Books

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Avatar Reveal & Technical Difficulties

So frustrating! I was hoping to have this out for you yesterday, but the programs that I'm using are giving me problems. I played around with it a week or so ago and got it to work just fine. Now of course, audio issues as well as other technical drama. I can say that the YouTube channel has already been set up, though there isn't anything on it yet. I'll share a link as soon as I start posting. I may eventually add a Twitch stream to it, but since none of you seem to use it currently, creating it and content for it has fallen by the wayside. 

So, what am I going to do today? Well, I may not be able to show you the video I was hoping to, but that doesn't mean that I can't have an avatar reveal. Are you ready to see her?

The background is just a painting of mine from last year, though I'm working
on drawing an actual library shelf for her to hang out in front of. 

Isn't she awesome? 

Here's what the base character you're given looks like.

I created her out of a program called VRoid. They give you a very basic system to create a character and then let you go wild. I created every bit of her from scratch, except for the ears. Trying to make them proved too difficult for my current skill set. I found these offered by a VTuber known as @CakeCatBoy on Twitter. 

So, why did I make a girl with cat ears? Well first, they're fox ears, not cat ears. Second, when I was making an avatar there were certain things I needed to make sure she had. The first was a design that I found kawaii to the extreme without being chibi. I needed her to have colorful hair, mimicking the shades I turn my own hair. I settled on purple because I love the color and it works really well with the orange shirt. The last thing I needed was something to take her from reality to fantasy. I decided that while mermaid may be fun as heck, I'd much rather be a kitsune. One day, I hope to give her a tail as well, though I expect that will have to wait until I'm better at making characters. 

So, what do you think of her design? 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Resolutions... and a surprise!

So... 2021 didn't explode in its first week? I'm willing to call that a win.

So, what am I hoping to talk about today? Well, I think I'll talk about my resolutions for one more week. 

Normally, I would have a general idea of what I want to do for my resolutions by the first of January, even if I haven't set anything in stone. This year... it almost felt like I didn't want to jinx it by planning too far ahead. And while I think I still won't be planning the entire year with any exactness, I do like having an idea of where I'm going. 

First, while I love staying home and writing, I think I need to get back out in the world. Last year I stopped looking for a job around February... a mix of pandemic and no jobs miring me at home. Now, it looks as though some of the job market might be returning, so I'm going to go back to setting one day a week and doing nothing but sending out dozens of resumes and looking over the job market in general.  Personally, I'd love to see some sort of universal basic income but I'm not holding my breath for one. 

Second, I will still be writing, even if I get a job. So, my writing goals for the first quarter are to finish editing Fox's Facade and send the book on to my editor and betas. I want to publish Fox's Facade tentatively during the summer, so I'll play with that and see where it goes with an update at the end of the first quarter. 

Third, I am moving the "get healthier" option from last year to this year. Most of it will be a mix of RingFit and the Switch boxing game. Maybe not every day, but almost every day. I will be looking for healthier food options as well, but changing everything all at once doesn't work, so it will be little bits at a time, hopefully leading to a healthier me at the end of the year. 

Finally, I will be starting a Youtube channel and maybe a Twitch channel... though I'm not sure about Twitch just yet. I am going to be reading my novel, Hunter's Gambit, chapter by chapter for you guys, hopefully, one chapter each week. And because I've always wanted an online avatar, I've created one to use! I will definitely be posting my novel reading to Youtube, but let me know if you would like me to start a Twitch channel, as well. I could easily read the novel out and then have a question and answer period, if that would interest anyone, and then put out better-edited audio on Youtube later. Then again, I think Youtube has a live function as well, so really just let me know. I'm not sure exactly what week it will begin, but it will be soon! I'm just testing out programs right now and seeing whether my current equipment will work for this purpose before I put it out. I should have pictures to show you of my character by next week!

Let me know what you think about the Youtube vs Twitch debate and I'll keep you all informed. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

It's The First Post of 2021

*Pokes 2021 with a stick*

"Is it safe to come out yet?"

Normally, I would say that another year has come and gone, but, well, this year has been horrible. As a Canadian, I was saved from most of the trouble. However, at the end of the year, everything started to snowball, even here. That said, I'm making this week a time of reflection, which includes looking back at what I wanted to accomplish last year.

So, last year the tasks I wanted to finish were publishing Lord’s Curse, writing Noble’s Choice, Improving my health, open an account on Fiverr, open an Etsy shop, read 75 books, study Japanese and Spanish, clean my house, and editing Fox’s Fa├žade.

Of that list, I did okay, I suppose. First, my successes.

