The Publishing Cycle

Last week I wrote a little piece over on the TI blog about the sad news regarding Less Than Three Press. The loss of this publisher has been felt deeply by myself, and many of my friends.

LT3 filled an important role in romance publishing. They actively supported marginalized voices, and treated their writers well. It was wonderful to have a mid sized publisher like them around, especially for new and emerging writers.

I have one title with LT3. It’s old enough now that I’m not entirely sure that I’ll re-release it. I haven’t decided. I photographed my own cover for the novella, so I’d still have that! The perfectionist in me wants to go back over the story and polish things up. I feel so much more confident about my writing these days, and I’m sure the piece could use some work.

At least two other authors I know have opted to not re-release their work that was with LT3, primarily for the same reason. They’re older works and perhaps not as reflective of their author’s current work. I get it.

There are a few uncomfortable realities that go along with this. The first is that as of now, both publishers I’ve worked with have closed. It’s a worrying pattern within small and mid range publishers. What will we have when none of these can survive? Will it only be the big publishers and self pub, with nothing in between? That’s quite worrisome.

The other is simply that it reminds me how long its been since I’ve published anything. It’s been years. I’m not a fan. I’ve spoken with a few friends and my current goal is to have another novel finished by the end of the year so I can start shopping it around to publishers.

I don’t know what I’m doing here

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘careers’ and identity. We’ve all been told for most of our lives that work and identity are essentially synonyms. It’s evident in how we talk about careers. We ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Which is very different from, “What kind of work would you like to do?”

For most of my life, I didn’t think I attached much of my identity to my job. After all, it was just a job. I worked hard, did excellent work, and remained employed, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t who I was as a person, it was just what I did.

Now that I can’t do it anymore, I’ve realized how wrong I was.

I took pride in my work. The quality of it, the hours I would devote to getting things done right, I wanted respect and acknowledgement from my peers. As the industry changed, I changed along with it. I had to adjust to new metrics of success, and I worked at them until I achieved them.

I never got the things I really wanted. I think I became bogged down in being a productive drone. After all, that used to be a respectable quality. I thought service and devotion to an industry would get me there.

It didn’t.

Now I have to change my paradigm again, and find myself without any sort of map.

People ask professional athletes and others who aim high, about their backup plans. We need to start thinking about those things for everyone. No matter what kind of work you do, regardless of industry.

We’re presented with a narrative about automation replacing human workers in production jobs, but that’s not the only place that happens. As I was explaining to someone exactly what I used to do ten years ago, I realized I had been replaced by a combination of a machine, apathy, and transferring the burden of quality on to the customer. Over the years I’ve worked in the arts, several jobs I’ve had have been replaced by machines.

My body is failing me. I know, it happens to all of us. For me, it has happened at an intense speed, in ways I never could have imagined, and targeting things that are most important to me.

I don’t know what I ‘do’ anymore, which has left me questioning who I am. This isn’t another instance of technology or priorities changing how I approach the industry within which I work, it’s starting over. I don’t have a backup plan, I didn’t think I needed one.

More Feedback Friday in July

I’ve done a few more feedback posts on the joint blog I participate in. Today’s post is located here! You can find them all over on the Tickled Ink blog.

It’s slow

Sometimes it’s slow. Right now, it’s slow. It’s hard to be okay with things not going how we want.

I have so many projects I’m excited about, but I can’t seem to get them together. It’s a struggle.

I suppose all there is to do is keep pushing forward.

Or not

Another FbF up on TI

The group blog I participate in has a new post up from me. Hooray!

It’s another Feedback Friday up on the Tickled Ink blog. (See, that’s what all those abbreviations mean!) This time, the word prompt was “Widdershins” and the author really knocked it out of the park. The piece is so fun, I highly recommend you go check it out.

Widdershins on TickledInkBlog

Please Don’t Take My Man

As many of you know, I’m very active in animal rescue. My long term foster baby, Comet, was back in the hospital this past week and then spent some time in hospice care. I’ve had him for almost 4 months now and its been quite the journey.

On Saturday, I was finally able to bring him home. We were both thrilled to see each other to say the least. He jumped into my arms, licked my face over and over, and put his arms on my shoulders in a hug. I had been so worried about him and missed him so much!

He was hugging me so tightly, he wouldn’t let go. I had to carry him down the street to the car, and even then he wouldn’t let go. We sat together in the car for a long while as I tried to calm and reassure him. Poor sweet baby didn’t want to let go! So I did what any sensible person would do, I took a selfie with him!

It’s probably my favorite text exchange ever.

Like all good people, I’m a big fan of Dolly Parton. I’ve never been so thrilled to be called Jolene. Actually, I think I’d always be happy about to be called Jolene, it just doesn’t come up all that often. I should work on that…

My little guy might have a home lined up. Expect me to be a hot freaking mess when this baby goes.

