So this week I got some exciting news!

*drum roll*

I just signed a contract for a novella coming out with Nine Star Press! It's the story of Oscar, who very much does not like the holidays, and Nathan, who very much could be one of Santa's elves. They meet in the crazy that is Black Friday, and immediately hit it off. Of course, falling in love around the holidays is never easy, but they might just be able to do it!

With acceptance comes cover forms to fill out, edits to return, and blurbs to write. It's all very exciting.

Short post today, as I have baking to do, triplets to hang out with, more baking to do, then friends to visit.


What a Week

Life is kind of funny in that when you have a deadline approaching, you will of course have more things to do. 

For instance. I had a deadline on Thursday for a manuscript and I'd gotten a later start on writing it than I'd planned, so I was cutting the submission close. Weekends are prime writing/revising time (when I can write a couple thousand words instead of a couple hundred).

So what did I have on Saturday? A horse show. Now, the shows take all day generally, plus preparation in the week before. And then it usually exhausts me, so I'm completely useless the next day.

No pressure.

Thankfully, while the day itself was exhausting, I was able to get up on Sunday and work on the story. I got enough done on Sunday that I wasn't in a panic on Thursday trying to do One Last Edit before submitting it. The story went out the door!

It taught me two important things: I can hit a tight deadline, and I never want to do that again!

But the horse show (which is a fund-raiser for the 4-H club), went really well. The day was hot, my first horse was kind of a brat, but I still got a ribbon in every class and generally had a good time. There was a BIT of stress in the morning, since the horses at the barn didn't want to come in, it was going to be too hot to leave them outside, and so we got a late start. Which mean we barely had time to warm up before our classes. I was a tad stressed. Just a tad. But I survived.

Sunday, aside from working on the manuscript, involved rewatching the anime Princess Tutu and knitting. I told you I was worthless after a show :P

I've also started a new knitting project yesterday (because two projects at once just isn't enough). I've had this yarn sitting around for a year or so, and I've never been sure what to do with it, but I decided to finally try making full mittens (instead of just fingerless mittens/wrist warmers). 

I'm not following a pattern, because I'm sort of just planning on knitting up like normal and then finding a pattern on how to end the mitt part. Should be fine. Right?

Well, if you want to see more of my knitting pictures, I'll post them on Instagram, I'm trying to actually be active there: AlextheRate. Sorry for the quality. I'm currently using an older iDevice for Reasons. 


Excuses and Priorities: Finding the Time

While having a conversation with a fellow fledgling writer, he mentioned he "didn't have time" to work on his current project. I mentioned that you make time for what's important in your life, so if you're not "making time" then it's not as important as other things.

This is, of course, true within reason. If you're exhausted after a long day of work, then even if you have time to write, it might not be a good idea to write--the words will probably feel as tired as you. There's also times when you're just not in the headspace to write--whether because the scene is dark and you're too happy or the scene is happy and you're too sad. But generally, if you make time to write, then you're going to write more than if you didn't make time. (Um, duh, right?)

He sheepishly agreed with me and said he deserved to hear that, since he applies that to so much else in his life/preaching. It's a good thing to apply to life. Obviously having kids (which he does) complicates things, since their priorities might not match with your own, but the logic still applies (just slightly tweaked).

I think of myself as fairly busy. I work full-time, ride horses at least twice a week, write and edit my own stuff, am (sorta) active in a writers' group, am a leader of a 4-H club, see my friends at least once a week, visit family (although not often enough), run my single-person household, and get 6-8 hours of sleep a night (which is mandatory for the happiness of the world). I've had people ask how I do it. Well, I follow some rules.

1. Schedule things. I joke with my mom, but I require most events to be scheduled at least a month in advance if you want my attendance. Anything less than that and I don't feel bad for saying "Sorry, busy!" Scheduling let's me know when I am going to have a busy weekend and need to reorganize other items. Say my Saturday is booked. Since my weekend mornings are prime writing time, then I need to either plan to write more on Sunday or else try to squeeze in more time during the week. Scheduling allows for optimal use of all of your time.

That said, don't overschedule to the point where you don't have any downtime built in. I tend to expect everything to take longer than it does, so I never feel rushed to do the next thing. I used to not be as good at that, and you burn out quick.

