2021 Let’s goooooo

2021 Let’s goooooo

Not to get political on here but today has me looking optimistically to the future for no particular reason. -WINK- So I wanted to make a little list of stuff I want/hope to do this year.

  • Be more active. I don’t really care so much about weight/appearance but I’m starting to feel unhealthy from zero activity and I want to change that. I got Ring Fit Adventure to get me through the winter (first work out last night and it was fun) and in the spring I can get outside and go for walks/bike rides again.
  • Go camping! Hoping to spend a lot of time in the new RV this year, especially since it’s a safe outing while we’re still in plague-times.
  • Finish two manuscripts! Well on my way to finishing the first. I just can’t lose momentum.
  • I already started my own podcast (Chaotic Nerdtral) and I’m back to being a regular guest on The Pub. Hoping to keep up with both! I really enjoy it.
  • Read 50 books! I’m already almost done with book #4.
  • Play more games and don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t need permission to do something “pointless” if I enjoy it and I need to remember that.
  • See my friends again. I really hope that the vaccine distribution grants my wish but there’s nothing I can do if we don’t get there. Just have to continue to be patient.
  • Do some deep cleaning at home and purge all the unneeded junk.

Happy 2021 everyone! Really hoping for a better year for us all.

It’s the most wonderful time of the (very bad) year

It’s the most wonderful time of the (very bad) year

I don’t think I need to spend much time reminiscing over how much this year sucked; we all know about it all too well.

Instead I’m going to focus on some of the good stuff I’ve got going on.

  • The Pub podcast is coming back in the new year and we already have some recording sessions scheduled. I really missed doing the Pub so I’m excited to get back into it.
  • I took my desire to do more podcasting and the fact that current conditions mean me and my closest friends only hang out online now and squished ‘em together. We’re going to start our own nerdy lady podcast in the new year called Chaotic Nerdtral. Looking forward to to learn the editing side of podcast and share some strongly held opinions with my inner senshi in the funniest way possible.
  • I read some killer series this year including the Six of Crows duology and the Cruel Prince trilogy. I just started Shadow & Bone and I am devouring it! Can’t wait to see the Netflix adaptation this spring.
  • I got my first full request on my first finished novel! Still waiting to hear back but regardless of the response it feels like a huge milestone. And a little ward against the constant impostor syndrome.
  • I started a new project in November for NaNoWriMo and while my turtle pace means I didn’t win, I’m still having a MUCH easier time writing than I did with my first novel and I’m really happy with how it’s coming along, especially for a rough draft. I’m aiming to have it done sometime in February and ready for revisions.  
  • In more personal news, the silver lining of not being able to do a damn thing this year means I was able to save my money and pay off some debts.
  • I turned 30 and didn’t transform into a pumpkin or burst into flames.
  • We got a free RV we’ve been fixing up and we can’t wait to start doing some camping this spring! Assuming all is well with it on the short trips we’re super jazzed to plan some big trips! Ultimate destination would be taking it down to Disney World someday when I have the money for it.

All told, I have to count myself lucky. As shitty as the year has been I suffered no major losses and I know not everyone can say that. So I try not to complain. Still, looking forward to next year and hoping against hope things get better again.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

The Writer’s Paradox

The Writer’s Paradox

Thank goodness for the online writing community. If I didn’t have a chorus of fellow writers echoing my gripes, I would think I was a lunatic. Why is it so common that, for those who love writing, writing is so damn difficult? (I know this isn’t true for all of us, but for the subset who share my very frustrating struggle, I hope you find some comfort in this commiseration)

I think about stories all day. At work, driving, in the shower, when I lie in bed at night. I hear them in song lyrics. When I write or read something, I immediately want to create something like it. I get so excited, I want to rush of and create something! So why is the actual act of putting pen to paper so difficult? I feel like I’m physically pulling the words from me, one at time. And they’re painfully stuck. I’ve tried to figure out exactly why this is, why I’m like this. Best I can figure from listening to others complain of a similar problem is the propensity for perfection and a fear of failure. I know that my first draft of something is going to be garbled nonsense at best, especially compared to the scenes in my noggin. Like, of course I understand that. It’s logical. It’s obvious. But in the moment, I can’t make that logic work for me. I can feel how overwhelmed I am when I write, trying to get it right the first time even though I know it’s impossible, even though I know I have all the time in the world to sit back and edit, and polish, and revise it into something I love. But since my dumbo brain won’t cooperate with this knowledge, I’ve tried to find ways to trick it. I’ve made a writing space with candles, and bobbles, and soft music, and nice pens. I break big goals into tiny ones. And it really works! Once I sit down and settle in and get over that initial block, I can get a good amount of writing in. Writing I don’t hate, even!

