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So, the one work thing that I’ve been a little anxious about is the short story for June. I’ve checked every other item on the patron goody list for the month, and while I was pushing back writing it for a few different reasons, every time I looked at the calendar and saw how many (or few) days were left in the month, I got a little nervous.

I’ve always known that I can write a short story in a single day, but it kind of has to be the right day. That is, I can’t sit down every day and do it, however much I’d like to. But when I have an idea? I have a pronounced tendency to kick out the first draft in a day, whether it’s 2,000 words or 12,000. In fact, I can’t think of a single story in the short story format that’s not part of something bigger where the major act of writing took me more than a day, and where I ever finished the story. I have stories I finished in a day, and I’ve got half-finished drafts.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I wound up writing June’s short story today. It needs what I call the “action/description pass”, as many of my stories do, which is both a general editing/polish pass and me going through and adding more visual descriptions and incidental physical business. I’ll probably post the story for my patrons tomorrow. As I teased on Twitter, it’s a story about two women trying to have a conversation in public, and one of them makes bees.

I’ve made the decision that my MU updates are going to go on Tuesday and Friday rather than Tuesday and Thursday. T-Th appeals to my sense of symmetry, but it means I have most of the week between updates on one end, and a day between them on the other. Tuesday and Friday makes the gap between when I have to have a story finished and posted and when I have to do the same for the next one a lot more even. I’ll probably make this change official next week.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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Imagine you’re walking down the street of a small town where you’ve lived all your life, and you see someone whom you see almost every day, and you notice that their shoe lace is untied, or their fly is down, or their shirt is misbuttoned, or they have made some other small, easily corrected mishap that might lead to embarrassment or even an accident.

What is the kindest thing to do in this situation?

I think we all know the answer: you gently, discretely call their attention to the matter, so that it may be corrected.

Some among us might choose to do so with a bit of what we would think of as good-natured ribbing. How this is received is going to depend on how well we know the person and how good we are at judging situations and moods. But even if you’re kind of a boisterous jerk about it, a little “Hey, buddy, XYZ!” on the streets of a small town or in the halls of a school or at the office water cooler is not exactly amiss.

Imagine for a moment that someone snaps a selfie that reveals a similar mishap and posts it to social media. Are the rules the same? The situation isn’t. You’re not seeing the person in real time, but a moment of time now past, a snapshot of a situation. A word to the wise might save the recipient some embarrassment by allowing them to remove the picture and replace it with something a little more composed, if they’re so inclined, but whereas in real space you would have the chance to drop this word before anyone else can see or say anything, the timing is trickier online.

Chances are by the time you’ve seen something, so have many other people, and by the time you’ve said something, so have many other people. No matter how kind and gentle your words are, they are liable to arrive with a flood of other words, some similarly kind and gentle and some decidedly not.

Oftentimes when we interact with people online, we expect them to respond to us as if it were an encounter in what we might call a village setting: neighborly acquaintances passing each other exchanging a few words. Sometimes, often even, when things are going fine for people on both end, that’s even what it feels like.

That’s not what it is, though.

I’ve used the example of a minor wardrobe malfunction up above, but this really has to do with any kind of interaction where one follows the mores and codes of face-to-face interactions. People who give unsolicited advice to strangers or near-strangers on the internet are an example. People who think that any opinion voiced on social media is an invitation to debate (or a promise to defend said opinion against all comers) are an example.

Not everybody who does these sorts of things has actual good intentions, but the ones with good intentions aren’t necessarily that much easier to bear, not when they’re multiplied over time and space.

When you’re dealing with people who are actually your neighbors or colleagues, you have a much better idea what their situation is then the little snapshot or snippet you got online. You can see if they’re on their way somewhere or settling in for a chat. You can see if someone else is already there ahead of you, talking to them about whatever. And not only do you know them, but they know you. Offline, there’s something much more like a 1:1 correspondence between “I know you” and “you know me” than there is online.

The fact is, the internet is not a “village” situation. The people you see on it are not your neighbors. I say this and know that there are people I know online whom I know better and feel closer to than my actual physical neighbors. The point of this post is not to say “ONLINE ISN’T REAL!” or to disparage online friendships, relationships, and communities.

But to be blunt: the internet itself isn’t a community or a relationship. Being on Twitter or Tumblr isn’t like going to the same high school with everyone else on here.

Now, I don’t have a detailed set of guidelines or proposed social mores for interacting with people online to go with this observation. I can tell you this: the ones we use for offline interactions don’t work, and any proposed rule needs to take into account the vast differences between online interactions and offline ones.

So let’s take a quick stab at formulating some.

Existence Is Never Invitation

Only the jerkiest creeps and the creepiest jerks ever say, in so many words, “You wouldn’t be [place] doing/saying [thing] if you didn’t want attention,” and this is extra true when the place in question is a notional space as big as Twitter or Facebook or the internet in general.

Many people who are less jerky and creepy, though, still cleave to the logic of “If something is in front of me, it must be For A Reason.” So if someone posts about a problem and it crosses their sight, they feel asked for solutions (or, in some cases, they feel personally attacked by the implication that the problem exists). If someone posts a picture, they feel the need to say or do something about it. If someone shares an experience, they feel the need to relate it to themselves. If someone shares an opinion, they feel the need to pick a side an start fighting. If someone discloses a trauma, they feel the need to comment upon it like it’s an interesting phenomenon.

Now, a lot of the times, some (not all) of these kinds of responses would be just fine, expected and accepted, if they were responding to something someone said to them personally at a cocktail party or whatever. But they’re not. They’re seeing something and responding to it as if someone had said it personally to them, in some reasonably intimate social setting.

The truth is that if people are looking for something when they put something out there, they’re generally pretty good about saying. People with a question will ask it. People seeking advice will invite it. The difference between a “So this happened.” post and a “I’m at my wit’s end, what to do?” post is that the latter will say, “I’m at my wit’s end, what to do?”

You Having Something To Say Is Not The Same As Me Having Something To Hear

If you and I are having a conversation and what I say sparks some kind of personal connection with you, then by all means, you take that tangent and you run with it. I mean, there are nuances and shades… if I’m talking about the time my true love got caught in a bear trap along with a bear who mauled them to death while a swarm of bees enraged by the bear stealing honey stung them both, further aggravating the bear, and you say, “Yeah, speaking of pain, that reminds me of the time I got a paper cut. Hurt like anything, it did!”… well, I think most people would say that’s a bit boorish.

But if we’re just talking, and I mention a frustration and you’re like, “I know what that’s like, [similar experience]”… that’s a conversation.

The line between “here is a related thing to show that I can relate” and “I just minimized what happened to you and now I’m making it about me” can be hard to navigate when it’s two people who know each other conversing face-to-face. When you’re talking to a near stranger on the internet, though? The line is practically dotted. You might think you know exactly what another person is going through, but again, you’re looking at a snapshot.

