Fall Updates

I noticed that I’m getting new readers to this blog, so thought I do a quick update of things I’m doing right now. Think of this as sort of a newsletter type of thingie.

This Saturday, I’ll have a virtual booth at VirtuousCon, an online happening from 1pm to 4pm EST (12pm to 3pm for Central folk). It’s set up just like a con with tables you can visit, just like in real life. Most likely I’ll be hanging out, but I also plan to do a short reading around 2:45pm EST (1:45pm CST). Haven’t decided on what I’ll read yet, but I love to have people to stop by (virtually) and say hi! Registration is free! Sign up for your free registration.

October 16 – 18, I’ll be attending FIYAHCON. No panels or offices hours for me this time around, but I’ll be hanging about whatever social media venues they’ll have open. I’ll also be attending the World Fantasy Virtual Convention October 29 through November 1. Again, no panels or kaffeklatches, but you can find me in whatever discussion rooms they’ll have. UPDATE: After reading the open letter to the WFC concom from Miyuki Jane Pinckard and some discussion with other folks, I have decided to not attend WFC.

Why am I mostly low key this month? Mainly because my time nowadays is taken up by a SUPER SECRET PROJECT I’m working on, but can’t discuss yet. 😁 This is the first time I’m participating in one of these projects, but I promise to give more details when I’m allowed to do so. No, it’s not the novel. Last month, I finished the agent edits to my novel. Hopefully, that would be enough to start the submission process.

Finally, there’s a Kickstarter for a new anthology edited by Maurice Broaddus called In This Moment: Global Justice Anthology. It’s going to have stories, expressions and poetry of protest and resilience from writers such as Linda Addison, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, Brandon O’Brien, Zig Zag Claybourne, Cat Rambo, Toiya Kristen Finley, and hey, Yours Truly. There’s also going to be a open submissions period if the book gets funded. So go check out the Kickstarter and order a book today!

GenCon Writer’s Symposium Schedule

Originally around this time, I’d be in Indianapolis right now attending GenCon. While that’s no longer the case, I’m still attending GenCon’s Writer’s Symposium…just virtually!

Links to the panels I’m on are listed below in the title. The panels are pre-recorded, so the YouTube links do not become live until the time listed in the schedule. Also, please go to GenCon and acquire a ticket for the panel. They’re’ unlimited and FREE!

Putting All the Pieces Together in Worldbuilding: Saturday 3:00 PM EDT 
Tickets available here: https://www.gencon.com/events/189424

You have a place, a political system, cultures. But how can it all fit together in a way that is fresh and believable? Daniel Myers, Gregory Wilson, LaShawn Wanak, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Anton Strout

The Editor-Author Relationship: Sunday 12:00 PM EDT
Tickets available here: https://www.gencon.com/events/189426

An editor can be an author’s best friend. How can you stay on their good side, and what are tips if there are disagreements? Tom Hoeler, Jim Lowder, LaShawn Wanak, Gabrielle Harbowy, Elizabeth Vaughan 

JulyCon, GenCon and a New Interactive Story

A couple of quick updates:

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First. JulyCon is happening this Saturday, July 18 on Twitch. Greg Wilson has gathered a lovely collection of writers and editors to discuss writing and gaming on his Twitch channel. Since it’s only a one-day event, I’ll post the full schedule here. All times are Eastern.

  • Noon: Worldbuilding with Depth: E.D.E. Bell, Michael Underwood, Gregory A. Wilson, C.S.E. Cooney, Marie Bilodeau, Tracy Chowdhury, Iori Kusano, LaShawn M. Wanak
  • 1:00: Working with a Small Press: Lucy A. Snyder, Chris A. Jackson, C.S.E. Cooney, Marie Bilodeau, Chris Bell, LaShawn M. Wanak
  • 2:00: Narrative in Different Mediums: Toiya Kristen Finley, Jennifer Brozek, Daniel Myers, Gregory A. Wilson, Carlos Hernandez
  • 3:00: Running Productive Critique Groups: Sarah Hans, Lucy A. Snyder, Iori Kusano, Aaron Rosenberg, Brandon O’Brien
  • 4:00: Game Tie-in Writing: Sarah Hans, Jennifer Brozek, Chris A. Jackson, Tracy Chowdhury, Gregory A. Wilson, Aaron Rosenberg, Brandon O’Brien
  • 5:00: Intro to Publishing: Toiya Kristen Finley, E.D.E. Bell, Michael Underwood, Carlos Hernandez, Chris Bell
  • 8:00: D&D with an amazing cast!

