A wild blog appears!

Look at me, blogging. I haven’t done this since I was contractually obligated to do so.

I’ve been feeling a little… adrift… in a lot of ways lately. I feel conflicted about what to share, where to share it. And so then I frequently end up not doing it. I basically made the decision to do both my personal and professional blogging at Patreon, but then I felt weird about the times I’m not doing any creative writing, the prospect of making my Patreon feed being nothing but personal updates felt weird…

It’s funny. I revel in being weird. I don’t give a single dried fig if anyone else thinks I’m weird. But feeling weird… well, that can paralyze me.

So, I’ve taken a few steps to resolve the weirdness. I de-coupled my blog from my Facebook, because… well… the Venn diagram of people that I’m blogging for and people in my life on Facebook isn’t a perfect circle, and it can be *exhausting* to write a processing post like this and then get a bunch of comments like “FORGET THE HATERS! DO WHAT YOU LOVE!” To say nothing of the folks who don’t actually understand what I’m talking about but feel they have to reply to it anyway, and then get mad that I don’t see this as a conversation.


This is a sort of icebreaker blog post that I’m making in a hotel room, where we’ve come for the weekend to celebrate Jack’s birthday. I find it easier to break out of ruts when I’m some place new, so I’m going to try to blog a bit each day here. If I manage to keep up the blogging habit I’ll tell you more about the trip when it’s over. The current atmosphere has me leery about broadcasting my movements in real time in any great accuracy, you know? Last fall I coincidentally wound up at a hotel the same time Ben Shapiro’s memelord youth group was having a conference. That was a little harrowing.


Thank You, Shuttleworth Foundation

Early in 2017, I was contacted by an individual who identified himself as a fellow of the Shuttleworth Foundation. He told me that it was his privilege to nominate an individual to receive a flash grant to help fund their works, and that he had selected me.

I had never heard of Shuttleworth at the time, and at first blush it sounded like somewhere between a long shot and a scam. We’ve all had those emails, right? Strangers don’t just contact you and tell you they want to give you money, right?

But I looked into it, and found out that the Shuttleworth Foundation is a real thing, and their flash grant program is a real thing with real recipients whose existence and work I could verify. Who knew? At that point I was still skeptical… not of the existence of the foundation or their grants, but of my own selection and worth.

Before 2016, most of my fame was as a satirist and fiction writer. My great work for the age of Trump—my calling—is a bit unusual, and hard to justify in terms people who haven’t experienced it would “get”.

I write about politics and current events, which is not in itself unusual. What is unusual is the format and venue it takes. My office is Twitter, and my medium is the thread.

This is not something I planned, and is not the life I would have chosen for myself. I did not set out to be anything other than a storyteller. I’ve dabbled in games and other forms, but my main medium has always been prose. Prose fiction. But on November 8th, 2016, as the election was ongoing and results coming in, I found myself on Twitter explaining what was happening.

And things kept happening.

And I kept explaining.

I’ve explained Congressional procedure. I’ve talked about historical precedents. I’ve broken down the rhetoric and psychology behind Trump’s speeches and interviews. I’ve pointed out patterns and trends.

And now, somehow, this has become my job. More than that, it’s my vocation. My calling. I have a talent and an ability to fill a need, and the need is real.

For lack of a better term, I usually call myself a pundit or an analyst. Sometimes I feel more like a cheerleader. Often, though, it hits me that what I’m really doing is what I’ve always been doing: telling stories. I’m telling people who are confused and scared and demoralized not the story of what happened, but the story of what’s happening. I can give context. I can give hope. I can help people see a course of action and a way forward.

I know the value of what I do. I just don’t know how to explain it to people who don’t, who assume that anything that’s free must be worthless and that anything on a social media site must be noise. The miracle of the flash grant is that no one asked me to explain. No one asked me to justify. A trusted individual told the Shuttleworth Foundation that I was doing something that makes the world a better place, and they provided me with a lump sum to do it.

It’s been almost a year since the election, and in that time the testimonial I have heard most often from people affected by my work is that I helped to bring them a little bit of calm and a semblance of security. This is what the flash grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation did for me.

The money came through at a crucial period in my evolving career. I am blessed that enough people see the value in what I do that I can contribute to my household on the strength of patronage and irregular tips. But this kind of works has its ups and downs, its lean periods. When I was sick for almost a month in the spring, and then absorbed the cost of convention events and travel, the grant helped to bridge those gaps.

