Imagekind vs. Cafepress

Posted on December 18th, 2009 in making things

God, I really hate that title.  Because it shouldn’t be what this comes down to.  That really should be a bit like saying Apples vs. Pears (because they aren’t quite as dissimilar as pomes and citrus, but they certainly aren’t the same) – only for the purposes of my ongoing “getting started with POD” series, it turns out that, yeah, Cafepress is probably a much better bet than Imagekind.

Which is a damned shame.  Cafepress just don’t offer quite the same quality as Imagekind, nor some of the nice customization options like shape, paper choices, and frames and mats.  So for the really fine artists in the room, I’m kinda saying “sorry, you’re screwed” for one-off works.  But Imagekind just aren’t quite set up for one-offs and beginners, not really.  They’re more of an in-between option for artists that are already shipping and printing their stuff, and want to move to a more automated system, but aren’t ready for a full-time storefront of their own.

The single biggest hurdle for any artist in any medium, starting out, is building momentum.  When you first open a Cafepress or a Lulu shop, you may only make a couple of sales that first month.  That’s just one of those things, you know?  It might take you two, maybe even three months to hit that minimum $25 revenue required for them to cut your first check.  For a book on Lulu (the smartest service out there, frankly), you’ve only got to hit a $5 minimum to get your first PayPal transfer.  And, no, hell no we’re not talking making a living with $25 or $5 check, are we?  But we are talking about results – and when you’re starting out?  Those first tiny checks… well they fucking mean something, and rightly so, don’t they?  You spend that first $5 from Lulu on a celebratory cup of coffee, because you earned it, goddamnit, and it tastes good.

It’s the little things that build and build until, a year later, you’re looking back on that first check and laughing – but you still remember it.

Imagekind, on the other hand, sets the first check (even with the PayPal option and search me as to why, it’s not like it costs them that much in processing fees) at $50.

Think about that for a second.  $50.  To a new artist, trying to build an audience, maybe only marking things up a buck just to get their stuff out there, that could take anywhere up to six months.  And let’s be honest – how many people do you think completely lose momentum waiting for that first $50 to clear?  Right.  Or maybe they do make $60 that first month… followed by a frustrating four months of $47 more dollars that, let me tell you, would buy a lot of ramen. But it may as well not even be there, and I’ll bet you $50 that there are hundreds of abandoned Imagekind accounts permanently locked at somewhere between $10 and $49.  Which isn’t so bad for the company, I guess – but you can bet none of those sellers are recommending the service to their friends.

Which probably explains why Imagekind have a couple thousand twitter followers, and Cafepress, Lulu, and even Zazzle are all closer to ten grand each.

The shame of it is that Imagekind and Cafepress are apparently under the same umbrella, and besides the difference in payout minimums, Cafepress are a much more intuitive backend, too.  Some of that is just the difference between multiple products and one basic product in different sizes, but some of that’s just weird intent on the part of the interface developers, I think.  (And I really wish there were a bit more integration between the two services than some confusing links out on Cafepress and the Cafepress logo on the Imagekind header.  But that’s a pretty common scenario in the wake of early ‘00s buy-outs, and doesn’t really factor into this review.)

And (and Cafepress is no good at this, either, but) is it really that hard to set up a markup settings page where totals update as you type in the markup, instead of having to save, close, reopen, check the totals, and save again?  I might just have been spoiled by Lulu and Zazzle, but man would that save some time and headache.

But, again, I think Imagekind are set up for people that already have a system, prices, etc, and just want to transfer that to an online system with offsite fulfillment.

I do want to say very nice things about whoever is running Imagekind’s twitter account – within moments of my tweet mentioning them and the word “difficult,” they responded to me. And not in that creepy twitterbot sort of way, they actually followed up after. So someone at the company is clearly engaging with the public, and that goes a long way for my opinion of a company.  And I’ve seen the quality of their prints (very nice), and have nothing but good things to say about their costs and fulfillment.  Like I say, as a solution for someone that wants to move selling prints out of their office and stop stuffing envelopes themselves?  Sure thing – Imagekind are probably one of the better online solutions out there (before you get into the really high-volume fulfillment centers and print shops).

