Every which way but where I was scheduled

Not even a week after I was “counseled” by a nursing director and the office administrator about the stress I’ve been undergoing lately, I have once again been thrown into the pattern of being dragged all over the office to do my job, others’ jobs, and any job in between they can find for me.

It’s not all the fault of administration or any direct supervisors. It’s a whole crapload of unfortunate events and circumstances, some preventable, some not, that has turned this week into a hellhole.

I’d write more in depth about that, but not only will it not accomplish anything, it would be…hmm, not quite libel, because it’s all true, but not looking good for the place of business I work at should anyone read this who knows where I work. So I’ll just leave it at “it sucked and did nothing to reduce my work-related stressors.”

Home has been better, for the most part, but I must say that coming home–from a trip to the grocery store after a long day at work, mind you–to find out that my husband was headed to Tucson for the evening and I was on my own for dinner may have added to at best exasperation, at worst yet more stress. I can kinda cook when need be, but most of the dishes for the cooking I wanted to do were in the dishwasher, which was running, so I made a salad. At least we had salad makings in the house.

The writing front has been quiet–like, Western-movie, tumbleweeds-bouncing-down-the-road-in-the-wind, crickets-chirping quiet. I’ve just been too consumed with work and embroidery.

Okay, so some of the embroidery has been my own fault. I decided to give myself a new project when I still had an important unfinished one. I have been bouncing back and forth betwixt the two, but I need to buckle down and focus on the more pressing one. The one for me, which I would like to get done before Estrella, will probably end up being a sample piece for the embroidery classes I plan on teaching.

Oh yeah. Those. I have to get the handouts ready and figure out what images I’m going to print for my students to trace onto the water-soluble stabilizer so they can get started on their own projects. There’s that, too.

Some day soon, possibly after Estrella, things will calm down. I’ll be able to sit and relax and not worry about a million little things fluttering around the back of my brain that need to get done.

Right now, though? Right now, I will have to suck it up and soldier on, and I might have to have some more “counseling” before it’s all said and done. Not gonna lie, a few more, er, extreme methods of getting out of work came to mind last night. Nothing that I’m going to attempt, but yeah, the darker thoughts came to the surface, and the urge was strong.

I’m stronger though. I’m stronger than the darkness, and I’ll crawl out of it every time.

Sew obsessed (or, a weekend alone)

I know, I know, I’ve been a bad blogger. A bad author, even. I took a whole weekend off to myself, and I spent absolutely none of it writing. No blog posts, no Twitter hashtag games, no new progress on my WIP. I basically spent the weekend embroidering, with bits of eating and napping thrown in. I was a lump.

Today I’m back to the “real” world, the world of work and deadlines and what have you. So I’m back, for good or bad, until the next rare weekend off. Today I plan on doing the #amwriting hashtags, I plan on getting ready for work and going in and doing my job. I plan on adulting.

Not much adulting was achieved this weekend. I took some of the trash over to my parents’ house, emptied the dishwasher, put away the laundry….all at the last minute. Oh, and I ate a salad. One salad.

On the plus side, I’ve hardly thought about work at all. This is a good thing, because work is one of the main stressors in my life, and one that I can only do so much about. It’s not like I can take time off of work just to decompress (like I have been with the SCA). I have to go. That’s just all there is to it. Which sucks, because the stress in my life is showing, and one supervisor and an administrator both took me aside at separate times Friday to discuss how stressed I’ve been and how they can help. Fuck. I hate when the bipolar seeps out to where it’s visible. That’s no good.

I did some reading this weekend as well. 1,4,3 by Alicia Sophia, a fellow Askew author. It’s good so far, but I think I’ve come close to figuring out the ending, which sucks because I’m only halfway in. But who knows? Maybe she wrote it that way on purpose as a ruse. I could be surprised after all once I finish.

Lots of rest did my soul good, but I need to put back on the jet pack and hit the ground running today. Gotta work, gotta come home and write or embroider, gotta work on a lesson plan for the embroidery classes I’m going to teach at Estrella, etc etc etc. Got a lot to do, and less and less time in which to do it. Why do I do this to myself again?

I’ve also got the embroidery for Their Royal Majesties to finish before Estrella is over. I kinda was working on my own stuff mostly this weekend. Bad me. Stupid flighty brain. But again, it did me some good. Focus on me, have some “me time” where I’m doing things for myself.

I hope I don’t seem as stressed at work today. I don’t need another supervisor taking me aside and chatting with me about how stressed/distracted I am.

