Monday, May 8, 2017

Moving On . . . Sort Of.

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

Yup. I’m moving. Sort of.
Yeah, this is going to be weird, but this’ll be my last WYMOP post for a while. Now, before you get all teary-eyed, let me explain.
Wow, how to explain . . .
I started While You’re Making Other Plans way back in—hold on, let me check the actual blog—May, 2011; pretty much six years on the nose. I’ve closed WYMOP down before, temporarily, because I was too busy with other writing, and to be honest, that is part of this sort-of move.
Anyway, I started WYMOP back in 2011 mostly in response to the people around me. I’d begun writing about seven months earlier, and what was coming out of me was a little on the dark side. Ghost stories. Stories about bad things happening to good people. Stories about fear. Not the kind of things you’d expect from a happy person—though I am a postal worker, so there must be something wrong with me. A few people asked me if I was okay; mainly family at first, but then a few friends, including one who lived 3,000 miles away.
I was fine, I told them. I still like to laugh and make other people laugh. I’m not depressed (at least, I think I’m not, so I’m sticking with that story), but when I sit down to write there’s a certain dark little twist to what winds up on the page. Some people still seemed worried, though, and I assumed that they assumed my writing was some sort of window into my subconscious.
To be fair, it pretty much is, but not in the way they thought.
So I started a blog where I could reassure them, where I could write down some of the other stuff that occurred to me. I was shooting for funny, or if not funny, at least amusing—hell, maybe even touching and serious; just not horror. And I was writing as me, not some character, so it was even more of a pipeline from my subconscious, right? So I was writing over here as myself, and it would have nothing to do with my fiction, and it would reassure the hell out of everyone. That was the plan, and I stuck to it.
For while, anyway.
But I’ve done a lot, writing-wise, in the past six years (the technical term may be a shitload). As I’ve worked on getting better at it, writing’s become more and more a part of my life, to the point where I was having quite a hard time not writing about writing. I know I’ve slipped up here and there along the years—especially recently—and I apologize for that if it wasn’t what you were here for.
The problem is time.
Time changes things. Handsome, once a huge part of this blog because we did so much together, is almost fifteen now. He has school, and homework, and computer games, and a girlfriend, and a lot less time for hanging out with Dad. Besides, you’d be hard-pressed to find a teen out there who wants to hang out with their parents. I remember being the same way—it’s like we’re genetically programmed to be embarrassed by family members over a certain age once we hit thirteen.
My job at the post office used to be a big part of my blog, but time’s changed that as well. I used to like my job, but as things have become more corporate and less local, the focus shifting from the people and customers to the numbers, I’m not all that fond of the place I work anymore. I could write about work every week, but most of it would be me bitching and complaining, and even if I tried to make it all funny it would get monotonous pretty damn quick—for you and for me.
There’s also my website. Did I mention I have a website? I do. It’s about me as a writer, and it’s where I direct people if they want to find out more about me. It’s included in the bios I send in to anthologies that publish me, and in the back of my own books. I mention it whenever I do an interview, either in text or audio . . . and it needs work.
Serious work.
Here’s the thing: publishers, when they’re thinking about working with you, take many things into consideration. One of the things they look at (I have been told, by people who would know) is your web presence. They look at your Facebook page, your Twitter account, and your website, if you have one. I do have one, and I’m directing people there all the time, as I said, but from the look of my website I’m a lazy guy who doesn’t keep up his own URL, so how hard am I going to work for this hypothetical publisher who’s looking into me?
Not only that, but people who read my work, and like it, and are looking for more of it, they don’t want to see that all I have going on at the site I sent them to is a six month old blog post. Did I mention there’s a blog on my website? Well, there is, and compared to WYMOP it’s pitiful. Anemic. Emaciated. And it’s not doing anyone any good.
The whole site isn’t doing me any good, and that’s a problem. At the moment I’m working on two novellas, co-writing a novel while another waits in the wings, polishing a couple of short stories, writing a monthly movie review column, working as part of a writers’ collaborative, and I’ve helped edit two books in the past six weeks with S & L Editing—but according to my website, I’m a bit of a shlub.
So here I have one blog where I’ve got a few readers but I’m running out of material, and there I have this separate website that I probably have more material for, that’s actually a little hurtful to me at the moment. I need to fix this, but to fix it I need time, which is one of those things in limited supply. So here’s the plan—and it’s a flexible plan; I just hammered some of it out less than an hour ago: I’m changing and cutting back on my blogging.
Rather than posting to WYMOP once a week, I’m going to be here once a month. Once a month I’ll also be posting on my other blog, Writer in Progress. A post every other week, on alternating blogs. Sound confusing? Yeah, to me, too. Look, I’m just writing all this down on the fly, trying to write to a deadline that’s 12 minutes away.
If I’m blogging over at The Storyteller (my website), even just once a month, it’ll show some activity to anyone looking into it. And those two off weeks, when I’m not blogging? Well, hey, I can use that time to pump my decrepit website back into shape—and if there’s any time left over, I can spend it on the writing all this is supposed to help promote. This sort-of move will be win-win for me (I hope!), and is something I kind of need to do if I want to look like I’m taking my writing seriously.
And believe me, I’m taking it seriously.
So if you usually get to While You’re Making Other Plans via the link I throw into Facebook each week, I’ll see you in about two weeks with a link to a new blog post over on Writer in Progress. I’ll be the same guy, whether I’m writing over here or over there, so if you’ve liked WYMOP you’ll probably like that, too. Please give it a chance. Either way, I hope to see you back here next month, when I’ll be once again typing Greetings, WYMOP readers!

