The Time vs. Money Balancing Act

Aug 1 2014, 3:48 pm in ,

Rufous Hummingbird cropI haven’t had my fancy camera out as much lately – thank you convenient iPhone camera – but I set up the telephoto lens yesterday to capture a pic of this little guy. He’s a Rufous Hummingbird, who really shouldn’t show up until mid- to late-August, apparently. The pic is still a little blurry, but not bad considering I had to focus through a glass door and past a bird feeder and a hanging plant. I’ll try for a better one this weekend. He’s adopted our feeder and runs off the broad-tailed hummers, so I should have the opportunity.

Throughout my life, I’ve observed that a fundamental equation governs many of my decisions: time vs. money.

I first noticed this in graduate school, when I was truly off the parental teat and having to budget all of my expenses based on a fairly miserly Teaching Assistantship. Now, I don’t want to sound at all ungrateful. That assistantship paid my tuition and also gave me a stipend – I was lucky to have it. But still, it was hardly the life of Riley and I scraped by a great deal of the time. Despite a fairly heavy load of classes, teaching, research and tutoring, I found that it nearly always made more sense for me to do things myself, rather than pay for them.

This was mainly because I had no extra money, but I could usually make time. So, I made Christmas gifts instead of buying them. I figured out how to repair my own things. I cooked at home.

As I began to bring in more money, this equation gradually shifted. Fifteen years later, when I had a full-time career that had me traveling every two- to three-weeks, martial arts classes (taking and teaching) five- to six-times a week, stepkids and a writing career too new to call “budding,” I had *far* more money than time. I gradually discovered the joy of hiring work out. I paid someone to clean my house. At the advent of the least household repair – from plumbing to painting – I picked up the phone, happy to pay someone to take it off my To Do list. In fact, I often applied my hourly rate as a watermark – if paying someone cost less than what my time was worth, easy decision!

That lasted quite a long time. In fact, I got used to it.

Maybe a little TOO used to it, because the equation has shifted on me again. With my man retiring early to start a second career as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and me making the transition into fewer hours in the corporate world and more sailing the choppy financial seas of writing as a source of income, I have less money to shell out than I did. I would say that I don’t really have more time, but – as in graduate school – I’m discovering that it’s easier for me to carve out the time than to find extra money lying about.

This hit me the other day when I inquired at my local computer place (Capitol Computer of Santa Fe – *love* them!) if they could take care of transferring all of my files, settings and software from my current laptop to a new one. I’ve been kind of dreading how much time this task will cost me. They quoted me a very reasonable price – one I would have happily paid, once upon a time. And I very nearly did.

Upon reflection, however, I realized that my equation had truly shifted back. I know how to do this transfer, so I should just spend the time doing it, rather than pay someone.

I’m sure this equation will shift back again someday. And there will be other factors – paying for expertise when technology has outstripped my skills, paying for youthful vigor and resilience when mine isn’t quite up to snuff.

Still, it’s interesting to watch this balance shift throughout my life. A kind of a marker.

Happy weekend everyone!

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Mug Shots, Book Forts and Major Awards

Jul 29 2014, 5:36 pm in , , ,

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Last week I attended the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Convention. My sixth, which is amazing to contemplate. As you can imagine, I’m sure, it’s begun to feel like a cross between a high school reunion and a grown-up slumber party. Many of these people I only see once a year – at this convention – and they are all my tribe. We spend an intense few days talking nothing but writing and career, exchanging all the gossip and pretty much going from one social event to another.

It’s unbelievably and wonderfully restorative.

 The above “conference mug shot” was the brainchild of writing friend Christine D’Abo. She had everyone at the Carina Press Author Breakfast taking them. Hysterical idea.

039I roomed again this year with my bestie, crit partner and all-around lovely person, Carolyn Crane. We took this selfie upon arrival, full of the delight at being in the same geographical location for once. 042

 

She was a finalist for the RITA awards this year, for her wonderful book, Off the Edge. Which means she got a pretty silver pin to wear on her badge.

 

 

045I signed again this year at the Literacy Signing, this time with print copies of both The Mark of the Tala and Going Under. Kensington provided me with an absolute TOWER of books to sign. So much so that one of my friends, Katie Lane, sent someone walking around with a white board telling people to buy my book and free me from my fortress.

She thinks she’s funny.053

 We also raised over $56K for literacy – so fabulous.

 

While I schedule in a lot of meetings, parties and meals, to make sure to see people, I also love to leave some things up to serendipity. For the keynote luncheon, I had no one in particular to meet up with, but happened to run into Ericka Brooks of The Bookpushers and lovely writer Nalini Singh. They made terrific lunch dates.

 

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The 060Kensington party was held off site at this amazing restaurant with probably the best anti-pasta I’ve ever had. (Aided by the fact that it tasted incredibly refreshing after the sweltering San Antonio heat and humidity. They also gave us the best party swag ever – mobile chargers. LOVE!

 

 

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FF&P‘s Gathering theme was Steampunk Cowgirl this year. Here’s the lovely Veronica Scott and local chapter buddy/aspiring author Anna Philpott kicking it up. Also, Rogue’s Possession won third place in the PRISM awards – such 059a wonderful honor when it competed with so many fabulous books.

 

 

 

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I, of course, attended the Harlequin Ball again this year, which was amazing fun as always. In the coming years, I’ll have to remember to do some training. The four hours of non-stop dancing took a toll on me this time and I limped around a bit the next morning. Also, rumors that I performed an exhibition dance of Beyoncé’s All the Single Ladies with RT’s Trent Hart are terrible, slanderous falsehoods. Besides it’s been days now and no video has cropped up, so I think we’re safe.

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I wrote about this already on the Word Whores blog, but the highlight of the week was being Carolyn’s date to the RITA awards. She dubbed this pic of us as “the Busty Twins.”

 

 

 

AND THEN SHE WON!

072I’m told she thanked me right off, though I was too busy crying and taking pics to really process it. Her achievement is made all the more spectacular because she’s the first to have a self-published book win what is our industry’s highest award. We spent hours in the bar afterward, during which she never let go of her trophy.080 Many members of the old guard came up to congratulate her on breaking the ceiling.

I couldn’t have been more proud and happy.

Or more revved for another exciting and successful year for us all!      

 

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Savoring the Outside Point of View

Jul 27 2014, 2:10 pm in , , ,

BthDzBpCUAAfiRoI’m over at Word Whores this morning, talking about the joys of being a spectator – and watching my friend, Carolyn Crane, win the RITA award!

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Whatever DID Happen to That Series??

Jul 22 2014, 11:00 am in , , ,

JeffeI’m over at Word-Whores giving a few case studies of cancelled series and how my crooked path has helped me dodge that bullet.

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The Hero’s Journey and the Magic Mirror

Jul 15 2014, 2:58 pm in , , , ,

Going UnderYesterday was Release Day for my new contemporary erotic romance, Going Under!

Today I’m over at Here Be Magic, talking about my video-game designer heroine and how her story involves elements of the hero’s journey.

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