Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Andy: The Month of Blogging Is Over

And what have we learned?

That I need to do more blogging on Doctor Who!

No wait, that's not it.

That I need to send my resumes to more libraries!

No, that has nothing to do with the blogging.

That I need to do more blogging on Doctor Who!

No... wait, I've been here before... Oh no... One of those aliens is blogging with me!  NOOOO!  RUNN!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seeking Karmic Balance Between Job Hunting And Saving Turtles

Having spent more than two years now job hunting for librarian or computer/desktop help, I've long ago gotten to the frazzled psyche of a man who looks at an Application form and says aloud "Oh no.  Not again."

There's something... soul-crushing with filling out an application for employment.  There's the hassles of creating not just one resume but a series of resumes to cover every possible contingency that is out there... but now you've got to fill out a form that's asking for the information all over again.

So I was at an office this morning.  I dropped off my resume at a table at the St. Pete Job Fair last week, and the company called for me to come in and fill out an application (and apparently a face interview to follow it).  And I was sitting there, doing my best to fill out yet another application form...

...and I started getting one of those headaches.  The kind of headache that tells me "what the hell am I doing?"  The doubt that a long-time unemployed person gets after getting rejected and ignored long enough to haunt you.

And I panicked.

This is the absolutely worst thing to be doing when a job interview is on the line.  Panicking.  At that moment I knew the whole effort was going to be a waste, that I wasn't going to be any good for the interview.  I crossed out some of the personal info I already put on the form, handed the clipboard back in, apologized for wasting time and left.  Kicking myself mentally the whole way out.

This is what two years plus of job hunting does to you.  I try.  I do my best to get in the mindset when I go into job fairs, and interviews, and shipping resumes to hiring workplaces.  But the second that Doubt hits you...

The drive home was troubled.  That headache was still with me.  I took a scenic route home, looping around to get to a grocery store (needed milk, after all).  The road I took is undergoing construction, so the lanes are down to two (one each direction).  At one spot, the cars in front of me start swerving funny.  And then I quickly see why.

A turtle was crossing the road.

This is Florida.  This is occupational hazard to driving down here.  Lots of roads through wooded areas with nearby lakes.  Lots of places for turtles to live and grow.  And sad to say, turtles get the urge to wander from time to time.

And our roadways are not designed with turtle-safe passages underneath them.  Nor any turtle-level barricades to discourage them from passing the road.

To the cruel and disheartened, let me tell you: driving over a turtle is a bad thing.  Especially to me.  I've read Terry Prachett's Small Gods for one thing.  I have some inkling of the concept of spirit guides, animal totems, etc.  And turtles are a very spiritual animal.

Years ago, when I first coped with depression down in South Florida (was on Zoloft at the time), there was a day driving to work where I rescued a turtle off a major roadway... and I felt damn good the whole day.  It's not a day I've forgotten: it's been one of the few days I ever felt good.  Emphasis on ever.

I am not driving over a turtle.  I owe them.

I got out of the car, with the drivers in the cars stuck behind me sticking their heads out yelling about what the hell was going on.  I shouted back "I'm not driving over turtles" and focused my effort on picking up the little guy as he was scrambling across the road.

Turtle lifting is tricky.  You don't want to drop them, and they do wiggle a lot.  The turtle you see just wants to cross the road from Point A to Point Wherever the Turtle Thinks There's Turtle Happiness.  So to him, getting lifted off the road and floating through the air makes no sense.  Those stubby little turtle legs keep kicking in a walking motion.  I finally got my fingers safely under his shell and carried him over into the dirt in the direction he was going.  I made sure he'd be safe by carrying him a few more yards to the side than was necessary, in case the turtle changed his mind (Oh God. I hope not).  By then the drivers saw I was turtle rescuing and waved back to me that they understood the situation.  Got back in the car and kept driving in my own path.  I know the turtle and I will not cross paths again...

So that's been my day so far right now.  I screwed up a job interview and I saved a turtle off a busy road.  I wonder how the Karmic balance on that works out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Else Do Libraries Want From Reference Librarians?

The toughest part of job-hunting these last two years has been tweaking my resume to try and highlight what exactly my expertise and skills are.

