State of the Author, April 2020 edition

Posted in writing.

First: Mira is having a small sale on the ebook version of Cast in Shadow (1.99), Cast in Court­light (3.99) and Cast in Moon­light (.99). This will continue for the month of April.

Second: we are in shelter-in-place in Toronto.

Because I work from home on the days I don’t work at the book­store (which is closed to the public, but — at least for now — taking mail orders and ship­ping them with a skeletal crew of 2 people, one of whom is not me), and because my long suffering spouse worked for years as a free­lance programmer, I expected his move to telecom­muting to be pain­less.

It’s been a bit more chal­lenging than I thought it would be, because telecom­muting isn’t free­lance. He has to keep normal office hours, because he’s in contact with the rest of his team – also all telecom­muting. When I work at home, I measure the day by the number of words I’ve managed to write. I aim for a certain number as a minimum, but some­times hitting that minimum can take Way Too Long. But I will break between words. I’ll go grocery shop­ping. I’ll clean the kitchen, etc.

This is not what you do at the office. So… husband is home but at the office.

I know we are lucky, though. Husband, for now, can telecom­mute. I can write. We are both there­fore employed. I know many people who have been laid off without pay, and who have mort­gages or rent to pay. I know govern­ments are offering various forms of aid or relief during the shut­down – check to make sure, if you’re in a posi­tion in which this applies.

Also: check to see if your libraries are still lending ebooks — I know they’re not lending phys­ical books because they, like schools, theaters, commu­nity centers, are shut down in an attempt to flatten the curve so that our medical systems aren’t forced to abandon people to death.

And that’s the thing: I have cousins who work in health­care, and one who is part of the manage­ment team of a hospital, and that’s the night­mare they face. Medical people will die in greater numbers to covid-19, because of constant expo­sure. And they accept that, while trying desper­ately to mini­mize risk because they, too, have spouses and young chil­dren at home. But… being medical people who have been trained to save lives, however imper­fectly, and being forced to liter­ally choose who gets to live because there are too many people and not nearly enough equip­ment – that’s a night­mare.

Also: I want to shout out to: grocery store clerks, UPS/Postal/Delivery service drivers and workers, ware­house workers, jani­to­rial and cleaning staff – people who are currently on the front-line, every day, under much greater stress. Without you I think whole coun­tries would devolve into riots and panic. You are the trace of ‘normal’, the glue that allows the rest of us to keep our doors closed and our fami­lies at home. You are neces­sary, and you are fighting the fight just as much as our medical profes­sionals – but often far less visibly.

Thank you, all.

13 Responses to State of the Author, April 2020 edition

  1. Concur on the delivery folks — they’re working near-holiday-type hours around here to keep us all supplied. If you can put out a note near where they leave your pack­ages thanking them, or even better, a container with some (sani­tized) waters and snacks with your note, that’s a great way to show your appre­ci­a­tion.

  2. Tchula says:

    All of what you said, espe­cially the grat­i­tude to everyone who is on the front lines of this crazi­ness, still working for the good of society.

    Adjusting to a work-from-home lifestyle for Dave has been pretty easy for us, mostly because his office is in its own space in the part of our base­ment that’s finished. (The rest is our unfin­ished junk storage, lol!)

    We know not to bother him from 9 – 6, but he comes up for lunch and in between meet­ings to say a quick hello. It’s nice having him around, I have to admit. But we are all three in our own parts of the house on our sepa­rate computers most of the day anyway. ;-P I think it would be much harder if we had to share a small apart­ment.

  3. Julianne says:

    Thank you Michelle. Stay safe, stay well, to you and your family and your readers and my own thanks to everyone who keeps the world running and to those who are making sacri­fices not for them­selves but for others, for those of us who are vulner­able. Together we will perse­vere.

  4. Mary Allen says:

    I agree with all you said. My local library in Tampa is still contin­uing to let you borrow e‑books on both the app Libby and Hoopla. These apps offer e‑books, audible books and video’s. My library on the home page allows you to apply for a tempo­rary library card if you don’t currently have a library card, which is the only way you can use these apps but it may take awhile for your appli­ca­tion to process.

  5. Angie Gaule says:

    Our library here in Texas has been closed to the public but we have still been working. We’ve mostly been cleaning and taking phone calls to sign up people for temp cards that will allow them to access our digital mate­rials. However, on Monday the commis­sioners will meet and we expect the majority of the staff, if not all, to be laid off at that time. Everyone stay safe, and if you have library mate­rials, hold onto them. It is not worth the risk to return them and I can’t believe that any library will be charging over­dues.

  6. Tyronne Lorne Hodgins says:

    Thank you for the update! Under­going cancer treat­ment, I have been self-isolated since late January. The firm I work for has been extremely accom­mo­dating and caring. I work from home and have been told I am not allowed to come to the office under any circum­stance until this pandemic is over. I must admit that working from home is very different and takes a (in my opinion) a different type of self-disci­pline to be effec­tive and actu­ally work! I now know how easily one can get distracted and I can only imagine the chal­lenges you, and your husband, are now facing since you both work from home. But I know the two of you will manage it success­fully. A little compro­mise on both your parts and the two of you will get it all worked out in no time! Be well and stay safe!