-R/AC

Meanwhile, in community action

I’ve been working with the same writing group for the past 5 years. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m supremely grateful to all of them. They’re my Ride or Die Bitches.

It’s a good thing.

We have been putting together a community for writers and ourselves online to supplement our meat space community. Not everyone can come to Minneapolis to sit in with us every week.

Slackers.

But yeah, I’m blogging over on our site Tickled Ink and it’s been a lot of fun! My most recent post went up today and it’s about the joy of failure. Or being okay with being terrible. Something like that anyway. Check it out!

So that happened…

It’s been a rough year. Well, it’s been a rough couple of years if I’m honest. And you know? A lot of really important things fell by the wayside while I worked to get a handle on the chaos. We’re in a better place now. For the most part.

I think everything is a work in progress at this point.

Now that we’re no longer just surviving, I’m making a return to the things that have meaning for me.

Thank you all for your support during all of the turmoil! It has meant a lot to me.

Pegasus Debt – Wendig challenge

Pegasus Debt

By S Rain Lawrence

(The Chuck Wendig flash fiction challenge)

 

 

Dr. Emma Torrez trimmed the edges of the electrical tape meticulously and closed the access panel with a defeated sigh. It would hold for now. She double checked the hatch door and was relieved to find it was working again.

A soft edged explosion shook the corridor of the space station. Warning claxons blared and the few functioning emergency lights that remained in the corridor flashed red.

A string of curses preceded her colleague, Dr. Jack Hardy as he came barreling towards her.

“What happened now?” Emma asked.

“We asked for insulation!” Hardy screamed. He screeched to a halt in front of her, grabbed her by the shoulders and shouted “INSULATION! What the fuck am I supposed to do with more damn pipe fittings?”

“Yeah, I was there,” Emma sighed. “I’m asking what the explosion was.”

“Hardy! Torrez! What’s going on?”

“Landon! I’m so glad you’re here,” Hardy exclaimed as he clutched at her arm. “We’ve got to get out of here.”

Hardy had become increasingly more unhinged over the past few months and Emma was hesitant to take anything he said seriously. His tangle of brown hair was tied back from his face and his beard grew unchecked. Dr. Gina Landon folded her arms across her chest and pursed her lips. Her coveralls were worn and pieces were patched with the same tape that Emma held in her hand.

“Is this an actual emergency?” Landon asked. “I’m trying to finish decommissioning section five before it snaps off the station entirely and kills us all.”

“We have to abandon the station!” Hardy said emphatically, his eyes wide. “NOW!”

“Pretty sure we don’t get paid if don’t finish fixing this place up,” Landon said.

Emma peered down the corridor. Was that smoke?

“Hardy, what happened in the research section?” Emma asked hesitantly.

“I keep telling you! It finally happened! I was rewiring the containment apparatus so it would pressurize properly. But they didn’t send us insulation AGAIN on the last shipment. How many times have we asked for insulation? How many times did we tell them we need properly insulated wiring? But no, the last three shipments we get random shit that isn’t anything like what we asked for!”

“Hardy! Focus!” Landon shouted.

Hardy stopped and blinked vacantly at them.

“Electrical fire,” he said. “Something got into the uninsulated wiring. The whole thing is in flames.”

“Oh shit…” Emma whispered.

“Shit won’t save us now!” Hardy said with a cackle.

Emma glanced down the corridor again as it began to fill with smoke.

“Escape pod! Escape pod!” Landon chanted.

Emma turned and ran, leading the way through the twists of the space station past crumbling debris and half-finished repairs. Only a few more meters. Emma had never been so relieved to see a functioning LED panel. She scanned the readings quickly, making sure the pod was ready to go. She pulled the air lock hatch and opened the door to the escape pod.

The scientists piled into the pod and Emma sealed the hatch closed behind them.

“Do we even know how this thing works, Torrez?” Landon asked over Emma’s shoulder.

“If you give me some space, maybe I can figure it out!”

Emma scrolled through the operation screen inside the pod as it flickered under her shaking fingers. She found the launch sequence and tapped through it as quickly as possible.

The pod burst free of the space station and shot towards the moon base. Emma looked back at the station to see the entirety of the main section crumple with the flames. The pegasus logo next to neatly etched name of the space station melted before her eyes.

“What a fucking joke,” Hardy said.

“What are you talking about?” Landon asked.

“They just stuck us on there for months and expect us to fix the place with no support? The technical debt was an abomination. What were we supposed to do? Patch the holes with our PhDs?”

The pod began to shake and warning klaxons fired.

“Whose job was it to maintain the escape pod?” Emma asked.

Hardy cackled hysterically.