Dragons, Adventures in Moving, and Other News

Hoo boy, there’s a lot going on, so let’s do this in parts.

THE KICKSTARTER

We made it to our goal! We even raised enough to unlock the Baby Dragon Sticker Sheet for all backers who pledge to get physical copies of the book (or higher rewards).

The next stretch goal is $670 – at this level, backers who get physical rewards will also get a KickStarter-exclusive miniprint of Queen Norsa, the Albino Dragon Queen from The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

CONVENTIONS AND APPEARANCES

My next convention appearance isn’t until December 1, for Genghis Con. Unless there are other shows you’re aware of, and want me to showcase at, that is. Hit me up if that’s the case.

THE LEGEND OF JAMIE ROBERTS

Ok, there are some weeks where The Legend of Jamie Roberts updates as normal, on Wednesdays. And then there are some weeks it updates on Thursday.

Well, this upcoming week, a new Jamie Roberts page may get pushed to Thursday, November 14. It depends on what can get done this weekend, in between events.

WHEELING SLEEP-OUT

The Wheeling Sleep-Out is one of those events I’m doing this weekend. It’s part fundraiser for our local homeless shelter (Youth Services Systems), and part competition to see who can build the most creative cardboard construction.

Here’s some pictures from when my friend Mel and I went last year.

We built a cardboard replica of the Guggenheim museum. This year, we’re going to try and build an art deco movie theater out of cardboard.

Once these constructions get built, the builders then have the option to sleep in them overnight – which is what Mel and I are doing. We’re doing it, so our local homeless youth don’t have to.

If you like, you can donate to Youth Services Systems through our team page. Every dollar raised goes back to the organization. But there IS a trophy for the group who raises the most funding for YSS. (But seriously, no pressure if you can’t donate.)

ADVENTURES IN MOVING

I hate apartment-hunting. It feels like every time I get a decent lead, there’s something wrong. Either it’s too expensive. Or it doesn’t allow cats. Or it’s in a shady-ass neighborhood.

At least I have a potential roommate. He wants to move out of his dinky Pennsylvania hometown. We’ve tabled together at conventions for two years now, so we know each other well enough that we could make decent roommates together.

Now it’s just a matter of finding a place.

I can’t really stay local to where I am (which is the Wheeling, WV area). Rent prices are more expensive here than they are in Columbus, OH or even in Pittsburgh, PA.

Yep. West Virginia is more expensive to rent in than two major cities. Let that sink in.

The oil and gas industries are absolute bitches and I despise them both.

NANOWRIMO

Also I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. It’s a writing challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Because Inktober isn’t enough and I’m always up for a creative challenge.

The novel I’m writing is called “The Prince of Shadows.” It’s about a prince from a dark realm falling in love with a Valkyrie – as told through the point of view of the Prince’s best friend.

When I first started the challenge, I wasn’t sure why the story demanded that particular perspective. Now, on day 7, things are falling into place and making more sense. I’m eager to see where this goes!

GIGS

I made a new page on the website to highlight other services I can offer as a freelancer (besides making comics and art).

These are services like ghost writing, basic website design, and other services I’ve honed thanks to running my own business for the last 7 years.

I’m looking to offer more services to get some extra income in. That way, if/when I have to leave my little hometown, I can have some kind of income to replace the gas station gig I currently have.

AND THAT’S IT!

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

What I Accomplished in 2018

This is going to be a 2-part blog series. Part 1 – today – is about what I accomplished this year. Part 2 will be about what I plan to get done next year, in 2019.

So I had a list. Like everybody else, I wanted to get everything on the list done. That said, I’m happy that at least half of it was accomplished. I’ll get into why the entire thing wasn’t complete by the end of the post.

The purple circles next to the entries are for comics/business related goals. The green circles indicate personal goals of mine.

I can tell you right now the reasons that “Get a passport” and “Pay off at least one student loan” weren’t accomplished.

A) The student loan goal wasn’t accomplished because my student loans are federal. In one package. The package has a breakdown of, like, 6 loans. But my repayment plan is set so that one payment splits among all the loans. I tried to negotiate it to do otherwise, but the loan servicer wouldn’t let me. To do that would have necessitated changing the repayment plan, which I couldn’t do until the very end of this year.

B) I have the money saved back for a passport. HOWEVER, there’s a metric ass-ton of paperwork involved to get one. One of the documents you need is your original birth certificate. Not a copy. Already this is a pain in the ass for me, because my birth certificate is on THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE COUNTRY. Thanks, dad, for being in the military when I was born.

All that said, Let’s talk about what WAS accomplished, in chronological order.

JANUARY: Start Roth IRA

This was top of my list for one reason only: I opened the wrong type of IRA last year. Aspiration is a great company, but right now they only have Traditional IRAs.

(The difference between a Traditional and Roth IRA can be found in this post. No, it won’t freeze your brain.)

So I opened a Roth IRA with Fidelity. I also got an Acorns account, but that’s a different ball of wax.

MARCH/APRIL: Make $500 in sales at a convention

Thank you to the peeps at Awesome Con for making THIS goal happen!