Until then, I’ll talk to you later.

P.S. Oh, and feel free to check out the decrepit website—there’s a link to Writer in Progress up there in the navigation bar, and from there you can, of course, get to the whole Storyteller site. There’s no new content over there, but I’m working on revamping the whole damn thing, so a bunch of it may change, hopefully soon. Poke around if you like. See what’s what. Be my guest—I’d love to have you.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sunday, Sunday, The Best Day Of The Week

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

It was Sunday, and I was heading out to Salem Con, a spooky extravaganza in lovely downtown Salem, Massachusetts, put on by the Massachusetts Ghost Hunters Paranormal Society. I was checking it out as a place to maybe get a table and sell books next year, but also because it’s right there in my hometown, and I was fairly clueless about it. I had no idea what it was like or how large it was; all I knew was it was all happening at the Hawthorne Hotel. That was terrific for two reasons: it was a ten-minute drive for me, and there was parking right there behind the hotel.
I was half right. Ten minutes after pulling out of the driveway I was indeed zooming around the parking lot behind the Hawthorne Hotel; what I was not doing was parking. Every spot was filled with vehicles bearing license plates from all over New England: New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont. Never saw one from New Hampshire, though. But still, maybe this thing was a little bigger deal than I thought?
I wound up parking about three blocks away, at the Church Street lot. I locked the Mini and hustled toward the hotel, giggling quietly at the out-of-towners gathered about the parking kiosk. Parking’s free on Sunday, suckers, I thought, satisfied in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have to wait in line behind those five to get into the demonology Q&A I was on my way to attend.
I went into the Q&A intending to quietly laugh up my sleeve at the whole show, but it was actually a lot of fun and very informative. It was also a little scary—not the part about demons and spirits, but the audience of more than a hundred people. These were some diehard believers in the supernatural—and one animal communicator—and the thought was at the back of my mind the whole time that one of the presenters was about to go all stiff about the neck and shoulders, point to me dramatically, and boom, “It seems we have an unbeliever among us!” If that happened I was pretty sure the crowd would have knocked me down, taken me up, and carried me, kicking and screaming, to the roof, where they would burn me up in a big wicker man.
Luckily I flew under the radar on that one. For the record, I’m neither believer nor unbeliever; it depends on when you catch me. By the light of day, surrounded by people, the supernatural is something to laugh at and make fun of. When there’s an unexplained noise when I’m alone in the house at 3am though, you better believe ghosts are real, as real death, taxes, and Milk Duds, and I don’t joke about Milk Duds.
The event as a whole was better than I'd expected. Like I said, that Q&A was fun (except for the wicker man vibe), and the dealer rooms were fairly busy. I saw a couple of local vendors I knew, as well as a small publishing house I've spoken with before. It was that small publisher who broke the bubble of happiness that had grown about my head as I’d enjoyed the event.
“I just have to hustle back to Church Street and get my car,” I said. “You know, before the exit rush ruins the traffic.”
“Church Street?” She looked puzzled. “Why didn’t you just park in the garage down the block? It’s like twenty-five cents an hour.”
Partially because I didn’t know that. But I wasn’t going to let her know I didn’t know. “It’s about the same distance,” I said with a smile. “Besides, parking’s free on Sunday.”
“But this is Saturday,” she said.
“Um, what?” I said.
“It’s Saturday,” she repeated—and now she was smiling.
“Um, what?”
“It’s Sat—” she began again, but it was too late; I was gone, hustle-walking through the crowd (you know, that tight-assed, lotta-hip walk that covers ground faster than a jog, looks a little like a speed-walk, and just emanates a whole bunch of move along, move along, nothing to see here) muttering to myself, checking the calendar in my phone every sixth-through-eighth steps to verify that it was indeed Saturday, and I’d just spent three hours shilly-shallying around with ghost hunters and demon wranglers and giving the real horror all the time in the world to pounce:
The meter maid.
Did I find a ticket on my car? No. But it was raining, so I fully expect to receive my citation in the mail. If there’s one thing in this world that’s real—even realer than Milk Duds—it’s parking tickets.
Damn you, Saturday. Damn you to hell!

~ ~ * * ~ ~

Now, on a more serious note, I’m moving.
No, not moving house. If I were doing that you’d have heard me bitching about it long before now—with or without this blog. What I am going to do is a bit of a hop from one blog to another. I was going to do it this week, sort of surprise you all with it, but things didn’t quite work out the way I’d planned; that story in itself is something that belongs on WYMOP.
I’ll explain it all next week, in a much better way than I was going to (I was rushing myself a bit). I’ll tell you where I’ll be going, and why, and most of all I’ll be inviting you all to join me over there. In fact, I dearly hope you will.
But enough about that. I’m about to get maudlin, and if I do that now, what will I have for next week?
Ah! Something for you to look forward to.

Talk to you later!