Happiness is a Soup Truck

Happiness is a SoupTruck

So some of you may have noticed that I haven’t published anything in awhile. Like ten years. It took several years of therapy to track down the reason: I have a problem with depression. In this, I am not alone; turns out writers are 121% more likely to suffer from depression than the general public. I don’t know if depression makes us turn to making up stuff to survive, or if making up stuff for a living makes us depressed, but I do know that throwing yourself headlong into building a career in publishing would make anybody nuts. And yet I did that for twenty years, and then face planted. I kept writing—you’ve suffered from reading how many unfinished manuscripts in here?—I just couldn’t finish anything.

And then, as you know, I roped Bob Mayer into helping me finish Lavender which became a collaboration, which became a three book series. I still panicked every now and then and Bob would talk me down, but mostly we were just working so fast, the stories came so fast, that I didn’t really have the time to panic often. We sent the three books off to our agent, who is excellent, and started in on the next series with Rocky Start. And I started to clutch again.

Because now we were submitting to editors and getting caught up in the insanity of traditional publishing, and although our agent tried to protect us as much as possible, it’s a jungle out there, even worse than it used to be when it drove me into writer’s block for a decade. Then we got an offer and I really tensed up, but the good news is that it was a lousy offer. And Bob said, “Let’s just self-publish,” and I said, “Oh, god, yes, yes, yes.”

Which is when I realized how bad publishing is for me and why: I have no control. The minute you send a book into the maw of traditional publication, you’re no longer a creative genius who constructs worlds out of nothing, you’re a soup maker, dealing with people who are putting your soup into cans to sell, and their basis for judgement is how they can sell that soup to a lot of people. This is not a criticism of publishing: If you take your story to market, you’re the one who made it soup, so you’re going to have to deal with people wanting more or less salt in your recipe and offering you much less than you feel your soup is worth.

Unless you decide to set up a food truck and sell the soup yourself. You’re still making your story into soup, but now it’s your soup, you get to decide how much salt and how much to charge and when to open the cart and all of a sudden, life gets easier. Not richer, not more successful, but do-able. (Especially when your collaborator is doing all the heavy lifting of self-publishing. Thank you again, Bob Mayer.)

Of course, we’re self-publishing in a summer when we’re both moving and we’re both dealing with health problems, but we’re both so relieved to be doing this ourselves because we can get the books out fast and only a month apart and price them so that people don’t have to sell a kid to afford them, (the print versions are going to cost a lot because of paying for paper and ink, so apologies for that up front), and because neither one of us needed one more damn source of stress right now. (My internet isn’t working right; that’s like taking oxygen from me.) I can’t tell you what a relief it is not to be dealing with contracts and outside revisions and sell-throughs and all the other things we’d have no control over.

Happiness is a soup truck, people. I sincerely hope you all have one.

So how were you happily trucking this week?

121 thoughts on “Happiness is a Soup Truck

  1. Depression is a monster!! I hope you’re doing whatever you need to get help with that.

    I’m thrilled that more books are coming out, and cannot wait to purchase them! You two make superb soup!

  2. The only time I was officially clinically depressed and medicated* was in the late stages of my marriage, before the late wife got late. I was depressed because of the crazy late wife’s – I don’t know if they still use the name – multiple personality disorder. The four faces of Pam. But she died, so that’s no longer an issue.

    I wrote stories for several years, and published on the web. My stories are freely available – they just aren’t very good. Since the year I stopped writing, I have not been tempted to start again.

    My soup truck is a farmer’s market truck, or handcart. I have arugula, chard, three kinds of lettuce and three kinds of peppers ripening. That’s my happy place.
    *Paxil. The side defects were worse than depression. I stopped taking it.

    1. Paxil. My friend-the-doctor had to stop taking it (after her divorce) because it made her burst into tears with no warning and no control. It really upsets patients when their doctor starts crying while discussing their symptoms and/or treatment!

      1. It put a lot of weight on me and made me weird.
        I remember crossing campus with a friend, and saying, “Isn’t it a beautiful day!” and him saying, “You have to get off of that stuff, I don’t even know you any more.”

        1. Antidepressants are sometimes better than nothing if you get a good prescription and a doctor who hears you when something does not work (I have been lucky).

          I hope you and Bob are dealing with minor illnesses and not major ones! I have only had one major illness (twenty years ago), and surgery, chemo and radiation all worked (as did the anti-nausea drugs-yahoo)!

          Be well and good luck with both of your moves.

  3. *hugs* Traditional publishing is definitely not helping my depression (which has several causes, but dealing with publishing certainly contributes). Fortunately, the nonfiction part of my career is reasonably successful–as long as I don’t compare myself to the few people who are really great at promoting themselves online, and shoot to stardom. My biggest issue with that is running out of ideas, not their willingness to publish me. After 16 books, I’m finding it hard to come up with something new to say.