To use two personal examples: I’ve blogged about both my sleep issues (chronic insomnia) and my difficulty getting to a grocery store (I don’t drive, for reasons linked to disability), and had people give me advice based on assumptions about what I was talking about (sleep apnea, and anxiety linked to sensory issues specific to grocery stores).

This isn’t to say that if something you read online reminds you of an experience, you should keep your experiences to yourself! Chances are excellent that the very same place you read or saw a link to the other person’s thoughts is also a platform where you can share yours. Before you involve the person whose words sparked your own thoughts, ask yourself if there’s actually a reason to.

Check The Situation

This one is pretty simple, and it comes down to the internet not being the same as a hallway or small-town street: before you rush to tell someone that their conversational zipper is down, check the notes/comments on the post, check the person’s mentions. Take thirty seconds to see if you’re really the first person to notice someone made a gaffe.

Another angle you can take on this: before you say something, ask yourself the likelihood that someone else looking at the same situation would have the same response. Imagine how obnoxious it would be to hear what you’re about to say that many times. Then see if you still feel the need to say it.

Respect Boundaries

Also simple. The hard part is not being defensive about it. Oftentimes when someone asserts or emphasizes a boundary with others, the kneejerk response is something like “SO I GUESS I’M NOT ALLOWED TO ASK QUESTIONS/GIVE ADVICE/GIVE A COMPLIMENT/DEBATE A PROPOSITION ANYMORE”.

But your right to do something does not require others to entertain you, and while some people are so entitled that they do feel they should be able to corner strangers and make these kinds of demands of them, I think most people who do so online are doing so not because they honestly believe they’re entitled to someone else’s time but because they have mistaken the internet for a small town and the semi-random collection of people they see on it for their close friends and neighbors.

The bottom line: the internet is not a global village. While it enables communities, it is not a community, and when you interact with random people you see on it as if you were all part of a single tight-knit community or a face-to-face social situation, you ignore the actual nature of the internet and risk stepping on toes, or worse.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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Okay, so, I referenced in my status post for today that my bank is playing games with my deposits, holding them for longer than usual to keep my account balance low in order to fish for overdraft fees. This along with selectively processing debits out of sequence “for your convenience” are among the tricks banks are known to use to pad out their bottom line at your expense.

The protection against this is to maintain sufficient cushion in your account as to never give them the opportunity. It’s nice if you can manage, but a lot of people can’t. Just another example of how it costs more money to be poor than otherwise.

Come to find out that they’ve been doing the same thing to the other major bank account in our household, shared by Jack and Sarah. Sarah got paid on Thursday, and originally we were going to get groceries with that on Friday. The money hadn’t cleared, though, and as of today it still hasn’t.

We’ve been limping along on leftovers and odds and ends, and will be continuing to do so at least through some of the meals tomorrow. This is harder for us to do because we have specialized dietary needs that rule out a lot of the cheapest, bulkiest staples for filling out a meal.

So if you can help, I would appreciate the help. The best way to do so is to leave a tip in my PayPal jar (or http://www.paypal.me/AlexandraErin), or if you’ve been thinking about signing up for my writing class this coming Friday, do so sooner rather than later. Either of those things make money available for me to spend at the grocery store with almost no delay. You can also send money through Square Cash (http://www.cash.me/$AlexandraErin) if PayPal won’t work for you, but that’s likely to be subject to the same delaying tactics.

This is the kind of situation I’ve been talking about when I’ve been describing my financial status as okay but insecure. The growth of my income from things like Patreon and my D&D writing are going to help in the long-term, but none of that is going to come through soon enough to make a difference to our immediate situation. Right now we are skating on thin ice and the ice is getting thinner.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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I had a pretty good birthday. I’ll be celebrating it again on Sunday with the out-laws, but today was my actual birthday and I observed it with a light and low-key day of work after a few weeks of pretty solid pushing. I flogged my Amazon wishlist a bit more than I ever have, mostly because I felt like, what the heck, it’s my birthday? I think I might possibly get some new wigs and pills out of it. Wasn’t really expecting anyone to go for the big ticket items like the window A/Cs, the futon mattress, or the smart watch(es), as they’re mostly saved there for my reference.

I got a nice birthday card from my parents, which had money for dinner, so we went out to dinner and had giant fajita platters, then took a walk along the old C&O canal, a thing I’ve never done in all the time I’ve been here, though we have stopped in at the little park before. We watched a groundhog emerging from its den and creep up the bank to peer over the top at some humans, and then dart back around an abutment to hide like it was in a spy movie.

Friday night is usually when we do Jack’s D&D game, but I wasn’t feeling up for it after going out, so we ended up watching Big Eyes, a movie about artistic plagiarism that I directed.

And now it’s 12:34, thirty-four minutes past my birthday proper and into the year of the me and I am suddenly super tired, so I think I’m going to cut it off there. Goodnight, internet.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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  1. It is normal for authors to struggle, financially and creatively.
  2. Past successes are built on by subsequent successes, not eroded by slow or fallow periods.
  3. Every career is different. Every path is different.
  4. Taking the path I’ve taken means I have avoided certain entanglements and compromises that might otherwise have seemed necessary.
  5. The ability to recognize other people as a big deal does not mean that I am not also a big deal; big deals are big in different ways.
  6. Drink more water.
  7. People are far more likely to be touched that they are known/remembered/acknowledged than they are to be wounded that you would claim association with them.
  8. The Prayer of St. Francis provides a good structure for navigating complex social spaces as an awkward person with relative privilege. If you want to feel welcome, welcome others. If you want to feel included, be the one who includes others. It is in making space for others that we find the space for ourselves.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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Okay, so.

Back in June of 2007, I started a serial story on Livejournal to see how that would go and the answer was, it went. Nine years later, it’s still frequently going strong even at times in my life when I am not.

I’ve always resisted the idea of doing “fan events” at cons and such because I didn’t see them as necessary. Like, I’m just a person, right? When I go to WisCon, I’m a registered member like everyone else, including the people who come up and tell me that they love Tales of MU, or who tell me later that they wanted to do so but were to shy… something that happens every year, and so every subsequent year I do more to try to make myself approachable so people don’t feel they can’t come up and squee with me.

This year, I apparently had a banner year for being approachable, because more people than ever came up… to tell me, frequently in so many words, that they still found me too cool to talk to. This is not a problem I ever anticipated growing up.

It was at one point when there was a thread mutual appreciation pinging around the room and I realized that we were all sort of standing there in awe of each other that it hit me that fan events really are necessary. It’s not about self-aggrandizement. It’s not about putting yourself above the people who like and appreciate your work. It’s about what I’ve been trying to do, which is making yourself accessible. An event creates a context in which people know that it’s okay to approach you. It gives them something of a script to follow, if they need one. It makes sure they won’t be the only one doing so.

