I found a digital set of journal entries from 1990. It was my first real attempt at journaling. It was also before I understood what the internet was and that things written in digital form are forever unless you make a specific effort to get rid of them. I read the journal entries, had a good laugh and a small cringe, then I deleted them. No one needs to have access to private journal entries from 30 years ago when I was thrashing about in my college years.
Talk about hindsight being 2020…(and every other 2020 joke out there).
I’ve already rounded up 2019…and logged my accomplishments from the last decade of 2010-2019. I guess the only thing left is to talk about my plans for 2020. Hard numbers:
- Write: 1 BattleTech novel, 1 SF novella, 5 short stories, [other projects in the works].
- Edit: 2 BattleTech novels, 1 anthology, 1 Shadowrun novella, all contracted short stories, [other projects in the works].
- Publications: 2 BattleTech novels, 1 anthology, 1 Shadowrun novella, [other projects in the works].
- Travel: 6 conventions (speaking at 5, dealers table at 4).
- Podcasts: Continue to be voice talent on the Dire Multiverse.
Life is more than the publishing business. Fantasy Jenn is waiting in the wings to get things done, too, including…
- Read 5 nights a week.
- Learn to pick locks. (This one is mostly for Apocalypse Girl.)
- Get better at Beat Saber. (IE: shift from easy to normal mode on all songs)
- Declutter sentimental things.
Fantasy Jenn is an interesting concept for me to play around with. Fantasy You is the person you buy hobbies for but never get invested in. Fantasy You is the person who is going to scale mountains, and foster kittens, but you never find the time. The same person who is always going to lose 10 lbs. and start eating healthy, but can never get in the habit.
Last year, I decided to start feeding Fantasy Jenn in a deliberate fashion. I actually started this accidentally in late 2018 when I changed my diet to feel better. I’m happy to say that I’m still 25 lbs. down despite the trauma of last year. I also decided it was time to declutter. I decluttered twice last year and the household is better for it.
This year, I’ve decided that I’m going to pick one thing that Fantasy Jenn wants and work at it for a month. If I don’t find joy or skill or use in it, I’m going to stop, put it down, and say good-bye to that fantasy. When I say good-bye to that fantasy, I’m going to say hello to the next dream that Fantasy Jenn has and work on it. I think that’s going to be the key in 2020. Work on one fantasy at a time.
I don’t have new year’s resolutions. I have yearly goals and I tend to stick to them. I suppose it’s because it keeps me feeling like a successful and productive person.
What about you? What fantasies will you work on this year?
How does one review a decade of growth, change, expansion, and experience in a single career? Much less in an industry like the publishing industry? I suppose by starting with some of the stats from 2010 – 2019. Note, this is an imperfect list of stats. It doesn’t mention the number of words written, the stories submitted then rejected, the novels written and trunked, the journals, articles, and blog posts. But, really, you’ve got to start somewhere. That is what I’ve done.
- Short stories published: 65
- Fiction collections published: 4
- Novellas published: 5
- Novels published: 11
- Omnibuses published: 2
- Podcasts produced and published: 2
- Comic books published: 1
- Anthologies edited: 16
- RPG books contributed to: 7
- RPG books written/co-written: 6
- Award nominations: 18 (including 2 Bram Stoker awards and a Hugo award)
- Awards won: 7 (including an AU Shadows award, an ENnie award, an Origins award, and a Scribe award)
Gotta admit, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. In 2010, if you’d told me that one day I’d be an internationally published author and editor who’d been nominated for both the Bram Stoker and the Hugo award, I would’ve laughed at you and said it was a nice idea. I thought those things were so far out of my reach that I couldn’t imagine it. If you’d told me that I’d get to write for some of my favorite non-RPG properties like VWars, Valdemar, and Predator, I would’ve wondered what you’d been drinking. Stuff like that didn’t happen to me.
Then again, I didn’t know I was going to start my own publishing house.
…Or serve a term as a Director-at-Large of SFWA.
…Or volunteer for the HWA.
…Or be a Guest of Honor at ten different conventions, including conventions in Sweden and Finland.
…Or get an agent after I’d given up the search.
In truth, this is no real way to quantify a decade of my career in a meaningful manner that gives the scope of “everything.” I’ve always been ambitious when it comes to my career. I’ve got plans for the next decade. I’m sure they’ll change. But, that’s all right.
