As the sun rises on 2020, it’s time to set goals

A new year approaches: 2020, the year of the double crit, and it’s time to set some goals and make some plans. 🙂

My primary, short-term goals are more of a “to-do” list than actual goals. I have things piled up from this year that will need to be taken care of before I can take on new things. Here’s my list of “things that are left over from 2019 that I have to finish before the end of February 2020“:

-Write, edit, polish, submit short story to the anthology I’ve joined

-Complete the two Kingdom scrolls I’ve been assigned to do (SCA project)

-Finish my Valkyrie hood so I can fight in it at Estrella (SCA project)

-Full construction and embroidery on a commissioned Viking hood, hopefully before Estrella (SCA project)

-Full construction and embroidery on a Hedeby bag for my husband (SCA project)

-Embroidery commission for some friends (SCA project)

^^ These are things that have to be done. I have set a firm deadline for them, so I’ve gotta follow through.

Then there are some less-deadliney things. These are more the goals/plans that I’m making for the upcoming year:

-FINISH FIRST DRAFT ON BOOK 3

-Book 2 revisions/marketing/promotion (after back from beta readers–this will have a deadline because, well, publishing lol)

-Two current novellas-in-progress

-Potentially three more novellas (a trilogy)

-Teach more SCA arts classes

-Learn more SCA/medieval arts

-Get back into rapier fighting (now that I’ve lost enough weight that I feel comfortable fighting again–when I’m off restrictions, that is)

-Recertification for work

-Take better care of my mental health (and start asserting myself in those times where I normally back down and give in)

-Read more books

-Continue to build my social media presence as an author and build my brand

-Do more SCA (and mundane) sewing/embroidery/arts for myself and my husband

-Continue with my keto diet and weight loss, adding exercise as tolerated (once I’m off restrictions from my podiatrist)

-Work more with my co-author on our horror novel to get the first draft of that finished and in the editing process

This is by no means a comprehensive list, because, frankly, I haven’t thought about it that much yet. I’ve got so many things in the first list to get finished that I haven’t activated my “2020 vision.” Lol

But wait! 2020 isn’t just the start of a new year–it’s the start of a new decade. So, then, I’ve got 10 years’ worth of goals to devise. Let’s see what I can come up with here:

-Complete the 5-book ABNORMAL series and start on the ABNORMAL LINEAGE spin-off series

-Continue to take advantage of writing opportunities to participate in box sets/anthologies and grow as an author

-Expand body of written works to include more genres/standalones/etc

-Find an effective way to save money for attending conventions/book signings as an author–and then attend more signings and conventions 😉

-Strive to achieve Laurelhood before 2030 (which is, oddly enough, both within my ability to achieve and totally beyond my control haha)

-Work on overcoming (or at least adapting to) my social anxiety to where I can function better at social events, like conventions or SCA events

-Continue building an author network

-Learn more about generating graphics for book covers, book marketing, and other things

-Maintain the weight I’ve lost, get to a healthy weight, and try to find an exercise plan that works for my lifestyle

-Learn how to pattern more complex clothing (Viking I can do, but that’s too easy–I want to learn the concepts behind patterning that get me from measurements to finished garment without necessarily needing a manufactured pattern)

-Accept my grey hairs wholeheartedly

-Find a better balance between work/home/SCA/writing that encompasses all the things I need to do as well as all the things I want to do as well as omitting the things I don’t want to do lol

-Take more vacations

-Make my health a higher priority, in as much as it comes to calling out when I’m sick and not trying to “soldier on,” taking time off when it’s physically or mentally needed, and recognizing when I’m taking on too many projects for my mind and body to handle

It’s a tall order, but these are my goals for the next two months, the next year, and the next ten years. Note that I’m calling them “goals” instead of “resolutions.” I make the distinction because I’m not “resolving” to change things, but rather setting what I hope are realistic goals that will improve my writing career, further my SCA learning/experience, and keep me mentally sound through it all.

