Monday, July 4, 2016

I Used to Wish I was a Vampire, but Now I'd Rather Just Have Clones

As I sit on the edge of my couch, not enjoying its cushioned comfort due to an obscene excess of fireworks booming just outside my door, I contemplate my otherwise lovely holiday weekend. My husband had the day off and we spent the day playing with our 1-year-old daughter, strolling her around the mall and such, and discussing our various projects. We are both very creatively involved. We each have multiple creative pursuits to pull our attention at any given moment.

For my part, I'm working on my new novel, a YA dystopia, of which I will say very little at this time, while also doing some light editing of Lone March, for a quiet second edition release at some point in the future. This clean-up is mostly for formatting issues, however, after careful consideration, I have decided to revise bits and pieces, mostly in Book One and mostly in the first chapter. I have toned down March's menstruation ignorance and made less of a show of her whole experience there. Most of that was written before I really knew who the character was. At the time, I was in the midst of writing my first novel, a funny confessional, and was still very much in the humor mindset, so naturally it leaked over into Moon-Linked. Even after I did learn who March was, I kept all that because I staunchly believed in the importance of the earliest possible opportunity to fit some humor into my otherwise bleak tale. But after some time, I've come to realize how much some of that stands apart from the rest of the series and the rest of March's characterization. So I have eliminated a few things. They are small and you probably wouldn't notice, if you were to re-buy Moon-Linked, which is something I don't know why you would need to do. But the book will be better, in my opinion, for future readers and strengthen the series as a whole. So there, I'm glad I got that off my chest!

I'm also finishing up some post issues with the paperback version of Book Seven and hoping to be done with it once and for all very soon. That will feel good.

My big news is that I have begun the recording for the Moon-Linked audio book! WooHoo! I have wanted to do the audio books since I first started writing the series and have thought often about it and I'm so excited it's finally happening! My husband helped me set up my own private little recording booth in my closet and got me set up with all the gear and told me how to work it and I've already gotten nearly 1/3 of the way through the first book. I can't wait to read the really fun bits! My plan is to release them chapter-by-chapter on Youtube, with a new chapter coming out every week, but for those unwilling to wait, I will also release them through audible and iTunes. I don't know how long the recording and editing process might take for each book but I would imagine it will be a while. Book One is the shortest in the series so hopefully the turnaround there won't be too bad, but I will keep you all updated on our progress.

I feel a bit bad for taking up so much of my husband's free time on his day off to help me with this, since he has so much on his plate already, but he is very supportive and always happy to help. Besides working full time to support us and our baby, he has occasional side projects that demand his attention and a web series with his friends that he produces, directs, and edits himself. If you are familiar with D&D, and especially if you're NOT familiar with it but would like to know more about it or perhaps start playing, you should check it out. We are also concocting a couple of ideas for some other web series we want to do so that's demanding a bit of our time as well. So I really just wish we could have clones, like that movie, Multiplicity, with Michael Keaton. And I could send one off to work on the new book, and Travis could send one off to his day job, and we could send a couple more off to work on all these web shows, and the audio books and so on, and we could just hang out with our daughter all day. Actually, wait, I really want to read the audio books. I don't want a clone doing that--I didn't think this through! Hmm...Maybe we just need to get better at time management. But no matter how you slice it, our plates are Thanksgiving-Feast-Full.

So some exciting things on the horizon over here! I hope you guys are as excited as I am! If you have thoughts one way or the other about audio books, read by the author, not read by the author, reading books/series more than once, reading books/series in multiple formats, like digital, audio, paperback, let me know in the comments. I'm very curious to see where other people stand on this and I'm really interested in finding out how people feel about author-read audio books. In fact, I've even put up a poll on my Twitter page, so participate if you are so inclined!

Happy 4th!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Why You Shouldn’t Stop Spending Money on Your Kids
(Even if they Get an Allowance)

By Erin Irvin

Can you name two topics where unsolicited advice is flat out infuriating? My picks are Parenting and Money! Put your hands together and you’ve got an internet bomb just waiting to go off. However, after reading some articles recently about things you should make your kids pay for from their allowance, I have a rebuttal.

Yes, we should teach our kids the value of money, how to save and spend responsibly, but I don't agree with this increasingly popular notion of making your kids pay for every extraneous expense from their own allowance. I grew up in a family with four kids and parents with blue collar jobs, who did the best they could for us. But we also didn't get to set foot in toy stores and never got any new toys unless it was our birthday or Christmas. And as an adult now, I feel there was a level of deprivation there that kids shouldn't have to deal with.

I’m not saying I resent my parents for this. I understand where this decision came from. My practical mother, who was juggling four kids alongside a 9-5 job (and making home-cooked meals and cleaning the whole house from top to bottom every weekend by the way!) didn’t want to deal with taking us places where there would be things we wanted, like the toy store, when she couldn’t afford to get those things for us. So rather than seeing the disappointment on our faces (or hearing it in our voices) she circumvented the whole thing by just plain not taking us to those places. I get it.

But you only get to be a carefree kid for a few short years. Let them have an ice cream treat on a summer Saturday without stressing over spending their allowance. Let them have that action figure they've been wanting, even if it's not a holiday and, again, without pulling in the anxiety of wondering if they can afford it. My first instinct is always, "I can't spend money on that, that's too expensive, it's not necessary so why get it?" because this is what I learned growing up. I often heard, “No, you don’t need that.” It was true, I didn’t need another Barbie doll, or the stuffed monkey, or the travel size Guess Who game. But childhood shouldn’t always be about Need and never about Want. I can tell you that it taught me to be so strict with myself that I feel I’m never allowed to do anything fun because I feel like I don’t deserve it.

I understand this may make me sound shallow for valuing material goods, or ungrateful for all the wonderful things I did get growing up. I also know there are plenty of children out there who don’t get anything, who are abused or ill or wards of the state, and that toys and treats are low priorities for children who have little. But this is all the more reason to do what you can to make your own children’s lives magical and, yes, a little frivolous. Sadly, we can’t save every needy child from poverty, no matter how much we give to charity, but we can strive to do more to brighten our own kids' days.

So can we just be a little stricter with ourselves as parents, and adults, to save up our own allowances? We can still teach our kids the value of money with small allowances and take them places to spend it, but we should also set aside fun money, reserved for spending on our kids, in situations where they should just be kids and have carefree fun. These years are precious and finite, and they will spend the rest of their lives worrying about making rent and paying bills and saving for big expenses. Give them the break while they can get away with taking it.