But for the people that have been asking me where they can go to start out – to test the waters of online print sales?  I really think I have to recommend Cafepress’ posters.  You’re only going to get three size options (medium, large, and whoa), and one paper and not the best quality… but you can branch out the products you offer, and you’re going to get your first check before you run out of steam.  And believe me, I know how big a deal that is, and how much that little bit of encouragement goes to keeping the creativity going.  And that keeping yourself going and making new things is how you’re going to make  2010 the year you finally start Really Making Things, isn’t it just?

But, sure, for the Getting There artists and photographers that are at that in-between point where you’ve got people asking you all the time for prints, and you’re looking at getting your own printers and postage but that seems just out of reach, yet – Imagekind may be right for you. I know a bunch of the pros in the room just gasped a bit, at that – and, honestly, they’re right to do so.  If you can afford (and your business is at the point where it makes sense) to do your own printing and shipping, you are going to make more money once you pay off your set-up costs.  But setting up with a service that handles printing and fulfillment is a good halfway step that can pay for that fancy gajillion dpi printer, and make sure that’s the route you want to take.  And, you know, if time is a huge factor (if you’re still rocking the day job and trying to market prints, too) that’s another consideration.

So too if you’ve been doing prints for a while, but you’re only really pulling in a hundred or so a month, and you really just want to phase out the envelope stuffing in favor of some bigger and more time consuming project.  Something like Imagekind is probably a great way to keep up the quality (again, they really are nice prints) and quantity of your print sales, while putting some of your time into something else.

For me, I’m not too disappointed that my own Imagekind account is very likely going to be one of those abandoned accounts with (well) less than $50.  Sometime around or after the New Year I may move some Venn stuff over to a Cafepress store if folks ask for it (EDIT:  Why the hell not?), but like I said a couple posts back, I was more looking for an excuse to try Imagekind out and post about them than anything – so no great loss to me.  (Although, for the Venn image, I won’t be doing Cafepress posters, just because their size options don’t suit the image, so I will leave the Imagekind print shop up – it’s not like there’s any reason to close it. *Edited, see end of post.) For any future (real) projects, though: no, I don’t think they’ll find a home with anything fancier than Cafepress.

But I did get a nice long post out of the experiment and, if I’m lucky, I saved some of you some time or at least gave you a good chunk of info to add to your own toolboxes, yeah?  And that’s what it’s about.

(And, you know, I did get a couple Art and Science Venns out into the wild, too, and that still makes me grin, hehe, thank you!)

*Edit: Bradley Schenck (Who would know better than I would, as he’s been doing this for years.  I know you’ve seen his lovely RETROPOLIS merchandise, which I’ve been enamored with since I saw it a linked couple of years ago on… some site. Maybe a Project Wonderful ad?   Regardless, it’s good stuff, and you should go take a look if you haven’t) sent me an email this morning to correct my “only three sizes” comment about Cafepress:

I’ve been following your POD posts, and I have an observation about the latest one.  You mention that Cafepress posters come in only three sizes: but the way it actually works is that those three sizes are each a *maximum* size, and the poster can be trimmed to any size smaller than that.
So, for example: if you create an image that’s the right resolution and aspect ratio for an 18 x 24" poster, you create a new "Large Poster".  Its *maximum* size is 23" x 35".  Then you add the image to your new poster product, and select the correct image height from a dropdown list.  If you then select "No Border" from the next dropdown, the system knows that the poster should be trimmed to 18 x 24".
This has had bugs from time to time, but it seems to be working now - with the minor annoyance that the product image and thumbnail are smaller than they should be, because blank space is left in the image for the trimmed margin.

Which I had completely missed on my first look at the Cafepress poster templates, so thanks, Bradley! There’s one more point to Cafepress.

