Archive | life RSS feed for this section

Editing, Life & Spy Stuff

27 Nov

A lot has been happening in my life over the past couple of weeks, and not much of it has included editing. I flew to Chicago for a week to see my long-distance boyfriend, whom I hadn’t seen in 5 months (we weren’t always long distance); he was a complete gentleman and romantic during my entire stay. Also, one of my cats has not been feeling well and has lost over 6 pounds from his original weight of 16. Then tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Summerlin, Nevada to help open a new furniture store with Living Spaces, where I work as a visual merchandiser. (This will be my 3rd store opening since I started about 6 months ago.)

In other words, I haven’t had much downtime—and I won’t, for some time.

Store openings are a whirlwind and can be a lot of fun, but they’re also stressful at times.  Last time I did one we only had 9 days to set up everything from scratch (10 for the rest of the team, since I left a day before grand opening), which was a record time for the company. This next one I’m doing will be similar. Like the last, this will be another large store, clocking in at 140,ooo square feet. (These store showrooms are comparable to IKEA’s in size, by the way; IKEA just tends to advertise the sizes of their entire building with the warehouses included.)

In other words, it’s pretty big.

Luckily, I’ll get to see the boyfriend again as soon as January rolls around, which will be nice. In between my return from Summerlin on December 8th and the boyfriend’s arrival 4 weeks thereafter, I should be able to get some more “read-out-loud” editing done.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to finish before the end of the year now, unfortunately. Too much has been going on, and my attention has been spread as a result. I’ll have more of a chance to focus on the novel in the upcoming weeks and later in January after the boyfriend has returned to Chicago.

In Other News…

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting some ideas for the next book and keep thinking about a few scenes in particular that have been inspired by some moody, spacey songs I’ve been listening to by a song artist named Koda. (You can find more of his music here.) I also spent a little time tweaking my two ending chapters, as they didn’t quite feel “right” to me—not that they were “wrong,” per se; just not quite “hitting the mark” for me.

39a63157fc07b0e57337bfad28cbe5e3

What happens when a drunk air elementalist with claustrophobia tangos with a brooding clairvoyant wrestler at 3AM in a hotel room? Writing about it in a chapter of my fantasy novel, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, entitled, “Two Tumblers, a Red Dress & a Bottle of Whiskey.” | Image credit: unknown.

Anyway, the second story will be set in new locations inspired by early 20th-century China, Japan, and Saharan regions especially as opposed to the more European-like settings I’m currently writing in.  It will likely be even more espionage-y than the first novel, I’m gathering—mostly because the main characters will be veering off their usual paths and doing a lot more things their governments may/may not approve of (intrigue!), as possibly hinted at by the novel title I have planned: The Elementalist: Revolutionary.

As such, I’ve been gathering inspiration on life in/near the Sahara as well as spies during WWII.

9781447220589the-key-to-rebecca

I started reading an espionage thriller called The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett, which I’m enjoying so far. It mainly follows a German spy who’s been sent to Cairo, Egypt during WWII, as well as his British intelligence counterpart in an intriguing cat-and-mouse game. I’ve also been watching the miniseries version of a book I once read called The Time In Between, also set around the WWII era. I wrote a blog post about this book a while ago; it was one I really enjoyed.

19534027-878783

The TV series is very well done. Sira Quiroga, a Spanish seamstress turned renowned dressmaker turned spy against the Nazis, is a clever and compelling heroine–with an impeccable sense of style, to boot! If my protagonist Voi Román read her story, I think she would like Sira very much and might even consider her a role model, of sorts.


Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to. I still need to pack and get ready for my trip to Summerlin, though hopefully, I can get a little editing done before I go. (Once I’m there, it’s 10+ hour work days, and after moving furniture and bending and crouching all day, I know I won’t have the energy to edit then!)

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, both old and new!

One Year Later…

21 May

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve written a blog post here or worked on my novel, but…I actually did some editing today. (Progress bar went from purple to pink!)

