Canva, Storium, and Staying Creative

If you’ve noticed lately, most of my graphics have improved quite a bit. I blame it all credit it all on Canva. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a great site for creating graphics of all kinds. It has a training area so that you can learn how to use it to its full extent. It’s also fun to play around with. I’ve created graphics for the blog (obviously) as well as toyed around with infographics and quotes. I love its ease of use. Everything you need is right there on the sidebar, labeled and ready for you to click on. It’s pretty nice.

Another thing I’ve been doing is playing in Storium. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s a collaborative storytelling “game”. It was completely funded (plus some!!) on Kickstarter and is currently in its gamma testing phase. I don’t know when it will launch completely, but you can get in to play the gamma test for $10. So far, I’m having a blast playing different characters and reading through stories that are already finished. Not all of the features are available, but once it launches not only will stories by various well-known authors be available to play, but so will multiple new options for characters and narrators.

I haven’t tried the role of narrator yet because I only just started, but I’ve been paying attention to how things work and I’m thinking of getting a story together sometime soon.

The great thing about these sites is it helps me to stay creative. I get to play around on Canva to stimulate my visual creativity and play around on Storium to keep my writing creativity active.

These are things that work for me. They won’t necessarily work for others (though I highly recommend using Canva for your blogging/social media needs). As long as you’re doing things creatively, as long as you’re filling that well and not draining it completely, it doesn’t matter what you do.

How do you fill your well?

Katie Signature

 

 

 

Things New and the #Giveaway Extended

First things first. I’ve  decided to extend the giveaway. It will now last until Monday at midnight. You can find the Rafflecopter form either on the original post or down at the bottom. Don’t forget to enter!

My birthday weekend went really well. Saturday I spent with chocolate and Michael Westen (Burn Notice). It was one of those lazy days where I cuddled with the family and did little else. Valentines day was good=)

Sunday was a little different. The morning was lazy. More Burn Notice, more chocolate. That afternoon and evening though, hubs and I met some friends to eat at Red Lobster to eat some lobster tail and crab legs. Yum. We also stopped to pick up my birthday present… A new laptop! It’s so pretty too. It’s one of those you can switch from laptop mode to tablet mode. It’s smaller than my last one, which now belongs to hubs (and probably won’t see much use). I also got a Wreck This Journal and I’m super excited to wreck the hell out of it=)

snow panorama
oxyrhynchos – OLOliuqui / Foter / CC BY-NC

The kids have been home the last couple of days. Snow finally made its way to Southern Indiana. It hasn’t really hampered my ability to write as much as it used to. The kids, as they get older, find more and more ways to entertain themselves, though I’m still constantly checking on them.

Anyway, I’m off to watch ET with the kidlets. They’ve never seen it before and I can’t wait to see their reactions=) Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

What’s the weather like where you’re at?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Katie Signature

 

 

 

It’s Birthentines Day Weekend!

Valentines Day

Valentines Day is on Saturday which makes for all kinds of chocolates and hearts and love, love, love! But you may be wondering what in the world Birthentines Day is. Well, since HEART Day is on the 14th and my birthday is on the 15th, my family has a tradition of combining them into a two-day celebration called Birthentines Day.

Since it’s a family tradition, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why you guys shouldn’t be involved. My internet family is awesome and each and every one of you deserves to be a part of the celebration!

Birthentines Day
Mmmmm. Cake.PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Since I can’t share cake with you guys in any way other than pictures, I thought I would offer a chance to win something awesome.

They say love never dies. I don’t know who “they” are, but I think these guys would have to agree:

Zombie Love

Entry is easy. Just fill out the Rafflecopter*! It starts today (Feb. 12th) at Noon EST and ends next Wednesday at midnight. I’ll announce winners that Friday=)

Goodluck!

And Happy Birthentines Day Weekend!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*This giveaway is US only due to international shipping rates.

Katie Signature

 

 

 

#IWSG: Two Weeks

It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, it’s a monthly meme where you can post your insecurities for the month or inspiration for others. Check out the blog and join the Facebook Group!

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

Two weeks ago, I talked about being in the midst of a battle with depression. I’m still there, but I’ve been to the doctor and started an antidepressant. That’s not a lot of time to notice a change, but my family is on the look-out for me. I still have bad days that are really bad, but I do feel better knowing that I’m doing something about it.