Chromagical via Dan Curtis Johnson

Friday January, 01 2010 10:27 AM PST

The six colors of the rainbow had been arguing for some time about who was best. When it looked like it was going to come to blows, they decided to consult the Leprechaun and let him judge. The Leprechaun agreed to take it on, once he'd been roused from his stupor and sobered up a bit. Designating his pot of gold as "the lectern", he instructed each color to make its case.

Red stomped up to the lectern. "Look at me! I'm badass!" it huffed and puffed. "I'm the color of rage! Of power! I get things done! Just look at the size of my wavelength!" The Leprechaun agreed that Red was very big and strong and whatever.

Orange glided up to the lectern a little tentatively. "I think I'm pretty good," it announced. "I mean, you see me in fire. On flowers. Other places. Oh yeah, and there's a piece of fruit named just after me! And no other words in English rhyme with me! How many of you can claim that?" The Leprechaun noted that Orange was special.

Yellow bounded up to the lectern with a big smile. "See how bright I am?" it beamed. "I'm the color of happiness. Of joy. I cast light upon everything else! Look how much of me is coming from the Sun!" The Leprechaun had to admit that Yellow was, indeed, very cheerful and fun.

Green strode up to the lectern with a shrug. "What can I say?" it smirked. "I'm everywhere. Leaves. Money. Hey, what color is that you're wearing yourself? Say no more." The Leprechaun hastily pointed out that his own personal color preferences were not going to influence the case.

Blue marched up to the lectern in a no-nonsense fashion. "What do you see when you look up?" he stated. "The sky. Our very own rainbow is surrounded on all sides by me. Thank you for your time." The Leprechaun said he appreciated Blue's concise approach.

Purple slinked up to the lectern. "Check me out," she purred. "I carry the blood of queens in me. I'm so sexy. I'm not even Purple anymore. You can call me... Violet!" The Leprechaun definitely seemed impressed with Purple's new name and attitude.

The colors then all eagerly awaited the Leprechaun's decision. He furrowed his brow and checked his notes and then he looked up and said, "What about you, there?" And he pointed in their midst.

The six colors all looked around, baffled, for a moment until they suddenly realized that - squeezed in between Blue and Violet - there was a seventh color! Chaos erupted as all the colors began talking at once: "Who are you? Where did you come from? Are you a darker blue? Are you a deeper purple? How long have you been there?"

"Call me... Indigo!" it whispered threateningly. "You ignorant, self-centered fools! Soon enough, I shall strike!" Then, with a twist, it was suddenly gone again, no longer distinguishable from either Blue or Violet.

This so unnerved the other colors that they immediately ceased their internecine arguing, formed a joint defense alliance with the Leprechaun as Dictator For Life, and immediately began arming themselves for a seemingly certain future confrontation with this potential enemy in their very midst.

And that, children, is why the rainbow is the most dangerous, repressive, heavily-militarized zone in the electromagnetic spectrum.

For consideration: and you must never, ever chase it

New Year, Old Meme via Lee Barnett

Friday January, 01 2010 09:27 AM PST

Haven't done this one for a couple of years, and it's a good briefing for anyone new to the blog.

Full name: Lee Barnett. No, despite rumours to the contrary, my parents didn't name me 'budgie'. That was a nickname I picked up at college.
Birthplace: Luton, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom. Well, I say that, but I was actually born at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital which is on the borders of Luton and, well, Dunstable.
Heritage: There's Polish, Austrian and Russian a couple of generations back; three of my four grandparents were immigrants to the United Kingdom as children.
Places you've lived: Luton, Manchester, London, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas
First language spoken: Gibberish.
Last school attended: I guess Manchester Polytechnic, but the last place with school in the title was Denbigh High School in Luton.
First real job: define 'real'. If you mean full time, as opposed to summer vacation work, it'd be working in a firm of accountants in London, These guys.
First relationship: Daft question. what kind or relationship? First girlfriend was a girl named Karen Sinclair.
Parents' current jobs: They're both retired.

