hiding in the corners clmannarino fb cover

There’s No Such Thing as Job Security: Something About Layoffs and Book Publication

I’ve been wondering how to write about this for a long time—in other words, since I got my notice. I thought it might be great because I’d finally have something to say on here that’s worthwhile. But I’m still not sure that’s the case.

I also didn’t want to broadcast it on the internet because it’s such a loud thing to say, something that seems to live between the areas of “my dog died” and “I have cancer.” But I also feel like I should talk about it. I think we have this idea that it’s shameful to admit when bad things happen, especially if we don’t have something wonderful to counteract it with. Like, oh damn, she got laid off, but hey, look! She got a better job at a better company two months later, and now her life is twice as grand!

No. That’s not how this one works.

I will say this: I kind of saw it coming. Mom saw it faster than I did. When your company doesn’t bring in new people—interns, especially, were the big thing, the real start of it all—then you know.

It was at that time that Mom started asking if I’d be losing my job. The first time she asked terrified me, but I scoffed. Not having interns was odd, but not the end of the world, I thought.

Then people left, and no one got hired to replace them. Then the real kicker came: one of our big contracts got cancelled. At that point, I knew we were sitting at the very last red light before we hit the real danger zone.

I didn’t get out fast enough, despite my best efforts. Now, I’m back to square one, except this time, I have the experience people demanded I have before hiring me…and yet not a single offer of employment.

All I can say is, thank god I cleared out my student loans before any of this happened. Now I just have car payments to make. It’s the beauty of having a family that won’t kick you out of the house, and supports you when, frankly, a big part of your life goes to shit.

The irony of it all is that my former company was founded in London. When Brexit happened on my last day with them, I had to laugh. I wonder what they’ll look like in two years’ time.

But the reality’s also hitting me harder than it ever has before. I knew things were bad when I was being told by well-meaning friends and family that I should work freelance jobs, since I’m a writer. Things haven’t gotten much better. Last year, at least two of the companies looking for writers wanted them to also be traveling salesmen. One heaped on a pile of legit scary-looking parts to the job, and then told me they’d be going with a freelancer. Another had no idea that “customer service” doesn’t equal “social media guru” in any way, shape, or form.

Administrative assistant jobs are worse. I wasn’t making much before, but I’d be making chump change as a glorified secretary.

People just don’t want to hire someone if they can get someone else to do the same job for less, and without benefits. And I don’t think I’ll ever go into another job thinking I’m safe. Job security? Maybe twenty years ago. Many of the people I know don’t work steady jobs. They either have to work something very low-paying, or they’re working at a couple places to make ends meet.

By the way, these people I’m talking about? They’re all millennials, like me.

So this is why I often wish I wasn’t an English major (though from what Boyfriend and a few others I know go through, it’s not so great being in tech, either). I’m not sure being another major would’ve saved me, though.

It’s also why things are so quiet around here right now: there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to keep a consistent schedule for the blog the way I used to. I’m not a blogger, that’s not what this place is about. This is just a smaller piece of what I do. The real thing is writing books, and when I’m not looking for jobs, that’s where my focus is going.

Cover-Art-Dummy-Right-Bottom-Focus-1500x2400 with guides first anthology hiding in the corners title 1 sketch 4 smallBecause of that focus, book 2 of the Almost Human Series should be available earlier than October (and earlier than that for anyone signed up to read it before anyone else). It’s also why I managed to write an anthology of flash fiction (available now), with another on the way. It’s one thing I can do. It’s one thing I’ve been doing for a while—finishing books.

I don’t have control over anything else right now. I don’t know how to do much of anything else right now. It’s like Kameron Hurley said: I’d reached the point in my life where I didn’t know how to do anything else but finish the fucking book. (Shoutout to The Geek Feminist Revolution, the song of my people.)

I’m persistent, and I’m disciplined. So I’m publishing. I’ve done it before, I can do it again, and I’m going to keep on doing it right now. Especially now. It’s not going to save the house. It’s not going to get me a job that’ll pay me what I’m worth. It’s not even going to turn this economy around enough so that no one has to experience this shit again.

