The Season of Self-Help (Books)

Two things should be said from the start.

Firstly, I can’t say I’ve arrived at any sort of an Answer to any of my questions about life, universe, and everything. But I feel that I’ve done my research, which means I can stop devouring the self-help books crowding my shelves and my Kindle – and I can start the Work. As in everyday practice of meditation, and being present, and being grateful (pretty much EVERY book I’ve read tells you to do so.)But first, let’s look at the second thing.

The second caveat is that ‘season’ is quite a loose term here. It’s been quite more than a season. I’d say it all started in March with my usual restlessness (I’m tempted to capitalise this word. It’s such a prevailing emotion in my life, the old mate Restlessness of mine; and it has so many facets that it’s almost a character I could put in a book). And then I saw the Marie Kondo series on Netflix… and I thought that perhaps it’s not Restlessness. Maybe, I was just Cluttered.

It took me 21 days. I donated 29 oversized garbage bags of clothes, 14 boxes of what Maries calls ‘komono’ (my collection of mugs; books; knickknacks; sofa cushions; pens, pencils, and whatnot); de-cluttered every single shelf in my house, and reorganised my art.

Behold my sock drawer and my tea/dish shelf!

And then I drew my first acrylic painting. A doughnut of all things. ‘Hm,’ I thought. ‘Interesting.’

‘Maybe there is something to this whole ‘”free space in your life and mind” thing,” I thought, “and maybe inspiration will flow, and your muse/daemon Elizabeth Gilbert style will sing to you and play a lyre and you will write your masterpiece.’ I think I should remark here that I still practice with Headspace (almost) every day as I’ve mentioned in my previous post. So, there’s a bit of space in the good old noggin of mine. Acrylics were a surprise, though.

The high lasted for about a month, and then my Restlessness was back. And that’s when the first batch of self-help books travelled from McNally and Robinson Booksellers to my bedroom.

And then some more came.

And let’s not forget the Kindle ones on my phone. I do spend a lot of time riding a bus.

So, now that the books have been read, notes have been taken, charts and graphs drawn, and the schedule 7 Habit of Highly Effective People style is made every Sunday…

By the way, I can’t recommend the 7 Habits book enough. It answered about 76.5% of my questions about the topics less encompassing than the aforementioned life, universe, and everything – at least the ones I could form to ask. It has little to do with effectiveness as it’s understood at work in terms of productivity and salary – and has everything to do with being a decent human being.

For me, the main point of the book (and all of them are worthy of exploration, in my humble opinion) is prioritization. I am definitely a person who has trouble choosing my battles. That’s why in the last five years I have started and abandoned a couple dozens stories, have tried my hand in pretty much every art medium, and have at some point considering learning punch needling, photography, and maybe professional gel manicure. But even The Renaissance Soul book (see above in the Kindle list) who defends the scattered and the ever-distracted like me insists on choosing several projects to concentrate on. Not all of them. Because we’re human and there are only 24 hours in a day. And I do work full time in a room with 8 babies under 18 months. And I have a kid. And I have to cook for three people with radically different diets (one is vegetarian, one is lactose and gluten intolerant, and one is a picky eater North American style, i.e. a pizza and hot dog lover).

The 7 Habits book tells you to schedule your week, not your day; and it tells you to base your schedule on the roles you play in your life. For me that would be:

  • a mom (Recently, Gregory and I started to do one art project a week. I, as usual, took it too seriously. I bought books and did my research on Pinterest because, you know, you have to ‘develop your child’ and so on… and then I chilled the F off. Last week we baked chocolate lava cakes in a mug in our microwave, splattered sticky batter everywhere, ate literally ad nauseam (it might have something to do with the amount of whipped cream on top of those mugs), and I have to tell it was much more rewarding than making a rocket out of recycled boxes, Karen.)
  • a person with a job (I think I will write about my struggles of being paid 12 CAD an hour in my next blog post. I am planning to blog regularly these days. It helps me stay sane. It reminds me of the ‘morning pages’ from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The Bible for the artists (which is literally everybody, if you believe Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is almost like the Bible to me), The Artist’s Way suggests you de-clutter your mind every morning by writing at least three pages by hand. I think, slightly editing and organizing my thoughts and sharing them on my blog might be also beneficial for my artist’s mind – and might be marginally interesting to read to some people. After all, people do go to circus to watch clowns and monkeys, which is what my mind’s inner workings remind me of.)
  • a writer (All hail Liz Gilbert and Pam Grout and Julia Cameron and half a dozen other writers, including Stephen King whose On Writing I borrowed from the library, and who let me know it’s OK to stand up and say: I am a writer. They say to say it loud and proud (I might have squeaked it out, but baby steps, my friends, baby steps…) and remember, the only thing that makes one a writer is the fact that you write. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing. I sit down, say a short prayer to my daemon, and then I work my a** off. )*

