Mount Arenal, Costa Rica.
I’m told that about 70% of Costa Rica’s tourists visit here.
We’re on a trip. Well, we should be. Aren’t yet. Last night, due to hard frost and no de-icing equipment in San Francisco, our flight was canceled.
When we first booked, I held the reservation for Rick and myself. Later, my mother decided to go on the trip, too, so we booked her a separate airline ticket.
Because we were paid first-class customers, we were re-booked in status order.
I’m a Premier Platinum, the third of United’s status tiers. (Earnable tiers, lowest-to-highest: Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1K, and then there’s Global Services, which is an entirely different category.)
Rick’s a Premier Silver.
My mother, however, has no status.
Thus, when there were no more seats, guess who got rebooked into economy?
Yeah, so that happened.
We all hate Mondays a little bit, right? It’s always like spring back Daylight Savings Time. Week after week after week.
Once a month, on the first Monday of the month, I’ll post some of my comments on your indie published book. Well, someone’s book. Maybe yours. But only if I like it. Which means I have to know about it.
Here’s the rules:
You must have a web site. I don’t care if it’s for you as an author or the book (or the series of books).
There must be an excerpt of your book on your web site. ~2 pages (500 words) is a good start.
There must be a link that offers a downloadable sample (e.g., through iBooks). I’m sample girl. The book must be available somewhere in EPUB format. I don’t read on a Kindle or with the Kindle app, and I don’t read paper books any more.
If it’s part of a series, I’m only interested in the first book.
Your book must have been published for the first time within a year (to the nearest month), but must be available on the posting date. So for the Jan 6, 2014 edition, anything published between Jan 1, 2013 and Jan 6, 2014 is fine.
It must be in a genre I read. (See below.)
How to be considered:
a. Email me: email@example.com (spell carefully). Deadline is two weeks before the post date, so Dec 23.
b. Make sure you list your web site, book, and its publication date.
c. Note that I will actually look at your excerpt and, if I like that, your sample. And, if I like that, I’ll have a go at the rest of the book.
d. Your book doesn’t get picked unless I like it.
e. If you leave any of the necessary bits out, I will probably not approve your comment. (At this time, all comments are moderated unless you have a previously-approved comment.)
Even if I don’t pick your book, if I find you have an interesting-sounding excerpt that isn’t quite my thing, I may give you a shout-out in the Indie Monday post.
Women writers, writers of color, LGBT* writers are all encouraged to participate.
If I don’t feel that I’ve found an indie published book via your submissions of your own work that I’d love to give a shout-out to that month, I’ll still post about an indie book, just not one that was submitted. This is a last resort, though.
Anything I didn’t cover? Feel free to ask questions below.
Science fiction, fantasy (except of the good vs. evil sort), paranormal romance, romance (any heat level), mystery, travel essay.
I like funny books and upbeat endings and complicated plots, but none of those elements are required.
Horror of most kinds, lifestyle BDSM, Christian-themed books, tragedies, strenuously dramatic works, overly derivative works, and erotica that’s too out there for publishers like Samhain.
Because reasons, I started turning grey at age 16. Yes, in high school.
Early on in my software engineering career, this helped me because it made me look more experienced than I actually was.
A few years into my career, I was seriously dating a younger man, and it made him insecure because of my older appearance. He asked if I would consider coloring my hair. Note that it wasn’t a demand, just a request.
My natural hair color was a dark taupe, and I was never really happy with it. My skin color has a lot of red in it, and the lack of red in my natural hair color made it look odd. For a while, I tried to change my face color with makeup, but that looked even stranger to me. So I picked a random temporary dye color that I happened to like most. I didn’t think a lot about it, just grabbed a box.
He hated the color. Worse than the grey in his book. However, I happened to like it more because it went better with my coloring, and I’ve pretty much stuck with a similar hue ever since, though I do mix it up from time to time. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last, though it wasn’t because of the hair color.
