Deconstruction of a Creative Space

Moving is something that has become a part of my genetics at this point. Having grown up with my parents separated and pursuing their own lives, it meant that I was always moving between houses regardless of whether or not I would return to them. Sometimes it was just going away for the weekend, and ~11 times it meant that we were actually moving out of the house.

We have moved 4 times since 2008 and we are about to move again. There is always a chance, as a renter, that your landlord will want to sell the place and it is their right to do so. When we found the condo in 2015 it was a saving grace, but it’s best to jump back a bit.

Early 2013… I want to say… we found our own place ahead of the wedding and settled in with a few roommates. The room that became our bedroom had a small offshoot from it that evolved into my first creative space. Walls were covered, writing desk was in the corner, scheduling work was laid out, and overall the space just inspired.

When you are a creator of any kind, it is nice to have a space that is your own – a place where all of the tools and mess can come out, a place that is yours to fuel the fire. As a writer, my space is usually a combination of books, tools, a desk, pictures and words, memories, and things that I’ve collected to help spark my brain when it decides it’s blocked. It’s a massive combination that sometimes requires rotation… which rarely happens so some stuff just gets left in a box for a while.

Our landlord then had to declare bankruptcy a few months before our wedding… so… it was a bit of a nightmare at the time and I was less worried about dismantling my space. We had to stay with my in-laws until after the wedding so that we could focus a bit more, and then after we found this condo. It was in town, walking distance to work (for me it was 5 minutes), and it had a niche for creativity. Our property manager came for an inspection and said that it was the best use for that area that she had seen in the condos. The layouts are pretty much carbon copy on our side of the building – so she’d likely seen a few.

Catching back up to today – my space is a combination of stuffed animals, beanie babies, pillows, a desk, fan art, Zillas, book shelves, books, sewing, cosplay, printer, post cards, stamps, … there’s just a lot in there for such a small space and it just works. This time we have two months to leave (why we didn’t last time is another story) and the dismantling of the room has begun – it’s hard.

That was a long lead up to get to this point, but taking down all of my inspiration and sparks is sad. There’s a chance that we won’t have this room in the next place (yet to be found), so there is a chance that I may not see some of these things for a little while. I actually started to pack up the stuffed animals and beanie babies first (they were on the top shelves) and I started to think about purging. Did I really need the 20+ beanie babies that I bought in my early 20s because I had thought they’d be worth something… I’d keep the ones my Dad got me when I was a kid… but the rest of them? I sorted out a chunk of them and turns out I could make about $300 from them if they sold at top price… but then I started to second guess.

It had now been 4-5 weeks since we found out the condo was being sold, and two weeks since the sale was finalized and I have one shelf packed and another on the floor… this is a struggle. It feels like the loss of creativity – which is even harder since I had been revising Teagloom for a hopeful print in June. One box and the wall covers down… except for my pink display board which I have no idea how to pack. If I remember correctly, we had a long skinny box last time… but it was horrible, heavy, and falling apart.

Happy to say that we managed to find a place and we have moved in. The tear down of my office at the condo was hard. It had been my niche for all things writing for two years and was just starting to feel like home. Our new place has a bigger space for me – a bigger space for my words and creativity. There are still a few things to organize and hang, but the exciting part is that I finally had the space to bring the chair!

This is a bit of a side tangent, but too bad!

When I was a kid, I used to visit my great-great-grandparents at their home. My grandmother was partially raised by her grandparents, so they were always a big part of our lives. Most people don’t get to know that many generations before them. We would visit their apartment in the home, check out the tea room, and sometimes stay for dinner. There was a creek that created its own path along the outskirts of the property, and it always seemed to be a relaxing place to be despite the inevitable death of the all of the occupants.

Point – my great-great-grandfather had this pale green, high back, winged, la-z-boy type of chair in their place. He was always in it, never said much (likely due to his health), but I could always crawl up beside him for a hug. After he passed away the chair stayed in the same place. After my great-great-grandmother’s health decline, she was moved in with my bajillionth-cousin and my grandmother ended up with the chair. When I saw it in my grandparents place it seemed sad and out-of-place. They also got their couch and love seat, but that pattern… I don’t think I could get that pattern past Mr. A at all. It’s a very floral-esque – but the chair is stoic. And now it’s here in my office and I hope it will rub off its history and tradition on me and my creative processes.

So out with the condo and in with the townhouse. Here’s to brighter and better creative spaces and, now that we are settled, here’s to getting Teagloom all squared out! (More on that next week)


It’s 2017!