2020 is just another year, but at the same time it’s not. As long as I make an effort to do the things I want to do in the coming year/decade, 2020 is whatever I make of it. 🙂

My General Is One with the Force

In an unfortunate turn of events, my original blog post about Carrie Fisher’s death three years ago never migrated to this site when I bought this domain.

(You can read my original short tribute here. It’s a search link, but it’s there.)

Today, I saw her last performance as Leia Organa. I cried. Not loud, ugly crying, but I cried. Several times. I mean, I don’t cry at movies generally, but when I saw the name “General Leia Organa” on the screen, I teared up. Hell, when I saw the Star Wars scroll come on the screen, I teared up. I teared up when I thought of young Carrie. When I thought of flipping-people-off Carrie. When I saw Rey training with Leia. And the end–oh, my GODS, I cried. I left the theater sniffling.

The movie was amazing. Better than the eighth, possibly my new favorite of the Skywalker saga. But this post isn’t about the movie.

This post is about Carrie. About the impact her life–and death–had on me.

Since my original post is hidden on the interwebs, I’m going to write a new one. I get to do that, because this is my blog after all.

I never met Carrie. Never talked with her in any capacity, not even online. I have no connection to her in any way… Except for the bipolar disorder. That’s a thing we shared, and it’s a thing she was vocal about.

I want to be like that. I want to become a person who others see and say, “Hey, that chick is pretty cool. Oh hey, she has bipolar disorder. That’s cool.” I want people to see it as a part of me, but not all of me. I don’t want to hide it, and I want to be a part of making a world where no one has to hide it.

I’m not a huge celebrity like Carrie was. Is. She’s still with us in spirit, looking down on us all and giving us a big smile and bigger middle finger.

But she wasn’t always a big celebrity. She started out small, too, so there’s hope. Hope for everyone who wants to make it big, and hope for everyone who wants to make a difference. Maybe some day, someone who has read my writing, who hasn’t ever met me, will see a report about my death, and they’ll be sad. Maybe they’ll write their own blog post about the influence I had.

Not any time soon, mind you; I got shit to do. I’ve gotta write more books. Gotta spread the word about the things that affect me and many more like me. Gotta get out there, get known, and get busy. But maybe some day, when I become one with the Force, some stranger, some fan out there, will be affected. And maybe they’ll continue where I left off.

I’ve never shied away from talking about bipolar disorder and how it affects me, but now I’m going to make more of an effort to be vocal about it. I mean, I’m not going to get preachy or anything, but I’m going to be more … me.

Carrie Fisher wasn’t a friend of mine. She wasn’t anyone I’ve ever known. But she was a presence. She made an impact.

I want to make an impact.

I want to be a Force.

Turning point

I can’t do it. I’ve been trying to ignore that fact, but I can’t ignore it anymore. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.

What’s “it”? It’s everything. All the things, all at once, all in a short time frame with little to no free time in which to do any of the things, let alone ALL of them.

What do I have to do? Well, let me tell you what’s been keeping me awake last night into this morning:

I have to clean. The house is a disaster.

I have to finish sewing two undergarments and about 70-80 more buttons before the new year, and still go to work all day Monday and Tuesday morning.

I have one writing deadline that’s rapidly approaching, plus other projects in the works.

I have to finish the piles of laundry that I sorted last weekend.

I have embroidery projects that are piling up.

I have scrolls to draw/paint/callig.

I have to take down all the Christmas decorations.

And, until about fifteen minutes ago, I thought I had to go out of town this weekend.

But I won’t. I can’t. Not if I’m going to maintain my health and sanity. It can’t happen. Something’s gotta break here, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it be me.

I got less than an hour and a half of sleep last night. Why, you ask? Because I let myself go to a party that I knew I didn’t have the time to go to. Because I knew I had all these things to do, so once I got home from said party (at 11pm), I couldn’t stop thinking about these things. Because these things seeped into my subconscious and invaded my dreams. Because I woke up thinking how I needed to do all these things but was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t make myself start ANY of them.

No more. No more parties. No more extra shit. No more, not until I’m somewhat caught up. I can’t do it. It’ll kill me.