    Fiction, on the other hand…that part of tradpub is a dumpster fire. Especially if you are a midlist author (neither on the best selling lists or a newbie with the potential to become a breakout success). I have many friends who’ve been successful for years who can’t get contracts anymore, or who have had to turn to smaller publishers. Most of them have gone on to self-publishing. I have done a little of that, but I’m not good at the back end stuff and I don’t have a Bob Mayer (although I do have a terrific agent who has never lost faith in me, bless her). So I’m working on a completely different novel in hopes of convincing traditional publishing to take a chance on me again, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath.

    I might be a little depressed about it. I’m so very glad you found a way to still write and not be.

  4. I’m a bit depressed, but I think it’s partly to do with the ignorance, violence, greed and so on in the world.

    Writing is usually a refuge for me, but lately I’ve been so overwhelmed with other work and just stuff that the writing is stalled. It’s a bummer and somewhat depressing, but being too busy always messes with my creative energy, so it’s no surprise.

    My only objection to self-pub is having to do ALL the promo. I’m pretty hopeless at it, and not only that, I find it SO BORING. So I only do a little and am grateful that I have another source of income.

    The biggest plus to self-pub is being able to publish something QUICKLY. I can wait six months for a publisher to do her part, but a year or more before getting on the schedule is too long. Meanwhile, there may be a deadline for the next book, and I don’t have the energy to work that hard anymore.

    OTOH, I have a new romance coming out next week – one which was an absolute pleasure to write. The characters were ready-made, having played small parts in previous stories, so I already knew them, so to speak, and they were irrepressible, which made it fun. 😊

  5. Making things makes me better, but it’s like exercise. I know I will feel happier if I do it, but dragging myself to that point is almost impossible sometimes. Real life is so insistent.

    The worst depression I ever had was when I was making body parts in a factory setting. But the ventilation wasn’t working properly and apparently I was breathing in automotive primer. It was the weirdest sensation, like my consciousness wasa balloon and only attached to my body like with a string.

    Anyway, yesterday was the company picnic at Knoebels Grove, a small amusement park that has been open for almost 100 years. Kevin and I aren’t really park people, but parts of it are so kitschy that it’s fun to see. And eat junk.


    1. Some of that stuff reminds me of the movie Big. There are people who would pay big money to have that out of body experience you had. You were seriously making body parts? Human, or auto? I went to human, of course, being a little perverted.

      1. I was making medical dummies, so human. All sorts of parts, so there were a lot of jokes on the floor…

    2. Some of that stuff reminds me of the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco, which was one of the highlights of my visit there.

  6. Happy that DH’s back problems seem to be responding to treatment.

    Happy that I had a pleasant last few days at work, and though boss being in NY may have contributed, my purposeful change in attitude was part of it, so hopefully the coming week will also be a good one.

    One of my kitties has gotten more snuggly with me again. I don’t know what made them standoffish for more than a year, just thankful that I am now getting at least some “lie on the sofa together”time.

    1. That is odd. Did you change your shampoo, or soap, or perfume? Cats are very sensitive to smells. I’m glad whatever you did worked.

      1. I thought they got less cuddly with me specifically because (as I later discovered) I was the only one still enforcing the “no cats on the table” rule, and I think they started equating my hands touching them with being thwarted. They also got less cuddly with DH (who was NOT thwarting them) near the same time, which a friend attributed to them being teenagers. So who knows? Just glad to be getting nice interactions now.

        1. Enjoy your cuddles.If your cats are teenagers, they will change their preferences many times over the coming years.

  7. Thrilled for you and Bob. May your soup truck prosper.

    Doctors are also prone to depression and suicide. Decreasing control, increasing stress. Female physicians are particularly at risk. So doctor+writer could be a bad combo. Hugs to everyone out there.

    For myself, it doesn’t bother me too much to haul myself up by my bootstraps in either sphere. I have been slacking on the book marketing, but oh well. Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith point out that books aren’t bananas. They don’t go bad.

    I’m lucky to have loving family and friends to buffer me. Currently in Vancouver with my kids, eating and researching my next book on gluttony. This is paradise.

    1. If that was what I had to research, I might be tempted to never move on to writing the book.

  8. I am so happy to hear of new books coming! Please let me know as soon as possible when and where I can purchase them! I am sending prayers and best wishes that you will continue!🎉🙏😃

  9. In 2016 after years of rejections, I self-published my first book. I get to write intelligent characters that don’t break up over a spat. I love everything about it. I take it back, the money spent on marketing and ads is daunting and time-consuming. But I’m at peace because I write the kind of stories I want to.

    I don’t make money at it. That does bother me, but many indie authors are invisible because of the sheer amount of books published every hour. That’s not anyone’s fault; it’s the reality. I am fortunate that I have other means of income.

    1. +1 🙂
      Only I skipped all the rejections. In 2012 I went directly to self-publishing after becoming aware that a) it was a thing that was possible; b) it was not the same as old-fashioned ‘vanity’ publishing; c) not a soul would even notice unless I worked really hard at getting noticed, so d) I had all the time I needed to improve my writing before finally deciding to approach trad publishers.