I’ll leave you with some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
- Share the love. Publishing is not a zero sum game. No one has to lose for you to win. Eventually we will work together on a project.
- Default to being kind. Publishing is a small industry.
- Write what you love and what you want to read. My greatest success has come from settling in to write exactly what I want to write and to love what I do.
- Figure out what kind of writing career you want. Casual? Part-time? Full-time? Just hang out with other writers? It’s all good. The sooner you realize what you actually want, the better it will be for you.
- You are allowed to change your mind and to change direction. Shift gears on the type of story telling you do. Flash? Podcasts? Epic novel series? One-off books? Tie-in work?
- You are allowed to stop. To quit. To take a break. To rest.
- You are allowed to start again. No one is going to take away your writing card.
- There is no one path to a successful writing career. YOU determine what makes you a success. Self-pub? Big 5? Hybrid? It’s all fair game. This is one of the most exciting times in the publishing arena. Nothing is off-limits.
Of course, the last decade wouldn’t have been as successful as it’s been without the Husband’s support. He helped make it all possible. For that, I am ever-grateful.
In the annual tradition of every freelance writer’s need to justify themselves, here is my 2019 Scorecard. How did I do at what I do most? Overall, pretty good, I think. I succeeded more than I failed. Though, I didn’t complete everything I wanted to get done.
Short Story Submissions: 7
- Acceptances: 5
- Rejections: 1
- Pending: 1
This is a very good look for me. Though, in truth, 5 of the 7 short stories were commissioned. I rarely have time to write for markets that are not guaranteed.
New Words Written: 125,130
- Short: 24,130
- Long: 101,000
That equates to 4 new short stories, 1 new RPG project, 1 novella, and 1 novel. In the grand scheme of things, this about 60% of what I normally write. However, life was not as kind to me as it had been in the past. The death of loved ones makes writing hard.
Published Projects: 7
- 2 novels: BattleTech: Iron Dawn and Shadowrun: Makeda Red
- 1 anthology: A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods
- 3 short stories: “Between a Corp and a Hard Place” (Shadowrun), “Written in Red” (Emberwind), “One Town at a Time” (Valdemar)
- 1 podcast: ShadowBytes (Shadowrun)
- 1 Won: 2019 Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award.
- 1 Nomination: To Fight the Black Wind - finalist for the 2019 Raven Award for Horror/Thriller novel.
Conventions Attended: 5
This is less than half of the number of conventions attended in 2018…by design. I attended 12 in 2018 and that was too much. That’s one of my goals for 2019 succeeded.
Goals for the Year: 6
- Fewer conventions attended.
- Declutter the House.
- Expand my Creative Horizons (Twitch game and Voice talent on the Dire Multiverse).
- Continue focus on my physical health.
- Figure out my crafting situation (All the crafts are still languishing).
- Curious Fictions (This failed. I didn’t want to keep it up and Ko-Fi was easier and more people have brightened my day with it.)
Next up, a look at the last decade. I think I’ve come a long way and I should celebrate that.
This year, I won the Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award for session three. I was surprised and pleased.
“Writing is hard. A writer needs assistance, encouragement, and ideas to help them put words on the page. This award recognizes those who contribute to the success of other writers.”
From the certificate:
“Each year, the members of the Rainforest Writers community gather to spend a few days writing, kibitzing, and talking the talk. While the stated goal of the retreat is to get some much needed writing time, this retreat also serves as an opportunity for writers to bask in the community of other writers and creatives. This communal event provides writers with the fuel and fire to go forth and continue creating.
“In light of this, we wish to recognize individuals who are notable inspirations to the member of the Rainforest Writers community. Being amazing takes effort, and we know such effort is not always an easy choice to make, and we appreciate your wherewithal to excel at such effort.
“The Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award is to be awarded to an individual from each session of the retreat. Nominations for the award will be submitted by the attendees of each session, and the final decision will be overseen by Patrick Swenson, the retreat coordinator and spiritual guru.
“This award will manifest itself as an artfully designed and rendered trophy/plaque/wall hanging thingy as well as a cash stipend. Fellow attendees may have some ideas about how the money should be spent. The recipient of the Inspirational Award may creatively observe such ideas as they see fit.