It’s actually three months into 2017 and the year seems to have plateaued already. January 1st came and looked back at the year that was 2016 and then decided that it was just going to cruise. That it could get away with not doing anything because so much happened in 2016.

2016 was a fairly interesting year for myself. On the writing front I was able to move into some content writing with my day job, Nanowrimo was completed with a week to spare, a month-long series of letters to myself (May Amy), and Teagloom started to test the waters of the world. Outside of writing… there was a lot: four 5K runs, a 10K run, a half marathon, two job title changes, 2 competitive seasons in Overwatch, a trip to Walt Disney World, a new vehicle, and my family moving closer. There was also another completion of the 12 Days of ScrtChristmas and another failed attempt at reviving the 50bookchallenge channel (which will hopefully have better luck this year).

The only thing that feels lacking is the writing front. As an individual I feel somewhat accomplished with 2016, but as a writer… there is more that I could have done. Last year was the year of running so I am going to try to make writing the focus this year. The goal (finances depending) is to get at least two of my novels out there: Teagloom and Death Defines Us.

While I think that DDU has a more widespread audience there was a fair bit of interest in Teagloom after it was posted on Inkshares for the Geek & Sundry contest. There were a fair bit of eyes on it and quite a bit of contact after the contest had ended about when it was going to come out so that’s the goal. The checklist is a medium-sized but doable before summer… I think:

  • Second draft completed
  • Copy edit
  • Cover designed
  • ISBN purchased
  • Imprint formed
  • Kickstarter… maybe?
  • Published
  • AND at least one convention appearance
    • which means a table and marketing material


All things considered that seems fairly doable.



May Amy – #17 -Lessons


Dear Amy at 16,

Out of all of the letters this may be the hardest to read and write. It isn’t easy mentally being us at this age. You will hear a lot of “it gets better,” and it does, but it is hard for us to see it. Our friendships are weird, our relationships are weird, we don’t have a strong understanding of life or why we are here, and everything seems to be a popularity contest.

Someone will toss around the term “Queen of the uglies,” but try not to take it to heart. People won’t want to be your friend, they may threaten to kill you, they may not like you the way that you like them, they may cheat on you – but we are stronger than that. You will hear a lot of “you must be bipolar,” or “you’re a headcase,” but we have a valuable ally with Mrs. Hand. She’s one of the counselors and  quite possibly one of our closest friends. It’s weird to think of that now, but we will go to her whenever: when it gets overwhelming, when things are weird at home, when we want to rearrange classes, when we need to complain about a teacher, or just spilling our emotions. She’ll tell you that you shouldn’t say some things or she’ll have to take action, but open your ears and heart to her. She’s quite possibly the reason we are still alive.

I’d tell you not to do it. That it won’t work. That its not worth the hours of getting sick, getting shots to stop you from throwing up since your stomach has been emptied thousands of times already, nurses talking about stomach pumping, or how much Mom blamed herself after she found out. That we never really wanted to succeed since we told Sean, who told L, who came and interrupted the last batch; I think we subconsciously hoped that one someone would. I’d tell you that its not the solution, and neither is the “scratching” that takes the place of our thoughts after the fact.

People will say or do things without thinking or caring about consequences, but its not our fault and we shouldn’t blame ourselves. We are strong enough to get through this and anything that comes our way – and if stumble there are people to help. There always are. I’m crying just writing this because I feel bad for you. We never feel this way again, I promise you that, and I am sorry that we ever felt this was the best case of action.

People today probably wouldn’t believe that we went through something like this – that’s how confident, quirky, and persevering we are. We are emotional, but for good reason. It keeps us in tune with those around us and makes us approachable and human. We are good at hiding our real emotions with other emotions, a mask if you will, but don’t be afraid to let someone in. When in doubt – Mrs. Hand. She retires eventually, as people do, but reach out when you need to.

It takes time, but we’re good at patience (especially the card game).

May Amy – #9 – Libraries


1998 - Kenneth, Kelsey, & Jennifer Drake

Dear Amy at 8,

Libraries are a still very prevalent in our lives. I mentioned it once before and I will say it again. The nice thing about libraries, aside from the common interest with Mom, is that they are peaceful. We’re never much for quiet, but when we want it the library is there waiting. There are two main libraries during this time in our life: one is in Hellings, and the other is by Esquires. Both are unique, so we will consider them both.

