Wednesday, August 21, 2013

VACATIONLAND - Updates and Plans

Now Playing -  Don't Forget To Breathe by Bitter:Sweet

Life -  

I have been bad. Not just at updating this blog, but all of our blogs, social media sites and in my own writing. It's literally been over a month since I've written a single word on a novel and apart from some last edits on the print version of MR PALE, Lindsay and I have been totally out of the loop on the author end of our lives. There's an okay reason behind some of it, but I feel bad all the same.

Part of the reason it aggravates me is that I genuinely like writing, and I like positing on this blog. If nothing else, I actually think it makes a great little record of our lives and right now our lives are different than they've ever been.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again now – I'll try and be better.

So what's been going on? A ton. This year has been amazing for us in so many ways but in other facets it's actually been one of our hardest years ever. The opportunity to quit my retail job and for both of us to concentrate our efforts on Deeply Dapper and our various other pursuits has been a dream come true. But True Life is never quite as sweet as the dream. We've had some ROUGH months. Rough estimate, we need about $3000 a month in income to pay bills, feed the animals and keep the shop going. There were a few months in late spring/ early summer where we didn't make half that.

When I quit my job I did something somewhat ill-advised – I cashed in my retirement fund from Walgreens. The simple fact is that if things go the way we've planned, I could either use it now to work towards our future or save it and give up our dreams right now. It was a no-brainer to us – we're dreamers.

So that money has supported us at times and every time we sat in the red and needed some new item for the shop or a big load of supplies that had to come out of that savings, it sucked, pure and simple.

So there's that. Money troubles.

In addition, there's the sheer, unadulterated claustrophobia of two people, two large dogs and two cats going from a 1600 square foot house with a huge fenced yard, two sheds and a garage in Idaho to an 800 square foot tin box in the middle of nowhere. Add in the fact that we're both here ALL of the time and are at heart both very alone-time centric, this has been a Challenge. We did what we could – we bought Linz a writing cottage and we cordoned off our place into private zones but we live in a house that takes roughly twenty paces to reach from one end to the other. It takes the dog less than a second to run it.

After a few rough months of living here with the shop hitting a few speed bumps, we made a fateful choice. We needed to get out of Maine. Neither of us have any friends out here. Linz worked the overnight shift at a hotel and I was most of my peers' boss at Walgreens. We don't socialize, especially when we live 40 minutes from any socializing being done. And naturally, both of our best friends are the types that aren't really functional online. I have a few friends that started as online so I had them and I've always been rather content in solitude, but it was especially hard for Linz, especially when it came to writing inspiration and motivation. There are some things that friends can inspire and move along without ever realizing it.

Our plan to move was ambitious, no doubt. The real sticking point was one of the same things pushing us to move in the first place – this house. We bought it out here with the vague allusion that moving to rural Maine would be a smart step company ladder-wise and at the time I bit. We got a decent deal for the place but we still owed a lot on it and unlike a real house, a mobile home is more like a car when it comes to resale. We were gonna lose money. Probably a lot. Luckily, we didn't own the land, so we'd just have to sell the trailer and WEST OR BUST.  The plan was to wait for this coming Christmas, stockpile every penny we could and as soon as the snow receded, get the Hell out of Derry Maine.
One of our home improvement projects, replacing a cracked floor joist.

Unfortunately, once we did the smart thing – Crunch Numbers, things began to reveal themselves. Assuming we couldn't sell the trailer for much and factoring the costs associated with the move – rentals, trailers, gas, tolls, etc., it would cost us approximately $14,000. And that was just back to Idaho, to say nothing of our ultimate goals of getting past the potato and into the Pacific Northwest.

On the other hand, we actually had that much, give or take, between our retirement money and what we forecasted to make over the holiday, so it was doable.  Then things got a bit crappier out here. Maine seemed to close up over us and things seemed more oppressive. We had a few trademark issues with the shop and just plain bad months and we started to get desperate. We had to get out of Vacationland and back West where our hearts were.

Part of it was that we were starting to crunch the numbers in regards to this Christmas. Last year was huge for us and our shop was significantly larger on a day to day basis now. Christmas could be HUGE. And we knew no one out here. If we were to say.... head to Idaho BEFORE the holiday, what would be stopping us from setting up shop in Linz's folks' garage and hiring cheap slave labor under the guise of inviting friends and family over?  It sounded so great. Eating Christmas cookies and packaging switch plates with family and friends.

Enough that the idea seduced any other real logic out of our heads for a while. We started looking at places to buy post-Christmas, figuring out which supplies to buy now and have shipped to Idaho ahead of us...

Then, one day, we looked at each other and said “Crap, it's a good thing we don't run our shop like we run our lives, or we'd be bankrupt.”

For us to get out to Idaho before Christmas, it would not only take every penny of our savings, but we would likely have had to put all of our Christmas supplies on the credit card that we had just spent two years paying off. Additionally, we still owned our house in Idaho. My mom is working towards buying it, but regardless of how the shop does, there's no way we could buy a home in OR or WA while it was still in our name, especially with a new – owner operated business as our sole income. We also had about three months to sell everything in the house that wouldn't fit in a 5x8 trailer and get to Idaho with enough time to prep for the holiday sales to start in October.

SO to sum up, we would be living in the In-Laws basement, have thousands of dollars in debt, not a penny to our name, no way to buy a house to live in and we would be living in Pocatello Idaho... again.