Second, I’m also going to be participating in GenCon Online Writers Symposium July 30 through August 2. Like most cons these days, the conference will be virtual and FREE! GenCon is still putting together their schedule, so once I get it, I’ll update it here once it’s finalized.

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And finally NEW STORY ALERT!!! I am proud to announce my very first INTERACTIVE STORY (and my first romance as well)! “Dark Hunger Blue” follows Jayla, a scientist with a novel way to bring food to her barren asteroid home, who must decide if she should work with her former lover Sampson, who is now a bioship. Learn more at Sana’s website, download the app, and begin reading today!

Using Google Lens/Google Documents to transcribe handwritten work

UPDATE 5/8/20! Google posted a new feature of Lens that allows you to upload the text to your computer directly, provided that you are logged into the same version of Chrome on both your phone and your computer. Now all you need to do is use Lens to take a picture, select “send to computer”, and it will go to your computer’s clipboard. Then, you just paste it in whatever program you want. Easy peasy and so sweet!


You know the two posts I wrote over Good Friday and Easter Sunday? Those two posts came from a handwritten journal entry I wrote on the Thursday before those days.

What you don’t know is that instead of rewriting those posts from scratch, I had them transcribed using Google Lens.

What is Google Lens? It’s a feature that comes in the Camera app in Android. It turns your camera into something like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in that you point it at something and it can do funky things. You have a plant you’re trying to identify? Point Lens at it and it will pull up a search of likely plants. See a restaurant on a walk? Take a picture of the storefront with Lens and it will pull up a menu. Trying to read a text in a foreign language? Use Lens and the words will be translated for you on your phone.

In fact, I first discovered Google Lens back in January when I brought a fountain pen and couldn’t figure out how to open it, even with the pictures, because the instructions were in Japanese. After searching the web, I came across the instructions for Lens, pointed my phone at the Japanese instructions, clicked the translate function, and on the screen, the Japanese turned to English! Granted, it took a few tries for it to be meaningful English, but still.

(At which point, I shrieked and ran down to my library and pulled out all my Sailor Moon manga and doujinshi because HECK YEAH AUTOMATIC TRANSLATION FOR THE WIN!!!!)

But the true gamechanger came when I learned that there was a text function in Lens. If you point it at text, any text, it will copy and transcribe the text for you. This apparently works for handwritten text if it’s written legibly. You can find steps on how to do it in this article.

This was amazing because I’ve been handwriting drafts for a long time, but never had a good way to transcribe that text into my laptop. Either I had to type in a whole fresh draft, or dictate it using Google Notes. Now, if I have a page or shorter of handwritten text, I use Lens to copy it, then paste it into a Google Document or a Keep Note. Then I can move it into Scrivener later on.

But what if I have two or three pages of handwritten text? Or what if I’m at a place where I’ve written something and I want to keep a picture of what I’ve written as well?

Ho, ho, friendly reader, here is another way to transcribe your text. Google Drive also has the capability to transcribe text. Take a picture of your pages to Drive, then open the photos with Google Docs. It will open the picture with a transcription of the text below it. You can also scan the pages into a single PDF if you want to transcribe multiple pages; however, you only get the transcription — similar to the Lens function. I like transcribing the photo rather a scan because not only is it taking a backup of my handwritten note, but if I’m revising and I don’t have access to my notebook, the picture of my handwriting is right there.

