How to Support Your Local Writer

Rainbow paper**Though I’m speaking as a writer and talking specifically about writers and writing, these things can be applied to any artist, really.**

Writing can be a lonely gig. It’s a lot of time spent in your own head, trying to capture the things you see in your imagination and translate them into words that you then put on the page. There’s not a lot that other people can do to help you get your work done (aside from leaving you alone and letting you work, maybe picking up some of the chores or fetching dinner once in a while). But there are many ways that you can support your local writer.

Buy their work. This is the most obvious way, and yet, it still doesn’t happen as much as you think, for several reasons. Not having the cash is one. Or the work might not be to your taste. You have no idea how many times I get told that people would like to read my stuff, but they don’t dig horror (and that’s the majority of what I write). I don’t take it personally, but it still sort of bums me out. But even if the work isn’t to your specific taste, it might be to someone else’s. You can rec it to them (more on that later) or, if you’re feeling bold, buy it for them. Force it upon them. Maybe they’ll never read it, but you still gave your writer a little coin and tried to get their work out. That means a lot.

Read and REVIEW their work. If the work is to your liking, buying it is great. But reading and reviewing it is HUGE. Notice the emphasis on reviewing. Naturally, the writer’s fragile ego is boosted to hear directly from your mouth how much you love their stories, but leaving a review tells LOTS of people. And the more reviews, the better. Places like Amazon and Goodreads give priority to books that have more reviews and makes them easier for customers to find. By leaving a review, you give your writer a shot at getting noticed by someone else. And it doesn’t have to be a full-on book report either. A rating accompanied by a couple of sentences about what you liked (or didn’t like; I’m a writer that digs honesty) is adequate.

Give them money anyway. Okay, maybe this one is just me and just because I’m currently without a day job, but I actually started doing this earlier this year. It’s not easy for unknown writers and/or self-published writers like myself to make much money off of their work. It’s a competitive market out there and carving a niche takes time, effort, and low low prices. This year I decided to no longer make it difficult for people to give me money. In addition to my self-published body of work, I’ve got the Storytime Jukebox and Patreon. I’ve also set up a tip jar of sorts through Ko-Fi. If you like what you read here or just want to give me some monetary encouragement without the commitment of owning any of my words, you can buy me a coffee. Three bucks doesn’t sound like much, but just the act of being acknowledged in such a way is a real boost. If you’ve got the money to give, find a way to give it.

Spread the word. Whether you buy their work or not, whether it’s your genre or not, let other people know that it exists! That your writer exists! I’ll say it again in bold and all-caps: SPREAD THE WORD! This is the most valuable yet inexpensive way to show support to your writer. Share their Facebook posts, retweet their tweets, link to their blog/website/author page, recommend them to friends and family and co-workers and strangers, surreptitiously add their work to people’s wishlists. Don’t keep your writer or their work a secret. Word of mouth is how fanbases get built. The bigger your writer’s fanbase, the more support they have.

The more support your writer has, the happier your writer will be.

And when the writer is happy, the work is a little less lonely.

Crisis Averted…Mostly

ThinkingI’ve had my bout of existential episode and I’m feeling better now. It took some long, hard thinking and some meditating and some avoidance and some more thinking and some prioritizing, but for the most part, I think the crisis has been averted.

The biggest hurdle was asking myself if I want to continue with my writing career. The answer to that is yes. I like to write, I’m going to do it anyway, I might as well try to make some money off of it. That said, I’ve come to accept that I’m not the kind of writer that will be able to support herself exclusively through writing. I lack what it takes to do that. And that’s fine! Well, it’s not really fine, but I need to accept it as fine because there’s not much I can do to change it and accepting is better than being all salty about it.

So with that lined out, other things have sort have slotted into place. I’m still a writer at the end of all things, I’ve just now wised up to the fact that I can and should be more things. This isn’t a failure. This is me reassessing my writing career and coming up with different goals that are more realistic. This is me reassessing my life at present and re-prioritizing things and coming up with goals that are more realistic. That’s necessity, not failure.