A few years ago, I decided to grow it out, then did a purple temporary color for a while. Here’s a picture of me after that had mostly washed out.
(I don’t always get to go to my favorite salon, Shear Perfection in Hollywood, but I did that time.)
I’ve had a chance to look at a lot of company “About Us” pages of late, and many of these for smaller companies show team photos or action shots.
Here’s all the photos of women on that page:
Does that photo make me feel like I’ll be respected there? No. It does not.
Not only is the woman sitting passively while the men are in more standing and active positions, she’s sitting next to a stuffie. I have no idea how Box thought this was at all welcoming to female engineers. I mean, yeah, it’s possibly actually her stuffie, but this is the sole representation of women on a page that’s talking about why you should work for the company.
As such, it’s a fail if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to sit on the floor while the men stand. Or if you want to be more active. Or if you want to be taken seriously.
Sure, there are better pictures of women elsewhere on the site, though not all of those are unsucky. But if you’re gonna have a page about why someone should work for your company, maybe showing that you respect 51% of the population should be part of your design goals.
Though, in the props department, so many tech companies have zero representation of black people, and they at least do better here, though it might be nice if he were the more active person in the scene.
Context, for those who missed it:
But just so you heard it from us: if this were the act of a Joyent employee, we would—to deliberately use a gender-neutral pronoun—fire them.
Ben wrote a clarifying comment. I want to say this: props to Ben for volunteering in a mentorship program to help get women into the field. That’s important stuff, and shouldn’t be lost in context. Hat tip to @goodwillbits for alerting me.
I have a few short comments.
It’s an incredibly tough business to be in and stay in as a woman. Thank you to all the people who spoke up about this issue pointing out how important it is.
Kent Brewster points out that a better way to have solved the problem would be restructuring the sentences entirely. It’s not always possible to avoid pronouns, though Kent’s right about this case.
I kept the scope of my own post deliberately narrow. While I have always enjoyed working with men, sometimes it’s not obvious to them how they push women out of the field. Many women really do need to feel welcome in order to participate, and what may seem like a little thing to you may not seem like a little thing to them.
So Kenneth Kuan, the outgoing guy at Penny Arcade, has spoken up about the position he’s leaving And toomanyjens has ripped into that. Before Kenneth posted, I’d previously commented on PA’s job listing.
For a bit about my background: I’ve been in the computer industry longer than Kenneth Kuan’s been alive. I’ve seen and heard a lot in the industry that is disgusting and vile on levels that Penny Arcade hasn’t touched. Pink slip fire drills. The “nobody pisses on me” episode that involved actual urination. And firing (of the people whizzed on, just for clarification). And the mortuary vulture capitalists that were using life insurance payouts for AIDS sufferers to fund tech startups.
The Penny Arcade stuff is far more ordinary evil, the kind that some people, like Kenneth Kuan, have bought into.
For the record, I’ve done web development (for companies like Nissan and PGP), software development (for companies like TiVo and Nortel), sysadmin and DBA (for companies like Honda), and general IT work though the last is the weakest of those four. In other words, I am also a unicorn, so I know whereof I speak.
I’ve only had one job ever where I felt that everything I was interested in, no matter how peculiar, was relevant: when I was a bookseller at Kepler’s during the dot bomb era when most of the people we knew who’d been in tech were unemployed. I felt weirdly guilty that a non-tech job gave me this particular satisfaction that no job in tech ever has.
The point of work-life balance is to be able to have time to invest in those parts of who you are that aren’t describable by your job alone. I offer the following phrase out of Kenneth’s own post:
but I have goals that won’t be fulfilled by working there
Yes. But see? That’s true of pretty much everyone, pretty much all of the time. It doesn’t matter how wonderful your job is, how cool the technologies are you work with, how amazing the people are.
Even if you own your own company, part of your goals will involve things for which people won’t pay you money. Or enough money. Kids are a classic example of that.