      1. There was a +1 and a happy face, not a heart, under your likeness. Variety! I live for it!

  10. I resonate to every word of this. What’s stopped me from going full self-publishing was having too many other things to do, too. But in the last decade, 2 of my 3 kids became adults and the last is a self-sufficient middle schooler now and that’s game changing.

    I’m so looking forward to more of your stories and so glad you are taking control!

  11. I be love a good soup truck, both literally and metaphorically. What you’ve described by the way is the reason my business partner and I decided not to sell our business, although we had a couple of offers, including from Deloitte, because we knew would have to spend probably three years in an ‘earn-out’ – making soup someone else’s way. No thank you.

  12. I’m really looking forward to new Jenny/Bob books. I’m not a writer so I have no experience with publishing. I can only imagine the challenges in our winner-take-all, wired world.

    I’ve had multiple depressions and on-going anxiety. I realized this week that my anxiety is quite high. Not sure of the source but I have a constant sense that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, borne out by the daily news. Another poor air quality day due to wildfire smoke and the leader of the Opposition party wants to cancel all carbon taxes and boost oil and gas production/spending. Previously I would have said there’s no way he could become Prime Minister but now I have no idea. I can only double down on what works for me – exercise, yoga, gardening, etc.

    I’m picking snow peas every day and my scapes are almost ready. It’s strawberry season and the taste of local strawberries is sublime. I volunteered for a Dress for Success sale and met some lovely volunteers. I met 2 sisters in a consignment store one day and told them about the sale. They attended and were lots of fun.

    1. Thanks for reminding me of Dress For Success, Susan. Another deep closet/drawers cleaning came up with suits and separates. Red blazer I rarely wear, will have it cleaned too. Maybe sew myself a new one.

  13. Depression is so insidious. I had untreated postpartum depression for years, much exacerbated by grad school. When I graduated and started writing fiction, I took one look at traditional publishing and was 100% sure it would destroy me. About half my writing buddies are traditionally published and I’ve never regretted not going that route! I make no money from my writing and have only published like four things, but at least I have my peace of mind.

  14. I’m happy because I just preordered the Lavender books on amazon.it. Another reason that I am pleased I moved to Morlupo Italy at the age of 74, I couldn’t find the books on amazon.co.uk. I only moved here 6 months ago so I’ve still got a home in England. I hope your move goes well Jenny I must admit I only managed my move with the support of my son and his family.

    1. Hey Jennifer, we have another Jennifer on this site and a plethora of Jens, Jennys and JenniferNennifers. Is there anyway you can differentiate your name so that we know you and remember you distinctly?

  15. Happiness is indeed Doing It Your Way, however that can be arranged. And there are such infinite expressions of soup!

    Today, happiness is having gotten the front yard looking good yesterday so I can leave it entirely alone next weekend when it’s forecast to be hot and when it will also be very explodey and loud, going by the past 5 years here in backyard-fireworks-legal South LA.

  16. Oh dang, just thought of another Happy. You know the story about the Central Park birder and the woman who called the cops on him when he asked her to leash her dog? Well, that guy has a show now on NatGeo: Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper. Only six episodes but I watched & enjoyed them all yesterday.

  17. It would be interesting to know if depression for writers is partly from it being mostly a solo endeavor, and something done in-house and away from people. Or maybe living that way helps the depression that comes from encountering the idiocy and nastiness of the world.

    I write mostly for therapy. I started writing when I was serving a very pernicious parish, full of really nasty people, and a few true Christians. I have thought about writing a non-fiction book about the kinds of evil in the “Christian ” church. You know when you have looked pure evil in the face, (think of Putin) and I did that too many times. Power-hungry, misogynistic, mammon-worshipping racist bullies love the church, because they can be a big fish in a small pond. They are the opposite of the Christ who came to serve others and love everyone.

    Jenny, keep making soup your way, and selling it the way that makes your life easier.

    This morning was breezy, and pleasant, and I saw ten bunnies on my walk. That really makes me happy.

    1. I think writers are often (not always) just interior people.

      There’s a theory that introverts and extroverts have different minds and they interpret risks differently. Extroverts have quiet minds; they need external risk to keep connected to life so they join teams in school and bungee jump and generally do things with their bodies for excitement. Introverts have busy minds, so many things happening, so many things to see and interpret, so many ways to think about the world, so many ways to do those interpretations–story, painting, music, etc.–that any external excitement overwhelms them. That’s why they spend high school in the library.

      So my theory is that the solo nature of writer’s lives is part of what they need to keep their brains from frying.

      Depression, on the other hand, hits both introverts and extroverts, so I think that’s another part of the brain.

      Full disclosure: I got Cs in every high school science course I took, so this is probably all wrong.

      1. Very interesting. I think you’re onto something. My brain is always going, and I get overstimulated in crowds very easily. Quiet time is a must for survival.

      2. OmiGoddess, I skimmed through yesterday and missed this. By these descriptions I truly am an ambivert!

        And by my psychology 400 knowledge, your science is fine.

