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James Palmer's Journal

Thursday, May 3, 2007

8:11AM - Update

Well, the ol’ day job just earned the qualifier “from hell” added to the end. Thanks to a shift change, coming in an hour earlier yesterday for some mandatory overtime, and callers who suffer from the delusion that the customer is always right—such as the guy who blamed us for his check bouncing, I’m finding that the only way I’m going to be able to finish up any writing projects that could potentially get me out of this insanity is if I find a way to rev myself up to Planck speed.

So between jury duty last week, and spending what little downtime I have on working on my online marketing venture, and dealing with calls from people who either don’t own calculators or have the brains for cypherin’, I just haven’t had time for anything that can’t at least potentially make me some money, including blogging. This is just a warning for the two or three people who happen upon this blog from time to time that this might be the last post for a while. But I promise I’ll have more news of my adventures helping people with their take aways and goes intas while hatching my own harebrained schemes very soon.

In other news, the job search has been called off. I’ve learned enough about how to really job hunt that it’s just going to be too time-consuming. Nowadays, you not only have to target your resume to each employer you’re contacting, you also have to research said employers to somehow uncover a problem they have that you and you alone can solve. Meanwhile, our director brags about how she’s glad she got her four-year degree, while I wish I could go to my college and demand my money back, while commenting to anyone within earshot how all those DeVry and University of Phoenix commercials have all the credibility of a Nigerian email scam.

Yes, it's been a rough couple of weeks. How did you know?

Current mood: cynical

Sunday, April 29, 2007

4:11PM - Well, I Guess It's More Or Less Official...

I am becoming an anthology editor.

I'm putting together Voices for the Cure, a charity anthology to benefit the American Diabetes Association. eugie, jack_zodiac, Mur Lafferty, Cory Doctorow and Robert J. Sawyer have already agreed to submit stories, and I'm still waiting to hear from a few more. I'll have more news about it soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

9:58AM - More Publishing News

Got a little surprise in my email inbox yesterday, a belated reply from The Hub about writing for them. The good news, they want me to write reviews and features for them. The bad news: they are moving to an online format and no longer pay as much. But I'm still going to do it, of course. Should be fun, and I've been wanting to get in this magazine for some time. Go, me!

I'm also embarking on an online infoproduct creative venture with someone else, in hopes that if it doesn't fill my list with copywriting clients, I can at least make a few bucks showing others how to do it, whether they hire me or not. Things are looking pretty sweet in that arena, especially since thoughts of the ol' day job conjures the escape scene from The Shawshank Redemption. I think it's time to tunnel under the yard.

And, if that wasn't enough on my plate, I may be adding "anthology editor" to my admittedly ersatz resume. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 9, 2007

8:03AM - Dragon*Con Guest Approval

Well, it's official: My guest status for this year's Dragon*Con has been approved. That and Sci-Fi Summer in June make up my convention appearances for 2007.

I don't know what I'll be doing yet, but I'll give the word as I have it.

As you were.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

7:54AM - Changes

There have been some changes around here. First, my hours at the 'ol day job have shifted yet again to 12 to 9. The good news is that now I finally have Saturdays off. Now I can sleep in two days in a row, spend some quality time with my sweetheart, do projects around the house, get a little writing done, and still be rested enough to face the next week's onslaught of people calling in to say, "Ah cain't raid mah beeul. Whut dew ah owe?" Not to mention coworkers who think that evolution is "just a theory" and George W. Bush can chew through metal.

In other news, I will probably be going to Dragon*Con after all, though just on Saturday. I'm still heading out to Sci-Fi Summer in a couple of months as well. I'm doing a panel on nonfiction writing, which is kind of like letting Jeffrey Dahmer teach a vegetarian cooking class, but we'll see how it goes.

And tomorrow I'm heading into town for a Chamber of Commerce Business and Healthcare Expo, trying to make some contacts for my extant but still nascent and barely solvent copywriting business. I've realized that the day job, while keeping us from living under an overpass, won't help with clearing up all of our debt, and the company is more interested in promoting good old boys with MBAs who know more about cornering raccoons than they are in me and my measley BA in English. So if I ever want to get off the phones, I'm going to have to do it through unusual channels. With extreme prejudice. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

8:21AM - On Writing

Well, thanks to the assemblage of chewing gum and bailing wire that is our server at work having another bout with electronic Alzheimer's, I was able to do something I haven't been able to do at the day job in a while: check out Livejournal! To wit:
sclerotic_rings passed on news from nihilistic_kid's blog about how DNA Publications is being investigated by the Virginia State Police and Paypal for fraud.

