Here We Go Again (2020 Edition)

Here We Go Again (2020 Edition)

Happy New Year and all that jazz.

Holidays came and went mostly without incident and I made it through the most trying time of the year: boat show week. Now I’m ready to settle into some sort of routine- hopefully a productive one. I’ve got my normal new year ‘resolutions,’ if you can call them that. I want to start getting more active again (I go total sloth mode over the winter and I’m starting to feel sluggish and unhealthy) and I need to get my sleep schedule right. I’m always tired. :(

I’ve finally got an appointment on the calendar for seeing someone about my anxiety. It’s gotten so much worse lately and I’m starting to think it might be more directly responsible for my stomach problems than I’ve been willing to admit. I can’t get in to see anyone till April, but at least it’s scheduled. I’ll survive till then.

2020 is also going to be the year I get my finances back on track. I have a budget planned that should get my credit cards all paid off by the fall. That means this is going to be a really lean year- no frivolous purchases, no new cosplay, no conventions.  The positive flip side of living really frugally means I should at least have more time to dedicate to writing and reading. (in theory, haha)

I would like to make a big dent in my TBR pile this year. Titles of interest include: Tarnished are the Stars (reading now), Howl’s Moving Castle, Serpent and Dove, Throne of Glass, Six of Crows, Furyborn, Girls of Paper and Fire, and Truthwitch, just to name a few. I also picked up a few highly recommended author craft books that I’m dying to dive into.booksshelf

As far as writing goals go, I’m working with an awesome critique partner right now and starting to chip away at revisions. I’m entering the drawing for RevPit to see if I can get some editor eyes on my query and then I’m also submitting to Author Mentor Match. Depending on how those shake out, I’m hoping to be ready to start seriously querying agents by March or April at the latest. I’ll have a better idea when I get into the back half of my revisions, where the changes are more work intensive. I’m excited though!

Life is pretty good, all things considered. I saw Star Wars twice and loved it. I haven’t gotten around to starting the Witcher yet but that damn song is still stuck in my head. (thanks internet) I might get back into playing Warcraft just because I need a pressure release and it honestly sounds really fun. Don’t really know if that’s necessarily the wisest decision but I’m committed enough to my goals that I’m not worried about shirking my work to play. My guilt won’t let me anymore.

Best of luck in the new year everyone! I’ll check in again soon.

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!

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

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!

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!

IMG_4792

Distractions, Glorious Distractions

Distractions, Glorious Distractions

Progress check in!

Managed to get at least a little writing and a fair bit of editing done. Not as much as I would have liked, of course… perhaps in no small part due to a certain distraction I may or may not have purchased for myself.

monsterhunter

Yeeeeeaaaah, kind of worth it though. A girl needs her outlets! Writing is frustration- I need to let off some steam, slay some monsters!

So, at this rate, I’m going to miss my first goal- now it’s up to me to determine by how much. Luckily I’m going out of town for a few days and I’m hoping a new environment (and some distance between me and my PS4) will help me get a little more writing done.

I’ve also spent a lot of my time nose first in a book lately, which I feel less guilty about since reading is basically training for writing.  Current read is book two of the Kingkiller Chronicles- The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. If you’re looking for a great fantasy read, I can’t recommend book one (The Name of the Wind) enough. Not that I have to; it’s usually at the top of everyone’s fantasy recommendation list. It’s like a woodsier, grittier, more medieval version of Harry Potter.

nameofthewindwisemansfear

Plus I heard they’re moving closer to production on the TV series/movie for it. Music is a huge part of the story and they’ve named Lin-Manual Miranda as one of the creative minds involved so that’s kind of amazing. Now Mr. Rothfuss just needs to get book three out. I know I’m going to be beside myself when I’m done with book two and I can’t jump right in to book three. Although I have plenty more left in my to-read pile.

Especially now that I joined a book club! I’m pretty excited about that- but I’ll save it for another post.

Happy writing everyone- wishing you all a productive week and power over all your distractions. (glorious as they may be)

P.S. – I’m kind of digging these less formal, more personal updates. Cathartic for me and keeps me updating the blog even when I have nothing of importance to say. All writing is good practice in the end.

