Ten days in

Hard to believe that I’m ten days into this self-employed editor thing. Still doesn’t quite feel real, but I at least I’m making progress on many fronts: backlogged projects, current projects, housework, and even a little coding to make my life easier.

I’ll probably find myself sleeping a bit better when I know I have the income gap and health insurance covered. To that end, next week’s agenda includes some time spent on anthology pitches, finding more ebook design clients, marketing, and perhaps some consulting work for my former employer.

Over at Patreon, I’ve been asking our existing supporters what types of things make attractive rewards to them. That will be feeding a blog post sometime in the next week… Yes, this connects to a survey I did last year and yes, I will be sharing some of what I learned from that soon.

Participating in a NASA Social event

I’ve been selected to be part of a NASA Social event at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I’ll be attending the launch of the SpaceX CRS-10 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station later this month.

During the event, I’ll be provided with the opportunity to:

  • Tour NASA facilities at Kennedy
  • Meet and interact with engineers, technicians and other team members from Kennedy
  • View and take photographs of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A
  • Meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media
  • Meet members of NASA’s social media team
  • View the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft


Unfortunately, the event date was moved to 17-18th, which is the one weekend this month Lisa and I both have plans. Much as I would like to go, we’d both have to cancel our trips and that’s not fair to her. Hopefully I can get on the invite list for a future launch. I’ve wanted to see one since I was a kid.

The first few days…

So what are the first few days of being self-employed like? It turns out that it feels a lot like anytime I’ve taken a few days off from my old day job: a mad rush of catching up on things that have piled up. My daily routine–which includes cooking and taking care of the house–is beginning to fall into place, but will likely adjust once I clear the backlog and start focusing forward.

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, or perhaps Dear Madam Barnum

This past Friday, I resigned from my day job and career of the last twenty-eight years. My last day will be January 31st, but I might be doing some part-time/consulting work for them until they fill the vacancy. I could probably write an entire blog post about why I’ve done this—and I still might, someday—but that’s the past and I’m more focused on the future at the moment.

I’m quite excited—and a little terrified—by the prospect of taking the leap. There are a bunch of uncertainties, like healthcare costs and filling the income gap between Lisa’s new job and my old one, but we’re close enough to give this career switch a try. As some of you know, this has been a major goal of mine since my heart attack four years ago. At age fifty, and after ten years working part-time, I’m finally going to be a full-time editor!

Naturally, my first priority has to be those uncertainties I mentioned: income gap and insurance. As I see it, I have a few things to target:

  1. I’ve altered the Clarkesworld Patreon goals to include direct salary and healthcare expenses. Would be nice if it was that simple, but I figure it’s worth putting out there.
  2. I’ll be pushing the digital subscriptions a lot more and investing a little in marketing in hopes of bumping those numbers up a bit.
  3. Now that I’ll have time, I can increase the number of anthology projects I do. I’m in the process of drafting pitches for my current publishers, but I should have extras if anyone else should be interested. I’d really like to do another original anthology sometime too.
  4. I also have the Year Nine and Year Ten Clarkesworld anthologies to wrap up. That should be a lot easier to accomplish now.
  5. I need to be more proactive in seeking advertisers for Clarkesworld. Even a small bump here could be significant.
  6. While there’s still a gap, I’ll also try to expand on the ebook design work I do on the side. It’s mindless, but I find it relaxing and it helps pay bills.

I’m getting this shot at chasing a dream thanks to Lisa, my amazing wife. I also have to thank Sean and Kate for having my back, my boys for keeping me on my toes, my parents for their support and inspiration, my publishers for their faith in me, and everyone that has ever subscribed, donated, or become a patron of Clarkesworld.

Let the adventure begin!

PS. If you don’t understand the title, you might want to do a little musical research.
Frankly, Mr. Shankly
Dear Madam Barnum

Amazon Echo Dot

Lisa gave me an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas. If you don’t know what that is, just think of it as a little box (Alexa) that will try to do what I tell it to. Not a robot, but it’s as close as I’m getting for now.

We already had a WeMo Smart Plug connected to one of our lights, so fortunately, it has something to play with. On the down side, this means that all it’s really doing at the moment is turning the light on and off for me–something I am more than capable of doing myself. “Alexa, turn on the family room light.”

I had hoped this would also handle more of the entertainment side of the house, namely music and video. I figured I’d need something special for that, but it turns out that Amazon’s Fire Stick, the product that is supposed to compete with Google’s Chromecast, doesn’t talk to Dot. It has its own instance of Alexa. That seems like a fairly significant mistake on their part.

“Alexa. Can you do anything I want?”

“Hmm. I’m not sure what you meant by that question.”

It was suggested that I hardwire the Dot to the stereo via its external speaker jack, but unfortunately, that causes the on-board speaker to be disabled. If the stereo is off, which is typically is, I wouldn’t be able to hear the responses from Alexa. Fortunately, they weren’t as foolish with the design of Alexa’s bluetooth support. Unfortunately, my stereo doesn’t include a bluetooth receiver. I’ve had to buy one.

“Alexa. Order a bluetooth receiver.”

[Alexa rattles off some models from Amazon and I confirm an order for one of them.]

That solution will only take me part of the way there. I still can’t control the TV or Stereo. After doing some research, I’ve decided to go with a Logitech Harmony Smart Hub which Alexa can control through ifttt. That will allow me to tell the Alexa to change the source inputs for the different configurations we use that system for (TV, Roku, XBox One, Music).

We’ll see how all this works out. If it doesn’t, I’m still capable of getting out of the chair, finding all the remotes, and pressing the right buttons myself. At worst, I’ll be asking Alexa how she wants me to return all this stuff.

Welcome to the future.