Not very con-tagious

I went to a gaming convention the last two days–a small one–but I spent most of the time, er, not gaming. 

I had intended on playing games, but I only played one the whole day and a half I was there. It was a fun game, but I got peopled out pretty quickly. Thankfully, my friends were gracious enough to give me a copy of their hotel room key so I’d have a place to escape from the crowds. It was nice. I took a solid two-hour nap today. That was really nice. 

Tucson Comic Con won’t give me that luxury. I’ll be there, and I’ll be stuck. I think it’ll be okay though. I’ll be behind a table surrounded by my books. I’ll have a barrier between me and them.

I got a lot of progress done on the embroidery for my husband’s Viking hood this weekend though, and I’ll get more done tomorrow. I won’t get done, but I’ll maybe get from a quarter of the way done to maybe a third or even halfway done.

Book 3 hasn’t gotten any more written yet. I am still waiting for the alpha readers to finish their feedback on Book 2, so I don’t want to get too far and have to rewrite the whole thing like I had to do with Book 2.

Hopefully soon things won’t be so stagnant. I feel like I’ve been neglecting this blog because I haven’t had anything to say. Work is work…oh! Except I got a new certification… now I’m a certified medical laser safety officer. I’ve done an audit and everything. So yeah. There’s that, and then work is work.

Things will pick up once I get back to work on Book 2 and once Tucson Comic Con gets closer.

Checked out

I had my second official author appearance today, this time at a small-town library. The venue was small, and the crowd was smaller, but it was a good time. I stood up and talked about myself and my book and didn’t freak out. The social anxiety monster didn’t rear its ugly head, which is pretty cool.

Tucson Comic Con will be a big test of that. There will be crowds, there will be people looking at the table and passing by, there will be people asking about the book, I will have to talk to people. Yes. It’s a thing. But I’m getting over it. Slowly. Kind of.

Tomorrow, after work, I’m headed off to a small gaming convention in Tucson. I won’t have a table there (the cost of a table was too much given the venue), but it should be a fun time. I’ll consider it pre-TCC practice of sorts. Maybe. Or maybe I’ll sit in the corner by myself and try to be invisible. We’ll see.

The Kingdom Arts and Sciences competition is this weekend as well, but I won’t be competing. I got so caught up in projects and book stuff and more book stuff and work and SCA events and…yeah. No time. Well, I suppose I could have thrown something together on the fly, but I don’t want to enter Kingdom with some half-assed project. I want to throw my full, sizable ass behind whatever I end up entering. Next year. Sure, I had the research paper that I did that I could have tinkered with to perfect it, but again there was that pesky time thing.

Speaking of time, I just remembered the laundry that’s sitting on the bed, waiting to be put away. And the laundry in the washer that’s probably done by now. And the packing I have to do. Crap.

Where did all the time go?

Cramped situation

I’m back to embroidering (did I ever really stop? Lol), and it’s starting to get to these arthritic hands of mine.

Whether I use a hoop or just hold the fabric myself, it seems my fingers get incredibly cramped and painful. I can only stitch for a little bit at a time, which is making projects take longer. Thankfully, I am limiting the number of projects I take on.

I have a Viking hood for my husband to embroider, of which I have gotten probably a quarter done. That’s my Current Project. My Next Project will be a mundane cross stitch for a paying customer. Then, Project Number Three in line will be a large embroidery that isn’t due until Estrella War in February. I hope to get some personal embroidery done in between Next Project and Project Number Three, but we’ll see how my hands tolerate it. I get so excited that people want things embroidered by me that I don’t take the time to say “Sorry, but I wanted to embroider X for myself first.” I need to do that. Take time for personal projects as well as commissions.

The Next Personal Project? I think some embroidery for a Viking Hedeby bag I plan on making. I have the handles, I have the fabric I need, and the rope for the strap will be easy enough to get, but I need to embroider the fabric before I put the bag together so I’m not stitching through the lining. Then after that? Maybe some subversive cross stitching or other such embroidery for hanging up around the house. Maybe something geeky. We’ll see…in March, most likely, because of time constraints.

I’ll eventually get to making garb and cosplay stuff for myself again. After I finish my Current Project and the subsequent pending projects. And after I finish Book 2 and submit it. And after….who knows what will come up next.

Plagued by pollen

Sweet baby Jesus, whatever’s in the air lately is kicking my ass.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad. I can still breathe–kind of–and I don’t have a scratchy throat. The sniffling and sneezing is annoying as hell, though.

My allergies are weird. Some years, I go without any allergy problems. Others, I have really bad symptoms when the pollen count is low. Still others, I have symptoms for a couple of weeks then nothing. I can’t predict when or how the allergies will strike, so it’s pretty much a crapshoot. Do I take allergy medicine today or not? I might be feeling okay now, but it might get worse as the day goes on.

