Testing 1, 2, 3

It started with a plan. Well, part of a plan. Thirty percent of a plan.

You see, it was early in the morning–pre-dawn early–and I was bored. I didn’t want to work on embroidery and I didn’t want to transcribe what I’d handwritten at Estrella into the computer. So I did the next logical creative thing I could think of: I asked Twitter for a prompt.

I didn’t want just any prompt. I didn’t want to go to Pinterest and pick one, or Google “writing prompts” and see what came up. I didn’t want to pick and choose what I used to spread my creative wings; I wanted something 100% unexpected.

Twitter did not disappoint. Within the hour, I had an interesting prompt that sparked a full flash fiction piece, and the results were amazing. My Twitter impressions went from their usual couple hundred per active hour to over a thousand. I gained a few new followers, and I wrote something that people enjoyed. Win-win.

I got bored again this morning, and once again I asked the Twitterverse for a prompt. Again I received one, and again I wrote a story that was well-received.

I’m going to try it again soon–maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the next day, but soon, and I’ll maybe make it a weekly or semi-weekly thing. I like that I’m totally at the mercy of the #WritingCommunity followers on Twitter, and I have no clue what prompt will come my way. Will it be something that inspires horror? Action? Suspense? Romance? Who knows! That’s the fun!

My Editor-in-Chief slash mentor loves the idea, and she loves that I managed to get some new traction going on my own accord. Now I have to keep that momentum going. But will the third time be a charm, or will it flop?

Only time will tell. I can’t write every genre well. There are going to be times when people say “Meh.” But I can try, and I can do my best. That’s what matters in this test of my writing skills: what I can do with a first draft based off a prompt from a random stranger.

Shedding Light on My Darkness

Bipolar disorder sucks, but it’s livable given the right access to good mental healthcare and the right combination of therapy and pharmaceuticals. Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I’m in talks to, er, talk on a podcast about mental health issues. I was introduced to the podcast by a fellow bipolar author, and it seems like a good fit. I have mental health issues that I have to deal with on a daily basis; they’re a show about mental health.

I talk about mental health a lot here, about my stresses and stressors and stressing out in general, but I want to make it known that you can fight the demons inside and live in the world outside at the same time. It just takes a lot of effort.

It also takes admitting that you need the help.

Hopefully my appearance will help others realize that they don’t have to be holed up in their own little world of demons, suffering through hell on a daily basis. Hopefully it will help them realize that there are options and avenues for relief. And hopefully they’ll realize that they can’t give up after a few things don’t work; they have to keep trying until they find the right combination of therapies for them.

I’d say more, but that would be potential spoilers for the show. ūüėČ More details as they come!

Grand designs

Yesterday I started working on some notes to get my “lesson plan” ready for my embroidery class. Yeah, yeah, I have almost three months in which to get it done–it was on my brain, so my brain went with it.

I figured out which stitches I’d try to teach, what subjects I want to cover, what supplies I’ll need, etc. I’ll bring as many examples of past embroidery projects that I’ve done as I can. And I might even download and print out some simple line drawings that either are period designs (or ones that look close enough for government work).

I didn’t get a chance to ask my future Laurel to look over what I have, but I haven’t fine-tuned it yet. I haven’t put the topics in a logical order or written up, well, any narrative to go with it. I haven’t made it all pretty and nice looking. Should I include WIP photos with the handouts I make, or should I just include photos of finished projects? I feel that the WIP photos would be more beneficial to beginner embroiderers, so I think that’s the way I’ll go. I should also probably embroider one or more of the tunics I have to have something to wear to the class to display seam treatments in action. Hmm…. It’s a thought, but I’m already bogged down with projects.

Writing on Book 2 is still stalled. So frustrating, but I just can’t get my head in the game with it. I need to ask my Creative Director for advice. The sad thing is, she’s given me advice already, but it’s just not clicking as to how to implement said advice. I get to a certain point in Chapter 18 and just freeze. It’s really grating on my nerves. I feel like I should be farther along on the revision process than I currently am.

That being said, it’s probably high time I did the daily Twitter writing hashtag events before it’s time to leave for work. Then, if there’s time, maybe I can work more on my “syllabus.”