Soon I’ll be back to writing. After Estrella, maybe. Get serious about cranking out Book 3 and that fun collaboration with my Askew author friend Angelique Jordonna. Her book, Dani (which I’ve had the pleasure of reading ahead of release), is amazing, and I know our book will be amazing as well. Just gotta get that first draft out. Lol

Oh! One more thing: I found out that a Laurel was looking at the embroidery I did on my husband’s Viking hood and, from what he says, she seemed impressed, enough so that she said she wanted to talk to me about it. That makes me feel good, because while I did slack a bit on the timing of finishing it, I worked hard on that hood. Plus, it’s a good ego boost when a Laurel is impressed with your work. Here’s a look:

Guess that’s all the update I have. Time to get ready for the ol’ day job. Shower, get dressed, put on some semblance of makeup to pretty-fy myself. That kind of thing.

Oh, wait! I did a live streaming interview/roundtable with some other authors! That was cool af! Here’s the link to the YouTube recording (it’s an hour long, but it’s a fun watch).

Until the morrow, good readers!

Of Little Use

Sometimes living in the desert sucks.

Here’s where I’m at right now: I’ve gotten an assignment of sorts from my publisher to look up book venues (bookstores, libraries, etc) that I’d be willing/able to travel to for an event/appearance. There’s a caveat, too: they can’t be any place that I’ve contacted before. My problem? I live in BFE Southern Arizona, where the closest non-used bookstore and/or library that I haven’t already tried is pretty much 20+ miles away…and the majority of what I found is in Tucson, which is 70-90 miles away (depending on where in Tucson it’s at). Most of them, actually, are branches of the Pima County Library. Nearly half of them, in fact (I was told to select 20-30, so I picked the closest 30 bookstores & libraries). And one is 150 miles away.

I understand that I have to get my name (and myself) out there to get Abnormal seen and bought. I get that, I do. But I’m not in the best situation to make it to “out there” unless “out there” occurs on a weekend. Taking time off from the day job is difficult because of our patient load (and because I have quite a few responsibilities there), and I don’t see well enough at night to be driving 40+ miles (round trip) to an unfamiliar location. Then there’s the fact that, unless it’s in a place where I have friends I can stay with, it’s day tripping or a motel, one of which is exhausting and the other of which is expensive.

Let me just say that writing the book is the easy part. Cake compared to the marketing aspect. That’s turned out to consume more of my time and cause more stress than any of the writing/editing/revising did. So if you want to write books (and get them published), start learning now how to market them. I didn’t, and Abnormal has suffered because of it. It’s not beyond “fixing,” but it’s kinda dismal at this point.

Every cloud

This weekend has been nice. Low-key, home alone, and best of all: not sick as fuck.

I made myself retrospect a little too much, though. I was cruising Netflix, looking for something to watch, when I found a good movie. Silver Linings Playbook. Excellent flick, great acting….and maybe a little too real.

Being bipolar, I feel this movie on a visceral level. No, I’m not quite like Pat. Or Tiffany. Not really. I’ve never been hospitalized for my emotional state, never been that far off. But yeah, I’ve missed work over my mental state before. I’ve obsessed over failed relationships, I’ve written nutball letters/texts/emails to my exes, I’ve been the “backup.” I’ve slept around because my depression had me down, or because my mania had me horny. I’ve quit taking my meds more than once. So maybe I’m bits of Pat and Tiffany. I’m Piffany.

I’ve been doing okay for a while now. Well, mostly okay. I mean, I get depressed sometimes. I get manic. I’ve been on an embroidery kick this weekend, and I’m pretty sure it’s not completely deadline-induced. I’m probably manic. I mean, I’m tearing through these embroidery projects, stopping briefly to eat or go to the bathroom or take a catnap. But mainly I’ve been embroidering. To the point of dry skin and calluses on my fingertips.

The whole Pat thing happened to my brother a few years ago. Not the beating-a-man-almost-to-death thing, but the bad ending to a bad relationship that ultimately resulted in him being committed. I won’t go into it too much here, because it’s his story not mine, but it was scary to watch.

It was even scarier knowing that our great-grandfather died of psychosis. “Exhaustion in the progression of psychosis”–that was the CoD on his death certificate. He was so fucking crazy it killed him.

Since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder before my brother was, I always assumed that was my eventual fate. Then my brother got diagnosed, and combined with his substance abuse issues he’s way worse off than me. He had his psychotic break in his mid-40s….the same age good ol’ Great-Granddad was when he died.