      3. I think this is a great analysis, Jenny! And I think introverts make better authors than extroverts because by and large they’re more observant of other people and more attuned to other people’s moods and motivations. Which I think makes them more capable of writing prose fiction.

        I always think of Jane Austen as my prototypical example of an introvert author. The anecdotes from her sister about Jane writing at that small table in her mother’s parlor, and putting the pages aside when visitors arrived seem to suggest just that. And in Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, she gave perfect depictions of an introvert/extrovert couple.

  18. I wrote a post and then something happened so it disappeared. 🙁 I’m not gonna rewrite it, so I’ll summarize:
    I’m happy because someone thought about me related to biscuits, I got hugs from someone that keeps telling me I give the best hugs in the world, I progressed on the prep for the plushie-dragon, and I got cuddles from Matcha, who’s been a bit distant over the last week but is turbo-cuddly today. Try-to-trip-you-up-kind of cuddly. I can’t be mad at her because I love her too much. Oh, and Triple has slept at least part of the night by my feet or against my belly for the past 3-4 nights, which is cosy. The end.

  19. Ah well, we’re glad you blogged through everything. Unfinished and examples and attempts are all fun to read still. I seem to have no need for an ending if I’m given fair warning. It’s unforseen cliffhangers or a constantly rappelling author that annoys me.

    I realised that I absolutely MUST go out to socialize.

    It goes like this: get invited to…
    1. free demonstration events,
    2. or a band’s gig,
    3. or a friend’s business association cocktail night,
    4. or a non-fiction book launch etc.
    I go, even though:
    1. I am not involved in the field doing the demo,
    2. never heard of the band,
    3. am not in business,
    4. will not buy the book being launched… etc.

    I find that the change in perspective and the determination not to cocoon myself in the duvet with tea, chocolate biscuits, and books, the Y’Tube, and N’Flix actually helps me be MORE effective and less likely to settle into the mopes.

    While I had undiagnosed depressive episodes for a few years without knowing it, it took two different GPs to diagnose me a month or two apart and prescribe the same thing for me to realise that it was what I was experiencing. Cilift, 1 tab at night and it once it kicked in after a month, it was like upcoming birthday motivation energy. After 6 months it levelled off and I was even. Best thing for me. Stayed on it another 6, then weaned off for another six. Brb…

    1. We’re still experiencing scheduled power outages designed to ensure electricity reaches everyone. So sometimes we lose network or our batteries are low.

      Soup for me, is my ambivert self needs the taste of a different soup, that of a change of perspective, or other frames of reference.

      I’m very, very, very lucky because I have a group of friends that truly accept each other, even if we have differing opinions. So we are sometimes each others safe spaces. I offered a newer friend a version yesterday – “come to my house and bundle up in a blanket and you can just doomscroll, we’ll just work around you.” He didn’t, but he could. Another version is, “video call but you don’t have to speak. I’ll wash dishes or do something, you hang out as you feel.”

      It’s very freeing when people accept where someone is emotionally.

  20. Between depression, anxiety, and autism, I made the preemptive decision to avoid tradpub altogether. There was just no way that was going to be a healthy path for me.

    I’m enjoying the self publishing process, just wish there weren’t so much of it. I’ve been without a working laptop this week, so things are a little overwhelming.

    Mr. Bob is one helluva gent. I’m glad you two teamed up.

  21. I also deal with depression, I think related to undiagnosed ADHD. So I need to talk to someone about that. I hope I’ll be taken seriously, since I’m surprisingly (to me, at least) old.

    Yesterday was full of happiness since I walked in the Pride parade in a town near me. Full of color, wit, a good marching band, kids in a safe place. Our church walked, although not too many people showed up.

    I watch my wild flower patches as they grow, we’ve had good rain so they are well established. We’ll see how it turns out.

    Apparently I am posting comments too quickly. I should slow down, it says.

    1. Looking at the timing of the comments just before & after yours, I’m betting that the site’s new grump about posting comments too quickly is actually provoked by two or three of us posting at the same time.

    2. Betty, in my city our pride parade was on Saturday. The police estimated 60.000 active participants and approx. 420.000 attending. Kid nr. 2 marched, we parents plus kid nr. 1 attended and squealed everytime we saw someone we know. Mate of kid nr. 1 got roped into marching as well though we didn’t find him (with about 180 registered groups it’s so easy to miss anyone).
      I love pride, it’s the most loving atmosphere – our mayors (we’ve got one male plus a number of female assistant mayors) walked in the first row after the opening group dykes on bikes. I’m so happy that pride has become an occasion to gather while being friendly to each other.

    3. Oh yes, turns out my very low-level but always present sense of doom and the fidgets wasn’t anxiety, it was ADHD. Once we got me on a working dose and brand, there was a better quality of silence and calm.