Awesome Con this year was the last weekend of March, going into April 1. This was my first convention in over 5 years with an attendance of over 70,000 people. So I was nervous.

I wrote a lot more about the experience of Awesome Con in this post if you would like to read it.

MAY: Edit The Legend of Jamie Roberts to Completion

I have this day marked specifically in my bullet journal: May 30, 2018. That’s the day I wrote the outline for the final draft of The Legend of Jamie Roberts.

Up until the outline, I combed through the first 5 to 7 chapters and fixed a LOT of things. Did I comb through the story after Chapter 9? Well, I didn’t feel it was necessary to.

Why? Because as long as I have the outline in hand, the story is set. It’s not entirely set in stone, to allow for some creative wiggle room. Because present day me will not be the same as me 5 years from now. And this comic is going to be updating online for YEARS.

That said, I wanted to write down the trajectory of the story and how it will end. That’s what the outline is for. And I’m glad I wrote it.

AUGUST: Paid Off Credit Card.

I got myself into credit card debt last year for one altruistic but dumb reason. I was making donations to political and social causes and thinking, “I can pay this off soon!”

Only I didn’t.

So I stopped making donations… though you couldn’t tell with the amount of mail I get from organizations asking me to donate to them.

The other problem, too, was that, at a certain point, I was charging reprints of my books onto my credit card. While shows like Awesome Con were a hit (and paid off the charges), other shows like Put-N-Play were flops that drained my money.

So I got aggressive. I adopted zero-sum budgeting and managed to pay off over $3000 in 6 months.

My last credit card payment was on my birthday, August 24. And I was SO FREAKING HAPPY.

Now I only use that credit card for my phone bill. Nothing else.

I did pull a potentially risky move and got a second credit card. But the new card I got is more in line with my goals. It has no interest for the first 15 months of using it, and it’s a cash back card. So far I’ve only been using it for everyday purchases (groceries and gas) and paying it off at the end of the month. The cast back I get? I put into my savings.

I do also use this new card for business purposes. In fact, I would rather have this card be for business use. However, I only purchase things if I have the money in the bank to pay it off ASAP.

NOVEMBER: Finish Writing Auxaton’s Story

I didn’t announce this, but I DID take part in National Novel Writing Month. I kept it low-key because I had just wrapped up Inktober and started a KickStarter to get the sketches into a book. (That KickStarter ended up running twice, because it failed the first time. I’ll talk about that in a future post.)

National Novel Writing Month encourages participants to write a totally new idea. But I broke that “rule” to rewrite Auxaton’s story. I had written the first draft a few years ago and wrote myself into a corner. I wanted to start over again. So I did.

Holy dang was it an emotional roller coaster! While writing it, I laughed. I cried (a lot). I had revelations. I wrote EVERYTHING down. I made the 50,000 word goal by Day 22.

In the end, the novel ended up with 74,079 words.

I don’t plan on touching it again for a long while. I want the story to sit there until I can look at it again with an editorial eye, not a sentimental one.

After I wrapped up writing the story, I realized two things:

1) I like writing in the mornings for an hour. It gets the creative juices flowing.

2) Inspiration is like a cat: it wants your attention when you’re at your busiest. So just keep working.

???: Make Appearances at 3 Comic Shops

I feel like I fudged this one. Not all of the stores I appeared at this year were comic shops. I also didn’t specify if these shops had to be new to me.

So… most of the comic shop appearances I made were at New Dimension Comics locations. Though I DID make an appearance at Half Price Books in Reynoldsburg, OH on August 18. There was also a visit paid to The Big Idea Bookstore in Pittsburgh on June 23. I talked about that a bit in this post because it was the same weekend as Feminist Zine Fest Pittsburgh.

???: Learn 3 new recipes and cook them regularly.

Truth be told: I started this year not knowing how to cook hardly anything. I wanted to learn to cook because I was tired of spending money on Subway and other places that made food for me. I wanted to learn how to make things myself, dangit!

Some of the recipes I learned this year (that I still cook) include:

  • Chicken and Apple Curry (I made an infographic about this one)
  • Potato Soup
  • Easy Risotto
  • Easy Dirty Rice
  • Chili
  • Shrimp Fried Rice (thanks to the Mealime app)

I also perfected cooking chicken, fried potatoes, French toast, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and ground beef.

All this made me realize: I LOVE COOKING. I love making food using SCIENCE. Plus, if done right, recipes like slow-cooker recipes can last really Mc-Freaking-Long.

CONCLUSION:

Why didn’t I get the entire list accomplished? Because looking back on it, I was keeping track of the wrong things.

Up until my October vacation to New Mexico, my daily tracking regarded… the food I ate. I wasn’t tracking pages written or other relevant metrics on a daily basis like I should have. I fixed this in November, but by then, it was too late to wrap up the entire list.

Keeping track of the food I ate DID help in some regards. It helped me realize that I was getting lactose intolerant with age. Plus it helped me keep track of when/if leftovers from my cooked dishes were going bad.

But next year, I’m going to be doing daily metrics specific to my goals for the year.

How about you? What were your goals for 2018? Did you end up accomplishing them? What lead you to succeed, or not succeed? I’d love to hear about it.

Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.