So next year, at WisCon 41—held, as always, over Memorial Day Weekend in downtown Madison—I am going to be doing two things I have never done at the con. Chronologically second and less ambitiously, I am going to be participating in the Sign-Out, where authors and artists sit at a table in a big hall so that people who haven’t had the chance or the nerve to shake their hand or say a few words or get something signed can come up and do so. First and more boldly, I am going to throw a party: a 10th anniversary party for Tales of MU. (Hat tip to Jack for pointing out the upcoming milestone and suggesting it as a theme.)

Why not? There are a lot of people at WisCon who read or have read Tales of MU. It’s a seminal (tee hee) work in the area of web serials, its success directly inspiring such things as Cat Valente’s initial Fairyland fundraiser and Cecilia Tan’s still-extant Daron’s Guitar Chronicles. I think there’d be sufficient interest among regular congoers to justify a party, as even for people who don’t yet read it, I can’t really deny that my name and presence are becoming a draw for programming events. Then we throw into the mix any MU readers who haven’t yet come to WisCon but might for something like this.

Now, there are limited spaces and slots available for official parties. I’m going to make a pitch for one as soon as they’re open for requests. Apart from my ability to draw people to the party and the con, my party plans are being tailored to the evolving reality of the party/alcohol rules at WisCon. While some grouse that the new rules have destroyed the party atmosphere, I think a lot of people are looking for a different experience, and I’ve gotten really good at inventing drinks using flavor syrups. The MU party is going to have a “mock bar” serving flavored non-alcoholic drinks themed around MU characters and things. My boyfriend Jack will play the role of pretend bartender (or “pretender”, if you will). Our party’s fare will also be friendly for diabetics and people who are watching their carb intake or blood sugar levels for whatever reason.

WisCon parties are the responsibility of the hosts, and we’ve already sorted out most of the logistics re: catering this thing. It’s not pie in the sky. We have plans to make it happen. In the event that we are not awarded a space, though, the party will still happen. It might be a “room party” (a thing that also happens), it might be in borrowed space, we might crowdfund a party space offsite, though that would be less than ideal for accessibility reasons. I want everybody to be prepared for the fact that the actual details and level of officialness are likely to be up in the air until sometime early next year, but also to be aware that this thing is happening. I want to say now, a year out, that this is a thing that is happening, so that you all have a year to figure out how you can get to it.

If you’re a MU fan and WisConite, this is going to be your fan. If you’re a WisCon goer who has mainly known me through WisCon and not my most famous (non-meme) work, this is going to be your chance to get acquainted with my writing. If you’re a MU fan who has never been to WisCon, this post is a good place to start your planning: http://www.alexandraerin.com/2016/06/so-you-want-to-go-to-wiscon/.

See you next year!

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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I’ve been tagging people on Twitter telling them they should come to WisCon next year. I’m also planning a big event for Tales of MU readers at WisCon 41, and while I  know a lot of readers who already attend the con, this may well tempt some new folks to come out for the first time.

Left to my own devices, I would have been too nervous and anxious and insecure to navigate actually coming to the con and participating on my own. It took people all but dragging me there and promising to hold my hand to get me there. I know how daunting it can be!

Here’s what you need to know.

WisCon is an annual convention every Memorial Day weekend in Madison, Wisconsin. It is more of a literary and academic convention than a media/entertainment convention. That is, we don’t bring in big screen celebrities or have big industry events. There are usually a few launch parties for books, particularly indie/small press ones and the like, though.

If you read fantasy and science fiction, you will see names you recognize from books on name tags, but the people wearing them are there as members of the convention, exactly the same as you. Respect their boundaries as you would have others respect yours, but by all means, say hi! There are no handlers, no velvet ropes, no appearance fees or signing fees.

WisCon is run by a committee of members, staffed by member volunteers, and runs program items (panel discussions, readings) with members. And to be clear: if you register and show up, you are a member. There are not secret special categories of members who are “allowed” to do things.

Over 90% of the con events are held within the official con hotel, the beautiful Madison Concourse Hotel in beautiful downtown Madison. Some readings are at a coffee shop just down the street; traditionally there is a reception for the guests of honor at a nearby bookstore the night before the con officially opens. If you’re able to stay at the Concourse, this makes travel logistics and navigation is very easy. You don’t have to worry about getting lost or stranded somewhere in a strange city.

If you fly in, even getting from the airport to the hotel is easy-peasy. There is a board by the baggage claim in the Madison airport with a courtesy phone and pictures of all the hotels. Each hotel has a two digit extension. Just pick up the phone and dial and you will be connected to the hotel’s courtesy shuttle and/or front desk. Simply say the words, “I have a party of [number of people] at the airport for pickup.” and you will be told what the wait is. Then follow the signs to the bus shelter looking thing outdoors and wait. That’s it!

The convention bills itself as a feminist science fiction convention. It is increasingly a place that works to make everyone feel welcome, and I believe this shows in the number of people of color, trans and non-binary and otherwise visibly queer people, and people with disabilities (visible and not) who are comfortable hanging out and who express feeling not merely ~*tolerated*~ but welcomed.

Most conversations I’ve had in recent years about people feeling like they don’t belong have revolved more around impostor syndrome or the feeling that everybody else in the room is there because they did something amazing and noteworthy while the speaker is “merely” a reader or fan or someone who is struggling to create something… and honestly, such conversations tend to reveal that most of the people there feel or have felt the same way.

WisCon makes ongoing and evolving efforts to improve accessibility to con spaces, resources, and discussions to those with disabilities. This includes measures to avoid hallway congestion, reserving seats up front for those with sensory issues, having spaces for wheelchairs in panel rooms with reserved chairs nearby to keep their parties together, captioning services, etc. I can’t say there’s no room for improvement, but in this area as in many others, WisCon’s hallmark is its responsiveness.

WisCon has both a Statement of Principles and a Code of Conduct for members. The formulation and application of these texts have had a huge effect on making the con a safer, warmer, and more welcoming place. WisCon’s safety team walks the con regularly in highly visible yellow vests. My experiences with them have always shown them to be sensitive, discreet, and responsive.

The term “safety” over “security” is, as far as I know, a very deliberate choice, and one that they reflect in their conduct. When I got egged by a passing car at the con one year (this happened outside the hotel, obviously, and I am quite certain no one connected to the con was inside the vehicle), there was not a single thing a security guard could have done about that, but a member of the safety team sat with me until I felt… safe.

This year, a member of the safety team gently reminded me that not everyone was in on the joke with my satirical live tweets, and we agreed I should put up a little note. It was a very friendly conversation, not the least bit confrontational. The safety team is not a security force. They do act to enforce the code of conduct as needed, but they’re not the cops. There are members of the safety team who are visibly disabled, visibly queer, people of color. Young. Old. In between. Like everyone else, they’re your fellow con members.