Just last week I had received a handwritten "Not for me, thanks" from editor Warren Lapine for an article I submitted last summer. Now I have fond memories of reading Chronicle and a couple of the other magazines, and while I was never able to sell an article to Chronicle I think what Warren was trying to do was a Good Idea, and seemed to be a fairly sound business model, at least in the beginning, and I hope what has happened is due to the problems in the publishing industry and not any wrong doing on DNA's part. Genre short fiction publishing has enough problems as it is, just from the crappy stories and a subscriber base made up solely of wannabe writers trying to figure out what the editor wants so they can sell them their stories.

But Chronicle's apparent demise doesn't bode well for nonfiction genre publishing either, and there's one less market in a field where all the article work is assigned in house to people who already write fiction.

In other, even less rosy (for me, anyway) news, the horror magazine Surreal is apparently dead, so they won't be publishing my interview with Philip Nutman. I sent an email to Darryl Schweitzer at Weird Tales to see if he wanted it, only to get a reply back from George Scithers saying, "Er. Who is Philip Nutman?" And so it goes. I'm still waiting to hear back from Schweitzer, but why does this make me feel like some old guy trying to explain who H.P. Lovecraft or Captain Kangaroo or, heck, anyone of any importance from any field of human endeavor in the past were to a bunch of clueless teenagers for whom what Paris Hilton bought last week passes for actual news?

All of this makes me so glad I'm not relying on any of these markets for even an iota of my income. And while I would much rather be writing full time than taking credit card payments for people too stupid to pull the thing out of their wallets, I couldn't write for genre mags all day without going insane. Thankfully, now I know there are other ways to write full time without starving and putting up with this crap on a daily basis. With that, it's time to work on my next article for The Gwinnett Business Journal, then start back on another article I'm ghosting for a client.

Onward and upward!

Monday, January 15, 2007

8:08AM - Plans for 2007

Well, after a week off, I'm finally back in the swing of things, and plotting evil schemes for the rest of the year. To wit:

I won't be at Dragon*Con this year. The wife would like a vacation that doesn't involve inhaling patchouli, and I want to get away from thinking "Wait. Did I actually talk about Land of the Lost for an hour?" But I should be back in full force next year. This year it's Florida instead.

But I will be at Sci-Fi Summer June 9-10 in Atlanta. More info as the panels and events are finalized, and I come up with more ideas with what to do with my time down there. A smaller con will be a refreshing change from the unwieldiness that is often Dragon*Con, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm also starting on the pile of books I got for Christmas, by way of several Books-A-Million gift cards. The winners are:

Voyage by Stephen Baxter
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross

And, getting my copywriting business fully and profitably off the ground. To that end I'll be doing a teleseminar in sales letter writing with an info marketer in a few weeks, and sending samples to direct mail ad agencies.

And finally but not leastly, my novel, which I'm still planning, writing, and researching, after a bit of a false start (I decided to go backward and start the book earlier in the chain of events).

So, that's my 2007. What's yours?

Current mood: hopeful

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

3:42PM - Ahh, Vacation

Well, I'm on vacation this week, which for the wife and I means not going to work. We're not doing anything special, but we think sleeping late and sitting around the house all day is pretty wonderful just the same. I've been working on a little marketing for my nascent copywriting business and tinkering with the novel (which apparently means rewriting the first three chapters over and over again), and not thinking at all about work, which I try not to do when I'm there. I'm just waiting on a check from my last client so I can get another ink cartridge in order to print and send samples and lead generation letters, and renew my domain name and hosting.

And the day job isn't too terrible. The acting director actually acknowledged my writing skills the other day by asking me to look over a letter they're sending out to our consumers, so that was nice. (My company has always had a "grammar optional" policy regarding corporate communiques: I've seen emails from our CEO that make Bush's most imbecilic gibberings look like The Gettysburg Address).

Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying a healthy, happy 2007 and haven't flunked out on their resolutions yet.