And you can believe me because I know a thing or twelve about failure.

Once I sort of got all of this hashed out, I realized that I felt better. Not necessarily happier. Definitely not content. But better. I had my “What the fuck am I doing here?” picnic and now I can get back on the path to my greatness, whatever that is.

I also came to the conclusion that if I don’t stop every once in a while and assess my state of being, I’m going to end up chugging along out of habit or stubbornness instead of really paying attention to what I need and what I want and changing to accommodate that. And that would be a real drag. It’s okay to change. Like the song said, it’s the only thing that stays the same.

No, I can’t remember which song. My brain is a jumble of song lyrics and pop culture trivia.

Anyway, I’m back in the saddle and marching to a beat of a different drummer and taking it one day at a time and whole bunch of other cliches that illustrate poorly that I’m not giving up, just moving on.

That’s the trick.

To keep moving.

Five Things About My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

bucketIn case you missed it, earlier this week I participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and posted the best part of the video on my KikiWrites Facebook page (you would know that if you liked that page, hint hint). It’s the craze sweeping the nation and all for a good cause!

But because I’m an egotistical sort and this is my blog, I thought I’d give a little insight into my particular ice bucket challenge.

Here are five behind the scenes trivia bits about it.

1. I wore that shirt on purpose. You’d think it was a blunder wearing a white shirt for a water challenge, but no. I wore it for the message (Live Laugh Love) and I wore it because my darling friend Carl referred to me doing the ice bucket challenge as a wet t-shirt contest and I felt compelled to play up that angle because I thought it was funny.

2. I involved my nieces. I decided to seize the opportunity of being challenged to educate my nieces (I’m homeschool them anyway, so might as well). In order to dunk Aunt Kiki with ice water, they had to learn a little something. The older two had to read about ALS and the ice bucket challenge while I explained it all to the youngest niece. When it came time to do it, the middle niece filmed it while the youngest niece had the honor of drenching me (the oldest niece had lost interest at that point because being 12 is hard, yo). The younger two then opted to also do the challenge unofficially (I did film them and posted those videos for family to see). What started out as a fun opportunity to pour ice water on Aunt Kiki became an education in charity, illness, and the power of community.

3. I flipped the bird to certain people in the comments of the original video. The full-length video was posted on my personal Facebook page because that’s where I was challenged. My first comment on it was to inform people offended by the “waste of water” of two websites, water.org and cleanwater.org, which they could visit in order to turn their disdain into positive action. If you’re going to be asshole by judging and dismissing people’s attempts to do something good, then I’m going to make you LOOK like an asshole. I got no problems with that.

4. I donated money, too. Many of the detractors point out that people are wasting water just to get out of donating money. HOWEVER. Many, if not most of, the participants are donating some money. I couldn’t afford to kick in a lot of dough, but I did kick in a bit. I also made sure to mention the website repeatedly so other people would know where to go to donate.

5. I did this challenge at my mom’s house, so… She got that big dead spot in her yard where her pool had been nice and watered, but it’s a 25 minute drive home for me and I wasn’t going to do it in wet clothes. And since I already lug two bags to her house to teach, I really didn’t want to pack another one so I could change for the drive home. So I took my pajamas instead. And drove home bra-less.

The more you know…

If Everyone Is Saying It, It Must Be True

English: Most cosmetology and beauty school pr...

I was taught that when someone gave me a compliment I was to say “thank you” whether I agreed with them or not. Don’t argue, don’t protest, just say your thanks and move on. Manners and all that.

And that’s what I do. “You have such pretty eyes.” “Thanks.” “I love your skirt!” “Thanks.” “I like the way you verbally eviscerated that guy.” “Thanks.”

It’s become an automatic response to the point that I don’t really pay much attention to the compliment (unless it’s a truly unique one or backhanded or related to weight-loss because I don’t think saying, “Hey, you’ve lost weight!” is much of a compliment, but that’s another post). It’s not that I don’t appreciate people saying nice things to me on occasion; I enjoy that very much. But I just don’t read that much into it.