I’ve missed it. I’ve missed it a lot. Reading fiction, working on my own, connecting with other writers…

For the past few years I’ve been busy with my interior design business Simplicit Interiors, LLC and figuring out a career as a visual merchandiser working at furniture stores. It takes a lot to be a business owner–more than I may be willing to give, I’ve realized. Which is totally fine. It’s not for everyone. Waiting to see how things play out for the remainder of this year, to be honest.

In the meantime, I decided to get back into the ol’ novel. Picked up on a troublesome chapter I last left off on. Finally tackled it and fixed some big problems I had with it. Wasn’t easy, but…it was worth it.

I’ve remained fairly active on Instagram and Pinterest all this time. Thinking about starting a new Instagram account specifically for my Element 7 project and dieselpunk stuff. It’ll be a fun way to share what inspired me (and keeps inspiring me) to take a crack at this thing called writing and coming back to the world I’ve created. It’s worth the sacrifice of time, I think.

Been popping in on different bloggers’ websites the past couple of days, seeing what’s up. Don’t be surprised if I stop by and say hi!

Home Renos, Agent Carter & Editing Stuff

1 Feb

The last two weeks I was a slacker. Didn’t get any editing done, so yesterday I plopped myself into my desk chair and combed through a pretty fat chapter.

Cut it down by more than 1,600 words! It was a good day.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing renovations on a new townhome I bought back in November–nope, still haven’t moved in. It’s a matter of funds, which tend to trickle in over time. I hope to move in sometime during March, though. Until then, I work on what I can.

The past couple of weeks me and my dad have been working on switching out all the light fixtures in the townhome for new ones I picked out and purchased. Take a look:

Lights Mix 2-1

PART951421530676093952015011795143733

I really just wanted to update the whole place, and I think these light fixtures add a very modern-contemporary vibe.

As for the rest of the space, well, I’m very eclectic by nature. I like antiques and vintage and retro furniture and accessories, but I also like more contemporary things, as well. I think my home will be a true reflection of this. My Instagram kinda shows this, as well.

Here are some concept boards I put together, showing more or less how some of my rooms will look like:

My First Place - Bedroom (small) My First Place - Living Room (small)

I’ve changed my mind on a few of the pieces on these boards since I made them, but the overall concepts will still be pretty close to the original. Soon enough, I’m planning on buying these materials for my floors and countertops, as well:

Materials 2

It’s been fun, being my own client!

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching Marvel’s new TV show Agent Carter, which I’m actually enjoying quite a bit. It is a great example of dieselpunk, afterall. 😉 Hayley Atwell is as captivating as ever, and it’s been interesting exploring more of the Marvel universe. Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime. As for tonight, I’m going to work on editing another scene. Then it’s back to the weekly grind…

As for my WIP snippets, I’m not sure I’ll keep posting a bunch of those here, but if you’d still like to read some I’ll be participating in Dieselpunk.org’s8 Sentence Sunday” for the foreseeable future. 🙂

That’s all for now, folks!

Wow!

27 Nov

I just realized I haven’t written anything here since March. That’s sad. 😦

I’ve been exploring different, new avenues in my life lately. My business was picking up, then slowed dramatically, I ended a fairly serious relationship, took a break, had an intense fling with someone new, and that didn’t work…then bought a new house.

Yup, my first home. 🙂

IMG_2154

Now, I’m kind of like, “Hmm…how do I really want to live my life? What do I want to do with it?

Writing has still been a part of it, just not here or in the fiction realm. I keep a couple of other blogs related to design and other random stuff. Having so many different interests, I’ve always found it difficult to focus. But even after all this time neglecting my beloved Element 7 project, I find myself missing it terribly.

I have some decisions to make, about priorities in my life. I miss writing fiction and reading it. I miss being engaged with other writers on their blogs and on Twitter. Generally, I miss being a part of the whole spec fic community.

Even if I am still an amateur.

I don’t even know if anyone will be reading this post! But if there is anyone out there still peeping in on my ramblings here at Seven and A Half Firsts…just know that you all have been severely missed.

