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 interesting 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)
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.
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.
Polymerclay charm before glaze
A larger dice tray
Big batch of necklaces and keychains
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!
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. ^^;;
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!
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:
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
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)
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
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!
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.
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.
Other 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.
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!
It’s been a high stress couple of weeks but I’m beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I was feeling overwhelmed to the point of depression and now I think I’m finally treading water again.
I’ve sorted my money situation, I think. I reevaluated my budget, revised my payment strategy, and I should be out of this hole I’ve dug by summer’s end. It just meant cutting back on some of the things I’m able to do this summer and delaying some cosplay and convention aspirations till next year. But that’s ok, it’s necessary, and I feel good about it. So that’s one cinder block off my chest.
I’ve made a ton of progress on my WIP. Part three ended up being about 50 pages and it’s a few solid hours of work away from being totally finished. That will put me at 150 finished pages or about 50,000 words. I have 25,000 words in the partial parts five and six to go over and add to in the coming months. It’s looking like the finished product will be around 90k. (for comparison’s sake, the first Harry Potter was 76,944 words) So that means I’m officially over half-way done and I’m honestly pretty proud. I’ve never had a writing project so close to completion. And at this pace, I know I can finish it this year. Plus I just got some positive/constructive feedback from my favorite beta reader and that put some wind back in my sails.
Now all I have to do is make it through this Sunday. Sunday is my Dad’s memorial and it has been gnawing away at me for months.
My father passed at the end of April after a long and ghastly sickness. Born with a hereditary kidney disease, my Dad’s had poor health all his life. He was in and out of hospitals since I was a baby, so it’s something I was used to- it never affected his spirit and he brushed off each incident, his personality unaffected. About five or six years ago, he moved south to be with his long-time partner (basically his second wife though they never had a ceremony) and my young half-sister. She had moved back home to be close to her own family, which made sense. I know he felt like he was abandoning my brother and I, and as hard as it was to be so far away from him, I believed he was making the best decision both for himself and his daughter.
And then he got sicker. About two years ago he got into a car accident and began behaving strangely. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first signs of vascular dementia- brain damage caused by the lack of blood flow and multiple mini-strokes, which were side effects of his kidney disease and the treatment involved. The only way I can describe it is… it’s like my Dad began to fade. Every time I saw him or spoke to him he was a little bit less himself. And it utterly dismantled me. My father has been a pillar in my life, an unshakeable force, a constant. I was terrified of talking to him, I dreaded visiting him. I couldn’t stand to see what was happening to him. And he only got sicker, his body failing just as quickly as his mind. He ended up in a nursing home, which was a relief in some ways, knowing he was safe and surrounded by those best suited to care for him. And it was awful. My brother and I would drive down and visit once a month, about 8 hours in the car round trip. I’d get so sick to my stomach seeing him that way, I’d barely eat the whole weekend. He had gotten so bad, he didn’t even recognize us the last time we visited. So it was almost a mercy when he passed, but still my heart feels shattered.
The way I deal with this kind of grief is to squirrel away- to be alone with the things and people I’m close to. I do not like to put my sorrow on display. I do not know how to deal with both my feelings and strangers at the same time- I’m too introverted and too awkward to do both. So planning this memorial, as simple and casual as we’re making it, has still been trying. I don’t know my dad’s partner or her family all that well- I lived mostly with my mom as a kid, so we never got super close. That makes planning the event an emotional tightrope of trying to take care of as much as I can and constantly feeling like I’m overstepping my bounds. Plus I haven’t been to many funerals (only one as an adult) and though this isn’t really a funeral, per se, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I worry that I won’t be prepared, that I won’t know what to do or say when I get there. I realize, as many have reminded me, that there isn’t much for me to do beyond receive those that want to come say hello and be myself, but still I feel lacking. So though I know logically that the event will go fine, I can’t wait for it to be over, for the relief of knowing I can move on and deal with my grief privately. I know it’s not the right way, bottling stuff up like this, but it’s my way and I can’t imagine I’ll be changing anytime soon.
And we’re almost there. I read something this week that, oddly, gave me such peace of mind: Life’s too short to give a shit. Don’t laugh- I know it’s crass but it honestly made me stop and take stock of what I was worrying about. It sounds like something my dad would say. My dad is gone; he’s at rest. All this other bologna doesn’t really matter. I know I’m doing the best I can, and that’s all that counts. Whatever happens, happens, and I need to disengage and keep on moving. It’ll be all right.
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.
Jennie w/ Kittehs – BEFORE
Jennie w/ Kittehs – AFTER
Taako & Angus – BEFORE
Taako & Angus – AFTER
Sam & Jennie – BEFORE
Sam & Jennie – AFTER
Kass (BoTW) – BEFORE
Kass (BoTW) – AFTER
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!