Right or left-brained?: Tch, if only you'd asked top-brained or bottom-brained.
How talkative/social?: Depends on the company and on how comfortable I am. If it's with people I know, I'm happy to chat away like a loon (and often do). If I don't know the people or am uncomfortable, you won't hear much out of me.
Introvert or extrovert? I always say I'm "introvert"... and then have to wait for the laughter to subside. Let's just say that I'm not extrovert and leave it there.
Most common mood: Pissing others or myself off.
What happens when you're angry?: I get angry. What else?
Habits: Several.
Quirks: ...genuinely not a clue what to write in response to this.

Your handwriting: When I'm writing something for others to read, neat and very legible. When it's notes for myself, it looks like a spider on a bad dose of acid.
Your voice: Once described by an American friend as sounding like "Michael Caine on an off-day".
Your speech/dialect: I don't have a dialect. It's everyone else that does. I do and say nothing that could identify where I come from, neither do I use any words specific to London. No, I don't.
Your sense of humour: ...yes, I have one.
Your room: I have several in the flat.
Your friends: They're my friends.
Yourself in two words: No. No.

Name 3 songs you really like:
* Mother's Little Helper - Rolling Stones
* You're My Home - Billy Joel
* Suddenly I see - K T Tunstall
Name 3 books you like:
* The Man by Irving Wallace
* Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
* A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Name 3 movies you like: The American President, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, A Few Good Men
Where are you most-often found?: At work or at home.
Your perfect environment: Bright, hot sunny day, with a fast, cool breeze
Your perfect job: something combining FD and writing, I guess...
Your dream career: dreaming
Favourite way of travelling: Car, as long as I'm driving.
Favourite source for conversing [best way of talking to people]: depends on the person, but face to face speech takes some beating
If you could be physically attractive, what would you change?: the possibility of an entire body transplant.

Most annoying sound: "I know I promised you that you'd have this by Monday, but..."
Least-favourite place: I don't have least favourite places, I have least favourite things that happen at places, which tarnish my views of those places.
Worst habits in a friend: reliable unreliability.
Makes you feel uncomfortable: someone who obviously wants to tell me something, but isn't sure how to.
Will make you go into a raging fit: being thought stupid. What'll make it even worse is me proving it.
Will make you hate yourself: my own cowardice.

On life: Preferable to the alternative.
On humanity: It would be a good idea for most people to get some.
On sex: Thoughts about sex? They've been known.
On gender roles and sexual orientations: I don't really have any thoughts on them; I'm definitely of the "live and let live" variety. As long as no one gets hurt, what the hell business of mine is it?
On education: a great idea in principal.
On war: Should be respelled "whoooooar!" As in, "we're declaring whoooooar"! No one would ever take the word seriously again.
On death: When your number's up, your number's up.

Describe your body type: tall, medium build. Could stand to lose a stone or so, but not panicking about it.
Your hair: greying more rapidly with every day; kept relatively short, it curls slightly when it's longer.
Eyes: decidedly non-greying.
Nails: Twenty of them.
Most often wearing: clothes.

Current location: home
Currently listening to: my tapping at the keyboard and the telly.
Last phone call: a wrong number.
Any last words?:: "What bus...?"

STATION IDENT: Happy New Year via Warren Ellis

Thursday December, 31 2009 05:39 PM PST

Happy new year. May this one be kinder, funnier and more interesting than the last.

Photo by my good friend Brian Wood, who’s away with his family tonight. My family’s asleep, and I’m sitting here with whisky in the glass and Michael Cashmore’s SLEEP ENGLAND on the speakers, brushing the last traces of a brief snow flurry off my shaven head, and thinking about the future. Annual tradition, maybe, or perhaps just something coded into my bones. It’s the only way I know to break the new year in: to sit in the quieter part of the night and think.

This is Warren Ellis dot com, broadcasting into 2010.