Fitting In At The Con

First, we have name tags, which are compulsory within con spaces. You need not put your legal name on the tag; indeed, if there are people there who will know you by a screen name or nickname or pseudonym, it’s better to put that there. WisCon folks are generally understanding and forgiving of things like poor memories and face blindness and varying levels of ability to process normal social cues; a lot of us know what that’s like.

In case you’re not sure that it’s okay to talk to someone: as of 2015, we’ve started using a series of optional social flags that can attach to the name tags: green, yellow, and red, to show the level of social interaction you’re looking for.

So if someone’s flying a green flag, that’s your sign that it’s okay to come up and say howdy. Not only are they willing to accept your attention, they’re probably looking for it. The flags also have the name of the color and a geometric shape printed on them, for those who cannot distinguish them by colors. Similarly, pronoun stickers are available to take the guesswork out of the proper way to refer to someone.

There are events geared at allowing first timers to make friends and integrate themselves within the con community. First major programming item on Friday is the Gathering, which is basically WisCon’s “school carnival”… you go into the ballroom and there’s such things as face painting, refreshments, ice breaker games, a clothing swap… and there are organized “first WisCon” dinner excursions that night. It can seem daunting to be new in a place where so many people know each other, but there will be people who will be willing to greet you and make introductions.

WisCon has a well-established safer space for people of color to gather away from the white gaze and microaggressions (as well as just regular type aggressions, which do happen). Recent years have seen a similar lounge for trans/non-binary people, and a disability lounge was added this year. I’ve heard many stories from people who weren’t sure they’d have an easy time meeting people they felt safe around until they dropped into their safer space and were basically welcomed home.

And one of the best, quickest ways to meet people and acquire that warm feeling of belonging is to pitch in and help as a volunteer or panelist, or both. It’s hard not to realize that you’re an essential part of the con when you are, in fact, an essential part of the con.

The high cost of conning…

…is not that high, comparatively. I mean, going is one of the biggest expenses my family has in a year, in part because we also treat it as our big blow-out vacation (downtown Madison is a great spot for that,), but you can do things on a budget better than at many cons.

First, full membership in the con costs $50 for adults, $20 for the teens and the youths. This gives you full admission to the con for all four days it runs (Friday-Monday of Memorial Day Weekend). You can buy a day pass for a mere $25 on Saturday or Sunday; programming on Friday and Monday (of which there is less) is absotively free, though you will still be expected to sign in and take a name tag at the registration desk if you show up for those days. If you’re local, you can “try before you buy”, so to speak, by showing up Friday afternoon.

Rooms at the Concourse itself and the nearby overflow hotels are discounted for congoers. Use the links on the hotel information page to make your reservation. If you, like many people who attend the con, have to save for months to afford the hotel bill, don’t sweat it when it’s time to reserve. Your card is not run or even authorized when you make the reservation, only when you check in next May. Rooms are available starting at $110 a night for one person, plus $10 a night for each additional person… of course, if you’re splitting the costs, this means the cost is $110 for one, $60 each for two, $43 each for three, and $35 each for four. If you can match up with three people you’re comfortable sharing a room for, you could stay in the hotel from Friday until Monday for just a bit over $100 total.

In the past, I have known folks who saved money by staying at budget motels or hostels, but this can increase the travel logistics involved and may not be a good solution for those who can’t bring a car or walk long distances.

There is both a member assistance fund run by and for WisCon, and for people of color and other non-white folks, assistance may be available from Con or Bust.

There are restaurants to suit most budgets within relatively easy walking distance for a relatively able-bodied person; for those who cannot walk, the hotel has a courtesy shuttle (subject to availability) and the con itself can provide taxi vouchers for those stuck traveling late at night. I’ve been to places where we spent less than $10 a person to eat and places that were upwards of $50. The con provides a dining guide that has a rough pricing level ($, $$, or $$$, I think), and of course in this day and age you can usually find menus and prices online.

If you have the money to fund your own transport, Union Cab of Madison is courteous and efficient and you can order a cab from their website on your phone without having to talk to anyone. I am told that they have an app in the works, which might well debut before next May. The cab rates as of right now are a $3.50 base, plus $0.35 cents per eighth of a mile. There are dozens and dozens of restaurants within one mile of the hotel, so if it comes to paying for a cab, figure that $10 will get you anywhere you want to go, tip included.

The in-hotel dining options are fairly pricey, but the con itself provides a ConSuite with free meals and snacks to suit a range of dietary requirements. The continuing operation of the ConSuite depends on availability and willingness of people to do the work, so it should not be taken for granted, but while it exists, its mission is to make sure no one spends their time at the con hungry, regardless of mobility or budget. On Saturday and Sunday, there are numerous parties on the second and sixth floor which generally have some catered snacks and treats (provided by the party-throwers, who are also fellow con members), so you’ll have some options.

So if you can figure the cost of getting yourself there, plus $50 for registration, plus your hotel room times the number of nights divided by the number of people splitting it, you’ll have a good idea the minimum cost of attending. Remember to include a few bucks each day for tipping the housekeeping staff of your hotel (I believe the recommendation is something like $2, plus $1 for each additional person in the room; you’re certainly welcome to pay more), a couple of bucks to tip the shuttle driver both directions if you’re flying in and out, and it never hurts to have a few extra small bills on hand for miscellaneous tips in this age where a lot of us are used to paying for everything electronically.

(On that note, the front desk of the hotel will be happy to make change for you, again, subject to availability.)

But basically, it’s not completely unreasonable that, when you’re bunking in a room with four people, you could spend less than $200 for the whole WisCon experience, and that’s with a bit of padding. $250 might be more reasonable to add for unexpected expenses, of which there always seems to be some. I don’t think I’ve spent that little since my first time, but it can be done.

If you can splurge, I’m going to recommend that you splurge. Buy and eat some amazing food. Buy some books while you’re standing under the same roof as the author who can sign it. The WisCon dealer room isn’t full of commercial merchandise, but small press books and comics and amazing hand-crafted jewelry and accessories.

And if you do come, and you for even one moment feel lost or alone…

…hop on Twitter and say so in the con’s tag for that year, and I’ll bet you’ll find the support you need. If you feel awkward doing that, then forget the tag and tweet at me. I’m @alexandraerin on Twitter. If I’m not scheduled to be somewhere, I’ll come hang with you, or help you find your way around, or extract you from an awkward situation. If I can’t, I’ll try to help you find someone who can.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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Back in May, when I started making the big plans that I’m putting into motion now, I said on Twitter that this year is going to be my year, the year that people learn my name and take notice of me. I was talking specifically about the time period between June 10th, 2016—when I turn 36, an age that is a perfect square—and June 10th, 2017, when my age will be a prime number.

