Looking back at my 2017.

It’d be easy to allow my last blog posting of 2017 to wallow in the same sort of snark and smartassery that I employed as a defense mechanism pretty much every day while reading the news this past year. Instead, I’m going to end things on a high note.

IMG_2454So far as personal milestones go, I turned 50 this year. Rather than dwell on the sorts of things that seem to characterize the typical “mid-life crisis,” I’d already made the decision well ahead of my birthday to embrace full-on my half-century mark. I’ve told people that I had much more fun during my 40s than I did my 30s, due in no small part to family and friends as well as the rather odd way that I’ve managed to carve out something resembling a living. I don’t expect that to change just because my odometer turned over. I don’t feel 50, people tell me I don’t look 50, and I sure as hell don’t act 50, so screw it.

Speaking of the family, Michi and the girls are all happy and healthy. Addy turned 11 while Erin turned 9. I know it sounds cliché, but of everything I’ve accomplished in life to this point, being a decent husband and dad are the things in which I take the most pride. I’ll probably always be a work in progress on both of those fronts, but I have plenty of reasons to keep at it. 🙂

So far as writing, it was a bit of an odd year. Remember all those things I talked about writing during 2016? Well, they all showed up during 2017:

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Two Star Trek: The Next Generation novels – as well as my second “travel guide,” this time focusing on The Klingon Empire, dominated my Star Trek publications during the year, along with mine and Kevin’s first-ever comic collaboration from 2016 appearing in the Star Trek: Waypoint mini-series paperback collection. 2017 also brought with it my first professional forays into the realms of Planet of the Apes and Predator. Both of those were fun and scratched specific fanboy writing itches, and I’m hoping to revisit both universes, one of these days. Elsewhere on the planet of apes, I contributed my second essay to the gang at Sequart, for their collection Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos, edited by friends Rich Handley and Joseph Berenato.

Also, and after a lot of planning and waiting, I teamed up with colleagues David Lee Summers, Carol Hightshoe, Jennifer Brozek, and Bryan Thomas Schmidt and we worked with Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press to publish Maximum Velocity: The Best of Full-Throttle Space Tales.

DrasticMeasures-CoverAs for my writing during 2017, the project with the highest profile is probably Drastic Measures, my Star Trek: Discovery novel which was announced with a bit of fanfare at the big Star Trek convention in Las Vegas back in August. I actually knew as far back as the 2016 con that I’d be writing the book, but the secrecy ninjas from CBS have kept a tight lid on announcing such things until the appropriate time.

Going back even farther, I’d been talking at fairly regular intervals with my dear friend, Kirsten Beyer, who’s been in the Discovery writer’s room from the very beginning. I had a ringside seat as the show gestated and came together over a period of more than eighteen months, so yeah…I’m kind of biased. It was an interesting experience, trying to write a tie-in for a show that literally was being developed at the same time, and Kirsten played a big part in my being able to pull that off. Drastic Measures is due to be published on February 6th, 2018.

As for my other writing during 2017, I’m actually surprised at closing out the year without being able to announce or talk much about any of it because several of these things have not yet been formally announced by their respective publishers.

Two of those projects were completed and are scheduled to be published this coming summer. A project for another client was completed, but it’s looking increasingly as though it will never see the light of day. I was paid in full for my work, but the point of writing for publication is that your writing is…you know…published, so that people can experience it and (hopefully) enjoy it. At last report, there’s a slight glimmer of hope that the project will go forward, but the issues standing in its way are way above me and affect a number of people, and I feel more sorry for them than the fate of my little contribution.

Another tie-in project for which I signed a contract and have written an outline has been stalled somewhere between my client and the licensor, and I honestly have no idea when it might get the green light to move forward. I’ve been waiting months to hear some news, but my book is an admittedly very small fish in a very large pond. Such is the life of a freelancer. It’s still possible I might get some updates and be able to get writing, and maybe see this published either late in 2018 or early 2019.