The point is: you’re a complex individual who has a lot of goals and interests. It’s great to have a job that fits those as much as possible, but it’s actually impossible to have a job that fully fits who you are. Work-life balance is about having the opportunity to be all of yourself.
In other words: Kenneth, despite his protests to the contrary, is in fact leaving because of work-life balance issues. He just can’t see it from where he is. He says he’s not burned out, but he’s been there, what, two years? That’s barely enough time for a good singe.
I think the line that got me the most was this one:
Want to go on a hike somewhere there’s no reception? Sorry, you can’t.
I’d have missed the best opportunities I had in 2013 if this were true, and not just because of the number of hours I spent on a plane. I had no cell reception in Federated States of Micronesia, Maldives, or Myanmar, all of which were amazing to visit.
If you can’t fully detach, then you can’t really be who you are. This is why on-call rotation is so much more helpful in dealing with stress and preventing burnout.
Happy Thanksgiving, Kenneth. May your new career be far more rewarding for you.
Hi, I’m Deirdre.
As a kid, I was given a globe, and I was fascinated by it. I kept imagining that I would go to all these wonderful places, especially the islands where all the lettering squished together on the globe. Or weird places like Ifni, which was on my globe and existed for only 11 years as a separate province.
For years, I traveled for business only, and I was able to travel to several continents. I wanted to travel for pleasure and had a long list of places I wanted to visit, but no real idea of how to make things happen. So many places to go. So many things to see. Learn how to reduce the possibilities to a manageable list, then how to plan your trips.
Then, earlier this year, I had a once-in-a-lifetime trip planned. Eight days before I was due to leave, I had a wrench thrown in my plans and had to either a) scrap the trip entirely, b) have it suddenly cost thousands of unplanned dollars more; or c) change my trip so fundamentally that it no longer resembled what I originally planned. Learn coping strategies for adversity.
It’s a big world. Let me help you get out there.
While I’ve primarily been a software engineer most of my life, most recently at Apple, I’ve also worked in the travel industry.
For (now defunct, but not my fault) Eastern Airlines, I was a reservationist with the group booking desk, planning trips for the Caribbean and northern South America. You can see an old Eastern Airlines route map here.
I’ve also worked in several capacities on several cruise lines, mostly Premier Cruise Lines (also now defunct, but also not my fault), from purser to medical records consultant to computer consultant–also mostly in the Caribbean.
More recently, I worked in reservations at (the still existing, yay) Classic Vacations, the luxury division of Expedia. Like everyone, I started on the Hawaii desk, booking custom air-and-hotel packages for travel agents’ clients. Then I expanded to the other locations they had at the time: Mexico, Canada, Caribbean, and Europe. Eventually, I worked in product development as a product administrator, specializing in Turkey and Western Canada.
Here’s a map of my travels in 2013. (233,863 km or 145,316 miles)
As a traveler, I’ve been to 61 countries as recognized by the United Nations, or 88 countries and territories as recognized by the rather-more-liberal Traveler’s Century Club. I’ve been around the world twice. After I failed to go around the world twice. I’ve visited six of the seven continents, five of them more than once.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying: I get this. This isn’t yet another Indiegogo campaign about someone wanting to fund their first trip to Europe.
I’ve delivered sixteen published books on time. In my past, I wrote twelve short adult western novels under pseudonyms. I have published four technical books through Que and Sams, and had a daily column of Linux tips for Earth Web in 1999.
Physical postcards can, unfortunately, take a long time to deliver. I always send myself a postcard at the same time as I mail them to others. When I sent postcards in early April from the Maldives, I received them in July. That’s unusual, but three to four weeks is not unusual.
There’s also a special case for Pitcairn: a) it’s one of the most remote islands in the world with very limited shipping to and from the island; b) there’s always the possibility we won’t be able to go ashore at all. Pitcairn has no airport and no harbor and is one of the most isolated places people live on Earth.