I didn’t mean to wait until my birthday to start doing things, but I figured it would take me several weeks to get any momentum or traction. And I’m definitely still finding my footing. But I think the Year of Achieving Notice is off to a decent start, as WisCon 40 really was a bit of a breakout year for me.

I’d classify my overall WisCon experience as positive, tracked across the years. I’d say—I have said—that I’ve had a good time most of the time. But the truth is that while I’ve justified it as a career-building experience, for years I’ve been coming away feeling like I just took a very expensive vacation whose major benefits included an exciting new collection of upper respiratory infections and a touch-up job for my impostor syndrome. I’d hang out with friends and make new ones, of course, and there were certainly fun experiences, but networking? Career advancement? Self-promotion? There was all this tantalizing potential I could sort of sense was there, but I had no idea how to do it.

This year… something clicked. I think part of it was that I stopped giving a dang about that stuff, which allowed me to relax, which allowed me to spot opportunities and go with the flow. I think part of it was just a lot of right time, right place.

I made connections with people, not at the expense of making new friends and hanging out with my old ones, but as a natural extension of it. I didn’t do much explicit self-promotion, but people still learned my name. I gained a lot of perspective in terms of what my strengths are, how people relate to each other in fannish circles and across the reader/author divide, and stuff like that.

There were a lot of great moments during and around the con. I met Mark “Does Stuff” Oshiro in a hot tub. I moderated a panel in the big room with returning guest of honor Nalo Hopksinson and past guest of honor Andrea Hairston. John Scalzi stopped while power walking to the bathroom to shake my head. I had a drunken, rambling conversation in the hallway with Na’amen Gobert Tilahun about how I felt like being a young Neil Gaiman fan had prepared me to be a mature fan of writing like his and N.K. Jemisin. At a moment before all of that when I was at my lowest, feeling like my life was made up of missed opportunities and squandered potential, two people who were passing me on the sidewalk stopped to tell me that I was amazing and had great presence. All weekend long, people I think of as fashion icons in their circles stopped to tell me that I looked fabulous. There’s a part of me that usually suspects any comment on my appearance, no matter how complimentary, is a cruel joke, but that part of me was asleep at the time.

I had a business lunch. I made introductions for people. All weekend long, it was just right place, right time. I was actually in a cafe at one point where Amy Steinberg’s “Exactly” was playing, and I was exactly where I needed to be. It was so crowded and noisy that if I hadn’t known the song by heart I might not have recognized it over the general hubbub, but I do and I did and it became my theme for the weekend.

There’s a lot of stuff that happened in the last week of a “Because I ______, this happened.” nature, and more of it is still unfolding.

The con was not perfect this year, as it hasn’t been perfect yet, and there are definitely problems that need to be addressed. Unrelated to any of the issues in that post or to anyone’s issues but my own, I did not personally have a fun time 100% from start to finish, and the point where it got bad, I think I exacerbated by freaking out about the fact that something had not gone perfectly. But even that part can be put under the heading of “all’s well that end’s well”.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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So, it’s no secret among those who’ve tried that I’ve been hard to get in touch with lately by anyone who didn’t already have a very direct line.

The whole story goes back to early 2015, when my twitter commentary and blogging about certain ~*controversies*~ put me on the radar of some nasty people who (among other things they tried) signed my public-facing email account up for a ton of subscriptions and spam.

Clearing this out took a lot of brain cycles I would otherwise have used to keep up with actual correspondence, and there’s still a lot of junk. The fact that this makes it possible to overlook real emails in the mix is only a small part of the problem. The bigger part is how the ever-increasing inbox numbers make even looking more imposing, when I go through a period where I’m already anxious and/or depressed or feeling phobic about communication, things that happen anyway and have only been exacerbated in a very vicious cycle.

Fast forward to today, where things have gotten so bad that there are over 2,500 unread emails going back I think to the summer of 2015. I am going to start going through them in batches after I get back from WisCon, but in order to make sure that you can reach me and in order to prevent this from happening again, I’m doing two things.

First, I’ve created a new email address: blueauthor (where’s it at?) alexandraerin (I’ve got two turntables and a dotrophone) com. It’s clean, it’s functional, you can send me messages there. I’m going to start shifting stuff over to that address, and eventually my now former public email address will just forward to it.

Second, I’m giving my partner Jack Ralls access to this, so he can act as my social secretary, deal with spam, and flag things for my attention. He’s offered this before, and I’ve always turned him down because I felt guilty, but lately I’ve been taking note of how other authors handle these things and I’ve noticed that having a significant other or trusted friend act as a buffer with the world is not at all uncommon for those who can’t afford a professional service or personal assistant. As Jack points out, even if I can’t pay him anything, I make more money when I’m a functional human being and when I have more time and energy for writing, so it’s a net gain for the household in exchange for him doing the kind of labor he’s good at and enjoys, and at which I am absolutely terrible.

Now, for much of the next week, we’re both going to be 1) busy and 2) at a place with a temporarily overburdened wifi infrastructure, so I’m setting up an auto-responder at that address for now to let folks know what the deal is, and we’ll be doing similarly in other situations where we’re both kind of AFK. Better communication all around, basically.

As a final note: if you’re reading this and you already have my not-public email address – please feel entirely free to keep using it. If we’re that level of close, that’s still the best way to reach it. The “contactme” address is the one being replaced by blueauthor.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

Welcome!

May. 25th, 2016 07:38 am
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Hello! Thank you for visiting my website. If you’re here, you’ve probably got some idea who I am. If not: My name is Alexandra Erin and I’m an author, poet, blogger, and humorist. I am also, in no particular order: white, trans, female, and disabled.

I’m also a veteran crowdfunder, have been using micropatronage to pay my bills since before there were easy tools for it. After a few years in a personal and financial slump, I am trying to rebuild my career and my finances by taking better advantage of these tools. As I approach my 36th birthday next month, I’d really like to increase my audience and start making enough money to live on again.

Well, I’d say “like to”, but I mean “need to”, which means I need some help.

Here are a few things you can do to help me:

  1. This GoFundMe campaign will help me get to WorldCon this year. Many members of the WorldCon (and greater SF/F writing) community first heard my name in 2015, as I responded to the third iteration of the Sad Puppies temper tantrum with my characteristic humor and insight. Being at WorldCon would not only be a hoot and a source of potential material for more satire, it would be a great opportunity for me to network.
  2. Join me on Patreon to both financially support and gain free access to my writing. Any level of support will get you exclusive members-only access at least one new short story every month, plus an electric compilation of my writing (fiction and otherwise) produced each month. Supporting at the $10 or $25 will gain you access to my online seminars on such topics as writing by the seat of your pants, writing a story when you only know part of it, and writing when you feel like you can’t.
  3. Share this link, which is a category in which I’m posting one of my previously written short stories a day, every day, for the remainder of the month, to let readers know what I have to offer when I say I’ll give one new short story every month on my Patreon. This is my version of a PBS telethon.

