Wednesday, 29 April 2009

It's here!

And it's beautiful.

Granted, you can tell it's a self-published book with a cover designed by two people who've never done anything of the kind before....


It's here. And it is beautiful.

Spreading the word: Silver Phoenix (Cindy Pon)

Isn't that a beautiful cover? I love it.

So, in the latest of book news, this looks like a really good up'n'coming YA fantasy novel, although it doesn't seem to be widely available within New Zealand as yet (considering it was only released in the States on Monday). But check out the book trailer:

The author's also running a competition on her blog to give away a signed copy of her book, a $100 gift certificate and one of her paintings, to promote her book. Very nice prize, and very nice person!

The book sounds pretty good, too, and I'll be getting my copy if/when it hits NZ bookstores....

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Well, today I joined Twitter. The part I don't like so far is that they list your name. Does this mean people can now google me and find me on Twitter?

I don't like how public everything is. At the moment, if you google my name, the first result that comes up that's me is about me as a guest blogger for NZ Book Month, a couple of years ago. That's fine — I have no problem with that. But Twitter (which leads to my blog, and my presence on who knows how many websites/online communities)?

It isn't like I have anything to hide. But it's hard enough to represent yourself in the real-life world, to adequately express your feelings and abilities and opinions in a face-to-face environment, without needing to do so online as well. Anonymity, online, is a little comforting.

Potential employers could find me here. Current employers. Ex-boyfriends. Friends. Family. Workmates.

Again, I don't have anything to hide. It's just that it seems to me like a very cut-throat, very judgmental world out there. One slip-up, and you're defined by that slip-up — especially if people don't know you in real life. How are they to know what I'm really like, or what I really meant?

My current point of view is probably enhanced by my current job status — that of unemployed and job-seeking (as opposed to unemployed and happily sitting on my butt). I had an interview yesterday; I have another tomorrow. I feel I have to present myself as perfect in every way, because if I slip up in any way, I'll be defined by that slip-up.

I am capable. I am confident. I am a keen and reliable worker.

But is any employer, googling me and finding my latest twitter updates, going to get that impression of me?

Yet I'm going to stay on Twitter. Because, as I figure, I'm probably over-thinking it all anyway. I do that sometimes.

Friday, 24 April 2009

The downside of a degree

I got a degree mostly because I wanted a degree, but also because I wanted to be able to get a better job. So many places ask for an applicant to have a degree before they'll even consider you for a job.

So I completed a degree. And I still can't get the jobs I couldn't get before, as they now want more experience. I have the skills, but it's hard finding an entry-level job to gain said experience.

And a recruitment agent reassured me yesterday that she'd told a prospective employer that despite my degree, they should consider me for a particular position, as I didn't have any aspirations to move on.

I was... shocked.

First, I don't generally apply for a job unless I want it, which means that — degree or no — if I want a lower-paid job than I could otherwise get, I don't think my degree should be counted against me. Do employers want people with no goals in life? (Also, I know plenty of unambitious graduates.)

Having said that, I do have ambitions. I have places I'd like to be. I have things I'd like to do. I think everyone should have aspirations to move on. Not necessarily moving on from a company, but moving on from the job you're in. Who wants to be stuck in the same position for the rest of your life? Wouldn't you want the interest and the challenge of moving up in the world, whether internally with your employer or — if your employer isn't offering the opportunity — externally?

There are many people I know who would probably be quite content to be in the same job for the rest of their lives. That's fine. The world needs people like this. But they aren't achievers. Would you want to hire someone who's just content to sit there and watch life pass them by?

It's surprising to realise that, having attained my ambition of completing my degree, some lower-end employers may look on me less favourably than before — because they don't think their lower-end job will fulfill me.

But if that's the way it is, I'll just hang out for a less prejudiced employer, or for an entry-level job in the field I want.

Not that this is really relevant anyway. I'm in the shortlist of three for the job, and have an interview on Monday.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

First week of unemployment

I was going to post about my first week of unemployment, till I realised it's only Thursday. It feels like Friday! But hopefully I'll get tomorrow off.

It seems funny to write about having a day "off" from... being unemployed. But this week has been busier, more tiring and more stressful than a lot of full working weeks have been. Sure, I've had an extra couple of hours off — an hour lunch at home instead of a half-hour at work — but for the most part I've been up, I've been active, I've been out and about. Three recruitment agencies later, they all seemed to really like me, and I have potentially two interviews for permanent full-time jobs arising out of these meetings, both for good jobs that I'd really enjoy.

...And after I wrote the above paragraph, I got a phone call from one of the recruitment agencies and they want to see me again tomorrow, so I won't get the day off after all.

It's fun, in a way. But it's exhausting as well. Every day I have to be my best. My smile can't falter, my make-up has to... be there, my clothes need to be perfect, professional and neat. Now I'm a well-presented and happy person, although I don't tend to wear a lot of make-up, so this shouldn't seem like a problem. But I have to be perfect. Every day this week I'm giving potential employers their first impression of me, and it has to be of someone who's smart, likeable, and skilled in every area of any job that could arise for me.

I'm enjoying it, although I haven't got a lot of the "home" work done that I wanted to, this week. No work on the novel; no air-gunning of the kitchen floor; extremely little housework accomplished. Hopefully I'll have a quieter week next week (although a few interviews wouldn't come amiss).

But I was, in a way, looking forward to my time of unemployment as a break. So far, it hasn't been much of a break.

