I recently took a two-month break from engineering management at Adobe Systems. We're currently spending a lot of money on education (graduate and private schools), and my wife and I are going to Comic-Con in New York for all three days next month (let me know if you're going to be there), so I definitely had more time on my hands than money. With a fairly limited budget, here's how I spent my sabbatical:
- Launched a novel. My latest novel, Kingmaker, launched last month so I spent some of my time promoting it.
- Sold two short stories. I sold two stories of mine (Farmer One and Brainbox), and therefore have been doing a fair amount of editing. I can't release the details on where/how they will be published yet, but I'll post links as soon as I can.
- Worked on the sequel to Containment. When Containment was published, I agreed to write a sequel, however my publisher was kind and indulgent enough to let me write another novel in-between (Kingmaker). With the new book released, it was time to get serious about continuing the Containment story.
- Sold a website. In 2005, I started a blog called Watch Report, though for the last few years, between working and writing, I just haven't had time to maintain it. I figured it was time to pass it along, so I sold the site to a great group who I think is really going to bring it back to life. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on it, and probably even continue to contribute from time to time.
- Spent a lot of time with my new motorcycle. Just before my sabbatical, I bought a brand new 2013 BMW R 1200 GS. I put about a thousand miles on it during my time off (rode to Chincoteague Island and did Skyline Drive), spent a lot of time adding accessories, recorded a video review using Google Glass, and spent a day at the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. I've had several bikes before this one, but this is by far my favorite.
- Spent a weekend with my wife in the artsy and hippyish town of Shepherdstown, WV. If you ever go, have lunch at the Blue Moon Cafe, dinner at Press Room, and skip the Bavarian Inn.
- Spent a lot of time with my kids. In addition to building a close-circuit telephone system, I completely reorganized their rooms, set up new laptops for each of them, and we spent a lot of time playing games, working on school projects, and just hanging out.
- Played video games. I'm a huge video game fan (video games are a pretty prominent theme in Kingmaker), but I don't have much time to play them anymore. I finally played through Halo 4 (nothing new, but still fun if you're a Halo fan), and I'm about halfway through The Last of Us (probably one of the best games I've ever played). Now that I've gotten back into gaming, I don't think I'm going to be able to put it aside again — especially with the new version of GTA out.
- Set up Plex Media Server. I have 5TB NAS (the very impressive Synology DiskStation DS213+), and I finally set up a media server to make watching and listening to content on all my devices simple. Streaming media services should really be looking toward solutions like Plex for inspiration.
- Got the flu from a flu vaccination. Not the full-blown flu, but I was completely useless for a day and a half. I think next year, I'll take my chances.
- Found a way around the New York Times paywall. This was only one morning's worth of screwing around, but the way the New York Times insists on advertising to paying subscribers finally annoyed me to the point that I decided to find a way around their paywall and write a letter to the editor.
I also did plenty of ordinary things like spent time at the gym, read a couple of books (mostly good), saw some movies (mostly bad), and fixed a few things around the house (which I generally hate doing, but couldn't ignore any longer). I'm sorry that my time off has come to an end, but I'm fortunate enough to have a job I really enjoy, and I'm actually looking forward to getting back to work.