the essential parts (and it wasn’t the kind of nametag sticker that comes off easily). Meanwhile, one of the other kids came in early while I was trying to clean some marker off the floor (I don’t think we were responsible, but I figure we’d get blamed), became obsessed, wanted to help, then took over. Which was fine for a while, but he wouldn’t stop, no matter what else we were doing, and he got possessive about it, so fights were breaking out over cleaning the floor.

Small amounts of music ended up happening in between all this. The funny thing was, I started teaching them about notes and showed them sheet music, and they were fascinated by it. They spend so much time and energy trying to avoid doing any of the class stuff, but when we finally do it, they love it.

Hmm, that sounds like me and my writing schedule. I spend so much time and energy putting off actually getting to work, but once I’m working, I enjoy what I’m doing.

Tomorrow and Saturday I’m going to a music leaders workshop, so maybe I’ll come away with some new ideas to try with the choir. And maybe me.

But being out for a day means I need to get a lot done today. I need to finish writing a scene, write another scene, write two synopses, condense three synopses into two-page “blurbs,” then polish all of it. I won’t finish today, but I may get to the point where I can do the editing and polishing on Monday.

And then it’s back to the books I’ve been working on.

writing life

Imposter Syndrome

On Writer Twitter, the topic of Imposter Syndrome comes up frequently. That’s when you feel like whatever success you may have had is merely a fluke, and someone is going to notice it. It’s when you feel like you’re not a “real” writer, for whatever reason — not selling, not selling enough, not being well known, not getting award nominations, not being invited to book festivals. I’ve been surprised by how many people I think of as far ahead of me confessed to feeling this way.

The thing is, I’m not sure anyone really gets over this, unless they’ve got a huge ego (that’s not just a front). I would guess that the people who don’t ever feel like they might be exposed as an imposter are those who are the real imposters. Self-doubt does have its uses. It can keep us from feeling complacent and pushes us to keep doing better. When I start to fear that whatever I’ve achieved is a fluke and feel like a nobody, that’s when I buckle down and write more and am hard on myself to make what I write the best it can be. You don’t want to take it so far, though, that you hold yourself back from opportunities out of fear that you won’t be worthy, and you definitely don’t want to take it so far that you give up and quit because you’re sure you’ll never be a “real” writer.

The trick to dealing with all of this is to think about your own definitions of success. Don’t look at what success means to other people. What does it look like to you? What really matters? What are you trying to get out of this career? Would you trade what you have for what you see other people having?

I had my wake-up call about that when I was at the Nebula Awards conference last year. What often makes me feel like an imposter is the fact that I seem to be a relative unknown in my field, in spite of the years I’ve been publishing, the number of books I’ve had published, the amount of money I’ve made. I was on a panel about dealing with discouragement, and I brought this up as one of my discouragements. I had the audience raise their hands if they’d heard of me, and only a couple of hands went up. But on another panel about finances for freelancers, I was with people I consider far more successful than I am. They’re authors the audience had heard of, people who get award nominations, who have thousands of Twitter followers. And yet they were talking about running through their emergency funds, having to take part-time jobs to supplement their writing income, doing various kinds of crowdfunding. I might be obscure, but I’ve always been fairly financially secure as a full-time writer. I own a home, have no debts other than the mortgage (that I’ll probably pay off soon), and have a big enough financial cushion that I don’t have serious worries as long as I manage my money wisely. That was when I realized that while I’d love to be recognized and acknowledged, I much prefer making decent money. Of course, if I’m already making decent money, then being better known should mean I’d make even more money, but I wouldn’t trade the income for the renown.

Meanwhile, it’s entirely possible that the other people on that panel were feeling like imposters because they weren’t living entirely off their writing income without having any financial woes. Or they may be okay with where they are because they’re getting what they want.

