2019 Goals: Reevaluation and Changes

It’s that time of year again, where I reevaluate my entire life and decide to change my goals for the year. It’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine.

So let’s do a quick recap of the goals I’ve set at the beginning of 2019 and where I’m at.

Design

  • freelance work (I’m still chugging along, always in the need of more clients)
  • plan to open online shop (this is a slow process that I’ve been procrastinating on but I think I’m going to focus more on it soon)
  • 1 personal design project a week (52) (I’ve done about 20 so far, having a bit of a hectic June/July, but I think I’ll get back to it)

Writing

  • finish NaNoWriMo ’18 draft (good LORD, this book is long and I haven’t had many days to focus on writing it)
  • NaNoWriMo ’19 (coming in November!)
  • outline fantasy series (I have been doing this and it’s been swell! outline isn’t totally done but I have mostly outlined the big picture arc of the series and the first book’s full outline to write during this year’s NaNoWriMo!)
  • Thoughtless (a book I should be writing) (lololol)

Reading

  • read 52 books (lololol, I’ve honestly been trying to read more I swear – I’ve read 9 thus far, but Reading Rush is happening now and I always read more later in the year it’s fine it’s fine I’m fine everything’s fine)
  • complete trilogies/series (literally forgot this was a goal, but I haven’t really done this yet at all, but I have a few second and third books to read, so maybe?)
  • read more often (I’m trying, okay?)
  • Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon) (happening as I type this!!!)

Film

  • watch 30 films (I’m about halfway there, which is great! TWO already in theaters!)
  • write/shoot short film (in process of writing, will decide if I want to shoot it in August???)
  • write feature-length film (probably this fall)

Illustration

  • sketching and illustrating 2 days a month (nah, man I don’t have the capacity – I think my time with illustration has come to an end, I’ve reached my peak, I can’t get any better without more focus and time but it’s all good)
  • Inktober (still doing this because it’s fun!!!)

Health & Fitness

  • walk everyday (have been doing great!!!!)
  • workout 3x a week (lol was doing well but stopped for a few months but back on it!!!)
  • go to bed/wake up earlier (kind of? 7am average is early, right?)
  • 2 sodas a week (I gave this up looooong before April even began but I have to say, most of the sodas I drink now – which the number has gone down significantly, but nowhere near 2 a week – are diet, which ain’t great for me but I’m trying)

Other

  • 1 intake day a week (was doing this for a while and loved it but I think an hour a day would be better? it just didn’t fit within my schedule)
  • grow social media (I’m trying but no one likes me it’s not my fault lol)
  • post regularly on blog (I have been doing this! if you read these posts, you probably could tell. I doubt it though, I see the traffic on this blog and it’s looooow but still!)
  • further learning – 12 posts (killin’ this, I love it so much and this is a great segue….)

There’s been some changes happening in my life, over the last year or so. I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it, and I have come to the decision that I want to go back to school.

That’s right! Back to college. Back to the book learning. Since doing “Further Learning” on this blog, I’ve realized how much I love learning and how much I love learning about language, specifically. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been thinking about going back to school for Linguistics and/or English and creative writing. Maybe something else. I haven’t nailed anything down yet. (I’ve been looking at school’s and doing some research about it, though. It’s weird being a “non-traditional student” going to school later in life at 26. There’s so many questions and it’s not easy to navigate.) But I miss school. I regret not going to college formally. I need a big, wonderful change in my life.

For a few years now, I’ve been feeling restless, feeling like my life has hit a weird stand-still. That stagnant, static life of mine burst to life briefly last summer when the opportunity to live in Spain for just under a year came about. It was exciting and terrifying and I felt like, Ah, yes, finally, my life is about to start. But when that fell through, and the small business I was co-running decided to (maybe temporarily) shut down, I felt that same static feeling wash over me again. I’m just here. Waiting and wanting and unhappy about it.

It took me a while to realize that I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to want. I can do, I can seize. All I have to do is pick myself up and do it. And I’m tired of feeling like I can’t do the things I want.