The flash grant gave me security and peace of mind while I was transitioning from selling fiction to performing non-fiction, and looking back, I have little doubt that without this security net I would not have been able to maintain the level of calm, level-headed focus that is necessary to do what I do.

In the months since I was awarded the grant, I have had the time and space to refine my process and my working technique, build my audience and expand my patron base to a point where I’m comfortable enough and confident enough to keep doing it. I can’t say for how long the thing I’m doing is going to be sustainable, but that’s true of any endeavor. It’s working for me, for now, and that’s enough, for now.

For now, I can keep doing the work I’ve been doing, for the people who depend on it and who look to me. The funds from the Shuttleworth Foundation helped me get here.

So, I’d like to thank the foundation for having given me this opportunity, and for doing the same for so many other individuals, year after year. I couldn’t have done it without the money, but the real gift was knowing that someone out there believed so much in the value of what I was doing he would give me this chance.

As I sat down to put my thoughts in order for this post, I still felt a little “impostor syndrome”-y over the whole thing because I didn’t create a project or a product. I just increased my personal reach on Twitter and built ~*my brand*~ to the point where it’s somewhat sustainable. But as I wrote up top, it’s not as though I had some big plan or deep-seated desire to do this kind of work. It is work, and it is something I feel called to do, and I do it well.

Ultimately this post is a thank you to the foundation, to the one who nominated me, and to everybody else who has given me support, whether financial or otherwise. While nothing would make me happier than if my services were suddenly not needed, I am in this for the long haul.

If you’re reading this and you’d like to help support my work (political, artistic, and otherwise) now that the funding period is over, the best way to do that is through Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/alexandraerin

Okay, wow.

Did I really not blog at all from the first of the month, when I announced that Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes was launching, until the end of the month, when the first issue is wrapping? (Final update goes live tonight at 10:30 eastern.) I knew that I was stretching myself a little thin and time was slipping away from me. I didn’t realize I’d gone quite that quiet on this channel.

I had big plans for the month, and some of the longer-term and behind-the-scenes ones ate up more of my time than I’d expected. I’m also going through a few personal things. And I’ve had some big decisions to make, which I (as is my custom) spent a lot of time feeling pulled in every direction on and not taking action.

The good news is that with all of that going on, I still published several thousand words of original fiction, since S3 was running. I didn’t push it very much because I feel very self-conscious pointing people towards a serial story without much to read.

Anyway, here’s the semi-short version of some of those decisions.

1. Most of my blogging about career/work stuff is going to be going on at Patreon now, where I’m found at http://www.patreon.com/alexandraerin. I don’t really like that stuff crossing over with my Facebook, but I’ve decided to keep the Facebook crosspost from this blog live and just have a different place for my “state of the me” work updates. This’ll help me remember to use Patreon more and communicate directly to those who are specifically supporting and/or following my work. Note that you don’t have to pledge money to follow someone on Patreon, though it is appreciated.

I just always feel awkward about having a space that’s not quite fish and not quite fowl when it comes to work/life stuff.  I don’t naturally feel inclined to keep up two entirely separate blogs, but I also *need* to get more in the habit of updating my Patreon and interacting with it, because the alternative is I forget it’s there and I never wind up fulfilling the specific obligations I lay out. So this will be my personal blog, that will be my work blog.

There might be some gray areas, like long, rambling thought processes about stories or game design might go over here, while the results go over there. Like every decision I make, this is both an experiment and a work in process.

I’m putting a version of this post up in both places, just so everyone knows what is what.

2. Future issues of Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes will come out with one update a day for *part* of the month rather than being stretched out over the course of the entire month.

I had some problems with the pacing of the first issue when I realized belatedly that I’d removed some parts of it to form the prologue issue and hadn’t adjusted my count, hence the kind of erratic gaps in the middle there. It was every other day at first, every other day towards the end, and just kind of higgledy-piggledy in the middle. “About every other day” is not a great update schedule to begin with, and with many of the updates being kind of short (some being the length of a microblog post!), making people wait between them is not a great solution.

So I think daily updates with a period of downtime between them to build anticipation is probably the best way to go. If you’re worried you’ll forget to check, you can subscribe to Secret Sisterhood for email updates, in the side bar on the front page of it. I will also be debuting a Twitter account for the second issue.