  22. When I got fed up with my job a while back, or to be more precise, some of the people in my job, I wrote down as a goal: find a job that doesn’t depend on the goodwill of others. Well I am not there yet but hopefully, I’ll find that one day 🙂

  23. I shared this bit of happiness on the Thursday Good Book post, thinking it was Sunday, because I never seem to have a clue what day of the week it is (effect of being self-employed and working from home and not really having any reason to care what day of the week it is), but I’m repeating it here, since I can and it makes me happy and I hope it makes others happy: https://drusbookmusing.com/word-with-deborah-blake/ Interview of our own Deb Blake about her cozies and writing/life in general.

    For my own happy of the week — the main one hasn’t happened yet, but is scheduled for this evening, when my brothers and I will have our quarterly online video chat. I can always count on that to make me happy. For a happy that already happened — the realization that the tiny tick I found on my elbow was apparently not carrying Lyme, since no rash/fever has appeared. (I’ve had it before, and it was Not Fun.)

  24. Anticipating happiness next week as we get ready for the annual camping trip in early July which will include FOUR NIGHTS of daughter, SIL and granddaughter this year! They will be escaping the Texas heat for a couple of weeks and catching up with Boston area friends as well as joining us under the stars. All thanks to the granddaughter’s (unsolicited by us) expressed desire to try camping!

    This week has been…sad…our Rector (Anglican for parish priest) of the last 14 years is leaving us for another church in down in Florida. I can see that his work in our church is complete and this new calling will give him new opportunities. But this is the priest that married our daughter, was with DH and myself through various health adventures and encouraged us in our various lay-ministry callings. (We will have “supply priests” for the foreseeable future until our church and the diocese discern who should come next.) This is all kind of gutting as so far in this year we have had one of our music ministers (and his wife who was the Sunday school admin) and the head of our healing ministry realize that they needed to be elsewhere, topped off by several unexpected deaths of parish members who contributed so much to our church life. We have been going through a major “pruning”. Really hoping that the result of this pruning will bring a major blossoming!

    Congratulations Jenny and Bob on self-publishing the new books. I am really looking forward to reading them!

    1. Our church is also going through that phase. We have a married couple, both UCC pastors, for the next year or so as we re-think our mission, etc. , and we’ve lost some of the core older members that we looked up to for years. I think our interims will do a good job leading us through.

  25. Excellent post. Happy you have found your way to a more peaceful pub journey.

    Once this batch of books comes out and you’re a hybrid author, the fresh books will likely also reignite interest in your back list so you’ll probably see a pretty significant uptick in those sales and hopefully also more royalties will come your way:)

    I chose to indie publish years ago after talks with some folks in trad publishing. Partially my decision was based on content control, but also it was because at the time the trad pub community wasn’t embracing the ebook market yet, and I wanted a big focus there that didn’t seem possible given their high prices at the time and low ebook royalty rates. Lots of authors have since gotten around that by partitioning their rights and keeping their ebook rights while selling print and/or audio and/or translations. What I find so fab about that is that authors have much more opportunity now to set their careers on their own terms.

    As for writing output slowdowns, I’ve hit those periods, too, but I blame mine on peri-menopause/menopause hormones because those dips and such seriously affect not just mood but thinking, particularly estrogen which apparently protects brain function. Happy to see that more research is finally being done in women’s health that also includes those of us after 50 so that more is understood and there are resulting greater options for keeping ongoing vitality where it should be for all of us:)

  26. I don’t know what to make of me. I am passively suicidal (note: two therapists said this is not a problem as long as I don’t have a plan) during my work day since (a) they consider me a giant horrible failure who can’t even say her own name right and I get written up for “closing the blinds” and writing too long emails, and I get written up at least every other week in 2023 now, (b) the job is stressful and angry-making and I’m always bad and wrong because I was the one who was here to help, (c) I don’t qualify for almost any jobs since I probably have dyscalculia and I canNOT do a math/money job and that’s every job down to barista, and I suck at customer service and that’s all jobs too. Not that I have a plan to do it or anything, it’s just that the only reasonable ways out of this job (without having to figure out how to support myself with no backup) are death, catastrophic illness (oh god, I hope not) or doing this for 20+ more years until retirement and outlasting everyone who hates me, and my brain goes there. My job abilities are limited, I cannot run a business due to lack of math, and I learned early on to not work in a creative field because you’re disposable and I got disposed of. They somehow aren’t actually inclined to fire me so much as just rank me as a failure at everything and have me be the scapegoat, so…. “just keep swimming” is all I got.