I did publish Lord’s Curse during the warm summertime.  Working with my editor was awesome and I can’t wait to do it again. Though my release was overshadowed by riots and rampant disease, it was still published and that was a win. I also finished writing Noble’s Choice. And all in all, I’m really pleased with how it turned out so far. I can't wait to start editing it after Fox's Facade is done. While I decided against opening an Etsy shop, I’m counting it as a win, since I made a firm decision on it. When I open a web store I will probably create an account then and put the necklaces and prints up there at the same time. I also opened a Fiverr account. I got hired a few times, but things slowed down as the year imploded, which I understand. I’ll be promoting it a bit more in the new year, so if you have a bit of writing you need developmental editing on, consider using me!

I had a few things I worked on but didn’t succeed to a level of “success” as well, of course. For instance, I cleaned my house (office) and actually came really close to finishing… Before I ran into a month and a half of rush and had to stop. My office is a complete mess again now, but that’s usually how the year goes. The real difference for me here is that I actually have a place for most things now, which solves a lot of the cleaning problem. For my yearly reading challenge, I decided to try reading 75 books for the year. However, I found out that extreme stress makes it so I can’t concentrate on writing, which meant that I spent a lot more time listening to music than reading. Despite that, I did completely finish 65 books. While that total is low for me, I find reading speed very subjective, so I know that while some of you will give me shade for “only” finishing 65, the other half will be wondering when I find the time. It's not a win, but 65 books is nothing to scoff at either. My language studies are in here because while I think I’ve done rather well at identifying issues with my learning and have figured out better ways to learn in Japanese, I wrote at the beginning of the year that I wanted to work on Spanish as well. Since I dropped Spanish entirely, I have to count it as a partial win. The last thing in this list is my novel Fox's Facade. Even at the beginning of the year, I wasn't sure if I would have it done by December and the near-total rewrites did not help things. Despite that, I am halfway through my last edit before it goes out to beta readers and my editor, so we're on time for hopefully a summer release. 

The one thing that I did not keep up is my goal to improve my health. I am still overweight and want better stamina, flexibility, and balance. This goal is getting moved onto 2021's wholesale. With the Switchfit game as my Yule gift from my husband and the Boxing game (perhaps updating to the new one when I have a bit more cash), I'm hoping to have a better response to this next year. 

So, that's it. This is the beginning of a new year! Let's move forward bravely, but also carry a big stick to beat 2021 down if we need to. ­čĺ¬

PenPen the Penguin rocking away listening to New Year's Tunes. 


Friday, December 25, 2020

From my Family to Yours,

Go, spend your day with your family, and I'll be back next week, hopefully with some news.



Friday, December 18, 2020

Happy Holidays... Mostly

I have complicated emotions around the holidays. Not all holidays, of course. For instance, I love Valentine's, no holds barred and White Day (a Japanese semi-equivalent of Valentine’s Day, more on that in a future post) is a high favorite on my list. No, the ones I have issues with tend to be Christian holidays. Specifically, because I'm not Christian anymore, which means that most of my feelings on them are more complex than whether or not I enjoy it or believe in it.

I won't be getting into why I changed religions here. I didn't change my beliefs because paganism is better or because there was anything wrong with Christianity. For me, asking why someone follows a specific religion is like asking why someone chose blue as their favorite color instead of yellow. One clearly fits better on a personal level. My experience doesn't invalidate yours, any more than your experiences would invalidate mine. They’re different and that’s okay.


So, why do I bring this up? Well because Christmas is the one holiday that I feel invested in, regardless of the fact that I'm not Christian anymore. It was a part of me, ever since I was a child. Being born only three days before Christmas essentially meant that as I grew up, that was simply part of my holidays. The two were connected. Add to that my inherent love of pageantry and you can see where I lost everything.

Still, for a few years after changing my religion, I was adamant. My tree was a Solstice tree, gifts were Solstice gifts. We celebrate Solstice, not Christmas. Despite that dedication, there were some things I just couldn’t seem to shake the habit on and therefore kept or adapted and traditions from other places that I’ve stolen to add to our own celebrations. So, what does this end up meaning?

Well, it means that my winter holidays tend to end up a bit muddy.

I love Christmas songs, even if I’m more fond of the modern songs than I am of the classics. They get added to my music list usually on December 1st. I set up a Christmas tree every year (since I never remember to call it a solstice tree), crowned by a blue/silver angel that my husband and I found and loved, despite my preferences towards wanting a star (to stand in for the Sun). I give gifts throughout the season to friends and all of my family gifts on the 24th. After that, things start getting odder.

I love Santa Claus but prefer to go with the ‘history’ as coined by L. Frank Baum in the Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (where he’s a human raised by fey who gives gifts to children) and he delivers gifts whatever and whenever your winter celebration is. December 25th is a dedicated non-work day, usually devoted to reading and playing video games. We will usually order Chinese food for dinner. I say Happy Holidays, rather than Merry Christmas, to people and I support service staff not being forced to say Merry Christmas to everyone (happy holidays will suffice if the company insists). I give all of my friends and family books and snacks for Jolabokaflod rather than giving Christmas gifts, unless I have no money and then I make art for them. We honor the J├│lak├Âtturinn (the Yule Cat) and make certain that every year both my husband and I receive something made of cloth (blankets, socks, and scarfs are common gifts). We celebrate the Solstice (this year on the 21st) and the return of the sun on the twelfth day after that (usually celebrated on the first of January because we’re more likely to have it off) as the first day you really notice the longer days.