July’s issue will start on July 16th, as I’m about to go on a family trip and after that I’m going to need some time to set it up and also work out the format for how my patrons will get to read the completed issue at launch, something I did not pull together in time for issue 1. The issue after that will start early August, in order to give a short break between them. And then issues after that will start on the first of the month.

3. I’m going to be setting a small amount of time each day to both write fiction (even if it’s just exercises) and to read the news for my political commentary career. I’ve been having a really hard time balancing those things, so I’m going to take an approach that lets me keep my hand in both, whatever else the demands of the day are.

4. I’m adjusting how much I rely on small to moderate amounts of alcohol to manage writer’s block and other anxieties/inhibitions. I’m not giving up on drinking as long as drinking doesn’t give up on me, but I’m trying to lean on it less. It takes a lot more effort for me to fill a blank space with words and then put them in front of people without a little word processing fluid to grease the wheels, so please bear with me.

I’m not looking for (and will not appreciate, trust me) overt shows of support, advice on this subject, or most especially other people trying to help me regulate my usage without being asked. I’m letting you know that if I seem even more distant or subdued than normal, there is a reason and it’s not a problem.

I’ve got a few more decisions to talk about, but they can wait until I’m back from my Fourth of July family excursion, which will be the week after next.

Thursday Report

So, Thursday got off to an interesting start.

Jack and I committed to going to the guest of honor readings (something I haven’t done since the year N.K. Jemisin and Hiromi Goto were our honored guests, as the venue, though charming, is also not very large) to support Amal El-Mohtar. This is the first year the guest of honor has been someone I’ve known in person before they were guest of honor, and while she was already Kind Of A Big Deal to me during my first WisCon, there’s still that little sense of “Hey, I knew you when!”

But Sarah, who was arriving separately, was travel-delayed and was arriving after an exhausting day right about the time we’d have been heading over. We stayed in the lobby to meet her shuttle coming in, then saw her up to the room and settled in, went over plans for the evening (hers were to sleep, and possibly eat a food at some point).

WisCon was running an accessible bus between the guest of honor reception (the largest and most significant off-site event on the schedule, and also the farthest away, in local bookstore A Room Of One’s Own), and we were quite possibly the last people to take it over, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have made it. As it is, it was standing room only when we got there. There might have been some disability reserved seating up front, but it was so crowded and the introductions had started, so we didn’t want to press through and disrupt things and then maybe have to do it again if the seating was all in use.

But it worked out okay. We found a place to sit in the front of the store (the back of the reception) where we could hear, if not see, and we were out of the press of people. Amal’s reading was as amazing and powerful as the one that moved me enough to overcome my wallflowerishness and step forward for an autograph all those years ago. Kelly Sue DeConnick had some A-plus-plus remarks on writing, creator responsibility, critique vs. hate, and fan entitlement.

We ducked out at the end before the receiving/autograph line formed, in part because we had a prior social commitment and in part because the bench we’d grabbed was directly behind the table and chairs set up for that.

Prior social engagement was something I’ve never done before: karaoke. There’s almost always at least one unofficial-but-traditional karaoke party before WisCon, and this year the event’s organizer (the fabelous Cabell) looped us in directly on the invites and asked us to boost. This kind of thing always sounds like a terrific time to me, in both the classic and the modern connotations of the word. Luckily for me I felt obliged to say yes due to the fact that I’ve been using her house as a dead drop for party supplies all month, because I had an amazing time. I did four songs, two solo, one with Jack, and one with Cabell.

WisCon is the kind of time and place where I spend a lot of time getting over my everyday social and emotional inhibitions. Some years it still takes me till Saturday before I’m really enjoying myself and not faking much of it. This year, despite what was at first a very tense and uncertain afternoon, I think I managed it in record time.

The con proper starts today with the Gathering and the opening ceremonies. I’ve never been much for the ceremony, but I might go this year just so as to have line of sight on our guests of honor. A lot depends on how I feel after the Gathering.

Find Me @ WisCon!

Hello, babies! I meant to do this on the train but internet signal was intermittent every time I had the wherewithal and physical space to do it. So, here goes.

