Month: September 2015

Pay Myself First

Just after I got my first job, my dad took me to see his accountant. Can’t remember much about him, except he and dad were in the Knights of Columbus together–dad had been treasurer of the Council of St. Francis Xavier Parish–both were fourth degree knights, not that that really matters. Anyway, Tony gave me an overall view of how to handle my money. True I was young, still at home and didn’t have expenses like rent, phone [no cells in those days], but no matter. Tony set up this box with index cards showing my expenses at the time, insurance and car were about the only ones. But there was room to expand as I needed. And there was one that was Savings. Before I had any money to spend on fun and games, I was expected to save. And, for the most part, this ‘pay myself first’ was what I practiced my whole life.

This is important because I still do that for my, our, money, same system but it’s electronic.

What I need is a box with index cards for time.  Maybe it’s because I’m not as busy as I was with home, children, job that I don’t give myself the time anymore. Or because there are so many possibilities for distraction. But I do need that box.

As a SCBWI Regional Advisor, I am a volunteer. It is my responsibility, along with the Carolinas ARA and the IC, to create programs-conferences, intensives, workshops, retreats, even online–for the region. That responsibility is also fiduciary, as a treasury is involved. What I get is tuition to the international conferences where regional team members are expected to assist in registration or hosting a speaker, etc.  And, I like this volunteer work, it’s important to me, and I’m good at it.

But as I work on my middle grade novels, one that I am shopping and one that I am revising, I realize that I should, no must, remember to pay myself first. To spend time on research for the YA nonfiction I am burning to write. To read and reread middle grade mysteries so that I have a good understanding of what is selling in the market place. To search and find that right paragraph, sentence, phrase, word that will make the internal and external story so much more coherent and publishable.

So. Here’s me, working on the fall conference, and yes there is a huge amount to do, but here’s me, thinking about the art and craft of my writing. Here’s me, looking at the index cards in that box and making sure that I pay myself first.

NEVERWHERE A book report


We, i.e., the reading public, is informed NEVERWHERE was first published in 1992,  a breakout novel for Mr. Gaiman. In the introduction Mr. Gaiman writes this is NOT the NEVERWHERE you read before, if you read Neverwhere before. It’s not the second NEVERWHERE either. And that it started as a TV series. But in his head it was always a book. And, this version, THE AUTHOR’S PREFERRED TEXT, is sorted from bits and pieces–drafts and the original UK text–and that redundancies have been removed. This is a definitive version.


This is the story of Richard Mayhew who is an okay looking guy, of undetermined age, dating a woman he feels is a step or two up from his social level and he is damn happy to be dating her. But he’s not really. She demands, she criticizes, she improves. All of which make Richard wonder why they are dating. Not that he’s not happy. But he’s not really.

A simple act of kindness–that of helping a young woman who is bleeding on the sidewalk–turns into a look at what life is like in Neverwhere. Neverwhere is not a nine to five job. It is not a steady paycheck. It is not finding a nice girl, settling down and having children who are only going to repeat the cycle. Neverwhere is some parts magic, some parts adventure, some parts psychotic. And it is not what life looked like for Richard just before his act of kindness–it is not dull.

There is a lot of running to and fro under London. Matter of fact, Richard learns there is a London Above and a London Below. There may just be the ability to move back and forth in time, but you don’t really know that–you do think it is possible. There are memorable characters,  places where death may be imminent, angels, rat-speakers, sword fights, escapes, cults, and some truly disgusting antagonists.

Yes, I liked it. Especially when Mr. Gaiman channeled Terry Pratchett: Richard looked at the key. The key looked back. Ah, good times with Twoflower and the pearwood Luggage. For me it was reminiscent of Katherine Marsh’s THE NIGHT TOURIST, [2007] without all the Latin and the searching for his mother, the Orpheus-Eurydice Myth recast according to readers on GoodReads. Sorry, Mr. Gaiman, I read Ms. Marsh’s book first otherwise I might just say that differently.

If you’ve read other Gaiman books—Coraline, The Graveyard Book–the writing, the voice, the tone, the sentiment, the descriptions, the hovering over the dark and mysterious will be familiar. I found the ending too easy to predict. Sigh. Once, just once…well, never mind. Read it, if you like endings tied up neatly.