*Alright, this needs a caveat of its own. I only started sitting down and working my a** off last week. I updated my ongoing fanfiction story and I posted a new chapter of my cosy mystery on Wattpad. And I cleaned up my blog and my FB pages. And I went back to editing Blind Carnival. And recorded a Youtube video. So yes, the a** has been definitely worked off, but that’s just week one. Let’s see how long I’ll last.

And yet. Something has shifted. I feel it in the air. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air… Oops, that’s LotR. Nevermind.

I think what has changed is the End. As in the 7 Habits‘ Habit 2: ‘Begin with the End in Mind.’ What do I want from my writing in the end? I want to enjoy the process. I want to write and feel light, and mad, and tired, and inspired, and sometimes stuck and frustrated, and rewarded, and recognised, and… me. I want to be Katya Kolmakov, a writer. I don’t expect much income from my writing, but I want to sell my books so people can read them. I want to talk to people about my writing, so I’ll be recording videos and answering to comments under them and I’ll be writing webserials on Wattpad and answering to comments there – so keep them coming!

Also, I want to blog/YouTube. I want to talk about what it’s like out here in the savannah of the writing life, and maybe someone will want to hear about it.

Martha Beck in her Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (a super new-agey book, but I think I might have read it at the right moment, so I managed to tolerate the preachy tone and actually got through it, and found it oddly inspiring) proposes that hackneyed mental exercise of imagining what you’d do if you had no limitations. And so does Latte Factor. And pretty much every person who writes a book to teach you how to live your life. And one of them (don’t ask me which one, there have been too many) asks what you’d do if you had 36 million dollars (oddly specific much?) I think I’d just write all day. And paint and draw, just for fun and because when I have a brush or an ink pen in my hand I experience flow.

The other day I found a weird marking on my skin under my right breast. I promise, I’ll have it looked at next week. But my first thought was that if it’s something serious, I’ll quit my job and I’ll be writing between my hospital visits.

This does tell you something about my priorities.

OK, that’s it for now, folks. I’ll go cook for the week. Talk to you very soon.

Oh, and here’s my first YouTube video. It’s hardly good but I have no regrets.

The Winds of Change for K. Kolmakov

So, here we are. Yours truly, widely known in immensely narrow circles as kkolmakov, and you, my beloved readers.

I have to say, I have rewritten this post about a dozen times by now… And yet I find it difficult to put what I need to say into the right words.

I feel as if I reached some sort of a tipping point in my writing (and drawing as well, but it’s a bit of a different matter). I started three years ago, with a small drabble on fanfiction.net. So much has happened since then! I know at least one of you has been with me on this journey from day one; and just for that I’ll be forever grateful for that day on the plane when I typed my first 300 words. (My dearest J., I’m of course talking about you!)

I learnt; I grew; I found friends, and lost friends. I saw the world more clearly, and I love it more, and am scared of it more. I know myself better now (and I can’t say it made my life easier.)

But enough rambling.

A few days ago I arrived to the realisation that it’s time for change. Very few of you know my personal circumstances, but in simple terms, I have been fortunate enough to be able to take some time off work since May 2016 and dedicate myself to writing and drawing. This luxury will end in May 2017, and by then I need to either find a job; or become a published author, actually paid royalties, and/or an artist with constant income.

In no way I find I’ve wasted these past months. I wrote fanfiction as much as I wanted; I wrote the YA fantasy novel (which I’m currently looking into publishing); I put “Hammer Up!” to Amazon Kindle Scout. I wrote on JukePop (a bit more about it later); and Wattpad. I’ve almost finished Dr T Series here, on the blog (a project that has spanned over all my writing years). I drew; I sold my art on the Central Canada Comic-Con; and Etsy; I opened a Society6 shop. I experimented with pastels, ink, and polymer clay.

