Biting the Bullet (journal)

And so, I’ve finally succumbed to the siren song of the bullet journal. I have a gorgeous new fountain pen, Marvy LePens, highlighters, drawing pencils, colored pencils, stamp pads, and more gel pens than you can shake the proverbial stick at. And I have an orange Rhodia journal just waiting for my words of wisdom to be deposited within its dot-gridded leaves.

This summer has been atrocious. The weather has alternated between monsoon-like rain and heat indexes that make me swoon just looking at the numbers. And work has been so busy I feel like I can’t breathe. My week of vacation came and went and I’m wondering if it ever really happened or was a figment of my imagination. But what isn’t imaginary is the amount of writing and editing projects I have on my to-do list. I’m floundering and starting to panic. What I need is to get my projects organized and establish deadlines.

Deadlines may be a nightmare to some, but they can be a writer’s friend. The trick is to make them work for you. Establishing priorities and due dates means that I can focus on one thing and ignore the rest because the rest of those things will get taken care of later. Meanwhile, my one and only project gets my undivided attention. Or at least, that is how it’s supposed to work. I haven’t been a paragon of planning virtue this year and I’m wasting more time worrying about what I need to get done than it would take to do the tasks ten times over.

Enter the bullet journal (and Trello). I’ve been considering the journal for some time, as it’s a way to keep track of things, plan, keep my idea lists in one place, and play with art supplies and feed my inner artist. I’ve had the Trello app for awhile but I haven’t done much with it. Today I started setting up a Trello board for my writing projects and labeling them. The bullet journal is going to be for more general items, as well as project lists.

I’m a bit stuck setting up my bullet journal’s “future list,” so I turned to the internet for ideas. Website after website, the layout seems to be the same, the fonts are frilly scripts, and I can’t help but notice it’s mostly girls doing this stuff. Yeah, I’m a girl, too, but it just seems odd, especially given that the inventor of the bullet journal is a guy. Why aren’t the men doing more planning? Or are their bullet-journal websites just buried on page 629 of the search list? Or are they so busy doing that they aren’t planning?

So far, I’ve drawn a few lines, marked two pages as “index,” created three “signifiers,” and put some page numbers in the bullet journal. It’s a start!

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Becoming a Bookseller

Corrugated Sky’s books at the Ellicott City Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

Last Saturday, June 30, I set up a small table for my first on-site book sales venture. The location was historic Ellicott City, Maryland, which has recently been ravaged by flooding for the second time in just a few years. The venue was the Howard County Historical Society’s Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

As nature would have it, the weather was not only hot, it was dangerously hot. The sale was smaller than I expected it to be, and for the first two hours a small but steady stream of people came by the table. And as the sun rose higher in the sky, the people evaporated in direct proportion to the amount of shade available — or more likely, ran for shelter to a nearby building or the air conditioning of their cars.

I sold two books, and I got sunburned. I passed out bookmarks for all the available titles (in case you can’t see them clearly in the photo, from left to right the books are Seacombe Island, Tales of the Black Dog, Smoke and Steam, and Hellfire) and chatted with a few people who stopped by. Quite a few people were accompanied by their dogs, who gamely trotted alongside their owners despite the heat.

While I wouldn’t call the sale a resounding success, it wasn’t a flop, and it was good to get out from behind the keyboard and spend some time outside. It was also a good way to test out the table I bought and play with some ideas for displaying books at events. I have a shopping list now: banner, table cloth, book easels.

The next venue is HallowRead — also held in Ellicott City — at the end of October.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 147

Ah, it’s past midnight, so technically this is a Friday writing prompt, but I’m not going to break with tradition and change the name of the post. It’s been a long week at work and my eyes are bleary, but I just can’t sleep, and so here I am working on the blog.

I lay awake in bed for an hour and I kept seeing airplane lights out the window until I realized that it was fireflies that I was seeing. Here it is mid-June already, and usually I’m peeking out the window in the evening waiting for the fireflies to appear, but this year I haven’t even thought about them. I suppose that has a lot to do with my troglodyte existence these days, although I did pry myself outside today and went for a walk in a local park and got some sunshine.

My zombie short story is coming along very, very slowly. Actually I should say that it is shambling along, which is par for the course as far as zombies are concerned. We are still hoping to have the anthology out by Halloween (in case you missed my earlier post about it, this book will be Corrugated Sky’s third anthology and will contain four short stories). In other news, I signed up for the Zombies, Run! pro app and I’m restarting season one.

I was going to do a prompt about alliteration, but since I’ve spent so much time writing about zombies, I guess that gives us a natural topic for this week, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe zombies are not exactly “natural,” but let’s go with it. Your task is to create a zombie character and write a description about it. Put some effort into making the zombie a real character so it’s not just another moaning shambler out on a brain-search. How did it become a zombie? What was it before it turned? And can a zombie have a goal other than eating brains? Maybe … that’s your department. Now go forth and write, and don’t let the zombies bite!

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 146

Tonight is that moment when I wonder if the internet is broken.

I’m so used to signing into my email accounts and wading through tons of unsolicited offers for everything from food to clothes and trinkets that when I launch my browser and find no emails waiting for me I wonder what’s wrong. Have I been deserted? Is the power out? No, the lights are on. Hmm…

Time for a writing prompt! You’re just getting to your computer after a day at work or school or whatever else you do in your life besides sit at a computer. You turn on the computer and look at your email inbox. It’s empty. You go off to do something else and get busy with life, and it isn’t until the next day that you sign back in to your account. Still no email. This goes on for a week. What gives?

Write a paragraph about this that you could develop into a short story based on the theme “abandonment.” Take that prompt loosely: someone could have abandoned you, literally or figuratively, or you could have abandoned someone or something else, whether it’s a love interest, a job, or a way of life. Think outside the normal parameters on this one, as abandonment can be both positive and negative. You can abandon bad habits as well as abandoning the things you love. And don’t forget that the noun “abandon” pretty much means the same as “carefree.”