I said that I wouldn’t be on a lot of social media for a while, and I didn’t realize how true that would be. In the last couple of weeks, I think I’ve tweeted maybe twice, shared a few pictures on Facebook, and joined a bit of conversation on /r/YAwriters. I still get on there and keep up with book-world news, see what my friends are up to, and chat with my crit partner, but actually saying something? It’s like pulling teeth. But at this point, it’s not that I don’t think anyone cares or that no one is listening, it’s more like I don’t have anything to say. Literally, there is nothing.

My life the last couple of weeks has been taking care of myself. I’m playing Candy Crush and Trivia Crack while hanging out on the couch with Hubs and watching our shows or a movie we rented. I’ve given myself permission to nap as much as I want, because it’s how I process stress. I’ve stepped away from writing one of my WIPs because I hated it and where it was going (more on that in a bit). I’ve bought books and added even more to my wish list. I’ve organized the bathroom closet and thrown out a lot of junk that was cluttering up the house and my life. I’ve begun the process of recovery.

It’s amazing the things that happen when you make time for yourself.

It’s also really frustrating when, during that time, you come to realize the book you’re writing is all wrong. Not the idea, not the story, but how you’re telling it. My main character is pissed at me because I’ve painted her into a box she doesn’t belong in. I’ve got about 20K words I have to scrap and start the thing over, but that’s okay. I’d not written on it much in the last little while. I have other projects I’m working on that have kept me quite busy. I’m okay with starting over. I’d rather start over than not finish it at all, which is where it was headed until I realized what was happening.

Anyways, it’s February: the month of love and my birth month. So, keep an eye on this space over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be giving away some goodies to celebrate=)

Katie Signature

 

 

 

Living With Depression

Last week, I talked about making an appointment for myself with the doctor. The main reason I mentioned needing to go to the doctor was because of pain. I hurt all over. A lot. There’s a plethora of reasons people tend to have full body pain. So many reasons, in fact, that making a list here would take up way too much space. So, I’ll just get down to it. The reason I think I have so much pain is because of depression.

I’ve battled depression before. I recognize the cycle. I’ve been going lower and lower and the spiral is so close to getting out of control. I can’t avoid the doctor anymore.

I’ve debated writing this post. There’s even a good chance I won’t post it, even if I do finish it. The reasons are all listed in that picture up there. The thing with depression, though, is that even though those are reasons, they’re incredibly unreasonable. I know on some level that none of it is true, probably because I’m able to recognize my own patterns of depression, but that doesn’t change the fact that it all feels true.

There have been numerous blogs where people talk about depression. None of them I can remember (Oh! Hyperbole and a Half!) so I can’t link to them, but they’re people in the writing world. I’m going to blame my current depression for the inability to remember who posted about depression because it does that. It makes you forget.

Out of all of the posts I’ve read, I do remember that pretty much every one of them was written after the depression or during recovery. They wrote with hope in their hearts thanks to the various ways they’ve moved past the depression, be it medicine or therapy or a mix of both. They weren’t at their lowest points. I’m writing this before recovery, during depression. At this moment, I am at my lowest.

So far today, I’ve contemplated giving up on writing, laying in bed for the rest of my life, and how long I can go without showering before getting crusty. Because, what’s the point? All of those things in the picture have been going through my head more and more every day. And, unreasonable though they are, they are believable. Depression lies.

Again, all I want to do right now is delete every word, log off the computer, and collapse in a heap on the couch while my kids watch Minecraft videos on my phone. Because, what’s the point? I want to sleep and sleep and sleep, so I don’t have to deal with anything. Because, what’s the point? I want to watch hours of TNG and DS9 in my room with no interruptions and forget that anything else exists in the world. Because, what’s the point? I want to delete every single file on my computer that has anything to do with the stories I’ve written and am writing. Because, what’s the point?

I’m lucky (I guess?) in that I recognized depression is kicking my ass. What I didn’t recognize was where the pain was coming from. Depression has never caused me pain before, though it can happen. I think that’s why I let things get so bad. Because I was concentrating on the pain while the depression worked on my brain, wiggling its way in and laying eggs of deception in my gray matter.

Depression sucks.

I wrote this about two weeks ago:

For me, one of the hardest parts of depression is accepting that it is depression and not something that will just pass. Then again, depression lies. It will tell you that all the pain is pointless and others have it worse than you and what right do you have to be sad. And all that only makes it worse.

This is a bad one. I’m in pain. Literal, physical pain. I’ve suffered from anxiety for years and I’ve had many a panic attack that [my husband] was convinced was an actual heart attack. But this constant ache is new. The pain has spread from my insides to my outsides. I go days where I can’t breathe, can’t think beyond catching my breath.