My brother didn’t die. We’ve got better meds now, better tech, better treatments. But guess what? This year I turn 40. Now, like I said, I’m not as bad off as my brother. So I’m not necessarily on a timeline here. The past doesn’t have to repeat itself. Maybe my brother’s incident was the repetition, and I’ll be passed over. Like the Christian thing. I dunno–I’m not the religious type. But maybe I don’t have to dread my mid-40s. Maybe I don’t have to go go go, to push myself so much, to worry about whether or not I’ll make it long enough to do the things I want to get done.

I want to finish my sci-fi series. I want to finish the collaboration I’m working on. I want to learn more about making garb and clothes and embroidery and get good enough at researching it all to become a Laurel. I want to learn more rapier techniques and practice enough to be good at them. And I want to lose this weight I’ve gained. I want so many things, and I think the back of my brain is telling me “You’ve got a few years left. Five, six max. You need to hurry up. You need to get your shit together while you have the mental capacity to do it.”

I gotta get that out of the back of my head. I gotta tell myself that there’s no deadline to insanity, that it’s not written. It’s not predestined. I don’t have to go crazy. I can stay sane, stay mostly stable, stay me.

I also have a secret weapon: my husband. Even if I do go crazy, I have him to keep me alive, to keep me from going so far down the hole that I can’t crawl back up.

That’s it. That’s my silver lining. That’s my ace in the hole.

Five or six years. I pass that, and I win. I beat history.

Coming Soon to a Twitch Stream Near You….

Pretty excited to be able to tell you guys that I have an author interview set up!

Okay, so it’s been set up for a while…but now I have a graphic to go with it 😉

Debating on if I should wear the wig for it. Lol I mean, it’s become a part of my author persona, as it were, on social media, and I wore it to Tucson Comic Con. It’s bold, it’s bright, and it’s noticeable…yeah, I think I’ll wear it. 😉

Btw, Thomas Anthony Lay is another Askew author. I can’t thank RhetAskew Publishing enough for letting me know about the Writer Imperfect series and giving me the info to sign up for it.

So here’s the 411, or at least the short version: we’re going to talk writing and publishing and whatever else the viewers/interviewers have for us. 🙂 My story’s kinda not your average author tale, so you might want to check out the stream to find out how I got started in traditional/indie publishing. Hell, you should check out the stream anyway, because you never know what’s going to happen. It’s live streaming, people! Anything can happen! Lol

Once things have calmed down after Estrella War I’ll be able to crank out more marketing stuff for Abnormal and the upcoming sequel (still in the far-away land of edits). With all the projects I have leading up to War, it’s going to be tough to get all the things done.

Well, I’m off to play around with Twitch and see what-all I can learn about it (before I noob it out next Friday). 🙂

Like minds

So the collaboration I’ve been talking about? It’s going great! I already knew that I had a lot in common with the other author, but we’re really getting into a rhythm here with this story that’s coming out of nowhere. It’s going very paranormal horror. I’m digging the story so far.

To give credit where it’s due, she wrote the prologue, which was originally intended as a short story. Well, we got to talking about how alike we are, and next thing you know we’re turning that prologue into a cool story.

Our minds seem to sync up with each other. It’s almost creepy how we just come up with similar plotlines independent of each other. And this is someone I’ve never spoken to in person (or even on the phone). Wild.

Oh, and my co-author? Angelique Jordonna. Look for her book, Dani, coming soon from http://www.rhetaskewpublishing.com. I’ve read it (yay for author sneaky-peeks!), and it’s amazing. It’s really going to be something to pick up. Trust me.

And yep, another Askew author. 🙂 We connected as fellow Askewians, and after chatting on Facebook for a while we realized how similar we are–we even wrote similar books. If you liked Whispers of Death, you’ll probably like Dani–and vice versa. 😉

We had a little bit of fun with our Editor in Chief when we got started with the new book, because Angelique is just that fun (and because hey, I’m game). She had our EiC guessing who her collaborator was, and it took a good week before she finally guessed it. Don’t get me wrong–it was all in good fun, and our EiC thought it was hilarious. The Messenger exchanges were especially funny…

I’m drawing a blank on Book 3 for now, but I think it’s because I’m not sure if I’m infodumping or not. Sometimes I get carried away with that, and I’m second guessing myself. Also, I can’t decide where to end the first chapter. I want to end it at a place where the reader wants to keep reading, but I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll come up with something for it soon. The weird thing is, I have a line I know I want in the book, but I’m not sure if it’s too early to use it yet. It’s one of those lines that’s like yeah, that would be awesome! Now I need to write the spot it goes in….