And coping with the feeling that I'm still missing the magic phrase that would make a library HR job-hunter go "Hola, this guy has mad skills!"

I mean, I spell out that:

  • I've got years, 14 years and then some, working the reference and public service desk, answering questions, pointing people to the best resources, getting them to the research they seek;
  • I've got years, just as long, working with computers - from the heady days of CD-ROM readers (I can still remember the time it took to switch disks locked into special case holders) - into the first citation-only online databases and from there into full-text articles and now into PDF print-quality journal pages.  And not just researching them with Boolean search methods but with every Advanced limiter command prompt known to database managers.

And that's just with being a reference librarian.  Past that, I've got additional skills with collection management, shelf management (and weeding of dated materials), subject headings and cataloging keywords, and even some skill checking books out and handling overdue fines.  If there's been anything a librarian has to do, I've done it.  I've even been a branch manager (granted, that only lasted a year before my immediate supervisor found me wanting and suggested I get demoted to just reference librarian... yeah, you're not supposed to mention the "negative things" but hell, it happened and I've got to explain it sooner or later).

And still, I feel I'm missing something.

Anyone out there reading this blog have any suggestions on what I need to say on my resume to impress the libraries out there hiring?  Because in this job market, I'm up against one of the tightest markets for librarians ever as every state out there is facing massive budget cuts (and libraries are the easiest target for politicians everywhere... )

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Asking Xlibris To Lower the Cost of My Book...

...I kind of got the feeling when I called the publisher a few days ago to lower the price of the ebook version of Last of the Grapefruit Wars from $5.99 to $2.99 that I was pulling teeth from a very upset lion.

I think the conflict came from the fact that the publisher is one of those mainstream Print-on-Demand services.  Cutting the price in half seems like cutting half the money they'd be getting from selling that book.

Problem is, no one has been buying that many copies of my book (I'd say about two ebook purchases in the last year...) anyway.  And I think the price of it at over 5 bucks was part of the problem.

The book itself is pretty small in terms of page count (in ebook version it's under 100 pages): calling it slim is being polite.  But nobody is going to be buying a thin volume at over 5 bucks... when there are thicker-page-count novels going for less.

With the advent of direct publishing in ebook format, there is now a glut of self-published authors selling directly to the market.  And as they don't have to share (much) with a mainstream publisher with the profits, those authors can set their price any way they see fit.  And a lot of them are selling at 2.99 per ebook.  So I might as well drop the price of Grapefruit Wars to that level as well.

It makes basic sense.  If the demand is low, lower the value on what you have on supply to encourage people shopping for bargains.  You just can't go too low to hamper the costs of producing said supply (this is where you get that economics chart of the supply-and-demand X crossing).  Considering I paid Xlibris good money to have the short story anthology made available to direct-retail purchases, I think the costs of supply have been covered.  Now it's just selling the damn thing (and marketing with Xlibris is another issue altogether)...

Still, I NEED to deal with advertising that ebook and let people know it is for 2.99 now...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Things I Should Be Doing In Terms Of Writing

1) There's a story challenge to write for an all-dialogue short story.

2) There's that Jar of the Atlantic short that's been on the docket for 11 years.

3) There's the NaNoWriMo novel that's got 2 months to complete before the prize discount on getting a free copy printed by CreateSpace runs out.

4) The next Writers Association meeting in Wesley Chapel is the same day as Free Comic Book Day (May 7th)!  Damn.  The Wesley Chapel B&N better have comic book giveaways!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Witty Librarian and the CafePress of Doom

I've been meddling in the affairs of shoppers by creating more items with Witty Librarian quote-age and Logo over at the Witty Librarian Shelf of Stuff on CafePress.

So... if you know any librarians with truckloads of money to spare...  uh, lemme rephrase that.  If you know anybody with truckloads of money to spare who wants to purchase gifts to librarians, send them my way.  :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Negotiations For A Cover Artist

It helps to be a comic book fan and to follow links on DeviantArt to those artists who take commissions... ;-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Welcome To Post #100.