As far as the Abnormal front goes, I feel pretty accomplished. Yesterday I made several attempts at contacting podcasts, libraries, and bookstores to see about getting Abnormal on the air or on the shelves. No responses yet, but that’s okay. Some days the fish just don’t bite. Just making the contacts is a big step for me, especially with my weird fear of being a bother. Yeah, it’s not the fear of rejection that bothers me. If someone responds with a “no,” well then they’re just not interested. But if I possibly am a bother to them? Man, that gets to me.

Today I hope to contact at least three or four more podcasts, a couple of book blogs, and more libraries. I’ve kind of exhausted the local and regional bookstores–that’s southern Arizona for you. The desert is as empty of bookstores as it is of all but the hardiest of plant and animal species.

Also today, if time allows at work, I need to get my new certification done. It’s an online test, “open book” as it were (because since it’s online, I have Google as my resource if I get stuck). I was hoping to get guidance for what to study from the current person in that position, but he hasn’t had the time to shoot me an email, I guess. That’s okay, though. I can figure it out, I’m sure. It’s just a matter of squeezing it in where I can.

Off to go bother some podcasts and blogs!

Back in the deep end

Well, after a self-imposed “week off” from serious book promoting, I’m back in deep. I’ve downloaded a few podcast apps to help me narrow down my searches for podcasts to contact to talk about Abnormal. (My Google-fu when it comes to podcasts is dismally unhelpful.) I’ve started contacting podcasts that might be willing to listen to me blather on about Abnormal. I’ve got a list. Lists are always good, right?

Still trying to get over my frustration with finding influencers to market to. I think the podcast-finding apps will help a bit, but I’ll still have to do the “legwork” of searching each podcast, contacting them, and waiting, waiting, waiting. A few have responded with negatories, but at least it’s a response.

Book 2 is in the hands of a couple of alpha readers, hopefully to be returned in the next couple of weeks with notes on where to finesse it before I send it back to RhetAskew in November. I’ll be really glad to get that off to the publisher, because it’s the next step in getting another book published (and it’ll be another big personal accomplishment as well). 

As late as five or six years ago, I thought I’d never have enough “story” in my head to write a whole novel. Whispers of Death started with a series of microfiction that I wrote many, many years ago. I thought hey, I can make this into something.  It went through many alterations and morphed into something completely different, but those microfictions were the brainchild of Whispers. At first I was overambitious and aimed for a trilogy, but in the end I decided to make it a one-shot. Nearly three years ago, that one-shot was self published on Amazon.

Within months of finishing Whispers of Death, I started on Abnormal. It was a strange start to a novel: I came up with the title first, then built from there. Yeah, this new series–and it will be a series–started with a single word bouncing around in my noggin.

So weird. I had a fully-formed concept for Whispers but no title, no character names, nada. Now I have a fuller-formed concept based on a word. Just one. Little. Word.

The moral of this rambling blog post? Don’t give up. It might take you a few years. You might have to revisit your old writing for inspiration. Hell, you might just need the right word or words to pop into your head to get you started. But don’t quit. Whatever you do, don’t quit.

You can do it. I have faith in you. If I can, you can. Just try.

What to do, what to do

For the first time in weeks, I don’t have a pressing project to do…and now, I don’t know what to do with my morning “me time.”

could work on the third book in the Abnormal series…but I’m kinda stuck. Still haven’t heard back from alpha readers, so the second book is kind of on hold. I have embroidery that I could be doing, but I don’t have the design printed on stabilizer yet. I suppose I could get to work on that…

Whatever I decide to do, I need to get it started today, because I’m going on a camping trip this weekend–mundane camping for once, so no actual SCA event to go to. It should be fun, but I still like to have something to occupy myself when I’m up at nothing in the morning and can’t get back to sleep. (Which is pretty much every day.)

Hopefully I don’t get devoured by mosquitoes again. That was no bueno.

I’ve been making up graphics of quotes from Abnormal to promote the book on Instagram, and I’m debating on trying to make something out of them. Maybe post cards? I don’t know. This is an example of what I’ve been doing:

Now, most of these are square-shaped (because Instagram likes that the best), so I’d have to do some finagling in Photoshop to get them a decent postcard size, but it might be something to consider. I’ve also made a couple of bookmark-size images of quotes that I think book lovers might like, but I’ve found that it’s kind of expensive to get those printed, so I have to debate on that.

These, I think, would make cute bookmarks. I’ll have to find the site I found earlier for printing (some printing sites don’t have bookmark sizes available) to remind myself of how much these would cost. I think I can get a decent amount printed, but I want to be sure it’s worth my time and money before I invest.

I suppose I could research that kind of thing this weekend…

What I should really be doing now is getting in Photoshop and laying out the designs for my next embroideries. I have my husband’s Viking hood to finish, but first I need to make a small patch for the SCA household we’re trying to join for the Arts and Sciences household champion banner (the household we’re trying to join won the banner this year, and each year someone from the winning household makes a patch to go on the banner). I guess that will be my weekend project. That way, I kill two birds with one stone: getting the project done, and stopping the “patriarch” of the household from nagging me to get it done. The embroidery I did for Their Royal Majesties allowed me to bide my time on that one, but that stuff’s done so it’s on to the next thing on the list.

