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.

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. ūüôā

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? ūüėČ

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.

Goal!

It’s that time of year again–time to set the new year’s goals/”resolutions” and reflect on where the old year took me.

Let’s start with 2018. 2018 was a long, full year of firsts and new triumphs. I went to my first Estrella War, moved into my first house, published my first novel, submitted my first sequel…. Sure, there were moments when I wanted to rip my hair out, but overall it hasn’t been too bad.

What do I need to do for this year? Let’s take a look (in no particular order):

-Get Book 2 in the bag and on the shelves. Yeah, I’ve got the first draft submitted and the first round of revisions (in before the new year!), but, as I’ve learned, there’s so much more to getting a novel published than simply writing it. Lol

-Take it easy on the SCA events so I can have time for other projects–to include my writing. I’ve been overdoing it entirely too much, and I need to pull back and reevaluate where I’m going in the SCA and how fast I want to get there.

-Finish the draft for Book 3 and polish it for submission. This is kind of a given. I have to keep them rolling while I still have story to tell, and the further ahead I get the easier it will be to stay on top of the writing game.

-Remember to keep marketing Abnormal. I can’t stop just because the book’s been out a few months now.

-Start a collaboration project. Because yeah. I need more on my plate. Lol

-Get more organized at work and get ahead of that game as well. I’ve got charts piled up, and they won’t stop coming any time soon.

-Focus on health. I need to zero in on what I should prioritize health-wise to take care of myself. Walk more? Eat less? Sure, but what then? I’m the biggest I’ve ever been, and at this rate it’ll be hell to try to fit into all of my garb for this year’s Estrella War. As it is, I’ve got all of a month and a half to drop a few pounds and squeeze into the garb I have–or to alter the garb I have/make new garb. Either way, I’d better get on the ball.

-Be more assertive with my needs. I can’t keep trying to please other people. I have things I need to be physically and mentally sound, and setting those things to the side so other people aren’t disappointed won’t do me any good in the long run.

That’s all I have for now, but I’m sure I’ll come up with more. Right now, I’m trying to focus after a three-hour night’s sleep…and right now, my brain has fewer tabs functioning than my web browser.

Oh, and one more thing about 2019–it’s gonna bring me the big 4-0! That’s right, I’ll be 40 this summer. Will I have a midlife crisis? Will I sail through? Who knows? The fun’s in finding out!

Here’s to making 2019 my bitch!

Take a deep breath. Again. Good.

That’s what the surgeon at work says when he listens to a patient’s lungs. I always find myself unconsciously deep breathing with the patient as the doctor says this, and even though it’s relaxing in a way, it’s not enough for the day I had yesterday.

It was busy. I mean, I did some standing around, but it was mostly when I was standing still during the lasers. Mostly I was hurrying back and forth from room to room to room, and though I managed to get a break I never felt rested or relieved. It didn’t help that the heater was on at 73 all day long, and when I first got to the office it was so hot in the exam rooms that I immediately started sweating. From there, it got worse. Between the movement, the heat being on, and the stress of one problem after another, I ended up damn near drenched by the end of the long day. Even though the temperature was in the 40s when I left, I cranked the A/C to half blast and left a window open as I drove home. It took about fifteen minutes to cool off.

But I’m trying. I’m trying to calm down, trying to take those two deep breaths when I need to. I’m trying not to stress about the things I can’t change, and I’m trying to be more assertive in the things I can. Yeah, I’m still going out of town this weekend. I didn’t really try to fight with my husband on that. But I did tell him that I need to slow down and that I’m feeling stressed. I can’t do anything much about the work stress, but I can at least try to minimize the home stress. I will cut down on the SCA activities. Sadly, that sometimes means cutting down on time spent with friends who also participate in SCA activities.

Once my laundry is done–any minute now, really–I’m going to finish getting dressed, go to the post office, and go visit with a friend. I need that so much right now; “me” time with someone I enjoy talking to. I haven’t spent much time with my local SCA friends lately because I’ve been trying to cut back wherever I can, and unfortunately the local events and get-togethers have suffered. By the time I’m done with work, or back in town from a weekend away, or whatever, I just don’t have it in me to go exercise with my friends or go to rapier practice. I quit going to the monthly populace meetings and the months Court Nights because A – I’m not an officer anymore, so I don’t have to go to the populace meetings and B – no awards or recognitions are ever given out at Court Nights, so what’s the point? It’s generally a regurgitation of the information from the populace meeting, which I can easily get from my husband. So, long story short, I don’t see my local friends too much. Feeling kinda guilty about that lately, so I need to see when I can find the time to hang out with them where it won’t add to my already-full plate.

That being said, the next two months–basically now through Estrella War–are still going to be hectic. I still need to reevaluate the events I’ve agreed to attend and see which I can stay home for. I’ll feel bad leaving my husband to attend on his own, but I have to take my health and well-being into consideration. The stress is affecting me adversely, so I need need need to do this. For me. For my sanity. For my physical health and mental health. All of it.