I wish it would. Until it does, I’ll be on the job boards, looking for sustainable income, and at the keyboard, writing. At least work I love is one thing I know will always be there, especially because a day job won’t.

Peeks: who doesn’t love them?

There’s a collection of mine coming out as soon as I can get the covers together. My news friends will be helping out with that — they’re getting to choose the one they like, just like they got to choose the title for the update of my first book. (It will now be called What We’ll Do for Blood, so a big thanks to them for that!)

If you’d like to help pick the cover for both the first book update, and my upcoming collection, you can join them here. I’m sending out the poll tonight.

In the meantime, here’s a look at one of the stories coming out, titled Clean Air:

She barged into the stuffy, pink, sunlit room, garbage bag in hand. Ignoring the faded purple “A” in “Anna” that fell to the floor when the door rebounded, she whirled on the closet. “Think you can cut me out of your life, Anna?” she asked. She grabbed the first two studded, black shirts she could reach. “I guess you won’t miss any of this shit, then.”

She tore five shirts from the rack, and then shrieked, grabbing at her pearls. A glowing, blue oval flickered at her from inside the wall. In seconds, the color faded to reveal vibrant pops of color—flowers, she realized—that stretched for miles. Something whirred by on a pair of luminescent wings.

Leaning close, she traced the edge of the oval, and gasped. Her fingers slipped right in, like there was no difference between her daughter’s room, and this—other place.

A thrill went through her. She stepped inside, one heel sinking into emerald green grass.

Clean air surrounded her. The flowers canopied her like trees, casting yellow light onto the ground. A brook wound between their stems. She ventured closer, and then stopped, studying the portal. The sun faded through her daughter’s windows.

Sighing, she turned back. As she put her foot in, though, it hit a wall.

A tremor of fear filled her. Straightening, she touched the oval with her palm. It met an invisible solid.

“What the hell?” she asked. She slammed her fist against it, kicking and screaming, but it never budged.

Voices twittered behind her. Whirling, she caught three pea-green people, all half her size, hovering inches above the ground. Iridescent wings whirred on their backs. At the sight of her shock, they grinned, flashing forest-green teeth.

“How do I get out of here?” she asked, forcing herself to stay calm.

“You don’t,” they said together, with a giggle. “Not that way.”

She glared at them. “Then how?”

“Not telling!” they trilled, fluttering off.

With a shriek, she ran after them. “You’ll get me out, or you’ll regret holding me hostage!” she said, between breaths.

“Mom?”

She spun. There, in all her studded glory, stood Anna. “What are you doing here?” she asked, and then held up her hands. “No. First, we’re going to get out of here,” she said, starting towards the door.

Anna jumped in front of her. “No.”

Her mom scoffed. “Excuse me?”

Anna put her hands on her hips. “I won’t get you out unless you promise to let me be my own person. I’m not just your little girl anymore, Mom. You can’t keep me locked up in that little room forever.”

Stunned, her mom shook her head. “I don’t want to lock you up. I wanted to show you a nice way of—of dressing, and acting, and living that will make people like you better.”

Anna raised her eyebrows. “The way they like you, you mean?”

Her mom’s lips pursed, and she averted her gaze.

Anna leaned closer. “Will you promise to let me go?” she asked.

Sighing, her mom nodded.

“Okay,” Anna said, and showed her a door below the portal.

As they left, her mom caught Anna giving her a small, thankful smile. The air in her room didn’t feel stuffy anymore.

Copyright © 2016 by C.L. Mannarino. All rights reserved.

I want to be a part of the cover decision.

PS–

Which book would you read?

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We’re all clueless, aren’t we?

We broke open a bundle of poles for the dog fence over the weekend, and discovered an entire nest of ants inside. Half the poles were covered in their larvae, and of course, as soon as we broke the bundle apart, they scattered, panicked, all over the driveway.

At first, I sat there rolling the poles with my foot, trying to dislodge the ants and their babies so that we could work with the poles without getting covered in them. But after Boyfriend began constructing the gate, I kept watching them. Their larvae had fallen in a pollen-yellow circle on the ground, and these tiny ants became alternatively scattered, and intent on rescuing their brood.

