Rules for business (and life) sometimes stink


Adults make choices, choices have consequences. This is the way of things.

When you are an adult that owns your own business, like me, sometimes you’d prefer to make bad choices. In my case, sometimes when a vendor or timeline or potential deal goes wonky, I want to yell and scream obscenities, and tell some people they smell of elderberries.

It’s understandable, I think. As adults, we lose our right to pout and ugly cry when things don’t go our way. There’s no whining and refusing to eat your dinner until the universe course corrects your way. And there shouldn’t be, honestly. We have those outlets when we’re children precisely because we don’t have ownership of our actions. We’re not making our own choices, and that can be frustrating,

Even so, some days I want my pout back. I don’t want to give up all the other things I have and gain as an adult, but if I could get some kind of add-on package so I could stamp my feet and meltdown?  Some days I’d be inclined to do so.

Anyone have an app for that?

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The best worst thing ever? Still sometimes good.


In the summer of 2014, my husband and I went on a Baltic Sea adventure. We were going to visit several countries, cruise the Baltic Sea, and general have a lovely summer vacation.

It was the best worst trip ever.

What do I mean by the best worst? Let’s back up: it was the worst vacation ever.

I acquired my 14th (yes, 14th) head/chest cold of 2014 just the week before we left, while I was at BEA in New York City. I’d gone to the doctor, and was on three antibiotic meds: systemic capsules, eye drops and ear drops. I was feeling well, and no longer contagious, the day before we were set to leave for London, so I was pretty thrilled. (As an aside, this illness led directly to me having my tonsils removed that year, and I’ve only been sick twice since!)

On the flight, my husband’s ears clogged up, as ears sometimes do.

We spent three days in London, visit all the things you visit in London when you’ve been there a bunch, and only have a few days. We visited several lovely pubs, and the Tate Modern. At the Tate, I noticed I had a prickly red rash on my arms and neck. I thought I was sensitive to the hotel soap.

We took the train to Dover the next day, and boarded our ship. By then, Peter (the husband) was dizzy due to still-clogged ears, and feverish. He visited the ship’s doctor while we were still in port to treat this nascent ear infection. As a bonus, while I waited for him to be treated, the ship’s doc *also* diagnosed my Amoxicillin Rash, and I learned I was: 1) allergic to the amoxicillin, and 2) going to have this increasing irritating rash for 10 to 13 days. At that moment there were 14 more day on our vacation.

We visited Oslo, Norway; Bruges, Belgium; Tallin, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Copenhagen, Denmark. We were essentially sick and tired the whole time. The worst trip ever.

We had to sleep in shifts because I snored so loudly due to my cold, and he couldn’t wear ear plugs due to his ear thing. We hardly saw each other on board, honestly.

And yet? It was pretty fun. We didn’t see a lot of any of these cities, but we did laugh a lot at our terrible luck. We also marveled at the audacity of the crew to choose only shipwreck movies for the entirety of the cruise — All is Lost, Cast Away and Titanic. No, really. There was a bartender who thought I looked just like his sister, so poured us many very lovely drinks native to his Greek home. We delighted in rearranging pieces on the in-progress puzzles that people left abandoned each evening in the library.

We drank great beer in a dozen great pubs in those coastal cities, and I read nine books in 14 days, including Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series which I love so much.

So, it was a terrible vacation. The worst I’ve ever had.  And yet today I laughed and laughed and laughed thinking of the ludicrousness. So it is also good. Not the best vacation I’ve ever had, for sure, but the best worst one.

I’m sure life has more worst times in store for me. That’s the way of things. But I’m hoping to make the best of those too.


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Purple Rain on the big screen — once more with feeling!


Oh my goodness, last week Scott and I went to see Purple Rain on the big screen. It was as awesome and wonderful and a crazy springtime sing-a-long on a Wednesday night.

As you know, Prince died last week. As a celebration, Purple Rain came back to theatres for a short run. Tickets were inexpensive, and part of the ticket price went to charity.

We had a fantastic time, and we did a podcast about it when we got back from the theatre.  Check it out if you’re so inclined.

While I’m not a Creative, I am a nostalgic Gen-Xer, and sitting in that jam-packed, sold out theater, singing along with dozens of other people, I was happy to remember and celebrate such a great talent gone too soon.

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This thing called life.

Prince Purple Rain

Prince died today.

He was a huge part of my pop culture memories from my formative years. One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, even today. He wrote songs that generations of people loved, played dozens of instruments purely for the love of the art, and made Purple Rain, one of the first movies I had to watch more than once while it was at the RKO Theater on Main Street. (And he would one-up his own best performance years later during this magical Super Bowl Halftime show in 2007.)

And Prince died of the flu, it seems. Which is devastating. So here’s your reminder: not every cold is the flu, but when it is, it can and does kill people. Even today, in 2016. In a first world country. Even if you’re being treated specifically for influenza, as it would appear Prince was earlier this week.

The flu is terrifying, and powerful.

So get vaccinated every year. Yes, every year. I know it’s only partially effective, and I know you’re not in the target age group. Get vaccinated.

And when you’re being stoic and stubborn and fighting through your next really tough cold? Be cognizant of your symptoms (or trust someone you love to be aware for you) and don’t wait too long to see if you need treatment. Please.

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Everyone’s human. Even me, dammit.


Convention season kicked off with Scott being a Special Guest at WonderCon this year. It was in Los Angeles, which was a nice, short hop, but it was still a working weekend for both Scott and myself. That means all the guest duties for Scott, plus writing every day in his room in between con […]

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Nook vanishes from Europe —
Can America be far behind?

Sponsored by our "Moosejaw Coupon" page at

If you’re an independent author, eBook sales are (or should be) a major part of your business plan. All that in-store distribution that is almost impossible to get? That’s not an issue for your eBooks. Your eBooks can be sold globally in most cases, giving you access to an entire world of readers. So when […]

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Facebook groups: how you are getting screwed and what to do about it


Howdy, friends. Are you an author or creator that uses Facebook groups (a.k.a., “fan pages”) to reach your peeps? We do, and for a long time it’s been a great way to get our stories, pictures, podcasts and general goofiness directly to those that want to consume what we make. In the past few months, […]

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Managing expectations when you don’t know what to expect.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 9.27.46 AM

We’ve talked before about Empty Set being a very small Small Business. We’re two people day in and day out, and one of us (not me) is a non-stop new idea machine. While not minimizing what a blessing it is for a small creative business to have a very invested, always inventive Creative; I do […]

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Our 2015 download numbers: 6.2 million

ESE 2015 Downloads

There’s a great quote by BuzzFeed’s Jonathan Perelman that reads, “Content is king, but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.” That’s too-clever-for-our-own-good techie speak meaning: “you can have the best stuff going, but if you can’t get it in front of people, then your quality doesn’t matter.” We think our quality is pretty dang […]

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Hey, tradition-snobs: blow it out your wazoo!

Cross-posted from a 2012 article over at, written by Scott Sigler. Check out this chart and this full article from the Atlantic. As one who lives in the book industry, I constantly hear that “no one reads anymore.” I also hear the bitching of how Stephanie Myers, Snooki, or any other phantom menace is […]

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