Post-Christmas funk

It happens. Christmas comes and goes and you’re left with a void that you don’t quite know what to do about. You may have to go back to work, or do chores, or return something that someone got you, but after that, what is there?

For me, I’m thankful that I have my sequel to work on. Sure, I’ve got other projects aplenty, but this morning, at oh-dark-thirty, I cranked out almost two thousand words… And that’s not taking into account the words I deleted. I was on a roll!

Of course right before I got to the good part, I had to leave for work. The office beckons, and I must answer. At least until, say, three o’clock or so. Then it’s off to the household twelfth night party. Tomorrow’s a full day of lasers, Friday through Sunday I’m off, and next week, aside from having New Year’s Day off, it’s back to life as usual.

So I’m excited over the progress in my next book, not so much over the working. And yes, I am aware that I have nearly two full Persian outfits to make and a set of cuffs to embroider and two hems and….

Ugh. Can another holiday be added in here?

Aww, who am I kidding? I need the money from the day job, need the sanity from the writing, and need the sewing projects for when the words fail me.

It’s all over when the fat man sings

So maybe it’s not “over” quite yet. I mean, it’s barely 2:00 PM. But the presents have been presented, the family ate breakfast with us, and all-in-all, aside from Christmas dinner at my parents’ house, Christmas is pretty much over. I haven’t even had a full day off from sewing and stuff–my husband just asked how far along I am on the Persian garb. I need to stop being so wicked; no rest, man, no rest at all.

I keep trying to tell myself that after Estrella things will calm down. I’ll have fewer sewing projects, I’ll be able to back away and take a break from SCA events, and I’ll have (theoretically) more time to write. That’s still two months away, though, and I have a crapton of things to do in those two months.

Did I enjoy my Christmas morning? Sure. It was nice having the family over, everyone seemed to love their gifts, and breakfast was tasty. But now, it seems, I don’t know what to do with myself. I could write, sure, but that’s work. So is sewing. And embroidery. I wanted a day¬†off…but it’s not gonna happen. I can see that now.

I’ve been doing a lot of whining as of late. I need to quit that…along with quitting junk food and overeating, and quitting volunteering for all¬†the¬†things, and quitting not going to exercise (though that one will perhaps be the toughest, because I hate exercising in public and the group of friends I work out with now goes to a public gym).

Maybe I can be lazy for another week and save the above paragraph for New Year’s resolutions. Have a big ol’ list of stuff that I’m going to quit or give up or start or start back up. Who knows. I kinda hate resolutions, too. I tend to not get them done if they’re anything associated with me losing weight or getting healthier. The writing ones? Yeah, I can do those. Cosplay goals? If I can lose the weight, I can usually manage. It’s kind of a matter of how hard I want it, or how hard Thing X is. If Thing X is writing, I got this. If Thing X is getting on a treadmill to have half the town watch my fat jiggle, well, Thing X might not be a resolution I’d keep.

What will 2019 bring me? It’ll bring me age 40, hopefully around the time Escaping¬†the¬†Light hits shelves. That would be an awesome birthday present. Forty years old and a three-time published novelist, with two of them traditionally/indie published and one self-published. Yeah. A published sequel will be great for the midlife crisis. Maybe I can become a shut-in when I’m not at work and just churn out novels for the next, say, twenty to twenty-five years. Hit the Golden Years with a bunch of series and standalones.

It’s nice to dream, anyway…

‘Twas the night before Tuesday

Yeah, I know, that’s not how the line goes. But sometimes, even the day before Christmas, it’s hard to get into the spirit of the holiday.

Let me set a few things straight: I’m not Christian. So really, by “the spirit of the holiday” I mean “the spirit of giving gifts in appreciation of others.” December 25th is just a convenient, easy-to-remember day to give gifts that just happens to coincide with a day when a good portion of humanity is also giving gifts. Birthdays? Sure, I can give gifts on birthdays–if I can manage to remember them. Problem is, I tend to not remember. Facebook is about the only way I remember any birthdays, and that’s kinda cheating. Jesus’s birthday (let’s not argue the validity of the December birthdate just now) is a set date, a fixed point in time. The same every year, for everyone. Easy peasy.

I’ve got all the presents that need to be wrapped wrapped. Am I expecting much for myself? Not really–and that’s okay. It isn’t about what you get. I know people say that, but I mean it. I want to see my dad smile when he gets his gift; I want to see Mom smile. My sister, brother–I want people to be happy with what they get. What I get is inconsequential.

This is going to be a busy week–after Christmas comes a day of working on charts, then a Twelfth Night party with our household, then a full¬†day¬†of¬†lasers, then a day off (whew!), then a weekend where I’m going to bow out of doing much of anything other than the craft projects that have backed up on me. I’ve got one and two-thirds Persian outfits to get done, a crapton of embroidery, and not a lot of time in which to get them finished. So I think I’m going to stay home for the majority of the Twelfth Night parties my husband has planned for us to go to. I just don’t have the time.