What else do I have going? For those of you who may have missed it, back in November I accepted an offer to write full-time in an office setting. It’s both an interesting change of pace (and scenery!) and a nice counter to my fiction writing. My first month at the new gig has been educational and rewarding, as I’ve written two articles of my own and have three more in various stages of development, provided feedback on various pieces written by my teammates, and I’m currently editing an article submitted over the transom for our review. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be working with that piece’s authors to ready it for publication. So far, so good. 🙂

On the freelance front, I have contracts with two other clients that are now in an “active” status so far as my writing schedule. I have a manuscript due to one client on February 22nd, with a planned publication date in early 2019. I’m also due to start plotting with the other client after the holiday so we can see about getting on with that writing. A project for another client is still hanging in a low orbit, and I’m hoping to start working on an outline early in the new year.

One of the most frequent questions I get is whether I’ll be writing more Star Trek novels for Pocket Books. At present, I’m not under contract with them for anything beyond the upcoming Drastic Measures. Simon & Schuster is, at last report, finalizing their new licensing agreement CBS, and once that’s done I hope Pocket will see fit to contact me.

As I said last year and repeat as often as I can, I’m grateful to my clients who continue to employ me, my readers who continue to support me, and my family and friends who are in my corner even when I’m working often insane hours to meet a deadline. Kevin naturally gets his own shout-out because Kevin! I literally could not do what I get to do without all of you, and hey! If you’re an editor or publisher reading this, I’m still a freelancer, ever on the prowl for more work. 😀

Okay, 2018: Bring it on.

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Back to the salt mines…sorta.

Most of you who read this blog with any regularity know that I’ve been working as a full-time freelance writer since leaving my corporate job in September 2014. Prior to that, any writing I did for novels, short stories, magazine articles or the web was done outside of that job, usually in the evenings or on weekends/holidays.

Though I’ve enjoyed the freedom afforded by the “freelancer lifestyle,” I’ve also come to realize that I do miss the structure of a “regular job” in an office, interacting and collaborating with other humans. For a while, now, I’ve been conducting quiet job searches, looking for something interesting enough that it could entice me to shave and wear pants on a daily basis.

Well, I found it. Beginning Monday, November 27th, I’m returning to an office environment, but not the realm of information technology/software development. Instead, I’ll be working as ………. wait for it ………. a writer!

This came about due to an opportunity crossing my path, which I found to be unlike pretty much everything else I’d seen on places like LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job sites. Instead, this one was quite simply too interesting to ignore. After applying and interviewing for the position, I knew that my initial gut reaction was right, and this presented a challenge I couldn’t pass up. Apparently, the folks on the other side of the table viewed things in similar fashion, as they offered me the job. 🙂

I’m genuinely excited by this (slight) change in direction, which will allow me to bring to bear what I consider to be a rather diverse set of skills and experience. In addition to the obvious one (um, writing?), editing, a bit of tech, and my military background will all be utilized, and my interests in military history and current affairs and even veterans issues may well come into play. I’ll also be getting some hands-on experience with graphic design and layout using products like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, which I confess are skills I’ve wanted to learn for a while, now.

In keeping with the self-imposed rule I had in place during my previous stint at a “regular job,” you’re not likely to see me posting or commenting about it or any related matters in this space or the other areas of my social media platform. Indeed, I’ve always refrained from even listing my current employer as part of my profiles, because I prefer to keep that part of my “world” separate from this.

You know……whatever the hell “this” is.

Here’s the rub: Because what I’ll be writing will be for publication, it’s possible – even likely – that a segment of my current readership will see my byline at some point. So, it’s not as though I’m looking to keep things “secret” or anything. Just know that if and when the subject comes up, any inquiries or comments about that work likely will be directed to the proper channels. For example, the people for whom I’m writing have their own social media presence. It remains to be seen if I’ll be contributing in any way to that, but for the moment I’m going with “No.” We shall see.

The main impact here will be that I likely won’t be posting as much during the weekdays. My new employers are aware of my fiction/genre writing and my social media activities, but that won’t give me license to frequent this space during the workday. Based on what I’ve been told to expect so far as my regular duties, my days will be more “sane” than what I used to deal with a few years ago. Though I expect the occasional bout of overtime as needed to keep schedules on track, I should still be left with plenty of brain cells, energy, and desire to continue slinging words in a fiction-like fashion.