Feel free to share that last link (and the other two!) in any place you wish, but if you really want to help get the word out, the best way to do that is to support my thunderclap by May 31st. Thunderclap is an app/site that allows us to coordinate a message across social media. You participate by clicking that link and then clicking the support buttons. The site will ask permission to post using your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr account (as you choose). Do not be alarmed! This is how it works. It will only post the one message which I wrote (and which you can see and edit) when the thunderclap “goes off” on May 31st (after the last sample story is posted), as well as a message immediately to say you participated, in order to draw in more participants.

Some people wonder understandably why we would need an app to post the link, but the idea is basically to create a coordinated social media blitz, the kind of thing that normally takes a PR department and a huge marketing budget. By getting numerous people to share the link to my sample stories at the same time, the message is boosted to a larger audience. And larger audiences is what this is all about.

Also, if you’re more interested in buying stuff than crowdfunding… you can totally buy stuff from me.

  1. E-books on Amazon. (DRM free!)
  2. E-books for Nook. (DRM free!)
  3. E-books direct from the author. (DRM free!)
  4. My supplements for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. (DRM free!)
  5. Order a Make America Better t-shirt or sweatshirt. (Also, technically, DRM free!)
  6. Angels of the Meanwhile, an electronic anthology I edited that was put together to benefit the medical bills and related expenses of Elizabeth R. McClellan. Every penny earned by sales of this goes directly to her, but hey, that’s a good cause and it doesn’t hurt me any to have my work being in more hands, right? If PayPal doesn’t work for you, you can get it here instead. Oh, and… DRM free!

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write.

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…because if I write it out and post it, I’m not likely to forget it.

  1. Pack hair stuff.
  2. Pack toiletries.
  3. Pack electronics.
  4. Pack carry-on.
  5. Pack pills.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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My plans were to announce this stuff in June since that’s when I’m doing it, but it just hit me that this wouldn’t give people much time to sign up. And also, with a monthly Patreon plan, people are basically paying for the next month’s perks; i.e., if you sign up in June, you’re basically not paying anything until July.

Anyway, here’s the deal:

People who pay $10 or $25 per month to me on Patreon will have access to a new online writing seminar I’ll be hosting in Google Hangouts. For $10, you’ll be able to read the transcripts. For $25, you’ll be able to participate. In these two hour sessions, I’m going to tell you the tips and tricks that really help me out, the things that I never see other writers talk about.

For example? June’s topic is “How do I write a whole story when I only know one single thing about it?” You know, you’ve got one character. Or one scene that’s really clear in your head. Or even one line. It’s a great line. Clearly it means something. But what?

I tell you, every writer’s been there. A lot of writers never get past there. Me? I live there. It’s my home. And I’m offering a guided tour.

You can see the official announcement on my Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/5524689

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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It seems like every year, I meet someone at WisCon who has gone to other SF/F cons before but is a WisCon newbie. You can spot such a person because at the moment when we all pull out our handy-dandy pocket programs and/or schedule apps and start talking about what panels we want to go to, the seasoned newcomer says in a perfect Elle-Woods-on-first-day-of-law-school voice, “Who goes to panels at a con?”

I don’t point this out to shame the people who have done this, or the people who will do so this year. If you’re fortunate enough to witness this moment, feel blessed, because you are about to watch something beautiful happen, something as miraculous and wondrous and yet predictable as a beautiful butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. You’re seeing the WisCon equivalent of one of xkcd’s “lucky 10,000” moments:

ten_thousand

In other words… yeah, they don’t know, but they’re about to learn, and it’s going to change their lives when they do.

Not only do people go to panels at WisCon, people go to WisCon for the panels. I haven’t been to a WisCon yet where I didn’t find myself wishing for a time-turner so I could go to more panels, including ones scheduled against each other.

I am participating in five panels this year.

My first one… in what I think is the first regular programming slot of the con… is called “We All Start Somewhere: Welcoming Social Justice Newbies”, at 4 PM on Friday.

Panel description:

Many people aren’t born into families that talk a lot about or value social justice. We come from all different backgrounds with all different kinds of experiences. When someone wants to gain a better understanding of and start practicing social justice, how do we, as a community, welcome them and offer opportunities for education? How do we deal with the same basic questions over and over again? What do we do well? What could we do better?

If this is your first WisCon, or you still feel like an outsider, I’d suggest coming to this one, as I have a feeling it’ll be a good icebreaker for the kind of discussions we have at WisCon. I for one intend to do my best to make everyone who shows up at this one feel welcome.

The second one is called “Women and Trans/Non-Binary People: The Pitfalls of Haphazard Inclusion”. It’s at 9 PM on Friday.

Panel Description:

Attempts to create calls for submissions/lists of authors with marginalized genders have come under criticism for asking for “women and non-binary” or “women and transgender people”. Adding trans and non-binary identities to “woman” often adds additional confusion for trans masculine people (are trans men included as “sort of women”, or excluded as “not a marginalized gender identity”?). Does inclusion of non-binary identities with women imply that those identities are necessarily “feminine”? Does the addition of “trans” as a separate category imply that trans women are not members of the group that is ALL women? How can we more effectively promote the inclusion of transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary authors?

Honestly, I feel like the description is soft-pedaling some aspects of the problem. I mean, I’ve seen calls for submissions and event invitations that say “women and trans women”.

My third panel is “Trans and Genderqueer People Talk RPGs”, which is the first one I’m really excited about rather than just feeling like I have things to contribute. It’s Saturday at 10:00 AM.

RPGs, whether tabletop or electronic, allow us to play characters different from our current real-life configurations. Playing RPGs can therefore be freeing for trans and genderqueer people. It can also be awkward or even triggering. What insights into ourselves or the world have we gained by playing RPGs (tabletop or electronic)? How have RPGs helped us gain catharsis? What messed up situations have we encountered?

My fourth panel is called “Trans Narratives: Pitiful and/or Powerful?”. It’s at 1:00 PM on Saturday, and goes something like this:

Some trans people experience a lot of marginalization for being trans, and some of us have quite wonderful lives. Do we have to portray ourselves as underdogs to get anywhere? Is the “pitiful trans person” narrative more destructive than it is constructive? Can we also make room to celebrate how far we’ve come in our own lives, personally and as a community?

Looking forward to this one, should be interesting.

My last panel is called “Trans Body Positivity”, and it’s one I’m moderating this year. I moderated a panel last year. I was not expecting to moderate a panel, and didn’t realize I was until the day of. Despite being the least moderate person I know, it went well, probably because I remembered the cardinal rule: always drink in moderation.

