Archive for Personal

Dear future me…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FUTURE ME!

Birthday cake

I’m writing this to you from 2014 and scheduling it to appear on your 2015 birthday, isn’t technology great?

Hopefully there hasn’t been a tragic accident and you get to read this. If not, I love you everyone reading this.

2014 was a great year, huh? But I’m willing to bet that by your 2015 birthday, things are even greater.

I hope you’re still writing and busting your butt to reach your dreams. Maybe you’ve landed an agent and a cool book deal by now, but if not, that’s alright too. I just hope you’re keeping at it and working hard.

Are you still thinking about getting a pet? Maybe now’s the time to just do it and get a furry little friend to have around to keep you company. I hope you’re also doing better at taking care of yourself and not just eating mac and cheese all the time (though mac and cheese is awesome).

Are you still planning to go to San Diego Comic Con? Have you bought a house?

It’s weird to think that so much can change in a year, but I bet a lot has shifted since 2014. You’re another year older, (maybe) wiser, and another year closer to your goals!

Here’s to you kicking butt in the future!

Happy birthday!

2014 Andrea

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Stressed out about overworrying about being anxious

Stress

I’m an incredibly anxious person. I over worry about everything. For example, I once panicked about what I was going to wear on a flight to interview for a job in Oregon… BEFORE I had even submitted my job application for the position. I’m always thinking 15 steps ahead, and at least 13 of those steps are worst case scenarios and what could go wrong.

I live with the constant thought that people always hate it when I text or email them because I’m bothering them. I worry that I responded too quickly to a message; I worry that I responded too slowly to a message and that either option means I’m a lost cause and this person will no longer respect or like me. I wake up some mornings with a sense of doom that wraps around my neck like a wool scarf suffocating me in the middle of July.

I stress out about what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, in a month, a year, ten years, twenty years. I panic about the imaginary things I haven’t done yet, and I worry that the things I have done, I’ve done all wrong somehow. I worry that every time I mess up even in the slightest, that I’ve doomed myself forever and should just go shove my head in the ground and hide.

It’s an exhausting way to live, and sometimes it flares up in wickeder than usual ways that leave me ill, depressed, and a general mess who just wants to lock myself in my room so I don’t have to interact with anyone.

Sometimes I can write my way through it, and other times I’m so worried that what I’m writing is awful, and therefore I’m awful that I can barely write a sentence. One of the things I struggle with as a writer is building high enough conflicts because tension worries me (yes even fictional tension) and I just want things to go smoothly which doesn’t make for compelling stories exactly.

I write this not because I want coddling or anything like that (and I worry immensely that’s what this post will be taken as), but because I know it’s a problem, and I’m not going to continue to hide from it, instead I’m working on ways to manage it.

  • I run, walk, or just jump in circles in my room.
  • I send a message to someone I admire and tell them why they’re amazing.
  • I look through a folder of all of the things I have accomplished.
  • I keep track of what I do every day, and praise myself for finishing things.
  • I do yoga or just lay on the floor and listen to the sounds of a thunderstorm.

Sometimes these work, some days it’s like trying to run from a swarm of killer bees that I can already feel digging into my skin. No day is perfect, and I’ve come to accept that and to try to not (hahahaha) worry about it.

I know I spend most of my time on this blog talking about writing, but this is a part of my writing (and every day life) that I don’t mention much, and I feel like it’s time to own it. Writing on some days is like trying to wade through a locust swarm in my gut that’s constantly trying to devour me from the inside out. But the things I want to write help me make it through the storm and to the other side where I can see the non-bug-infested light again.

I wish there were some piece of advice, some great tip from a self-help book that I could pass along, but the truth is, I just sort of throw a dart towards where I want to go and blindly push forward through locust swarms and all. Some days I lay down and let the bugs crawl all over me, and some days I walk through beautiful sunlight. But at the end of the day I try to do the best I can with what I’ve got going on, and to just keep pushing forward. You’re not alone.

