This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us: A Time Management Story

This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us: A Time Management Story

Another year, another Daisho Con in the books! I had a lovely time. I learned from last year’s mistake and did not schedule anything for any particular time in order to minimize the anxiety I get trying to get into cosplay. (I am very slow at cosplay makeup, so not having a deadline removed a ton of stress) That being said, boy did the weekend fly by. I feel like I didn’t have enough downtime to chill with my friends, and our schedules didn’t always align, which was a bummer but no one’s fault. I didn’t go to any panels, but I rarely do. I didn’t even make it to the vendor hall till the last day. The new layout with the convention center expansion was cool but the vendor room still needs a little work. The artist alley aisles got really congested really quickly. Still, it was a marked improvement over last year and I hope the con continues to improve and find ways to better use the space.

I loved seeing a lot of cosplay friends I’ve met through Instagram. (And quite the accomplishment for one as introverted as me) All told, it just feels like I didn’t do a whole lot before the weekend was over. I did get some killer pictures of two of my favorite cosplays- my old standby, Haruko from FLCL, and a dream debut of Sesshomaru from Inuyasha. I’m so grateful that my boyfriend is patient enough to help me get around with my cosplays and be my personal photographer. He has a really good eye. And I think my editing is starting to improve.

That being said, I’m ready for a break. I love cosplay and I’m sure I’ll always participate in some fashion for a long time yet, but I can’t see myself doing another big build like Sesshomaru anytime soon. I always underestimate how complicated these builds will be and they never get done on schedule. I was supposed to have it completely finished by Halloween so it wouldn’t interfere with my participation in NaNoWriMo. But work was so hectic in October with working six day weeks, I didn’t make it. Then, since I had underestimated its complexity, I tried to do the build and NaNo and ending up having to almost drop NaNo entirely and still ended up finishing the build the night before the con. Never again. I can’t be both a writer and a crafter. They both take up way too much time on top of working full time. I can only do one- and I know that. I want to focus on writing. Which means cosplay has to be shelved for a while. And I’m fine with that! I have plenty of costumes I can re-wear if I want to go to a con, plus I love just running around and taking photos. I’m sure I’ll get bit by the build bug again someday, but writing has to come first if I want to seriously pursue my dream of being published.

So while I’m very proud of my cosplay this past weekend, I’m ready to switch gears. NaNo was bit of a loss, though not terribly surprising given my track record. I’ll still write the rest of the week for whatever its worth, but it just means I need to work that much harder in December. I want to get my book ready for querying in the new year and I’m honestly excited to get to work. I refuse to be discouraged or down on myself anymore. It doesn’t accomplish anything. I can’t change the past, I can only focus on moving forward.

Countdown to NaNoWriMo (Don’t Panic)

Countdown to NaNoWriMo (Don’t Panic)

Three days till NaNoWriMo. Not gonna lie- I’m not ready!

I was supposed to have my cosplay for Daisho-con wrapped up before NaNo started so I wouldn’t be trying to juggle both, but I haven’t had as much time to craft as I was hoping. I’m building Sesshomaru this year and I’d say I’m about 50% of the way there. I have a kimono, pants, and wig all purchased. I have the tail/pelt thingy half-way done, hoping to finish it tonight. I have fabric for the sash. But I haven’t even started on the big piece I’ve been dreading – the chest armor. Hopefully I can rope my boyfriend into helping me out (he’s great with foam) and chip away at it. If I can get that riddle solved, all I really need to do is pick up some colored eyeliner and thrift a simple pair of black boots. I’m trying not to stress about it. I keep reminding myself that it’s just a fun little hobby and if it doesn’t turn out, no big deal. But I’m a perfectionist in all things, whether they be serious of purely recreational. Someday I’ll figure out how to dial my dang broken brain back.

Beyond Sessho, all I need to do is just a couple (supposedly) quick upgrades to Garfield the Deals Warlock and I should be all set. I’m also bringing Haruko (FLCL) and she doesn’t need any work, thank gawd.