2010 To-Do List via Cherie Priest

Thursday December, 31 2009 03:55 PM PST

Presented here for personal reference, and the sake of motivation. Plenty was set into motion in 2009 — Dreadnought, (part of) Clementine, Bloodshot, and my contribution to Fort Freak were all written and are now in editorial process — but there’s lots I’d like to see get underway in 2010. So here’s my tally of the definite stuff, and the stuff that definitely needs to happen next year.

    Definitely happening:

    • Fathom released in mass market (February 2010)
    • Clementine released (May 2010)
    • Dreadnought released (fall 2010?)
    • Bloodshot released (late in 2010, I assume - maybe early 2011)
    • Fort Freak released (late in 2010 I assume - maybe early 2011)

    Definitely needs to happen:

    • Write Hellbent and hand it in by summer
    • Draw up pitches for 2 more Clockwork Century books, Ganymede and Jacaranda
    • Hone pitch for unrelated novel Maplecroft and begin writing it
    • Hone pitch/content for unrelated novel Engines of Wrath and possibly finish it
    • Hone pitch/content for YA novel The Storming and possibly finish it

2009 Retrospective Thing via Libby Bulloff

Thursday December, 31 2009 03:38 PM PST

Everyone’s doing it. Guess it’s my turn.

2009 Retrospective, originally uploaded by exoskeletoncabaret.

2009 was definitely one of my most challenging, rewarding, and backbreaking years. Some of the crucial plot points:

+ I joined Starfish Studios, which taught me the finer details of using monolights and seamless backdrops, and coerced me into making more work this year than I ever have previously. I probably shot between 30,000 and 35,000 images this year. My top-viewed photo on Flickr has had 14,753 hits (as of this morning) since August.

+ By proxy, I did 11 art walk shows, 2 solo art openings, and a month-long group photography show. I shot two weddings. Also, I did not sleep.

+ In May, I lost my “real job” and have freelanced (read: struggled) since. However, as demoralizing as it’s been to be on a low income, it’s forced me to bust ass and really take the photography and design bull by the horns.

+ This year, I’ve had work published in the Brazilian Marie Claire, three issues of Filament Magazine, Morbid Outlook, and a steampunk jewelry book. I’ve started blogging about steampunk fashion weekly at the Steampunk Workshop. I was on television, too, for like, 8 seconds.

+ I met/re-met a plethora of wonderful creative people at the Bay Area Maker Faire. This weekend was probably the most joyous one I had all year.

+ I had three friends hit the emergency room with scimitar wounds, appendicitis, and bike accident injuries, respectively. I’ve spent way more time than I’d like in nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. I’ve been sick constantly.� I’ve found that I am absolutely wretched at taking care of myself and terrible at remembering that if I don’t put myself first I’ll be useless at helping others. Figuring out how to adequately care for Libby is a major goal for the new year.

+ I truly learned the value of having a family I chose/an urban tribe. Without the support of my people, both in Bloomington/Seattle meatspace and online, I’d have failed miserably at 2009. I’ve had to rethink�and inject a spirit of DIY into a lot of my relationships. A big thank-you goes out to everyone who brought me crack chai and samosas, came to my shows, defied gender and steampunk conventions,�traded YouTube videos, electrocuted me for fun, cooked CSA potlucks with me, hauled frames and hung work, taught me the benefits of non-sexual physical affection, listened to my kvetching late into the night, accepted and discussed non-traditional and non-heteronormative behavior, etc. etc. etc. �Thank you to everyone who believed in me when I doubted myself and my work; thank you to everyone who didn’t mock me for obsessing about Lady Gaga or Turkish pop videos or bacon. Thank you for the endless screening and quoting of “Happy in Paraguay”. Faxing ham and apple juice to each other has been a high point. I am so proud of all of you guys, and so grateful for you.

Thank you.
Love, Libby

Forget the Epic via Cherie Priest

Thursday December, 31 2009 02:50 PM PST

In 2010 (which is pronounced “twenty-ten” in my head), heaven only knows what will become of us. The older I get, the more strongly I feel that I have precious little control over much of anything; but the things that are within my authority, I will do my best to manage.