So now my biggest obstacle is getting my dang butt in the dang chair. I start to visualize that blank page waiting for me at night and I find every reason to avoid sitting down and doing the damn thing. So, to help me this NaNoWriMo, I’ve come up with a new gimmick. I’ve always been interested in tarot. I’m not really into any of the spiritual aspect of it, (or anything if I’m being honest- no disrespect intended for anyone that is) but I really like the idea of it as a tool for introspection and journaling. I was thinking of starting to keep a tarot journal at my desk, something fun and easy I can look forward to sitting down and doing in at the end of the day. It will serve (I hope) as a clever excuse to get myself settled into my writing space. Then once I’m done with a journal entry, I’ll be ready to write! If I tell myself I just need to get a few pages down, I know what will happen. When the pressure if off, the buildup gone, I usually get way more written then I’m expecting. I know this must make me seem like a 100% complete psychopath but I’m hoping that any other writers who have my unfortunate neurocies can take some inspiration from me. Or at least some comfort in knowing you’re not crazy and you’re not alone.

I hope everyone is having a low stress and fun November, whether it be productive or not. If anyone has any of their own little tips and tricks PLEASE add them in the comments. Please. XD

Summer’s End – Fall Project Planning

Summer’s End – Fall Project Planning

The days are getting shorter as summer starts to fade. Spooky time approaches- my fave!

So I finally took the query plunge and sent my finished MS to a handful of agents. I have pretty realistic expectations- I won’t be the slightest bit surprised if I only get form rejections. But I’m thinking it’ll help inform me on the state of my novel. The way I see it, there are three options. One, my novel is actually ready and an agent requests a full. Two, my novel isn’t quite ready and I need to have some more beta readers clue me into why. Three, the novel isn’t working on a fundamental core level and I need to take what I’ve learned, shelve it, and move on to the next project.

At least there’s a couple big motivators on the horizon. Pitch Wars is coming up quick and I think I’ll throw my hat in the ring. My MS is certainly in waaaaay better shape than last time I entered. I had barely finished it in time last year. After that we’ll be coming into NaNoWriMo so of course I have to try again. I’m hoping to start getting into a rhythm on this new project in October and create some good habits before November. The new WIP is kind of a Inuyasha meets Howl’s Moving Castle type fantasy. Still working out the details. All I can do is try!

But I’m getting that itch again- I took enough time off over the summer to recharge. I want to get back into it. The motivation is back but is the discipline? (World of Warcraft is testing me but I must be strong! Haha)

I also really need to sit my but down and read Save the Cat already, especially going into a new project. I keep opening it and starting and finding an excuse to read something else. I just get so intimidated and overwhelmed. The imposter syndrome kicks in hard. I need to relax, let go, and have fun with it. Write for myself and stop worrying about making it perfect or marketable or whatever.

What’s everyone else reading, watching, playing, or writing right now??

Back, & Back At It

Back, & Back At It

Back from vacation- I survived! Well, except that I’m sick now, so I suppose I shouldn’t speak so soon. I always get sick when I travel. Air ports are goddamn Petri dishes. And I was so careful! T-T Oh well, it’s just a cold, more annoying than anything else.

Had a lot more fun on the cruise than I was anticipating. I’m not a drinker and my partner is, so I wasn’t sure how that dynamic would play out. Plus travel and crowds hella spike my anxiety, but it was actually a lovely time. I got plenty of sun; the view was always incredible. Did some fun stuff at the various ports and, most importantly, got some reading in!

I sped through Howl’s Moving Castle within the first two days and loved it. Very IMG_5769interesting to see the similarities and differences between the source and the Ghibli adaptation. I really want to read the sequels now. Then I started Truthwitch and MAN what a book. I’m halfway through and I know the whole series is going on the TBR list. When am I going to have time to read all this stuff?! Very exciting, though- I love finding new favorites.  Reading such awesome stories has really got me inspired to write again, too. I bought a lil’ dollar pocket notebook and have been jotting down ideas for a new fantasy. Plotting and world-building again is so enjoyable and a great pallet cleanser after finishing another round of revisions on my manuscript.

Speaking of, I wrapped up revisions just in time to enter Author Mentor Match. I have no idea if anything will come of it as I still have a hard time judging if the book is ready. I certainly feel better prepared than I did for Pitch Wars. I knew that was a shot in the dark- I had barely finished the manuscript when I entered. I’ve done a lot of polishing since then. I think my greatest hope (aside from being selected, obviously) is that I get some sort of defined feedback to better guide me in where to go next. We shall see.