Podcast Excitement!

So the first Monday of a month is usually devoted to Fandom First posts but… I was on a super cool podcast that I am so excited to share!

I was interviewed on the awesme Less Than Or Equal. What is that you ask? Well, from the website:

“Welcome to Less Than Or Equal, a podcast dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of geeks facing inequality in their industries.

Everyone of every gender, sexual orientation, race, color, physical ability, and physical appearance deserves to be treated equally by the tech industry and other geeky communities. We believe the catalyst for a cultural shift toward equality is continued conversation that drives awareness and understanding.”

A pretty awesome goal right?

I am incredibly honored to be a guest on the show and hope you’ll give it a listen and support Less Than Or Equal.

You can find my episode here.

Liebster Tag! 11 Questions and Random Fact about Yours Truly

The amazing Meghan nominated me for the Liebster award so now you get to learn all kinds of new things about me. exciting, yes?

1. What was the WORST story you’ve ever written?

Oh god, so many…. Um… any first draft? There was a story I once wrote about a girl who grew a garden and then TWIST AT THE END. She’s blind. It was awful. I was also 7.

2. If you could cast anyone to be your favorite main character, who would you choose?

My instinct is Tom Hiddleston, but he’s already Loki so that doesn’t work out…….I really want to see Gina Torres as Wonder Woman!!

3. If you could no longer write in your favorite genre, which genre would you switch to?

Romance easy. In fact I do write in it too so that doesn’t really count… I write in a lot of genres already so this is a challenge. I suppose if I could no longer write genre fiction I’d switch to poetry again.

4. Do you ever act out scenes to make sure you get them just right?

All the time. I regularly flail around my room trying to make sense of what my characters are doing.

5. Have you ever been caught talking out loud to a character?

Absolutely. I mutter under my breath and tend to work in the living room so my roomies have often asked, “What are you doing?”

6. Which character was the toughest for you to write and why?

I struggled with the creation of The Bone Queen character because it was the first time I really got to go on and write a full villain origin story. I wanted her to own her choice, not be brought into it because someone hurt her. I wanted her to have agency over her own life, and her decisions.

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7. What are your top five songs for you current book?

Well I actually have a playlist you can listen to for that.

8. What would you do if you could hang out with any of your characters?

I would totally hang out with Aramis, the Pulptress, and Jackson! They’re entertaining. I bet Aramis could really help with my french langauge skulls too.

9. Which non-standard word do you use most often?

Oh god, I’m so bad at this. I like using sounds as verbs so people ‘THUNK’ downwards.

10. What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to research for a book?

So many options… I guess probably looking at how exactly Black Plague victim bodies were dealt with and studying that time period.

11. Based on your search history, would you potentially be arrested?

Oh yes.

Alright so now we come to 11 facts about me.

  1. Two cats have recently adopted me and turned my world upside down.
  2. I am a vegeterian and have been for almost as long as I have been eating.
  3. I LOVE video games and wrote my thesis about them.
  4. I’ve been going to conventions regularly for over 10 years.
  5. Welcome to NightVale is probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
  6. I use star stickers to mark my calendar with what I’ve done that day.
  7. I hate driving. I really want to live car free but my area isn’t friendly to that lifestyle.
  8. I’ve only recently gotten into comic books and I’m in love with them.
  9. Cooking, baking and cleaning are how I procrastinate.
  10. I’m a morning person and would much rather get up early than sleep in.
  11. Dark chocolate is my true weakness.

I don’t actually know a lot of people who blog so… here are the few I know.

Sean Taylor

M.B. Weston

Selah Janel

And anyone reading this who has a blog and wants to do this. YES YOU RIGHT THERE LOOKING AT THIS ON A SCREEN.

