Update Day, May 2017

Hey all! I decided I’m going to try something different today. As you know, I have been vlogging for a while, but I also realized that not everyone can watch the video whenever they visit my blog. 

So today, I decided to put the video up top, and then follow it with the script from which the video is based. Please let me know what you think of this format!

Gosh, I can’t believe how much time has been flying by lately. It seemed like a few days ago that I last posted a vlog update, so I was quite shocked to see that it was three months ago. But there you go. Sometimes life and time get in the way, and the next thing you know, it’s the end of May. Ugh. Untentional rhyme.

But because we’re now on the last Friday of May, it’s time for me to share an update for my GotGoals bloghop. In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about…

I’m co-hosting a bloghop with Jen and Brittney, where we set some crazy, big or just really important writerly goals. Then on the last Friday of the month, we post updates on the progress we’ve made.

I also find it useful to set smaller monthly goals, which I then use as stepping stones toward my bigger goals.

So how did I do?

Well, for the fact that I somehow completely let time get away from me this month, surprisingly well. Okay so I have to say that I didn’t set the bar particularly high, because I was trying to find my feet after quite a lot of crap. But I did say I wanted to write an average of five minutes per day.

And you know what? I hit that average on day two. It’s funny how averages work that way.

That said, the one thing that did take a hit this month was my freelancing. I’ve basically been endlessly working on some job or the other for the past three months, then got a big job at the end of last month and then… crickets. The frustrating thing is that I got that job and it was supposed to take two weeks, but my client hit a snag with the content I’m supposed to format. It’s really not her fault or anything like that, but the net effect is that I’m stuck waiting for her to get back to me. I know eventually that’ll get done, though, so it’s nice to know the money is still hanging around somewhere, waiting for me.

Then I went from nothing to having three jobs to do, but they all only came in over this past weekend, so I will only be able to record the income in June.

So things are really not going badly, but the sudden three week silence really got to me, because I’ve let everything else fall by the way-side over the past few months. It’s really annoying when I wish I could say I spent my empty days writing, but no, they were all spent catching up on a huge admin backlog.

I just realized that if I want to make any progress to the next level, and… you know, actually have more than five minutes a day to write, I need to get some help in. Luckily for me, I have an awesome brother who wants some flexible part time hours while he studies, et voila. I now have an assistant who’s going to help me keep everything rolling on schedule.

Which means that I’ll be able to regularly update as well. Eh…hopefully.

So with that in mind, next month’s goals:

1) Write an average of 10 minutes every day.
2) Earn $1000 of writing or publishing related income.
3) Weekly updates to my vlog.
4) Sort out the snarling mess that is my social networks as a whole.

That’s it from me for this month. Please do leave me a comment about today’s post structure. And how did your month go? Got any crazy writing goals that you’re chasing down? If you’d like to join the bloghop, you can find more information here

Putting Your Memories into the Story by Yolanda Renée

Hey everyone! Today I want to welcome Yolanda Renée to the Five Year Project as part of her blog tour for her new book, The Snowman. Take it away, Yolanda!

Putting Your Memories into the Story

Write what you know, we’ve all been told to do this, and I do it consistently. No, I don’t know anything about killing a person, or catching the culprit, at least personally, but I have studied and researched the topic. However, I do know a little about Alaska since I’ve lived there, and thanks to Google maps I can explore new and interesting places that I haven’t visited. I described 4th Avenue, written as Fourth Avenue, in my story because I could see it from my bedroom window when I lived in Anchorage, and yes it held some very risqué establishments. I’ve also purchased Alaskan Pottery that’s featured in the Reincarnation Chapter. I’ve visited several of the parks, Stowy’s favorite body dumping sites, such as Earthquake Park, a park created after the 1964, 9.4 earthquake that caused a residential neighborhood to slid into the ocean.

One of my first introduction to the state was the immense size of the bears that greet you as you walk through the Anchorage airport. Polar Bears, Kodiak’s, and grizzlies all skillfully preserved by taxidermists, (Stowy’s chosen hobby) all very intimidating.

I do that with all my stories, put a little of my memories into the mix, even statements once made to me by unsuspecting friends, or co-workers. Like when I first told folks that I was visiting Alaska during vacation. “Why would you want to visit that forsaken iceberg?” A former boss asked. I couldn’t believe his ignorance about our 49th state, but I never forgot his statement and allowed Fern Jenkins to use it when describing where she’d rather spend Thanksgiving.

“Don’t be foolish. Home is where Thanksgiving happens. Here. Not some forsaken iceberg.”

