I dipped my toe in the water and reformatted my ebook as a print book.  I’m not happy with the cover, their pre-formatted designs are pretty restrictive and I kept getting error messages that my artwork was simutaneously going beyond the trim and having a white border.

Unlike self-publishing in the past, I don’t have to buy a crate of books.  I just set one up and if a purchaser wants one, Createspace prints and ships it.  I’m doing this as a learning experience.

Name Quest

Gather Your Party

voyager crew

If you’ve ever thought that achieving a creative goal was a solitary endeavor, you should look at the acknowledgement pages of a book or listen to the acceptance speeches for a prestigious award.  They didn’t achieve their goal alone.

acknowledgements 1  acknowledgements 2

Gamers, especially table-top roleplaying gamers, know it’s a good idea to gather their party, to have a diverse group with many skills before setting out on an adventure.  If you’ve ever tried a campaign with just one type of character, you might have noticed how messy that can get.  You need a wizard, a fighter, a thief and a archer.  Or a hacker, a con-man, a martial arts dude and a language specialist.  Or a Jedi, a rogue, a rebel leader and two droids.  Or a captain, an engineer, a science officer and a doctor.  You get the idea. Even “chosen ones” gather a team.  Think of a heist movie.

Get support from your friends, and reach out to make new connections.  Maybe you need a wise advisor, or a fighter.  The cool thing about teams is not only are you getting help, you are giving help.  Sometimes when you give help, you solve your own problem by seeing something from a different perspective.

Imagine if you could make a dream team of anyone, imaginary, historical or real.  Imagining that team rooting for you can be helpful.

My dream team:
  • my friends
  • the Doctor- a zany, creative, nonviolent problem solver with a time machine
  • Captain Janeway- never gives up, never takes crap
  • The Librarian- ook
  • Lois McMaster Bujold- multiple award winning author
  • Dragon- wise, able to eat people, fly and breathe fire
  • Jarvis (the A.I.) because helpful self-aware computers are hard to come by
  • The Tick- he’s nigh invulnerable and makes rousing speeches
  • My future agent- someone who will land me a deal and work with me to improve
  • Merlin- we need a wizard.  (I’m thinking T.H. White Sword in the Stone, not that weird kid)
  • Minions- to do the boring stuff

What about you?  Put together your team.

 

January 4, 2016

So now I’ve given out my gifts I can show off some of my creations.  I forgot to take a picture of the bird I made, and I wasn’t happy with the panda, but here’s the rest:

IMG_4435I made a lot of paper snowflakes.  I tried out some of the fancy star wars ones as well as the basic type, and learned (or maybe relearned) the best way to fold the paper.  We had paper and scissors out for teens to make snowflakes at our library, and one time I was asked to come out and give instructions.

IMG_4469

I made a lot of felt items, including a cloth book for a small child.  I had a lot of fun designing the pages, which included a zipper tent, moving cars and hair to braid.  I made a felt BB-8, which proved to be a bit tricky because I couldn’t IMG_4601quite figure out how many circles he has ( I later checked on a licensed toy- it’s 6).  I made a TARDIS eyeglass case, and since it wasn’t a toy for a baby, I tried out a new technique, printing out the signs and then sewing a piece of packaging plastic over them.

IMG_4572IMG_4577

 

IMG_4667I put together a marble maze for my son, which was like a puzzle in that there was a specific way to put it together piece by piece.  (If you are considering getting one for your child, get one that can be put together any way you want).  It was strangely satisfying when I finally got it together and sent the marble through.

I was also learning how to use a 3D printer (I’m still learning).  We are putting together a maker-space for our library.  I made a robot and a bracelet, and also a bunch of rookie mistakes.  For some reason, following the directions given by the manufacturer is not the best strategy, and beware of any article that uses “just simply”  There is no “just simply” in 3D printing.

IMG_4592 IMG_4599 IMG_4568

So, what have you been making?

December 27, 2015

My husband and I have a tradition.  Just before New Year’s eve we decide what we want the next year’s theme to be.  There’s been the year of adventure, the year of love, and the year of challenge.  This year?  The year of Improvements.  I just started playing Superbetter, which is a game system for healing and improving your real life.  This is similar to what I’m trying to put together with my roleplaying game style book, Weight Loss for Dragons.  I hope the other Jane doesn’t mind me calling 2016 the Superbetter year.