The bronchitis is inching its way out of my system, a little delayed by my forgetfulness with the medicines. I got them last night (thank you, Jeanette, for going out of your way to get my antibiotics and RA pills and crazy pills) so I’m back on the antibiotics, but I don’t know how far the two missed doses will set me back. I definitely had a hard time with the breathing and the coughing yesterday, but this morning I’m not coughing quite as much…which is good, because I seem to have misplaced my purse. I put it down when I got to the place we’re staying this weekend, but I have no clue where it went after that. It was in one place when I went to sleep, and it is clearly in another place now. So it’s a good thing I don’t need a cough drop too desperately right now, but I’ll have to find that purse as soon as my husband’s up to help me look. It has my inhaler, my keys, my wallet–my life, pretty much.

Well, missing bags, belated meds, and writer’s block aside, the weekend’s going okay. I’ll be glad to have a few free weekends coming up to chill and not be going going going. Then will come the insanity that is Estrella.

Absent mind

I thought I was all set for this weekend out of town. I had my garb set aside, my “naked” clothes, my toiletries, my embroidery, my laptop, my shoes, rapier gear, tankard, and even my writing/author organizer binder just in case. All of that….. and I forgot my pills.

Not just one pill, or just certain ones. All. Of. Them. I have cough drops in my purse, and that’s it as far as pharmaceuticals go. No mood stabilizer. No Adderall. No antidepressant. No arthritis meds. No sleeping meds. No fucking antibiotics for this lingering bronchitis. Not even a single Benadryl in case I get stung.

I can’t believe I totally, completely forgot all of my medicine. I’ll admit, sometimes I forget to take a set of doses–Maybe I’m out too late, and by the time I get home it’s past a reasonable time to take my night meds without fear of having trouble waking up the next day. Maybe I’m in a hurry and forget to take my morning handful before I leave the house. But two whole days without anything?

I’m so going to regret this.

There might still be hope. Our roommate might go to the same city we’re headed to this weekend (but not to the same event)… so if she’s feeling generous maybe I can talk her into grabbing the pill case before she leaves home and meeting us up somewhere for the “drop.”

I hope.

If not, the withdrawal’s gonna suck.

Bound and determined

My newest project starts with a hunt…. the Laurel Hunt for the SCA, that is.

No, we’re not supposed to literally hunt down Laurels; the goal is to meet/talk with/obtain signatures from fifty Laurels this year. Even though I know a lot of Laurels and seem to be comfortable talking to them, I’m going to participate just to see how quickly I can obtain fifty signatures.

Okay, backstory told, now to the meat of this post: where to store/collect these signatures?

The Facebook group dedicated to the Hunt suggests obtaining a notebook for this. Well, not to be a snob, but I wasn’t about to go pick up the latest Lisa Frank journal for this modern medieval quest.

Nope. I decided I had to teach myself how to make and bind a small book.

I had some leather left over from the mask I made a couple of years ago for my steampunk Dark Phoenix cosplay (quite a decent amount of suede, actually), so I decided that would be my cover. I debated on teaching myself to make the paper for the notebook as well, but nixed that idea when I started down the Pinterest rabbit hole and saw how involved paper making can be.

Yeah. I was on Pinterest again. I’m actually quite interested in the different methods of book binding, so once I get the hang of it I might try bigger, “better” books.

Anywho, at around three thirty in the morning I decided it would be a great time to make the booklet. (Because what else is one to do at three thirty in the morning but start a brand new project?)

I found a small template on–you guessed it–Pinterest and printed it out. A few snips later and I had the cover of my book ready to start adding pages.

This is where it got tricky: most (hell, almost all) of the tutorials mentioned using an awl to punch holes in the leather and paper.

I could not find my awl at three forty five this morning… so I improvised.

The suede I have is fairly lightweight and thin, so thankfully an embroidery needle did the trick to get the holes started. I couldn’t seem to get them big enough to allow me to use the waxed thread for the leather, but silk embroidery thread slid through just fine. A couple of snips in the flap and the front cover and a little piece of leather lacing and boom! Booklet.

It’s small enough to fit in my belt pouch yet has enough pages for all fifty signatures.