It’s time to admit that I’m at the point where I can’t be Mrs. Nice Guy. I have to be the mean one. I have to say “No.”

Today, I stand up for myself. Today, I say what I should’ve said a week or more ago. Today, I get started on that list up there, piece by piece, and take the time to prioritize and figure out what I can do now, what I can put off a little bit, and what I need to stay home and get done this weekend.

I was literally pulling my hair out trying to decide which crucial thing I should work on first. My stomach was in knots, churning as I tried to stop the panic long enough to focus on any one of the many things I have to do. I couldn’t think straight, because all I could think about was the myriad things that have to get done.

I’m going to take a deep breath. Stop for a few minutes. Calm down. And I’m going to start on the things that need to get done. I won’t get many (any, really) completely done before work, but I can start on some, and a start is more than I had.

2020 Vision

It’s going to be a year of puns and bad dad jokes. You might ask why…Well, I happen to be lucky enough to have a day job at an eye clinic–and it’s fixing to be 2020 all year long.

What’s in store for me for 2020? Let’s see…. Fingers crossed that Book 3 finally starts to behave and I can get it finished. Re-release of WHISPERS OF DEATH, complete with new cover design and revision of the inside text. *Hopefully* completion and release of ESCAPE THE LIGHT (ABNORMAL Book 2). Release of the WICKED SOULS box set in September. Two more box sets. Wait…three. Three more. Which means three more stories to write/edit/etc. And one of those stories may or may not lead in to a novella trilogy. So there’s that on the writing front.

Then, in SCA news, there’s Twelfth Night, which my husband is autocratting and which I have to make 2 undergarments and eleventy thousand buttons for. There will be Estrella War, which I hope to have at least one more outfit made for (and which I’ll finally be able to fight again for!). There are still commissions from 2019 begging to be completed…and who knows what new commissions will come in?

Work-wise (speaking of that eye clinic day job)….that remains to be seen. (Ha-ha) It’s not bad-bad, but it’s becoming…stagnant. That’s a good word for it, I guess. There’s no growth and no hope for improvement, from where I stand, but there’s also no way out, so I guess I’ll be there for the foreseeable future.

I’ve started making lists to keep track of what I need to do for writing and SCA. I’m starting to get helium hand when it comes to agreeing to do shit, and it’s making it hard to get the shit I already have to do done. Let’s hope that 2020 brings better time management, along with the ability to realize that I need to make time for both writing and SCA and that I need to take each into consideration when making agreements for the other. Just because I tend to compartmentalize does not mean my time will compartmentalize itself accordingly and give me the sections of time I need to do all the things.

My goals for 2020? I guess I can lay those out in a neat little list here. Give myself something to look back on and remind myself of:

-Finish Book 3's draft!!!
-Finish edits/revisions on ESCAPE THE LIGHT and WITCHING HOUR: THE STROKE OF THREE
-Draft/edit/revise CONJURING ASYLUM before the Feb 1 deadline
-Finish cotehardie buttons and undergarments (in progress)
-Finish revising WHISPERS OF DEATH and rerelease
-Edit/revise SKIN DEEP
-Draft/edit/revise TO MELT A FROZEN HEART
-Make another apron dress and underdress
-Pare down commission list and complete current commissions before Estrella War, then start getting smart about taking on more
-Teach a couple of classes (in the SCA--not in writing lol)
-INSERT OTHER GOALS AS THEY PRESENT THEMSELVES

It’s a deceptively accomplishable list. I say deceptively because there will inevitably be new opportunities and new commissions to take on. Estrella is only in February, and new writing opportunities are popping up left and right lately. That last goal, the one bold printed in all caps, is the kicker. I don’t yet know what new goals/deadlines will present themselves.

After all, I don’t exactly have 2020 vision.

Harried Holidays

Damn. Just damn. I’ve had embroidery commissions, writing projects, marketing for the writing projects, SCA events, work….a whole bunch of crap. And the holidays are in full swing.