And my 11 questions for you:

  1. Plotter or Pantser? Why?
  2. Do you write every day or in one great marathon?
  3. What’s the best writing advice you were given?
  4. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve been given?
  5. Do you have a writing ritual? What’s involved?
  6. Favorite author?
  7. Who is your favorite character from your own work?
  8. What’s your next project?
  9. Favorite inspirational quote.
  10. Where do you do most of your writing? Why?
  11. What’s your favorite recipe? (Seriously, I need some new ones)

New York, New York: The Dark Crystal Day

It’s 3:00 A.M. in the empty LaGaurdia airport as I type this. There’s only one bench availble in this area, and two other people are already asleep on it so I’ve claimed the corner by the vending machine as my own personal little cave.

Friday still feels entirely like three lifetimes rolled into a dream, but I have pictures, business cards and new friends to tell me that it actually happened.

To rewind, several months ago, a friend (thanks Chris!) sent me information about the Jim Hensom Company hosting a contest inviting anyone to submit a 10,000 word story prequel set in the world of The Dark Crystal. Growing up, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth were two of my favorite movies so I knew I wanted to participate. I spent hours researching, plotting, writing and rewriting, and finally turned in my story just before the deadline.

They received over 500 entries and when the announcement of winners came, I was sad to not be continuing, but excited that there was such excitement about The Dark Crystal. It actually wasn’t until a few days later that I realized that even though I hadn’t won, I’d been named one of the 20 Editors Choices. Thrilled, I printed out that screen shot and hung it above my computer and went back to work writing.

Last month I received an invitation to come to New York City to join the winner and other finalists for a tour of the puppet workshop, screening of The Dark Crystal and then a private reception on Friday October the 24th. After a whole lot of debate, I decided I had to do it and managed to sort the details with a bith of difficulty. It worked out that I would be in NYC for 20 hours, just for Friday.

So now here I am sitting in an empty airport waiting for a 6am flight to go home after a whirlwind dream of a day.

I landed in JFK at 10:30 A.M. on Friday, and then was trapped in the airport for about an hour after I climbed onto the wrong train and just went in a circle around the terminals. I finally found my way to the first stop of my trip, The Jim Henson Company Workshop.

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Now we couldn’t take pictures in the actual workshop, but it was amazing. We got to see how the various puppets are put together, and just all the work involved in them. There are towers and towers of foam, fur and other supplies all over the place. It was awesome.

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After that, I got some help navigating my way to Union Square to have some NYC pizza. It was INCREDIBLE. I ate until I was pretty close to bursting then I just wandered around the area before hopping on another train and heading to BAM for the screening of the Dark Crystal and then the reception for the finalists.

 

Before the movie we got to hear from Cheryl Henson, Brian and Wendy Froud, and Toby Froud presented his short film, Lessons Learned, which was gorgeous and a joy to watch! We then got to hear J.M. Lee, winner of the Author Quest read an excerpt, and I loved it. I cannot wait to read the full thing. The Dark Crystal was beautiful on the big screen and it was great seeing how much everyone enjoyed it. The theather was sold out.

Afterwards, the finalists went upstairs to a reception with some of the other special guests. I had a blast talking to so many incredible people, and I’m thrilled to know I’ve got some incredible new friends out of the trip. After we closed down the party around midnight, we wandered around New York to get back to one of my new friend’s hotels, and hung out at the bar just talking for a while.

Then finally, it was time to say goodbye to my new friends, and hop in a cab.

And now here I am, half asleep, but too uncomfortable (and paranoid) to sleep, so I’m writing down what happened, trying to process what an incredible opportunity this was. It still feels like a dream and I can’t get the smile off of my face.

Thank you to everyone who helped get me here, and who has believed in me, and stuck with me over the years.

 

 

Apps I Love

I just got home from an amazing time at Imaginarium where I had several conversations with writers and readers comparing their favorite apps to write with or just for general use. So I thought I’d share some of the apps I love!

I like to hyper organize so here is my writing folder of apps:

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Of the ones in here,  I use Index Card and Coffitivity the most. The others are cool, but they aren’t something I use on a regular basis.