Back in my day job years, I was at a conference for people in my field (university communications/public information officers), and the speaker suggested keeping a “fuzzy file.” In that job, you get a lot of criticism and are often caught in the middle — the administration always wants more and better results, the faculty just wants to be left alone and not bothered with press inquiries, unless they want more attention but don’t have anything likely to get attention, the press want sources for their stories but don’t want to be pitched things they aren’t interested in. You can’t make everyone happy. So it’s important to hang on to any bit of praise. Keep a file of thank-you notes, press clippings, positive feedback, etc., to look at when you’re feeling battered. Writers should keep their own fuzzy files of good reviews, acceptance letters, good royalty statements, award nominations, screen caps of high Amazon rankings, etc. Write a list of your accomplishments. When Imposter Syndrome kicks in, you can look at your fuzzy file and remind yourself that you deserve what you’ve achieved. Then use that nagging sense of dissatisfaction as motivation to go above and beyond.

writing life

Intentional Time

This year, I’m really trying to treat workdays like workdays. One of the dangers/pleasures of working for myself at home is that I’m totally in charge of my own time. If I want to spend the day reading or watching TV, I can. If I want to take the afternoon off and go to a movie or on a hike, I can. I can spend all day on Facebook or message boards. But then I don’t get any writing done. Even on good writing days, just taking a little break to check e-mail can end up with me blinking out of a fog an hour later. The thing is, I seldom do intentionally take a day off. I consider it a work day, then get sidetracked by other things that aren’t really fun but that aren’t work.

So my aim this year is to be intentional about how I use my time. I’m setting timers for activities that tend to have me blinking out of a fog an hour later, and I’m trying to spend as much time on work-related tasks as I would if I had a full-time job. That still gives me more free time than if I were working in an office because I don’t have to commute and I don’t have to deal with all the “office” stuff that isn’t work but that eats time. The last couple of years I had a “real” job, I was telecommuting and working part-time, but I realized I actually got more work done because so much time in the office was wasted. I’ll still allow myself the flexibility to take time to do fun things and enjoy the flexibility I have, but I want it to be on purpose, not time lost in a “I was just checking my e-mail, wow, what time is it now?” haze. Plus, if I really treat weekdays as work days, then weekends will be more meaningful.

Yesterday I was pretty good about getting a full day’s work in. I’m putting together some proposals for a potential opportunity, and I had a new idea for one, developed an old idea that’s been looking for a home, and figured out how another old idea might be repurposed to work for this. Then I re-read what I’ve written on a project in progress so I can start moving forward. Meanwhile, I did some promo work.

It helps that it was too cold to be up and around much, so I wasn’t distracted by housework or organizing projects. But I also cut off the TV and Internet early and read, finishing my first book of the year. I’ll be losing my cable service as part of my homeowners association fees early this year, and I’m considering scrapping it entirely, just getting an antenna, so I can cut back on my TV watching. I can get plenty of DVDs from my library, and the library also gives access to a few streaming services for TV shows, movies, documentaries, etc. Then I can watch what I plan to watch rather than mindlessly flipping through channels for background noise.

Now to go play some more with those new ideas and see if I can develop them into anything.

writing life

Home Again!

Whew, I’m finally at home for at least a little while. Three trips in a month, five conferences/conventions in about six weeks, was a lot. I’d thought about taking a vacation trip this fall, but at the moment, I don’t really want to leave home, and my post-Thanksgiving calendar is already filling up.

So, here’s where I’ve been:
There was FenCon locally in late September — my “home” convention that I also help put on. At least for that one, I got to stay at home and sleep in my own bed, but I got sick near the end of the convention and was out of commission for about a week afterward.

Then I flew to St. Louis for a quick trip to speak at the Missouri Library Association, where I felt like a really big deal.

Then the following weekend was Writers in the Field, a new event that’s sort of a hands-on subject matter workshop for writers. Instead of reading about things like swords and archery, you get to actually try it and talk to experts. They’ll be repeating it next year, so mark your calendars if that sounds interesting to you.