I’m rolling my own eyes at this point. Who the hell cares?

I know that’s the depression talking. I know that I have people in my life that care about me and care about my well-being. But that’s what depression does. It tells you that you’re not good enough. It tells you that you’re worthless. It tells you that no one in the world gives a shit about you or your problems. And while you know it’s a lie, you still believe it.

The Pit of Despair is a real fucking place. I live there.

It was at that point I realized, I needed to do something and now. It still took me a week to make an appointment with my doctor.

Depression has such a stigma attached to it, it’s easy to push away everything and do your damnedest to appear just fine. Not a lot of people know how to react to a confession of the truth, so you lie and say you’re okay, paste on a fake smile, and pretend that the world isn’t crushing you where you stand. Most of the time, it’s just easier to not answer the phone, not go out of the house, not do… anything really. Because, again, what’s the point?

I might step away from certain social media for a while, or at least not get on as much. There’s a particular trigger on a particular site that seems to make more and more of an appearance lately. If that seems vague, it’s supposed to. But, if you don’t see me much, you’ll know why. I’ll still be around, but I might not respond to you as quickly as I have in the past.

Now, to delete or not to delete?

Screw you, depression. I’m going with not

 

ETA: Thanks to Caryn Caldwell, I have several links to other writers who face many of the same problems I do. These were the posts I couldn’t remember:

It’s worth noting that every single one of these describes an ongoing process with depression and anxiety. I stated above that what I could remember of them was after their lowest points, and I see now, after rereading all the posts that was inaccurate and unfair. I’m extremely thankful that Caryn brought these to my attention so that I could go through and read them again and see that I am not alone in this.

Taking Care

Last week, for the IWSG post, I put up this infographic for change in 2015. These are all things that I need to practice during the year, and yes “practice” is the right word. There’s always resistance to change. It doesn’t happen overnight.

For the first time this year, I’ve practiced the hardest one of these life resolutions… I decided to take care of myself.

I’ve been in pain for a while now. It’s not localized, it’s all over–and it continues to get worse and worse. I’m tired of living off multiple-times-daily doses of over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen. It’s not healthy to take those so much as I do. So, I finally called the doctor and made an appointment.

I had to talk myself into it. I even tweeted about it and how difficult it is to take care of yourself. I’m no exception to that, so it took me ten minutes of staring at my phone to finally dial the thing, then it took an enormous amount of will not to hang up before someone got on the line.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have picked up the phone. The last time I made an appointment with my doctor was… Uh… A long time ago. We discussed my migraines but came to no real conclusion. We discussed orthopedists for my cubital tunnel (elbows not wrist) and I said I’d call one for an appointment. I never called an orthopedist. I never returned about my migraines. The only time I went to an urgent care center was when I was having trouble breathing for three days straight. I just couldn’t catch my breath. After some tests and x-rays, they found nothing physically wrong with me. I decided at some point after that other things were more important.

In other words, I decided I wasn’t important. A shame really, but this happens more often than not.

The same with my eye doctor. I’ve put off going for about two years. Finally, I made an appointment. Mainly because I’m on my last set of contacts and my glasses broke, but also because it’s important for me to take care of me.

So, for anyone who is in the same boat–anyone who is avoiding the doctor or therapist–take this step with me. I challenge you to make the call to your doctor and make an appointment.

Right now.

I’ll wait.

Your health shouldn’t.

Did you make your appointment?

Katie Signature

 

 

 

 

#IWSG: Looking Forward to 2015

It’s the first Wednesday of the month which means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, it’s a monthly meme where you can post your insecurities for the month or inspiration for others. Check out the blog and join the Facebook Group!

It’s a brand new year, which brings with it brand new possibilities. I’ve thought a lot about change and how I can better myself. There are many things in this world that we have no control over, so I decided to stick with things that I do have control over:

 

I hope everyone has a fabulous 2015!

Katie Signature

Let the Word Wars Begin!

Word_WarsIt’s time for the Word Wars Blogfest! For the next three days, this post will be dedicated to keeping track of my word count as I write in one or both of my WIPs. For those who are joining me, it doesn’t matter what you write as long as you write and cheer each other on! If you came in late, you can still join up through the linky list (here), in the comments here or on Sarah’s blog, on Twitter using #WordWars, or on the /r/YAwriters reddit-along. My personal goal for this Word War Blogfest is to get 15K words written. So, let’s get started!

