(Sorry, my dark sense of humor is showing itself.)
August is behind us, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Life is something I certainly don’t take for granted. When you lose a lot of people before their time, it has a way of making you appreciate waking up each day.
We went through a significant loss while I was away. This event is not something I could just glaze over, no matter how private a person I may be. Doctors discovered around the second week of last month that I had an ectopic pregnancy. What was then explained to me soon after devastated us as a family. There was no way I could go forth with a healthy pregnancy, and my life was in danger.
I had two options. Both of which seemed terrifying to me at the time. Surgery or a chemotherapy drug called methotrexate. We’d already been in the hospital 13 hours with no food or water. My body was extremely weak and my mind was beyond stressed. I was told surgery was extremely risky because they could open me up and find nothing, since I was only 2 weeks along. There was a considerable risk of me bleeding out. The chemo agent didn’t seem much better as it was explained to me because it is very toxic to your system. I had no other options. I have a (then 8, now 9) year old son I have to think about that very much needs me.
We chose door number two—the methotrexate therapy. The first night was hell. I was shaking uncontrollably from fever chills and I was in pain. My entire body was weak while my mind was a complete fog. Things got better as the days went on, but as my condition improved, a sort of guilt and grief seeped into me at the same time.
I’m still going through it. Though some parts of this story have gotten a little brighter. I no longer need chemo treatments. My hormones are stabilizing and starting to taper off where they need to be. My body is still healing. There’s still some pain, and I still have to go back weekly for blood testing until I’m considered fully “back to normal.” There is so much more to this story. The rest is all I’ve got in me for now, though. I’m mostly anxious to get back to work.
We named her.
Somehow we both know it was a girl. It’s the kind of knowing the women in my family that I’ve spoken about here before possess. “Seeing” as we call it.
Her name is Journey.
I’ll save the meaning behind that for some other time. Though, if you’d like some clues, take a look at this past review, or even better play that game. It’s a beautiful experience you won’t regret, I promise. And you know I’m big on promises.
One thing we haven’t dived right into here yet during this year’s #31Nightmares is horror in sound, or soundtracks, and even in special effects.
Sound effects have been a hobby of mine since early childhood so this is also another subject right up my alleyways.
The composers that took on the horror genre in film & tv have always taught me quite a bit along my work and training in music over the years. This soundtrack sampling I uploaded to SoundCloud earlier this year (The first few tracks on the soundtrack) featured above was heavily influenced by techniques I’ve learned & experimented with over the years.
If 2017 has taught me anything, it’s to not make hasty announcements. Things can always change down the line, especially when collaborating with others. Alicia in the Woods, announced here last year was supposed to be just that, a collaborative effort, but things change.
People change and life changes.
I have however had fun working on this project because I got to take a stab at designing a soundtrack and working with sound fx. Later on through the months spent working on this endeavor, aimed at a teen to adult (family-oriented) audience, I got to experiment and learn a lot about a lane that has always interested me—stop motion.
The project is not canceled completely. We’re just not sure when it will be releasing due to changes with cast & crew. Stop-motion has been a hell of a lot of fun (& work) though and I’ve been happy to work on this storyline and animation/character design as a side project.
The horror genre has influenced me deeply throughout my career as an artist and it helped lead me to the field of concept art.
Then one of my biggest influences passed away, and my life took a turn to carry on old paths and forgotten dreams…
These are the moments that made, (and almost broke, but ultimately…well, you’ll see) CardCastles in 2015.
CardCastles 2015 Highlights
We started off small and quietly. I shared about fears in Ashes over at Stories That Must Not Die, and reposted it here since the story tied in to some past thoughts shared.
There was a l o v e theme.
Then, I was blindsided by change. The future of CardCastlesInTheSky hung in the balance. A former large part and driving force of my site used to be the gallery. By clicking on the gallery you used to be taken to my Twenty20 Store where my designs could be purchased in many forms. Just shy of three years I decided to part ways with this company due to a shift in ideals.
That new variation of an old design brought some more attention to my artwork than ever before. It started to shock me, really. It brought in a lot of art lovers and new followers and readers to the site. By the end of the month, we even had some celebrity readers and fans in the music industry.
I felt like I was in some strange dream.
We spread acceptance.
My dear friend and Stories family member Matticus shared an important discussion topic over at Stories and we shared it here as well. You can read that post here~> in the end, it’s just an opinion
There was a photo journal of a trip to NY and you all loved it. Those were among some of the most popular posts that month.
Soon after the stats jumped even more.
This was only mirrored in other posts throughout the months. We shared more at Stories and I passed it on here. Now it was just a matter of waiting for our friend to return home and join the rest of her friends.
New readers poured in all finding me through common interests. I started to make detailed reports combining the Statistics here with the CardCastles Twitter and Google Analytics. The results gave me insight on what people came here for and how to plan for the future of things here.
Then some hurtles started to show themselves, and it was almost like something could be felt in the air.
We had lost somebody dear to us, and for a while, it all didn’t make sense.
Friends along with the Stories team mourned this loss and gathered together.
We wore blue to stand with our friend in some form. I wrote about my own experience the day of the funeral in Sleepy Sundays: Old Friend. The piece remains one of the most complemented renderings this year.
I lent my artwork over to Stories so Matticus could vent his feelings of grief. He was the mouthpiece for the rest of us that only echoed his feelings.
Then something happened through that grief.
A family was solidified. A community rallied around that family, and they slowly lifted us up.
The request for this piece set into motion the beginning of self-employment. My first steps out on my own as an artist, free from any former companies. You can read the story behind that here. ~>Paint On the Walls
From that point I was fully and officially out on my own with this art business. This freelance thing has been uphill (and stressful, but mostly uphill) ever since.
I started getting more interest and emails asking about features and guests, so we set plans in motion for July.
Myself and guests shared horror-inspired works in honor of film legend, Wes Craven.
New York Comic Con
I took a trip to see friends and ended up with one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime. This group of buddies that have become some strange family, all knew each other for close to five years. There’s a few crazy stories how we all got to know one another and they all involve gaming, of which we are avid fans.
The stars must have aligned because the one year I was able to go, the developers of one of our favorite games were hosting a panel.
The entire time blew my mind. Warframe liked our tweets about it too!
October was liberating and therapeutic any many ways. 31 Nightmares brought in so many new people I’m planning on resurrecting it next year. Here’s how crazy it went with numbers:
October yielded 11.7 thousand impressions. I’d say we left quite a mark!
Out of nowhere I started getting requests for my services. Book illustration, logo design, book covers, animation, intro videos, website design, you name it. I was so excited and overwhelmed by it all I may have said yes to too many things.
This was all, however, a blessing in disguise. It’s teaching me to plan better & manage anxiety.
I got to joke around with one of the stars of one of my favorite shows.