Despite the obvious, we still almost went for it. The day we realized what we were doing was a very hard one for us. It was the same day we realized that if the shop kept having sales the way they were, I'd have to get a job before we left or our bills would tap out the money we'd need to get out of the house in the first place and we'd be stuck here anyway.

On the other hand, if we stayed here in Maine, we'd be in a house that's already being paid on, we'd have enough money in savings to get us to Christmas, buy a few home stuff we really needed and all of our supplies. We'd be in a place that we didn't....hate and we'd be better off financially than we have ever been... Sort of, anyway – at the time, our shop was still a question, but we figured that if worse came to worse, I could work part time during the summer to get us comfortably by in the lean months.

So once again, we did what we do best – we changed our plans. Sigh.



Deeply Dapper - Keep on trucking with Deeply Dapper on Etsy. At the same time, explore alternate avenues of revenue with the brand – as well as shops on Zibbet, Goodsmiths and eBay. Finally get up and running, including the Octopress branch, offering eBook formatting and cover work. Start prepping for Christmas '13 in earnest. Tighten up books and records, become an official business entity. Possibly hire a part time assistant to help out.

Writing – Still write, but let it take a back burner to an extent. We were trying to push it too much and our love of the craft was suffering. Our planned books for 2013 have been pushed back. Unfortunately.

Location – Stay here in the tin can in Maine. Not the best choice, but we've been working on making it more comfortable for us, doing some improvements we've put off, decorating and the like. We've also started exploring the area we live in slightly more.

The Crew – We found the boys a Day Care we could take them to for trips and the like – the person we did have caring for them moved further away and it wasn't fair to them or the dogs. More on that in a later post. On Lindsay and my end, we aren't doing much to change our situation... not yet. The simple fact is that we don't have time to find friends this time of year -XMAS is upon us. We have visits from family this fall too! Linz's folks will be here in about a week for 8 days and my brother makes his first trip to Maine at the end of September.

Addendum – My brother's trip had originally been designed as a bookend to the first leg of our move out West. The plan had been for him to come out, spend a week then he and I would load up Linz's car and drive it cross country with as much of our house as we could do without until the full move. We were looking forward to the cross country trip too. With our move cancelled, we're now planning to take the train back to Idaho, where I'll spend a bit of time. (Hopefully completing the sale of the house.)


Obviously, a lot of these plans are tentative, based largely on how our shop does over Christmas.

Deeply Dapper – DD goes CON! 2014 will see our shop represented in Comic Cons! We aren’t sure how many, but our first con is this November – in addition to our switch plates and stickers, we'll be selling our new line of geeky soaps. Along the way, I'll also be hitting up comic, game and video stores to see if they would be interested in selling our soaps at a retail level. My plans this year are to expand the brand on a wholesale level. Doing so could stabilize our shop to a tremendous extent. More on this to come! If it doesn't pan out, I'll likely try out a few part time jobs over the summer to supplement our income. There have always been jobs I've been vaguely curious about – this would be the ultimate chance to try them out.

Writing – Hopefully, Linz will be able to continue plugging away at her romance novels – despite no new releases or promotions, her novels keep selling, so we want to add to it. We also plan to release them in paperback. She's also working on a top secret novel series that she's been planning for a long time. We're also looking into writing groups in the area, both from an editorial assistance point of view and for that sweet, sweet human contact. I hope to release GRAVES and write the second MR PALE and MOONSTONE BAY novels. I HOPE. Ha-ha

Location – Here still. Keep calm and carry on. And pay off some of Linz's oppressive student loans. Mow the lawn.

We also hope to find time to start e3njoying the area the way a young work at home couple should be able to – Sex in the forest! Oh, I mean exploring the hundreds of old graveyards out here!  Our wholesale and conventions should be a help here, allowing us to phase out some of the extremely time intensive products from the shop.

The other thing is to pay off the house if possible so that when the move does come, it comes much, much cheaper.

The Crew – Our two main goals here are to free our minds from the stress of moving and where we'll be in a month, etc... And concentrate on enjoying our lives. We're finally making money off our interests and talents – we should be overjoyed! Linz will look for some friends; I'll be better about talking with mine. We'll get out more, be healthier, cook even better food, and lose weight.

The one event we are over the moon about in 2014 is that we are finally planning to take our belated honeymoon to Ireland. Aww yeah. That alone makes not moving a little sweeter.

Beyond that, the real plan is to make as much money from the shop and our writing as humanly possible so that in 2015, after the snows melt and while the air is still cool enough for a long road trip to be pleasant, we head west. For reals this time.


randymeiss said...

Whoa! nice long post after your writing Sabbatical. It's awesome to hear about the trip to the Emerald Isle. A long time coming for both of you I'm sure. Maybe you can bring back some Luck 'O the Irish with you.

I look forward to reading more!

Steve at Random said...

Well, I'm now caught up. I've noticed that reality has a way of changing my plans. Believe it or not, my goal in life was to be a sports writer and cover the New York Yankees. Well, things didn't quite turn out that way...but I'm satisfied. I only got as far east as North Dakota, but it's provided a good living for me and it's been a pleasure to be married to Belinda and raise a family. I'm not sure what else I really wanted. Like the song goes, some times you thank God for unanswered prayers.