I’m still going strong, but it’s getting to me a little bit. I have a light week at work next week, so that gives me a touch of breathing room… but it’s not quite enough.

I’m hoping that catching up on a few things helps, but we’ll see. I’m not, like, in the mental health danger zone when it comes to this stuff, but you never know. Sometimes I think I’m ok, and sometimes I think wrong.

A trip out of town has hampered me a little today, but tomorrow I’ll have pretty much all day to get some things done. But I also just remembered two more things that I need to do tomorrow…..*sigh.*

I’m trying to slow down. I’m trying to make my list of to-dos more manageable, but I keep compartmentalizing and forgetting that I need to consider all the aspects of my life when I’m considering my limitations on my time and energy.

I’ll let the hang of it…some day.

Probably not today, but some day.

A Week in Review

A lot has happened in the week since I last wrote here–and not really much has happened.

I discovered that I’ve lost back the four pounds I gained over Thanksgiving holiday (and then some!), so I’m back on track with the keto diet.

I started on yet another writing project, this time outside the Abnormalverse (and with the potential to create a new universe all its own, if I decide to expand it).

I had a horribly embarrassing experience at work that I won’t even go into here, and it made me want to just curl up and die somewhere.

I revamped the cover for Whispers of Death, and I’m in the process of revising the interior text so it’s fresher.

I had to go to online traffic school for a speeding violation (don’t speed, kids!).

It’s been some good, some bad, some very bad, but I’m making it. I’m not quite sure how I’m making it, but I am.

I’m exhausted. I’m weary beyond words. I can’t wait for next week, when I have three work days off. Of course, I have stuff to do in those three days, but at least I won’t be working.

All I want for Christmas is inspiration–and stuff. Lots of stuff.

I’m not gonna lie. I have an Amazon wishlist full of stuff that I want for Christmas this year. Not that I expect to get all of the stuff I want–but I figured it doesn’t hurt to have a selection of stuff for people to choose from, should they opt to get me a gift.

What I really want, though, can’t be bought and can’t always be given. I want inspiration. I want that writer’s block for Book 3 to just be blown wide open so I can continue and finish the damn first draft. I want those things, but no one can purchase those for me, and no one can really give something that specific, anyway.

It doesn’t feel like the Christmas season. I’ve got the tree up, I’ve signed up for the Baronial Yule event and the work holiday party, I’ve started kinda trying to think up ideas for what to get who…but I just can’t get into the spirit this year. It doesn’t feel like Christmastime. It feels like Just Another Day. And that’s kinda sad.

Now, anyone who really knows me knows that I’m not Christian, but that’s not why Christmas means something to me. I don’t put up the tree for pagan reasons, either, but bear with me. I celebrate the spirit of giving gifts to loved ones to show your appreciation of them. That’s a pretty good reason to celebrate, right? And yeah, it doesn’t have to be on a certain day of year, but since the majority of the people I know are celebrating on this day, then hell, I might as well celebrate with them–even if I’m not celebrating the historically-inaccurate birthday of a Christian holy figure.

I feel like I should maybe try to get in the spirit of things this year. Try to fake it, even if I can’t make it. Or something.

Maybe I’ll write up a sweet Christmas-themed story to post on Christmas day. Or maybe I’ll actually get my butt in gear when it comes to the holiday shopping. Or maybe…maybe I’ll just be a Grinch this year.

I wish I could get more in the spirit of things. Get my head in “the zone.” But wishes don’t always come true, sadly.

This weekend is an “off” weekend, for the most part; maybe I can catch up to the holidays then. Get some gifts purchased and possibly wrapped, that kind of thing. If not, well…

…There’s always next year, I guess.

Branching out

Okay, so I’ve done poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novels, and now novellas–so now what?

Well, I guess I’ll work on photo edits and graphics. Oh, and marketing (still), and content generation, and and and…

There’s a lot more to being a writer than just writing the things. I have to know what to do with the things once I’ve written them, and I guess know how to make the things pretty, and who to show the things to, and so forth and so on.