The larger problem is that since I’m behind on crafting, I also haven’t been able to prep and plot as much I would have liked. At least I have the benefit of having already plotted out this project a long time ago. Hopefully as I dig into my old notes I’ll have enough to go off of in the beginning. If I can get a decent momentum going, the blanks should fill themselves in. I already proved to myself with the pitch wars deadline that I can write a ton if I stay focused. 2019 might just be my year.

Once NaNo is over, no matter the outcome, I want to circle back and focus on revising part one. Hopefully with some much needed help from the writing community, I can be in good enough shape to start querying in the New Year. I’ve found a ton of awesome resources through pitch wars that have elevated my writing game to a whole ‘nother level. My understanding of the publishing process has expanded times ten since I entered. (I’ll need to compile a list and post it because these resources need to be shared- wish I had found this stuff a long time ago!)

I’ve been dreaming about writing a book for ages, and it feels like only in these last couple months have I finally buckled down, gotten serious, and made real tangible progress. It’s going to take a little bit of sacrifice to keep this train on the tracks (I’ve already suspended my Warcraft subscription- there’s no time for games!) but it already feels worth it. I’m so excited to see what happens next!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2019! We did it; we survived. 2018 was not an especially kind year for me and those close to me, but I’m feeling optimistic about what’s to come.

The worst of my work for the year is already behind me as I’m just coming off the big Chicago Boat Show weekend. (80 hours in seven days!) Work will start to die back down to its normal hum, which means I can reclaim some of my energy and get back to my projects and hobbies.

I’ve already accomplished one of my major goals for the year, which was to get an Etsy shop up and running. It’s only got a small supply of dice bags and potion bottle jewelry right now but as I get back into crafting, I’m hoping to have more stock and options in soon. You can check it out here! And here’s a few examples of current listings.

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to a couple small upcoming trips we have planned. Travelling has been hard to swing in recent years since money’s been so tight, but I’m hoping that starts to reverse in the coming year as well. I’m switching up what I do at work, taking on a new position and new responsibilities and looking forward to it.

Otherwise I’m just hoping to read more (currently reading Tell The Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams- very very good!), learn new crafts (making plushies, watercolor, & resin molds are at the top of the list), play some gosh dang video games and, finally, FINALLY finish my novel. I’ve recently gotten some really nice feedback on parts one through three of my rough draft. Part four is still kind of a mess but I’m anxious to dive back in and untangle it. Then it’s just the fifth and final chunk and it’ll be something resembling finished. Aiming for end of March, realistically.

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to more cons, more cosplay, and learning more about/practicing photography. I’m certainly aiming to keep busy, anyway.

Here’s to hoping that the new year is good us all!

And now, a series of lists…

And now, a series of lists…

Well, hello there.

It’s almost the end of the month and I haven’t written a new post. That’s probably because every time I try to write something, I lose interest half way through and delete it. It’s pretty annoying. So I’m going to try something a little different. Gonna hitcha with some quick round-ups. Annnnnd go:

DAISHO-CON

  • Loved it (No surprise)
  • Didn’t hit the waterpark?! (surprise & travesty) Will rectify next year by booking an extra night
  • Tried to split my time between cosplay and photography to mixed success, but I did learn some important lessons
  • Loved the few models I had a chance to shoot with
  • Very ready to try my hand at photography again

Here’s some of my fave shots from the weekend. The ones with me in them were taken by my ever patient and very helpful boyfriend (who’s not too shabby behind the lens himself) and I still did the edits.

NaNoWriMo & My WIP

  • Made it mmmmmm maybe a week into NaNo before I had an existential  breakdown about my career, my talent (or lack thereof), my future (also a little shaky), and my life in general, so I decided I wasn’t going to wrench blood from a stone. But it has a happy ending as a recent development at work (an upcoming promotion and solidified career path) have quelled that fire and I am ready to get my head back into a productive/creative space.
  • Hoping to start editing my WIP again this week (maybe even tonight!) and resume some kind of schedule toward completing my rough draft. Will I finish by year’s end as I originally set out to? Highly unlikely… but I guess we’ll wait and see.