Friday, December 29, 2006

3:44PM - News from the Front

The job front that is.

Don't you just love taking customer complaint calls, as if you actually had any power over their particular situation? "I'm sorry some aspect of how this company does business annoys you, Mr. Customer, but if I had the authority to change anything, sitting here at 8am on a Saturday to explain our bills to people who can't do basic arithmetic without either removing both shoes or having access to a government Cray would be the first on my list."

And it's always the ones who think a past due notice that reads in part "Your account is past due and is subject to disconnection by such and such date" means "Pay this NOW motherfucker! Or so help us GOD we'll hunt you down and apply a tire iron to your kneecaps, you worthless deadbeat."

Or "Mah baby's daddy's in jail. Cain't I have extrey tahm causa that?"

Yes, it's been that kind of week. Why do you ask?

In other news, it's official: I am a bitch.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

1:45PM - The Latest

Well, things have been quite busy around here, writing wise, and otherwise. But here's the skinny:

I've just completed my first post to Blood Blade and Thruster's blog, wherein I make a confession that will make those who know better about such activities question my very sanity. I've also been informed that the mag will go from quarterly to twice yearly, and will move up to a bigger, nicer format. I'm actually relieved at this last, as now I only have to come up with poorly-paying gibberish at the last minute two times a year instead of four, and I have more time to concentrate on other things, like copywriting, business articles, and a day job talking to morons for people who think that George W. Bush is our Lord and Savior.

On the copywriting front, I should soon have some paid contractor work, and I'll be doing a teleseminar which will hopefully bring a flood of clients my way, but I'm not getting my hopes up until the checks start showing up in the mail.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

1:22PM - Oh Sweet Lord, No

I promise you, though I write for them, I had nothing to do with this.

Monday, November 6, 2006

12:41PM - When Art Imitates Life

As a rule, I don't really mind jokes about writers or being a geek, but a couple of these F Minus strips cut a wee bit close to the bone.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

2:13PM - Happy Hallowe'en

Well, it just wouldn't be Hallowe'en without a Livejournal entry, so I thought I'd pop in for a sec before dashing off.

I took the day off from work so I could pass out candy and hose tricker treaters down with silly string. We're making quite a night of it. The in-laws are coming over for free lasagna, and a friend or two may stop by (alas hazelrah1 can't make it). Anyone interested in learning why my father-in-law is the Archie Bunker to my Mike Stivic is welcome to drop in, just mind the jack o'lanterns on the front porch.

It's not all play and no work for this boy, though. I'm taking advantage of an extra writing day this week to get some more stuff completed and out the door, including an article for Gwinnett Business Journal. I feel as if I should be watching movies all day (Night of the Living Dead is on the Skiffy Channel right now as I type this), but as usual, I've got too much to do. Though I have been trying to get into the spirit (no pun intended) by reading Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree (the movie version may get popped into the ol' VCR later this afternoon.

Happy Hallowe'en, everyone. And if you see that woman who's trying to ban Harry Potter, tell her I said...


Monday, October 23, 2006

12:18PM - Personal Interlude

Well, I got a record, two-day rejection notice from Of All Possible Worlds online magazine, so now I've got a choice to make: send it out again immediately or delete it from my hard drive. Either way I've got better things to do. I've got to interview someone for a Gwinnett Business Journal story in less than an hour, write the story, and call my editor later this week to talk about a story for the January issue. I'm also sparring with a cgi script autoresponder, and the autoresponder is winning.

Combining that with gearing up for the start of another work week dealing with the vicissitudes of a gaggle of post-menopausal women who think the Earth is only 6,000 years old and George W. Bush is our Lord and Savior, and customers who think that our form past due notices either shouldn't apply to them at all or be specially worded to placate their overdeveloped egos gives me a temperment that matches the cold weather moving in.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

11:32AM - Personal Update

It's been a while, but between vacation and getting back into the swing of things, it's been hard to find the time to post to a journal that hardly anyone reads.

Anywho, after being called out by the supervisor who uses 'no' and 'know' incorrectly for clearing my throat for the sixth time, I finally went to see an allergist. Turns out I'm not allergic to call center work after all, but to every type of grass known to man, as well as cats and dogs. With the cat, that's like the doctor telling me I'm allergic to lima beans, and has put the kibosh on my wife wanting a cat (she'd have a petting zoo in our living room, if they made chainmail slip covers), but the dog thing is a problem, since we own a dog. Therefore, I must take allergy shots, as well as three pills and four shots of Nasonex a day to take care of the sinus infection brought on by all this exposure to the great outdoors.