Speaking of which, I have a pirihan to finish.

Release

Things are getting tougher.

I want to get all this stress out, but I don’t want to talk about it. I’m tired of crying, and if I talk about it I’ll cry…so I’m writing about it.

You see, I used to cut. I know, I know, that’s, like, considered a teenage girl kinda thing. Well, maybe until Gillian Flynn’s Sharp¬†Objects. Good book, but the miniseries was kinda bland. Anywho, up until eight or nine years ago, when I got stressed or depressed or manic or self-deprecating or any other such extreme emotion, I’d cut myself. Not, like, bad. Just enough to bleed. Just enough for the water to sting when I took a shower.

I haven’t seriously wanted to for a long, long time.

I kinda want to now.

Work is too much. Home is too much. SCA is too much. Bills are too much. Life is too much.

I’m fighting it, but it’s getting stronger. I kinda want to feel the rush. To bleed. To release some of this pent-up anger and frustration and depression and anxiety and hopelessness.

Yeah. That. I want that. Not that deep…just the surface. But yeah.

But I can’t. I won’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.

Maybe this post will be cathartic enough that the urge will pass. I’ll waffle inside my head on whether or not I’m really going to try to find a knife or razor blade or something. I’ll think about it, and I’ll realize that I don’t know where in the house any of those things really are. So much stuff is kinda in flux because of the move, and kinda because I’m terrible at organizing things.

Nah, I’m not gonna. I’d have to search the garage or the craft room or the bedroom, and I have no real reason to go to that much effort. So I’ll take a deep breath, type some more, and then take my nightly pills and go lie down.

I still have the stress. The depression. The anxiety. The slightly hopeless feeling. But I don’t think I’ll need release. Not like that. Not tonight, and not any time soon.

This has been a little cathartic. Not quite full-on flood-of-emotions cathartic, but a little.

Just one more day of work before four days off, two on, three off, one on, one off. That’ll help the work part of the stress, but not the budget part of it. I’m gonna have a stress buildup until the good ol’ taxes get filed and the returns come in. Pay off a couple people, pay down a couple things, get some stuff taken care of.

Gotta hold on.

Gotta resist.

Can’t release.

Not now.

Not ever again.

Slow burn

I’m trying. I really am.

I get up and go to work every weekday (unless the office is closed or–rarely–I request off for an appointment or something). I work a full week, sometimes into overtime, and I hardly ever call out or ask to go home early. I clock in on time, and I stay until my boss says I can go. If that means clocking out less than twelve hours before I have to clock in again, then that’s what I do. If it means working when I’m in pain, I do. If it means working through a panic attack, I do. I can’t afford not to.

Most weekends I end up doing SCA things; whether it’s an event, a household meeting, rapier practice, or crafting various things for SCA events, household meetings, or (rarely) something just for me.

I sleep when my body lets me. Sometimes it’s six hours, more often closer to four, maybe four and a half. I drink caffeine and take Adderall to make it through the above listed days without falling asleep sitting up…or standing up. Or while driving.

I do the laundry every week, sometimes multiple days a week. Sometimes I’m aching enough that I have difficulty picking up the clothes that end up on the floor instead of the hamper…. so I leave them. Sometimes I’m so worn out from all the other things that I leave the clean laundry in the dryer for a few days and just fluff it when I need something to wear. Sometimes I go to the effort of taking the laundry out of the dryer and putting it back in the hamper until I have the energy to put it away.

When I have time alone–usually in the wee hours, when sleep evades me–I write. Or edit. Or revise. Or embroider. Or sew. Or plan and execute social media marketing stuff for my writing.

There’s more, but right now I can’t think of exactly what.

I’m trying. I really am. But I am feeling more and more burned out lately. Just thinking about the things I have to do makes me exhausted and depressed. The things that I used to do for fun are now duties. Chores. Requirements. Necessities. There are deadlines upon deadlines upon deadlines. Even the SCA events that used to get me all excited now fill me with dread. It’s not “yay! I get to do this thing!” It’s “well, I guess I have to do this thing.”¬†

I need some me time. Problem is, time is not something that I have available to give myself. It’s all filled with things. Work. SCA. Housework. Crafting.

I can only do so much. My body and my mind and my spirit are all stretched as far as they can go.

I need to think. Introspect. Look inside. Take all the pieces and see where they fit–and what ones shouldn’t even be in the puzzle. I need to prioritize and cut back where I can.¬†

Some people might feel like I’m pulling away, but it’s not trying to get away from them so much as trying to regroup.

I’m committed to several things for the next two months. I have to hold on at least that long. But after Estrella War?

I might not try as hard. I really might not.