A learning experience for all involved

Estrella War is fast approaching, and though I have a ton on my plate–between sewing/embroidery projects, revisions, and life in general I don’t have a lot of free time–so of course I decided to volunteer to teach a couple beginner embroidery classes at War.

It’s not quite been a year since I started embroidering. I am almost wholly self-taught. And I am terrible at teaching things that I can pick up without help. So why did I decide to do this??

Part of it is because I want to get better at my art, and teaching something can sometimes lead to insight to better ways to do said thing. Part of it is because I want to impress my hopefully-future-Laurel. (Yep, Guilty.) And part of it is to get over my fear of talking in front of strangers and my fear of not being able to teach.

My problem with teaching is that, as mentioned before, I tend to pick up new things without much help. I am self-taught in embroidery through Pinterest tutorials and a book my husband bought me. That’s kinda pretty much it. Not trying to brag, mind you, but it is what it is. I learn through seeing and doing. I see a picture of a type of stitch, and I do it, and there you go. All of the following were pretty much done by derping my way through it. Go to Pinterest, search Stitch A, look at pictures, practice Stitch A, lather, rinse, repeat. I’ve even done some mundane embroidery for family members thanks to this learning method.

Not everyone learns in the same manner as I do, though, and that’s the sticky part. I have to try to tailor my teaching method to help people who don’t learn the same way I do.¬†

It’s going to be tricky, but I think I can do it. If I’m going to teach as a Laurel some day, I need to do it. Am I nervous? Yeah, but I’ve got a few months to get over that. And I get to plan ahead. I’m not diving in headfirst without a clue as to whether or not the pool has water in it. Who knows? I might even make a tutorial post or two between now and then to give me practice at teaching without an audience, so I can work out the kinks. (Heh-heh, I said “kink.”)

I’ll get all the things done eventually. The Persian garb. The gift bags for Christmas. My husband’s Viking hood. The cuffs and hems for Their Royal Majesties’ garb. The embroidery for the Barony of Tyr Ysgithir’s new Lady in Waiting bag. New cup cover for myself, possibly? Wait. I probably shouldn’t add new projects until I finish these…..

Every vote counts….unless it’s not cast

I know, I know, I should have voted. I should have gone after work and cast my vote for….who?

I didn’t read up on the candidates or the propositions. I don’t really watch the news, so I didn’t get any info that way. There are more than a couple of problems with that. One, I can’t cast an informed vote without, y’know, informing myself. Two, I can’t inform myself if I don’t try. The biggest problem, though?

I don’t understand it.

I don’t understand most politics. Yeah, I’ve voted in every presidential election since I was able to vote–but I didn’t always know who I was voting for or why. It takes me extra long to read the ballots when there are propositions to vote on, because I don’t understand what they’re about. I skim over once, then read closer, then closer again–I read until I’m cross-eyed, then I finally get frustrated and pick whatever my husband told me I’m supposed to want to pick.¬†

That’s not “real” voting in my opinion. “Real” voting is making an informed decision about the future of your city/state/country/etc.

So why don’t I try harder to inform myself?

Partly it’s laziness, I guess. I just don’t want to take the effort to seek out articles and informative brochures or whatever. Partly it’s embarrassment. I don’t understand these things that so many other people do. Partly it’s frustration. I get so frustrated by not comprehending that I give up on it.

Everyone has something they don’t understand easily. Even geniuses, I’m sure. Me? Politics is one of those things. I write a little political stuff into my books, but I don’t truly understand the real-world politics that directly affect me.¬†

Shame, I guess, was a big factor in not going to vote yesterday. A part of me is ashamed that I don’t get it.¬†

That being said, please don’t try to explain the current political situation to me. I’ll get frustrated, you’ll get annoyed, and I’ll probably end up crying because I can’t wrap my head around it all. Trust me, you don’t want that. I ugly cry. A lot. And it takes forever to calm me down when I cry from frustration.¬†

So, my TL;DR? If you want to vote, then learn. Don’t just cast a vote because Sally’s pigeonholed you into it. Cast a vote because you read, because you listened to different viewpoints, because you know what the fuck is going on and you have an idea on who can make it better.

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!