So I’m going to. It’s going to take some time. I don’t know when school would be happening. I need to figure out all of that and figure out my life as I work toward getting there, because I still need money and to work in the mean time.

That’s my new goal for this year. The main goal. And I’m excited and terrified and it feels great.

Designing a Book Cover

Hello there! For the last few months, I’ve been setting aside some time to design book covers to add to my portfolio because it’s something I’d love to do for self-publishing authors (if you are one and would like to work together, please send a message through the contact page on my website here) because I love doing it. Most of the covers I do are of already published books, usually something I’ve read or is a favorite of mine. I redesign them for fun and to put up on my portfolio, but for this cover, I did something a little different.

This time, I first found the original stock photo while searching around on Storyblocks and wanted to build a cover around it. So, this cover is not of a real book nor is Nathan Patterson a real author. I made it all up to fit around the concept, kind of reversing what I usually do. I wanted to do more fantasy and more work with photography rather than vector art, which is what I usually do, and thought I’d share the design process for this particular cover.

First, as I said, I found the image that I wanted to work with. It’s a stock image a photographer has available on Storyblocks that immediately made the gears in my head start to turn.

There were a few things that I wanted to edit and fix of the original: the fold in the fabric close to eye needed to be smoothed, the contact lenses the girl are wearing are a bit crooked, and I wanted to smooth out the fabric in general so that it didn’t look quite so cheap-looking (this was done later, so not shown below). So those were the first steps. I achieved these tweaks in Photoshop.

Below, you’ll see that editing out the folded-up part near her eye doesn’t look perfect, which I knew would be okay because I was going to be doing more work on it.

After that, I took the photo into Lightroom just to play around with the coloring and shadows to make it look darker and less bright and green in the background (on the left). Then, I brought back into Photoshop to continue editing to smooth out her skin, darken her eye makeup, and smooth out the fabric to look less like velvet (on the right).

Once the photo was where I wanted it, I continued in Photoshop to add more effects. This included darkening more of the background to even it out, coloring her contacts to be blue, and adding this stock image texture I found, which reminds me of metallic eye shadow or something. After applying the texture over it, I erased it just around the eyes so that they would still pop and not be too covered up.

One thing that I wanted to try, was having a smoke/fire/magic-looking effect around the text of the title. After much trial and error, I was able to achieve the desired effect by removing all the black from the original smoke image in Photoshop, then digitally erasing and painting in several layers of the text in order to make it appear as though it is within the smoke, not just on top of it or behind it.

And there it be! I’m very excited with how it turned out. This was my first design using many of these techniques and the first I’ve ever done using a photo of a person, too. I pushed myself to go beyond my usual style and comfort zone, and I’m glad I did!

Here are some more covers I’ve done:

Again, if you’d like to work with me, whether it be for a cover design or something else, visit my website and use the contact page to ask any questions you’d like!

Daily Instagram Challenge

One of my goals for the year of 2017 was to post more on Instagram, specifically posting once a day (or at least one post per day of the year, because sometimes I forget to post for a day or two and I have to post several in a row to catch up) and so far, I’ve been doing great! I wanted to focus more on photography and posting quality pictures (though, sometimes I just post random pictures of whatever I’m doing that day) and flexing my photography skills more. I used to do a lot of photography in high school but sort of stopped doing it recently and wanted to get into it again.

Sometimes I take a few pictures in a day and post them sporadically, sometimes I post whatever is happening that day, or post an old picture from high school. Most of them are new, however, and a lot of them are just snapping my day-to-day life, but a good amount are thought-out photographs and special ones captured on a whim.

I’ve also had a lot of fun editing pictures—recently, I’ve been using the ColorStory app for effects and filters, and Polarr for more advanced editing and some great filters, too. Sometimes the Instagram filters and editing are fine, but these apps are great.