“The Rainforest Writers Inspirational Award is sponsored by A Good Book Bookstore, located in Sumner, WA.”
I’m so chuffed to win this award. It was so unexpected. One of my goals is to help and inspire other writers. To be awarded this by my peers is icing on the cake. Also, the cash was nice, too. It’s even better that this year’s award includes a carving of the pacific northwest tree octopus.
Yesterday, I adulted like a boss. The Husband and I met with a new-to-us lawyer to update our Living Trust and the accompanying documents. It’s been 10 years and it was time. Boy, was it time. 10 years ago, the Husband and I had just gotten married. We didn’t have all the assets we own/manage. We certainly didn’t have the royalties coming in that I have now.
Beneficiaries also changed—one had died, another was traded out for someone closer for us, and some of the specific things we wanted to go to certain people were cut…while other things were added. The instructions for the cats had to change as well. Esme is dead. I have two more cats. One of the cats’ “Godparents” has a dog now and I don’t think that’s going to work out anymore. Thinking about how to pair off the four of them (if someone can’t take all four) makes my heart hurt.
Also, estate law has changed.
We had to get this new lawyer because the old one isn’t in business anymore. This new one is part of a firm. So if they leave or something, we’ll be able to continue working with the firm. I like the new lawyer. She’s smart, energetic, and thoughtful. She’s also tech savvy and has at least one tattoo that I saw. That is a plus in her favor from me.
Sometimes it’s hard to think about a future where we won’t be here… or, worse, only one of us isn’t here. It’s necessary. It’s important. Especially for things like executor, Power of Attorney, and Living Wills. I’m glad we’re doing it though. I feel better knowing everything is going to be refreshed, up-to-date with the new laws, and settled.
10 years is too long of a time to go between will updates. The lawyer recommends a review/refresh every 5 years, or after a major life event. One of the new things I have to figure out is my literary estate. The literary estate executor can be (often is) a different person than the Living Trust executor. This is going to take a little bit of research and thought. Note: if you’re an author, you need to be thinking about this, too.
Sometimes, being an adult sucks. But when it’s done, you feel accomplished.
I also needed a hug.
If you don’t have a Will / Living Trust / Power of Attorney drawn up, you need to. At least think about it.
Have a cat picture. Leeloo is cute.
As “Declutter Monday” is currently “Project Monday” and I don’t think “crocheted 1/3 of a baby blanket today” is all that interesting, I thought I’d talk about something I’ve noticed recently.
I’m part of the SFWA mentoring program. This is a program where SFWA pairs a mentor with a mentee based on a questionnaire from both sides. The official mentoring relationship lasts for six months. You “meet” and have contact every other week. From my point of view, the program matched me up with a very good mentee.
Through my work with them, I’ve discovered something: sometimes I need to hear exactly what I’m telling my mentee. I have to admit, this can be annoying. I’m not the one being mentored. I’m not the one who needs to learn the lessons I’m teaching. I’m the experienced knowledgeable one in this conversation. Right?
Well, yes and no. Some lessons are easy and I just need to be reminded of them. Some lessons are hard and I need to have them beaten into me again and again.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
IE: steady and consistent writing, editing, PR, etc… will go a long way. Of course, I did have a very bad Nov 2018. I wrote a total of 762 words of fiction that month. I had a hard time putting words down. I was burnt out. Over all, I wasn’t worried. I got my work done, but it took longer than I wanted. The reminder helped.
“Take this time to just enjoy the convention. Give yourself permission to be a real person. Don’t go into it with an agenda.”
This lesson is harder to learn. Or re-learn as the case may be. This was something I told my mentee. Three days later, I was talking with the Husband about possibly cancelling a convention if I didn’t get in as a dealer. He asked me why and pointed out that he’d like to go to a convention with me where he wasn’t stuck behind a dealer’s table. For me, conventions are business. I’m working. When I told him I didn’t know how to do conventions without a dealer’s table anymore, he told me that I knew how to once and I should remember. Suddenly, I was on the other end of the lesson for a very different reason.
“You are allowed to consider quitting. You are allowed to quit. You are allowed to start again. No one is going to take away your writing card if you take a break.”