Livin' for the deadline

Yep, it’s another early morning for me, and now that I’ve been social on most of the medias, it’s time to get cracking on Book 2’s revisions. I’ve got a good idea of where I’m going with them, but it’s a matter of actually sitting down and getting from A to B. Then, once I’ve gotten the manuscript where it needs to be, it’s edit, edit, edit before I send it off for submission.¬†RhetAskew Publishing¬†has given me an early November deadline for submission, so I have some time but not, like, oodles. There’s a lot of life going on in those months…Abnormal‘s release, SCA events about every other weekend or more, book signing, work, more work, new certification for work…Yeah. All that and a bag of chips. Or something. I have no one to blame but myself, really….I asked my Editor-in-Chief when she’d like the manuscript, and she gave me a time frame.
The other day I had a mini major meltdown about¬†Abnormal‘s release. That was fun (not). You see, as I’m revving up and getting ready for the release, I’m also taking a marketing workshop led by my Editor-in-Chief at RhetAskew. This workshop is pretty intense, and it’s left me feeling overwhelmed. There are things I’ve been doing that I guess are no-nos when it comes to marketing, and there are other things I haven’t done yet that are very, very important. I know that since Abnormal is the first in a series I have time to build my audience, but I was feeling an immense sense of urgency and anxiety that I’d never get all the things done before the release. Some part of my bipolar brain decided that I¬†had to do every single workshop assignment ASAP to be ready for release date, and when I realized I was in overload I lost it. I’m talking red-faced, puffy-eyed, snot-nosed ugly crying. I was a hot mess.
I’m better about it now. I think I just needed to get it out of my system. Reached my boiling point, spilled over, and now I’m all good. Mostly…I still feel some anxiety, but nothing like the other day.
Well, guess it’s time to put the blog down and pick up my mind mapping. Gotta stay cool, calm, and collected as the countdown to¬†Abnormal ticks down….9 days now. Single digits.

Battle royale

It’s been a while since I’ve had a legitimate bipolar breakdown, so I guess yesterday’s little panic attack was overdue. Still, it would be nice not to have to go through that at all.
So the marketing process for Abnormal combined with the marketing workshop that my publisher is running on Facebook combined with general anxiety about the projected success or failure of said book all are working together to create that perfect environment for a bipolar freak-out. Last night was the first of what I hope is a minimal number of said freak-outs.
It all started with the sudden realization that the workshop assignments were leading up to us authors identifying and contacting our top genre influencers about our works.
Wait…I have to find out who the top sci-fi/dystopian/LGBTQ bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, journalists, etc, are, then I have to write out emails asking them to read and review my book or do an interview with me, then I have to send out those same emails? Like, actually send them? To people who have thousands and thousands of followers, who probably already lead busy lives and already get gobs of junk emails with the same type of requests? But–but–but…what if I’m bothering them?
Ah, yeah, there’s that irrationality. There’s the anxiety rearing its ugly head.
Fuck you, anxiety. You ruined my evening yesterday.
Fighting with this type of anxiety is a tough one. I can always go to friends or family or to my husband or my publishers with my unfounded concerns, but I can’t always take their logical, rational advice and apply it to the very much illogical and irrational fear I’m experiencing. The irrational fear eats logic for breakfast, chews it up, and spits it out in a sloppy wet wad on the carpet. I always end up stepping square in that wad. I hate stepping on anything wet, literally or metaphorically.
Why is it so horrifying to have to send out some nice, polite emails requesting consideration for myself and my book? I don’t know. Again, it’s an irrational fear. And no, it’s not the fear of them ignoring my emails or sending rejections–it’s the fear of being a bother. A nuisance. An annoyance.
It was difficult to send email requests to some of my favorite authors asking if they’d be interested in having an Advanced Reader Copy of¬†Abnormal to peruse and maybe write a blurb on. I was terrified of annoying them. Of being viewed as spam–even if it was potentially some random assistant who was handling that day’s particular emails.¬†That is what had me paralyzed yesterday. It’s still got me shaken up a bit, but so far this morning no fountains of tears. So that’s progress, right?
Another stressor to add onto these imaginary stressors is the feeling that I have to get all my marketing done¬†before the September 1 release date–which is now ten days away. Ten. Short. Days. My publisher assures me that’s not the case, that I have the entirety of the series to build upon and market to my fanbase, but the timing of the marketing workshop is not helping. Don’t get me wrong–I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have such a workshop. It’s just giving me a minor heart attack thinking about all the assignments that are being given with “just ten days” in which to complete the assignments.
Ten days…I’m almost in the single digits.
I had my freak-out. I talked with close friends, with my publisher, with my husband. I whined and moaned and misunderstood the assignments and cried and sobbed and overreacted. I did all the things except stay calm and look at it from a logical standpoint. Logically, the bloggers and vloggers and podcasters and journalists are there to build on their own fanbase, and they (theoretically) welcome the opportunity to read and review something that their fanbase might enjoy. Illogically, they’re going to view me as an overeager spammer nobody who needs to leave them alone.
I’m going to get past this. I’m going to finish this post, search for my genre’s “influencers,” and get started on a template to share in the workshop to eventually turn into emails to said influencers.
It may not be within the next ten days. But I have a whole series to get this done in.
Still, better now than never.
Off I go.
Kicking and screaming, but off I go.