See? Kinda cute, isn’t it?

I can see myself making more of these for largesse or even as giveaways at online book events (or maybe selling them at book signings??….), but I need to refine the process first…. and I need to find my awl.

Keepin’ it real (kinda)

Most of the time I’ve been doing “author stuff” lately (profile pictures on various social media sites, Tucson Comic Con, etc), I’ve been wearing the Phoenix wig by Arda Wigs (no sponsorship, just giving credit). Well, today I thought I’d change things up and have a picture of just me. 🙂

Okay, not just me. Me with makeup. Kinda.

I’ve posted an eye makeup tutorial on here before (the same eye makeup that I do when I’m wearing the Phoenix wig), but this is a little different. This here is about as made-up as I get–minus the occasional bit of lipstick or lip stain.

Why bother posting this? Well, I thought I’d let you see the “real” me a little bit. Sure, I’ve posted selfies on here before (and on the other social media sites), but today I was feeling cute and confident after putting on some mascara, brow powder, and eye shadow. Even with my glasses on, my eyes look good. And what self-respecting narcissist would let an opportunity to look good on multiple sites go to waste? 😉

I have to leave for work soonish. This week is all topsy-turvy, and I feel like today’s a Thursday even though it’s Wednesday. That’s not good, because it means the next few days are going to drag. It didn’t help matters that I got my phone out in my sleep and set my 0230 alarm on it. I could’ve “slept in” a little more. Lol

Makeup aside, I need to focus on getting the rest of me presentable. Seeing as how I had to make new garb to have something to wear at Estrella War, it’s high time I start getting serious about losing weight. I keep saying that, but I think I might mean it here soon. (Gotta work up the nerve to make myself behave when coworkers bring in goodies or something.) I wish I could get up the nerve to go work out with my friends, because I know they’d welcome and encourage me, but this narcissist is not comfortable working out in public, and my friends have moved to a local gym. A brand-new gym. With reasonable prices. And it’s right after New Year’s, so you know people will be going to that gym more frequently at least for this first month or so. Resolutions and all that.

I guess that’s all. I’m in the midst of a coughing fit and it’s almost time to leave for work, so I should log off and get a cough drop. Bronchitis is almost out of my system, but not quite yet.

Trial and Error: Thumbnail Not Found

Despite my illness, the past 24-48 hours have been relatively productive. I’ve sewn two new garb pieces (the tunic I mentioned before, and an underdress to wear with my apron dress now that the underdresses I have don’t fit my sausage arms), made progress on the royal embroidery for the King and Queen of Atenveldt, done as much cleaning around the house as my lungs would allow, and, oh yeah, started a Twitter experiment.

Let me explain the experiment: There’s an author, Dea Poirier, who I follow on Twitter. I ran across a couple tweets of hers yesterday offering advice to fellow authors, and I decided to try her method and see what comes of it. Here’s what she said:

Screenshots courtesy of Dea Poirier and my phone.

It was a long thread, so I’m not going to post the whole thing, but these were the important bits. What did I do this morning? Well, I played copycat…in more ways than one.

You see, it had never occurred to me to make bitly links to the various places I can be found…so I’d never made them. Shorten all those links, though, and man, it makes it easy to find me. Observe:

Granted, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get it to show the thumbnail for the Amazon buy link instead of my Amazon author page, but I’ll take what I can get at this point. I mean, I must’ve deleted and rewritten/reorganized the tweet some half dozen times before I gave up. (Hence this post title.) Lol

We’ll see how it affects my various pages and their traffic. Who knows? Maybe you’re reading this because you saw my tweet and decided to look at my site. Maybe you checked out the link to Abnormal. Maybe you’ll come across this post and decide to check out my Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Couldn’t hurt anything, right?

I think the publisher’s going through Book 2 right now. The Creative Director asked how I’d prefer to receive my story edit suggestions (changes made for me vs actual suggestions/guidelines), so I think she’s on her way to tearing into my carefully-worded not-quite-masterpiece. And that’s okay. It needs some tearing into. I won’t improve if I don’t get these suggestions from those who know better than I.

In sickness news, the cough persists and continues to wake me up at night. I get winded with minimal physical exertion. My voice is raspy. Regardless of these facts, I’m headed back into work today to play catch-up and to, y’know, work. I’ve actually missed work these days in isolation. Crazy, I know.

Speaking of work, maybe I can get some more shuteye before I have to get ready…if, that is, I don’t wake up coughing my lungs out.