    And yet: I did not get diagnosed with ANYTHING when I got a mental health evaluation. The 25-year-old who had me fill out a survey for a half hour said I wasn’t badly off enough in any way and thus was undiagnosable. I’m not slicing up my wrists, I’m not waving a gun around on Zoom, I’m never so incapacitated that I can’t get out of bed and do my shitty job. I guess the standards are high when your HMO doesn’t wanna do mental health care. In retrospect I probably should have thrown a screaming fit and cried and waved something injurious around, but I don’t want to be That Person or locked up by the nice young men in the clean white coats, either. I read “Easy Crafts For The Insane” and being locked up did not make her situation a lick better. I also can’t swallow medication whole and am just butt-ass-terrified of giving psychiatric medication a try with my issues, which has now led to my new “does this pot gummy work?!” lifestyle 😛

    I admit I assumed that if I finally did have a depression screening they’d immediately hand you pills within 15 minutes, not just (not joking) give you a free subscription to the Calm app. I don’t WANT to get diagnosed with anything and get a Black Mark On My Record since my record at work is literally nothing but diarrhea and the one time I got misdiagnosed with something, I briefly lost my health care (in between jobs). And frankly I don’t know if it’s clinical “must be medicated for the rest of your life” ***DEPRESSION*** or just this is what happens when you get treated like shit for your entire work day, and if I was somewhere where it was okay to be me, I’d be fine. I’m generally fine while not at work or dwelling on work. But I’ve been picked on there since 2013 and I can’t remember what it’s like to be genuinely fine instead of having to stuff my feelings under the couch and hope they don’t explode and get me fired, either. Thank god for three days a week where I can hide my feelings in my house and nobody hears the crying or screaming or rage fits.

    So….yeah. At least my play is going really great. That’s my one big happy. God, I wish I could just do theater all day/night long instead of having to waste my life on shit I hate so I can have health insurance. I don’t know how all you self-workers do it. But theater is fucking awesome and a joy and I wish it was an actual career. I love having an actual part and a fairly large one for a girl this time. I just wanna be onstage all the time.

    1. Also hugs! And advice isn’t usually helpful, but maybe a career counsellor? Or an outside job – I have a friend who works for an organic market garden and loves it. Working in the gardens, packing vege boxes, just not customer service for her either!

    2. It’s not depression if they really are out to get you, but that can cause depression.

      But you need to get help, this is horrible. Does your health insurance allow you to find another therapist? I know nothing about finding help like this, but I’m sure a lot of Arghers do. You have to get some help, Jennifer. This is just awful.

      1. It is not Paranoia if they really are out to get you. Depression can visit anyone it chooses at any time. But a bad work situation will definitely trigger any underlying issues you have.

    3. It’s tough going in day after day when you’re sure it’s all gaslighting on their part.

      I went through something similar bur not as intense as what you’re going through. And being much closer to retirement I was able to wait them out.

      I have no great advice for you, just to hang on tightly to the things that are going right.

    4. Wherever you find comfort, even in your imagination, go there. I hope inspiration comes to show you the way to a job that is satisfying to you, has benefits, and has nice people. Hugs, to you dear soul.

    5. Jennifer, I’m so sorry that your work is so miserable. I too think a career counselor or a”What color is your parachute” might help you come up with some ideas to try.

      I also wonder if your state department of vocational rehabilitation might be a free resource to help you identify and train for a better job given your dyscalculia.

    6. Does your state/province have any discounted vocational testing? It might open your eyes to places where you might apply to less frustrating jobs. You might also want to look at other health plans, because it really sounds like you are getting the “I don’t know what this is, so it must be all in your mind.”And “other people are more ill than you are and they can keep a job!”
      Perhaps a chorus of “Thank you. Next” while you stomp out with a list of other providers in your hand.

    7. DM me on Instagram if you’re up to it, you’ve just described my life of ±ten years since I became a teacher. I hereby authorize Jenny to send you my email address too.

      There was a time here where the depressive episode was so bad that my posts here got a lot of people on Argh and LucyMarch worried about me.

      In my job as a damn grade school teacher, I am often the identified failure in the system. It’s soul-destroying to the point I will think “it’d be better to be dead”.
      And yet, I am very much like Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, “I like this world.” Brb, gonna find the whole quote!

    8. It’s a scene, a dialogue with a pretty good ending, *”It’s all right here.”*

      Insert favourite sports at the relevant point! Lol. 😉

      Buffy Summers: What do you want?

      Spike: I told you. I want to stop Angel… I want to save the world.

      Buffy Summers: Okay, you do remember that you’re a vampire, right?

      Spike: We like to talk big, vampires do. “I’m going to destroy the world.” It’s just tough-guy talk. Struttin’ around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I *like* this world. You’ve got… dog racing, Manchester United… and you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here… But then, someone comes along with a vision. With a real… passion for destruction… Angel could pull it off. Goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester bloody Square. You know what I’m saying?

    9. Sending more hugs, and lighting virtual magic spell candles for a miraculous new opportunity coming your way

    10. Is it the job itself or the people you work with that are making you insane? If it is the people, can you do the job for some other firm? If you have worked there for more than two or three years, another employer would assume that you merely want to try another environment with different job opportunities. For some reason men relocate all the time and no one thinks anything of it. Women, not so much. And if a prospective employer asks why you want to change jobs, it’s because you do not feel your current employment stretches you enough, and the employment situation with your current employer is very static.. Do not deviate from this. If you bad mouth your current employer, they will wonder if the employer is forcing you out. I doubt that your current employer would say anything negative about you but you can always ask a prospective employer not to contact your current employer because it might have a negative impact on your work environment if they knew you were shopping around.