My official WisCon schedule includes four items this year:

  • 10 a.m. Saturday — Direct Payment and the Creator/Fan Dynamic (Panel): About the social dynamics of things like crowdfunding, a topic I know a little bit about. (Room: Caucus )
  • 8:30 a.m. Monday — Starting the Story (Panel): About wrestling with writer’s block and the inertia of starting a story, another topic I know a little bit about. (Room: University B)
  • 8:45 p.m. Sunday — TALES OF MU 10 YEAR REUNION/WEB SERIAL PARTY (PARTY!): We’re hosting a celebration of serialized fiction on the web, revolving around the 10 year anniversary of the start of Tales of MU, and because of happy timing, will also serve as the launch of my new web serial project, Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes.
  • 11 a.m. Monday — The SignOut: A sort of last hurrah where authors and artists assemble for people to have things signed and such. I’ve never participated because I’m an all-digital author; what have I got to sign? (But wait for next year.) But so many people have told me they wished there was a scheduled “meet the author” time for me where they could just say hi and I finally realized last year that’s part of what the SignOut is: a structured time where it’s officially cool to do that. So come! Print out your favorite tweet of mine and I’ll sign it. Bring your WisCon program, if nothing else. I’ll sign it like a yearbook!

Wisconsin State of the Me

So, we are in Madison, and checked into the Concourse. Don’t know yet who else is in town. Right now it’s just Jack and myself; Sarah arrives sometime tomorrow. At the moment, we are waiting on room service (haven’t eaten more than a small, bus-friendly snack since early breakfast on the train, due to train delays rushing us through Chicago Union Station in all of 10 minutes) and decompressing. We might look for other congoers to link up with later tonight, particularly if anyone’s in the lounge

The train ride was a bit of a test run for future train rides. It was our first one together and the longest train ride either of us has been on lately. It had its ups and downs. I had expected to be able to do some creative work, but everything about the experience was just on the edge of being comfortable/convenient enough for that to be realistic.

Among other things, my presentation has changed quite a bit since the heyday of my previous train rides, which made it a lot harder to be left to my own devices in the lounge/observation car in the wee hours of the night. We’re looking at options for future trips like getting a sleeper roomette for slightly more privacy.

Training Day

So, we just spent basically the entire day at the historic, picturesque train station of historic, picturesque Harpers Ferry because our historic, picturesque inn had an 11:00 a.m. checkout time and our train had a 5:16 p.m. departure and historic, picturesque train stations don’t have any place to check or stow your luggage.

We’d come prepared. We had things to read and our electronics and sufficient battery power to overcome any historically picturesque lack of outlets, and as long as one of us stayed put to watch our things it wasn’t hard to go up the hill into town in search of takeout lunch and drinks.

I’m glad that we did have so much time there, because when we’d reconnoitered the station I had completely missed that the tiny station had two platforms, one on the far side of the tracks inside a much smaller, slightly less picturesque historical shelter, with no obvious way of reaching it without (crossing the tracks.

Now, this historic, picturesque station has a historic, picturesque lack of signage indicating things like which platform is for which direction, or how the other platform is reached. I knew that trains follow the keep right rule in the U.S. (or at least, I *thought* they did, but that knowledge had never been important to me before), but I didn’t know which compass direction was which, or if the trains passing through on this stretch would be strictly going east-west at the moment.

So I searched online to see if there was any mention of the platforms. Amtrak’s website informed me that the stairs to the other platform were under the tracks and not wheelchair accessible (their official advice, enshrined in their website, is to board at another station.)  So I knew what to look for, and I found a smaller shelter at the end of the main building with stairs leading down into the tunnel where Slenderman lives, which came out the other side in the small platform. I looked around for signage; there was none.

By sheer chance we were there when the Capitol Limited to D.C. went through on the near tracks, which was a pretty good clue that they were the eastbound lane. I’d been on the Twitter horn with @Amtrak, who confirmed that my train would be on the opposite side, and that they do follow the right hand driving rule in these parts.

At the same time, Jack had the bright idea of opening Pokemon Go, which helpfully includes a compass. and let us find east and west. So we had triple confirmation.

Almost enough to quiet my anxiety, so I carefully noted that every train heading east was on the near track and every train heading west was on the far track, just in case they didn’t have some weird track switching thing going on or had harnessed the power of ghost trains that can go through each other,.

Remember, babies, we showed up in town a whole day early in order to make sure that everything went according to plan. My first train trip (Omaha to Chicago, Chicago to Memphis and then New Orleans) I did something similar, staying overnight in Chicago just to make sure I made my first connection on my first train trip.

When I’m anxious about something, I give myself plenty of time and I seek out information, from as many angles as possible. (This might be why I’m so relatively well-informed about politics these days.)