I once told my mentee that every writer considers giving it up. If they say they haven’t, either they’re lying or they’re too new to know better. I don’t know if it is true 100% of the time, but every author I’ve ever talked to about this has admitted they’ve thought about giving up the publishing game. Not necessarily giving up writing, just the professional publishing part of it.
Writers are an interesting lot. By the nature of the work, we’re used to rejection, of not writing the story the editor is looking for, of not being talented/experienced enough to write a certain story. It’s good to remember that writing is one of those skills that gets better as you use it, experiment with it, and absorb it through reading.
Back in December—while I was writing a contracted novella and waiting on publisher edits for the first novel of a contracted trilogy—I received a rejection from a publishing house I really, really want to get into. For a full day, I moped: “I suck. I’m a hack. No one likes my writing. I should give it up and just stick to editing. I’m good at that.”
The next day, after I finished my writing for the day, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, looked at the emails and the novel feedback again, and decided everything would be all right in a bit. This particular novel didn’t move the acquisitions editor, but I did get a clue as to what kind of novels did. Fortunately, one of my series-in-waiting is exactly that sort of series. So, when I get around to writing that (after the contracted stuff), I know who to send it to.
Writing is not an easy job. Sometimes you need a break. If you take it, nothing says you can’t start up again. That’s the beauty of the industry. Especially in this day and age.
Relearning these lessons is why I applied to be a mentor in the first place.
I knew this would happen. You learn while you teach. You learn what you don’t know. You learn what your mentee knows. Your shared experience builds on your foundations. Every acceptance, rejection, edit, and revision request builds, and rebuilds, the writing toolbox. You expand and grow. Every publishing conversation—professional or casual—imparts knowledge to all sides of the conversation.
I like to share my knowledge and experiences to make things easier for the ones who come after me. That way, they can make their own new mistakes…then pass that experience on to those they mentor as the cycle continues.
I get this question a lot. Usually about something based in the publishing arena. In DMs, IMs, and emails. As a professional author and editor, I suppose it’s because they believe I’m the person in the know; the expert. Or, at least, the person the asker thinks would know. About 30% of the time, I have some inkling of the legitimacy of the contest/work/publisher/etc… base on experience. Most of the time I don’t.
Here’s what I do to find out.
I google Them. Multiple ways.
I google “Is X a scam?” and I read through the answers. Most times, this will immediately pop up any problems. This often leads you to articles on Preditors and Editors or to the Better Business Bureau. Here, you will see complaints and other bad experiences.
Second. You can skip the general question and search on [“Preditors and Editors” + X]. Or [BBB + X]. Those will hone in on specific types of responses—business and personal experiences. Is this particularly interesting in the publishing arena.
The third way is to google something like “Company X reviews” and see what people who have used their services think. However, beware, not all reviews are created the same. If there’s nothing but a couple of five star glowing reviews but P&E has information that says otherwise, probably not legit reviews. One thing I have learned in the publishing industry is that you will not please everyone. Book preference is subjective. The reviews will reflect this.
Also, when it comes to reviews, beware of groups with an ax to grind reviewing a new book/service. If a book/service comes out and immediately has 100 1-star reviews with very little in the way of actual critique of the book or a bunch of personal attacks on the person providing the service, you can bet someone kicked over a reddit nest of some stripe. That it’s a concerted effort to tank the book, service, person and not a legitimate review of X.
Finally, I look to the professional writing organizations who might know something about the thing in question. SFWA, HWA, IAMTW, MWA, RWA… etc. Search those websites for information.
If you google X, Y, or Z and find nothing, or almost nothing about them, that is as much a red flag as bad reviews. You want to know who sponsors the thing, who owns the company, what the chain of ownership is. If a publisher or contest company is owned by a person or company known to be bad news, it’s a good bet that “X” is a scam. If the chain of ownership is hidden, it’s a clue.
Over all, it’s best if you do your own research before you go to your expert friend to ask “Is X a scam?” That way, you can expand on the question. Present conflicting information. To ask for clarification. 90% of the time, you’ll find the answer for yourself. Then you can decide if you want to confirm your answer with your expert friend or not.
Now that you’ve seen what I did in 2018, here’s the basic plan for 2019.
• Finish processing publisher edits on BattleTech Rogue Academy 1: Iron Dawn.