Want to see it in action? You can view the first few paragraphs of my Good Friday post here (a short page) and here (a full page). You’ll immediately notice that it’s not super perfect — it does weird fonts and spacing. Also, it can’t figure out formatting. The key to this is that your writing has to be legible. My handwriting is pretty decent, but towards the 5th page, my handwriting was getting more scrawly, so I had more errors pop up. But when I do this, I’m not looking for perfection. I just want to get it into text form. If anything, when I’m going through it, I treat it like a second draft. You can also view this video that shows you the steps; you don’t have to get Grammerly if you don’t want to, but it does make it easier for cleaning up the text.

I’ve been doing this for four months now AND HOLY COW THIS IS THE BEST WRITING HACK EVER IT’S AWESOME AND WONDERFUL AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I’m also surprised that no one else has written about this yet, particularly since Google Lens has been around since 2017. Then again, we are in the midst of a pandemic, and okay, yeah, the world has been a bit of a trash fire for that long. Consider this a gift, then, from little ol’ me as a way to shine a tiny light into the ever-present darkness.

Okay. Back to novel edits for me.

Easter 2020 Thoughts

If you’re reading this and haven’t read my Good Friday post, go back and do that first. You can’t have one without the other.


A darkening sky. A final cry.

The ripping of fabric. 

And then silence.

And then..


When Jesus comes back to like on Sunday, it’s not bombastic and celebratory like we do it today. It was, by all accounts, pretty anti-climatic and quiet. He doesn’t go storming into the Temple much to the astonishment of the Temple Leaders. He doesn’t shove his nail-pierced hands in their faces and go, “Ha, ha, you killed me and now I’m back. Suck it, losers!” He doesn’t go to Pontius Pilate and shove the Roman’s face into the very bowl he washed his hands in.

He just appears in front of the disciples, hangs with them a bit, then disappears into the clouds.

That’s it. That’s all.

Except…

Except

Several days later, the apostles suddenly start acting weird. Before, they had cowered and hid; suddenly they were proclaiming God’s goodness and love. In different languages. In front of everyone.

People start listening. People started believing. People start giving away their belongings and caring for the sick and vulnerable.

The religious establishment didn’t like that, so they start putting these so-called Jesus followers into prison. Telling them to stop talking about Jesus. It doesn’t get squelched. More people become Jesus followers.

A well-known leader gets involved. He orders the executions of these followers. Then, suddenly, he disappears. The next time he’s seen, he’s said he had a vision of God and is now actually preaching this new Jesus thing. He becomes the hugest follower of this movement, to the point of changing his name.

The religious establishment sees it as a threat. They throw this new convert into prison. An earthquake shakes loose their chairs and opens all the cells. But the convert and the prisoners do not run away. Instead, they tell the jailer and his entire household that it was God who did this. The jailer believes. His whole family believes.

This movement grows and grows. The Roman Empire falls, and it continues to grow.


Miracles are easy. Mountains can crumble. Rivers can be rerouted. Storms can be calmed. Bodies can be healed.

But what type of power does it take to change a human heart?


Maybe we all had it wrong.

Maybe the point was not for God to show his power by force after all.

Maybe all our songs miss the mark.

Maybe God’s greatest power is shown when someone realizes that their actions are evil, change their ways, and start doing good.

Maybe this was why Jesus said the greatest commandment was “Love the Lord your God with all your strength and heart. ” And then he gives the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is a stupid, crazy, messed-up thing, because we want domination. We want a smackdown. We want judgment. But that’s not how God works.

God’s power has never been about domination. It has always been about love. It’s about caring for his people. It’s why, instead of going to the Religious Leaders and the Powers in government, he showed himself to the people who needed his presence the most.


So then, how do we respond to injustice?

Over the weekend, I read through theologian Howard Thurmond’s Jesus and the Disinherited. He asked the same question back in 1949, as the civil rights movement was being formed. He writes:

One of the major defense mechanisms of the disinherited is taken away from them. What does Jesus give them in its place? What does he substitute for hypocrisy? Sincerity. But is sincerity a mechanism of defense against the strong? The answer is No. Something more significant takes place. In the presence of an overwhelming sincerity on the part of the disinherited, the dominant themselves are caught with no defense, with the edge taken away from the sense of prerogative and from the status upon which the impregnability of their position rests.

Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering if God is really real. And yet, I have seen His provision during the times when my husband and I ran out of money, and yet something happened that enabled us to pay our bills. I have heard stories and seen people being healed. Not of everything, but something that was deemed impossible. I do believe miracles still happen.

But I also believe that Jesus walks with us in our despair. One of my stories of Jesus is when he goes to resurrect Lazarus after being dead for four days. Mary comes right out, weeping and angry and upset. She outright accuses him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!”

Now, Jesus had started off by giving the rote answers to Martha earlier “I am the resurrection and the life.” It’s the right response, and it is true. But when confronted with Mary’s sorrow, words fail him. And then he looks up and sees the people who had been with Mary also weeping, Jesus weeps with them. Because even though He had all the answers, He understood He needed to be present with them in their pain.

I serve a God who loves.

And if He loves the world as we proclaim He does in John 3:16 then that means he cares for the black people in Milwaukee struggling to breathe on a ventilator. He cares for the Asian person being harassed for hearing masks. But that also means he cares for that person doing the yelling And yes, He cares for the Supreme Cart makes the decision to keep the election on.

We hate it. It sucks, because we want our side to win. But God isn’t interested in saving sides. He is interested in saving hearts. And he does that through us.

A friend of mine risked her health by suiting up and becoming a pollworker. Another friend put together a FB group to contact politicians. My sister serves as a nurse at a place that was converted to a Covid-19 facility. My mother has been sewing masks. People will remember this.

I am reminded of 1 John 4:16-12: “Dear friend, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Let us not lose hope. Let us grieve, let us mourn, let us pray, and then, let us love. Write your representatives. Give to those charities and ministries. This has been a quiet Easter. An unimpressive Easter. An Easter without streamers or shouts or huge gatherings. And yet, this is the closest we’ve ever been to Easter yet.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed.

Good Friday Thoughts

It’s not often that I do a blog post unrelated to writing. But the past few weeks have been so jacked up, particularly with Tuesday’s forced election in Wisconsin, that I need a way to process feelings.

So I’m going to do something I haven’t done in years. I’m going to write a personal blog post about faith.

Forgive me. This will get rambly in spots. It’s also being taken directly from my journal, so grammar is going out the window.


The biggest irony for me is that all of this is happening during Holy week, a sacred week for both Christians and Jews alike. Palm Sunday was this past Sunday, when we celebrate Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people sang out “Hosanna, Hosanna”, which can be translated to “Save us! Save us!” We know this story because our pastors love to point it out in their Palm Sunday sermons. They will then say, the Jews were looking for someone to get them out of their predicament. But Jesus wasn’t going to save them the way they wanted. He had his own agenda that would be “radical, amazing, and revolutionary”.

And then we as Christians throw ourselves into Good Fridays and ignore Saturday to cap it off with the huge celebrations of Easter, because that’s the true Victory. The real victory. God triumphing over death and establishing His Lordship over all the earth. He has won! Yayyy!

Except…

Except…

The Jews are still living under the Roman Empire.


Imagine living all your life as an oppressed minority. You’re always considered inferior. Told to abandon your culture and assimilate into the majority culture so you can fit in. Your people are profiled, thrown in prison for the slightest of offenses. Your young men are beaten, your young women harassed. They always live in poor communities; the only stories you hear of them is when they commit crimes. And there is nothing you can do to change this. How can you change your own skin and blood?

So you pray for a savior to come and burn down the establishment and set your people free. You want a savior like Moses, challenging the Pharoah, shouting “Let my people go!”; producing signs and plagues, and then when the Pharoah doesn’t listen, you want that savior to hurt the stubborn, foolish leader whereas it hurts. You want vengeance, you want justice, you want authoritative power.

Then you hear about this prophet who is going around healing people and casting out demons. There are even rumors that he could be the son of God. Who else can be powerful enough to throw down the establishment and free your people?