Here’s what Index Card looks like when you open it up:

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It lets you create digital index cards to lay out your work however you want. You can shuffle them around, color code them and most importantly, sync with drop box and import them into Scrivener. Fair warning, this one is not free.

Coffitivty- Take a coffee shop with you!

Coffitivty- Take a coffee shop with you!

Coffitivty is great! It lets you get the ambient noise of a coffee shop without the expense of buying coffee at these little shops. I use it all the time when I’m writing in public or just to block out some distracting noise.

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I use the items in my document section regularly, but my favorite is Documents. It lets me sync with dropbox and edit my texts. I can create a new document and type my little heart away without having to have a connection to wi-fi.   Documents

Last but not least is a to-do list app called Wunderlist. It lets me sort my to-do lists into easy to organize areas. I use it to track what I have to do at work, at home, and with writing. I even use it for long term goals, bucket list items, books, movies, and writing ideas. It syncs across multiple devices so I can add something at midnight on my phone and see it on my desktop in the morning.

Wunderlist- My favorite to-do list app!

Wunderlist- My favorite to-do list app!

So those are my favorite apps, what ones do you recommend?

HeroesCon 2014

So I am safely back from HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC and let me start off by saying that I had an incredible time. I was fortunate enough to get to go with a friend who has family nearby and we stayed at their place and could take the Charlotte train to the convention every day.

Arriving and finding the place was easy-peasy. We picked up our badges and were on our way. It was a lot bigger than I thought, and the main hall was a little overwhelming with all of the things there.

Day one arrival!

Day one arrival!

Overhead view of the main hall.

Overhead view of the main hall.

Some of the most amazing artists were there, just incredible artwork everywhere. There were also tons of comics, and just pure excitement everywhere you looked.

I also got to meet up with friends John Hartness and Shane Berryhill (and you should totally go check them out because they rock). There were some incredible panels by the writers of Marvel and of Image.

However, the highlight for me had to be meeting Kelly Sue Deconnick. I’ve admired her comics for a while, and she’s constantly inspiring me to do more and work harder. She’s got a great text system set up (check out #bgsd to learn more) and it really gives me a huge boost every time a message pops up from it.

I told her that she is one of the people who keeps me motivated to write. I gave her a copy of The Bone Queen and in exchange she gave me a wonderful hug.

Me and Kelly Sue Deconnick

Me and Kelly Sue Deconnick

After meeting Kelly Sue I headed into the line to get her husband, Matt Fraction, to sign my copy of Sex Criminals. He was way nicer and more awesome than I expected, asking me about what my degree was in and loving the fact that I told him I realized I didn’t need any kind of MFA to actually write anything.

I then got to go to my first Carol Corps panel which was awesome. The Carol Corps are a group inspired by Captain Marvel and they are by far one of the kindest, most open and welcoming groups I’ve ever met.

When the day was all over, my friend and I hoped onto the train and headed home. On the ride back, we ran into a family. The young mother was thrilled by my Marvel themed skirt and bag and gushed about superheroes. We told her all about the convention and she started asking her husband about going. He asked us how much it cost, and that’s when I made a pretty easy decision. I passed my pass over to her and told her to go enjoy it tomorrow for free, and my friend gave her pass to her husband so they could both go enjoy it without worrying about the cost.

I sincerely hope they made it over on Sunday and had an awesome time with their kids.

All and all Heroescon has become one of my favorite conventions. It’s big without being overwhelming, and incredibly well organized.

Another Year Older and Half-A-Day Wiser

Today’s my birthday… and this year it’s on a Friday the 13th AND a full moon which means all my creepy kid tendencies are super stoked!

Every year on my birthday I try to think about what I’ve learned over the year, what’s changed, and what in the world did I even do? Time feels like it’s flying by faster and faster (seriously, wasn’t it 2013 just a few days ago?) and it’s hard to even think about a year ago some days. In fact most days I still view myself as a 16 year old floundering through high school and wonder who in the world gave me permission to be an adult.

