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Forward Momentum

All’s steady on the embroidery project front this week. I’m down to three projects due next month (one almost complete, one not yet started, one in-progress), and they’re spaced out a bit in when they’re due. Then I have a project due way in December, so I have time on that one.

It’s a little bit of a relief to be pared down on the number of works-in-progress I have as far as embroidery goes. I was starting to panic a bit at the thought of all the things I had to do. Lol

Speaking of embroidery, I got myself a little birthday present with some of the cash I received as gifts:

I love it! Simple yet cool, and everyone says it suits me. I mean, I almost always have a needle in my hand when I’m not sleeping, eating, or working, so why not have a needle in my hand all the time? Lol

My name is really starting to get “out there” in the Kingdom for embroidery. I am getting more requests for things, and so far I’ve gotten two paid commissions. I still don’t really know what to charge, but luckily in the SCA people understand the amount of time and effort that go into a craft, so they’re willing to pay closer to a reasonable amount for work that’s done.

My goal for the next five years? Learn more types of embroidery, do more embroidery for myself (it’s kind of embarrassing to be an embroiderer and none of my garb that fits has embroidery on it!), do more cross stitch and mundane/just-for-fun embroidery, and, if I work hard enough, a Golden Needle from a future King and Queen. Is five years too ambitious for the last one? Maybe, but I am going to keep working at it. The more I do, the better my chances are.

So bring on the commissions, people! I have a portfolio to build! 😉

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#books #dystopian #nerd #publishing Abnormal Geek Learning Musings Novel Sci-fi Stress Thoughts Work Writing

To boldly go where no pantser has gone before…

Well, here goes nothing. I’m about to venture into uncharted territories. About to head beyond the horizon, beyond the now, beyond the future even.

Where am I going, you ask?

I’m going to do the unthinkable. The unimaginable. Potentially the most frightening thing I’ve ever done.

I’m going to try to mind-map/thought-bubble a rough outline for the fourth book in the Abnormal series–before I’ve written out all of Book 3!

I know, I know. I’m scared, too.

My mind is ticking away, and it needs an outlet. And my brand-spanking-new journal needs filling. Plus, it’s not even 0400 and I’m bored af. So I’m going to try to outline beyond where I’ve written, and I’m going to maybe–maybe–tiptoe into Book 5’s story a bit, too.

You see, I have a long-term plan now, more than just “I’m gonna write a bunch of books with the same characters in the same world.” Now that I’ve decided to go ahead with the YA spin-off series, I need to actually plan stuff. I mean, I have to decide how fast to age the characters in the NA series, where to leave off at the end of the NA series, and where to start the YA series. That means the dreaded planning.

In addition to quasi-plotting out Book 4/possibly Book 5, I also might plan out the titles of the YA books, or at least the first few. I already know what I want to call the series, but I haven’t decided on book titles yet.

Yeah. I’m going to do this.

But I’ve gotta stop talking about it…if I just keep rambling here, I’ll never get it done! Lol

And….Engage!

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Bubbly

Normally, I hate outlining. Hate it. With a passion. So why do I have a rough “outline” of Book 3 all ready to go?

It seems the thought-bubble/mind mapping/whatever-you-call-it method of outlining works well for me. I can see where things might need to be beefed up, and I can better see the flow of the story. Does it mean this is a hard outline, not to be deviated from? Not necessarily. I mean, I have had characters take over and rewrite the story their damn selves plenty of times. But it’s a start, and it’s a better start than I had previously. I mean, I’m having to go back and rewrite the train wreck that was the start of my first draft. Oh, it was terrible. So, so terrible.

This go around will have a much better flow. I have a good feeling about it.

It’s weird, this metamorphosis of straight pantser to planner/pantser hybrid (plantser, if you will) to sort-of-planner. I still don’t feel quite like a “real” planner, but I definitely am putting more thought into the future of Book 3 and the future of the series in general.

Ooh! I just had a brainstorm! Now I know how Book 3 will transition into Book 4!