When I got my hair cut, I expected some people to notice because it was such a dramatic change. And I anticipated the reactions of a few people would be saying they liked my hair, whether they really did or not, as a way of acknowledging the drastic change in a nice way. In short, I didn’t pay too much attention at first when people said they liked my hair because it was the people that I expected to say something.

But then people I didn’t expect started saying the same thing. My hair attracted more attention than I thought it would. And I started to think…”Gee, maybe everyone does think my hair looks nice.”

At some point I’ve moved from “people being nice about my hair” to “this is the general consensus about my hair”.

Which is weird for me because I don’t typically think of people holding good opinions of me. I know I’m regarded as a failure by certain people and society thinks I’m a fat waste of DNA, and I’d be lying if I said those opinions didn’t impact me at least somewhat, but my opinion of myself is so high that it kind of minimizes the worth of those opinions.

So here I am, already thinking my hair looks freakin’ fabulous, and people are backing me up. It’s just strange. I’ve never had this sort of positive consensus before, particularly about a physical aspect of my being. I mean it’s nice, but it’s strange.

This is one of the few instances that I like going with the crowd, especially since for once they’re agreeing with me. If everyone is saying it, then it must be true. My hair looks good.

I could go mad with this sort of power.

But no. I like my head able to fit through doorways.

CornBelters vs. Otters 7/20/13

Normal CornBelters

I don’t know how you work your girls nights, but ours have a tendency to involve baseball. This time we went to see the CornBelters play the Evansville Otters.

Despite Mike Mobbs losing the battle with the sun early in the game (he dropped two catches), some hits, and a few walks, the only run the Otters scored was on a home run that tipped off the glove of Keoni Manago. The CornBelters managed to come from behind, manufacturing a couple of runs to win the game.

The Otters manager got ejected at one point. I’m pretty sure it was for commenting loudly on balls and strikes since the ump’s zone was rather inconsistent. After he got the boot, he came out to let the ump know exactly how he felt. His feelings were long-winded and he took his sweet time walking back to the clubhouse. We were all disappointed when he didn’t stop at the corn they have planted on the berm to grab an ear and chuck it out on the field in protest.

The pitching was pretty stellar on both sides despite the ump. Aside from that home run and a few walks and hits, Ryan Demmin was on it. Jose Trinidad and Alan Oaks were fabulous in relief. It was a really great game.

I’m happy to see Mike Mobbs  back with the Belters. He was a favorite during the 2011 season and I missed his face last year. He also has the best walk-up music, Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane”. You can’t beat that, though I wish some of the guys would try.

It was a gorgeous night for baseball and our seats were superb. The win was just the icing on the cake. We couldn’t ask for a better girls night, really.

Let’s go Corn!

Sew Dressy

kikitshirtdressMy apologies for the poor-quality selfie. I took this picture in my middle niece’s bedroom and I’m too lazy to try to stage a proper one.

Behold my latest creation! It’s my t-shirt dress.

My roommate buys enough clothes at Old Navy to keep that place in business. She ordered some t-shirts last year, but decided she didn’t like the way they fit or the fabric. So, she gave them to me. Since she’s a couple of sizes bigger than I am, she thought that maybe I might like them to sleep in or something. I do like sleeping in one of them, for sure, very comfy. Great on hot nights when I don’t want to wear pants. But when I tried them on for the first time, I thought, “As big as this is, if I added a little more fabric to the bottom, I could call it a dress.”

So, I did.

I cut off about seven inches of the bottom of the gray t-shirt and sewed it onto the bottom of the navy blue t-shirt. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do and I’m sure if I tried it again, I’d probably figure out a better way to make it come together. But for a first attempt, it wasn’t bad. I’m not thrilled with the stitching, though. I’ll probably redo it at some point just for my own satisfaction. It holds just fine and nobody else would notice it unless they were a seamstress inspector looking to make my life hard. But it would make me feel better if I did it up a little better.