  7. Hugh Myers says:

    As a very long time programmer for hire, I’ve more expier­ence than most with working from home. I spent suffi­cient time in gray cubbie hell that when I had the chance to go inde­pen­dant contractor, there was very little to think about. I further had the luck to normally never be called in as part of a group but rather as an indi­vidual hired gun so to speak. Which luckily fits my working style quite well. When I program the rest of the world goes away, almost completely. This state will last until the problem is resolved or a strong inter­rup­tion occurs. Fairly easy to manage if not partic­u­larly social. To those new to this approach, all I can say is imerse your­self as deeply as possible in what is going on with your work — try an make all else diss­a­pear. It perhaps sounds odd, but it works for me and others that I know. Other­wise all I can say is “Stay in. Stay safe. Stay well.”

  8. michelle says:

    @Tyrone: Please be safe. Not working in the office is hugely impor­tant for people who are recov­ering from cancer treat­ments – but I expect you know that far better than I do.

    @Angie: is it furloughing? There’s been some talk of that at home. I just found out that the B&N SFF buyer has been furloughed for the time being, because of course most of the B&N stores have been closed to the public.

    @Tchula: we have settled into the “do not bother unless lunch hour” mode here, and adjust­ments have been made, but — the first week was trickier than I’d expected *because* he’s worked from home before, and I think subcon­sciously I was expecting the same free­lance fluidity, which… this isn’t.

  9. Angie Gaule says:

    They’re using the term laid off. Should posi­tions open, the laid off employees will have pref­er­ence. However, they are not guar­an­teeing that the posi­tions will reopen. I’m uncer­tain what the end result will be.

  10. michelle says:

    @Angie: *hugs*.

    I think it’s the uncer­tainty across the board on top of the social isola­tion that makes this time so trying.

    Beth Meacham, editor of Tor, and editor for as long as I’ve been writing and dreaming of being published, posted a really good – if entirely grim and dire – expla­na­tion for why publishers are in so much trouble.

    Yes, I can write. Yes, she can edit.

    But the supply chains beyond that? So broken. Paper short­ages (I didn’t realize so much of the US printing presses now rely on paper from China which isn’t coming). Stores closed.

    And publishers still make the bulk of their income from print books. Also: Audio­books are things people mostly listen to *while commuting*, which… no one is.

    UPS drivers are being run into the ground as everyone orders every­thing they can for home delivery. It’s… pretty grim. Cast in Wisdom was published at the end of January, before the various shelter-in-place mechanics were fully in place (and the need for them fully under­stood), so in that sense I’ve been lucky. But so so so many people haven’t been.

    I can’t imagine that people who debuted in March, or who will in April, aren’t strug­gling just to breathe — for reasons other than covid-19.

    Even indie ebooks are not doing as well as expected because in order to fill essen­tial orders, Amazon’s algo­rithm system has been changed or partially shut down — and Amazon is the bulk of an indie author’s income.

    No one is doing well from my career perspec­tive. But… I guess it just means we truly are all in this together.

  11. Tyronne Lorne Hodgins says:

    Hi Michelle. You are right. I do know. I actu­ally have a medical team of no less than 10 special­ists. I am very involved in my overall care and my doctors are very pleased that I discuss every aspect and ask rele­vant ques­tions. I only demand one thing from my doctors. That they listen to what I have to say. That’s it. We have an agree­ment, they don’t tell me how to prac­tice law (I’m a law clerk) and I don’t tell them how to best keep me alive :)! As a result, I am recov­ering having just finished my last chemo treat­ment for the liver cancer. I have a CT Scan on April 18th. I see my chemo doctor the week after. If the liver has shown marked improve­ment and if my lung tumor has remained stable and if my cancer, which is metastatic, has not cropped up else­where, I will get a break from chemo and radi­a­tion for awhile. It’s been non-stop for 10 months exactly now. Your stories allow me to forget for hours at a time what I’m dealing with and what I will deal with for the rest of my life, however long that may be. I love your work, I enjoy rereading your stories, I always pick some­thing else up that I may have missed or not made a connec­tion with but most of all, I love the humour and the sarcasm in your stories. They are a joy! I was looking forward to meeting you at your upcoming signing but I know it’s not going ahead. I will meet you one day. It’s on my bucket list. Take care and stay safe!!!

  12. MaryW says:

    Banks, insur­ance compa­nies, utility and other services are consid­ered essen­tial. My husband’s staff can all telecom­mute and are connected by phone via the internet and cell phone. They worked out a schedule that has someone in the office during hours.

  13. Candace says:

    I want to lend my voice in thanking the multi­tude of people out there who are doing such an extremely impor­tant job. Now more than ever we see how inter­con­nected we all are and how much we depend on each other. Not just in our own commu­ni­ties and coun­tries, but glob­ally as well.

    My 19 yr old son was recently hospi­tal­ized (non-coro­n­avirus related) and required a venti­lator. Only one of us could go with him, and I was unable to see him after he left the trauma room for the ICU (due to Covid-19 restric­tions). I was incred­ibly relieved and thankful that 1) there were venti­la­tors avail­able and 2) the medical team was so atten­tive and caring as always. It’s so impor­tant for us all to do our part for so many reasons.

    The longer this goes on the more diffi­cult it will be on so many levels. Speaking for myself, surrounding myself in the things I love doing like reading, is not only desir­able, but neces­sary right now. And Michelle, reading novels like your Cast series are heart­warming- because although Kaylin isn’t perfect, she gives us hope in humanity. There is a hero within all of us however imper­fect we may be.

    Please stay safe everyone and take care.

Leave a Reply