And speaking of that? Worry not, as I’m definitely not giving that up. In addition to three projects for which I’ve delivered my manuscripts and I’m currently awaiting next steps, I’m under contract to write a novel for which my outline’s not yet been given the green light, and there are two other projects for which I’m currently awaiting contracts before I start digging in on them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…..I need to go make sure I have pants to wear for Monday.

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Yes, this thing still works.

Blog-On-Off

I figure (read: “desperately hope”) there’s at least a couple of you out there wondering where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing the last week or so.

The answer is that I’ve been bussssssssssssssssssssy. There are several things in the hopper at the moment, almost all of which fall into the category of “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet.”

I was motoring along at a somewhat leisurely pace for a bit there, enjoying the first few weeks of my kids’ summer vacation, but then several things kicked into gear in rapid succession. On the home front, both kids are attending “summer learning” programs at school. Unlike “summer school” from back in my day, which you attended because your dumb ass flunked a class during the regular school year, this is a completely different kind of thing. For one, the kids volunteer to go, and the classes they attend are fun. Oldest daughter is taking a computer animation class, while youngest is doing one about animal sciences. How cool are those? So, it’s like summer/day camp, but I don’t have to pay for it because it’s offered by the school system (which I kinda sorta already pay for, anyway). Of course, the classes are at two different schools with different start/release times, so I’m running around town in the morning and afternoon doing my best Uber driver impression.

The kids are also on the neighborhood swim team again, this year. This requires them to be at practice a few times a week, and then there’s the weekly swim meets against other neighborhood teams every Wednesday evening throughout June and part of July. The Wednesdays are a 4-5 hour commitment, plus we parents volunteer to help with various things that need doing during the evening. I usually serve as one of the lane timers, for example, with my little stopwatch and clipboard, while Michi helps up front with registration, entering stats, or serving as a runner. When we started this last year I didn’t think I’d enjoy any of it, but it’s been a lot of fun, due in no small part to friends who also have daughters in the program, and with whom we hang during all of this.

(Note: It’s possible that an adult beverage or two may be present at these events. YMMV.)

Youngest daughter had a Taekwondo promotion this past Saturday. It was a midterm promotion for her, and she now has about half of the midterm stars she needs before she can even be considered for testing to earn her Third Degree black belt. She’s taking the rest of the summer off to enjoy swim team and the rest of her vacation before school starts back up, and  then she’ll get back to it. Oldest daughter, also a Second Degree, is taking a hiatus of her own. 

Work wise, things are maintaining pace in the “busy” lane but threatening to swerve into “insane.” As I write this, I have three…count them, three… projects all with deadlines in the next 45-60 days. One was something I was already scheduled to start working on after finishing the previous novel manuscript, and the other two came largely out of nowhere. Both are things I really, really want to do, and each has the potential to lead to more work in their respective realms, so hell yeah I signed on. By themselves, none of them is something that would be in danger of missing its respective deadline, and in truth all are of a size that I can manage together with proper time management and discipline.

(Insert joke about my being doomed here.)

What are these new things? Well, as you may have already guessed, all of them fall under the aforementioned “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet” category. Stay tuned for details as I’m given the green light to start blabbing.

Oh, and that novel manuscript I mentioned in passing a few paragraphs ago? The one I turned in on May 22nd? Yeah, I’ve heard back from my editor and the licensor and there will be some rework involved. Nothing too demanding (at least, the way I see it), but requiring more time than I’m able to give it at this precise moment. Thankfully, all parties are sympathetic to my plight, and I’m doing whatever I can to shuffle things around on my calendar so that I can return my updated manuscript sooner rather than later. Luckily, we have a bit of maneuvering room, here, but that doesn’t mean I want this thing to linger any longer than absolutely necessary. Oh, what’s it about? Again, “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet.” Sorry. 🙂

As for things I can talk about? Let’s see….today, I’m wrapping up a piece for Modiphius, to be used as part of the communications stream between game developers and players for their upcoming Star Trek Adventures role playing game. Once that’s done, I’m putting the final polish on a guest blog piece that will run in conjunction with the soon-to-be released Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire from Insight Editions. Like the book itself, I’m writing this piece to be “in character” as though submitted by the same people who write the guides. We’ll see if anyone else thinks I’m as clever or funny as I apparently think I am. Once these are out of the way, I’ll be getting started in earnest on the Three Big Things.