• Write two BattleTech Rogue Academy novels – Complete Rogue Academy 2: Ghost Hour (writing and publisher edits), complete Rogue Academy 3: Crimson Night first draft.
• Edit Shadowrun long fiction – First, edit the novella, A Kiss to Die For. Next, in-between Rogue Academy novels, process publisher edits for my long-ago written Shadowrun novel, Makeda Red.
• Release a limited run Shadowrun Flash Fiction Podcast called Shadow Bytes. This includes three excerpts from DocWagon 19 and five loosely linked original pieces of fiction.
• Edit/manage a brand new, soon-to-be announce project. It is super exciting and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Expand My Creative Horizons:
As it’s turned out, I’ve received the opportunity to try some new things in 2019. Each is new to me and something I’ve wanted to for a while.
• I’ve joined a Twitch RPG game. It will be set in the Emberwind universe. I believe we’ll be playing once a month.
• I’ve joined the cast of the Dire Multiverse podcast as voice talent. I’m voicing two characters so far and I’m already having a lot of fun with this ensemble podcast.
• I’ve joined Curious Fictions. It’s a little like Patreon, but is focused on writers. I’ll be posting weekly. Two weeks will be open to the public, two weeks will be for my subscribers only. I’m not completely sure how this will go, but if you become a subscriber, know that I appreciate you immensely.
I have five conventions scheduled for 2019. There will, most likely, be a couple of one-day driving events that I do with Raven Oak or with Books & Chains. I’m really making the effort to do less travel because I have a heavier writing schedule this year. Also, me and the Husband plan to spend a couple of weeks in New Zealand in 2020.
• Mar - Rainforest, WA (Teaching a workshop)
• Apr - Norwescon, WA (Dealers table)
• May - StokerCon, MI (Teaching a workshop)
• May - MisCon, MT (TBA – I haven’t heard if I’m in the dealers room or on panels yet.)
• Aug - Gen Con, IN (TBA – Author’s Avenue most likely)
I’m 48 now. Something clicked in 2018 that proved I really need to take control of my space, my work-life balance, and my health—both physical and mental. I worked 316 days last year. That is too many. I should be closer to 260 days. Also, there’s not that much in my life I have complete control over. Based on the business I’m in and the world at large, I need to take control over what I can control.
• Physical health – I’m eating better and I’m exercising more. This isn’t a resolution. I started this back in August 2018. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.
• Declutter – I have now lived in one place, one home, for longer than I ever have in my life. 10+ years. For someone used to moving every 2-5 years, I’ve gotten good at decluttering and downsizing my stuff. That hasn’t happened in 10 years. Needless to say, the house is a mess. A cluttered mess. Because I have a hard time being motivated to work on Mondays and because I can’t seem to actually take a weekend day off, I’m scheduling Mondays to declutter, downsize, and clean. I can write/edit on Monday if I want, but Mondays are guilt-free no publishing work days for 2019.
• Crafting – Finish craft projects. Compared to most, I am not a crafter. I’m a dabbler. I’m okay with this. I have one baby blanket and a couple of nebulous projects in the works. I want to get those done and evaluate if I get any joy out of crafting or if they are just added stress.
That’s it for me. What’s on your plate in 2019?
I have survived both Gen Con and Worldcon. I’ve come home to a mountain of work and a clowder of kitties alternating between needy and pissed off. I am so glad to be home. It’s been a lot of travel over the last three weeks.
I only had two panels and both were good. I was nominated as moderator for the Media Tie-In panel and did adequately well for having no warning and no prep. The second panel, “How to Pitch a Story”, was something else altogether.
The room was almost full by the time I arrived ten minutes early. I was already fretting that I had to condense a 2 hour workshop into 50 minutes. By the time the panel started, it was standing room only and people were lining the walls. It was one of my most successful panels to date (second only to my Tracon panel, “How to make the ordinary terrifying.”).
I spoke fast, recovered without making a fool of myself when a pair of sign language interpreters appeared at my side (thank goodness I recognized what they were doing before I asked), and I got out 95% of what I wanted to do. Based on the myriad of responses and compliments, I did well. I’m pleased. I feel prepared for the North Coast Redwood Writers Conference version of the workshop I’ll be giving in September.