So you congregate whenever He appears. You laud him, sing praises to him. And when He comes to Jerusalem, you think, yes! This is it! This Jesus is going to change everything. Look out, you evil Romans, Jesus is coming for you! We’re going to be vindicated. Our children will be able to sleep safe. We’ll get the resources we need. We’ll get the respect we deserve. At last, we will be free!

Then he gets arrested. He goes before the temple leaders. He goes before Pilate. And he…does…nothing.

He just stands there. Silent.

No godlike power. No striking down of the authorities. No “let my people go.” Nothing. He gets sentenced to execution, and he does nothing to stop it.

When, at that is the point, when you feel your hope die?

Probably when Jesus dies on the cross.

No wonder the people turned from joy on Palm Sunday to rage on Good Friday. Without hope, all that’s left is despair.


Over the past couple of weeks, I watched the Governor of Wisconsin wrestle with the Wisconsin Supreme Court over the Wisconsin Primary. And like a lot of people, I was horrified when the court overturned the governor’s ruling to postpone the election, They wouldn’t extend the absentee ballots received deadline. And worse of all, they forced people who didn’t get their absentee ballots mailed early to vote in-person. In a pandemic. In Milwaukee and Green Bay, there were only a few polling sites open, forcing voters to stand in lines that lasted hours.

In Milwaukee alone, 66% of the Covid-19 deaths have been black.

I never felt so full of rage and helplessness. 


Where are you, I cry out to God. Don’t you see this? Can’t you feel our fear? Do something! You are supposed to be all powerful. We sing songs about how powerful for you are: how you can move mountains and calm storms and raise the dead. Why aren’t you doing that now? Are you even seeing this?

What’s the point of having all that power if you don’t even use it?

Are you even there?


If Jesus doesn’t really have the power to save, then he is useless. Is Jesus isn’t the son of God, then he is a fraud.

So why do I continue to believe in Him?

Because….

He knew this.

He knew this would happen.


Every Good Friday, I’ve made it a point to listen to a talk that John Ortberg gave to my dayjob’s Staff Conference back in 2014. This week, I’ve listened to it twice.

Give a listen. Then come back on Sunday. I’ll finish this post then.

Creating in a crisis (Or not)

So I’m finally getting around to doing a blog post. What a weird wild time it’s been huh? All of you healthy out there? Staying home? Washing your hands? I hope you are.

I’ve been wanting to put a blog post out now for the past couple of weeks, but there’s a difference between having the urge to do it and actually doing it. But I felt that I needed to do it because so many other people were doing it.

But I couldn’t. Mainly because the world was sort of collapsing on me. In February, I had plans to have an awesome birthday in April. I had been asked to do a conversation with Veronica Roth for our local bookstore for her new book coming out, The Chosen Ones. On my actual birthday. And the venue was going to be held at our main public library. Two days after that, I was going to travel to Michigan to participate in the Festival of Faith and Writing as a Festival Circle Leader talking about how to weave your faith in science fiction and fantasy fiction. It was going to be so awesome.

By the 2nd week of March, I watched helplessly as both those events were canceled/postponed.

Of course, it wasn’t just me that was affected. It threw off everyone’s plans. It certainly affected others more deeply. There were others who lost income because of those cancellations. For me, (I told myself) it was a mere inconvenience. I should be grateful that I’m in a good position, and right now, I needed to support those who were more directly affected. Besides, the Festival was only postponed to next year. This isn’t about me. And besides, canceling those events are good. This is the best way to care for those who are sick and vulnerable. 

But as the cases of Covid-19 rose, and as people were told to stay at home, and as the schools closed, and the reality that we really were in the middle of a pandemic hit, I couldn’t really function. All I could do was scroll social media and stare at the news, and watch the panic, and occasionally break into tears. 

Of course, my productivity went down the tubes. 