So far this year, these are the best I’ve posted/my favorites of 2017:

2017: New Year, New Goals

2017

It’s a new year and the following are my new goals—some the same as last year, some tweaked to better suit my life. 2016 was definitely a year of realizing things (you were right, Kylie Jenner) and I realized I needed to stop aiming so high.

So here are my goals for 2017:

Design & Illustration

In the new year, I want to work on more design projects for future plans of mine, continue working on my illustration skills, and practice my hand-lettering skills more. Since I just finished with school, I’ll be hopefully doing some freelance work here soon (after I’m able to quit my current job and make all the necessary preparations to start) and I’ll continue to do all the design work for the small business I co-run.

Writing

My goal for this year is to continue revising the two projects I’ve been working on. Both books (and related series) still get me excited after years of writing and rewriting and outlining and planning whenever I could fit it in while being a student and working. (And now that school is finished, I may have more time? Fingers crossed.) Whichever book is the strongest when finished, I’m planning on using it to start the process of querying for a literary agent (which may be this year or next year—the hope would be this year). Another writing goal is to finish the book I won NaNoWriMo with in 2016—I still love that story and want to get back into it, just to finish the first draft. And the final writing goal of mine is to again participate in NaNoWriMo. Though the election sort of made it more difficult to concentrate, making it harder and less fun, I had a blast doing it in 2016 and I want to do it again!

Reading

After the disaster of a reading year 2016 was, I’m setting my goal much lower: 35 books. That’s it. I always set it for 50 on Goodreads, always mark it down several in July and again in December after I realize 50 is too much. Not this year. I’m starting low and being less rigid with my list and schedule, because it only made reading more stressful than fun. I think I’ll be able to reach my goal this year of 35, which will be more than 2016’s 24 books and 3 books more than any other year of reading for me. And who knows? Maybe because of being more relaxed about reading, I’ll hit 50? Probably not, but you never know. (I know, actually. I probably won’t.)

Film | Part One: Import

Last year, I had a goal to see at least 12 films in the theater (as I realized I hadn’t seen a single one in 2015) and only saw two films in the theater; better than nothing, but disappointing. My goal for this year is similar, but on a smaller scale: I want to see 5 films in the theater, as well as watching 20 films via other sources (DVD, Netflix, TV, etc.) bringing the total of 25 new films in the year of 2017. A goal, I think, I can do—at least I will with the 20 outside of the theater, as I see most new (to me) films that way (and I’ve already watched 3).

Film | Part Two: Export

I want to do more film projects, but on a small scale. I first want to write a short film (should this have been up in the “writing” goals? oh, well)—I have ideas and ideas scribbled in notebooks and on files on my computer and on notes in my phone, but I’ve never sat down and finished a screenplay (though I’ve started a few). Second, I want to do more experimenting with the camera, making smaller videos like I used to do. It’s a muscle I haven’t stretched in a while.

Exercise

Hahahahahaha—No, wait. I’m serious this time. I started 2016 off really well with walking/running almost every day for a while and I lost ten pounds. I’ve since gained it back and slowed down on walking to a full stop, only to slowly start up again at the end of the year. But when I was doing it, I loved it. Now that I have a Fitbit Alta, I’m really getting back into it. My goal is to just try to exercise more. I don’t want to have a rigid schedule, I don’t want to set too high of expectations—especially in the winter when it’s more difficult to get up to drive to use the treadmill. I do have a recumbent bike at home that I can use and the treadmill once in a while, and I have an app on my phone for a 7 minute workout (which should be called 7 Minutes in Hell because omg working out like that instead of just walking is so awful how do people enjoy it???) So I’m going to start slow and really get going for when spring arrives and I can walk/run outside again—I really, really enjoyed it when doing it outside in the fresh air. It truly makes a big difference.

Instagram

I’ve been wanting to post more on Instagram and decided to post one a day for the entire year. Some will be from planned photo sessions, spread out over a few days, some will be just random and whatever I’m doing that day. I’ve already done it for 14 days in a row and I’m really enjoying it.

Those are my goals for 2017!