Every year, of course, we  come in determined to start fresh.  This is the year we’ll become perfect, enlightened beings.  We’ll lose weight, declutter our house, get paid doing what we love, kick bad habits, have brilliant, well-behaved children, become famous, travel, connect with our loved ones, and learn new skills.  All of it.  I’ve had many a year where I started with my head down, running at ramming speed, and get surprised when I hit a wall.

53267b0a1058cc962765fc1af7233039

“I have a big head, and little arms.  I’m just not sure  how well this plan was thought through.” -T-Rex,  Meet the Robinsons

So this year, I will make my first goal to keep up a slow and steady momentum of improvements throughout the year.  It’s no good making goals that depend on other people to achieve, like getting a book deal.  I should focus on my side of it, which would be creating and submitting my writing.  I will gather support instead of slogging along alone.  I will take the time to make a map of where I’d like to be, and question if what I’m doing is the way to get there.  I will see who I am now, not who I used to be, or what society thinks I should be.

Just updated the website, tell me if you see any glitches.  Let me know if you are interested in being my ally on Superbetter (no, autocorrect, that’s not super heater).

 

P1120062

This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m rewriting the first novel I ever wrote.  It’s awful.

Back at the end of the 20th century, I worked on my book for over two years, writing when inspiration struck. I rewrote chapters, added in elements, cleaned up sentences and changed the ending.  I asked friends for their opinion and got very politely worded feedback.  I had what I thought was a complete manuscript and eagerly sent it out to publishers, thinking it was just as good as what was out there.  I thought I had read enough books on writing, taken a college course, I was ready.  My friend cheered me on, even going so far as to get a copy printed at a vanity publisher (that’s the version I’m working from, with map endpapers and parchment-style paper.)  After a series of rejections, my enthusiasm waned.  She meant well, but I realized that was probably the only way I was going to be published, and was secretly crushed.  I put the gift away on a shelf and went back to writing short stories.

A quote from the tv show Supergirl that I just watched last night really resonated with me.  “You can’t walk into a company and expect to become the CEO.”

Unless you are some kind of genius, you must learn by doing.  I’m going through the book now, trying to rescue it from itself.  I gave my main character, living in a medieval society, a crushing fear of fire (think Frankenstein’s monster level).  I made her perfect in every way other than that.  I wavered my point of view between her and her love interest, whose main motivation was to follow around his unrequited love and mope.  The villain’s main motivation was to be evil.  I created horrendous monsters that wandered through the countryside, allowed to do whatever they wanted since the people were not at war with them at the moment.  I threw in random characters, some who were there just to have one conversation with the main character.  I created a group of twenty characters and had them travel together.  Twelve of those characters had names starting with “Z” because of a plot point.  Don’t even get me started on the fake medieval dialect, for I know not what I will do on that.

That was fifteen years ago. Now I have done eight novels (five polished and three first drafts) and I better understand the craft.  Just like a musician that practices and learns pieces, I know what is supposed to be produced, even when I don’t have the skill to produce it yet.

At Dragon Con, I went to a panel on writing and getting published.  One of the authors, Jenna Black, said she wrote 18 novels before she got published.  I tweeted that was discouraging, and she replied:

So I am encouraged, looking at my first fumbling attempts, because now I see what I did wrong and why it didn’t work.  So hopefully by my 18th novel, I’ll have work that is being read by others, characters that are loved and talked about like friends, and perhaps some compensation for my efforts.


construction signStarting a Creativity Support Group

In Felicia Day’s memoir, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Mostly)” she talks about joining a creativity support group.  She kept coming to the meetings with nothing to show, until she finally started a project so that she wouldn’t show up empty handed.  That project was The Guild, a highly successful web-based show, one that allowed her to express her creativity fully.

My friends and I have started a creativity support group, that we are calling the Inspirators. We have a game designer, artists, writers, a meme creator and cake designer.  We set up a Facebook Group and we also meet in person.  We are a support and accountability group, encouraging each other to keep creating.  Members tell us a project they are working on, and then we determine what the next step is.  Then we know what to ask about, to encourage and nudge them.  While members can exchange work for critique, that is a secondary function.  We also share knowledge, resources and ideas.  I’ve read about creativity and goal groups in several excellent books (The Artist’s Way, Wishcraft,  and The Happiness Project)

For myself, I’ve put my other projects on the back burner while I work on NaNoWriMo.  This year I’m going back to the first novel I ever wrote and rewriting it.  I have discovered that it is awful.  I’m hoping that’s a good sign, that I’ve gotten better as a writer since then and rewriting it will be a good exercise.