    11. So, so many hugs! I understand the feeling of not knowing “what to make of yourself”. Hope you’ll find a path and support that works for you. Glad theatre gives you some relief from it all.

  27. So very glad you are going ahead with this and doing it your way!
    Love the soup truck concept. It occurs to me that that is kind how I have lived most of my life. Ha! I thought I was just stubborn or something.

  28. I’m enjoying all this summer – lots of sunshine instead of cloud and damp. I’m spending all my time in the garden, proof-reading, gardening or reading books & emagazines. Very decadent (apart from the work element).

  29. Great post! I, of course, make no secret of the fact that I will follow you anywhere. Loved the trad-pubbed books but I will love the self-pubbed ones even more simply because they aren’t making you crazy!

    I myself am following a no pub path lol. Not necessarily because I want to. It takes a lot of effort to be published and I work a 40 hour job.

    I figure I will self pub all these things that are in various stages from half done to finished after I retire.

    I’m not entirely without publications. My brother had a friend illustrate and publish a book of my poetry which is lovely. And I have other poetry published in 3 places as well as one short story. None of those made me follow someone else’s path, though.

    I am happy that I am working with an accountability partner and it is highly effective for both of us.

    I am happy that I have pto days this week. Being paid not to work makes me so happy.

  30. Please use an experienced romance genre book designer. No offense to Bob—the man has excellent content—but when I saw his books at a seminar, they screamed “self-published,” from the covers to the margins to the layout. You know what a read book looks like; make sure your self-pubbed books like like that.

    Feel better. I know it’s hard.

    1. We’ve got professionals on it, and I’m pretty sure they’re fed up with me by now because I have lots of feedback. I’m hoping to see comps this week.
      Bob has turned it over to me because he’s doing all the other self-publishing stuff, and because I’m the one with an art degree. It’s a very old art degree, but his degree is from West Point, which I think explains his covers. Not that they’re not great, Bob.

        1. I had a book reprinted at Bantam and they insisted on putting a dog on the cover even though there wasn’t one in the book. I told them either the dog went and I had to do a rewrite to put the dog in, and they went for the rewrite. They must have really loved that cover.

      1. “His degree is from Westpoint” has got be one of the best shades ever cast.

      2. We got the first comps for Lavender’s Blue and I like the first one. Will post later this week to show you when I get the designer’s permission and she’s finished a tweak I want.

    2. Although now that I reread this comment, I’m worried about the margins and the layout. Although they looked fine to me when he sent me the files.

      The cover’s good, or at least it’s good for me.

      1. Honestly, I think it’s less about the way the layout and margins are set and more about how Amazon POD books come out. Print books do tend to look different these days because of it.

  31. “you’ve suffered from reading how many unfinished manuscripts in here?”


    Every one was a joy and delight. No suffering.

    I’m happy that my house has music. I’m happy that I can afford to give my kids the gift of music. This weekend they practiced their pieces for their upcoming school jazz band performance together, and my house was full of the sound of them working in sync, rather than trying to kill each other. My heart.

    1. Do you think you could persuade them to work on a piece together once the concert is over? That sounds wonderful.

    2. “you’ve suffered from reading how many unfinished manuscripts in here?”


      Every one was a joy and delight. No suffering.

      THIS! Very much this!

      However comma now that you’ve made this post all other fragments or snippets of stories or progress reports will trigger Lipton Instant Soup’s “Is it soup yet?”.

  32. Our Pride parade/fest was today. Lots of vendors doing outreach. It was bigger than last year so that’s great.

    I’ve just been blah. I get done what I have to get done to keep the house clean. And I’m making some headway on the weeding and yard upkeep. I have a lot of black raspberries growing that are ripening now. It’s great being able to pick a dozen or so when I’m wandering around. That’s a real happy.

  33. Exactly. Everyone one was “a joy and a delight.”
    Spend the weekend in Ladysmith on the island. We were on island time nosing around shops and farmers market and a pub lunch. And pies. Watching hummingbirds. Bought a bird ornament for the deck. Home. Dinner and the last pieces of pie.

    1. My cousin lives in Ladysmith! We wanted to be able to visit her when our cruise ship docked in Victoria but we just couldn’t make it work.

      1. It’s a great little town. The sidewalks roll up about 4 pm though. The Resident Alien TV series is filmed there. Going into third season. My niece said some Hallmark movies too. The Old Town Bakery has amazing pastries and pies. They love to have us visit “anytime.” I just ate the last piece of pie.

  34. And there are tomatoes growing on the vines. Yeah, two little tomatoes so far…

  35. I’m happy that all my relatives are still alive. Because when my 83 year old mother was in the hospital for her intestinal blockage last week my father and mother both caught pneumonia. And my sister-in-law, whose cardiologist said she was doing fine last month and took her off a couple of heart medications, is now not doing fine and is in the hospital with either another heart attack or congestive heart failure or both.