It’s nice to be busy.

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So, enough about me. What’s up with you?

Looking back at my 2016.

What a year.

It’s definitely been something of a ride. Dominated by the protracted and ever-stupefying election cycle and its culmination with Biff Tannen’s ascendance to the presidency, 2016 on so many fronts just feels like a year that took five years to endure. A constant stream of memes have popped up on social media to describe individual feelings about the year, and I couldn’t resist offering one of my own:

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Yeah, that about sums it up.

What’s that? You want me to elaborate? Fine. Read on.

Continue reading “Looking back at my 2016.”

Vacation’s over. Back to work.

Previously on The Fog of Ward:

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Last week, Clan Ward headed south to our ancestral home for a week of fun in the Florida sun. There were excursions to Disney, the Kennedy Space Center, and Universal Studios, as well as visits to old haunts to show the offspring where Mommy and Daddy committed various bits of childhood mischief. There also were dinners with family and friends, and even a lazy day spent on the beach with friends from Kansas City who also were vacationing in the Sunshine State. Many thanks to them as well as my sister, Terri, my brother-in-law, Scott, and my wonderful niece, Lindsey, who helped to make our week back home so much fun. Indeed, my sister’s family and mine will be getting back together in June for yet more vacation madness.

For me and the Mrs., it was a sorely needed escape from all the various things we had been dealing with during the past few months. Though I wasn’t able to completely avoid the demands of work (the eternal plight of the full-time freelancer), I was at least able to keep it at bay enough so that it didn’t intrude too much on the fun we were having.

But now? Break’s over.

What’s on the docket? Well, we start the day with firing off our revisions to the copyedited manuscript for Purgatory’s Key, our contribution to Star Trek: Legacies, the trilogy of novels Pocket Books will be publishing as part of its celebration of the original series’ 50th anniversary. I was looking those over last week, when snippets of time presented themselves, and Kevin and I met yesterday to finalize a few things.

I also was reviewing the still in-progress layout for A Travel Guide to Vulcan last week. The book’s editor and art director are in the final stages of getting the interior art nailed down, and I know I’m biased when I say this but HOLY SHIT, PEOPLE. This thing is going to be gorgeous, and (hopefully) fun.

Now that I’m actually “back to work,” (I know…doesn’t sound like I ever left, right?), what’s on tap? There’s Headlong Flight, of course, the current novel in-progress, and which will be set after Armageddon’s Arrow, my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel from last year. It continues to sputter along. I’m ramping back up to speed today, though, and anticipate no major obstacles between now and the time I deliver the manuscript.

(DID YOU HEAR THAT, WRITING GODS? NO MAJOR OBSTACLES.)

:: ahem ::

I still need to finalize revisions to the outline for the novel I’ll write after Headlong Flight, and while I was away I also received official approval to begin work on a new project, the manuscript for which is due in mid May. I also have a smaller deliverable for a client due later this week. While I was down in Florida, Kevin and I also were offered an opportunity to write a Trek-themed article for a not-Trek magazine which will tap into the 50th anniversary shenanigans, and there’s another collaboration on the table that also moved a bit further ahead as we discussed details with our editor. Yes, it’s Trek, and yes it’s 50th-related, and if it goes off the way we’ve discussed to this point? It’s going to be so much fun I may just soil myself.

If I do end up ruining my Underoos, I’m going to need more, which means I’ll need money, and that brings us to the new stuff that’s out there or will soon be out there, vying for your disposable income. While I was down in Florida, my Mars Attacks novella The Armageddon Directive went on sale. Raise your hand if you pre-ordered a copy.