At some point, though, I came to the realization that what I was experiencing was a form of grief. I told myself that I was grieving because the world was upset and I was simply empathizing with those emotions, but it took me a while for me to say that I was grieving also for me. Maybe it’s some sort of Christian thing that constantly tells you to put others before yourself. But if you’re doing that and you’re not in a healthy place yourself, you can collapse real fast, or worse, be next to useless. It’s akin to how airline attendents instruct you how to put on masks in an emergency. If you’re traveling with a child or vulnerable person, you don’t rush to put the masks on them first; you put one on yourself, then them.

Once I realized that, I decided to treat myself more gently. I listened to 80s pop Japanese music all day. I binge-watched a bunch of Simpsons cartoons. I played Tales of the Abyss on my 3DS. And I mourned.

Because, really, you guys, I was going to interview Veronica Roth in front of a live audience. Veronica Roth. And then I was going to go to the Festival of Faith and Writing. It would have been the first time I would’ve been at a writing conference that also dealt with faith. I was looking forward to it because Saladin Ahmed had been an invited author there, and if he could read a vulgarity-laced story that was deeply about faith, then dang, I would be in good company. It would’ve been such an awesome, awesome birthday week.

Getting those cancellations hurt. It really did. 

This morning, I woke up. The sun was out. The sky was blue. I got up, made tea. Did work from home. I had started regrowing bok choy from the bottom of a stalk in a bowl of water, and I was stunned to see its growth in such a few short hours. My next-door neighbor was across the street, writing inspirational quotes on the sidewalk with chalk. I chatted with her from the safety of my porch. 

Then I came down to my library, shut off social media, and wrote out this post. 

Everyone responds differently to crises. But if you’re in a place where you’re telling yourself you should be writing, and instead you can barely function, then take care of yourself. Let yourself cry. Watch as many videos as you need. Play as many video games you want. Talk to people, mentors, counselors, journal, etc. If you need permission, doggoneit, I give you permission.

And don’t feel bad if you feel like everyone is writing stuff instead of you. Some writers churn out stuff instantly as the news update in real time. Then there are those (like me) who need time to observe and deal with things before they can write up anything. And that’s fine too. It’s not like there’s a hard deadline. We’re going to be processing this for years. So if you can’t write now, just observe. You will know when you are ready. 

***

One more thing that I may expand on in another post, once I’m done with all the feely emotions. You see, I had a little story published back in 2018. A fun little story that had alternate versions of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie dealing with contagion and face masks and quarantines and hand washing. When I wrote it, I did a lot of research on quarantines and pandemics and such. And yeah, I also read up on warnings that we were primed to experience a pandemic in our lifetime at some point. 

I had no clue that it would happen, like, now

So yeah, on top of the above, I’ve been having a bit of a freakout because MY STORY PREDICTED THIS and WHOA I’M A FUTURIST NOW MAYBE?, especially since I’m now seeing recommendations that people wear masks when we finally emerge from this. And HOLY COW DOES THIS MEAN THAT ANYTHING I WRITE NOW WILL COME TRUE and CRAP I’M WORKING ON A NOVEL THAT TALKS ABOUT PROPHECIES THAT BRING ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP

Maybe I need to write a story about unicorns. Yeah. Happy unicorns. 

LaShawn’s ConFusion Schedule

I’ll be at ConFusion 2020 next week in Detroit! I’m even doing things. Here’s my schedule:

Finance for Career Fiction Writers

Day: Friday Time: 12:00 p.m. Room: Manitou

The finances of freelancing come with a steep learning curve, and fiction writing is no exception. Our panel of veteran fiction freelancers talk about managing the up-and-down nature of freelance income, making long-term financial plans without a consistent paycheck, and how to put advances to work so that they support you and your career for the long term

Panelists: LaShawn M. Wanak (M), David Mack

Reading

Day: Saturday Time: 12:00.pm. Room: Leelanaw

I’ll be reading an excerpt from “Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good”.

Panelists: LaShawn M. Wanak, Jordan Kurella

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Day: Saturday Time: 06:00 p.m. Room: Keweenaw

Our panel of writers discusses the structure, pacing, characters, themes, and world-building in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and how it fits in as the capstone of the Star Wars Saga.