I did have a husband (D) and wife (S) come to my table later and ask how D could learn to put himself out there. S explained that D was extremely shy (he was) and that networking was going to be really hard for him. S was vivacious and engaging. D looked like he wanted the ground to swallow him. I knew I had to do two things: 1. Explain that “Jennifer Brozek, Author and Editor” was a different person than me. 2. Explain how the two of them could work things so D would be able to talk to editors, publishers, and agents.
1. When I am at a convention and in public, I’m “on stage.” I’m playing a character who likes people, is extremely patient, is confident, knowledgeable, and happy to be there. 80% of the time, this isn’t really an act. This is a mode that I get into. It’s true. However, when I saw how packed my workshop was, I had to take that ten minutes to “gird my loins” as they say and remind myself that I did know what I was talking about. I wasn’t a hack. And they weren’t going to throw rotten fruit at me.
I did this by taking on a power stance, standing in front of the panel table, and taking control of the room. I didn’t let anything bother me. If I didn’t have an answer for a question, I said so. I was the character. As soon as the panel was done, I fled. Flat out. I thanked everyone. Reminded people that another panel was coming in there. And I didn’t wait to talk to anyone. Except for William Ledbetter who said, “That was the best 4 hour workshop in 45 minutes I’ve ever heard.” It was the right thing to say to me then.
2. D is shy. Extremely so. But, he’s a gamer. I explained how I put on a character and recommend that he try something similar. Also, practice your elevator pitch. Practice your longer pitch. Practice on your friends and family. If you have to create a LARP of friends who are different publishers, editors, and agents. Then have a party. He seemed to consider the idea as a possibility.
The other thing I had to do was gently tell S that she needed to step back a bit and let D take the lead. D would be the one working with the publishers, editors, and agents. He had to be the one to talk and he had to get used to the idea. Eventually, the two of them could tag-team it, but for her to help, she had to let D work through his issues. She had to have the patience to do so.
I wasn’t always as “confident” or “smooth” or “clear and concise” or “engaging” as I seem now. I remember I wouldn’t go to my first Gen Con until my editor, Brian Gute, agreed to shepherd me around. Now, I’ve had over ten years of experience on the convention circuit, talking with people I wanted to impress, and generally learning how to be a people-person or “on stage” at a convention.
I think it’s important for people just starting out to realize that a lot of us in the front of the room are faking it. Yes, we generally know what we’re doing, but we don’t have all the answers. We have the experience of what worked for us. We’d like to help those following in our footsteps make less mistakes… or at least different ones. “Fake it until you make it” works for me. It might work for you, too.
Like most authors, looking back at what I did during the year is a good way to convince myself that I’m not just spinning my wheels and that I really am still headed ‘towards the mountain.’ This is also why I keep track of my daily activities in my private Freelancer Summary document. It allows me to see what I’m doing and when. I think I did pretty good in 2017.
Short stories submitted
• 6 short story acceptances
• 5 short story rejections
• 1 short story outstanding
• 8 new short stories written
• 1 new novel written
• 26 episode podcast produced (with the Husband)
• 12 Author Etiquette blogs produced (with Sarah Craft)
• 5 mini fiction collections and 1 “stealth” fiction collection released
(Not as much as I wanted but I did have two bathrooms renovated in the middle of it all that mucked with my productivity.)
Edited for others
• 3 novellas edited
• 6 EGM Speculate! stories edited
• 9 BattleTech/Shadowrun novels proofed for ebook editions
• 15 events (readings, conventions, signings) attended
• 2 writing groups joined (Wit’n’Word [social writing], TBD Writing [critique group])
• 3 novel contracts
• 1 novella contract
(Due between now and the end of 2019 = about 300,000 publishable words.)
It’s nice to look at the quantified amount produced and be pleased with what you see. Supposedly, 2018 is going to be a slower, longer set of projects with only one novel, one novella, one anthology, and one short story currently on the docket. We all know this will change. Also, I already have seven confirmed events and four not yet confirmed, but planned for, events.
Then again, I’ve gotten good at producing while traveling. It’s taken me a bit to learn the skill. Now, I think it’s just a survival reflex. If I don’t write, the words will eat me.
Note: I’m leaving out all of the personal blogs, SFWA meetings (when I was a Director), looped edits/revisions, kickstarters participated in, weekly phone calls to various publishing folk, and the myriad of other freelance details.