Summer’s End – Fall Project Planning

Summer’s End – Fall Project Planning

The days are getting shorter as summer starts to fade. Spooky time approaches- my fave!

So I finally took the query plunge and sent my finished MS to a handful of agents. I have pretty realistic expectations- I won’t be the slightest bit surprised if I only get form rejections. But I’m thinking it’ll help inform me on the state of my novel. The way I see it, there are three options. One, my novel is actually ready and an agent requests a full. Two, my novel isn’t quite ready and I need to have some more beta readers clue me into why. Three, the novel isn’t working on a fundamental core level and I need to take what I’ve learned, shelve it, and move on to the next project.

At least there’s a couple big motivators on the horizon. Pitch Wars is coming up quick and I think I’ll throw my hat in the ring. My MS is certainly in waaaaay better shape than last time I entered. I had barely finished it in time last year. After that we’ll be coming into NaNoWriMo so of course I have to try again. I’m hoping to start getting into a rhythm on this new project in October and create some good habits before November. The new WIP is kind of a Inuyasha meets Howl’s Moving Castle type fantasy. Still working out the details. All I can do is try!

But I’m getting that itch again- I took enough time off over the summer to recharge. I want to get back into it. The motivation is back but is the discipline? (World of Warcraft is testing me but I must be strong! Haha)

I also really need to sit my but down and read Save the Cat already, especially going into a new project. I keep opening it and starting and finding an excuse to read something else. I just get so intimidated and overwhelmed. The imposter syndrome kicks in hard. I need to relax, let go, and have fun with it. Write for myself and stop worrying about making it perfect or marketable or whatever.

What’s everyone else reading, watching, playing, or writing right now??

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.

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.

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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!

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Halloween, Revision Issues, & NaNoWriMo

Another month nearly gone.

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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!

Reignited

Reignited

I’m excited to feel excited again! This past year it seemed like all my interests went to sleep- I was still into writing and reading but it felt somewhat subdued and many of my other hobbies had fallen by the wayside. I lost almost all interest in cosplay and conventions and was struggling to feel social. I don’t know if it’s the warm weather returning or if I just needed time to rest and regain my energy but I’m suddenly reinvested.

I felt the cosplay bug nibbling me again and I’m thinking about what I want my first new build to be. I’m leaning toward Sesshomaru from Inu yasha- it’s one I’ve always wanted to do. I want to look into picking up a cheap entry-level sewing machine and trying my hand working with EVA foam or worbla.  I definitely want to hit a con or two this summer, I’m just not sure which ones. I was kind of getting burnt out on Acen. Maybe I’ll check out Anime Midwest for a day? I love the Rosemont venue either way.  I definitely don’t want to do C2E2 again. I’m used to cons being crowded but last year was ridiculous. It was so busy I could barely move and it sucked out all the fun. They either need to restrict badge sales or better yet, open the other side of McCormick and expand the con space. I’ll for sure do Daisho again- it’s my favorite con, but it’s not till November. Beyond that, I’ll have to ask around, see if there’s any others that people recommend.

I was really hoping to get back down to RTX in Austin this August but I think I’ll have to put it off for another year. Comparatively speaking, it’s a really expensive trip and I think I want more time to build myself back up financially- plus the dates this year conflicted with work so it made more sense to wait.

Other summer goals include: go to Bristol Ren Faire a few times, maybe check out the Janesville Faire, ride the bike some more and get better at it, plan a cheaper trip to visit a city I’ve never been to, get down to Chicago a couple times or up to Milwaukee, practice with the camera and try to improve, and just be more active.

I’ve also joined a book club (which I love and gets me reading things outside my normal tastes) bought a PS4 for gaming, and I got back into D&D! So I think I have the whole spectrum of indoor and outdoor, social and solitary hobbies covered. I’m feeling really positive and I want this year to be all about learning and growing, getting better at the things I love and making the most of my time. Here’s to hoping it goes that way!

Back at it

Back at it

Woof. What a month. Made it through the holidays and survived the big boat show at work. Needless to say, I haven’t written or edited or done much of anything bookish in weeks. But my calendar is beginning to clear and it’s time to get back at it. So I’ll consider today day one of my 2018 writing schedule and I am incredibly anxious to get going again.

I’ve tried to use this blog as a way to check in with myself, stay organized and stay motivated and… it never seems to work. But I think it’s worth trying again. No harm in it, really- if it doesn’t help and only serves to get in the way, then it’ll just go dormant again.

 So! Let’s get a rough outline going.

The big question is, as always: will this year be the year I finally finish my freakin’ manuscript for book one? I reeeeally hope so. I’m going to try my damnedest to get there. And boy am I becoming impatient to get it out there and get some people looking at it. I love writing for myself- I deeply enjoy the process and it’s a lot of fun but there reaches a point where I’ve been working with these characters and ideas for so long that I crave feedback. I wish I could post it chapter by chapter on a site like fictionpress or wattpad but I know that’ll complicate things down the line if I feel that it’s good enough to submit to a publisher. And I don’t want to count myself out just yet. I want to try. So that means I need hurry up and finish it so I can start the publication process. If that doesn’t pan out, then I can explore posting it or self-publishing or whatever.

So that brings us back to the main goal: finish the damn thing.

I have the rough draft split into six pieces and I’ve got two done with edits. I’m about half way through part three but there’s still a lot of additional writing to do as well.

Let’s aim high and try to finish a piece every month. There’s half the month left and part three is half done so that works out. If I can successfully hit those goals that means I’d more or less have a finished draft by the end of April. That’s probably a bit ambitious but I’ll give it a shot and go from there.

I’ll try to update this thing at the end of every week. Or not! We’ll see what life brings.

Good luck to everyone else going through similar struggles. Happy writing!

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