 

WLFDCOVER

Here’s my cover for the book- what do you think?

I was going for “uncovered ancient book of knowledge.”

October 26, 2015

Mario costume

I made my son a Mario costume for Halloween.  It was both easy to make and comfortable for him, which is great.  It consists of a red, long-sleeved shirt and overalls.  I sewed the hat and fake buttons, and I was done!  He can wear the overalls again and again, which is great. Then he said he didn’t want to be regular Mario, he wanted to be Mario with powers.  His idea was to have three or four costumes and change into them- ice powers, fire powers, flying powers.  I was flattered that he thought I could just whip up some tear-away costumes for him, but unsure how to break it to him that I wouldn’t do it.  Then I had an idea- make him the power-ups and let him pretend.

felt Mario power ups

I made a star, green mushroom and red mushroom out of felt.  He put them in the pockets of his overalls and can pull them out to play being Mario.  (On a side note, why do these things have eyes?  Are they aware?  Are they eaten when they are used to give powers?  Is Mario really evil, rampaging through places, killing creatures and grabbing treasure?)

Making the star was straight-forward.  Just cut out two star shapes and sew them together, putting in stuffing before finishing.  Add black felt eyes. To make the mushrooms, start with a strip of white felt.  Sew it into a loop.  Make a running stitch along the bottom of the loop and draw on it to pull it closed, then sew the bottom shut.  To make the top, cut out a circle of colored felt that is twice as large as the stem loop.  Sew five white circles on the large circle.  Make a running stitch along the edge of the circle and pull on it to make the cap shape (but do not try to draw it all the way shut as you did with the stem.  Stuff both the stem and the cap and sew them together. Add black felt eyes.

Here’s the link to the pattern for the hat from Instructables. I used some leftover cloth I had, but it would work better in felt, which would stretch to fit.

 

Character Classes for Weight Loss for Dragons

A class isn’t the same thing as a profession, it’s more like a… vocation.  It encompasses not only your specialized skills, but also your outlook on life and your goals for the future.  What if you want to do everything, or at least a combination of things?   There’s a class for that.

Adventurer

Adventurers are doers, people who go out in search of new experiences, new ideas and interesting things to do.  They push past the fear of the unknown to live life fully.

Sub-classes of Adventurer: Traveler, Naturalist, Explorer and Socialite.

artist class

Artist

An artist lives to create.  They want to share their view of the world, in one medium or in many.  They find creativity in their daily lives, not just in their creations.

Sub-classes of Artist: Painter, Sculptor, Musician, Chef, Crafter, or Textile Artist.

Athlete

Athletes work hard to hone their bodies to achieve great things.  They train daily, through discomfort and setbacks, to constantly improve their performance.

Sub-classes of Athlete: Runner, Swimmer, Dancer,  Cyclist, Martial Art student, Lifter, Team-mate or Crosstrainer.

Champion

A champion is driven by a need to right wrongs.  They see injustice in the world and they campaign to make positive change.

Sub-classes of Champion: Altruist, Protestor, Volunteer or Politician.

mystic class

Mystic

A mystic finds true purpose in the spiritual realm, either in a chosen religion or a self-directed inner search for truth.  They use their faith and balance to help others with counsel or support.

Sub-classes of Mystic: Devoted, Soul-Searcher, Listener or Caretaker.

Scholar

Scholars have a thirst for knowledge, to learn and grow every day of their lives.  They search for answers to how, what, where, and especially why, and they don’t take things as given.

Sub-classes of Scholar: Scientist, Linguist, Student, Writer, Researcher, or Inventor.

If you read over the descriptions and want to do more than one, you can.  It’s called a multi-class.  So you could be a Scholar-Artist or a Athlete-Champion.  Don’t want to be pinned down?  You are a Polymath or a Renaissance Soul.  This is your life.  You can make up your own class as long as you can define it for yourself.

Some ideas for specialized classes:

  • Social Justice Warrior
  • Food Explorer
  • Diplomat
  • Documenter
  • Happiness Expert

What do you think?  Any classes or hybrids you want to suggest?  What would you assign to yourself?

WEIGHT LOSS FOR DRAGONS character sheet

Creating a Weight Loss for Dragons Character Sheet:

When you are playing a roleplaying game, you start by creating a character.  In this book, that character is you!  Instead of rolling for your stats, you need to determine them.