Body acceptance and positivity movements contain some very worthy goals. Living in a trans body can cause attaining those goals to be more complex and confusing, however. How a trans person feels about their body before, during, and after various stages of transition varies greatly. A trans person choosing not to transition at all (or who is unable to transition) may have to learn very different ways of accepting and loving their body. For nonbinary trans folk, there might be whole other issues to deal with. How do trans people engage with and contribute to body positive movements? What do we have to teach others from our own experiences?

This panel is at 10 AM on Sunday.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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I have spent most of today sorting and collating stories to try to come up with a tentative “best of” list, with things of short story length that can stand on their own. These will be posted from this blog’s queue at noon each day from now until the end of the month, as “I Do Not Fight Monsters” was posted today.

I wound up with eight of the required nine, inclusive of today’s. It was challenging in part because the largest single body of my work is serial stories, and while there are some excellent standalone stories in my serial universes, I did not want them to dominate things. So there will be two, maybe three stories from the Tales of MU universe (or MUniverse), though not ones that require knowledge or investment of the main ongoing story.

Interesting thing about how it shook out: while a few of the selections defy such easy categorization, it was about half modern supernatural/horror and half high fantasy.

The point of this exercise, again, is to give prospective patrons a clear idea of what I have to offer, fiction-wise. I’ve been getting a lot of note for my wit and my insight; not so much for my storytelling, and that’s going to change. I’m still shaping up my Patreon presentation to reflect this, but starting in June I’m going to be writing and sharing (under a patron-only lock, at least initially) a new short story every month. This is not going to be the extent of my writing activities, but I do think it’ll be a draw.

I chose today’s selection because it was my first full-length story I submitted for publication anywhere as an adult, and it was accepted on the first try. It also has another bit of “historical” significance: my now-boyfriend Jack read it aloud in one of his college classes, years ago, before we had ever even met in person. Surprisingly (or maybe not, as I actually am kind of a big deal), his professor was already familiar with me.

Anyway, if you want to see what I have on tap, just bookmark http://www.alexandraerin.com/category/patron-preview and check it every day in May. A new story goes up at noon, Eastern time.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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The flipside of my new and growing confidence is that I am sitting on months… possibly close to a year… of unanswered and even unread email from the depths of my anxiety. There are people who sent me questions and inquiries, people with whom I had begun collaborations, people I was in the midst of doing business with when things went downhill and I just sort of snapped and lost all of my ability to deal with my normal channels of communications.

I’m sorry to those people, both the ones I know about and the ones I don’t. Knowing that I completely disappeared without a word from the ConCom mailing list and did none of the work I had been prepared to do for this year’s con is giving me a mounting of sense of dread about showing up at WisCon next week, and I’m not sure what to do about it, especially since I still feel massively unprepared to look at, sift through, or respond to my work email.

This is the kind of thinking that keeps me in the hole once I fall into it. Knowing that’s what’s happening helps a little, but it doesn’t end the effect.

I saw a great stream of tweets by Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle on Twitter) that talked about this. I’m going to quote her here:

“How come people think your depression isn’t real if it doesn’t look or manifest itself like theirs? What a strange barometer.

What people think you shouldn’t be able to do when you’re depressed is not an actual barometer for how depressed you are. It just ain’t.

When I’m depressed, I can still get up and go to work, but I get easily overwhelmed by email. I can tweet, but I can’t talk on the phone.

We need to do away with the idea that because you see someone casually interacting online they must be in great mental health.

I think this is how some people slip through the cracks even though we’ve seen people tweet, update & publish blogs right up until the end.

There’s more in the same vein, but that’s the crux of it. It made me feel better to read someone else writing about it, about the exact situation I’ve been in and the exact way I’ve been feeling. This was the real single largest roadblock on finishing Angels of the Meanwhile, but also the hardest thing to explain because “I am afraid of my email and I can only even marginally function if I continue to ignore it” sounds, as Ford notes later in the stream, like an excuse to anyone who doesn’t feel it.

I know that I’m going to have to take responsibility, clear out the mess, and make what amends that I can. Part of my action plan for June is to spend some time each day… at the end of the day, so I can face it after I’ve accomplished my other goals for the day and am riding high… and clear out a hundred email messsages (most of which, I know, will inevitably be junk mail, automated updates, etc.). At that rate, it will take me about a month and a half to get through it.

As part of that, I will be making personal apologies as appropriate. Until then, if you were waiting on replies or actions from me in the past year and have been sitting here going, “Why is she talking on her blog and Twitter about all the awesome things she’s going to do if she can’t even reply to me?”, please know that I understand the position I have left you in and that I am sorry.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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The fact is, I’ve been doing this crowdfunded on the internet thing longer than almost any author currently active. I was doing it before it had a name, before there were all the tools we have now, and before there were reams and reams of advice to follow on how to do it right.

The fact is, things should have been getting easier for me with the influx of new tools. The fact is also that they haven’t. My peak financial success as an author came before Patreon, before IndieGoGo and Kickstarter.

And the reason for this, I believe, is that rather than using new tools to make my life easier, I’ve been using them to make my life more complicated. Rather than using them to do more of what I was doing, I’ve been listening to other people’s advice about what to do with them, even when it didn’t fit what I’ve been doing.

Where I get into real trouble with crowdfunding… well, it ties into what I was talking about in my status post earlier today. The feeling that I’m not doing enough. I start soliciting money in exchange for the stories I create, and then I feel… and there are those piles of advice out there telling me that I should feel this way… like I have to add something extra, like I need to provide incentives, like a bank giving you oven mitts or a foam beer thingy when you open a checking account.

My dad told me a story once (and then maybe ten or eleven more times after that; we are a family of storytellers) about a new client of his who asked him why he didn’t send out extravagant holiday gifts to remind his clients that he appreciates them, as is common in the business. “My last guy always sent me a turkey,” he said, or words to that effect. My dad’s response was to show him how his account had fared under his stewardship, and tell him, in effect, “Merry Christmas.”

Going forward, that’s going to shape my basic approach to things. No promising turkeys. Once upon a time, I made $1,200 a month in recurring reader donations on the strength of little more than “I’m writing what I want to write, and if you want to read what I write, you can pay me to keep writing it.” I mean to get back to that point and surpass it, also on the same strength.

Now, it’s not just that my business direction floundered in the intervening years. I have also been struggling creatively, mostly because I was struggling cognitively. You go back a bit over six years and I was in a pretty scary place. I had serious, persistent memory problems. I had focus problems. My always (and still) bad sense of direction and poor visual processing of faces was at a debilitating level. I started experimenting with dietary supplements to improve things, and while those experiments are ongoing, I have been improving in a more or less steady direction.

Recent changes to my lifestyle have kicked that into high gear, and then this past few weeks I added a few more touches to my regimen that have me feeling… well, like I did back in 2007, when Tales of MU was new. I mean, I still have anxiety and such. On a purely cognitive level, though, in terms of clarity and strength of mind, I am on top of the world. I’ve been there for a few weeks now, through poor sleep and sickness, even.