I am by no means a master. Mistress. Whatever. Point being, I still have a lot to learn, but I am willing to learn and grow and expand my wheelhouse.

Despite my growing repertoire, I’m still–now and forever, it seems–stuck on Book 3. I had been hoping that diverting myself to the two novellas would give my old noggin a rest and let me regroup, but sadly that’s not much the case. I still get stuck, and I still don’t quite know where I’m going with this any more than I did when I set it aside.

There’s some good news to it, though; I have a mockup of a cover design for one of the novellas. Observe what some stock photos and photo editing apps can do:

Will that be the final design? I don’t know, but I like what I have so far, and I’m kind of proud of getting there on my own.

I guess I’ve procrastinated enough, though. Book 3 is still waiting for me to add some words and get the story moving. Onward and upward–in word count, that is.

The Long and Short of It

Now that I’ve got more publications pending than I know what to do with, I need to evaluate my writing style and see how to proceed with future works-in-progress.

I still love writing novels; I love every bit of it, even the bits I hate. Lol I mean, it’s hard, and it’s tiring, and the process is long and arduous, but the end result is amazing. With the ABNORMAL series especially, I get to create a whole new world for people to experience. However….

….Several of my new projects are short stories or novellas. Much shorter works, but still effective. I can even continue or expand the Abnormalverse within these short stories and novellas. And yeah, the process for these is quicker, and I can knock ’em out faster. But is that what I want to focus on?

At this point, I think it’s a wait-and-see type of situation. The main ABNORMAL story needs to take place in novels; it’s too vast, too broad for me to switch to novellas to tell it. But to be honest? I like writing novellas, too. I get to tell a concise, comprehensive story yet still reach a wider base. The problem is, I also get distracted. I mean, Book 3 is still chugging along, but I probably could have gotten a lot more done if I’d kept at it instead of sidetracking myself.

Do I regret the sidetracks? No. They’re all going to further my writing career, short though they may be. I mean, I’ve even reached international bestseller status in a matter of weeks just by participating in a novella box set (with another Abnormalverse story, I might add). I just need to find a good balance between work, SCA life, novel writing, and short story/novella writing. And the marketing for all the writing.

It’s still doable, right? I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of authors in the SCA. And, seeing as how authorship does not often equate to extravagant wealth, I’m sure they have day jobs to tend to as well. So there’s theoretically precedent for this being done.

Yeah. I can do this. Long or short, I can keep writing until I have no stories left in me.

I have made one big decision for the Abnormalverse, though: I’ve decided not to make the spin-off series to the original ABNORMAL series a YA series. I just can’t produce good YA material. Every time I try to get started with outlining and mind mapping the series, I get siderailed by things like….what the hell do teenagers do with their lives??? I’ve blacked out most of my teenage years out of self-preservation. I hated being a “young adult.” I like adulthood, where the filters are off and the censorship is minimal. So yeah, the Abnormal Lineage series will be, like ABNORMAL, a NA/A series. Let’s keep the sexyfuntimes while still having a good, solid story. 😉

Of course, I have to finish writing the primary ABNORMAL series first….

…Back to the writing board!

The More You Know…

I thought I didn’t really have any special writing credentials to my name. I’ve written books, sure, but I had no clue that when Whispers of Death reached #6 in the Paranormal-Occult category during its first time on a free promotion, it meant I was an Amazon bestseller. Like, I’ve technically been a bestselling author for years now and only just realized it yesterday! Lol

Why is this important now? Well, for one thing, my dumb ass could’ve been claiming that title the entire time I was trying to market and sell Abnormal! Another reason it’s important is that thanks to the Wicked Souls anthology, I’m now an international bestseller!

Yep, Wicked Souls reached #5 in two of its Canadian categories, so I have that new milestone and new title to my name. Feels kinda cool.

I’m far from “done” though; I’ve still got to keep trying to snag the elusive USA Today or NYT bestseller tag. THOSE are much harder and will require more work on my part.

Speaking of which, I’m not going to achieve that goal by sitting here yawning. Time to grab some coffee and get writing 😉