But that's fine. It's good to keep busy, and I'm glad I am. I just hope next week, apart from a couple of interviews *fingers crossed* that I'll be keeping busy with my novel and with work around the house.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Singin' in the rain

Not that it's raining. But I'd be singing in it if it were.

Book shipped.


About one month before I get to behold my glorious book.

So of course, I spent last night reading up about horror stories from self-publishing places. It makes me glad that I did the formatting for my manuscript, so no one else can have stuffed it up (if I do, it's my fault, I can't blame anyone else); it makes me hope fervently that the binding will be decently done and the paper thick enough that you can't read through it, etc... but a lot of the horror stories seem to be about vanity presses, rather than print-on-demand outfits like CreateSpace.

But I guess I'll have to wait for the finished product to see. Oh, I hope it's good....

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Done and dusted (I hope)

Submitted for publishing!

Not actual publishing, of course. I'm a long way off that. But I've finally submitted my manuscript and cover to CreateSpace, the self-publishing company that's given all 2007 and 2008 NaNoWriMo winners a free proof copy of their book. Now all that remains is for CreateSpace to approve my files for printing, and for me to order a copy of my book. Ee!

I'd always decided never to do the self-publishing thing. It doesn't make you a published author, in my eyes. It makes you someone who couldn't make it in the real world so reverted to doing it themselves.

But when it came to passing up a free hard copy of my story... well, this may be the only chance I ever get to see my story in book format. I'm not going to try and sell it; I just want one copy, just for me, to sit in my bookcase as a tangible record: this is what I've done. This is what I wrote.

It's a great feeling to have submitted the files. But there's no rest for the weary, and I'm really hoping that my new unemployment will help me get going on my other manuscript. It took me 2-3 weeks to ready this story for submission; and this story needed very little editing (or rather, needed so much that I decided to do very little and leave it mostly as is).

My other manuscript, on the other hand, is over 100,000 words and needs about 50k more, which means at least a couple of weeks of dedicated writing; after that I have the gargantuan task of trying to edit the monster before I submit it. And unlike my first manuscript, which I was content to leave as a not-very-well-written story, I want this one to be good. I want this one to be able to meet a publisher's eye one day. I want to be proud of this one, to allow my friends to read it.

The amount of time it'll take almost makes me glad I'm going to be unemployed, although the complete lack of income won't be so great.

I'm not going to start today. It's a weekend, and Dan's around, so I'm gonna hang out with him and do some work on the house.

It's on Monday that the real work will begin.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Finally editing

I did not a single hour of editing in March, mostly because my free time was spent either in applying for jobs or stressing over said applications. Yes, my story is important to me: but having a job is more so.

Of course, I still don't have a job, and the priority has stepped up from Pressing to Urgent, but there are absolutely no jobs on the horizon that I'm at all qualified for, that I haven't applied for.

And so: a weekend of editing.

It's good to be alone with my story, to work through it. It's good to have no real pressure (except that of time); I'm editing my first NaNoWriMo novel, and I don't feel any need for it to be good. It's even shockingly bad at some points, and that's OK — it's my first attempt, more to be laughed over and fondly remembered than to try to turn into anything publishable.

But it's my first attempt, and I'm extremely fond of this story.

I'm really looking forward to doing it: to finishing writing it; to giving it a super-quick edit (because the voucher expires within a fortnight, I can't edit it to perfection so there's no need to worry about trying to); to type-setting; formatting; doing the book cover; title page; author's note — all that fun stuff which "real" authors get and which just looks so fun.

The story's currently about 45000 words (it was 50k, but right after I won I had to go back and trim the really awful parts of it out), and may need another 20k or so before it's finished. I'd really like to get it mostly edited and the story finished this weekend — next weekend at the absolute latest. I have the beginning and the end all written, but I skipped some parts of the middle, so I need to go back and write that all in. Then after it's finished, I can get on to my true love of formatting and margins and cover-designing.

I should be a sub-editor. I want to be a sub-editor. A writer, too, on the side, but sub-editing's so interesting and just so damn fun.

Saturday, 4 April 2009


I need a job.

Not for money, not for rent, not for friends. Not cos I urgently need one.

For independence, I guess. Security. Stability.

I have talents, and I have skills. I have experience, albeit limited. I know I can work, and work well. But it's a tough job market out there.

I'm not giving up, or getting too despondent. I'm developing a new plan.

I don't want to go back on the dole. Ever. It encourages dependency, and I think I become a dependent person far too easily. I cherish my independence, and going on the dole will take that from me.

In the last week of my current job, if I still have no offers, I'll do a CV drop at the retail stores, at the supermarkets. I'll send letters to previous employers — I've never burned any bridges. I'll volunteer at the Sally Army, Trade Aid, somewhere to keep myself busy; keep from lapsing into despondence. Help someone while I'm out of work. What better to do?

There's a selfish aspect to everything, of course; if I'm doing volunteer work during my days while I'm unemployed, at least any potential employers will see I don't just sit around. I do something. Hopefully, if I get a volunteer position at Trade Aid or somewhere, I'll at least be getting some sort of marketable skill such as retail experience.

I'm getting some outright rejections, some interviews and then rejections, and no job offers. I'm not applying for crappy jobs. But if the time comes, and there aren't any job offers? I'm not gonna take it sitting down. Supermarkets, volunteer work, whatever. I'm not going to be a victim.