So we made the decision to mosey on over through the tunnel where Slenderman lives at about 4:30, which was well more time than we’d need but would ensure we could take it nice and slow with our bags up and down the steps and not feel like we were cutting it close.

Right around about 4, other people started showing up for the same train, including a gentleman with a bike who had apparently *also* scouted the location the day before. “Don’t worry, the train is on time as of now,” he told me.

I have phone alerts, so I’d known this, but we thanked him. He’d checked the day before and it had been delayed by more than an hour. We told him we were getting ready to go move over to the platform, and this is when he told us it was impossible to know which track it would be on.

“Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks, so they are at the mercy of the freight train companies.”

I tried to explain that this might be true, but the tracks are still directional so there was in effect only one track here, with two lanes, but he wasn’t interested. He’d talked to Amtrak and they’d told him that “The only way to know for sure is to look down the tunnel when you see the train coming, and see which side it’s on.”

I told him we’d also talked to Amtrak, but he wasn’t impressed.

So we took our luggage down the stairs and into the tunnel where Slenderman lives and we hauled them up the stairs and settled in for the 30-40 minute wait, while he stood with his bike on the other side looking smug and self-satisfied. Two other guys showed up while we waited, and the guy quizzed them about what side they thought the train would come on, and each time they assumed it would be the near side and he called across the track to tell us “This guy’s pretty sure it’s over here.”

“On what basis?” I asked the first time.

Didn’t really get an answer, but it seemed like all three guys thought this was hilarious. It kind of felt like the biggest reason they thought they were right was that we thought otherwise.

Being questioned usually doesn’t do much for my anxiety, but in this case it just hardened my resolve to know that this guy Had Been Told By Amtrak.

Babies, I have done enough customer service and customer service-adjacent work to know that the answer he got was the We Are Not Responsible answer. There are a lot of stations, a lot of stations with a lot of tracks, and a CSR on the phone cannot tell him in advance which track he’s got to be at because They Are Not Responsible for that.

Very possibly he expressed disbelief that they couldn’t tell him, at which point he would have been given the explanation that Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks or make the decisions. Very possibly he would have asked them what he’s supposed to do, and would have been told that he could watch the train as it approached. And very possibly, he filed away this hard-won knowledge as gospel writ, because he had prised it from the stubborn jaws of a lazy, no-nothing phone rep.

Of course the westbound train came on the far tracks, the northern side of the station, the side we were on. And of course the gentleman with the bike and the other two gentlemen (both apparently cis and white) who chuckled along with him at our stubborn foolishness made their own hurried treks through the  tunnel where Slenderman lives to join us.

Sometimes, it’s nice to be right.


The adventure begins!

Well, as so often happens in life and in game design, our attempts to make things simpler created a few complications. The inn in Harper’s Ferry has a great view of the train station, but the direct route from point A to point B would involve many steep stairs, so we’re going to have to take our luggage the long way around a dog leg. Speaking of steps, the inn (housed in buildings that predate the Civil War) has staircases that were not built with modern luggage in mind.

We’ve decided we definitely would like to stay here in the future for an overnight or weekend getaway, but whatever difficulty lining up a ride to the train station would be will still be easier than our solution here. And of course as I type this up it occurs to me that for the money we’re spending on a night here plus the added meals, I could have hired a car.

Still, it’s not like the money is wasted, because the night in Harper’s Ferry and the meals are experiences that wouldn’t have come with the car ride. Also, even if this was more of a ~*learning experience*~ than I was looking for, “live and learn” is preferable to either of the alternatives.

There are things that are going our way. The weather is perfect for a day of unnecessary exertions: cool and cloudy, but not humid or rainy. Our inn room is very nice. The inn itself is very nice.  And of course the town is nice.

The Looming Adventure

So, next weekend is WisCon. WisCon as a con officially begins Friday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend, though there are some programming items the night before.

We’ve gotten in the habit of heading to Madison on Wednesday ever since the fateful year when I booked the airline tickets for the wrong day. We realized this literally the day before, and even with the desperate scramble to get there and get lodging we found the experience more relaxing than normal, with extra decompression/rest time between the stress of travel and the excitement of the con.

This year, we’re trying to avoid flying as much as possible, and Sarah’s got some work stuff that would stop her from traveling on Wednesday, so Jack and I (who have more flexible schedules) are taking the train. This means leaving earlier, since that’s an overnight thing, which pushes our departure till Tuesday.

