Rachel Thompson

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Monday, August 5, 2013

y1 by Sherrie Cronin

Part 1: Fire Dancing for Fun and Profit

Chapter 3. June 2009

Zane Zeitman had spent nine months pretty well establishing to his own satisfaction that being a lab technician sucked. At least it did here at Penthes Pharmaceuticals, a downtown Chicago-based mid-sized corporation known for its philosophy of stiff internal competition and high rewards for the golden few capable of rising above the company's other eight-hundred or so employed peons. What was worse was that Zane had understood the situation perfectly well when he took the job. So as he lurched along, holding on tightly to a pole he shared with four other commuters on the overly full El train, he figured he had only himself to blame.

Zane's slightly slender, five-eleven frame seemed to have become shorter and rounder over the last nine months of work, and his skin was pastier. His non-descript medium ash-brown hair was disarrayed as usual and the khakis he wore, one of three pairs of acceptable work pants that he now owned, had permanent coffee stains from the long hours of trying to stay awake in the lab.

Dr. Peter Hulson Sr., Penthes’ still highly involved seventy-three-year-old founder, was exceedingly proud of being a self-made multimillionaire. He catapulted in the 1970s from the middle class into significant wealth and power on the sole basis of his intellect, drive, and hard work. Or at least that is how Dr. Hulson told the story when interviewed and when addressing his employees. Zane supposed that the real story behind the myth was a bit more complicated, as real stories tended to be, but he was willing to give the old man his due as being brilliant in the field of modern drugs relating to mental health. And he fully acknowledged Dr. Hulson was entitled to shape whatever sort of corporate culture he wished in his own company.

But when one was basically on the low end of the hired help, not deemed qualified to make decisions or contribute in any fashion other than by doing exactly what one was told, Zane was discovering that life in the jungle was pretty miserable. Do well, and the competitive geniuses above you in the hierarchy just want more. They are trying to get theirs. Do poorly and you've caused them to stumble, a sin which will not soon be forgiven.

As a particularly large woman bumped against him when the train screeched to one more stop, Zane shook his head, trying to reconstruct how he had gotten himself into such a miserable position. Graduating a year ago with his shiny bachelor's degree in neuroscience from one of the nation's most prestigious universities, he and his friends had celebrated mightily with drunken relief. And when he got his diploma, his parents had literally cried with pride. Their genius son. Their firstborn.

It turned out that it was nice someone had thought he was so very special, because the job market the summer of 2009 was considerably less impressed. As his friends had scattered off into graduate schools, jobs, volunteer work and under-employment, Zane became increasingly aware that he himself had landed in a field in which a Ph.D. was a minimum requirement for responsibility and advancement. And though the workings of the human mind and how it interfaced with the body absolutely still fascinated him, the prospect of five or six years of, say, pulverizing rat brains in a blender and examining the results, did not enthuse him. He had hoped that a few years break in the working world would help.

But the working world did not have so much to offer. If he wanted to get away from academia, which he did, then he was either going to end up tending to others’ lab experiments in the private sector, or he was going to end up in something like sales or marketing in a field related to pharmaceuticals. Both sounded distasteful. But so did waiting tables.

Worse yet, entry-level jobs for those in his situation at bigger firms with reputations for caring reasonably well for their employees seemed to have gotten filled before he ever got his application in the door. Zane thought it was fairly apparent that it would have been helpful to have had an uncle or old family friend at one of these places, looking out for a suitable spot for him well before graduation. That was just the way of the world.

But after a few discouraging months of job searching, first from his campus apartment and then from back home in Texas when his money ran out, Penthes had interrupted his growing desperation with a request for a phone interview. Zane knew he was not particularly outgoing on the phone, but he had tried his very best with this one as he was frankly running out of options. And something must have impressed these folks enough, because they offered him a position in Chicago. Maybe, he thought in retrospect, they were impressed by his desperation.

There was no moving allowance offered, but yeah, his parents would help him get there. And it wasn't so much a job as it was a sort of poorly paid contract for an eighteen-month probationary period. Nine months as a lab assistant, then the same as an assistant in sales and marketing. This was unusual, but the company said that they wanted him to experience both entry-level avenues, to see what he was best at. Frankly he agreed it would be good for him to try both. Then, the contract specified that they would talk about his future.

Zane figured that the nine months in the lab would be relatively easy, mildly enjoyable, and, if he was lucky, even a bit informative. Instead, it had been hell. Driven young researchers, fighting each other to impress every boss between themselves and Dr. Hulson himself, were more than willing to use and abuse Zane with workdays that went late into the night, and weekends that almost always required his time as well. Appreciation was nil, and he figured out quickly that there was no way for him to get an "A." He was tense most of the time.

Except for Britta, a fellow graduate of his who had also landed a job in Chicago, and her housemates who had taken him in, he had no real friends in town and no time to make any. Life had gone from hard work and fun to just plain hard work. Zane was puzzled by how thoroughly this had happened. He could not believe that his life, actually anyone's life, was meant to be little more than a series of long tedious days drinking bad coffee in windowless rooms, punctuated by sleep, food, a little TV and then more of the same, with the occasional drunken partying on weekends to provide the rare moment of joy. That was just crazy.