On Writing

Got a nice rejection note from The Leading Edge. None of that intentionally vague "this does not quite grab me, alas" crap, but some actual, honest-to-God helpful criticism. I feel I've made the requisite changes, which were minor, and am now shopping around for another mag to send it to (the pickings are pretty slim, considering how many of them would reject it for style, genre and word count alone).

I'm also getting serious about copywriting, which is still coming along in fits and starts. I'm finishing up a couple of press releases right now for a client, and I've got another client who still owes me money and has the connections to heavily promote my services, but he's in the hospital with pneumonia. With anything, it's all about the marketing, but I've long come to the conclusion that were I'm concerned, the 80/20 rule is reversed. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

4:00PM - Interesting Times

A short entry this time around, as if anyone bothers to read this thing. No Internet interactions of any kind next week, as I'll be on vacation. Then it's back to the grindstone.

To wit: things have gotten so unbeareable at work, both in terms of customer interactions as well as general principle, that I've decided to follow sclerotic_rings' lead and begin the job hunt once again. It's been three years since I've attempted it, and already I'm reminded of why I stopped, not the least of which are those great positions that require you to apply via an impossible-to-use online application form in which the job isn't even listed.

Still, I'm in a place I wasn't in three years ago: I'm in a stable, well (enough for now) paying position I'd have to set a VP on fire to get fired from, and I have time enough to look for something I actually want and would enjoy rather than taking the first place that interviews me. In the end, it's all about options: between looking forward to talking to the same idiotic, arrogant tools for the next thirty years, and trying to do freelance copywriting for people who either stand me up at meetings or want me to add completely new elements to a sales letter as part of my free "revision", I need an alternative that doesn't have me shopping around for a cricket bat.

In other, more slightly pleasant news, my contributor's copies of Blood Blade and Thruster arrived today. Shiny. As usual, don't read it for my stuff. Instead, check out the letters of Earl B. Morris, which is a concept so demented I wish I'd thought of it myself. It's a fannish, written equivalent of a phone prank, actual letters he wrote around the craziest of premises, such as writing to an online medieval weapons catalog about the best weapon to use against a neighbor who attacked him with a yardstick for practicing his tap dancing, or the letter he wrote to Governor Ahnold about the proposed tax on materials used to make RPG miniatures, which would hamper his professional miniature painting career. Weird, wild stuff.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

8:08AM - Save Apex Digest!

eugie has already put out the word, but I thought I would add my voice to the chorus as well: Apex Digest needs 200 subscriptions by the end of the month or it may go under. I picked up a couple of issues at Dragon*Con, met editor Jason Sizemore, who is a heck of a nice guy, and this is one cool small press magazine. The design and artwork are superb and the stories are top notch. Magazine publishing has always been sort of a fool's errand, especially niche publications. sclerotic_rings has already pointed out how even the big 4 genre mags are still around because it doesn't cost any more money to distribute them and therefore are not losing money, but not exactly earning any either, and with small press publications, you've really got to do it because you love it, and be a bit of a masochist, and you still may not make ends meet. Jason Sizemore was doing well until his personal finances got behind, but he still paid his artists and writers, something a lot of big name editors forget to do. For all the editors who caper like primadonnas at conventions, for all the magazines that publish stories that look like they were written on a dare or as an afterthought, just because the author's name on the cover will sell an extra couple of issues, Apex and other small press publications are there to show them how it should be done, and I for one hope that Jason gets his rag back into the black.

In other news, things certainly have been interesting around here. Fall has arrived, giving a quickening crispness to the air that I enjoy. Work sucks. The phones have been especially busy, turning every day into Monday. Combine that with the rude and utter morons who also chime in, and it feels like I am babysitting 130,000 idiots who can barely run their own lives. Like the woman who made a bet with her husband that turning her bathroom light on and off used more power than either leaving it on, or turning it off when she wasn't in there, and called me to verify this. I told her she lost the bet. I could go on all day, but just head over to phonecenter for examples of the kind of thing I mean.