Another interesting side note might be the story as to how Stowy Jenkins got his name, Stone. I took that from a story my father told me about his father. How he’d taken my dad out to learn how to swim in an old coal mining quarry and threw him in. It was sink or swim! He swam, of course, but Stowy claims to have sunk like a rock – hence his nickname, Stone. This is a family story that I allowed Stowy to appropriate. He needed a good lie, and I’m sure way back when, that learning to swim in West Virginia happened this way more than once. Yes, my family is originally from West Virginia, and the name Stowy, is a family name. Another of my writing habits, using family names. . .

Writing what you know isn’t that difficult and I think it makes fiction writing all the more real! What do you think? Do you use your life in your stories? Please share a story or two in the comments.

Thanks, Misha, for hosting The Snowman Tour!

About Yolanda Renée

At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I’ve traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.
Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!
You can connect with me here:
Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest     *     Email
 
It takes a true artist to pursue his victims in the art of seduction, and Stowy Jenkins is no exception, especially with blood as his medium.
 
Stowy Jenkins, aka, Stone, and as Alaskans refer to him, the Snowman, is a true artist. His muse, Gigi, is the ultimate inspiration for his painting. Her rejection inspires him to use a very unusual medium…blood.
 
While art may be his passion, the taste for blood is his obsession, and multiple murders, the result.
 
Rookie, Detective Steven Quaid, is no fan of the Snowman’s murderous exhibitions. A twisted and deadly relationship bond the two men and neither knows who will come out of it alive.
Buy on Amazon
Thanks for visiting, Yolanda! It’s always nice to have you stop by. 🙂 
 
What about you, awesome readers? Do you include your memories in your writing?

Back, with back-up

Hey lovely people.

So as I mentioned before, things are going better here, but I’ve still been quiet.

The reason for this is rather silly and kind of good, but annoying all the same.

The truth is, I’ve been so busy with freelancing jobs that I haven’t been able to even so much as look at any of my social networks for almost two months. The only exception being my monthly update posts, and even that one I almost missed in April because I was so busy and exhausted.

In fact, it’s come to the point where I didn’t know how to get ahead again. I already had my first inkling back when I first hit my $500 goal.

I’d made it and that’s *AMAZING*, but I only just made it. As in, I hardly had any time left after doing the work. But for the past few months, I’ve been doing month after month at around a $300 level, but unable to break through the barrier simply because I’m not ready to raise my rates to make more money per job, but I don’t have more time to work either. And the worst is, it’s not actually the work that’s killing me. It’s all the admin that comes with it.

But then I had a bright idea.

My brother was talking about how he wants a really nice and flexible part-time job while he studies, and I realized I could really offer him that. In exchange for a fixed percentage of my writing/editing income, he’s going to start working for me for a month to see if we can make things work.

If it does work out and we can streamline the work, I might finally be able to do more, and finish my book, and actually have time to visit blogs etc. etc. And if that’s the case, he can actually make a really nice income right along with me, all while studying at the same time.

I’m really excited about this, because it might be an excellent way to expand the overall publishing business that is me.

How are you guys doing?

Update Day: DOH!

Sigh.

It’s finally happened. After three years, I finally managed to forget my own bloghop. >_<

I remembered on Thursday and then yesterday, I had to clean out the garage (it was a public holiday in South Africa) and I was so exhausted by the end of it (huge garage… looooooooooots of stuff) that I completely forgot about literally everything I was supposed to do.

Sorry!

But I have to at least give a bit of an update, so here’s my Update Day post anyhow. For those of you wondering what all this is about, a bunch of us have set some huge or just super important goals. On the last Friday of every month, we post updates on how we’re doing. The accountability and encouragement just does wonders.

You’re more than welcome to sign up. All you have to do is click here.

Last month, I decided to be a bit more kind to myself than I was lately, so I haven’t really set much in the way of writing and money goals.
It’s just hard to chase down goals (impossible, even) if you’re barely able to keep going because it feels like you’re drowning.
To give you an idea of where I was this past month, you can check out my previous post. It wasn’t pretty.
But then you guys reminded me that sometimes, it’s just necessary to step back. So I decided to go quiet. To stop pushing and prodding myself.
I picked up my needlework again because the repetition of stitch after stitch just soothes me. And good thing, because there’s about 250,000 stitches to my current project.
And slowly, without me really realizing it, I started to feel better.
So for this month, I’m going to see if I can maintain what I’ve been managing lately, plus a few minutes of writing every day. Let’s say five minutes.
Just a simple addition, to see if I can ease myself in as simply and as painfully as possible.
How are you doing? 

Paralysis

I want to write a blog post today, because I know it’s good for me. The thing is, I’m struggling. Maybe I’m burned out, but it feels like my words have become a hopelessly tangled heap of strings, and every string I pull brings out a whole host of strings I didn’t want to see.