All told, I’m loving where my writing life is right now. I have a finished story I adore and I learned a ton about the craft in the process. I’ve got my toes in a community that seems really supportive and fun and I’m dying to dive deeper. I don’t feel as frustrated or impatient with myself anymore. I write more and feel burned out less. Hopefully the trend only continues to improve.

The only thing that could make me happier is ditching this cough and maybe some warmer weather. (And a request for a full in my inbox, of course)

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Heeeeeey remember how I said I needed to ease my way back into writing regularly? Weeeeeellll, then I remembered Pitch Wars was a thing…twelve days before the deadline. So I worked nonstop, writing probably over 100 pages worth of edits, rewrites, and hole-filling in order to meet that deadline. I honestly thought there was no possible way I would have it done and presentable in time, but I did it! I gotta admit, I am wicked proud of myself. Not only for submitting to the competition but for actually finishing a book! It’s not perfect by any means; it needs some structural troubleshooting and a ton of shine, but it’s a real & complete story. I’ve never had that before. (and 93,00 words to boot!)

I really don’t believe there’s much of a shot of me being picked since this was such a last minute Hail Mary, but I think the experience is going to be a great one no matter what. I wrote successfully under a tight deadline for the first time. I had my first run-in with query letters, a synopsis, and formatting. I’m making a bunch of new friends on twitter in the writing community. Plus, I finally have a full story to share with my friends and family and get some constructive feedback. I’m a huge step closer to being ready to start an agent search and try to break into the publishing world. This is so unexpected and so exciting that I feel like it’s already a victory no matter the outcome. Still, I won’t lie- I would be over the moon times a thousand to be picked for Pitch Wars. To gain the insight of an industry professional before wading into the querying trenches – how can I even begin to assign a value to something like that?!

So, here goes nothing! Let’s see what happens next.

Add a heading

 

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Another month nearly gone.

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I love this time of year- always have. Cool, gloomy weather after a long hot summer, spooky aesthetic as the nights get longer and, of course, Halloween. Halloween always promises a good time. (especially when you love costumes as much as I do) I have a handful of various Halloween parties and stuff this week that I’m looking forward to. It’ll be a nice break before NaNoWriMo next week.

I know in past blogs I probably mentioned I wasn’t planning on participating this year. I wanted to focus on revising my book one rough draft- especially since I am so tantalizingly close to completion. And I know at the end of my last post, I said work on part four was getting complicated, but I still had hopes of finishing on schedule.

Well, that all kind of went right out the window. I’m stuck in the mire with my editing. I’ve gotten so caught up in analyzing my narrative direction- questioning my characters’ motives, their emotions, their believability. I won’t say I’m losing faith in my story- I’ll never say that. But I feel like I’ve got my nose pushed so far up against it now that I can’t figure out if I’m going forward or backward. I’m lost. I need to take a big, BIG step back. I thought maybe recharging my creative batteries with other stories would help (and I think it’s starting to) so I’ve been binge watching Volton (loving it) and I just started reading Throne of Glass. I’ve also (finally) gotten the nerve up and sent what I have so far to a couple close friends whose opinions I await with both excitement and dread. I need to know if what I have is working and, if so, on what level. Even if it’s bad news, I need to know.

Meanwhile, as I was watching everyone else gear up for the November Writing challenge, I was struck by how long it’s been since I went back to plain old writing. Though my revision process has included a ton of writing as I fill holes, bridge gaps, and rewrite scenes, it’s not the blank-page, zero-direction style of writing like when you sit down to make something new. And I miss that. And if I’m going to take some time off from revision, it doesn’t seem wise to stop creating altogether. Last time I did that, it was so hard to get started again. So why not write? The timing is perfect and I love the spirit and camaraderie of NaNoWriMo, even though I’ve never “won.” 50,000 words is a heck of a lot when you really get into it. I think my record is around 30k but I’m a sloooow writer so that’s pretty good for me!

I found a cool format I want to try this year. It’s called Reverse NaNo and it seeks to combat the burn-out you get towards the middle and end of the month, capitalizing instead on a strong start. Basically you begin the month with a high daily word goal (over twice the daily target of traditional NaNo) and then every day it gets a little less. I still don’t know that this will mean a victory for me, but it definitely makes better sense with my energy levels! Here’s a link to the daily writing goals if you want to see the breakdown. 

Dice Tray
Dice Tray – 1st attempt!