I’m not sure how things are going to play out over the next few months because I have some renovations to do on my new townhouse before I’m actually going to move in, but I do know I want to make writing more of a priority in my life.

I think about it a lot, but nothing gets done by thinking alone.

We’ll see. 🙂 I’ll keep y’all posted. Oh yeah! And Happy Thanksgiving! ^_^

Progress-ish + New Site…Possibly?

11 Mar

Howdy, folks!  Checkin’ in with a progress report, of sorts.

Progress!

Last two weeks were craaaazy busy for me.  I’ve been working on a couple of design projects and pretty much using every spare moment I wasn’t working at the furniture store to do it.  I was quite tired at the end of it all, needless to say. (Still working on one of them, but there’s been a lull.)

Speaking of a lull, this past weekend I was able to get some editing done! Three scene plus I wrote a new one. (Apparently I skimped where I shouldn’t have–ooooo…) It was fun.  We’ll see what I get done this week/weekend. (Get to see the long-distance boyfriend this Saturday! ^_^)

Anyway, I’m just realizing I have to take my down moments where I can get ’em at this point.  Element 7 will get done.  Just a matter of time.

New Site…Possibly?

I really do want to set up a new author/writing site and blog, preferably through Wix. (I use them for my business’ website and have fallen in love.)  Also, a Facebook page.  However, I feel I shouldn’t do this until after I’ve completed my edits.  I’m thinkin’ of this as a reward–and a milestone marker indicating me taking the next big step to getting published, I suppose.

BUT.

Wix let’s you design and preview a site before it goes live, so of course I couldn’t resist setting up a little something.  Just a quick mock-up:

I’d love to have some decent photos taken with me wearing dieselpunk attire… That would be fun.  And cool, I think.  (Look: I’m even getting some ideas for my own dieselpunk looks as we speak.  Maybe one day I’ll blog about the stuff I have collected and share some pic-stitches of ideas for looks I have.) I may want some neat adventury artwork in the background, as well.  Hmm…

Dieselpunk Fashion

Anyway, this was just me playin’ around, dreamin’.  Might go for a more vintage theme and/or color palette on the website.  I’m sure I’d add a “recent news” section on the bottom of the home page, and I don’t think I’d have any telephone numbers listed…but yeah.  It’s just a start.  Will probably switch it up by the time it really matters anyway.  In any case, I do know I can’t really see myself not writing fantasy, and though dieselpunk may pass years down the road, it’d be kinda fun to stick to that niche (for the foreseeable future, anyway).

Random fact: I’ve been told by the super cool author Bard Constantine, who also writes dieselpunk stories, that I have a “vintage look” in this photo I shot while staying at this updated mid-century modern hotel called the Valley Ho here in Arizona:

IMG_1643e

Though not intentional, I do love vintage objects–especially furniture and home decor–so I have to admit: this both flatters, and amuses, me.

‘Realistically’

25 Jan

Realistically, I’ll probably get in 3-4 days a week, depending on my energy level and assuming there’s no design client to attend to.

Amendment: make that “I’ll be lucky if I get in 1-2 days a week…”

Happily going back at it today, though–editing, that is.  Comes in stop and starts, but I’ll take it.  On the roster for the day: sprucing up scenes where my main character, Voi, gets a tentatively-awaited letter from a friend she last parted with on uncertain terms… Also, Voi departs to a new city to embark on an–ehem, how shall we put it…technically illegal endeavor along a border region shared with historically-belligerent neighbors. (They are now admittedly peace-loving and seeking to join in an alliance with Voi’s people, but it wouldn’t be interesting if things were always what they seemed, now would it!)

Anyway, good times ahead…

(I feel like I should have been giving updates like this all along.  Hmm…maybe I’ll start doing that on The Other Blog.)

~

Speaking of The Other Blog, (maybe mentioned this before, but) I’m actually over at Tumblr, too, if anyone has a haunt/tends to lurk in those parts.  Sometimes I write about writing, but I post a lot of other random stuff, too, usually regarding dieselpunky and interior design stuff or my LDR adventures.  You can even see pics of me and the stunning boyfriend. 😉 (I’m not lying; he’s pretty darn handsome.  Just sayin’.)