Arts and Sciences revisited

So… I haven’t really gone into extensive detail on my experience last week at our local Baronial Arts and Sciences competition. I won’t. It’s done, and I’m done. Not with Arts and Sciences in general, but with the subject of last week. That’s done. This week, however, went well, and even though I didn’t win anything personally (the household I entered with won for Household Champion) I learned a lot from the experience.
I got stern but helpful critique, and I had a much better time than last week. I think I might have made one judge feel bad about herself when I told her I have only been embroidering since December. I got the Look of Death from her, as if she was thinking “I spent X amount of time learning this shit and this bitch has been doing it for like 8 months and she’s sitting here all smug with her A&S entry….” Oops. Good thing I didn’t mention anything about being self taught from Pinterest tutorials.
My research paper got picked the fuck apart… which I have to admit, I deserved. I kinda crammed for that one for the most part. I mean, I did some of the reading ahead of time… and most of it as I was writing the paper. Oops again. But hey, now I know how to improve on my cramming, and I will have a much improved paper for Kingdom.
I’ll also have a better embroidery project. I have to get some more materials for it (and find the original piece I started), but it’s going to be more refined and more period in style than my little cup cover sampler. I might have another piece to judge if I can come up with documentation for both the embroidery and the item that will be embroidered. I think I can do that, but I’ll have to check.
Arts and Sciences will continue to be in my future in the SCA. I won’t let one bad experience ruin the arts for me.

Ever the student

i have no idea what im doing
Well, it’s getting to Documentation Time for my Arts and Sciences projects, so of course I start with the hardest one: the research paper. I haven’t done a research paper since the last time I was in college–so twelve years. Twelve years rusty. Why did I choose to do a research paper again?
Oh yeah…I had a brilliant idea.
No, I won’t go into it here. I only have two¬†very rough draft paragraphs done, and it’s going to take this whole week to get it done and up to snuff…and to document the arts project. That one should be easier, but first thing’s first.
A lot of people have told me that they do the research first, then the thing. I ended up going backwards on my arts project. I did the embroidery using stitches that I knew to be used in period times; now I have to prove that they were used. D’oh!
With the competition a week away, I have to put Book 2 on hold. I guess that’s a good thing, though, because I’m kinda stuck a bit. Not stuck-stuck, but stuck enough. I’m at that point I usually get to in my writing where I’ve reached the near-end before enough has happened. I have to add more action, more description, and/or more dialogue. I think I’ve dialouged things out, so it’s going to have to be the former two.
I started my research on local media outlets, bookstores, and libraries for¬†Abnormal‘s release, too. There are a¬†lot of libraries in Tucson. I haven’t finished there yet, and I still have Phoenix left to go. I plan on taking one of my half days/partial days at work to start making calls to set up potential appearances/book signings/etc. I want to have the marketing materials in hand though, so I will have to just research until then. Maybe by then I can narrow down where I want to go to plug my book.
The web media sites I haven’t really gotten into yet. I need to, but it’s a bit hard to weed out the clickbait sites and find the real entertainment/book websites. I also have to avoid the “pay to be put on X lists” sites. I want none of those shenanigans.
Proofreading is done, the publisher loves the ending, and things are moving along. I just need to finish my Arts and Sciences writing, finish the second first draft of Book 2, finish a bunch of illumination/scrolls that I said I’d do, and oh, yeah, the arts exchange project and…..I’m probably forgetting something in there. Work! Yeah. I have to work. Damn day job.
I guess that’s enough rambling for now.