Day 1, January 1st

2:18 am: I just got off Twitter for the #StartWrite chat. I had a blast and look forward to starting my word count… after some sleep;-)

9:50 am: Wow! How did it get to be so late in the morning? Well, kids are fed, morning coffee achieved, and Scrivener is open. Time to word!

11:11 am: I’m 529 words in, but I have to stop and do some research. And maybe think about lunch.

Day 2, January 2nd

*The first rule of 2015 is don’t talk about January 1st. The second rule of 2015 is don’t talk about January 1st.

 8:49 am: Okay, okay. I’m up. Let’s see if I can recover from yesterday and write some words.

2:30 pm: Oh wow! I thought it was still around noon! Well, I’ve been busy, busy with the words and my daily count so far is 2784! I’m going to visit everyone and then keep going=)

3:30 pm: Well, visited the other blogs and they are doing amazing things! I also did a few dishes, vacuumed, and picked up a bit. Now, I’m going to switch things up a bit and check out /r/WritingPrompts to see if anything tickles my fancy. I’ll link if I write anything=)

6:32 pm: I fixed and ate supper (microwave Chinese leftovers FTW!), did a bit of plumbing (well, I held the flashlight for Hubs anyway), and wrote a bit for one of the prompts (not yet finished). Daily count up to 3422=)

9:34 pm: I’ve been watching Eureka. I haven’t written a word. I also put the kids to bed. Now I have an adult libation and think it’s time to get back to work!

11:00 pm: The cold I’ve been fighting is winning, so I’m going to quit for the day and get a good night’s sleep. Total Daily word count at 4782! See you in the morning=)

Day 3, January 3rd

11:03 am: Good morning! I’m getting a late start, but no worries. This day will not end until I decide! Let’s make words!

12:20 pm: I did a bit of Twitter, a bit of Facebook, and some redditing. I also wrote a few words, but the number is low, so I’ll just skip adding it here and stick it in with my next count. Now, to eat lunch with much spice so I can maybe tame down this cold trying to attack me.

2:21 pm: Okay. I got distracted by Canva and Tumblr but I’m writing again now. Hubs is in the background playing Minecraft. I am envious of his ability to build The Wall while I stare at a blinking cursor. I guess I’ll comfort myself on the fact that I have a group of people joining me on this fine (read rainy) Saturday afternoon to do the same thing: make words happen. Count so far at 1033.

3:09 pm: I’m still writing, but I thought I’d offer this little teaser for my next Grimm Tidings Novella –

My cheeks burned when Handsome Hanscomb turned his attention on me. I couldn’t help it. He looked like a Hollywood star. Literally. He could have been Mark Ruffalo’s identical twin. Maybe a little younger, but definitely just as hot.

No word count yet… Soon though. Soon.

4:49 pm: Aside from a brief distraction in the form of playtime with the pup, I’ve written at a pretty steady pace. 1307 words that round.

6:51 pm: Whew! I’ve been going at it like mad. Took a little break to help the Hubs build a secret door in his Castle. And getting ready to eat supper. I wrote 1761 that time. I’m doing better than I thought I would do. I honestly didn’t think I would do this well, but I did outline the Grimm Tidings novella to within an inch of a first draft before I started writing the first draft, so that might explain things. Anyway, FOOD! Then more words=)

10:11 pm: Cooked and ate supper, got kids to bed, went to store for laundry detergent, fixed washing machine issue, started a load of laundry, and picked up some nighttime writing snacks (Rolo Minis). Just now sitting back down to Scrivener. Let’s do this!

12:08 pm: Okay. I’m done. I can’t think straight anymore. I stared at my blinking cursor for five minutes and I’m convinced it hypnotized me into thinking I’m still awake. On the chance that I am awake, I’m going to give you my final daily count. Here goes. Daily word count: 5110

So, my total word count for the Word Wars Blogfest: 10,421 words!

For now, I’m going to head out, close down the computer, and maybe do something that doesn’t require a lot of thought.

I hope everyone had a fantabulous day!

Katie Signature

 

 

 

 

A Word Wars FAQ

Word_Wars

I’ve received some questions over the last few days regarding the Word Wars Blogfest. So, to make things simple, I’ve decided to write up this handy little FAQ for everyone. If you have a question that isn’t covered here, feel free to contact either myself or Sarah.

What if I can only participate one day?

We’d love to have you for that one day! Participation of all three days is certainly not required. We decided to have it span three days specifically for people who have schedules that might interfere. Still want to join us for that one day? Great! We’d love to have you!

What if I don’t write stories or novels, but have a blog?