Also, the dress ended up being a little bigger than I’d normally get and even with the belt, it’s not as structured as I’d like it to be, BUT! It’s actually quite comfy and makes for a nice, lightweight dress on a hot day that doesn’t look shabby or lazy. Also, beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a two-sizes too big t-shirt, for crying out loud. I can only do so much with my limited skills.

In the end, I’m pretty pleased with the effort.

The Reality of “Let’s Be Brave”

The Garden (Michael Nesmith album)

Last year I posted about a dream I had in which a young Michael Nesmith came to me and said, “Let’s be brave”. And I decided that it was a great idea and these were words I should live by.

I declared it my new motto.

Almost a year later I can safely say that I haven’t been too good about living up to those words.

In some ways, I have. Little ways. I bit the bullet when it came to my sewing, pushing aside the idea of making a mistake and wasting a shirt or a pair of jean or a handkerchief and turning those things into bags and skirts and dresses.

I’ve self-published a couple of novellas in that time and I’ve been less shy  about being a writer, though I’m still pretty restrained when it comes to bugging people to read what I’ve published.

I’ve given fewer fucks about what people think about me and I’m embracing who and what I am and I’m less afraid about being that person in front of everyone more and more.

But in a lot of important ways, I’m still a coward.

My life has advanced very little. My need for security keeps me petrified. My ability to make money being tied to my self-esteem, my inability to be more creative about making money, the constant berating that goes on in my head about not having a “real” job and how everyone judges me as a failure for it, those things I haven’t been brave enough to even face, let alone conquer or let go.

I still can’t ask for help; my ego won’t allow it. I’m not brave enough to admit that it’s okay to ask for help and that, maybe, people would be willing to help me. I’m not a failure for asking for help, even if I feel like I am and like I don’t deserve it.

I’m still ashamed of so many aspects of my life. The bravery that I feel when facing them falters when I have to admit them to other people. I still have too many fucks to give in that department.

And don’t even get me started on the downright terror that complete paralyzes me when it comes to matters of the heart.

Who would have thought that turning brave from chicken wouldn’t happen overnight? Or even in a year?

I acknowledge the progress that I’ve made and I hope to keep making more, but I can’t help but be disappointed that I haven’t gone farther in a year.

I’ll never be able to stitch “Let Be Brave” on a sampler if I don’t live up to those words.

7 More Things About Me

English: Goat

That’s right. Couldn’t think of anything else to blog about today.

1. I name cats after TV characters. Tuvok, Peter Marie, Stella, Spot, and McGee. You could count Maude, but I didn’t name her and she wasn’t intentionally named after a character.

2. I’ve got a scar on my knee from getting run over by a kid on a bike. He was a real jerk of a neighbor boy and rode up on the grass to hit me on purpose. Nobody was happy with that, least of all me.

3. I have trouble with light sensitivity. Some people with light colored eyes have this problem and I am unfortunately one of them. I’m that weirdo wearing sunglasses while driving in the rain. Even with overcast skies, the light can still bother me, particularly while driving.

4. I have a tendency to eat my food in a particular order during a meal and I usually eat one thing at a time. At least my food can touch now. Except bread. I don’t want my bread touching anything because I don’t like soggy bread.

5. My 5th grade teacher was a health nut. She’d make us go for really long walks, including on along side a business route, and do Gilad workout videos in the classroom. It was a bit excessive and I had no hope of being the teacher’s pet because I couldn’t walk around the park fast enough.

6. I won’t drink anything that are certain shades of green or blue. It’s unnatural.

7. I grew up playing with goats. My grandparents’ neighbors had them. Goats are quite silly, very playful, can scream like humans, and have this bizarre fascination with getting up onto things. They’ll stand on a coffee can if they think it’ll give them some height. That’s why I don’t get this sudden discovery of goats. I already knew all of this stuff.