Meanwhile, 2113: Stories Inspired By the Music of Rush is still comin’ at ya on April 12th.What? You say you want to pre-order that one, too? YOU ARE WELCOME.

After that? Elusive Salvation, my Star Trek novel that’s also a somewhat sequel to From History’s Shadow, will officially drop on April 26th.That and other stuff coming later this year is pimped quite shamelessly right here.

If you need me, I’ll be over here, back to the grind, and all that.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

A few years ago, I wrote this for my mother’s birthday. When I went to do something similar the following year, I realized that I’d used up all of the funniest bits and cute little anecdotes the first time around. So, I decided to make this part of an “annual tribute” to be reposted every year in honor of She Who Gave Birth To Me, in recognition of the number redacted anniversary of her own grand entrance into this crazy little field trip we call “Life.”

So, here we go:

Here’s to you, Mom, for dressing the wounds I sustained after tying a bath towel around my neck and leaping from the top of the stairs because I saw Superman do it on TV.

Here’s to you, Mom, for fueling at a very early age my interests in books and reading for the sheer pleasure to be found if you just let the written word guide the way; it’s a gift I’ve treasured every day of my life.

Here’s to you, Mom, for blaming Dad instead of me when, as we were trying to move a new sofa-bed into the house, the bed came out of its mounting and knocked an antique pitcher and bowl off a nearby table, destroying it on impact.

Here’s to you, Mom, for teaching me that the things in life worth having are not easy to obtain, but that the rewards of perseverance are immeasurable.

Here’s to you, Mom, for not disowning me when, at the age of 16, I backed my truck too close to the side of the house and ripped off the power box, without even the courtesy of dying by electrocution in the process.

Here’s to you, Mom, for taking the woman who one day would become my wife, and treating her from the first minute like a second daughter.

Here’s to you, Mom, for taking that same woman aside, and teaching her very early on how not to put up with my bullshit.

Here’s to you, Mom, for being there when our children were born, doing everything you could to ease our transition into the incredible next chapters of our lives.

Here’s to you, Mom, for putting into motion from that first day your master plan to spoil your grandchildren and relish in the mischief they now pull on us, as justifiable retribution for the hell – however infrequent yet unforgettable it might’ve been – that my sister and I raised as kids.

Here’s to you, Mom, on your birthday. I hope you enjoy it, and many more.

My 2014 in review.

Well, it was definitely an interesting twelve months. A lot went down in 2014, professionally and personally, and overall I’m pleased with where I am as we ring in a new year.

Things didn’t start off on the highest of notes, as we were forced to say goodbye to one of our dogs, Dixie. A shelter rescue, she’d been with us for a lot of years and having to put her down was even more difficult because of the kids. We said goodbye to a few friends, as well, including a couple taken from us at far too young an age.

The better days began early in the year when we finally completed the sale of our old house and moved into our new Ward Manor. The house is larger, the girls each have their own rooms and there’s plenty of space for everyone. The neighborhood is nice and comes with several amenities, and the girls get to play with the same kids they go to school with, which for me was the big win so far as relocation went.

Professionally, the year’s biggest news had to be me making the bold choice to walk away from a regular day job and instead take on the challenge of writing full-time. If not for my wife, I likely wouldn’t have made the decision, but she’s got my back, and I don’t mind saying that mentally I haven’t felt this good in years. The stress of trying to hold down what basically amounted to two full-time jobs was definitely taking its toll, and something was going to give, sooner or later. As things stand now, I’m very happy with where I sit as 2014 winds down and I look ahead to the new year.

On the writing front, the year began with learning that my Star Trek novel Peaceable Kingdoms had hit The New York Times Bestseller list. After the fun I had working with fellow writers David R. George III, Una McCormack, David Mack, and James Swallow to develop The Fall, that all of the books sold so well is just gravy. As for what it’s meant for me personally? It’s not like I’ve got concubines feeding me grapes or anything, but I certainly have no complaints.

