General

Thank You For Your Manners

Not infrequently, I’ll talk to a customer service rep, or a fast food worker, or someone similarly employed in the service industry, and they’ll thank me for being nice to them. It always makes me a little uncomfortable, because they should not have to thank the customers for treating them like human beings. But I understand it. I work in a call center, and I spend most of the day with people either yelling at me or weeping down my neck. I go into work with a stomach ache or shaky hands most days.

It’s such a relief when someone is nice.

And I understand the power setup. The oppressed kick downward, as Blackadder explained to Baldrick (“I kick the dog, who bites the cat, who scratches the mouse, who bites you, since you are the lowest thing on God’s earth”). Customers are upset about their bills, so they take it out on the reps, who are powerless to do anything about it. There’s no Gus to turn loose on bothersome customers, like in the Los Pollos Hermanos training videos.

And, despite how we all like to fantasize about doing with the credit card numbers and other information we have at our disposal, we’re too nice (or need the job too much) to actually act on it. But it gives us something to draw on for that smiling customer service.

So, customers… take a leaf from our book. When you’re angry about something instead of biting off your barista’s head because the cream is too rich, do what we do. Go home and scream into a pillow. Stab a tomato. Write a story about the person who slighted you having to live with their offense in Purgatory, or take up kickboxing.

Be nice to your rep/barista/clerk. Don’t make them want to weep from happiness when they get a thank you. We’ll all be better off for it.

 

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General

In the Full Moonlight

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Original photo by Michael Samerdyke

I recently put out my third ebook, a short horror novel titled In the Full Moonlight. This is probably the fastest I’ve ever put out a book– probably from inception to posting, it took 13 months. And if I hadn’t waffled so much over the editing phase, it wouldn’t even have taken that long.

Interestingly enough, I got the idea for this novel from a Reddit thread. People were talking about supernatural experiences, and someone wrote in about their grandparents being chased by the rougarou, the Cajun werewolf. I started to write a short story about a werewolf in the American south, and twenty pages later, it wasn’t anywhere close to finished. So I kept writing.

The story follows a young librarian named Caroline Schaffer, who encounters a monster one night while out on a midnight walk. As she recovers from the scare and begins a relationship with a man the incident put her into contact with, she begins to explore the history of the monster and her new community. As events build up, the desire to stay safe conflicts with her wish to do something about it.

Now that I’ve finished this project, I still have a laundry list of other books to complete. My fairy tales, I meant to complete at the end of 2016, but…. In addition to the fairy tales, I have two other horror projects in the works, one involving a vampire and one involving ghouls, as well as a big fantasy project. As I make progress, I’ll post.

In the Full Moonlight is available at the ibookstore (apple.co/2Li4fDL), Barnes and Noble (goo.gl/kepeZV), Kobo, and a few other vendors.

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Writing About Writing 1 of…

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve last published something on the blog… eighteen months more or less!

In that amount of time, I got married, moved to a new state in a new timezone, started a new job, and put out another ebook (foreshadowing). That’s two out of the three things newlyweds aren’t supposed to do in the first year of marriage, but we’re not doing Number Three (having a kid) yet.  In all that adjustment and chaos, regular writing got kind of pushed to the wayside, although mostly in recent months, I’ve made up for some of the lost time.

It makes me think a bit about my relationship with writing, actually.

I’ve been a writer since before I could write. When I was really little, I would draw pictures to tell the stories I wanted. And as soon as I actually learned to write, I did. I did that all through school, often as an escape. I kept it up through college, but it wasn’t until I got to graduate school that my personal writing started to slow down. In part I blamed that on my physical and mental health, and I definitely did over the year I was underemployed and essentially in limbo. Almost nothing I wanted got done then.

But then, employed full-time, and finally married, I still didn’t write as much. But the urge was still there.

I write because I have to, and because I love it. But I need something else.

I don’t think it’s necessarily time, although that’s definitely a necessity. I can’t bang out a 100 page novella in a day, and while I can write a 60 page research paper in 17 days, I definitely don’t want to do that again! That one time in grad school was more than enough.

It’s a cliche, and I think a dangerous one, to say writers have to be unhappy to produce good work. And I write good stuff, happy or unhappy. I prefer to not be unhappy, and I think my work is generally better when I’m not weighed down by the world. Besides, if unhappiness meant I’d be more prolific, I’d have composed a second War and Peace from June 2016-June 2017.

Maybe it’s just mental energy. Depression wears you out. Moving wears you out. Starting a new job is tiring. Keeping a job you don’t especially like is tiring. Major life changes in general are just tiring.

Maybe writing is a sign that there’s the potential for things to get better. I don’t want to get overly mystical, but it seems like a possibility. After all, authoritarians want to crack down on ideas, and writing is one way for them to spread. Maybe, as long as we can write, there’s the potential for something better.

And there are always red pencils to help with the actual written material.

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