Currently Obsessed With

  • Castlevania (I’m almost finished with season 2 and LOVING it)
  • Voltron (halfway through the last season- digging it. Shiro & Keith are faves)
  • Diablo 3 on Switch
  • Pokemon Lets Go Pikachu (how many Pokemon can you ride and why is each one more hilarious than the last??)
  • Throne of Glass (Just started but had to take a break to read a book for book club this week- will resume this weekend)

Want to Watch

  • She-Ra! (everyone is talking about it and I neeeeeed to watch it)
  • FLCL Season(s) 2 (I never sat down and gave them a proper viewing and it’s giving me heart palpitations)
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (heard good things- very much my aesthetic)
  • The Solo movie
  • Incredibles 2
  • MBMBaM TV Series (I’ve only seen bits and pieces and it’s an actual crime)

Want to Play

  • The Spyro Reignited Trilogy (Will wait till I finish my current game backlog)
  • Fallout 76 (Waiting till the servers stabilize and to see if anyone’s even still playing in a month)
  • Civ VI (I want to buy it right freaking now but I still have so much to play!)
  • Moonlighter (Bought it but couldn’t figure out the interface- will revisit when I need something new to play)

MISC

  • I might finally host my second episode of Monster of the Week if nothing unforeseen postpones it again
  • I’m day-dreaming about running a D&D campaign
  • I’ve committed to going to Gen Con next year!
  • I can’t wait till Christmas

I’m working six day weeks through the holidays and will continue to do so afterward until we find a replacement for my position. I’m in dire need of the OT but a little bummed by the lack of free time. Hoping it’ll pay off in the end!

And I think that’s all I got. I’ll try to have a more coherent and interesting post next month…but no promises. ;p

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!

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.

Busy but Balanced

Busy but Balanced

This summer is turning out to be full to the brim and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve reached a rare balance of work busy & fun busy and I’m interested to see how long it will last.

I finished part 3 of my fantasy WIP and made a conscious decision to step away from it for a few weeks. I could feel myself getting creatively fatigued by the end, like I had been too close to the story for too long, and it was all getting hard to see. I wanted to take a break, focus on my other creative endeavors, and return to it refreshed- with new eyes. It feels great to take a break from writing without the accompanying feeling of guilt. I know this is what my story needs right now, and it’s also never far from my mind. I know there will come a point soon when I’m anxious to get back into it, but in the meantime I’ve made some progress on a bunch of other stuff I love.

Had my first trip to the Renn Faire and I loved it, as always. The Bristol Renaissance Faire is consistently one of the happiest places I’ve ever visited. The scenery and atmosphere are unmatched, it’s rarely too crowded, the food and staff are excellent- if you live nearby I highly recommend a visit! I went without a costume and focused on taking pictures instead, this time. I’m hoping to get a chance to edit them in the next couple days and make a little photo dump post.

I’m also getting close to finishing my Taako costume! It’s missing the bracer and the cape, and I want to touch up the ears and makeup, but otherwise I’m so pleased with how it turned out. Taako is such a rad character; I’m so looking forward to being him with the rest of Tres Horny Bois when we head back to the Faire at month’s end. Gratuitous pictures to follow, I’m sure!

I also had the opportunity to host my first tabletop campaign as a GM. I’m doing a run of Monster of the Week inspired by The Adventure Zone: Amnesty. It’s a fun & easy game type and I’m lucky to have a great group of players. Everyone’s characters meshed really well and I’m excited to see where the story goes! It’s a lot harder to be a GM then I imagined (I was already nervous about it) and it got a little rough in parts, but I think I learned a lot and I’ll know how to be better prepared for next time.

Beyond that, it’s my birthday this week and I’m celebrating by (hopefully) getting a small tattoo that I’ve wanted for a while and then I’m going camping with a bunch of rad friendos.

I wish this summer would never end. Hoping you all are enjoying it too!

Rookie Photographer- So much to learn!

Rookie Photographer- So much to learn!