As his mandated stint in sales and marketing approached, he realized that he had gone from dreading it, to looking forward to it. He had no illusions about being good in a field which required that he act friendly when he didn't feel like it and that he exaggerate the good points of products he did not necessarily believe in. Zane had never liked lying. But any change right now just had to be a good thing.

To make matters worse, vacation time during this probationary period was ridiculously limited. He had barely managed to get a day off to go back to Texas for a long weekend before he began his new assignment. What he really would have liked was several days in Cancun, but neither the money nor the time was there for that. So Zane figured he could settle for just some of his dad's home cooking and his mom's sympathy. Way better than nothing. And the really good news was that he left for Texas tomorrow.

His mom looked baffled when she met him at the airport, and it took Zane awhile to figure out that it was his physical appearance. Oh right. Damn.

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Genre – Speculative Fiction

Rating – PG13 (occasional crude language & main character is gay)

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Website http://ytothepowerof1.org/

Author Interview – Patricia Sands

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Antibes, France

When and why did you begin writing? I began writing eight years ago at the age of sixty. I started writing The Bridge Club just for fun for my real bridge club and people kept encouraging me to publish as they read bits of it. I had no idea my life would completely take on a new chapter as I committed to being an author.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Contemporary fiction.

What inspired you to write your first book? The friendship the 10 women in my bridge club have shared for over 45 years and the stories that make up our lives.

Do you intend to make writing a career? I don’t have a choice. Writing has taken over my life.

Who is your favorite author and why? Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde – I would tell you but I have to get back to my writing. Trust me, I love their work!

Can we expect any more books from you in the future? Yes!

Have you started another book yet? Yes!

Where do you see yourself in five years? Doing more of the same and still loving it.

Do you have any advice for writers?

If you love what you are doing and believe in your work, don’t give up. Keep writing and learning your craft.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be? Understand and appreciate that every day is a gift and make the best of it. They won’t all be good days but learn from mistakes and focus on the best moments. Be grateful, give back, be a good friend and believe in yourself. (Is that “one bit of wisdom”? Sorry, I’m a writer!)

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have? Not going to stop!




Samples to Savor: Book Club Picks, presented by Her Books:

Discover your book club’s next page-turner and spark fascinating conversations with your friends in this free sampling from eight bestselling authors. You’ll find rich prose, evocative plots, compelling characters and surprising twists from:

Finding Emma by Steena Holmes Composing Myself by Elena Aitken Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby The Scandalous Ward by Karla Darcy The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge by Christine Nolfi The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson Depraved Heart by Kathleen Valentine

About the Author(s): Bestselling authors Steena Holmes, Elena Aitken, Rachel Thompson, Patricia Sands, Christine Nolfi, Kathleen Valentine, Bette Lee Crosby and Karla Darcy provide readers worldwide with contemporary fiction and nonfiction releases ranging from historical romance to literary.

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Genre - Women's Fiction

Rating – PG

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Website http://herbestbooks.com/

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Heidi Garrett – Becoming a Published Author

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author

by Heidi Garrett

It’s more demanding than you think it will be. I knew self-publishing would be hard, but almost a year into to, I’ve found myself declaring in the past few weeks that it’s even harder than I thought it would be. And it is, but it’s also totally worth it.

Creating typo-free books isn’t as easy as it looks. Prior to publication, we have several beta-readers, a professional editor, and myself read the manuscript again and again. We do automated spelling and grammar checks. Invariably, things fall through the cracks. The worst is when you inadvertently create a new error while correcting an existing one.

Book covers can be challenging. Whether you hire a professional artist or go the D-I-Y route, creating an image that expresses your story through image, while visually connecting with readers is no easy task.

Pushing yourself to write will make you a better writer. As someone who wrote privately for many years, I was not a forceful writer, in that I never forced myself to write. I’ve been surprised that sitting down and forcing myself to write, no matter what else is going in my life, has made me a better writer and allowed me to produce some of my best writing.

Writing and finishing more books will make you a better writer. My writing has improved with each completed book. Writing and re-writing the first fifty pages of my manuscript stunted my growth as a writer.

Readers will make you a better writer. Readers respond to a book in a different way than other writers do, even if they are also writers. Readers respond directly to character and plot. Readers will tell you what they love and hate about your book. They will help you learn your strengths and weaknesses as writer.

Setting and committing to deadlines can overcome writer’s block. By setting deadlines—and committing to them—you will be forced to write (see #4). By setting deadlines —and committing to them—you will learn that you are truly a writer.

You will have the opportunity to meet many incredible people, you would, otherwise, not have met. Now, we’re getting to the really good stuff. By publishing, the size of my world has increased exponentially. I have met wonderful, fascinating people from all over the world. This makes me incredibly happy.

Readers who love your books will mean more to you than you can ever imagine. It’s hard to connect with each other beneath our skin. Writing and reading books allows us to do that. It’s part of the magic. Hearing from and connecting with  readers who “get” your story is amazing.

The entire process is a spiritual journey. Writing the book, figuring out how to market it, connecting with readers, it’s all an opportunity to grow as a person, to expand your worldview, and to discover deeper levels of truth. That’s pretty spiritual stuff, if you ask me.

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Genre – Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Connect with Heidi Garrett on Facebook & Twitter

Blog http://www.heidigwrites.blogspot.com/