Mind you, I don’t smoke, don’t drink to any prohibitive excess, and I’m not interested in losing weight (though I’m a little out of shape). I already keep my home tidy as a matter of personal routine. My credit cards are finally paid off. And, quite frankly, the bad habits I indulge are not the kind I can be bothered to address. My capacity for resolution is therefore somewhat limited.

Ergo. This year I’d like to sell more books, but I can only resolve to continue writing more books. To this end, I’m going to once more make it my goal to write every single day, even if it isn’t much. Likewise, I’d like to get in better shape, but I can only resolve to maintain my present exercise regimen and eat reasonably.

So I guess that’s it. I resolve to keep on keepin’ on. It’ll either be enough, or it won’t.

Farewell, Roland S. Howard via Meredith Yayanos

Thursday December, 31 2009 02:00 PM PST

Roland S. Howard, [via]

And the hits just keep on coming. Roland S. Howard -patron saint of stabby, moody, stark, atmospheric, echo-soaked guitar perfection, and an indispensable member of the Birthday Party, the Boys Next Door, Crime & the City Solution, and These Immortal Souls- has succumbed to liver cancer, aged 50.

Howard remained a vibrant, prolific talent up to the very end. Longtime friend and bandmate Mick Harvey says:

Sometimes people are ready to go because they have been sick for a long time, but Roland really wanted to live. Things were going well for him outside of his health and he wanted to take advantage of that and he was very disappointed that he wasn’t well enough to do so.

Nick Cave and Roland S. Howard, Birthday Party era, early 80s. Photographer unknown. [via]

It’s already New Year’s day here in Australasia, where Howard hailed from. Last night, in his honor (and on behalf of everyone else who has struggled more than usual this year) me and mine donned our blackest, pointiest, shiniest boots and kicked 2009 relentlessly in the poop chute until the fucker left the building. Soundtrack included “Shivers”, “Hamlet Pow, Pow, Pow”, “Release the Bats”, “Big Jesus Trashcan”, “Her Room of Lights”, “Pop Crimes”, and “Jennifer’s Veil” to name a few.

This is the journey
To the edge of the night…

Rest in peace.

Read the rest of Farewell, Roland S. Howard

Post tags: Goth, Memento Mori, Music, Punk

'Appy 2009+1 via Lee Barnett

Thursday December, 31 2009 11:28 AM PST

I was right, you know.

A year ago, I wrote:
I know, I know - it only seems twelve months ago that we were changing the year from 2007 and now they're doing it again?

And what?s more, you just know that in a few hundred days they'll be wanting us to change that year thing again. I call conspiracy!
And now, less than four hundred days later...?

So, anyway, to anyone reading this, I wish you and yours all the best for next year; may it be everything you hope for, may you get everything you wish for, and may you only know joy during 2010...

See you on the far side...

Word Cloud 2009 via Lee Barnett

Thursday December, 31 2009 11:26 AM PST

My LJ from 2009, as a word cloud:

No real surprises there, I suspect...

2009 in comics via Emma Vieceli

Thursday December, 31 2009 04:27 AM PST

So - It seems the trendy thing to do, so I just spent a little while going through my year's LJ and picking out what I've been up to in 2009. Suprisingly, the year looks busier looking back than it did whilst it was happening!If you have some minutes to spare and fancy seeing some pretty pictures, take a look. I wish you all a happy and productive 2010! ^_^

The 2009 Meme via Lee Barnett

Thursday December, 31 2009 04:12 AM PST

Only amateurs need the questions, so here are the answers to my 2009 meme.

1. Yes.
2. No.
3. Yes.
4. Yes.
5. No.
6. No.
7. No.
8. No.
9. No.
10. Oh yes.

And Finally via Warren Ellis

Thursday December, 31 2009 04:12 AM PST

2009, it turns out, was not quite done with me. Fell over with a repeat bout of Mongolian Terror Trout Flu a couple of days after Xmas, and am only now back on my feet today. This is what happens when your child constantly brings back disgusting diseases from other children and your immune system never has time to recover. I ought to laminate the little horror and hose her down with boiling water and bleach before she re-enters the house every day.