See, even the planning has changes sometimes. I am even more excited to get started now lol

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#design #dreams #nerd anxiety Art costuming Crafting Critique Depression Education embroidery Geek Learning Mental Health Musings Original art SCA Sewing Stress Thoughts

Of Arts and Sciences, Part 2

Well, the local Arts and Sciences competition is over, and I didn’t win anything. I’m not overly surprised, but it’s still a little disappointing.

It’s not so much the fact that I didn’t win anything. Sometimes you don’t win, and that’s okay. What bothers me more is how unprepared I was for some of the questions I got from my judges. They asked about specifics about the history of the type of art I chose to enter, if there were any extant examples I knew of, and a little more stuff that, honestly, I couldn’t answer. It got me thinking…

…I know I’m not going to become a Laurel overnight. It usually takes years and years and years of hard work, research, and determination. Decades, sometimes. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the possibility of being the 50-something vigilant who has to be helped to kneel before the Crown because of her arthritis. That’s fine.

What bugs me, though, is the research part. I can do research. I know how. But what I never learned is how to retain it. I had people rattling off grave site names and examples of digs where certain things could have been found and dates and time periods and…I can’t get that stuff to stick. In school, I would retain facts long enough to pass the test and then they’d flutter away on the breeze the second the test was over. My brain doesn’t hold on to stuff the way it does for most others I see who are heavily active in the SCA. I can remember that the serial killer Albert Fish liked to shove rose stems, thorns and all, in his urethra, but I can’t remember what time period my favorite style of Norse art is from. I could read it a thousand times, but it won’t stick. Why? Who knows. All I know is that this little idiosyncracy might have a negative impact on my potential future as a Laurel.

You see, Laurels are supposed to not only be experts in doing the art and/or science they’re known for, they’re supposed to be experts in the history of the art and/or science as well. How can I become that level of expert if my brain won’t hold on to the data?

I worry. I hesitate. And I wonder if it’s imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head or if this is a serious concern. Am I just doubting for no reason, or should I reconsider my path? I mean, maybe I’m not meant to be knowledgeable about the pretty things I make. Maybe I’m just meant to make them and that’s it.

Or maybe I’m just tired. It’s been a long day, so long that I’ve had entirely too much time to think. That’s always a dangerous thing for me.

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Of Art and Science

Last weekend’s Arts and Sciences competition in a neighboring Barony went well, and tomorrow is the A&S competition for my own Barony. I have mixed feelings about it.

Last year was a disaster. A fiasco. A veritable shit show. I entered two pieces and was supposed to be judged by three people for each piece. This did not happen, largely because not enough judges were acquired for the event. For one item they press-ganged a judge at the last minute, because I complained to our Seneschal about the lack of judging (and because one of the judges who was supposed to judge it, who specifically told me she would be back to judge it, wandered off to judge something else and never came back). It was a miserable day spent at a table waiting to discuss my pieces with the judges, and I was so upset at having a terrible experience with A&S competition–my first experience entering in A&S–that I got stupid drunk that night and ended up vomiting Cheetos all over the side of the car and my Italian Renaissance dress. (Many, many thanks to my wonderful husband who cleaned all that mess up while I took a cold shower to sober up a bit.) I even sent a politely-worded but still quite blunt email to our Baron and Baroness about how awful the whole experience was, and how as a novice entering for the first time I hoped this experience wouldn’t sour me to A&S as a whole.

I had a much better time of it at the neighboring Barony’s A&S the following weekend (last year the events were on back to back weekends as well, but in reverse order compared to this year). Enough that I was willing to consider entering in an A&S again, but not so much that I was willing to enter into the Kingdom-level competition. No way.

This year? This year I’m entering just one piece for the local A&S, but I’m confident enough to try to enter it in Kingdom later in the year–possibly even multiple entries, depending on how quickly I can make it through my current backlog of projects.

I’m still apprehensive about tomorrow though. I mean, I know different people are running the competition, and knowing who’s running it makes me feel a tad bit more at ease about my likelihood of being judged appropriately, but last year’s competition still has left a vile taste in my mouth. (And no, it’s not the memories of the regurgitated Cheetos.)

I need to get cracking on the paper for it tonight or tomorrow morning (in true AJ style, I’ll be cramming at the last minute lol I hate writing papers), though I think this year they’re not being sticklers for full documentation. I think they’re taking a page from our neighboring Barony and letting entrants that aren’t going for Champion do minimal documentation. If that’s the case, I should be good to go for the most part, just some minor tweaks.