I watched them rush into the pile of their babies, smelling out the empty bindings (whatever the larvae are wrapped in, if they are at all) and saving the ones still alive. Once they had a larvae in their possession, they scrambled away, searching for safety. Just like we do, whenever we’re under attack.

But as they ran around, I didn’t see many of them disappear into the grass. It made me wonder where they go, when their community is threatened. Do they have another home? Or are they broken up to find new places to live, which will either accept them or reject them?

They don’t have safe spaces — their whole world is fraught with peril. They’re tiny things surrounded by giants like me, who, for all they know, broke open their nest to kill them. Or did it just to watch them squirm.

It fascinated me, in a sick kind of way. I thought about how we as humans ask why bad things happen to us. I thought about how, when something does, we look for something to blame. Those ants don’t, though. They don’t wonder why it happens, or who caused it. They just know that it did, and responded to it.

Look for the helpers, people have quoted Mr. Rogers for saying. At first, I thought all these ants are helpers. They’re not like us. But then I noticed that they weren’t all helping. Some were just running away. And the ones saving larvae were running in just as helpless circles as those saving themselves.

Like me, and my friends and family, and almost every adult I’ve ever met, we think we’ll know how to do more things when we grow up. We think we’ll have more answers. But we never do. We’re just like those ants: trying to save ourselves, and what we love, in whatever way we can.

I hope those ants made it out okay.

PS — if you still haven’t voted, and would like to do so before the 15th:

Which book would you read?

  • The Things We See at Night (50%, 1 Votes)
  • What We'll Do for Blood (50%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Women vs. Girls

As wonderful as the Bachelor and Bachelorette are for junk TV, the one thing that kills me about both of them is how they talk on both shows about women. The women who go on the Bachelor are referred to by the Bachelor, always, as being “beautiful girls.” The women who become the Bachelorette are referred to by the men courting her, always, as being “beautiful girls.”

And I just want to say to them, every single time, “No. These so-called ‘girls’ you’re dating? They’re women. They’re all women. Even when they act like girls, they’re not. They are women.”

Because they are.

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a friend of a friend who’d been on yet another date that didn’t go anywhere. He bemoaned the fact that it hadn’t gone well, that they hadn’t connected, and was turning to myself and SBT, the only other woman in the room at the time, to figure out what had gone wrong.

He kept calling his date a “beautiful girl.”

“Is she a girl?” I asked, trying to make the distinction as clear as possible. “Or a woman? Because a woman is someone who’s serious and mature.”

“Ooh, that’s a good point,” SBT said, adding that she needed to learn to make that distinction, as well.

I think I could’ve made my point clearer, though. Because to me, a girl is someone who isn’t yet sixteen. Then she becomes a young woman until she’s 21. (I don’t care that the legal age of “adulthood” is 18, we still have a lot of maturing to do before we know something of who we are and what we might want.) After 21, she’s a woman. Whether or not she continues along her own path of maturity is another question altogether — one of whether she continues acting like a girl until…she doesn’t anymore?

I guess it depends on what you define as “mature.” In my definition, it means you can make logical decisions about how you’ll go about your life. You don’t need huge goals, but you can navigate the world in a way that gets you from Point A to Point B without any hand-holding.

These weren’t things I could do as a girl. As a girl, my world comprised of the tiny things I could accomplish, and the hope that other people would guide me through everything they thought made up a decent life. By the time I got to be a young woman, I had vague ideas of what I wanted, no sure way of getting there, but one clear path through it all: high school, leading to college.

Once I got out of college? That’s when I hit some good ol’ disillusionment. I definitely wasn’t a girl, or a young woman, anymore.

But I knew people who hadn’t gotten disillusioned yet. I knew people who hung onto their college dreams, and sometimes days, like a mountain climber clinging to their ice pick at the top of a frosty summit. They’d been ejected from college too early. They weren’t done yet.

They still had parties they wanted to go to, though these would be better because they wouldn’t have classes the next day. They still had rambling dreams they wanted to tinker at, though these would be harder to keep up with now that we were fighting for jobs, like sharks in the presence of too-little chum. They still had grand ideas of love, of relationships, of weddings, and marriage, and stability, and security, though all of that had more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese in a room of mice.