We’d still love to have you! Whatever you write, whether it’s books, fanfic, or blog posts, you are more than welcome to join us! This isn’t meant as a competition with massive amounts of words, this is meant as inspiration to write a few more words a day than you normally would. If all you write is blogs, then you still write=) We hope to see you join up=)

I’m a last minute kind of person. What if I don’t want to sign up until the first or second day of the blogfest?

You make a good point. And for that reason, we’ve extended the time to sign up from the end of the 30th to the end of the 3rd. So, if you decide you want to participate, but it’s Jan 2nd, you can still sign-up.

What if I don’t have a blog, or a Facebook, or a friend who will let me borrow their blog?

No worries! There are a few other ways you can participate:

  1. On January 1st, I’ll be posting a “reddit-along” in YAwriters. Even if you don’t write YA, it’s a great source of information on writing in general.
  2. You can also participate by using Twitter and the hashtag #WordWars.
  3. Another way is to use the comment section on either my blog or Sarah‘s. We would be more than happy to host your updates=)

If you’re still unsure whether you want to join the blogfest, feel free to visit any of the participating blogs (or the reddit thread or the Twitter hashtag) to see what’s up. You can also view my post from the last Word Wars Blogfest to get an idea of how things went.

Whether you participate or not, stop by and cheer everyone on! A little encouragement goes a long way=)

Katie Signature

 

 

 

Word Wars Blogfest Sign-Up

Word_Wars

A couple of years ago, I came across two well-known authors having what was called a word war with each other and live-blogging it. I loved it. I followed along in anticipation of seeing who would come out the victor. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of having a word war and live-blogging it just like they did.

But I wanted to do it on a grander scale. So, I got in touch with a good friend of mine, Sarah Chafin at Simply Sarah, and we decided to host a word war of our own… as a blogfest!

In June we hosted our very first Word Wars Blogfest. We had so much fun doing it that we decided to do it again, and maybe even make it a twice a year thing=) 

How it works

A word war is when two or more writers set a goal of a certain number of words that has to be written. The first writer to reach the goal is the winner.

Live-blogging is when someone updates a particular blog post throughout some event, whatever the event.

For the Word Wars Blogfest, we aren’t going to limit ourselves to a particular number. The goal is to write as many words as you can throughout the three-day event. Every once in a while, get on your blog and update your status. Kind of like this:

June 11, 8:05 AM – Just got up and ate breakfast. Let’s get this party started!!

9:34 AM – Spilled my coffee all over my lap. Time to get dressed, or just change into different pajama pants? 1372 words.

11:56 AM – Mom called and had an emergency that wasn’t an emergency. Spent the last two hours calming her down. Word count the same.

Update as much or as little as you like throughout the three days. It’s totally up to you.

When it happens

The linky list will be up starting today (December 15th) until December 30th at 11:55 PM EST (US). The actual Word War will take place from January 1st through 3rd. This gives you plenty of time to sign up and a day to get everything you might need ready before the live-blogging begins.

What you need

Most of this is completely up to you, but a blog would most certainly help. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can use Facebook Notes and just link to that. Don’t have either? See if a blogger friend will let you take over for a couple of days.

As for anything else: your favorite writing snack, some good music, a sign for your door so your family or friends know not to bother you, etc. Basically, whatever will make this fun for you!

Why you should sign up

The writing community is one of the best parts of being a writer. Even with a name like Word War, this is a great way to go out and support your fellow writers and allow your fellow writers to support you. You win by writing. You win by making new friends. You win by taking part in something fun and productive.

You might also come up with some great insights into your own writing schedule (when you’re most productive, when you’re least productive, and when you are more often distracted).

Okay, I’ve signed up. What now?

There are a few things you could do:

  1. Grab the badge at the top of this post. You’ll want to display it somewhere prominent during the blogfest.
  2. Let others know you’re taking part. A signal boost on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog post will get more people involved and create better opportunity to meet even more writers.
  3. Get rid of CAPTCHA. Because it’s really annoying to anyone who wants to comment on your progress. Most blog platforms are really good at filtering spam or you could turn on comment moderation.
  4. Join in the Twitter Chat on December 31st. We’ll be talking writing, reading, and everything in between using #STARTWRITE.

Even if you can’t participate all three days, that’s okay. This isn’t about who writes the most words, it’s about sitting down with a group of like-minded people to get some words on paper (or screen) in a fun and supportive way.

Hope to see you there=)

PS – A special thanks to Carrie Butler for creating the amazing badge for the Word Wars Blogfest!

 Loading InLinkz ...