For Star Trek, the biggest thing for me this year was the launch of the Star Trek: Seekers series. Two years of plotting, planning, and writing on the part of Dave Mack, Kevin Dilmore, and myself, along with our cover artist, Rob Caswell, and truly top-shelf support from our editors and other good folks at Pocket Books and CBS saw to it that we kicked off Seekers in stellar fashion. As I write this, Dave has delivered his manuscript for the third book, and Kevin and I are madly working away on the fourth book.

In and around all of that, I opened a couple of new doors in 2014 so far as working with other publishers and editors. Back in the summer, I had my first essay published by the Sequart Organization, in New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics edited by Joseph F. Berenato. Since writing that piece, I’ve written for another Sequart book, The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes, and I’ve recently agreed to write two additional essays for future books.

Also back during the summer, I was approached by Tor/Forge Books to basically take on a dream project: writing a book based on one of my other favorite television series, 24. Getting to write a Jack Bauer adventure has been on my Bucket List forever. That manuscript will be delivered this spring, but I’m not sure yet at this date when the book itself might be published.

On the lighter front, we hit the milestone 100th “Ask Dayton” answer, part of an ongoing gag for friends Nick Minecci, Terry Lynn Shull, and Mike Medeiros over at the G and T Show. What began as a lark has become something of a regular writing prompt for me, often calling for me to (try and) be funny on a deadline. Jury’s still out as to whether that’s actually working.

My 2015 writing plate is already filling up quite nicely. I’ve signed contracts with Pocket Books to write two more Star Trek novels–one a sequel to From History’s Shadow, and another to be described and named later. It’s also looking like still another Trek novel is in the offing, but contracts have not yet been signed for that one. And if that’s not enough, I’ve got a couple of ideas for other projects to send Pocket’s way.

Elsewhere, I recently finished a short story for an anthology which I don’t think I’m allowed to identify just yet, and another short is waiting in the wings for me to tackle before spring. Also, I’ve just begun talking to an editor at another publisher for a project that also will be a tie-in of sorts. We talked briefly just before Christmas, and I expect the discussion to continue after the new year. Dare I hope that this might be the beginning of another beautiful friendship? We shall see.

And there may be a couple of other fun things, too. Stay tuned.

So, 2014 can safely be described as a “year of change.” 2015 is definitely shaping up to be a year filled with neat and fun things, and I’m thankful for my good fortune, my family and my friends for making it possible. I’m also immensely appreciative of my editors and sincerely grateful for my readers, who really are the reason why I was able to take such an audacious plunge into writing full-time. I’ll be working to show all of you that you backed a good horse.

All right, 2015: Let’s do this.

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Is this thing on?

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Yeah, I know. I’ve let things slide a bit this week, with that all that holiday stuff and whatnot going on.

So, for those of you also are enjoying or enduring a holiday break, how’s things? Kids out of school? Are you on vacation somewhere? Got a house full of company? Get any cool presents? What did you get me?

I’ve seen several blogs already making with “Year in Review” posts, and while it’s not something I do every year, I figure 2014 deserves something of a look back from where I sit, given the interesting turns it’s given me. So, I’ll ponder that during the weekend and have something up in time to ring in the new year. I may even post up a set of goals or things I’m looking forward to doing or seeing in 2015. You know, like hoverboards and stuff.

hoverboard-coming-soonAnybody else?

Novel Spaces – “Taking the Plunge”

writerHey! It’s the 16th again! Didn’t we just do this, like, a month ago, or something? Anyway, you know that it means, right? It’s my turn in the queue over at the Novel Spaces blog!

This time around, I talk a bit about my recent decision to pursue writing full-time. Granted, being laid off from my regular day job helped with that decision, but it was my wife who convinced me that I didn’t really need to go set up shop in some other IT cubicle farm. Indeed, she preferred that I didn’t, because she knew it was not something I’d find fulfilling, and she wanted me to stop being a grumpy ass all the time as a consequence of sleep deprivation and constantly chasing writing deadlines in and around the demands of my “real job.” The result? As I say over there,  I’ve cast aside caution, dared to spit into the wind, and taken the plunge….

Novel Spaces – “Taking the Plunge”

And what I said about sleeping more (and better), having more free time for the family, and generally being less grumpy? It’s all true.