    So we’re happy they’re all still alive, but worried.

    1. I am sending all of you love and prayers and a wish that the heart failure clinic treats your family as well as the one my Dad attended treated him. They really made a place where he felt seen.

    2. Good lord, Gary, that’s awful. Take care of yourself while you’re taking care of them, please.

  36. The worst depression I ever suffered was what turned out to be Seasonal Affective Disorder (we were living in Salem, MA after a lifetime in southern California) in combo with my thyroid taking a bad turn. Dark time, but Spring, and getting the thyroid levels back where they were supposed to be pretty much fixed things. When we moved back to CA and I went back to my former doc, I had to catch him up on things, and told him my TSH had been 32. He stopped writing, lowered his clipboard, and stared at me before he said, “You must have felt like sh*t.” Truly, I felt so affirmed.

    Happiness this week was visiting Dublin for the first (and hopefully not the last) time. The impetus was to see Siobhan McSweeney (Derry Girls) in Becket’s Happy Days, which was worth going for, all by itself, but Dublin was pretty great. Good food, nice people, music wafting out of every bar I walked by, and even the weather cooperated. Last travel for a little bit, as I’m sending the passport off for renewal before our fall trips. Not that there’s not plenty to do here….

    1. OMG, my thyroid labs have been all over the place since early pandemic, but I can’t even imagine TSH 32! Although now, I guess, they have something to aim for. (I started hypothyroid, dunno what the TSH was, went on Levoxyl for years, then suddenly went hypERthyroid, and now seem to be going the other direction again, so I may be seeing rising TSH levels in the next year or two. Hope to intervene before TSH hits 32!)

  37. Can I offer a little self-publishing hint? When you click your name on the Lavender’s Blue page on Amazon, it *should* take you to your other books, but it doesn’t. (If you click on Bob’s name, it takes you to all his other books.)

    I’ve always self-published, so I have an Amazon Author page where I need to ‘claim’ my books. Dunno if you have one, or if Amazon KDP support can help you find it, but if you can get the book linked with your other books, then fans of yours on Amazon looking for your new books will be able to find the Liz Danger books.

    Soup trucks are the best. Very excited about new books!

    1. Bob tried to link it to my Author’s page, but I may have screwed up the link stuff. I’ll ask again.

      1. Hmm. As someone with an Author Page on Amazon, I think only you can do this bit yourself because you have to go into your dashboard at Amazon Author Central and claim the new books as yours. Then they automatically get linked within a few minutes or sometimes hours.

        This is super easy and normally you just log into Author Central with your same Amazon credentials as your regular Amazon account.

        The whole process takes under 5 minutes. Provided you already set up your author page. And if not, you can easily set one up quickly within another ten minutes or so if you are adding your bio and such. This is worth your time because of what Tara mentioned but also for marketing and ads later on because sending ad clicks to your Author Page rather than an individual book page can get you better sales–largely because at this point your Author Page isn’t filled with lots of ads for other products to distract buyers. Sometimes you may want clicks going to a specific book and sometimes not, but this keeps options open.

        Also, just as an aside re Print books. I use Vellum to format my books and it’s fab. With a few clicks they set the books beautifully and even have a large print format option so you can generate two sizes if you like. This works for both paperback and print versions. And you get previews to see how it looks. Which is also helpful for ebooks because you can preview how they’ll look on a range of devices and see how your readers will see them.

        Honestly, there are so many pub aspects that are automated now, indie publishing professional books is so much easier than even a few years ago and it doesn’t take big techie skills. One tip I would mention re planning your covers to work well as both ebook and print is to watch the spine and back colour wrap and try to keep it to one colour to avoid POD print variations re placement and alignment. It’s helpful to think about this as you work with your designer on covers now so you can choose a good one that will work for all formats.

  38. Yes — I always forget to claim my books until well after I should have done it. And it’s important if you have BookBub followers, because (I believe) having claimed a book affects BookBub’s recognition that you have a new release for the purpose of sending a new-release alert to your followers. They do it automatically, without having to ask them to do it, but you need to have claimed the book first. I forgot about the claiming once (I think it was the first of the crazy cat lady post-apocalyptic cozies), and couldn’t figure out why BB didn’t send out a new release alert for it until too late. I claimed the second book, and the new release alert went out automatically.

    Note that there are two “new release” alerts from BookBub — one is free (that’s the one I missed out on by not claiming the first book), and one, technically a “pre-order alert” is paid (which I haven’t done, because complicated reasons). You may need to have a (free) author account (not just a reader account) at BookBub to take advantage of the free alert, but it’s worth doing, since it is, after all, free, and it’s an easy way to reach people who do want to know about a new release from a favorite author.

  39. I just saw that you have a new book coming out and I’ve not been this excited in a long time. I hope the self-publishing goes super well. I already asked my library to buy the new book. I’m so, so excited!

    1. Oh, thank you for asking the library to buy it! That’ll get it to so many people!

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