This past weekend was Anime Central down in Rosemont, IL. I usually go down for the whole weekend but since money’s been a little tight, I just went with a few friends on Saturday. I had a lovely time! Though I’m always a little sad when I’m not cosplaying, it was nice to have chill, casual con experience. No con crunch the night before and I got to sleep in my own bed. Plus, not having to worry about cosplay gave me a chance to bring the camera and get a little more practice taking pictures.

One thing became immediately clear- it’s so hard to get quality shots just finding people in the hall. To get a good picture, I need more control over the background and waaaaay more time to get a good sample size of shots and give the cosplayer time to pose. I also still struggle with stopping people for a photo (even though as a cosplayer I know we LOVE being asked for a picture) since I have a hard time getting past the idea that I may be inconveniencing someone. It’s illogical and stupid but it’s still an obstacle for me. So I got all of like 15 pictures between all the other fun stuff we were doing. Wah!

Even with so few pictures, I think I’ve gotten the hang of shooting in aperture priority mode. It would be much easier to get the kind of background blur I’m after with a better lens but that will have to wait until I’m less sad and broke. And I had already kinda figured that out from practicing before. What I didn’t realize was I definitely, absolutely bought the wrong editing software. Having no idea what I was doing, I bought Photoshop Elements a while back and it does get the job done. I’d used it before and it’s certainly better than nothing. But after watching a few tutorials it became obvious I should have gotten Lightroom instead. So I downloaded a free trial to confirm my fears and yeeeeaaaaaah- It’s WAY easier, way more tailored for the kind of editing I’m trying to do. So that’s getting plopped on the wish list too, though I have no idea when I’m going to be able to afford all this jazz. Still, it was fun to play around with. It’s crazy what a difference a little bit of basic editing does to a pic.

For comparison:

 

Pretty basic stuff but I really enjoy it! I want to set up some some little practice mini-sessions with my friends this summer.

My only issue going forward is it will always be a battle to chose between playing photographer and cosplaying myself. I suppose I could try to do both but that might get complicated. We’ll see!

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I’m equal parts excited about some of the progress I’ve made and frustrated that I haven’t made more. I’m not where I hoped I would be at this point, both in my writing and my other creative endeavors. And I have to acknowledge that a big part of that is due to a major interruption in my life- I got knocked off the rails by a huge personal loss that I don’t feel comfortable addressing quite yet in this format. That aside, I still need to be better at staying on task and keeping myself motivated.

As far as my writing goes, I’m unexpectedly having a lot of trouble with beta readers. I’ve sent my WIP to about six friends and only two have gotten back to me. Though I’ve gotten positive feedback from the two that did read it, I’m feeling down about the others… I kind of wish they’d just turned me down rather than let me send them something this personal and not hear anything back. I know they’re really busy and I’m asking for a lot of their time- that’s why whenever I do ask, I try to make it abundantly clear that I totally understand if they don’t have time for this right now. But to hear nothing makes me worry that my writing is so crappy it doesn’t even warrant a critique. I’m sure this is just my anxiety talking and they probably just got busy and forgot but it still stings.  And I don’t have a remedy for that.

On a more positive note, I got my sewing machine going and made my first little project. img_1848img_1850It’s a dice bag! I want to make more. I’m flirting with the idea of making a bunch of little projects like this and opening up an Etsy store? I wouldn’t be selling them for much but it would be a fun way to make a little pocket money and get some practice with the machine. Haven’t decided if it’s worth doing yet but we’ll see.

I’m also a little behind on my cosplay progress but now I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to go to some of the cons I had planned. Money has become an issue (well, a bigger issue) as of late. I was already a little overextended in buying the supplies I need for these costumes and then my personal issues created additional expenses that I wasn’t super prepared for. But we’ll see. I’m trying not to be down about it- I might still come up with the money and, it not, there’s always next year. Kind of a bummer though. Why does everything cost money and why do I never have any?! (story of everyone’s life, I’m sure)

Ending on a positive- I just finished listening to The Adventure Zone: Balance and I don’t even have the words to express how infatuated and impressed I am. TAZ has been the following light for me during this period of extreme darkness and I am so grateful to the McElroys for gifting it to the world. I’m not even being dramatic- it’s that good. I’m fully planning on cosplaying Taako this year since I know I’ll at least make it to the Ren Faire. I’ll post some pictures once I’ve made more progress on it.

