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.

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!

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

Pitch Wars? Pitch Wars.

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

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

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

Add a heading

 

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!

Boats and Books and the Best Laid Plans

Boats and Books and the Best Laid Plans

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

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

IMG_3911
And some other pretty rad perks 

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

And I’ve been considering it.

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

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

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

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

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