Here’s hoping I don’t get gypped again this year. I don’t think I will, but that doubt still lingers….

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Jumping through hoops

Sorry for the silence lately. I have been overloaded with embroidery commissions, and it’s getting to be time to get cracking on them.

There was *secret project one,* which is still in progress and due in September. It’ll be a relatively quick one to finish, but it’s complicated. So I have to be careful.

Then, *secret project two* fell into my lap, a larger piece that is also due in September. But I can do it. No biggie.

Next up came another *secret project* that, thankfully, took only a day. So that one’s done.

Then….not-so-secret project, uh, four I think the count is now. A commission. A *paid* commission. Due when, you ask? You guessed it: September.

Am I crazy? Well yes, but that’s beside the point. I have this handled. I’ve got early mornings for the quick one. Lunchtime for project number two. Evenings and weekends for four. And I’ve got a weekend to myself during that time, plus a full week off from work. So I’m golden.

I’m incredibly proud of how far I’ve come in the year and a half I’ve been embroidering. I’ve gone from zero to semi-decent to sought-after in that time, and I hope I can continue to live up to the reputation I’ve developed… and beyond.

Gotta remember to keep learning. Keep improving. Keep stitching.

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#books #design #dystopian #nerd #publishing Abnormal anxiety Art Crafting Depression embroidery escape the light Friendship Geek Learning Mental Health Novel SCA Sci-fi Sewing Stress Time Work Writing

When you need a vacation from your second job but your hobby has turned into a third job

Okay, so Pixabay didn’t exactly have an image with a woman in scrubs, a woman in casual clothes, and a woman in SCA garb all together. Let’s just pretend that’s what’s going on in the above picture.

This weekend, I decided to take a mini vacation from both my day job and my writing. I needed that small break (and besides, yesterday, if you remember, was my anniversary). The SCA event we went to was not as relaxing as I had hoped, though, and I’m getting back to that feeling of “obligation” moreso than “hobby” or “volunteering.” It was like okay, I agreed to do the thing so I’ll do the thing, but what I really wanted to do was spend the day with my husband.

It would have been okay, but he got busy with autocrat stuff (he’s co-hosting an event in a couple of months) and I got a rash from the grass at the site and ended up falling dead asleep in the car for a good solid hour courtesy of the Benadryl I took. I barely saw him all day, and for our anniversary dinner he invited a lot of people, so it wasn’t as intimate as I would have liked for our anniversary. In fact, he sat with his back slightly turned playing host to the friends at his side of the table for most of the meal.

I discussed with him afterwards, told him I would rather celebrate our anniversary in a more intimate setting, and I told him that, even though our SCA “anniversary” tends to fall on the same weekend as our wedding anniversary, I’d like to keep the two separate.

Next weekend we have another two events. The weekend after is technically free, but I’ll likely be doing the embroidery for my good friend’s elevation to the Order of the Pelican because, well, the elevation is the very next week.

I’ve also got embroidery to do for my belting to my soon-to-be Peer, a Laurel I both admire as an artisan and as a friend. There’s also an art exchange gift that I need to finish before my belting–both of which are due the week after the elevation. Then, when all that is caught up, I need to finish the embroidery project that I’ve been working on for the past four or five months for Their Majesties….who will no longer be ruling by the time I get finished but who have told me that my friend’s elevation project comes first.

So, long story long, I have ended up with a third job in the midst of all this. The SCA is becoming obligatory instead of just fun.

Don’t get me wrong; I like doing the embroidery. I like when people take note of and enjoy my work. But it IS work, so I have to once again force myself to slow down and reflect on my priorities.

  • Day job (gotta pay the bills)
  • Writing (which I hope will some day assist in the payment of the bills)
  • Sanity (yes, I do need to include this in my list)
  • SCA events and activities

I don’t want to stop altogether. I like my SCAdian friends and family… I just need more of a balance.

In pursuit of that goal, I picked some Fridays next month to sign up for the live stream Writer Imperfect, where I get to chat with other authors and answer questions about what little I know about the publishing world. I still have an event in May, but it’s just one event. Those three Fridays are for my writing career.