Finding Time for The Novel

12 Jan

Well, folks, it certainly hasn’t been easy, finding time to work on the ol’ WIP.  Most times I fail, but I’m starting to see a slither of sunlight through thick grey clouds.

A Morning Writer with No Mornings

I have determined that, even going in to work at 7:30am rather than 6am, there’s no way I can motivate myself to get up early enough to put some editing and writing time in before my day begins.  Yes, I write better in the mornings but like 7am-10am morning, not 5am.

It’s just not going to happen.

Other Time

Just recently I wrapped up a bunch of research and presentation materials I was putting together for a new interior design project.  There may be a handyman/electrician and custom cabinetry involved, which will be a first for me since starting my own business.  In any case, it’s taken more time than I expected to consider all aspects of this particular project and getting my ducks all lined up to come up with an affordable solution for my client…but the legwork is finally done.

Now, when I come home from the day job at the furniture store, I actually have time, and energy, to work on the novel.

The reality, I’ve come to accept, is that if I have a design project in the works, there’s simply no way I’ll be able to dedicate time and energy to Element 7.  I basically work whenever I get a free moment–around the clock–to get a project done as fast yet as thoroughly as possible.

I just sent off my presentation materials last night via email, as my client likes to look at everything that way before meeting and discussing what she’d like to do.  So this morning I was able to sit at my computer and edit another chapter.

It felt really good.

Homesick for E7

I’ve missed the story.  I think about it all the time.  And lately, my boyfriend (God bless his soul) has been reading two chapters at a time and giving his first impressions, on top of his equally busy life… (This is the guy who is also a writer and had started a story about Tesla and Amelia Earhart time-traveling.) It’s been really nice being able to talk about my story with someone who seems to get it–or is at least interested in it.  Though, soon enough I’ll run out of chapters to send him if I don’t get back to editing!

So yeah, I’m happy to be sitting here dedicating time to Element 7, even if it’s only a couple of chapters.  I’ll do what I can to continue working on it, but it’s going to be pretty sporadic.  I am living with my parents and sister, so I don’t have the full responsibilities that come with being an adult (besides paying for most of everything else I need).  I do cook two days a week for everyone, however, and afterwards I’m like X_X (zero energy), so I know on those days I won’t get any editing and writing done.  I need some alone time at night to just let my brain lazily float out in space.  Also, as I’m sure I mentioned here before, every other weekend me and the boyfriend visit each other to make our long distance relationship work until we can work something out (it’ll be at least another year and a half/two years, I’m thinking *sighs*), so that leaves the opposite weekends available to work on the story plus three weekdays…technically.

Realistically, I’ll probably get in 3-4 days a week, depending on my energy level and assuming there’s no design client to attend to.  I thought I’d get used to the physical demands of my day job–and in some ways I have.  Though, overall, it’s still pretty tiring most days.

In any case, I’m just gonna do what I can to keep the ball rolling.  Even at this tortoise pace it’s possible to get the thing done.

We’ll get there…eventually.

New Blog (Kinda) + Updates

1 Dec

Howdy, folks!  It’s been too long…

I figured I’d give a little update on what’s happening–or rather not happening–around these parts, with the blog and the novel.

The Blog

I’ve actually started a Tumblr blog, which I post fairly regularly on.  It’s become a catch-all for my writing, dieselpunk and interior design musings.  I feel there’s more freedom for such a mix over there than, well, here.

What I’d like to do with Seven & a Half First Drafts, eventually, is give it a complete rehaul–visually and content-wise.  Mostly, I intend to use it for official updates on my novel and quest to get my work published.

…But before I can do that, I have to actually finish said novel.

The Novel

Unfortunately, there’s no way I’ll be getting the thing done before the end of the year as I’d originally hoped.  With me finally securing a steady full-time job in my field and doing what I can to keep my own business running, I haven’t really set aside much energy or time towards writing.  I swear, I must walk at least 8-10 miles a day at my new job; it’s that huge of a warehouse.  The first couple of months have been incredibly exhausting for me, getting used to traversing the facility all day and basically using muscles I normally don’t use all that much, heh, what with pushing and lifting and moving furniture. (I’m afraid I wasn’t very active before this job; I’m a homebody through and through.)