And for this post I would like to ask a few things of my fine upstanding blog readers:

1) Do any of you know a good graphic artist/comic book illustrator I can commission for creating an ebook cover?  Seriously.  Email me

2) Can you all get 50,000 people to buy my ebook Last of the Grapefruit Wars or the Nook-exclusive estory "Welcome To Florida"?  (my latest estory "The Hero Cleanup Protocol" is going through some evaluation at the moment...)

3) Can you help a fellow librarian who's down on his luck?  HIRE ME!!!  (Waaaaaaaaah) (runs toward the horizon)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

New eStory: The Hero Cleanup Protocol

by. Paul Wartenberg
cover by.  Paul Wartenberg, 'cause I'm waiting on word from Adam Withers if he's available to draw a cover for me... ;-)

The story is an idea I'd been bumping about for ages: my own little superhero reality where it's a world where Superheroes exist... but because they didn't know they classified as supers, by the time they could do anything about it (the Sixties) all the superhero names were claimed by the comic book industry.  So they have to go with fake "real names" like Charlie or Vicky... except for the rare few who can afford to pay a name squatter the rights to those names.  This is also a world where Superheroes have to be registered: either work under legal guidelines for the U.S. Marshals or the military (where supersoldiers rarely worked out well...), or "retire".  The mechanics of the world is that 1) anyone can be a hero: there's no defining DNA or chromosomal trait or mutating process; 2) most super powers are basic such as improved agility, speed, and flight... but that's usually it, there are few advanced powers like firestarting, telekinesis, or scrying; 3) the powers are mental in nature, not physical, even the powers of strength and invulnerability; 4) Most supers don't even know they have powers because they're rarely in a situation to employ them; and 5) there are few true Superhumans or God-like beings: most are mortal humans (there's one or two notable exceptions, and they're terrifying...).

In this world, there's (supposedly) one potential superhuman per 500,000 people.  Most supers organize into teams per city/metro, dedicated to stuff like bounty hunting, emergency response to disasters, and public relations (they're treated like sports athletes and celebrities: the third thing you get when you become a Registered Super - AKA Talent because "Super" had been trademarked - is your own playable trading card).  And in this world, every wannabe hero goes through rigorous training with the FBI and Marshals offices at Quantico.  They also go through rigorous psych evals, because the last thing anyone wants on their team is a superhero ready to snap at any second.

My story is about what happens when a new hero arrival snaps on his first day.  That's the Cleanup Protocol.  And it's my introduce to the key character of my superhero universe: Powersurge, the exception to all the rules I made...

It's been uploaded into Smashwords, made available for various ereader services.  I think it has a converted format for Kindle as well, which is a bit surprising because I thought Kindle was still using an exclusive format...

This was part of my Local Authors event presentation: I wanted to demonstrate the relative ease of getting a story uploaded straight from Word document format into an epublishing market.

The tricky part now is, obviously, how to get 50,000 people to buy that estory... ;-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Local Authors Event: Tarpon Springs April 5th

I will be at the Tarpon Springs Public Library today to promote my book Last of the Grapefruit Wars, my eshort story "Welcome To Florida", and possibly see about posting a new eshort through Smashwords to demonstrate how that might work.  No guarantees though.

Enjoy the Issue 20 updating to City of Heroes!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This Is A Month Of Blogging

I might not succeed.

Andy from Ta-Nehisi's Open Threads mentioned that April is supposed to be a month of daily blogging, a means of getting bloggers more active in the actual act of blogging.  You see, outside of the professionals who are paid to blog as a means of reporting, most amateur bloggers are... inconsistent.  Sometimes not even blogging for months on end.  When that happens, people who might read that blog tune out, traffic decreases, the possibility of getting your words seen and recognized fades.

So, to blog each day.

Like I said, I might not succeed.

At least not here.

I do have another blog, one where I am more active: my political blogsite The Amendments We Need, although it's been awhile since I've posted any amendment ideas...  The deal with that one is, well, it's more biased, and little bit angrier, and a lot more profane (kids, cover your eyes).  It doesn't have much to do with my writing interests and my librarianship profession, which I separated to this blog here.  Thanks for visiting, by the way.

What I may try to do is blog alternately, once here, once there.  But again, this is a busy month for me, and there's about 20 other real-life things I got to be doing around here.

So I might not succeed.

Check with me by April 30th.