First off, Hellings, our school library. The layout is a bit hazy to me now but there was a long round counter that had a small saw behind it for some reason. I remember that part well because we were a part of some sort of club that cut out Styrofoam figures… That sounds odd, but we basically pasted cut out pictures onto small squares and then trimmed the excess foam off. I’m not 100% sure what we did with them afterwards, but it was fun. This library is also where we develop our interest in a specific set of numbers that will later help us find our soul mate. It will take a while, but hold out and hold on.

The other library is just in the Surrey/Delta area. Truth be told I am not sure which city it belonged to anymore, but I remember the Esquires fondly. They used to have a logo with a penguin and it was in the strip mall just down from the library. Mom will take us every once and awhile in a mission to try all of the various flavors of syrups in steamed milk. Our favorite is Almond. It’s delicious, but it doesn’t exist in many places now so we settle for Hazelnut. Luckily enough, there is an Esquires in our next city as well – but we still never manage to try them all. Spoiler alert.

We will move again this just, just before our birthday. The sad part about leaving is that some of these friends we will never see again. Mom has a going away party where everyone comes over. It’s a murder mystery, like clue, and Annie surprises us by showing up. There are two pull out couches in the living room where everyone sleeps, but we choose to sleep under the desk instead. It’s hard on us emotionally… going to a new province. At least before the moves were relatively close so we could still hang out on the weekends.

This time around we have siblings to come with us. When the other two were born, I don’t remember being effected as much as the first. That’s them in the picture in 1998 – we aren’t there, but aren’t they adorable. All four of us will have each other in the move, and also Zeke, our black lab. He likes to wander, but he always comes home. We’ll get a kitten in Alberta as a moving surprise… don’t get to used it… the poor thing runs away. Cats don’t like being thrown to see if they land on their feet. None of us really knew cats back then, but the good news is that you make it up to many cats later on and they love us.


May Amy – #5 – Siblings?


Dear Amy at 4,

Strange things are brewing this year. First of all, you are getting used to the fact that we have to share Mom and that is okay. Just when you think that it will be fine, a fourth joins the family. We will be intrigued with him for a little while, but our birthdays are awfully close to one another and you will want to just leave him at the hospital.

Add to that, there are a lot of presents and they aren’t really for you… but you will open some behind the chair in the living room. Our hiding space… use it while you can because we eventually out grow it. Sad day to be sure.

Siblings will be new to us, but prepare yourself because there will be more eventually. They will all get along with each other more so than you, but that will change eventually. It’s okay to not be 100% convinced about them, or get along with them, or even hang out with them. All of that will change in later years.

This year you will be a rabbit for Halloween, but next year we will have a bit of a family costume so that is something to look forward to. Don’t share the kitchen though, they will wreck it… and the phone will go missing.

It is also important to note that you will eventually cut Mom’s ponytail. This is very funny to us, but not so much for Mom. Why we had scissors I will never know.

Bobby’s World is a great show and later in life we will see Howie Mandel a lot older and it will be weird. Tricycles are awesome, especially while listening to the theme song from BW, but watch out for coffee tables. The corners are sharp and we will need to get stitches near our eye. It will scare, but think of it more like a battle wound.

Four was a big year for us – it gets a little rough soon, so hold on as tight as your little hands can. Which isn’t much…



May Amy – #4 – Onward, same height


Amy Noelle Stetzl (2)

Dear Amy at 3,

We are quite the interesting individual at this stage in our life. You may be aware that our first word was chocolate, but I want you to know that this does not mean you should consume every piece you get  your hands on.

This year for Halloween you will be a handmade Tinkerbell. It doesn’t look anything similar to Peter Pan’s fairy once you are older and have a better understanding of Disney characters, but there are some great pictures. For instance, there is one where we are proudly standing on a counter in Mama and Papa’s old kitchen with the yellow and puke green wallpaper that should have only existed in the seventies. Speaking of their house, I compel, no… I beg you to spend as much time as possible with/in/around the red shag carpet covered pillars. They will disappear behind a wall one day and you will miss them regardless of how grotesque they really are.

Little baskets from Auntie Marla with goodies inside will be a thing for holidays for a little while, but don’t get too used to them. Also – a man will enter Mom’s life and he will buy you a plastic kitchen – don’t get too attached to this either. In fact, at this age don’t get attached to anything because everything is going to change soon. Some for the better and some for the worse, but what you need to know is that we will be alright. Mom will be alright. The only thing that won’t be alright are those weird pillars that are not seen in any pictures for some reason. Someone really should have thought about finding a way to archive them for posterity sake.

Las thing for now, don’t get ambitious about your height. We are going to be here for a while.