So, a quick year in review!

I’ve been at my day job for just over a year and it’s going awesomely. I work with some amazingly fun people and rather enjoy my job. There’s definitely a lot of changes happening so it’ll be interesting to see what the next year brings!

 

Bone Queen Cover

The Bone Queen!

I had my first stand alone work published in October. Yay The Bone Queen! And honestly I think I totally flopped on a lot of the marketing aspects for it. This year has definitely taught me that I need to work on that whole self-promotion thing in the future. But overall, the process of writing a book and going through the process of first draft to published was a really helpful and eye-opening experience.

Capes & Clockwork Cover

Capes & Clockwork

A short story came out in the really fun collection Capes and Clockwork and I had a blast writing a superhero steampunk story. This is one of the stories I’ve had the most fun writing and I’m really excited to be able to create a second story with Rowan and Bee in the future. It was a great experience all around and everyone who worked on it has been incredibly helpful and supportive.

Over the past few months I’ve started submitting stories out to open calls again which has been both a really nerve racking and a really fun prospect. So far nothing but rejections, but they’ve all been personalized rejections so that gives me hope that an acceptance is around the corner!

I wrote my longest work to date at 65,000 words, and I’m incredibly proud of myself for finishing. It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and is the whole story. It’s an ugly mess, but I finished it. I’ve written more words on other projects, but they were never finished, they just went on forever, so for me finishing this project means a lot. Whether it goes anywhere in the future is yet to be seen, but even if it just sits on the shelf forever: I FINISHED IT!

I’ve also started working out again and doing yoga and that has been amazing. I feel stronger and better and am remembering just how important the body is.

So all and all, it’s been an awesome year so far. I’ve got some amazing friends all around me, and the potential to just keep moving on up.

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ME!

 

But is it organic?

Every time I try to start eating healtheir, more fruits, and veggies, walking and running and yadda yadda it always turns out that I then feel guilty because I’m not doing enough. Maybe I’m eating veggies but are they from my local farmer AND organic? Am I juicing and meditating? Well then I’m not doing it right because I should be doing it better.

 

I get disappointed, and slide off back into the land of mac and cheese and french fries for every meal.

This always makes me think about writing, I get on a streak, writing every day and I’m proud of myself but then invariably I see someone writing more, doing more and I start to slide, thinking why am I not doing more? I start to feel lazy, and unproductive, and from there it’s easy to start slacking on my words, and projects.

Depression creeps in, and I start writing less and less because I feel like a failure because I’m not doing it ‘right’ whatever the hell that is. I worry about the ways I could be doing better and end up doing nothing for fear of not getting it right.

I still fight with this feeling, with eating healthy, and with writing. When I do something, I like to do right, and perfectly. But slowly, I’m starting to realize that I can’t be perfect and great at everything. I can find what works for me, and stick with that. Reading advice and tips that have worked for other people might help, but at the end of the day, I have to live with me and what I’m doing whether it works for someone else or not.

Some things that have worked for me:

Calendar with stars

Shiny stars!!

Keeping track of my daily word count. Every litle shiny star represents 1000 words written that day. It’s a little grad school, but it’s great looking at the calendar and seeing all those stars and knowing they represent words written!

 

CHECK BOXES!

CHECK BOXES!

I love to-do lists so putting my writing goals in a to-do list format is awesome! I really love this app Wunderlist because it syncs across all my devices, and you can seperate everything into seperate lists and add sub-tasks. (PS now you can see what I’m working on, exciting!)

 

So those are just a few things that work for me and make me feel like I’m getting stuff done. What are some things that work for you whether they’re ‘organic’ or not?

Dear new graduate…

I know a ton of people who graduated from various levels of schooling this weekend (congrats all you awesome people!) and I wanted to take the chance to post a letter that I wish someone had given me when I graduated from college with my bachelors.

… continue reading this entry.