Slowly but Surely – Novel Progress & Introduction

Slowly but Surely – Novel Progress & Introduction

Progress!

halfwayI’ve reached the halfway point in my journey to 50k and the completion of my first draft! I might be moving at the blinding pace of an out-of-shape snail but I’m proud to be moving forward all the same. I’ve written for 10 of the past 11 days and don’t intend to miss another day for the rest of the month. Making sure to write before settling in and winding down at night has been critical. It’s incredibly hard (though not impossible) to find the energy and self-discipline if I wait till just before bed. (The train to sleepy time junction don’t stop once it gets a rollin’!)

So this is probably as good a time as any to talk a little about what I’m actually working on. My working title is Shadow & Brimstone and it’s a dark fantasy about a mortal woman among monsters and magic. My main character, Sheriden Krieger, is a hunter of The Order- an assemblage of talented operatives tasked with the protection of Dystoria and the management of supernatural forces and figures therein. I’m trying to combine classic horror elements and beings such as vampires, werewolves, and witches with more fast-paced, adventure-based storytelling. I pull heavy inspiration from the Night Watch series with a touch of Harry Potter, but most of all, Diablo.Diablo-III-l

In fact, the idea began as sort of a Diablo III fanfiction. For all the non-gaming readers who might not be familiar with the Diablo franchise, it’s a dark, medieval, macabre world inhabited by monsters and humans, warriors and wielders of magic, all sandwiched between the warring factions of heaven and hell. I loved loved loved DIII when it came out and I played in excess, primarily as the demon hunter class. I got rather attached to my hunter and used her adventures as inspiration for writing exercises. I sketched out a few characters, scribbled a few scenes and…not much else. I wasn’t heavily committed to writing at the time and let life get in the way of any further development. I’d almost forgotten the idea completely until last November, when I decided to get back into writing by giving NaNoWriMo a try. I stumbled upon it by accident while looking through old notebooks. I built on what was there, planning out a rough skeleton of a plot and departing from Diablo’s world of Sanctuary to create my own unique world, while leaning heavily on the influence.

Of course NaNoWriMo wasn’t exactly the best way to ease back into writing and I failed miserably (I think I might have come up with about 12k of the required 50) but the fire to write was reignited! Now I’m bound and determined to finish this novel, no matter how long it takes. (And…it could be a while. But I’ll keep at it!)

 

 

Escapism In All Things

Escapism In All Things

Let’s talk hobbies!

There’s a strong common thread that runs through my most predominating fixations: the element of escapism. I think it’s probably a common theme for imaginative types, (i.e. NERDS!) especially growing up. Reality can be overly bleak, a little confusing, and outright dull, especially when compared to the more flavorful realms in books and games. Reading was my first love; I read whatever I could get my paws on. Once I cracked open I book I could focus on little else till I reached the back cover. (I’m still like that) But there’s an interactive aspect that’s missing from reading, so the creative impulse in me gravitated toward less passive, more hands-on forms of escapism.

Writing was a given; having invested so much time and energy into reading books, I was itching to try my hand at writing one.

And video games were a logical progression, too. Interactive stories with goals, choices and, eventually, interaction with fellow nerds-Er, I mean, like-minded individuals?! Sign me up!

As much as I love reading and writing, the interactivity and social aspects of gaming and the community therein were a welcome change of pace. Books fulfilled my need for escapist fantasies but they could get a bit lonely. Games offered a fictional world full of real people, all looking for much the same thing as me- a break from reality. (Albeit a much more intensive, time-consuming one. I’m looking at you, World of Warcraft.)

In recent years, this quest for interactive escapism has evolved further, manifesting itself in cosplay and conventions. Cons have completed my escapist spectrum, offering a less immersive but far more tangible, active, and incredibly social outlet for a break from the everyday. I’ve only dabbled in cosplay, but what little I’ve experienced has been absolutely incredible. Suiting up in something ridiculous, becoming one of your favorite characters for the day, and surrounding yourself with hordes of people who will recognize and applaud you for it- it’s not an experience I can properly describe. But it’s amazing. Conventions themselves are so surreal, like a breach in reality that allows the fantastic to bleed through, just for a moment. Con weekends are the Oz to my nine-to-five Kansas. If you haven’t experienced one, I highly recommend it. It’s a TON of fun.

So that’s my four-tiered strategy to escaping reality! Only problem now is finding time to accommodate it all. Especially with the rest of life always getting in the way.

cosplay1.jpeg