May Amy – #3 – Terrible Twos

Baby Amy & Nana

Dear Amy at 2,

That saying that you will hear often, “the terrible twos,” ya… that was pretty much made for you. I would hesitate to give us that much credit, but my mind knows that as a small child we were boisterous and emotional. Somethings never change but they do get easier to handle.

Do you have a moment of time to talk about night terrors? They are a thing, a real thing, not like in newfangled television shows or books that you will not hear about for years. Night Terrors are easily summed up in two words, and, even though you cannot speak fluently right now, I am sure you know which two words I mean: night and terrors. These will be difficult but not unbearable. The ones we should feel bad for are those in the real world, the ones clinging onto us while desperately trying to wake us up to stop the wailing. But like everything else, they will get easier – you won’t even remember them unless someone mentions it in passing years later.

Other highlights of this time frame that you can prepare for are:

  • Moving into M&Ps basement suite with mom. Cutest little suite in existence, but it will become an equipment room and then another family’s after we leave so enjoy it while it lasts.
  • As you may guess, this also means that our parents are not together but we will be too young to remember this. The separation will never really bother you because we don’t have any memories of all of us together to compare with.
  • You will acquire your first set of Mickey Mouse ears. We will have these for many years so do your best to be gentle. They currently sit in our office waiting to be hung on the wall.

If I can find a suitable picture from this year I will include it – I think we were a nurse for Halloween… we have an odd memory for random things like that.


May Amy – #2 – It’s been a year, so what do you think?

1990 - Amy Stetzl

Dear Amy at 1,

To be honest, I am not even sure if this picture accurately represents us at one. Your math and age skills will probably never get better than they are around now so do not panic. Someone will one day tell you that “math is life” and it is some what true, but don’t stress about it.

As a side note, what you put in your hands is not always edible. Grass, although some types are delicious in certain scenarios, should not be eaten straight from the yard. It’s nice and cool on your skin, but if you pull it out then it will no longer be there for you to play in… and besides you do not know what has touched that stuff.

Other important things to note include:

  • Some blonde hairs will go away and that is okay regardless of what our mother thinks. Not too fond of them later on in life anyway.
  • It hurts to receive teeth, and will later hurt to lose them, but they will open doors to more wondrous tastes. Take them in stride and use them while you can. Also – dentists are your friends and there are tastier things than your thumb.
  • An animal’s hair should not be pulled at… you may learn this the hard way, but they are only a bit scary when you do not pet gently.

I’m sure there are other things but, as you will learn, our memory often fades a little more than we would like. It’s easily combated by utilizing our writing skills though. Words are also your friends.


May Amy – #1 – Welcome to the world!


Dear Newborn Amy,

Welcome to the world, it’s a pretty interesting place and there is going to be a lot to look at and a lot of people who want to hold you or just be in your face. It can be too much some times, but should you ever have a chance to read this (regardless of how unlikely that is) I want you to know that its okay to cry – like a ton. Mom and Dad are new to this, but they will co-exist peacefully and be fine parents.

Other things that you might be interested in:

  • For some reason there are quite a few giant teddy bear looking things in the house. I’m still not 100% sure where they came from, but I am going with a carnival or fair of some kind. In fact someone will put you in the giant Kangaroo’s pouch at some point and be prepared for a potential fall. Someone will be holding you, but its best to prepare for the worst.
  • Both green and orange baby foods are delicious and completely acceptable to eat. You may not believe me, but you might as well get used to it since you have no control over what they will select.
  • On the topic of what you cannot select, Halloween costumes. You have many to look forward to and they will not be of your choosing for some time.
  • Last important note: try to avoid putting things in your mouth. This one might be hard, because things are quite fascinating to us, but your mouth is still tiny so just be smart about it… or at least as smart as your tiny body can be.

I’m sure there are other things you’d like to know, but they will come when the time comes. Like that.. you are going to hear a lot of strange words and noises come out of people’s’ mouths… and they won’t always sound like English. People are weird when it comes to babies so just do your best.

Last thing:”Woo woo” goes away as a nickname. I promise.


Long time, no write!

Hello, World!

Lots and lots going on… at least it feels that way:

  •  Working on some new cosplays even though I didn’t originally plan to this year
  • My car didn’t work then it worked anyway and then it got towed… seriously the dumbest thing this year
  • I’ve signed up for the Infinity Gauntlet challenge with RunDisney
  • Florida trip is officially happening in September
  • Almost at 100 geocaches (!)
  • Working on a project team at work
  • