iPad Posting Fail

img_0087-1I’ve had many blogs over the years and one thing I always wanted was to be more mobile with my blogging.  I’m old and have terrible eyesight, so blogging on my phone has never been an option.  My eyes are too bad, my fingernails are too long, and my patience is too short to write posts on a dinky phone screen.

I’ve always been a PC kinda gal, so I am most comfortable writing that way.  A full-size keyboard is my friend, especially one with a great ‘feel.’  I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yep, I’m that old) and keyboards with no feel drive me batty.

However, over the last year or so, I’ve been using my iPad more and more.  Especially now that I am drawing on it, I tend to take it everywhere.  So I thought I would try out blogging on my iPad.  It couldn’t be that hard – even though I loathe the new ‘block’ editor (it’s not that new anymore, I suppose), I’ve been doing okay with it on the PC.

My thoughtful husband bought me a bluetooth keyboard that I could use with the iPad so that I could type with an actual keyboard rather than the on-screen one.  (I am active on some forums and let me tell you, trying to select text with the built-in keyboard is a freaking nightmare!)

I also had intentions of participating in Inktober (notice the past tense there) and had drawn up a mandala for the first prompt.  I drew it up, decided to post about it, and wrote up the post.  Simple, right?

As if.  :/

It took forever for the iOS WordPress app to load up my jpg image of the mandala.  I think it took about 5 tries before it finally loaded.  I finished up my post, proofed it, and published it.

I tried to, anyway.

After hitting publish, the app just sat there with the loading wheel spinning and spinning.  So I closed it and tried saving the post.

Nope.  Wouldn’t save either.

I tried publishing it again.  Again with the loading wheel.  I thought, well, I’ll just give it a few minutes and see if it worked.  I did a few chores around the house and came back.  Nope – still the spinning wheel.

Argh.

After about an hour of trying to post, I finally gave up.  I don’t know if WordPress hates Apple or Apple hates WordPress or they both hate me, but I was so frustrated I was ready to spit nails.  Oh, and during this whole process, I also discovered that posts I had saved to come back and read later in the app have also disappeared.

All of them.

Sigh.

So for now, I’ve resigned myself to drawing on the iPad and posting on the PC.  Not exactly what I wanted, but we can’t have everything, right?

Monday Mandala 12

Mandala_12A lot of lines in this mandala – I’m still experimenting with elements and motifs.  I call it experimenting, but really it’s getting lost in the zone when I’m drawing.

This isn’t one of my favorite designs, but looking at it closely, I might feel differently if I colored it in.  It does have a lot of nooks and crannies for coloring.

The pattern feels too repetitive to me, even though I did that on purpose.  Maybe that’s why it doesn’t appeal – too many similarities.

Miniature Painting

With school starting back up and me going back to work, finding time for everything I want to do in my schedule has been nigh impossible.

I have a ton of miniatures waiting to be painted, including my Kickstarter set of all the Critical Role miniatures from Campaigns 1 and 2.

Right now I have about 10 minis base painted with black, waiting for me to sit down with a brush.  I have some zombies in a half-done state and a couple of Hero Forge 3D printed minis waiting as well.

The painting has kind of taken a back seat, not only due to lack of time, but because my regular D&D group has gone online, rather than meeting face-to-face.  I love the flexibility of playing online (who doesn’t want to play D&D in their comfy pjs?!), but I miss playing with minis and maps.

Perhaps I can find another face-to-face group – you know, in all that mythical free time I have! 😛

Here’s one mini I did manage to complete – a pack mule for our party.

Donkey Miniature PaintedHe’s a plain Jane mini, but it was fun to paint something other than a humanoid form for once.  Too bad we only got to use him once or twice before we went online. 😦  But he’s still cute!

Planning Fail

img_0087-1Several months ago, I bought one of those fancy planners.  You know, the ones you see all over YouTube and Etsy with all the bazillions of cute little stickers you can put in them?

Since I was contemplating starting my own sticker business, I bought one, along with several sticker sets from different Etsy stores to try out.

I lasted two whole weeks, I think.

I mean, it’s not the planner’s fault.  It was cute, it was in some colors I liked, and I truly thought I would use it.  It’s not the stickers’ fault – they were all cute and/or useful.  I bought a set of budgeting stickers for April (so I bought the planner even before that) and some other just cutesy stickers to decorate as I planned.

I even bought a couple of sticker packs made for the planner I bought that were digital downloads so I could try that out.  After the printing fiasco of those, I finally got them ready to use.

Now, I use a planner all the time.  I prefer the month-at-a-glance ones, rather than week by week, so that was probably my first fail.  The planner I bought does have a monthly view, but it’s pretty small and followed by weekly spreads.  So, not really enough space for what I wanted for the monthly view.

Looking back through the planner, I used it for, yep, two whole weeks.  It just felt, forced, I think.  Like I was trying too hard to make it ‘cute,’ when what I need from my planner is functional.

Weekly Planner Spread 2019_0001

Weekly Planner Spread 2019_0002

I was a bit frustrated, thinking of the money I wasted on this planner (even on sale, it was around $35) and the stickers.  As you can see above, none of the stuff I put in the planner actually got checked off, so I clearly accomplished a whole lot of nothing that week.

I pulled the planner out while I was writing this post and realized I’ve only got 3 months left to use it.  I can buy other pages and take out the ones that are currently in there, so it’s not a total loss, but I doubt I’ll spend that much to replace something I didn’t use in the first place.

Now I’m thinking maybe I’ll use it as an editorial calendar for the blog.  Then it won’t matter how messy it gets, right?  😛  Since it’s only usable til the end of this year, that seems like a good plan.  I’ll probably keep the little discs and the cover, but I’m not even sure about that.

Ah, well, another lesson learned, right?  At least I’ve narrowed down what I don’t want in a planner.  Now – what to do with all those stickers??!!

Letting Go

img_0087-1People think of failure as the end.

It isn’t.

It’s a chance to start again.

I’ve always been the kind of person who has several projects going at once.  When I was younger, I had the energy for lots of things, but not the time.  The older I get, the more time I have, but the less energy.

So, that means I sometimes have to admit defeat.  Not every project I start will get completed.

And that’s okay.

Failure is how we learn.  My most recent failure taught me that starting over is okay.

Over a year ago, I started to crochet an afghan for my mother-in-law.  It’s a simple pattern, and one I’ve made before, so I know I can do it.  However, this time the pattern was giving me fits.

Every row it seemed like my stitch count got off somehow and I would have to rip it out and start over.  I finally got through about 25 rows.

Or so I thought.

On row 26, suddenly my stitch count was off again, and I couldn’t figure out where.  After ripping out several rows and still finding myself off, I decided to put the project aside for a while.

Fast forward to last week, when I finally picked it up again.  (That old adage – “Out of sight, out of mind” – is apparently true.)

I still couldn’t figure out where I was off.  So I decided to admit defeat.  My frustration with the whole thing was exacerbated by the fact that I didn’t have enough skeins of matching yarn to finish anyway. (I kept telling myself I’d go buy the rest, but I never did.)

So I sat down and unraveled the whole thing.  I now have a large 3-skein ball of yarn.  I don’t, however, have a barely done afghan sitting in my office taunting me.  And when I was done rolling up the yarn, I actually felt better.

I made a decision about the project and now I am able to let the guilt about not completing it go.  My mother-in-law didn’t even know I was making it, so the only person it was bothering was me.  And frankly, I have better ways I can spend my time than feeling guilty.

So if you find yourself lamenting a project you haven’t completed, think about why you are hanging on to it.  Is it because you truly want to work on it? Probably not, or you would have completed it.

In the words of everyone’s favorite ice princess – Let it go! 😀

Photo Fail

I’ve been working on drawing and coloring mandalas, experimenting with all the different ways to use them so that I can get an idea of what people who purchase them might want to do with them.

I printed out a couple of my Monday Mandalas from this blog and colored them in with my favorite colored pencils.  I wanted to take a photo of them and show you how they turned out.

Unfortunately for me, my photo skills aren’t up to par and apparently neither are my photo editing skills.  I’ve taken a million photos and I can’t seem to get the paper to look white – there’s always a weird yellow cast.  I’ve tried editing the photo, but whatever I do also affects the colors I used on the mandala, which I don’t want.

So, after much frustration and face-palming, I’ve decided that this is a fail that I need to accept and move on from.  The photo itself wasn’t the point, the experience of coloring it in was.

The failed photo:

Colored Mandala MeSee how it’s dark on the right side?  So, clearly, one of the things I need to work on is how to take better digital photos, especially if I’m going to be posting some of my designs for sale on Etsy.

Ignoring the lighting fail, actually coloring in the mandala went well.  This one is a fairly simple design, but that meant that I could color it in quickly, which is nice.  I like how it turned out, even if my photo skills don’t do it justice.

Maybe I’ll try taking some of the photos with my digital camera rather than my phone and see if that works better.  In the meantime, I’m also experimenting with layering some of my designs and turning those into coloring pages.  Hopefully I’ll have something to post about that here soon.

Missed Deadlines and Sales Tax

img_0087-1Okay, so they are only self-imposed deadlines, but I think that makes it feel worse when you miss them, because you are disappointing yourself.

Sigh.

Sadly, my goal of opening an Etsy business still hasn’t happened.  Part of it is fear, part of it is procrastination, and part of it is just pure avoidance.

I’ve been waffling back and forth about whether I want to sell physical products (which would require me to deal with collecting sales tax) or whether I want to limit my sales (at first, at least) to digital downloads – which would not require me to collect sales tax in my state of residence.  (Etsy collects sales tax and handles all of the reporting/payments for states that require it even on digital products; for now, anyway.)

Part of my avoidance is that, in general, sales tax on the internet is becoming a huge pile of red tape.  For a long time, internet sales were exempt from sales tax because the internet didn’t exist when most of the laws were written.

Fast forward to the digital age, and everyone wants their cut of internet sales.  Instead of only having to worry about the laws in the state you physically reside in, it’s rapidly becoming that you have to worry about the laws in every state, regardless of where you live.  Which is a giant headache, and one that will likely drive a lot of people out of business, because the convoluted record-keeping required is just too time-consuming and expensive and eats up their time and/or profit.

For now, digital downloads seem to be the way I should go, if only for my own sanity.  Having finally decided that, I have begun working on designs for the coloring pages and stickers I hope to sell. Let’s hope the laws don’t change on me before my procrastinating butt finally kicks into gear!

Learning Curve

FailMy struggle to start my online business continues.  For whatever reason, my brain insists that before I start something, I must know ALL THE THINGS.  So I decided to see how other people were running their sticker businesses on Etsy.

My first goal was to order some stickers from other stores. I had a million questions.  What kind of paper do they use? How do they package their products? What do they charge? How much is postage?  Do they charge shipping?  What about sales tax?

So I purchased some stickers for my own use and I also purchased some stickers that I could download, print, and cut myself. I’m still deciding whether I want to mail out orders, which will add to the cost because of postage and packaging, or whether I want to just sell downloadable files.

So I purchased a couple of downloadable files that also included the cut files so I could use the Cameo and see how things work. Buy the files, download, open, print, cut – easy peasy, right?

Right.

After 30 minutes of work, I was ready to pull out my hair. I made ALL the rookie mistakes. I’d tried to read and research about how to use the software and the cutting machine, so I thought I was ready to go.

Nope.

First, I wanted to try out my new CMYK printer and see what the print quality was like. It was okay, though not as saturated as I thought it would be. The images I was printing were kind of washed out, so I’ll wait and see how I feel after printing more than 3 or 4 pages.

