Monday, August 16, 2010

So It Looks Like I Could Use a Little Help

Dear All Six of You,
On this, the eve of my trip to the Holy Land, I figured it would be a good time to throw a little secular prayer out there. Or maybe we should call it a wish list. I've got a couple of things going on over here that could potentially throw me for a bit of a financial loop. And no, this isn't a request for donations. I have a hunch, going into this note, that it's going to take the long, meandering route, so do forgive the ramble.

For those of you who enjoy it when the chase is cut to, the two big things going on are these:
1. I think I might be unemployed.
2. Well, crap, I need more surgery and as you might recall I have been unable to get insurance that actually covers anything I need covered.

Let's begin with the unemployment, shall we? Last year around this time, my kick ass friend Jim sent me a Craigslist ad for a writer job. Usually such ads amount to "offers" that basically have you writing for 2c a word or less. But this job was a fluke and a miracle. After much competition, I got word that I was hired to write content for a blog for JetBlue Airways that was dedicated to how great Austin is. Pinch me, right? For the past ten months, I have cranked out about fifty (sometimes more) posts per month. A big workload but thoroughly enjoyable. I ate in some of Austin's best restaurants, got tickets to great shows, and profiled lots of terrific Austinites. I knew this job was an experiment and very temporary. When the contract was renewed, I exhaled and shrieked with joy. I mean, my only complaint about this job was that, frankly, there wasn't anything to complain about.

Now it's time for them to decide about renewing the contract again. I was supposed to hear almost a month ago but no word. I just finished my last round of posts for them and they haven't asked me for a list of the next round. This is not a terribly good sign. It is possible that they'll make an eleventh hour decision to renew, which would kick such serious ass I don't even know how to describe it. In the meantime, I've been in a weird place where I didn't want to go after any other big jobs but I also knew I should keep my eyes peeled. Not that there's a hell of a lot of work in this economy, but I remind myself I've been on my own since I was 18 and so far, so good, something always comes through.

In fact, I've actually got any number of side projects going on-- writing workshops, speaking gigs, and many, many weddings-- that will keep me comfortably afloat for a couple of months. But I have got to start looking toward November now. Toward that end, I have come up with a list of things I'm able to do and ways that you, perhaps, can help me. We'll get to that in a minute. First, I want to tell you about this latest kooky surgery thing.

So my health has always been a curious thing. I can go years without catching a cold, have more energy than a power plant, and am blessed with some pretty amazing genes. That said, on a number of occasions I've had some pretty big physical breakdowns. There was the foot restructuring in 2005, the hysterectomy in 2008, and the bursitis crap in 2009. The latter two were taken care of by Warren's insurance, courtesy of the fact we are gay married. But now he's unemployed (and also uninsurable) so we're pretty screwed when it comes to big medical expenses. My foot was generously operated on by a surgeon in Chicago who waived his fees and my friends here in Austin threw a big party to cover related expenses (travel, recovery time, etc.)

Not that I needed any more testaments to how great my friends are but man, that foot thing was off the charts. Thank you all for helping out. And I know if I asked for similar help this time, I'd receive it. But honestly, I am perfectly capable of working, I've got lots and lots of things I can do. All I need this time is help connecting with people who need this work done.

So what's wrong this time you ask? Well, being an over achiever, it seems that I have, about twenty years ahead of schedule, developed a cataract in my right eye. I noticed the problem on a trip to the mountains in Mexico in June and using my handy research assistant, Google, I misdiagnosed the problem as a High Altitude Retinal Hemorrhage. That made sense, given that I was at nearly 10,000 feet and the symptoms were all there, the main one being that the world, as viewed through just my right eye, looks like an impressionistic painting. It could be worse, right? I mean, who doesn't like impressionistic paintings? Plus, I have this perfectly excellent left eye that is working double time, and that helps.

It is not imperative that I have surgery immediately-- the cataract will wait. It will get more problematic but apparently this is a fairly slow process. On the other hand, I am hoping to get it taken care of by, perhaps, the end of the year. And so, in addition to seeking work to keep the monthly nut covered, I've got to pick up some extra work so I can go under the knife again.

And now we get to the part where I ask you to help if you can. I think I'll use subheadings here so you can skim through and see if any of this stuff pertains to you.

If you are getting married, or know someone who is getting married, perhaps you can let them know that I am the absolute best wedding officiant in Austin. Humble, too. I have loads of experience and there are plenty of testimonials over at my wedding website. I am delighted to do straight weddings, gay/lesbian commitment ceremonies, traditional, non-traditional, religious, secular, you name it. If I already performed your wedding, perhaps you could take a moment and pop over to YELP and put in a good word under Austin Wedding Officiants and/or Gay Wedding Officiants.

Actually, my Thursday workshops for Sept - Nov are full. However, My Tuesday workshops have openings. The topic is grief/healing. There are details here. If you know anyone who might be interested, or have ideas for groups with newsletters who might post the info (divorce support groups. grieving support groups) please let me know. There is more info about the workshops here.

Oh gosh, I can help with lots of stuff. I've ghost written books, offer one-on-one writing coaching, and have single-handedly created content for roughly 67% of all Internet pages. From writing white papers for Google to reviewing restaurants, I got it going on. So if you need help with a writing (or editing) project, well, here I am. Drop me a line.

I sometimes teach one-off or weeks-long writing workshops for kids and adults. Most often these take place in schools or libraries. If your kid's school hires outside speakers, or if your branch library might be interested in having me teach, please let me know. I also speak to Quilt Guilds with some regularity, so if you or your mom or your grandmom or whoever is in a guild, maybe you can connect me.