Panelists: Annalee Flower Horne (M), LaShawn M. Wanak, Jordan Kurella

(Guess that means I need to watch the movie ha ha ha oh crud when will I find the time–)

If you see me, say hi! If I’m in the common areas, I’d love to chat. If I’m not, that means I’m introverting, at which case, I’ll see you when I’m done.

When to go full-time writing? (Answer: Get yourself a plan.)

Quick note: I started writing this blog post last week, and then this week exploded on me, like even today. So rather than shoehorn everything into this post, just follow me on Twitter and you’ll get more up to date stuff that happens to me.

Or continue to follow me here…looks like I’m gonna have to start updating the blog more.

Also, if you look over to the right, you’ll see a new button called “Buy me a coffee!” I do talk about that in the post below, so read on, 🙂


A couple of weeks ago, the SFF community was going off on this article about a writer who had gotten a huge advance on her trilogy, quit her job, moved to New York, then was startled when her advances for subsequent books shrunk, which meant cranking out more books, and why hadn’t anyone told her something like this would happen? 

I don’t have time to dive too much into it, and anyway, other writers broke the post down better than I could

But I wanted to zero in on what happened when this writer received her first, then her second advance, because I’m pretty sure that, had if I sold my novel series and had gotten the same advances like that, I would’ve done the same thing. Not so much move to New York, or buy $15 drinks (I usually don’t do drinks at cons all that much anymore, and sorry NY, but I’m a south side Chicagoan through and thorugh), but quit my job? Absolutely. That’s the dream of all of us writers, right? That once we hit the big-time, we can say bye-bye to that nastything dayjob.  That’s why I got so excited when I finished my novel earlier this year. I was getting closer to reaching my dream. That’s means that one day, I could quit the dayjob and making this a full-time gig, right?  

But then, I started talking to my writer friends who have books out and are way more experienced in these matters than I am.  A whole lot of them told me the same thing: don’t quit the dayjob unless you have a plan. 

I also follow a lot of writers who write about the struggle of balancing writing with dayjobs, and post their yearly writing incomes to show what they’ve earned, because if there’s one thing we writers love to do, it’s talking about whether or not you should go full-time. And basically, what I got from those conversations were don’t quit the dayjob unless you have a plan.

And then, well, there was this article which talks about the decline in authors’ earnings, or even if I search “reality of becoming a full-time writer” in Google. Even the ones who are gung-ho about it say the same freakin thing: DON’T QUIT THE DAYJOB UNLESS YOU HAVE A PLAN HOLY COW IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE ALL SHE HAD TO DO WAS GOOGLE BECOMING A FULL TIME WRITER HOW COULD SHE NOT KNOW IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE AUUUGHHHHHH

Er, hm. 

It looks discouraging, true. It got me to wondering: is it even possible to make a living from writing? After talking to my friends and doing some research, the answer I came up with is: well, it depends.

Different writers have different ways to get income. For most, it involves having a dayjob. For others, it means freelancing. For even others, they have saved enough money to live on while they write, then do contract or freelance work when times are slim. There are several writers I know who do all three. There are some who do, like some who publish independently, but they have a whole lot of books under their belt and are constantly hustling to get their name out there. And then there are some full-time writers who had to go back to work due to circumstances that was no fault of their own. Being a full-time writer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll stay a full-time writer. 

The point is, there are a lot of writers who do make a living from writing. But no one I knew was getting money from just fiction. They had learned to diversify their income streams. Some from teaching and doing speaking events. Some got their money from freelancing. Others got theirs from dayjobs. Which got me to thinking–what’s wrong with having a dayjob? What exactly am I thinking of when I say I want to be a full-time writer? 

So the real question I should be asking is not should I quit the dayjob, but am I ready to step into freelance writing full-time?