NAME: well, if I have to spell it out for you, then it’s G-U-E-S-T.

LEVEL: One.  If you’re level 20, why are you reading this?  Go get in your helicopter and sit at a beach on your island or something.

CLASS: we’ll discuss this later, right now you’re all “Novice”

ALIGNMENT: choices- lawful good, chaotic good, neutral good, lawful evil, chaotic evil, neutral evil and neutral neutral.  If you go online, you’ll find some memes that will give you examples from movie or tv characters, and quizzes.

BMI: Body Mass Index.  Your number on a height and weight chart that indicates whether the medical community classifies you as overweight, obese or morbidly obese.  Healthy BMI range- 19-24, Overweight- 25-29, Obese, 30-39, Morbidly obese- 40 and up.  BMI calculators can be found online.

BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate- this is the amount of calories you body should need to run while lying in bed all day.  Note the should.  Sometimes your body is better at its job (which makes sense! Famine survivors were able to keep going on little food).  It’s a starting point.  You then account for burning some calories with daily activities (unless you really do just lie in bed all day).

SPEED: Here’s the first “gotta get off your butt” part of this endeavor.  Speed is how long it takes you to travel a mile if you had to.

To test your speed, go to the start of a measured mile, or use a treadmill. Time yourself. How long does it take you to get to the end of that mile by either walking, running or a combination of the two? (use a wheelchair? go ahead and put in your speed for manual)

  1. I can’t walk a mile
  2. I would have to rest, so about 2 hours
  3. about an hour (1MPH)
  4. about 30 minutes (2 MPH)
  5. about 20 minutes (3 MPH)
  6. about 15 minutes (4 MPH)
  7. about 10 minutes (6 MPH)
  8. about 5 minutes (12 MPH)

I’m not going to measure over 8 in speed.  PLEASE, if you are out of shape, don’t overdo it!  You can increase your speed, but only if you haven’t hurt yourself.

Statistics: For your stats of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, you need to honestly evaluate yourself.

  • Poor- 5
  • Average- 10
  • good- 15
  • astonishing- 20

Strength: your ability to use your muscles.  Not just how much weight you can lift, but your ability to carry, push, pull and hold yourself in a position like a plank.

Dexterity: your balance, agility, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills.  Also your flexibility in stretching and yoga poses.

Constitution: Endurance. How fragile are you?  Do you get sick easily, pull muscles, get migraines, or have trouble maintaining mental health?  How well do you bounce back after physical or emotional trauma?

Intelligence: Your ability to read, compute, remember and analyze facts, figure out puzzles, get organized, find information, follow complicated instructions and make calculations.

Wisdom: Common sense, life experience, big picture thinking and self-mastery.  Noticing changes in your environment and people. Knowing what the best path is and making good choices.  (being intelligent is being able to make a giant self-aware robot, being wise is knowing that’s a bad idea)

Charisma: being a people magnet.  Having lots of friends, online followers, celebrity status or notoriety.  Having influence over others.  It doesn’t necessarily mean beauty or talent (note the reality tv stars).

Armor Class- how well can you stand up to attacks?  For this we are talking about emotional and mental defenses, not actual armor.  When someone criticizes you, do you give up or keep going?  How do you handle insults, people ordering you to do something else, guilt trips, accusations of wrong-doing or rejection?

  • 1- collapse in a heap at the slightest disapproval
  • 2- sensitive
  • 3- hurt by others but able to keep going
  • 4- only certain types of attacks effect me
  • 5- F ‘em all, I don’t care what they think.

Gear: list any equipment you have that is important to your goals.  Put in parentheses anything you want to get but haven’t gotten yet.

Goals: How are you supposed to know if you’ve gotten somewhere if you don’t know where you are going?  Write down your goals in increments.  What do you want to achieve in three months?  six months? a year? Five years?  Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, realistic and timely.  Don’t be vague, don’t be extreme, and only put down goals you are willing to commit to.

Skills: fill in the bubble of anything you know how to do.  If there is a blank line, fill it in with applicable information.  Put any bonuses to the right of the skill.

  • Kinda-sorta- no bonuses
  • pretty good- +2
  • impress your friends- +3
  • impress a television audience- +4
  • impress experts- +5

I bet half the people decided this was all too hard. If you kept going and filled it all in- congratulations!  You now have character…  sheet.

Disclaimer: The author is not a medical expert.  Consult with your doctor before undertaking anything advised here.  This blog is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

 

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