I printed two pages of the stickers I purchased and then got ready to cut them. Opened the cut files and loaded the cutting machine. And then realized, after the cut job failed, that I had just printed the pdf files of the stickers, which don’t include the registration marks that the cutting machine needs to cut.

Sigh.

So, I opened the cut files and printed the stickers again – this time making sure the registration marks printed. So far, so good. Next headache – my Cameo is connected to my PC via bluetooth because it sits too far away from the PC to connect with a cord. Then I got the cut job loaded and ready to go, but when I went to send it to the machine, the bluetooth was continually searching (and not finding) the Cameo.

Grrr.

Deep breath, and then I shut off the Cameo, counted to 5 and turned it back on. Finally, the bluetooth connected and I was able to get the cut job started. I did notice that the blade didn’t seem to have moved (my Cameo came with an auto blade), but I didn’t think much of it. I wanted to track how long it took to cut, so I was watching the clock.

As I said, rookie mistake. When the job finished, the machine had cut, but not deep enough to peel the stickers off easily. Some of them were quite small and they ripped as I tried to take them off, or I couldn’t get them separated at all. Clearly, my blade wasn’t cutting deep enough. Google, here I come.

After spending just a few minutes searching, I found the answer. Because my machine has an auto blade, the machine has to adjust the setting on the blade, rather than me doing it manually (which is how some other machines work). Apparently most newbies insert the blade incorrectly. Mine was actually inserted correctly, so that wasn’t the problem.

I went back to the cut file and realized that the cut file assumes that your machine has a ratchet blade (one that you adjust manually). So, that problem solved. I just change the blade selection to reflect that my machine has the auto blade.

Success! I load the paper to be cut, get the machine connected via bluetooth, and when the job starts, it adjusts the blade. Yay!! I wait another 4 minutes for the job to finish and then I go to remove the sticker paper from the cutting mat. As I pull, I realize that the blade, rather than kiss-cutting the stickers, has instead cut all the way through the paper. Which means when I try to peel the paper off the tacky cutting mat, it comes up in pieces, leaving the stickers stuck to the mat.

Arrrggghhh.

I spent 10 minutes peeling off all the stickers from the mat. Another piece of paper wasted. But – now I know what not to do. So, back to the drawing board. Print the stickers, make sure they have the registration marks, make sure the machine is connected to the PC, and adjust the blade settings so that it doesn’t cut all the way through the paper.

How did it go?

Well, partial success. I adjusted the blade setting, but I left everything else the same. Mistake. I considered adjusting the force/pressure of the blade as well, but I decided not to. After spending more time cutting the stickers, this time I think the blade depth is good, but it is still cutting too deep. Some stickers were fine, but others were still cutting through the backing of the paper. Not enough that I couldn’t pull it off the cutting mat in one piece, but enough to make it unworkable as a setting.

Back to the drawing (cutting?) board. 😛

Who Should I Follow?

img_0087-1Alternative Title: I Suck at Search

A few days ago, past me was be-bopping along, writing some posts (ahead of time, gasp!) and reading through the other blogs I follow.  And I thought, I need some new blogs to add to my reader feed.  So I’ll do a search and find some new and interesting and exciting blogs to follow.  Right?

Sigh.

Maybe it’s because my blog isn’t really a ‘niche’ blog.  Or maybe it’s because I’m interested in everything. (Except creepy crawlies – those can f*ck right off.)

I’m interested in photography, editing photographs, writing, blogging, creating, dungeons and dragons, painting miniatures, mandalas, stickers, self-publishing, running my own business, virtual reality – the list goes on and on.

But I have had no luck just doing searches on WordPress and trying to find other bloggers/writers to support and read.  I mean, I’ve found some that look interesting, but I feel like I must be missing a whole huge lot of them.

So – who do you follow?  Who’s funny? Who makes you think? Who posts pretty things?  I need AALLLLL the links!  Post them below – don’t forget to include your own blog so I can follow you too!