Like every other author that sends a manuscript to an agent, I recently sent my new book out thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if I got a six-figure contract for this?" I try not to be delusional. I've had a lot of books published, yes. But I've had some rejected, too. So I can't count on this manuscript to haul in a big advance from a publisher. I hope to hear back in a few weeks. In the meanwhile, I'm thinking if a big house doesn't want it, I might go ahead and publish it on my own, which is becoming a more and more viable way for writers to do business. If this comes to pass, I was wondering if I might convince some of you to commit to buying an advance copy.

Before I move on to my final topic: MERCHANDISE, let me say something about both trying to peddle you the new book and, in a moment, trying to peddle you previous books. On the one hand, I'm pretty damn good at marketing. I do lots of marketing work for others. I have, to a certain extent, pushed my books when they first came out. However, I don't like to push too hard. This is not due to fear of success or feelings of inadequacy. It's more like Girl Scout Cookies. I really hate being hounded and guilted into buying anything-- cookies, magazines, cars. Along those lines, I don't like to be assertive/aggressive with my books. Writing them is the real pleasure for me. Getting them published is a thrill beyond thrill. And hearing back from folks who found a copy of this or that, and read it, and related to it-- well that is just the bee's knees. Call me an old hippie, but I prefer it when my books sort of just find their way into the hands of people who appreciate them.

That said, I suppose one could argue it's sort of stupid for me to have all these books floating around, a perfectly excellent potential for income, and not take advantage of that. So for this post, I am going to go ahead and push myself to remind you that I have several books out. I'll list them below. If you want a copy, and want to buy it from me, just let me know and we'll make that happen. I also have those very fun t-shirts (which I'll write about below, also) which will soon be available at Hill Country Weavers and which you can also order from me. This is a funny time for me to ask you to order stuff, since I'm leaving the country for two weeks. But if you are interested, you can email me at and I promise as soon as I get back I'll respond to you. So, here we go:


All the Wrong Men and One Perfect Boy
1999, Simon and Schuster
My first book. It's out of print so if you order a copy from me, it will be gently used. This is a memoir about my life as a single mom.

Surrender (But Don't Give Yourself Away): Old Cars, Found Hope, and Other Cheap Tricks
2003, UT Press
My second book. An essay collection that includes a lot of my columns from the Dallas Morning News.

Pissed Off: Finding Forgiveness on the Other Side of the Finger
2005, Seal Press
This often gets classified as self-help but I think of it as a memoir. I did the bulk of the writing but there are also around 20 vignettes on anger by other women writers.

Quilty as Charged: Undercover in a Material World
2007, UT Press
Further proof that I prefer my books to include puns in the title. This book recounts my accidental immersion into the wide and wacky world of quilting. It includes interviews with rock stars of the quilting world and passionate everyday quilters.

Stricken: The 5,000 Stages of Grief
2009, Dalton Press
I conceived of, co-edited, and contributed an essay to this book about dealing with grief. It also features the work of many other writers. Yeah, it's a sad book, but it helps-- really.

Quilting Art
2009, Voyageur Press
This is a GORGEOUS book with many of the photos taken by Warren. It features the work of nearly two-dozen contemporary quilt artists who really push the envelope.

Quilting Around the World
2010, Voyageur Press
This is a history of quilts from around the world. It's not out yet but will be soon. You can advance order it from Amazon. I will have just a few copies myself, but if anyone wants to order directly from me let me know. First come first serve. I can send these out in October-- as soon as I get them.

Altar Ego
This is the novel that I'm currently shopping around. If you think you might be interested in an advance copy-- and it could take months (at least) for that to happen, will you let me know?

The T Shirt
I don't have a lot of these left, so I might not have your size. But I've got some-- black with white print and white with black print. They read: Take Me Back to Austin Texas (Right Now)-- an expression my son coined when he got tired of me dragging him all over the country in an old car. You can read more about the shirts here.

Thanks so much y'all,


David Wyatt said...

Will keep thinking of opportunities, but I know is amassing speakers for a workshop series. Not sure of the pay either, but you can contact Jann Alexander for more info. Good luck!

Shadow said...

Spike, I've only read your first book but it was great. Found its way into my hands when I was working as a therapist at the county jail in Tulsa. I've really enjoyed your Austinist columns that I get through your Facebook posts, too. Could you please post prices of your books if ordered from you? Thanks so much. Laura

Charis said...

I've just recently 'discovered' you as the delightfully amusing friend of a friend on FB, but what I've read/seen/enjoyed in the small snippets I've been exposed to thus far has prompted me to get ready to place an order. I want your books for myself, and I will also add the quilting books for my QuiltingWonder Stepmom. She's an amazing artist with fabric, and it sounds as if some of your books will be perfect for her library and to pass around at the guild to which she belongs. So, put me on the list of positive responses. I'm eager to learn more about you through your writing. Where do I go to order your merchandise?

Spike Gillespie said...

Thanks y'all-
David, I'll check that out. Laura and Charis... sorry for not posting prices. I'd like to just make this as easy as possible and price the following at a flat $20:
All the Wrong Men
Pissed Off
Quilty as Charged

(Some list price a little higher/lower but I will cover postage)

Quilting Art lists for $35 and Quilts Around the World lists for $40. So that's what I'm asking for those (and again I got the postage)

You can order by emailing me at I'll be gone for a couple of weeks but will fill orders when I get back. Oh, and if you want to order multiple books (the same or mix/match) we can work out a deal.

Anjali said...

I'd love the Pissed Off one. Email your address so I can pay up.