But it’s time to accept that:

1. The Hobbit fandom has shrunk. I hardly get any reviews for my recent stories. Except for you, my few loyal readers, who are generous and forgiving enough to give a chance to all my random endeavours! And even wander from platform to platform with me! (Words can’t express how much I appreciate and love you – each and every one of you!)

I doubt I will ever write for any other fandom as much and as wholeheartedly as i did for this one. I’m a monogamous creature. I will never have any other King.

2. Fanfiction, Wattpad, JukePop, DeviantArt, and Instagram don’t pay bills, as rewarding and fulfilling as they are emotionally and mentally.

3. I don’t want a boring office/kitchen job. I know I’ll be restless and miserable if I am not allowed to spend 8 hours a day with my keyboard and/or brushes.

Which altogether adds up to the dire need to restructure my creative life.

So, here are my plans for the nearest months. A lot of the following requires your advice/suggestions/votes. Please, let me know in the comments!

{A} Regarding fanfiction:

I’m planing to slowly cut down the number of stories I write. Most of those that still get some readership (such as “Letters to Your Heart,” “Old Wounds;” and all those smaller ones such as “Here Be Dragons”) will be completed, but much depends on the readers. I’m expecting to leave “Four Corners of Middle Earth” as my last Hobbit/LotR fanfic going post-May.

If there’s some specific story that you’re dying to see finished, or kept ‘alive,’ let me know.

{B} I’m planning to finish Dr T Series. At the moment, I anticipate about 5 chapters left in the last part, tying loose ends, and sending Wrennie and Dr. Sexy into their well-deserved happily ever after, with the triplets and Unna, sparkles and unicorns, etc., etc.

I still want to continue writing a modern romance/erotica webserial with weekly updates; and I think “Jack in the Box” on Wattpad will be the one.

I have couple of other ideas that I’ve been considering, such as that “May to December” one I’ve mentioned before with the professor-student scenario, with a reversed age difference, where Wren is 42 and divorced, and John is her student. Couple other ideas are also rattling in my barmy noggin. The question is: where would you prefer reading it (if you’re still interested in reading my musings, of course) – here on the blog? On Wattpad?

{C} The previous question brings me to the matter of JukePop and Inkitt. I’m leaving “Blind Carnival” sitting on JukePop for now. Several of you were immensely kind to say that you’d buy another of my books (you can’t imagine how flattered I feel when I read such wonderfully kind comments!), but for now “Blind Carnival” will have to wait.

Meanwhile, “Better Than One” (the one with the Canadian farmer lacking any ability to communicate verbally – remember this one?) is currently being moved to Inkitt (click on the word for the link). I’m still trying to figure it out, but so far I know that they’re running a romance book contest there. As soon as I know more, I’ll let you know. I think if the book gets posted, there’s a limited number of free copies, and after that people are supposed to pay. I’ll keep you posted so that you can grab yours.

{D} I’m currently in correspondence with Winnipeg Police forces gathering info for that whodunnit for Etsy with my illustrations. As soon as I have my research done, I’ll start on the chapters. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

{E} I’m planning to continue drawing. My creepy ink drawings will go to Society6; they seem to fit well on tees, mugs, and phone cases. My colourful watercolours and clay figurines will be available on Etsy.

{F} I’m currently working on a picture book titled “Miraculous Mira” – of course, with a few familiar faces among its characters (you can find out more about it on my Instagram.) Hopefully, I’ll manage to publish it.

So, these are my plans.

I sincerely think that writing doesn’t happen just to the writer. It’s our shared experience, and I am grateful for each one of you, for your being in my life, and those interaction we had. And so, I truly want to continue being your writer. If you still want Wren/Olivia/Etta/Gemma and John/Darius/Thorin in your life, and Mira as well, and just a bit of kkolmakov, let me know. We’ll move together to Wattpad; or Etsy; I’d love to see you among my followers on Facebook, or Instagram. And then one day, when I’m in your town/county/province/country signing my bestseller (pfft, as if!) you’ll stop by and say, ‘Hey, I used to be so-and-so, your follower on fanfiction;’ and that’s when you’ll see kkolmakov frantically shaking your hand and tearing up.

Cheers, my lovelies.

kk

Hammer Up! is Up

Come to Amazon Kindle Scout and vote for my story Hammer Up!

VOTE HERE!!!