2. Prioritize. This gets back to what I was saying earlier. I used to (okay, we all know I still do) complain that I don't have time to write. And then I realized I couldn't write in the evenings after work because my head wasn't in the right spaces. But writing more was something I wanted to do. So I started setting aside time in some mornings to get up and write. Does it mean I sometimes roll out of bed when I'd rather be curled up browsing tumblr? Yes. But for me it's worth it.

Some mornings I may only write 200 words, but it's 200 more words than I had the night before. And just doing it feels like an accomplishment. And starting the morning with an accomplishment is a good way to do it!

Obviously this can apply to anything. But if you ever find yourself saying "I don't have time for X," but you spend your whole night watching reality TV shows, then you need to ask yourself, "Is reality TV more important than X to me?" If you keep spending your time that way, then yes, it is.

I'm lucky enough to have a fairly flexible schedule, and kids throw a wrench (or a whole toolbox) into working schedules, but if you really want to do the thing, then you have to make time to DO THE THING. If you come to the time to do the thing and you don't feel like it at that moment, then you can always do something else. But if you don't make the time to do the thing, then you'll never have time to do the thing.

3. Do the above to everything in your life. Now, I don't mean rank "friend time" vs "family time." But if you've seen your fiends a lot that week and you need some alone time, don't be afraid to say no if they invite you to a movie you're lukewarm on and you'd really rather be writing. Even if you can do thing X during when you'd usually slump on the couch watching TV, you might be able to do something else during that time, which would then open up a different slot for doing thing X.

And that's...pretty much it. I realize not everyone can/wants to have a life as structured as I do, but I think the core ideas can help everyone. No, you might not have a Google Calendar for every week sketching out when you have writing time, but having the idea of "I'll wake up twenty minutes earlier on Wednesdays to [do X] before I head to my job" is sometimes all we need.

Also, if you do all the above and find out you still "don't have time," then it just means that the thing you "want to do" isn't actually that important to you. And that's okay too. It might help to rephrase the thinking though: "I'd love to do X, but I have too many other awesome thing I'm busy doing." There's no shame in realizing that while something might be really cool and you'd like to do it, it just isn't that important in the grand scheme of things. As long as you're happy with the things you are making time for, then that's all that matters.


Another Year Wiser

I had my birthday last weekend, in which I got a little crisp (but nothing that hurt for more than 24 hours), but otherwise had a lot of time having fun in the sun with my family (especially the three five-year-olds). I might not ever want kids, but I love my nephews and niece! They really make for a fun birthday.

Of course, birthday parties mean less time writing (I literally woke up, ran to the barn, got home, napped, then went to gatherings until 8pm, at which point I was so exhausted I didn't have brain cells to rub together to form a story).

But I got stuff. First off, my stuffed Fluffy arrived. He's from the manga/anime The Morose Mononokean, and he's adorable. I actually bought him for myself a couple of weeks ago, but I regret nothing. He's very soft. And it was a nice gift to find on my birthday :) Though I had to hide him when the kids came over!

If you saw my previous post, you saw me mention that as a kid/teen, I had an obsession with taking pictures of presents that I'd received. I still do that, although slightly less often now, oddly enough, even though it's easier now.

I mostly take pictures to send to my friends. But I'm still not sure what my obsession with it is. Maybe so I don't forget that I own this thing? Even though I own the thing, so I obviously have it. Although, now that I think about it, I believe at one time I heard that insurance companies only would replace personal items in a house if you had proof that you owned said item. I'm not sure if that's accurate, or if a picture would even prove you owned it, but I think I got it in my head that I needed to take pictures of all my presents so the insurance company would buy me my stuff if we got robbed/the house burned down.

I don't know. I was weird. Because I'm obviously not now.

So, good news on the writing front: Once I finish the current xmas story (which has a fast-approaching deadline, so I'll either finish or give up), I can return to the rom-coms that I've been working on, and hopefully will have more information to share than just "Still not done yet."


Happy Birthday to Me

My birthday has always signaled the end of summer to me (and probably still does for a lot of kids). It was always a week or so before school started, and so the free, wild days were gone.