After my husband’s hood and the patch, I have one more embroidery commission in line that, thankfully, is not due until next February. That one isn’t too complicated (I don’t think), but it’s going to be large, so I’ll have to make sure I have plenty of time. I’m not necessarily worried about the time, but new commissions have a way of creeping in when I’m not expecting them.

Well, I guess I’ve decided what to do… No writing planned for this weekend, but I’ll bring some embroidery stuff to keep me occupied.

One down, three to go

The embroidery is done!

For now, that is. I still have one small project and two large projects ahead of me, though, so my reprieve is short lived. 

The book signing went well. I can’t remember if I mentioned that, but the bookstore sold over half of the twenty four copies I brought for them. Not too shabby for an hour and a half at a tiny store in a tiny town.

It was pretty cool signing my book for people. I signed a few copies of Whispers of Death when friends brought me theirs, but this was my first time making an appearance at a bookstore to sign a book. I enjoyed it, and I need to get busy planning how many books I need to order for bringing to Tucson Comic Con.

Sadly, I probably won’t be able to cosplay for TCC. I’ve gained too much weight. I don’t think I’ll fit any of my costumes, and there’s no way I can lose enough by then.

Oh well. I’ll still have a great time. 

Sign of the times

Today’s the day! My first official book signing. 🙂 So far I’ve known everyone who came in, but I’m still happy that my friends and family are supporting me and Abnormal.

Aaaand I just spent ten minutes typing stuff on my phone and deleted the block of text. Clearly not enough caffeine today. Lol

This is a fun time. I can’t wait for Tucson Comic Con! I’d better learn to write shorter notes in the front of the cover if I’m going to be signing books at the con.

A case of excitement

Tomorrow’s a big day for me in my publishing journey, and I can’t wait!

I have my first book signing scheduled at a local bookstore, complete with a case of books to take with me. I’ve got my markers and pens all bagged up, and I’ve got a ride to the store (my husband will have the car this weekend for an SCA event). All set–just have to make it through a busy Friday at work.

I gotta admit, I was kind of practicing my autograph a little bit when I went through my colored gel pens to find out which ones worked best. I mean, I can’t have a pen die on me mid-signature, right? And, even though my signature is atrocious and in no way legible, I want to be sure everyone gets a good one. And yeah, I’m fully aware that probably the majority of people showing up tomorrow will be friends who could easily get an autograph whenever they want–it’s the thought that counts.

Today at work is going to drag. Yeah, I’ll be busy as all get-out, but at the back of my brain my mind’s going to be at the bookstore. 

I’m also reminded today that there are only 49 days until Tucson Comic Con, where I will have a table to sell and sign books. I need to start saving up to bring some books with me; a case of books is not cheap, even for the author discount. Lol I was hoping to be able to cosplay, but I fear that life has gotten in the way of exercising the past six months or so, and my, er, size might not be the same as it was last year when I last cosplayed. In fact, I’m pretty darn sure I won’t fit any but one of my cosplays–certainly not enough to get me through the whole weekend. Oh, well. My own fault, I guess, for not making the effort to keep up with my workouts when I couldn’t make it to work out with my friends.

That’s okay; I’ll just be glad to be at my table, meeting new people and selling Abnormal to potential fans of the series. 🙂

Working off the clock

As I am rapidly discovering, publishing a book is a lot of hard work–even after the book is published.

You don’t just release the book like a dove at a wedding and expect it to fly. You’ve got to keep promoting, keep looking for influential people to read and (hopefully) review it, keep seeking opportunities to speak publicly about the book, keep going, going, going.

I’m am eternally grateful for the time and attention that RhetAskew Publishing gives to its authors. I’d be floundering without a clue if they weren’t willing to listen to my frustrations and explain things to me, and even on occasion provide a bit of help. Don’t get me wrong: they don’t do all the work for me. I’ve got to take responsibility in getting this ship off the ground.

So far I’ve contacted probably ten or twelve different authors, bloggers, podcasts, and others to offer them copies of the book to read or offer an interview about the book or what have you. Not many bites, but that’s okay. I’m a no-name author at the moment; my fifteen minutes hasn’t come up yet. That’s okay, though. As the meme says,

Yep, that’s my master plan. Sell the books, become famous, and live a life of luxury.

Ha! Just kidding. I just want my story read. The fame and (ideally) fortune are just pleasant side effects of that story being read.

One five-star review on Amazon so far, with another one pending (Amazon takes a couple days to approve reviews, but this person sought me out to tell me they posted a review). Not too terribly shabby.

Yeah, the bad reviews will inevitably come as well. It happens. But I will just hold my head high, chalk it up to differences in taste, and keep on truckin’.

And keep on searching for influencers, and keep on contacting them, and keep on offering copies, and keep on suggesting interviews, and….

Well, back to work!