Summary: To win the right to choose her husband, Aphrodite has to endure ten days in the company of Hephaestus, the fallen god of smithery. Except, everything about Heph freaks her out: he wears dirty clothes; he limps; his sacred animal is an ass. Meanwhile, he thinks she’s a slag, and nothing but the means to an end.

Do you want to learn the Greek myths the hot way? Surprisingly accurate mythology, Cockney speaking gods, and frisky erotica are mixed in this story full of humour and romance.

After 30 days, if the book gets published, you get a FREE copy!

Scantily Clad Human on My Cover and Amazon Kindle Scout

So, here’s what’s happening with Hammer Up! previously known as “Stop, Hammer Time!” on my FanFiction page.

In return to my submission of the text and this cover:

I received this email:

which left me quite confused. What is it that they are unhappy with, I asked myself. Is it the clipart drawing of an ancient statue, or my jolly pink floral pattern? (“Well, perhaps, it’s that suggestive, fanny shaped flower to the left,” my partner offered sardonically. Yes, I know. Now you can’t un-see it 😀 )

I have to say at this stage I was more confused than frustrated. There was still hope that there has been a misunderstanding. But then I thought about it, got annoyed by the alleged Amazon Kindle Scout’s prudeness (it is an example of classic art, you uneducated bigots! I internally screamed in anguish); and I wrote this:

hoping that my sarcasm was appropriately veiled.

I mean, seriously?! What’s next? Putting speedos of Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pietà? 

And here is the response I received:

Scantily clad humans?! Suggestive of sex or violence?! Are we looking at the same picture?!

Here’s where my temper rose. If they are saying that my scantily clad Aphrodite, demurely covering her lady parts, and her only exposed boob being a line and a dot, could offend and/or traumatise someone on their site – and I assume they mean a minor – then I don’t know where this world is going to! I have a kid in grade one, and I would say the harlequin novel covers with limp damsels in ripped bodices, and men clearly physically overpowering them, are more harmful for my child’s perception of gender relations!

So, currently I’m working on designing a new cover. The following options are considered:

  • an appropriately sized Florina pepper (native to Greece and delicious) with two oranges on the sides. I might go for a small pepper, and two olives, and then just zoom into the picture for the right proportions;
  • an ancient Greek column, visually piercing a curly cloud;
  • suggestively positioned smithery tools.

I’m open to your ideas as well, my darlings!

kkolmakov out!

P.S. Do you think they wouldn’t fuss if it were a MALE god in that picture? Are they just afraid of female partial nudity, or Heph’s nipples would freak them out as well?

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you! Happy new 2017! Let’s hope this one takes away less from us, especially less of those creative people who bring joy to our world! And may it give us what we’re hoping for!

Happy holidays from my original characters as well! 😀

Starting tomorrow, January 1st, 2017, I’ll be returning to my normal update schedule; news regarding writing and drawing will be announced; “Hammer Up!” will soon go up on Amazon; and Patreon will get… videos! I’m all fired up, and ready for a productive inspired year!

All the best wishes to all of you, my darlings! Thank you for being with me all through this complicated, challenging, sometimes tragic, sometimes still hopeful 2016 – and see you soon!

The Question of Publishing a Book

I have come to the realisation that publishing a book is like getting a tattoo.

First you don’t know what to expect, but it looks like an ace idea.

You plan and plan, and then you make a decisive leap, and go for it!

And that is when expenses start. And panic. There is a lot of panic involved. Am I doing it right? Why is everyone going to this place for it? Should I have gone with a different approach? Have I bodged it up completely?

Then comes the pain. It’s new, different… You have never felt a pain like this. It’s charring and you ask yourself what sort of a barmpot you are to have decided to do it.

There are bouts of ‘it’s not as bad as I thought’ feeling, though. And then something new pops up, and you are in agony.

There are questions to answer, and you have no idea if you are cocking it up. Also, somewhere in the middle of the process you are hit at the back of your head with a very ‘funny’ thought: it’s forever.

For all you short mortal life; and maybe, with enough ‘media coverage’ (Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.), even for a wee bit longer than that. That is the bloody scariest feeling you will ever have in life.

And then it’s done.

Just like that.

1 2 3 4

The last photo is taken after a short pause. It involved bawling. A lot. I opened the box and burst into tears. I can’t tell now if they were happy ones, or not. I felt very emotional after my first tattoo as well. It might be just a shock thing for my poor INFJ personality.

5

 

And when it’s over, you want another one.