Yes, it is kinda weird to say "Merry Book Exchange" but I've been
using it in holiday cards for too long to change now.

So yeah, that is my muddy, nostalgia-filled holidays. Do you celebrate any holidays this time of year? If so, what and how do you celebrate it? Do you take traditions from multiple sources or are you still doing things the exact same way your parents did it? I know we have a lot of readers from the southern hemisphere, so I’ll be excited to hear what differences there are among us.


Friday, December 11, 2020

Just a Quick Editing Update

 It's been a good week, even if I have been more on the anti-social end of things. I've been working away on my novel and have finished editing the first eleven chapters. That puts me 25% of the way through already. And while the new chapters are definitely better written, I have to admit that for the most part, the editing hasn't been too bad. I think I've only had a really tough time with one or two of the chapters so far and the new direction for the book is making my original story pop a lot more than it was originally. I have very high hopes that this book will be out to you all soon. 

That said, it isn't all easy. I live in Canada and I have to admit that the stress of the new lockdown is starting to get to me. I've taken a few more days off than I should be doing things other than writing; usually still things that I need to get done, so at least I'm still being productive. In the end, it's slowing me down, but I'm not letting it stop me. I don't let anything stop me. 

And I think that's where I'm going to end it today. I'll be jumping back into my editing as soon as this goes up, so wish me luck! :)

Friday, December 4, 2020

Gifts for the Writers on Your List

 The season of giving has returned to us. While I usually hard push for presence, rather than presents, this year, our unique circumstances suggest that if you do have money to buy gifts for your friends and loved ones, this is the time to take that route. 

With that in mind, if you're looking at that reader/writer in your life and just not sure what to get them (and you don't want to stoop down to buying them the holidays' newest savior), here's a list of things they are almost guaranteed to enjoy. 

  1. Author Swag
    Most writers and readers love books more than anything. However, most buy their books themselves, so buying actual books can be difficult. Instead, I suggest swag from their favorite author. A mug with the catchphrase of her favorite series, a t-shirt with the cover of his favorite novel on it, a notebook with art directly from the books... all of it will go over insanely well. In particular, most of your favorite writers will have a store where you can buy said swag. Buying direct from the author when possible is a great way to support that author while making your writers really happy. 
  2. Books
    Does your writer love science fiction? Find out if they're already rocking the new favorites that were just released this year like Network Effect by Martha Wells or To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini; both of which were nominated for Best Science Fiction book of the year on Goodreads. They love Fantasy? There are, of course, my books, but if they've already read those, you could look at Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson, 4th book of the Stormlight Archives series and just released in November so still very new. Looking for a graphic novel to expand their reading experiences? I suggest Monstress. Start with Volume 1 unless they're already following it though. If you want my suggestions for favorite books, I absolutely loved The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns and The Good Brother by E.L. Chen. I also finally had a chance to read the first book in the Wolf and Parchment light novel series and it rocks as well, though my preference stays with Holo and Lawrence from Spice & Wolf.
  3. Stationary
    Most writers and readers love pens and other stationery. While I'm not sure why, I can easily suggest colored pens, colored paper, pretty notebooks, pencil cases, washi tape (not only good for crafts but for using in school for personal things as well), and any pen that writes in metallic inks.
  4. Subscriptions
    Believe it or not, there are book subscription boxes out there. You can get a new book each month, with tea, cookies, candles or bookmarks. These boxes are generally cheap, are usually separated into genres so you can get them good books delivered monthly to their door. And let's be honest here, new books delivered to your door in a pandemic when you can't go to a bookstore is awesome. Even if you can't afford a big gift, even just one month for them to try the system out will almost certainly make your reader/writer friends smile. There are even a few subscription boxes for authors, specializing in improving craft, new stationery and other writing supplies and other authorly goodies. 
  5.  Cash
    It's 2020 and we need to move past the idea that giving money is gauche. There are a lot of things that are too personal for me to suggest for readers and writers, but they still need. Writing software, subscriptions, e-readers, tablets for e-readers... these are very expensive or exceptionally personal items that we need, but we would never expect someone to buy for us. A donation from multiple people means we can afford big-ticket items that we will absolutely love.
And that's it for this list. Let me know if you think of any other good ideas to add to this list and let me know if you want me to look into making writerly swag. I don't know if that's something you'd be interested in, but if it is, let me know and I'll put it on the planning lists for next year.