In the meantime, I’m still leaning into my other hobbies as a break from the frustrations of writing. I practiced some more photography using pop vinyls as models since I didn’t have anything else to shoot. I want to be ready to take a TON of pictures at Daisho Con next month and I want them to be good! I don’t have any cosplay to work on (thankfully) so I’ve turned to making more dice bags and dice trays to scratch that crafting itch. I need to make another bag and tray for a brand new D&D campaign I’m joining next week! Super excited for that.

Overall, just trying not to get my hopes down. I think I just need to take this frustration and channel it into productive new directions. That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it works in practice.

Happy Halloween everyone! I’ll check back in next month once I’m in the thick of it. And good luck to everyone else competing this year!

Summer’s End

Summer’s End

How is it even remotely possible that we’re approaching the end of September already? If time keeps scootin’ by this fast, I’ll be sent into an existential crisis where I’m forced to examine the fleeting quality of life itself and stare into the face of my own mortality.

Also, I’ve been really, super busy.

Still makin’ progress on my rough draft! I wanted to be done with part four by month’s end and, while it’s still possible I make that deadline, this piece is also becoming a bit unwieldy. I was aiming for it to be around 45ish pages when finished, and right now it’s sitting in the mid-sixties. I’m not sure if that’s really where it’s going to land since it’s back-loaded with a lot of content that needs to be cut, but I also have some to add so…hard to say.

I’m just getting so itchy to be done and there’s still the final piece ahead. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the editing process- I am, but it’s a grind. I’ve had to bounce back to my finished segments a couple times now, just to remind myself that it really does turn into something not-so-crappy by the end. I’m also jonesin’ for some outside validation. I’m so ready for someone to read this dang thing start to finish and tell me what they think! I’m ready to see it whole. And I’m getting close. I think I can still have this thing finished by year’s end, but I’m getting impatient with myself. Writing is such a lonely hobby. It’s like I spend years and years isolated, with my head buried in a project, and then it can be consumed in a couple days. Pretty bizarre.

In the meantime, I’ve been satiating my need for interaction through cosplay. Cosplay and sewing and photography are such a great way to take a break from writing. It’s nice to work with my hands and let my mind wander. Plus, it’s a lot easier to create content and the community is such fun. So, that’s been keeping me sane.

Otherwise, things have been quiet. We went to a cool out-of-town wedding, I practiced some portraiture on my mom’s puppers, and I tried on a cosplay I might do for Halloween. (Marceline from Adventure Time, whom I’ve always wanted to redo)

Nothing else to report! Hopefully next time I update I’ll have better news on the editing front. Happy Fall everyone!

Boats and Books and the Best Laid Plans

Boats and Books and the Best Laid Plans

This past year has given me a lot to think about with regards to my life, my work, and my future.

Let me start by saying that I love my job. Coming out of college with a degree in English and a passion for writing, I certainly didn’t foresee landing a job in the boat business, of all things. My plan was to apply for some administrative, office-type jobs just to get keep a roof over my head, and I’d figure out something more permanent after. I was attracted to this marine position because of all the people I’d dealt with during the interview process. They were so kind, welcoming, laid back- the work environment seemed ideal. And I was right- I’m shocked at how much I enjoy the job considering I had no knowledge or interest in boats or boating. My coworkers and the management are amazing, the work is rewarding and interesting, and you can’t beat the view. It pays pretty well and doesn’t stress me out- it doesn’t mentally fatigue me to the point that I don’t have enough energy to work on my passion projects, which is awesome.

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And some other pretty rad perks 

I’ve been here for over five years now, and I still love my job, but I’m also reaching a tipping point. I’ve pretty nearly hit the wage ceiling for my position, so unless they can splice some more significant roles into my job, I probably can’t make much more without switching out to a different department. My boss is very supportive; he’d help me join any department I want, but I honestly don’t have a lot of interest in the available opportunities right now. I’d love to stay in sales- I’m so happy here! My boss has been encouraging me to move up from sales support to an actual selling position and…I just don’t know. I enjoy being a support player- the idea of selling on my own is really intimidating. The base pay would be comparable but the rest is commission-based and we’re in an inventory-lean period right now that doesn’t show signs of changing soon. So I told him I would consider it.

And I’ve been considering it.