My Novel Spaces archive.

And so it goes.

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I’ve been pretty busy the last several days, getting the novel in-progress whipped into something resembling a manuscript that won’t make my editor want to run in front of a bus. In and around all of that, there have been some other things happening. A close circle of friends knew ahead of time, but now we’re here and I figure I may as well share the news with the rest of you. After all, it certainly will affect things going forward, including what you might be seeing here…hopefully for the better.

Last Friday, my corporate life clock officially turned black, as it was my last day with my full-time employer. Basically, the account we had with our client came to an end, and my choices were to attempt to find a new position within the company, or receive a severance package as part of a “work force reduction.” After investigating the available opportunities and knowing that relocation was not a real option (you may recall that we just moved into a new house back in the spring), I chose Door #2.

Though my time with Hewlett-Packard now has come to an end, I can honestly say that the experience of being let go has been about as decent and dignified as I think these things get. We were told months ago that this (likely) would happen, we were kept up to date as developments came about, and there have been all sorts of tools and such to aid with the transition. I actually had my first brush with a layoff back in 2003 while working for Sprint. That company had outsourced a lot of its IT work to two other firms, IBM and Electronic Data Systems (EDS), and I was one of the lucky ones who was hired (by EDS) to support that work. Later, when EDS was acquired by HP in 2008, I once again was one of the fortunate folks to be carried over. One of the nice things that EDS did when they hired me was bridge my employment with Sprint, and HP did the same, giving me a cumulative total of 16 years for purposes of–among other things–vacation, retirement/401k contributions, and, at the end of it all, my severance package.

So, as none of this was a surprise, I (and the other people so affected) had plenty of time to plan. In addition to checking the postings within HP, I also was looking into employment alternatives with another company. However, as I scanned what jobs were available, crossing out those where I didn’t think my skill sets were a match or which required relocation, I started understanding that what was left either would pay much less than I was earning or just be something I simply didn’t want to do.

Then, I began to realize something else: I just didn’t want to do any of this shit anymore.

For one thing, I’ve been in IT for almost 30 years. Call it a midlife crisis, or a crisis of confidence that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find something where I was a good fit and would be able to make decent money, but the idea of starting over at or near the bottom of someone else’s corporate cubicle farm was disconcerting, to say the least.

Therefore, this week started with me in a position I’ve not known since I had my first job at age 16: Unemployed.

Well, not really.

After a couple of long discussions with She Who Is My Wife and My Rock, and with her actually and *actively* encouraging me to do so, I made a bold choice: I’m going into business for myself, kinda sorta. While I was checking out the IT job listings, I also was quietly making inquiries about the possibility of securing more freelance work. I’ve mentioned every so often that I’ve had to pass on projects because balancing my day job along with the writing I already had on my plate saw to it that I just didn’t have the time to commit to anything more. When I approached a few folks with news of my “increased availability,” the early feedback I got in a couple of cases was a variation of, “Where the hell have you been? I’ll put your ass to work right now,” which was gratifying.

One thing I seem to have in my favor that wasn’t necessarily the case a decade ago is that I’ve had a decade more to build a reputation as somebody worth hiring (I’m told) as well as a network of connections. With all of that apparently going for me–along with the support over the years of a growing and loyal readership–as well as that aforementioned severance package to cushion the landing, I’ve decided to pursue writing full-time.

As I write this, and after delivering the manuscript for my latest novel to its editor, I have signed contracts for two more novels (one solo, the other a collaboration with Kevin), and verbal agreements for two more after that, with the contracts on the way. There have been discussions about future books as well as other projects. I’m starting to get serious about an original SF concept that’s been percolating for a bit and which I hope to shop to publishers, and I’m even planning to dip my toe a bit deeper into the self-publishing pool. I like to think I’m pretty adaptable, and I’m willing to entertain anything that sounds interesting.

Have words, will write. And all that.

So, I’m gonna get a bit of my Hank Moody on for a while–hopefully without the endless train of bad decisions–and I guess we’ll see what we’ll see, right? I’m hopeful, excited, and a little scared…all at the same time.

And so it goes.