At this point, no. I haven’t sold a novel yet. I know that at this point in my life, I’m not making anything off my writing that I can quit the dayjob. I sold a couple of stories and a bunch of articles last year that netted me a whopping thousand bucks. Which…actually, is pretty darn good for someone who has a full-time job. But it’s not paying bills right now, nor does it account for other things like benefits or retirement. I still need the dayjob for that.

But it gives me a goal to work towards now. I can start planning on how to do that. I can make a business plan (shout out to Monica Valentinelli for talking to me about that). It means researching on what it meant to be a freelancer. Joining freelancing groups. Even taking a business class.  I’m blessed in that I have a partner who also works full-time and my kid is old enough that he does homework while I do writing. But we’ll have to do a lot of planning if I decide to move into full-time freelance.

And maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll find that sweet spot of balancing the dayjob with the freelance job. The trick is finding the right dayjob. I actually really like the dayjob I have now–it gives me the change to move around, which is helpful for me for putting writing brainstorming on the backburner. But my ideal dayjob would be something that is flexible, even have some benefits like retirement and time off pay, and allows me to work from home.

One big thing I’m doing to generate more income is that I finally decided to create a Ko-fi account. I’m not at the point where I can generate content on a consistent schedule, but if you like what I do and if you want to support me in my writing, you can buy me a coffee! It’s not much (and I’m actually a more tea person except I’ve really gotten hooked on Nitro Coffee which is amaaaaaaaaaaazing), but it’s something, and it’s set that if I do find a way to offer content monthly, I can go the subscriber route if I want to. 

Also, I got an agent! I’m now being represented by Kristopher O’Higgins at the Scribe Agency. Looking forward to working with him to get my novel out to publishers.

So, as you can see, I got a plan. We’ll see if it works.

Last week, a woman who was attending a meeting in our building came to me and said, “By the way, I came across your website. Your stories are amazing. Why aren’t you doing this full-time.”

I could’ve just said everything I just wrote above, but what came out was, “I’m…working on it?”

She said, “I’m going to pray that you do.”

Well, alrighty.

LaShawn’s GenCon Schedule, and surprise—I’m the new editor of GigaNotoSaurus

So, let’s get the big news out the way. Remember when I made this tweet? Well, the title says it all—I’ve taken over editorial duties for the magazine GigaNotoSaurus. For those of you who don’t know, this is an online magazine who publishes one story a month, bigger than a short story, smaller than a novel. The last time I did editorial duties was back when I was an Associate Editor at PodCastle. Feels nice to dip my toes in these waters again.

That said, there’s a lot of backlogged stories for me to go through. If you submitted and you’re still waiting, please bear with me. It’s been a while since I read stories for publication. I’ll start cracking on those, starting with the oldest.

In the meantime, I’m going to be heading to GenCon this week and will be on panels at the Writer’s Symposium. Here’s my panel schedule, and feel free to come by and say hi!

Thursday, August 1

Writing About Places You Never Visited

10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Marriott Bllrm 1
How do you understand the vibe of a place well enough to translate it to your readers if you’ve never been there? Lucy A. Snyder, LaShawn Wanak, Seth Skorkowsky, and Corry Lee tell you how.

Work for Hire Writing: What Is It? How Is It Different?

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Marriott Bllrm 2
One way to make it as a writer is to have multiple income streams, and that could mean writing fiction for hire. LaShawn Wanak, James Lowder, Joseph Carriker, Jr., and John Helfers discuss this work.

Friday, August 2

Scrivener Demystified

10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Marriott Bllrm 4
So you’ve decided to ditch the notebook or Word to give this whole Scrivener program a whirl. Can this program make your process better? Come learn from LaShawn Wanak, A. E. Greenwood, and more

Capturing the Creepy: Getting the Details Right

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Marriott Bllrm 1
Horror and suspense writers want to captivate their readers without grossing them out, or worse, boring them. Lucy Snyder, Richard Byers, and others discuss how much detail is necessary.

When Characters Grieve: The Line Between Feelings and Melodrama

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Austin/Boston
LaShawn Wanak, Carol Berg, Devon Monk, and Jerry Gordon discuss how to show character grief without making readers roll their eyes.