Because of delays in delivery, I’m also offering a virtual postcard, by which I mean a pretty photo I took at the location in question, e-mailed either from the location (available bandwidth permitting) or shortly thereafter, using a postcard application on my iPhone.
I’ll also take photos of the fronts and backs of postcards I send.
There are a bunch of other software engineers in the world, but there aren’t that many people who could–or would–write this book.
Historically, I can’t do significant amounts of writing at the same time as I’m doing software development. It uses too much of the same mental processes, unfortunately. In order to get this book written, I need to spend my time writing the book, not doing other things like looking for software engineering contracts or learning or refreshing existing skills. I need to turn down or delay other work in order for this book to happen.
Additionally, I’ve recently written part of a novel draft. The idea, synopsis, and opening was strong enough that I won $150 (2nd place) at a writer’s conference and was asked for a full manuscript (rare) by an agent at that conference. Story here. So I’d be putting this project on hold, too. The reality of traditional publishing timelines is such that it’s not particularly likely this book would provide income in 2014.
I’ll have expenses for software (updating InDesign) to produce the physical books, as well as expenses related to cover design and editing services. Ideally, I’d like to get my camera repaired.
I have two (already paid for) trips coming up where I’ll be able to talk to people who are even better traveled than I am. We’ll be on a segment (partial) world cruise. I’ve been trying to get on one of these my whole life, and this is an opportunity to write about it.
Once my hand recovers from all the typing and signing….
My plan is to continue to self-publish So You Want to Travel the World in both electronic and paper form, then go on to publish the occasional travel journey as a separate short book.
Now that I’ve whinged a bit on self publishing issues, I thought I’d spend time giving some love to some self-published authors whose books I love. I’ve picked from quite a few genres here.
In one of the first sales of its kind, John Scalzi sold Old Man’s War to Tor after serializing it on his blog. It was nominated for a Hugo award in 2006 and optioned for a film in 2011, and it was largely on the basis of this book that he won the Campbell award. Not too shabby.
Jay Crownover self-published Rule, a new adult romance, then picked up a publisher for it. It’s the first new adult book where I really got the category, and it’s well-written and realistic. I loved this book, one of my favorites of the year. And, okay, the cover’s full of win. Here’s a gushing review by someone who does read a lot of new adult. I agree: the characters are really distinct and interesting, and it’s well done. I also read Jet, but didn’t love it quite as much. Still a very good book, though. Can’t wait for Rome.
Jenny Trout became infamous for her take-down of E.L. James’s 50 Shades of Grey (et seq). It was really enlightening to read some of her takes on consent issues in the books, and make me think about things that are important. She talks about this from the perspective of someone in a long-term BDSM relationship. And then she went and wrote (as Abigail Barnette) The Boss, which was serialized in a blog, and The Girlfriend, which was e-book only. Those are parts 1 and 2 of a trilogy. It’s erotic romance and adults only. (I’ve linked to Smashwords, but these are also available through other services, too.)
Sarah Stegall wrote Deadfall, a mystery about the ghost of Wyatt Earp in present-day San Francisco. Sample is here. Disclaimer: Sarah’s in my writing group, so I read this prior to publication. She can actually write, and she has a passion for San Francisco that I love.
Dario Ciriello wrote a great book about his family moving to Greece. And then not. It’s called Aegean Dream. He’s excerpted the tale of his first Easter in Greece in this blog post. If you want to know why Greece’s economy is so screwed up, this book has that story on a micro level. It’s amazing they have a country at all. Disclaimer: I’ve been in the same writing group with Dario, and we nearly visited him in Greece in 2007, but, you know, things fell apart. See: Greece.
Those are a few that I’ve seen, but I’ve always been interested in others, too.
Note: in comments, its okay to promote your own work on two conditions: a) you have a sample that I can read on your website, b) you don’t mind my commenting on it (there’s always a risk I won’t like it).