So, anyway.

Here’s the plan.

 

The hardest thing for me, using Patreon, has been to figure out how to sell myself on it, basically. What I’m offering. My creative output, at its best, is very eclectic. There’s poetry, flash fiction, my takes on explaining topics, out-and-out opinion pieces, stories, and stuff. Then there’s my biggest historical money-maker, Tales of MU. It’s suffered quite a bit lately, and one of the reasons it’s suffered is that I have a hard time figuring out how to sell it alongside everything else… do I make my Patreon “Tales of MU and the rest” or more, “Here’s everything I do and Tales of MU”?

Well, here’s my solution: I’m splitting my Patreon in two. Two patreons. One for Alexandra Erin In All Her Glory, one for Tales of MU. The Alexandra Erin one is going to be on the monthly plan. The Tales of MU one is going to be on the pledge-for-work plan; meaning, if you pledge $1 per chapter, then I get $1 from you each time I post a chapter. This also adds in some accountability.

The Alexandra Erin one is going to be my current one, because, it’s really not going to change much, especially from what it’s been lately, when Tales of MU updates have become basically quarterly occurrences. Once it’s divorced from Tales of MU, the eclecticness of it all is going to be something that I embrace. I mean, it’s not like people never buy a thing that gives them some current events, some opinion, some humor, some fiction, etc. That’s basically a lot of magazines, right?

So the details are still firming up in my brain and probably won’t settle completely until after WisCon, but starting in June, my creative and insightful output is basically going to, in some form, be shaping up into Alexandra Erin: The Crowdfunded Zine. I’ll still be writing and posting stuff to my blog or directly to Patreon throughout the month, but I’m going to be collecting, collating, and polishing it as I go so that at the end of each month I have a shiny package I can give to my patrons and sell to anyone else who wants it, and that I myself can look at with pride, knowing that yes, I definitely accomplished things this month.

Tomorrow I’m going to be updating my Patreon page and getting the new one in order.

Now, here’s an important thing: if you like Tales of MU and you also want to just support everything that I do, you will not have pledge twice. I’m not going to be like the Coca-Cola company, worrying that sales of Diet Coke are cannibalizing the market share of regular Coke.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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Let me just tell you how my afternoon’s been.

The popping out of the house for a bit wound up taking a bit longer than expected. We were heading to Shepherdstown, after a friend of ours had told us that they have a decent selection of men’s pants. Jack has been looking for more that will fit him, as his waist has shrunk a bit the past few months, but he doesn’t want to buy a bunch of new clothes while his body is still changing shape. We didn’t find anything that fit him there, though I did find a cute red hat that fit me surprisingly well (it didn’t look like it would).

That’s jumping ahead. It took a bit longer than expected, as I said, because we found ourselves on a winding country road behind some large, slow-moving vehicles used for repainting the lines on said road. The day was nice, though, and so was the company, so I didn’t really mind going 10 mph for a good portion of the way there.

The hat was a good find, and it happened to coordinate really well with what I was wearing today, so I took that as a sign and got it.

We headed back to town and stopped at the mall, because Plan B on the pants situation was trying to find some cool suspenders. Jack had a blood sugar situation on the way into the mall, so we popped into a candy store to see if we could find something with a moderate amount of carbs, something to get him pepped up without swinging too far in the opposite direction. Score: something called Gardner’s Candies had a roasted almond chocolate bar that had 11 net carbs per half-a-bar serving. Even better, the bar is divided into easy break away squares, six per half a bar. That’s less than 2 carbs per square.

So that was a nice find.

They have a website. This is the ordering page for their chocolate bar, which has different options; all the non-almond ones had around 50% more carbs, probably because they didn’t have almonds taking up space. Disappointingly, their “nutrition information” link takes you to a PDF that contains a single page on which is written a 1-800 number to call.

Jack did find his suspenders, and he got a new hat, too. I’ve also updated my Facebook profile pic to one that he took today, of me in my new hat.

Nice afternoon out, all things considered.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

alexandraerin: (Default)

I started off yesterday feeling pretty low, and ended it feeling pretty high. Immediately after my first blog post of the day, I broke down a giant pile of empty cardboard boxes that have been cluttering the end of our upstairs hallway, and throughout the afternoon I unpacked three boxes of dishes (mostly coffee mugs and a few other cups) that were packed up from Jack and Sarah’s apartment but never unpacked or put away, then destroyed even more cardboard boxes. Since we only get recycling pick-up every other week and we’re only contracted for one bin, I’ll probably be putting those boxes out well into June, but they certainly take up less space disassembled and flattened than they did as boxes.

I was hoping I’d wake up today feeling exactly as awesome as I did in the afternoon yesterday, but that didn’t happen. Ah, well. At least I have yesterday as a shining example of how the beginning of the day isn’t necessarily a prophecy about the whole of it.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

alexandraerin: (Default)

Well, as you may have noticed, I got in at around 1 in the morning last night, following a day of travel and my usual pre-travel night of not much sleep. Hence, today has been a slow and quiet day of reflection and recovery.

It was a very bittersweet trip. I got to see a lot of family unexpectedly early, including my now six-and-a-half-week-old nephew. My grandmother’s passing came at the end of a long decline, so there’s not a lot to process there. I’d said my goodbyes and made my peace with the end of the person I knew long ago. The reflection to which I refer has to do more with the people who are still here, neither least nor most of all me.

I didn’t take my computer, as I’d suggested might happen in my post last week. I did have some actual notebooks, my phone, and my tablet, but the majority of my energy and time were focused on other people. That’s not to say nothing creative happened; I basically can’t stop my brain from working on something in the background. But in times of stress and feelings of powerlessness, it tends more towards system nerdery and game design than stories. They’ll be more on that in this space sometime in the near future.

This was my first trip back to Nebraska with Jack where I felt 100% comfortable just being with him, like there was nothing to prove (or avoid inadvertently proving), no pitfalls to sidestep, etc. I know that depending on what kind of a mood they read this in, both members of my family and Jack himself might look at that and wonder what’s wrong with them that I’d ever feel that way, but honestly, it’s not about anyone else, it’s about me. Social anxiety doesn’t go away just because you’ve known someone all your life, or all of theirs, nor does it go away because it has no rational basis.

I’ll posting more “worky” stuff tomorrow, though I make zero predictions about what’s actually going to happen. It’s been a very haphazard week. We didn’t have food in the fridge when we got home.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

alexandraerin: (Default)

Obviously it’s late as heck, but after my last blog post last week I wanted to let everyone know that I did make it back okay from Nebraska and all is well here.

Originally published at Blue Author Is About To Write. Please leave any comments there.

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