On the writing front, things are slowly improving. I have a few smaller-paying genre gigs to do next month, but I will hopefully be getting a lot more copywriting work in the near future. I just finished a sales letter for an online marketer who has put together a team to help other people start their own online businesses. He wants me to do a recorded teleconference for them before I leave on vacation. So hopefully things are looking up for once.

Friday, September 8, 2006

12:02PM - Dragon*Con Pictures

Here are my 2006 Dragon*Con photos. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

8:25AM - Dragon*Con Whew!

Well, it's over. And I lived to tell the tale.

This year's Dragon*Con was very busy, but fun. And I'm glad it's over. Not as many pictures of costumed weirdness this time around, but that's because I was in panels in the bowels of the Hyatt most of the time. I'll post them on my other blog later.

The Highlights

Being on panels with Joe Crowe of RevolutionSF and meeting and doing panels with Van Plexico. Chiefly the Dead Authors panel, which for 10 o'clock on Saturday night was quite lively and fun, thanks mostly to Joe's antics. Everyone had to talk about the life and work of a dead author, and Joe chose Robert E. Howard, even pretending to be the Conan creator. The lessons learned: that fighting and killing are good, and you should get Howard's work in the hardbacks, because they're hard. And they're back.

The censorship panel for the YA Lit Track with jackzodiac and others. A packed room filled with intelligent, well-educated librarians and teachers.

eugie's reading, which was very good and funny. She also had other authors join her to read afterward, which was a nice touch.

My reading. Even if the only people there were my wife and one nice woman who attends a lot of the readings even if she doesn't know the author, because she often hears some good stuff. She said this was the case with mine. I enjoyed doing this more than I thought I would, and I hope I get the opportunity to do it again.

Meeting most of the people I wanted to meet, and doing a bit of networking: Mur Lafferty, Jason Sizemore of Apex Digest and Jetse deVries of TTA Press, and Bill Fawcett.

Reconnecting with old friends and aquaintances, like the aforementioned Joe Crowe, as well as writer and friend Anya Martin, hazelrah1, and liliaevans. We also talked to Brad Strickland as he was passing by in the hallway Saturday morning. I took his SF writing class while I was at Gainesville College, so it was nice to tell him of my successes, and tell him how much I enjoyed the first book in his YA SF trilogy, Mars Year One.

Buying things: This year I went wild, buying a CD from the Atlanta Radio Theater Company, a calendar, a copy of Interzone and Apex Digest (both buy one, get one free!), a copy of Linda Nagata's novel Memory, and a wonderful piece of artwork by John E. Kaufmann entitled "Saturn's Enceladus".

Things learned for next year: Next time, we gotta stay at one of the hotels. This driving back and forth, forth and back, is for the ever-lovin' birds. Also, no more Trek Trak. I'm done. I liked the show, but I'm out of my depth on panels with the people who produce a fan-based version of the show, and memorize the numbers stenciled on bulkheads. Also, no more Lost in Space vs. Star Trek for the Classic SF panel. I hope.

All, in all, a good con. Things seemed a bit off, probably because a few big things had been moved around among the hotels, but it was good.

Monday, August 28, 2006

9:33AM - Dragon*Con Schedule Revision

Well, it seems I'm also doing a reading on Sunday at noon, so as not to enter the room to the sound of crickets, I'd like to invite everyone who will be at Dragon*Con to head on over to Williams this Sunday at noon for some infotaining pleasure.

I also discovered that I got on my dream panel, Non-Fiction Writing in Today's Market. The only problem: It's scheduled for Monday at 1, and I'll be at work talking to idiots who call in to say, "I didn't know ya'll were open today." Ah well. There's always next year.

But for two days, much fun will be had: seeing old friends, making new ones, seeing weird costumes, picking up a book from horror author Philip Nutman to review for the Halloween edition of his new ezine Up Against the Wall, and generall running around like a jackrabbit on speed. It's going to be a blast.

On Writing

Just got the proposed edits from Yoon Ha Lee for my Charles de Lint interview for the Internet Review of Science Fiction, which will hopefully appear while I'm down at Dragon*Con. My Surreal interview with Philip Nutman should also see print the end of this month, and my three features in the new magaine Blood Blade and Thruster will see the light of day this month as well. Good times.

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