So, About 2012…

Pat Hughes

I was going to do some kind of reflective, year-end post about 2012, but I’ll be honest…I don’t really feel like it.

Most of it was pretty boring. I did boring, routine things. I struggled to pay my bills, used up a big part of my savings, felt like a complete failure, failed to meet many of the writing goals, and totally lacked any kind of success on the professional front (and most of the personal front, too). Really nothing to get into or write the Internet about.

But I did rarely have the occasion to do some cool things. I went to Cubs Con and Casino Night. I saw the Cubs lose their 100th game of the season, but Pat Hughes waved at me and that totally kills any of that pain. Let me repeat that. Pat Hughes waved at me.

I was able to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (Hi, Becca!) and I met some really cool people, too (Hi, Harry!). I reconnected via social media with some people I haven’t seen in ages (Hi, Josh!) and I met some really cool people that way, too (Hi, everybody!).

I found out just what I’d do to try to make a life and a career my way and just how frustrating and hard that can be (and just how frustrating and hard I can be, too).

I changed a little, grew a little. It wasn’t all fantastic and glamorous. Most of it wasn’t. But it wasn’t an absolute waste either.

2012 was okay. And it’s a good thing I went through it because I have a feeling that 2013 won’t be much different.

I’m ready.

10 More Things About Me

Number 10

I couldn’t think of a good post for today, so when in doubt, go for a list!

1. I can sew, but only by hand. I’ve made pillows, pouches, and costumes, but none with a sewing machine. I can’t work a sewing machine at all. My grandma tried to teach me when I was a kid, but I didn’t really want to learn. In the years since, I’ve tried a few times to learn how to use it, but it thwarts me every time. I think that’s karma from not paying attention when I had the chance to learn from a master.

2. I have trouble with names and faces sometimes. Sometimes I can ran remember someone after meeting them one time. Sometimes I can be around a person for years and still not remember who they are. Ask my sister. When someone we went to school with friends me on Facebook, she’s likely to get a text from me saying, “Who is this? Why do I know them?” She’s my name-face memory bank.

3. I like trivia about movies more than I like actually watching them. I like useless knowledge in general, but for whatever reason, I love movie trivia. I’ll read facts about movies I’ll never watch in a million years.

4. I used to be able to do a really good impression of Saddam Hussein from South Park. I’d recite his dialogue from the movie for laughs.

5. I’ve never been to Disney World. My only trip to Florida was tagging along with my grandparents on a business trip. We drove there and back. Twenty-two hours one way. And it rained every day at noon while we were there. I wasn’t that impressed with Florida and I no longer have much desire to go to Disney World.

6. I like organizational stuff. Bins, folder, cubbies, labels, all of that jazz. I like the feeling of being organized like that. Ignore the fact that my dresser is covered with stuff I haven’t put away yet.

7. I’ve only had two ear infections in my life. One when I was three and one when I was eleven. My sister, on the other hand, had them all the time.

8. I don’t like Kool-Aid. Another thing that drove my mom nuts because I wasn’t like other kids (she ran a daycare so the more kids she could get to eat and drink the same things, the better). I would only drink one flavor called Rainbow Punch and when they stopped making it, I never drank any Kool-Aid again.

9. I’ve got a scar on my nose from being hit in the face with a ceramic humming bird. I was working at Wal-Mart at the time, standing on a ladder, rearranging a shelf with gift items, most of them various kinds of small ceramic figures in boxes. The shelf I was working on broke, several boxes slid towards me, and one with a humming bird hit me in the face, splitting open the bride of my nose and nearly knocking me off the ladder. I then ended up helping a customer while holding some tissue to my bleeding nose because I didn’t have time to properly doctor myself before the guy came up to my counter. He didn’t seem to mind that I was bleeding, though.

10. I’ve been told that I have a great voice for phone sex. So maybe I wasn’t asked to do all of those in-store announcements at Wal-Mart because it would be easiest for me to do it as opposed to someone else.