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)

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.

Seeya Summer

Seeya Summer

I guess the summer is already over. These Midwest summers are like phantoms- blink and you miss ’em. Even so, I feel like I was propelled through this one in particular at break neck speeds. I have never been so damned busy. I’ll be switching to 6 day work weeks soon, so it doesn’t seem my situation is likely to improve. Not till after the leaves have fallen, anyway. But I could certainly use the OT right now, so I won’t complain too much. The Etsy shop has been my only source of spending money lately and I don’t make very much. And as much as I enjoy my little arts and crafts, I really need to shift my focus back to writing.

I haven’t written all damn summer. And I get depressed when I don’t write. I should start small- aim to hit a really low daily word count but hit it every day, consistently. Even 200 words a day adds up over time. It’s all about getting back into the rhythm. And I have no rhythm right now. But as summer shifts to fall, I’m feeling inspired again.

I love fall. I want to make sure I enjoy it this year- do some really stereotypically fallish stuffs. I’m talking apple cider, hay rides, pumpkin patches- the whole caboodle. And, of course, I’m stoked for Halloween. I just need to make a couple more Etsy sales and I’ll have enough to buy the last piece of my costume. (Beetlejuice this year!)

Speaking of that- anyone want to buy a lil’ clay dood?? I mean, if you do, they’re right over here. ;)

clay guys

Other time sinks include reading for book club, (good!) playing Warcraft classic, (very bad, shame on me) and hanging out with Kitty! (best use of time, best cat) Got a few cool things on the horizon but I’ll talk about them as they come. For now, I just want to get back on track. Recalibrated. Focused! We’ll see if I succeed.

Making Time

Making Time

Happy Spring!

If it would only stop raining already it might be half-way decent out. Not that it matters- I’ve been too busy to enjoy the weather yet. Or much of anything else, for that matter. But I think that’s about to change. I have a couple more weeks left of working six days before I get my second day off back. It’s amazing what a critical difference having a second day off makes in my work-life-hobby balancing act. If I’m busy on Saturday, as I have been for the last couple weeks, I fall behind on everything else. My house is an absolute train wreck right now and it really effects my psyche. Going to burn my day off this week on deep cleaning and doing some long overdue organizing/throwing shit out. I like to have a clean slate when I start to get overwhelmed so I know that will help. My other two goals for the week are to get my Etsy shop updated (I have a batch of stuff already made that just needs to get listed- a more time consuming process than you might think) and edit the few pics I managed to get from Acen. (photo drop coming soon!)

I’m happy I made it down for Saturday of the con this year but, as always, I have a couple regrets. Once again, I really wish I got more pictures. I’m not sure how to rectify this without really changing my entire approach to conventions. If I want to get more pictures, and better quality pictures, I probably need to stake out places with better backdrops, away from the crowds, where I can really take my time. This means I need to break away from my friends and do my own thing (at least for part of the time) and I’ve NEVER done that. Cons have always been something I experience with a close friend group first and foremost. But, especially now that I don’t drink anymore, maybe that’s something to consider? I feel like my not drinking does have a noticeable impact on how I meld with my friend group and has changed how I experience conventions. Still, I don’t know. I have some more thinking to do on the whole thing and I know I don’t have to come up with any sort of definitive answer anytime soon. There were always be more cons and I can dabble with how I approach them as I go.

Speaking of changes, I want to switch up my focus going forward. For the past month or two, I’ve been spending all my spare time on crafting. While it’s definitely been fun and rewarding, and I certainly want to do more (especially with clay- I just started getting into making polymer clay charms and I really want to try some more) I think it’s time to shift my energy back to writing and editing instead. I like crafting and it’s a fun way to spend my time but, since I have so little of it to spend, I really need to get back on track if I want to finish anytime soon. And I really really do.

To a lesser degree, I also want to get back to spending time on non-productive hobbies. I haven’t sat down and just binged out on a video game or anything like that in months. Which, if you knew me, you’d know is incredibly strange. I think I have been consumed with this idea that I have to spend every moment of my time creating something. It’s a pitfall I’ve seen echoed amongst many other folks my age- especially (though not always) other creative types. That all our hobbies need to be monetized, that if we don’t have something to show for the time we spend, that time is wasted. It’s an unhealthy mindset, one that my boyfriend noticed I was starting to slip into when he pointed out how stressed I was getting over making stuff for my little shop. The shop is and always will be just for fun. I don’t really make a profit from it- it’s just a way to make back some of the money I have into materials and to find homes for the things I make rather than amassing a hoard of trinkets I don’t need. But it’s not a job- it was never meant to be. And if I start stressing over it like a job, then I’ve really lost the plot. I mean, I’m happy I’m spending my free time productively. There was a time in my earlier twenties where I would play games in excess- they consumed my life and left room for little else. I’m happy to have moved on from that but now the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. I want to find time to enjoy things just for the experience they give- just for how they enrich my life and give me a break from making.  It’s always a struggle to find harmony in my life, something I’m sure I have in common with many others. Yet, even if things are still a little out of balance, I cannot claim to be unhappy. I’m far from that.

Wishing you all luck in overcoming your own struggles, whatever they may be!

Keep on Keepin’ On

Keep on Keepin’ On

Long time no meaningless rambling! I’ve been keeping pretty busy. Still working six day weeks but, as we’ve finally hired another coordinator, the end is in sight. Well, kind of. We’re also going into (one of) the busy times so maybe I’ll get a second day off again by like… June? But I really can’t complain about the much needed OT. Finally making some progress in paying off my debt!

Other than work work (zug zug) I’ve been keeping busy busting out little resin crafts for my Etsy store. And I’ve started making a few sales! I don’t expect to make any real profit off this enterprise but I really enjoy making stuff and selling it is weirdly fun. At the very least, the money I make can help pay for new materials so I can make more things. In fact, I just made enough in sales that I could afford to buy a couple D20 dice molds. I can’t wait to try my hand at dice making! Even if they won’t work for play (I have no idea if they’ll be balanced or not) I can at least use them for jewelry. So excited!

If you like what you see, my Etsy shop is here. ;)

My other motivation through this constant tinkering is I’m hoping to create a habit of creative behavior. One that will carry over when I start getting back into editing. I’ve begun to chip away at it here and there in what few spare moments I can. But, boy, are they few and spare. Still, the itch is there again to get this story told already. And in that nagging, an often repeated question has resurfaced: what to do when it’s done.  For the last year or so, I was dead set on getting it ready to shop out to agents in the pursuit of traditional publishing. And I still want to, just to see what happens. But I’m also thinking about just posting it online again. I mean, it would be awesome to see some money back after all the time I’ve sunk into this project but that was never the main reason for writing. More than anything, I just want a readership. Any I know there are a lot of sites and other platforms where I think I could get at least a small pool of readers. I still think it would be silly not to throw it out to at least a few agents, just to see, but I’m becoming so impatient. I just want to get this in front of people! I want to share it and talk about it! Any other writers have this problem? Anyone have any experience posting on like fictionpress or wattpad or something similar?

Other than finishing this ding dang novel, I am aching to start taking pictures again. Just need the weather to improve. Any good cons coming up in the Midwest? I think I’ll hit Acen on Saturday.  And I’m going to Gen Con in August after a TEN year absence so I’m pumped for that. Anything I’m missing or may not know about??

Summer’s right around the corner! Or that’s what I’m telling myself anyway. ^^;;

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

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Another month nearly gone.

SpookyScarySkeletons

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!

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!

IMG_6280
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.

IMG_6338
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.