Anyway…things will turn around soon, I’m sure. The worst is behind me now.

A little bit of everything: some of it good, some of it… less good

A little bit of everything: some of it good, some of it… less good

I don’t have any real definitive theme for this post, which I typically like to avoid less this become nothing more than a public journal. But it’s been too long since I last updated and if I don’t get something up I run the risk of letting it go dormant again. I want to at least keep the blog alive through the summer. (which I assume will be easier since the warm weather will bring with it interesting activities to write about) So I guess this update will be a bit of a potpourri, slice-of-life style entry.

Things I’m currently excited about:

  • The new seasons of FLCL finally got a trailer and definitive release dates aaaaaaaand Haruko’s English voice actor is back! (I know that was already announced but hearing her voiceover was just, man– I got chills) FLCL is probably my all-time favorite anime so I am beyond excited. I’ll probably have to wear my Haruko cosplay again sometime this year and then maybe after the new seasons I’ll look at building one of her new outfits? Anyway, I haven’t been properly excited about an anime release in a long time so this is really, really cool. (fooly cool you might even say, right? Aaaayyyyy! I’ll…I’ll see myself out)
  • I joined my first proper D&D group! It’s a girls group comprised of close friends so it’s the perfect setting for comfortably getting back into the game. I played a little one-off scenario a few weeks ago to kind of reacquaint myself with the mechanics and I am excited to get into a proper campaign and an invested character. I rolled a Tiefling Cleric who is Neutral Good and I’m making her super nicey-nice (think Starfire from Teen Titans) cause I think that’ll be a fun style of roleplaying. The campaign starts in a couple of weeks so I’m sure I’ll have another post or two coming about that.
  • Related to that- I just started listening to The Adventure Zone podcast and I am kicking myself for not taking people’s recommendations sooner. It is hilarious– I highly recommend it even if you’ve never played D&D and have no interest in roleplaying- It’s that charming.

Thing’s I’m currently frustrated about:

  • There’s that old adage that you either have the time or the money but never both, so I feel like it’s especially unfair that I have neither. Through a combination of some unexpected expenses and my ill-advised purchasing of little odds & ends that I can’t afford, I am cut off from using my credit card until it’s back under control. Not a huge deal as I have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime but it does suck being so SO broke.
  • And then, somehow, I’ve found myself back in that gross purgatory of having so much I want to do and seemingly no time in which to do it. I have a book I need to read for book club that I haven’t even started (the meeting is in a week and a half) called Little Fires Everywhere, still haven’t circled back around to finish reading The Wise Man’s Fear, desperately want to get ahead in Monster Hunter since I am lightyears behind all my friendos, and I haven’t made any progress on my novel in damn near a month now. My days off have been occupied and after work I haven’t had the energy to really get going on anything. Plus I feel bad ignoring the boyfriend when he doesn’t have any projects of his own and wants to hang out- that time is sacred and comes before most other things.

But I know this is a normal part of the weekly/monthly cycle and I’ll be back on track soon enough; this is just the normal ebb and flow of all things and I need to be patient and remain optimistic. Summer will be here soon!

Speaking of summer, I’m dying for it to get warm and for everything to turn green again so I can start practicing with my camera! I want to get a better feel for it so I can decide whether it’s worth investing in a better lenses. (when I have money again) Also I’ve decided I’ll probably go down to Acen this year for Saturday only, and since I won’t be cosplaying (wouldn’t want to try that without a room) I want to focus on taking pictures. So, excited about that! Then, depending on funds, I may build Sesshomaru for Anime Midwest in July or just plan to have it done for Daisho in November. I’m not in any rush since I have plenty to rewear. Cannot wait!

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