I’ll survive. I always do. But my survival hinges more and more on me standing up for my needs and voicing my concerns when I get overbooked. And speaking of booking, I should try to get some writing time in today….

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A Rare Lazy Weekend

River (pictured above) pretty much embodies my spirit animal last weekend in this picture. I slept quite a lot, and accomplished not much of anything.

Okay, so I got the last of the handwriting from Estrella transcribed. That’s something I accomplished. And I got the laundry done (but not put away). I was basically the noodle-cat in the picture, limp and lifeless.

I know that I kind of earned it, but I still feel a bit rotten for not getting more done. I hope to remedy that next weekend with more embroidery work finished. My timeline on that is ticking down, so I need to focus. Thankfully, I have only two halves of a hem to do to be totally finished. Just a little more…

Book 3 is, as all first drafts are, crap, but it’s got potential. I need to clean and beef it up, but that’s for later, when I have the draft finished. I’m still waiting on the edits from RhetAskew before I get too invested in the story I’m starting to tell there, because if they decide I need to change the ending of Escape the Light I’ll have some rewriting to do for Book 3…best not to get too committed to any one story right now, when I might have to make sweeping changes (learned my lesson the hard way on that one).

I need to bug my mom for the edits on my short story. Time’s ticking on that deadline, too, though I have a couple weeks still. I want to get it submitted ASAP though, because I am anxious to get it in the bag. I know, I know, “patience young Padawan”….I don’t wanna be patient. I wanna get as many coals in the fire as possible. (I’m pretty sure I’m mixing metaphors there, but you get my drift.)

My pen nib tattoo is scheduled for Wednesday after work. I’m really excited about it, especially since I’m funding it with autographed books that I’ve sold. It’s the perfect way to pay for a writing-themed tattoo, right? In case you need a reminder, here’s the image I’m going to get inked:

It’s going to go horizontally along my collar bone (and I’m not getting the little crown or whatever that is put on it).

The surgeon is back at work this week after nearly a week off, so I’m back to work as normal. I’m hoping that the new med continues to work well. I haven’t felt nearly as stressed since starting it, and I hope it’s not a fluke.

I suppose I should get to work on something right now. I have a few hours until I have to get ready for work, so I’ve got some play time, but better to jump into the next project so I can keep momentum going for the week.

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Try, try again

On the advice of many, many people, I went to my psychiatrist yesterday (a month earlier than scheduled) and talked to him about all the stress I’m under. New medicine acquired, old medicine discarded, and now we play the waiting game.

Basically I have a month to adjust to the low dosage of the new med (which totally sounds like an alien species) before I get the full dose filled. There are a few bonuses to this new med:

  • No known weight gain side effects
  • Long half-life, so once I’m on the higher dose I’ll only have to take it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
  • Teeny little capsule, so not a huge gag issue

The med is soon-to-be-approved for bipolar depression, so that’ll help with that side of things, but I am dubious as to the anxiety/stress benefits of the med. If it’s supposed to help with depression, will it also help these other things? We shall see, I guess.

Speaking of bipolar disorder, I’m slated to appear on a podcast called Speak Your Mind, which is a mental health podcast. I know, I know, it’s not my usual book/writing podcast venue, but the host is excited to talk about Abnormal and my writing in addition to discussing mental health issues in my life and in society as a whole. More info to come on that once I’ve gotten a date scheduled. We had a good, long chat the other night, so I’m hopeful that someone listening in gets some benefit out of hearing my story and my struggles.

I try not to get too political about mental health, but let’s face it: mental health is widely ignored by insurance companies and even more widely stigmatized in society as a whole. I think back on the work that Carrie Fisher did to try to destigmatize mental illness, and I think this is one cause I can get behind, not only because it directly affects me but also because it affects such a wide range of people, and not enough people talk about it. Maybe one day, when I’ve hit the NYT bestseller list, I can have the kind of influence where my experiences make a difference.

Yes, I have a mental illness. Yes, I have bipolar disorder. Yes, I take medicines to be “normal.” No, I’m not crazy.

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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.