Our nearest train station is in historic Harpers Ferry, which is also a national park. We’ve never traveled from this station before, and we both kind of get stressed out about new experiences, so in order to minimize the rush/stress on day of travel and avoid having to get our luggage from the parking lot of the visitor’s center to the downtown on the same day, we’re arriving the day before and spending the night in a historic inn right across from the train station, which pushes our departure to Monday, for a con that officially starts Friday.

Our train takes us to Chicago. I’ve trained through Chicago about four or five times, so I sort of know the score there, but we’re transferring to a bus that contracts with Amtrak to get us the rest of the way. It’ll only last 3-4 hours, but

So the next few days are going to be a mix of relaxing/fun stuff and stressful/anxiety-ridden stuff. I’m pretty sure the good will outweigh the bad. My plan is to update this blog every day during at least the trip part of the trip, since I’ll have time at each step, and since a good way to get back in the habit of blogging regularly is to do it under even irregular circumstances.

I have been heavily boosting WisCon this year on Twitter since last WisCon, and I have heard from several people who are coming for the first time, a few who are even coming in part because I encouraged them. Yay. Accordingly, tomorrow I’ll be posting my official WisCon event schedule (it’s light this year, in no small part because one of them is a *big* event), and some tips for finding/interacting with me.

Yep. Still here.

Well, it’s been a (metaphorical) trip, but I’m back. And about to go on a literal trip.

I’ve been pretty silent here on my blog and over on my Patreon page for the past few months, basically going back to when my late winter/early spring sickness tripped me up. Dealing with the backlog of boring but necessary technical stuff that built up over three-four weeks of feeling like death took a lot of time and energy, during which other stuff piled up, and life kept happening, for good or for bad.

While it has been a struggle keeping up, life has mostly been good. I’ve found a very interesting and unexpected niche as a social media pundit (not a pundit about social media, a pundit on social media) that is honestly doing better for paying my bills and contributing to the household than anything else I’ve done.

At popular request, I’ve tried a few ways of converting my social media observations to other formats for other platforms. None of them have really panned out. Twitter’s built-in Moments system breaks down on longer threads. The third-party solutions I’ve tried (Storify and Kanvz) also tend to become unworkable as threads grow. Even when they work, stopping to collate and curate my thoughts slows me down so much and keeps me always working on what happened yesterday or an hour ago (which in today’s climate are both equal to 100 million years) instead of taking in what’s happening now and looking towards where we’re going.

And because I can see the numbers, I also know: it’s not worth the effort. People tell me they’d be more inclined to share a collected link than a Twitter thread, but the numbers say the opposite is true. Twitter threads are the most mobile medium of thought on the internet, because each element within them can be shared separately and sharing any one element drags the whole thing along.

They’re unfamiliar to people, which causes reactions of “What is this?” and “Ugh, if it takes more than one tweet it’s not worth seeing on Twitter.” But those are problems that will be solved with time and exposure.

I made a valiant stab at accommodating people at this, but the tools aren’t there and the time’s not worth it. So I’m going back to my old standby of when people ask “Can you put this in a format I can link to on Facebook?” of pointing out that you can link to a Twitter thread just fine on Facebook, or anywhere else. The link to the first tweet is the link to the thread. That’s what makes it a thread.

I am sorry to disappoint everyone who appreciates other formats, but… I’ve got to go with what works. Threads work. Collations get shared less. Blog posts get shared least of all. That’s the world we live in, and I can’t pretend otherwise just because it seems counter-intuitive.

Creative Stuff

So, my big new project that I was so excited about before I got sick, Secret Sisterhood of Superheroes? There have been technical hold-ups on that, too, but we’ve cleared those hurdles and now we’re ready to launch. As mentioned up-post, I’m going on a trip. Next weekend is Memorial Day, which means it’s WisCon. I had already planned on throwing a party for the 10th anniversary of launching Tales of MU (June 7th, 2007), with a more expansive theme of serial web fiction in general… now that I have a new serial to launch it’s also the launch party for that.

On May 28th, the prologue for Secret Sisterhood will go live at http://www.secretsisterhoodofsuperheroes.com. On June 1st, the first (novella-length) issue will begin. Patrons get the whole issue at once. Everybody else can read it a chapter at a time on the website. I know I haven’t been posting patron goodies lately, but that’s a big one coming June 1st: about 75 pages, by standard novel page count. And more like it to follow.