So I guess the words are there (which is new for me.) It’s just that there are too many of them. Too many emotions. But hey, it’s April so it’s unlikely that a lot of you will read this post anyway. So I get to just air some words and see what comes out.
The truth is, I feel stuck. I’ve mentioned that my life by and large sucks at the moment, which is fair enough, but until recently, I’ve always had writing to give me a sense of movement. As long as I made progress on my work in progress, that was okay, because then I was actually working toward something.
But that also meant that I have been flirting on the edge of burning out for a long time. And by a long time, I mean basically from March 2014. Maybe even earlier.
The thing is, that thing I mentioned before with my family member who spectacularly fucked us over… It gave me a good old shove into the abyss, and now I’m here with no idea about how to get out.
And if I’m honest, I might actually be self-sabotaging.
See in the aftermath, I tried to sit down and write, because I know it’s good for me. Because I need to feel like at least something is moving in the wrong direction and…. Nothing. Like… even the notes I’d left for myself to guide me toward the end of the story feel like some other parson wrote them. When I think about writing right now, I just feel… numb.
And I hate it. So instead of writing, I spent the most of the past month doing nothing. It’s not that I’m lazy per se. I’m still working, editing for people, formatting for people…that sort of thing. But when it comes to doing something for myself, something that could actually get me climbing out of the abyss again, I basically stare at the ladder out and do nothing.
Maybe I’ve been knocked down one time too many. And although things are starting to go a bit better, I don’t feel better. I feel like life is right there, dancing around and waiting for me to get onto my feet so it can hit me in the face again. And honestly, I don’t see the attraction of it.
Three years.
Three whole fucking years of this shit.
Two weeks ago was the third anniversary of getting my rights back from Etopia Press. So yes, it’s almost exactly three years since everything went to hell, because the crap with Etopia was the start. And man, I fought. I fought like a lion. Things went bad and I wrote more.
But here I am now, and I don’t know if I have anything left. Because everything I do feels like I’m just setting myself up for more harm.
So I do nothing.
I stare without blinking and fill my hours with nonsense. Not reaching for the ladder out of the abyss because I don’t want to face whatever is waiting for me up there.
Because that’s one thing I can say about being down here. If I don’t think about it too much, the paralysis is at least peaceful.

Getting Back to Basics

I briefly considered writing this post for my other blog (you know, the one that actually is supposed to contain musings about my life), but I put that one on hiatus more than a year ago, and I feel bad to take it off hiatus for what could potentially be only one post.

So here we are.

I’ve been really quiet. Mostly I just needed a break. The events of the past two weeks just really brought me to a brink I didn’t like being on. A kind of mute terror that nothing would ever be okay again.

And no, I’m not being dramatic.

One day, I might actually write about this time here, but if you’d like to know exactly what’s going on, I have a post about it on my Patreon feed, which you can get to (as well as some awesome rewards) for a $1 subscription pledge. Eek. That looks like a plug. It’s really not. I don’t like keeping secrets from you guys, but what’s going on right now is so ugly that I can’t just post it out in public. Patreon is a balance of both, offering easy access to those who really want to know while keeping it relatively private so it can’t just come up whenever someone searches my name.

For those of you who’d rather like to skip to the current point I’m making: The shit situation continues, but I’m picking myself up (again) and dusting myself off (again) and getting on with getting on (again.)

Sometimes, it’s really hard, almost impossible to do that. Especially when I’ve been knocked down and back so many times that I’m about a hair’s breadth away from losing all faith in humanity. Because the most frustrating thing about all this is that I didn’t put myself here. 

But I have to get out somehow and I can’t do that if I keep wallowing in the rage I feel toward the growing list of people who’ve wronged me and those I love. I can’t get out if I don’t have hope that one day, something I or someone in my family did will pan out. I also can’t do it if I’m snowing myself under with a laundry list of expectations when some days, just the act of getting up for the day feels like a chore.

So now I’m going back to basics. If I feel like I’m too burned out to write, I don’t write. I’ve scrapped my publishing deadline for Book 3 because it’s already too close and I really don’t need the extra pressure. I’m putting in more time with my freelance work which, while still not quite in the “it’s taken off” category, still is doing well enough to give me hope that it will take off in the near future. I’m cutting out as much negativity as I can.

This means willing myself not to dwell on the past, and particularly not this most recent thing. I let myself feel them, but then I remind myself I have to move on and do that instead. But also, I’ve found that the Trump election has turned a lot of people in my social networks (on all sides of the political divide) into toxic people to have contact with.

So I’m culling them out of my feed.

It’s nothing personal, but for the sake of my own well-being, I’m doing what I must in order to keep myself in as good an emotional shape as I can.

Because I can still move for as long as I can function on some level.

And if being ruthless with my culling and stingy with my time is what it takes to just get anything done, so be it.

It’s already helped too. Because here I am, writing when on IWSG day I could barely even type out a sentence without crying.

There is hope. There is progress.

Onward.

How about you? How do you deal when life gets really difficult?