Then I went to Florida for Necronomicon, where I was a Guest of Honor — my first time doing that. I got to feel like a celebrity and met a bunch of great people.

After a weekend off, I went to San Antonio for the World Fantasy Convention, where I was a lot more obscure. I’m still working on that invisibility within my field thing, but I did sell a lot of books, so maybe it’s improving. I was very good and didn’t hide out in my room too much. I hung out with people in the lobby or in the hospitality suite and even made a couple of potentially valuable professional connections (in fact, I have a conference call later this week based on one of those contacts). I also took advantage of being in downtown San Antonio, with the Riverwalk making a lovely setting for my morning walks. I particularly love the main downtown area of the Riverwalk early in the morning, when the only people out are the maintenance staff and other walkers/joggers. It’s so peaceful, and it’s like getting a secret behind-the-scenes look without the crowds of tourists. Every time I’ve been to San Antonio, it’s been for some kind of business, meeting, or conference, and I keep saying I need to go sometime when it’s just for fun. Maybe that’s how I’ll use that airline voucher. I found a few things I’d have liked to do if I’d had the time.

Now that I’m home and more or less recovered, I need to get back in the swing of writing. I’ve got a book to finish, a book to revise, and a potential new thing to develop.

writing life

Travel Catch-Up

I’ve been quite remiss in my blogging lately, but I seem to have been either getting ready for a conference or convention, at a conference or convention, or recovering from a conference or convention for the past month or so.

There was FenCon in September, which was local, so I didn’t have to worry about packing and travel, but I’m on staff, so I had work to do in addition to being a guest. I started getting sick on the last day of the convention, and I spent much of the following week in bed.

Then I recovered just in time to go to the Missouri Library Association conference, where I was the keynote speaker for the young adult librarians breakfast. That was a quick trip, just one night, and it was a lot of fun because librarians are cool people. I went out for barbecue with a group the night I arrived, and then there were some interesting discussions the next morning at breakfast. Librarians always give me food for thought.

They put me in a room on the club floor at that hotel, so I felt very special. I have new incentive to write more and sell more books because now I’d like to get on the club floor whenever I travel. I’m going to get spoiled.

I had about a week to recover, and then there was another local event, Writers in the Field. This was kind of a writing conference, but it was more hands-on and real world. It was held at an event space in the country, and it was an opportunity for writers to learn about horses, archery, swords, guns, and that sort of thing that we might need in our books.

The following week, it was Necronomicon in Florida, my first time to be a convention guest of honor. Again, I felt like a celebrity and I could get used to that. I met so many great people that weekend and really enjoyed myself. I may be spoiled for conventions where I’m not a GOH now.

And now I’m gearing up for the World Fantasy Convention next week. I just have one panel, so it’s less of a working convention for me. This is supposed to be more of a networking event. I’ll have to see how that goes because I’m terrible at networking. The very thought of “barcon,” where you do your networking while hanging out in the bar, utterly terrifies me. I usually make it to the threshold of the hotel bar, feel like a new kid on the first day of school, looking for someone to sit with in the cafeteria at lunch, then flee in a panic. It doesn’t help that my body has decided that I’m now a morning person, so I’ll probably be falling asleep before barcon gets in full swing, and my energy levels drain rapidly in noisy, crowded places. Maybe I need to spearhead “morning walk con” for the non-night owls.

I’m giving myself permission to treat this as sort of a working vacation. I’ll go to the panels that interest me, I’ll attempt to be social in the con suite/bar/lobby, and otherwise I’ll enjoy San Antonio. I have a list of places where I want to eat and things I want to see and do.

After that, I get to stay home for a while, though I do need to plan a vacation. I volunteered to get bumped on an oversold flight on the way home from Tampa, so I have a voucher toward a flight, and I’ve decided it should be used on fun, not a business-related trip. I just need to decide where and when to go. But first I want to be at home for a while.