Anyway, I am getting used to the new job, physically, and lately I am finding I’m less tired coming home than I used to be.  There are still other challenges I must take into account to figure out a way to get this novel done within the next century, though (kidding, more like as soon as I can).

For one, I tend to write best in the mornings, but I currently go into work at 6am and get off at 2:30pm.  The latest they’ll let me come in is at 8am then leave at 4:30, so if I did that I could work on the novel between maybe 5-ish or 5:40 and 6:40, since I live about 15 minutes from work and usually require about an hour to get ready with my uncooperative hair and whatnot…eh.  However, I very much like having so much of the second half of the day available for other endeavors–such as my business.  When I do have design projects to attend to, I use that time after work (2:30 onward) to visit clients’ homes and do research for their projects.  It’s been slow lately, so I’m not always busy after the day job; but when I am busy with the design stuff I have zero time and energy for editing and writing.

I only work Monday through Friday, so technically I have the weekends completely free (unless it just works out that a Saturday or Sunday works best for me and a client to meet up).  Though, for those who don’t know, I’m also involved in a long-distance relationship with a fine fellow who lives about three hours away. (He seriously uses phrases like “that’s swell” and has a story he’s working on which involves Amelia Earhart and Nikola Tesla time-traveling, so that should give you some idea of how awesome he is! *winks*)  But anyway, unless we both have (holi)days off or something, we can only meet on the weekends.

Every other weekend, typically, for financial reasons.

In short, there are a lot of things to juggle.  But I really do want to get this Element 7 project out into the world, so I’ll have to figure something out.

I suppose getting off at 4:30 wouldn’t be too bad… It’d still leave some time for afternoon appointments.  Just means I still have to be up and editing at like 5am ’cause I prefer to have at least an hour and a half to really dig in and focus on the scene I’m editing.

*sighs* 

Decisions, decisions…

In any case, I got through another scene today, so yay.  It’s more than I’ve done in the past couple of months anyway, heh. (Sad, I know.)

We’ll see.  I’ll keep y’all posted.  Just know I ain’t altogether dropped out of this race just yet.

I Feel Like Writing.

13 Aug

All of a sudden.  And it’s not even Wednesday.  But boy, I sure haven’t done much writing here lately–or anywhere else, for that matter!

The Non-(Creative) Writing Life

So what have I written/edited over the past two months?  Well, let’s see…

I’ve written (and rewritten) some content for my business’ website, micro messages for technicians at my day job, other less exciting reports…even a legit “client agreement” for my business (which I had been marinating over for waaaay too long)…

But that’s not very inspiring.

Is it?

In case I haven’t mentioned this here before, I work for a pretty big appliance and home goods retailer presently.  In a call center.  Did I know what I was getting myself into? Ha!  Not even close, but it didn’t matter at the time.  I just needed a full-time job.  With benefits.

‘Cause that’s what “adults” need, you see.  Plus, I have student loans I need to finish paying off.  And I want my own (customizable) house/condo one day soon-ish.  With a classy cream Mini Cooper parked out front.  And I’m turning 25 on Sunday–and honestly, I don’t think I’ve entirely grasped the implications of all of this yet! @_@

So back to the day job. (Did I tell you I wake up at 3:45AM just to get there on time?)

I’m told I have good rapport with my customers most often, that I’m good with “quality.”  However, I struggle with meeting our quota for “avoids”–that is, successfully getting customers to troubleshoot and fixing their problems over the phone rather than sending out technician trucks.  It’s really the whole point of my position (though originally I was supposed to be in a different department, but we won’t get into that mix up…), so it’s making me a liiiiiiittle paranoid, to be perfectly honest–especially since I got into another car accident for which I had to take some days off and am still awaiting the processing of medical leave paperwork for…

Bottom line: I don’t even know if I’m technically certified to stay at this job yet.