I know I shouldn’t stay stagnant in the same position if there’s no opportunity for a wage increase…but I’m just so hesitant to mess up a good thing! How many people can honestly say that they love their job- that they wake up in the morning and (still hit the snooze- I’m still human) are happy to be heading into the office? I’m worried about losing that. And more importantly, I’m worried about losing the ability to continue pursuing my real passions. I still dream of becoming a published author above all else and if I’m committing all my focus to being a successful saleswoman… I’m afraid I’m forfeiting that dream. I’m in a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ scenario with a job I truly enjoy that also allows me to pursue higher ambitions. But I also worry it won’t continue to pay the bills. I’m still little better than paycheck-to-paycheck and approaching thirty. I worry this isn’t sustainable. Or could it be, if I budgeted better? I don’t know. That depends on so many unknowns.

What I do know is this: for the time being, the bills are getting paid and I’m keeping my head above water. I’ve got credit card debt but who doesn’t? And it’s not like, crazy out of control amounts of debt. I’ve got the student loans too but they’re just out there existing and would be in any and all scenarios.

Here’s what I’m leaning towards.  I still plan on selling at the boat show this January- much of the company’s support staff helps sell at the big show so it’s a great way to get my feet wet. Beyond that, I want to wait to make any decision regarding joining the sales force till next summer at the earliest. Until then, I want to concentrate on giving publishing a proper shot. I’m still on schedule to have the book done before year’s end. Then I can start the publishing process in earnest.

I just feel like I owe it to myself to try this before I commit to a different path. I have a window- my boss is in no rush to move me. If he wasn’t genuinely concerned about me ‘fulfilling my potential,’ he’d keep me here forever, as I’m most helpful to him directly in my current role. So I have no pressure to move beyond what originates from my own life.

So I guess that’s the plan. Subject to change, warp, evolve, or entirely dissolve at any given moment. Wish me luck? Or maybe just the sense to see the proper path in time? As always, I wish the same for you!

Projects, Pictures, Plans

Projects, Pictures, Plans

Long time no blog!

I’ve managed to stay consistently busy this past month which, for me, is honestly pretty impressive. Usually I’ll have pockets of productivity punctuated by slumps of semi-hibernation. But not lately!

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My brother & I got matching tattoos to commemorate a difficult time in our lives.

I finished my cosplay in time for Renn Con at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, took and edited a bunch of pics (with the help of my brother), finished sewing a batch of dice bags for my friend’s game shop, got a new tattoo (thanks Christopher!), and now I’m ready to get back into editing!

So, Renn Faire was my test run for my recently finished  Taako (The Adventure Zone) cosplay as well as my first outing with the fancy new camera lens I got for my birthday. I know I’ve said it before but, I’m really enjoying the photography side of cosplay. I still love to make and wear costumes, but being on the other end of the camera is satisfying in a whole new way. I switched out my Ipsy subscription (I have plenty of makeup right now) for a Lightroom subscription, and I want to get more proficient in shooting and editing. Here are a few examples below. I’m so proud of how well my friends’ TAZ costumes turned out! Everyone looked so good!

My next con won’t be until Daisho Con in November but I’m hoping to get more chances to shoot before then, while the weather’s still nice. The only issue is finding scenic locales to shoot at without normal people wondering what all these costumed weirdos are doing…

As for Daisho, I want to focus more on taking pictures this year rather than cosplaying. Especially since some recent medical bills have let me without much spending money and unable to build another costume anytime soon. I’ll probably bring Taako just because it’s fun and I think it’ll be well-received and then I think I’ll have a Lady Flame (TAZ: Amnesty) costume cobbled together too, since I already owned almost everything I need besides a few inexpensive details. And maybe I’ll bring a Kigu.

Speaking of Kigus- my recent bout of sewing has left me itching to try and make an actual garment instead of just dice bags. I found a neat cosplay-centric pattern shop online called HeyCutSew that sells a Kigurumi pattern and I’d love to try and make one! Just have to wait and save up a little bit of money for some fabric. And I still haven’t given up on opening an Etsy shop. But since I was able to sell all my dice bags to my friend’s game shop- I need to make more! Which means I need more materials for those, as well. They turned out really well though.

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12 Dice Bags with drawstrings and lining- for sale at Colosseum Games in Kenosha, WI!

Beyond aspirations to practice more with the camera and sewing machine, I’m ready to resume editing. I’ve given myself more than enough time to recharge and I need to get back in the habit of chipping away at it a little every day. I have two parts to finish before the entire manuscript is done- at least a hundred pages worth to sift through. I want it done and ready to submit before winter and I think I’m still on schedule for that. This will be the year I finish this thing. It has to be.

marlesOther than all that I’m just going to try and enjoy the rest of the summer- play some video games, try to keep up on my reading, hang with the lizard.

Hope the summer’s end is pleasant and productive for everyone! Or honestly just pleasant. That’s probably enough.