I read today that auld acquaintance Patrick Stewart is to be knighted this new year for services to drama. This pleases me immensely. Patrick told me many times that Spider Jerusalem is his role model. I trust he won’t be headbutting any members of the royal family or vigorously wiping his arse on the Queen’s skirts during the ceremony.

Messages have piled up while I’ve lain in my pit semi-conscious and re-watching the (original, only) THE PRISONER box set, so, annoyingly, I have a bit of work to do this morning. A question on a film option, a couple of interview requests. I am, technically, Not At Work for a while longer, but not everyone gets the message.

New Year coming. This’ll be the first one in 25+ years where I’ll be asleep shortly after midnight. Roll on 2010. Raise a glass for me, because I’ll be raising one to you, and to a better year for all of us.

See you on the other side.

the tail end of something ten years long via Cherie Priest

Wednesday December, 30 2009 03:22 PM PST

Ten years ago I was in the middle of a grad program in rhetoric theory, wondering when the hell I would finish reading all this crap and start publishing some crap of my own. At the same time, I was working three jobs — assistant director of a school aged child care program for a Title Eight school in East Ridge, Tennessee, graduate assistant to the rhetoric department head, and teacher of two sections of second-level writing at UTC — and living in a townhouse with a couple of roommates. I spent much of my free time (ha!) hanging out at a coffee shop in downtown Chattanooga.* This coffee shop had closed and reopened, and upon reopening it was managed by a guy named Jym who became a friend of mine. On the side, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

Lots happened between then and now.

Sometime in 2001 Jym and went to NOLA with a couple of friends, and what happened in NOLA didn’t stay in NOLA. We started dating. A year later, we moved in together; six months after that, my cat died. We went to St. Augustine. We adopted Spain the Cat (who sits in my lap this very moment). I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

In 2003 I sold my first book to a micro-press based outside Atlanta, Marietta Publishing. It went badly. To this day, the publisher refuses to tell me how many copies were sold or provide the documentation. He used to claim I owed him money. Last I heard, he could be arm-twisted into admitting that he did owe me a little cash, but he insists that he has no idea how to reach me. In the publisher’s defense, I guess I’m kind of hard to find. I didn’t know what else to do, so I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

Shortly after that book was published, I was contacted by an editor from Tor, Liz Gorinsky — who found my years-old query in a slush pile in an office she was cleaning out (or I believe that’s the story). Warren Ellis gave me a leg up with a recommendation. My then-agent wrestled rights away from Marietta, and in 2005 Tor released a revised, expanded edition of Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Around this same time, I was lucky enough to fall in with Subterranean Press. My previous agent and I parted on friendly terms, and I signed with Jennifer Jackson over at Donald Maass. Six more of my books were published. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

I produced a real estate magazine for about a year, sharing an office with a cranky but awesome saleswoman with a southern drawl that would stop a clock. I worked as head writer/copyeditor for the data aggregate that runs for four years; it was a great company with the best damn coworkers a girl could ask for. After hours, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

Jym and I came and went from several apartments in Chattanooga. In 2006 we got married and moved to Seattle. I went to work for a firm that essentially share-cropped freelance writers for, where I was ultimately told that I couldn’t write about power tools because I was a girl, so I quit. Then I freelanced, mostly writing about power tools for people who correctly figured that four years of writing about Craftsman products made me qualified to do so. That gig eventually dried up. I took proofreading gigs for Bill at Subterranean; and last year he made the arrangement more official, giving me steady work and a salary, as well as the title of associate editor (wee!). I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

I struggled with Seattle. I’m a Gulf Coast girl at heart (never mind the 12 years in Tennessee) and while some people get SAD, I got what could best be described as seasonal psychosis. Winters and springs were especially difficult. People who recommended special lights could expect a punch in the face. However, I found things to love about the place — as the song goes, “with a little help from my friends.” I was befriended by some truly exceptional souls; and of course, Seattle gave me Boneshaker — which simply could not have been written anywhere else, about anyplace else. So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

