To celebrate the launch of my fourth Jackson story, Passions of the Dead, the first book in the series, The Sex Club is now only $.99 as an e-book. For those who have never tried the series, here’s the short blurb for the first book:
The Sex Club: A dead girl, a ticking bomb, a Bible study that’s not what it appears to be, and a detective who won’t give up. Read more →
Sometimes “no” is the right answer.
In early February I started a job at the Register-Guard, our local newspaper. I work 19 hours a week with no benefits, and I have one responsibility: write copy. It’s perfect (except for no health insurance). I work three days a week and write chunks of my novel every morning before going in. I supplement this income with freelance editing and manuscript evaluations.
Three weeks after I started, a full-time job opened in my department (special publications). Of course, I applied for it. In this economy, it makes sense to seize an opportunity for a nice steady paycheck, plus health insurance. Part of me really wanted the job too. I thought it would be a nice change of pace to concentrate my money-making energy into one place. As a freelancer, I’m scattered in many directions at once, and it gets a little crazy. I also wanted the health insurance and the security. Not that anyone working at a newspaper has job security.
But I didn’t get it. And when my boss told me I had not been chosen, I have to be honest and admit that my first physical and emotional reaction was relief. It would have meant a major lifestyle change. It would have meant that writing novels was no longer my primary focus. The job would have come with a lot of responsibility. It’s not the kind of position you can walk away from at the end of the day and forget about. My husband thinks it would have made me unhappy.
I see this as a sign from the universe that I need to keep novel writing as the focus of my life. It’s scary and exciting and insecure. But I’m wrapping up edits on the third Detective Jackson story this week. Early readers love it. By Friday the manuscript will be in the mail to an editor at a major publishing house, who is waiting to read it.
Everyone comes to these forks in the road. I’m glad I got pushed in the right direction. Have you an experience like this? What helped you decide which path to take?
I must start by saying 2008 was the best year I’ve ever had! I wrote and sold a novel in the space of ten months. I garnered great reviews for my published novel. I established a significant online presence and attended a major mystery convention where I met and networked with others in the industry. Just to name some highlights. Some people would look back and say it was also the worst year we’ve ever had, with both of us unexpectedly laid off in March and our 401Ks devastated.
So at the beginning of 2009, I’m struggling with a weighty decision. I just found out that the health insurance I was counting on through my husband’s new job will cost $575 a month—and who the hell can afford that? So I have to rethink my strategy going forward. Is having health insurance important enough to make me change directions and get an outside job?
The thought breaks my heart. The best thing about 2008 was that I was able to focus on my novels—to put writing at the top of my to-do list for the first time in my life. Even the freelance work I did moved me closer to my goal of working exclusively in the fiction writing/editing industry. I believe a job, even a part-time one, will move me away from that goal. And looking for a job will be a major time suck.
So I’m vacillating. My mother wants me to get a job with insurance and security. My sons say to follow my dream—that I’m healthy and I’ll be fine. My husband is smart enough to stay out of it, accept as a good sounding board.
My thinking (at this moment) is to give myself more time and keep the momentum going. To finish the novel I’m writing (March is my goal), put it on the market, then reassess the situation at that point. I also plan to look into joining writers’ associations that offer insurance. (Does anyone have any experience with these policies and their cost?)
Meanwhile, here are my writing goals for 2009:
- Write 1500 words a day, 5 days a week until my new novel is completed.
- Outline the next (fourth!) Jackson novel between now and March.
- Sign a publishing contract for this novel (the third in the Jackson series).
- Sign a contract for my standalone thriller, The Baby Thief.
- Write the fourth Jackson story before the end of the year.
- Attend Bouchercon and possibly ThrillerFest (if my credit card mileage points allow).
- Blog twice a week, write/develop a speaker’s presentation, and write three magazine articles (among other things).
Now that I’ve put that all down in writing, I realize that achieving those goals depends on having the freedom to write first, edit/clean later.
What are your goals? Any opinions on my dilemma?
Thank you everyone for participating. I received so many good names, I may eventually use them all. But after conferring with my story consultant (aka “husband Steve”), we realized that three of our favorite names came from the same person! So, the big winner is Cigdem Aksoy, a Facebook friend, who currently lives in Turkey. (The postage will cost more than the book, but well worth it.) She submitted:
Seth Valder, who is now a sleazy strip club owner in Thrilled to Death
Eddy Lucas, who runs a “Dirty Jobs” business. I had already chosen “Eddie” for this character (who is really a bad guy-lite), and “Lucas” is the perfect last name for him.
She also submitted the winning name for the con man/misogynist, but I realize now that I can’t reveal it without ruining the mystery for those of you who plan to buy this story in 2010 when it comes out. (You are planning to buy this book, right? )
And in the spirit of giving, I’ll send books to these honorable mentions:
Zoran Mircovich (submitted by Scott Roche aka Spiritual Tramp) Liked this name so much, I’m going to create a part for him.
Stig Bloodcutter (submitted by Anthony Taylor) Made me laugh out loud!
Randy Cockrane (submitted by Gayle Carline for the strip club owner) Very clever!
(Winners, please e-mail me with your mailing adddress.)
Cigdem also provided links to places to find names, so I’ll share them here.
Stone Dragon Press
Thanks again for playing!