You must understand something about me: I don’t like to not be good at things, you see, and I get frustrated when it’s not a thing I can overcome relatively quickly.  Maybe ’cause I’m an impatient, proud Leo.

Yup, blaming it on the stars.

Anyway, I don’t want to harp on my weaknesses.  There are things I can do to get better, and I don’t want to suck at my job.  Generally not an option, when you’re a proud, stubborn Leo.

I’d also like to keep my job, please.  (Because Leos need to pay for all those lavish high hopes and dreams and do so independently, mind you.)

Work Ladybug, Work

Lately, it just seems I’ve been in Work Mode.  With my own business, though, I really don’t mind; it’s what I’ve been wanting to do, you see.  I can work from sunup to sundown on a design project and not feel like it’s “work.”  Because it’s not.  I’m creating things and helping people–two things I enjoy and have always felt to be my callings in life.  And when it’s your business you call the shots–not someone in an office across the country that you’ll never get to meet.

You also have to take 100% responsibility for when things go wrong… You also have 100% say on how to make improvements, see.

Pros and cons.

Working for a big company has its perks, of course.  But after working at several different large-ish retail venues and attending two different universities…I’ve kinda developed a preference for smaller companies and organizations.  Things just work differently.

*sighs* But beggars can’t be choosers (and gawd, do Leos hate to beg).

One day I’d like to focus on designing retail shops, and maybe even cozy inns and restaurants, for small businesses–because nothing says living the American Dream like starting your own damn business.  And maybe, after I’ve worked some odd number of years as an entrepreneur, I’ll have enough business to take on a lucky college intern (or two!) and also be experienced and confident enough to venture into the commercial realm, if I haven’t already attempted it.  (Perhaps I’ll apply to a firm that specializes in that kind of design that will notice me and say, “Hey–that chick’s got drive and mad talent; let’s hire her!” and I can learn the commercial trade that way.)

Until then, I start small and work my way up.  Ladders must be climbed, after all. (Besides, practically every other door in the design industry has pretty much remained closed to me since graduation, so it was definitely time to try something different.)

As for the writing group…well, things slowed down.  One of the members was out-of-town for a couple of weeks and email chatter went dead for a while, so I kinda forgot to check my emails after that… Not sure if I’m gonna try to get things moving/resurrected again.  We’ll see.

We haven’t even so much as brushed the novel in ages.  Though, the voices of my characters do haunt me some days… Persistent little buggers.

But it hasn’t been all work for me.  Friends and family are always up for a good time.  Plus, there’s the matter of a romantic interest who lives about 3 hours south of me, so kinda seeing where that goes… (*sighs* Nothing’s ever simple, is it?)

So Yup, Just Ranting

Nothing terribly important to see here.  Though, I do want the blogging world to know that I’m still alive.  Just…living.

But oh, is life hard.

Halfway There – Reflections On 2013 (So Far)

23 Jun

This morning I was just thinking how fast this year has already gone by…and how much I’ve changed.  I felt compelled to write a little about it here.

Halfway There

Virtues to aspire to for the remainder of 2013: patience, courage, faith.

Patience in knowing that acquiring experience as wells as building relationships with clientele and earning their trust takes time. The courage to try new things in order to further myself–so I might one day be able to say “yes, I am experienced” while acknowledging there is still much left to learn. Faith that I have what it takes to confidently live the life I’ve been given and am capable of making the most of it.

~

I’ve never liked being considered “new” or “not good” or “inexperienced” in anything I’ve put my mind to. It’s easy to avoid such endeavors when other things are nearly always going “right,” but when you get to a point where all seems to be going “wrong,” that leaves you with no place to hide.

Sometimes I’ve allowed the fear of failure or mediocrity to become a hinderance, an excuse for not trying–so much that I let it rule my life, stunting my growth as an adult. But this year I’ve realized that fear is not an acceptable excuse anymore.

Halfway through 2013 I can look back and say I’ve made a lot of positive changes in this regard, and it’s certainly a start…but let’s see what else we can accomplish before the year is over.

~