This year my birthday just signals the end of a very busy month.

After dog-sitting a geriatric pup at the end of July, I had roughly a week and a half to breathe before rushing off to my own four-day vacation. I got back from that and immediately (like, didn't even unpack vacation stuff) went to my parents' house to cat-sit for them (it's actually more like garden-sit, because I'll be honest, the garden takes more work than the cat. Though the garden doesn't wake me up at 3 am begging for breakfast). I drove home on Monday from THAT and here we are.

To say the least, my word count is lacking, my birthday has come (it was Wednesday), and I'm really looking forward to September! *check calendar* October!

Oh, and there's a Christmas piece that deadlines in the middle of September that I'm trying to hit. NO PRESSURE SELF. :P

But really, even with all the crazy, I'll likely hit my word count for August, I had a good time on vacation, I got to ride a lot this month, and things are pretty good.

I hope everyone else had a nice summer too.


One Queer Journey

Right. So this week I'm house-sitting for my parents, and since the cat hasn't changed much in the year since I've watched her, you won't be getting more adorable cat pictures.

Instead, I decided to spend my week going through the boxes of my stuff that are still at my parents' house (two boxes of stuffed animals, one box of books, two boxes of miscellaneous junk). One of those boxes had a shoebox full of photos (organized by film roll/date and sorted accordingly because it's me). I also found an unused photo album, and since I'm all about downsizing, I decided to junk all the photos that I couldn't fit in the album. That's my childhood reduced to 160 pictures (aside from those photo albums I've already made).

Which meant I spent a few days going through the photos of my childhood (which involved a lot of me taking weird pictures of birthday presents, because that was a thing I loved to do. As if I was going to forget what I'd gotten). And I thought it'd be fun to share my haircut journey. Some of these I look back on and say, "Really, genderqueer, why was this a surprise?"

Back in the day I had fairly blond hair. And since I had two older brothers, my mother LOVED to put me in dresses. I was not as happy about this.

You can't see the full extent of frilly dress-itude in this picture, but I think the bow says an awful lot.

But long hair does not a girly-girl make. My mom may have insisted on dresses for holidays, church, and special occasions, but most of the time I ran around in jeans...or cleats.

Because I played soccer! I loved soccer. My dad was a great coach, I was fairly athletic, and I got to be rough and tumble. I wasn't a good long-distance runner, but I could sprint well and knock people (completely legally) on their butts.

The older I got, the more I resisted the dresses, the more I was a 'tomboy', until eventually....

Listen, I'm not saying it was a great haircut on me, but this was probably sometime in the nineties, so we'll just go with that as the excuse. Also, I'm pretty sure it was the first time my parents (read: my mother) let me pick my own hairstyle. And the hairstylist just sort of went along with me, I think. The details are a little fuzzy.

I don't necessarily think clothes make the man, but they sure do say something about me :)

And yes, in that first picture I was holding Mario Paint. It was the one video game that was MINE and not my brothers' and I was so proud of it (even though it wasn't nearly as fun as all the games my brothers had that I played).

In high school I let my hair grow out again, either because I do sometimes like it long (even if all I do is put it in a ponytail or braid) or because peer pressure indicated long hair was a must to attract the attention of guys (which is what all high schoolers want, right?).

So I let it grow out. And out and out and out. The picture shows the absolute length of my hair (it doesn't grow any longer, because I shed too fast for it go do so. It also shows my hair's tendency to have a SLIGHT wave.

The reason I took this sort of random shot?

Because it was the summer before my freshman year of college, and I once again cut all my hair off. I didn't go as drastically short this time, mostly because I was going through enough changes, I didn't want to look stupid (which I then felt like I looked back with my short hair).

Over the course of college my hair got shorter and shorter and shorter, until a few years after graduation, when I started getting basically the same short hair as I have now (with some variations and different styles over the years).

So here I am. Thanks for joining me on this journey down memory lane!


Birthday Bash Giveaway!

In case you haven't heard, my birthday's in a week (August 24)!

To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of Second Skin and Sharing a Pond. This is a tumblr-only giveaway (sorry!).

You can find the Sharing a Pond giveaway here.

You can find the Second Skin giveaway here.

Good luck!