They tried, though. I’ll give them that. They clawed after everything with all they had. Some of them still are. More just walked away, their dreams and grand ideas looking more like thought bubbles over their heads than anything tangible. A handful are seeing the fruits of their labor, but only if they worked twice as hard as the person doing the bare minimum.

(We all become disillusioned, eventually. At least for a while.)

These people were women I would classify as acting like girls. They wanted freedom, and fun, and they want to make the life they dreamed up in high school. You know the one: do what you love all day, come home to a great life at night. They didn’t yet know just how much they’d have to work to make that happen.

The ones who still act like this? They’re having a hard time holding down much of anything, especially in the love department.

I can see why it’s tempting to call the women on the Bachelor(ette) “girls.” They continually seem to represent all the things we’re taught, as women, to both look down on, and aspire to: they’re cosmetically beautiful, all made up and with their hair curled over their shoulders. They wear trendy and flashy clothes. They have both high, and nasally monotonous, voices. They laugh all the time. They say “great” and “amazing” a lot. They talk about how “in love” they are.

They don’t appear to have that much to say. Then again, we don’t get to hear them say much at all.

But for all the commercialism that this show is made up of, these are actual people. And they’re not girls at all — they’re women. Women who have real lives, and real goals, outside of this TV show.

So maybe it’s all fake. Maybe they hire people to do things like the Bachelor because it’s fun entertainment. Maybe. Even if that’s the case, it’s not how the show aims to present itself. It’s meant to look real.

I really wish the guys would stop using the word “girl” when talking about the women.

I’ll give it credit for one thing, though. In the most recent episode, one of the guys called out another for making misogynist comments. It’s the first time in my viewing of the show that they’ve ever had someone even broach such a strong and powerful term like that.

To you, sir, I say: well done! You went up ten points in my book.

PS — if you haven’t voted and would like to:

Which book would you read?

  • The Things We See at Night (50%, 1 Votes)
  • What We'll Do for Blood (50%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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We need a tie breaker. (Poll is working again!)

The first part of the news issue from Monday came back with some mixed results (part 2 comes out on the 20th). So we’re opening it up to you until the 15th:

Which book would you read?

  • The Things We See at Night (50%, 1 Votes)
  • What We'll Do for Blood (50%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Lemme know! I’ll be around if you have questions. <3

ROW80: titles and covers and flash fiction. That’s my life right now, when I’m not formatting work books and screaming at the TV over the Bachelorette.

(Anyone else super miffed at the two week hiatus, right after Chad did that alarming serial killer from a horror movie whistle? I need to listen to the Bachelor podcast, I need to know what they think of everything that happened. That was both the most rewarding, and the most suspenseful, episode since last week’s, where I was literally terrified for Evan.)

Want to know more? Come behind the scenes with me and my projects on the first Monday of every month.

That heartstopping moment when…

…you lose 16 drafts for upcoming cover art because you can’t remember if you put it in a certain place, or threw them out thinking you wouldn’t need them. (Only, you will. For the next news issue, and most things thereafter.)

Let’s not do that again. 🙁

Want to know more? Come behind the scenes with me and my projects on the first Monday of every month.

Almost time…

You still have 15 minutes to join the news and participate in the recent issue. 🙂

And while you’re voting, I’ll be working on book 2.

See you at 8 AM ET.

Want to know more? Come behind the scenes with me and my projects on the first Monday of every month.

Stuff and things and the like…

Making my way through the end of the “how to revise your novel” workshop. (Pending return of the online version.)

Putting last touches on the news issue that comes out tomorrow, and is filled with title and cover goodness! If you’re a reader of mine who wants to have a say in what my book’s title and cover will be, join me quick. At 8 AM ET tomorrow (NY time), the issue will be mailed with instructions.

Also am enjoying the rainy day. My nose is grateful for a break in the airborne pollen. <3

I’m feeling accomplished.

Photo on 6-5-16 at 11.48 AM

Want to know more? Come behind the scenes with me and my projects on the first Monday of every month.