Boneshaker became my lucky number seven. I snuck my way into a Consortium (my second, though the first is a secret), and wrote a contribution to the next Wild Cards mosaic. I fought my way up the learning curve of short stories, and sold a few. In addition to the work with Tor and Subterranean, I sold two books to Bantam. Everything on this page happened. Because I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

Jym changed his name (back) to Aric, and went to work for, giving us a measure of stability, fiscal security, and lots of weapons-grade health insurance, thank God. While riding his motorcycle, Aric was hit by an SUV. I came down with a catastrophic eye infection that marked the end of my contacts-wearing days, and the beginning of days wearing glasses that cost more than my laptop. I spent the night in the ER with kidney stones. I bashed my face in on a Portland sidewalk I got into a knife fight with a pirate. Spainy ate a hair twistie and had it removed the hard way (through an incision in her belly), but that wasn’t covered. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

A few months ago, Aric announced his intention to quit his job at Amazon. After much hoop-jumping and strife, he came to co-own a coffee shop and its roasting arm out in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. His last day at Amazon will be New Year’s Eve. His first day as a full-time small business owner will be January 1. As for me? I’m telling myself that this will be an adventure, and I guess I’ll just write, and write, and write.

Happy New Year, everyone.
Happy New Decade, too.

* I spent much of the mid/late nineties hanging out at this same shop; but as time passed, many of my friends moved on/moved away, and the scene wasn’t quite the same. By the time the shop closed, it was scarcely a shadow of its former self anyway. Even so, when it reopened, a number of us wandered back to sniff around and see what’d become of the place. Thus I began hanging out there again, and thus I met Jym.

Sounds familiar... via Lee Barnett

Wednesday December, 30 2009 01:40 PM PST

"Everything that has a beginning has an end. I see darkness coming. I see death."

Strangely enough, not spoken to the Tenth Doctor, but to Neo in The Matrix Revolutions.

Just found that interesting.

Hopefully, the second part of The End of Time won't be as disappointing as the aforementioned movie.

Let Us Never Speak of 2009 Again via Kelly Sue DeConnick

Tuesday December, 29 2009 10:32 PM PST

There’s been so much going on in the last few months with the move and the pregnancy and work and holidays and, well, everything, that I’m feeling a bit more stressed at year’s end than I’d like. Not that I ever favor stress, but I love New Year’s! It’s the closest thing to that back-to-school feeling that I get as a grown up. Fresh start! New calendars! New attitude! New resolutions! New lists! New! New! New! New! New!

This is usually the time of year (Fraction calls it the ghost week) when we get to clean our offices, put gifts away, archive files and generally take time out for the reflection and accounting we don’t allow ourselves during the rest of the year.

The way this week is going so far? It ain’t gonna happen.

…Which makes it kind of a bummer that I just noticed this list of prompts in a mailer from David Allen & Co.


Review the list of all completed projects
What was your biggest triumph in 2009?
What was the smartest decision you made in 2009?
What one word best sums up and describes your 2009 experience?
What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2009?
What was the most loving service you performed in 2009?
What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2009?
What are you most happy about completing in 2009?
Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2009?
What was the biggest risk you took in 2009?
What was the biggest surprise in 2009?
What important relationship improved the most in 2009?
What compliment would you liked to have received in 2009?
What compliment would you liked to have given in 2009?
What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2009?


What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2010?
What advice would you like to give yourself in 2010?
What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2010?
What would you be most happy about completing in 2010?
What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2010?
What would you most like to change about yourself in 2010?
What are you looking forward to learning in 2010?
What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2010?
What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2010?
What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2010?
What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2010?
Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2010?
What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2010

I realize I’m a giant nerd for liking things like this, but-NEWSFLASH!-I’m kind of a giant nerd. Anyway, maybe one of you will get some use out of it. Or maybe I’ll get back to it in January. Of 2011.