Secret Sisterhood is more ambitious than anything else I’ve published, on multiple levels, and getting it off the ground has consumed me. My other fiction projects have definitely fallen by the wayside, not so much because it took me a long time to write the story (that was the quick and easy part!) but because of everything else that’s going into giving it the launch it deserves. I will be resuming posting other fiction things in the next few weeks as well.

Changes in Approach

First, if you’re reading this on Facebook: I’m going to be phasing out the cross-posting between my blog and (t)here very soon. It’s part of a change to how I approach social media. Facebook doesn’t display blog posts with all the same formatting (pictures, links, etc.) that I give them, which sometimes makes posts unintelligible or completely alters the context. I’m also trying to get away from my personal Facebook acting as a professional platform. Honestly, one of the reasons I don’t post here more is that some of the times one of my posts blows up on Facebook it winds up being more of a drag than a boost.

I might set it up to post links on Facebook, but I’m not even sure I want to do that. The key thing here is: I don’t have comments turned on for my blog, but I don’t think I can stop people from commenting on Facebook. I don’t care if people are discussing my work. I hope they are. I just really don’t want or need to know about it.

Second, I’ve been rethinking how I handle my Patreon. I keep making plans for what to post there, how often, etc., that fall apart because the next month, the world and I are both in completely different places than they were when I laid the plans down. I just can’t keep up with it. I’ve tried putting together my newsletters but the personal plans are obsolete and the political stuff would be old news by the time they go out.

So the new plan is going to be almost but not completely unplanned. Like, I will make plans from month to month. I’ll plan out what I’m doing in my day and week. But I won’t be trying to fit a formula for an entire year, or an ongoing basis.

The big advantage of being a “solo operator” is that I’m quick and nimble and can change what I’m doing to fit the situation and my needs. So that’s what I’m going to be doing.

Rather than take the ailing newsletter notion off life support, though, I’m going to change my approach to it. I’m neither going to be reproducing everything I’ve written/published (instead I’ll get better about round-ups and links and cross-posts to Patreon).

Instead I’m going to start keeping a journal of the month as I go. It’s a small change in perspective but a key one, because with a journal I’m not trying to shape a whole month into a narrative that still makes sense at the end of the month. Everything in the journal is dated to begin with, so it can’t “become dated”.

I’m starting it today. Obviously the one for May is going to be short. I want to start it now, though, because 1) I want to be in the habit when the first full month starts, and 2) I am about to go on a train trip and attend a con, so there’ll be interesting experiences to record.

Looking Backwards and Forwards

Last year about this time, I was in pretty bad shape. My Patreon was floundering. My creative output was nil. My career, such as it was, felt like it had been circling the drain since my life was upended years ago by a series of events and it was about to go down.

I tried to kick things into gear by proclaiming a Year of Awesome from my 36th birthday (a perfect square year) and my 37th birthday (a prime year). I had big, bold plans for what I was going to do each and every month within that year.

That… didn’t work out.

And I’ve used up a lot of time and energy trying to dissect that and trying to figure out how I can do better, but it hit me recently:

have had a year of awesome.

My Patreon’s more than doubled from last year, even though I haven’t been able to keep up specific frameworks and structures. And I’m making more money through other streams.

I didn’t write a short story every month, but the short stories I did write are phenomenal. Some of my best, some of my favorites. My reach on social media has octupled. I have been published in serious big time magazines and periodicals. I am friends with journalists and chat with honest-to-goodness celebrities. I’ve met U.S. Senators. Rosie O’Donnell gave me advice on how to deal with a sudden rush of attention. I was given an award for writing by George R.R. Martin. That I beat him for.

And people tell me every day that the work I’m doing on political stuff matters, that it helps them, that it

I haven’t really dwelled on much of this because I’ve been focused on what’s not happening, what I’m not doing, what I can’t do.

I don’t know what the next year is going to look like. We are living in troubled times, tumultuous times. My father, who has let me know he is immensely proud of what I’ve been doing, told me that times like these are made for people like me.

So I’m going to continue to play to my strengths, which I have to admit, are *not* in planning and *not* in follow-through. I live in the moment, I excel in the moment. Nimbleness and agility, thinking on my feet, following the muse and seeing where opportunity takes me.

That’s what my real Year of Awesome was about. And I think embracing that is going to make my next Year of Awesome better.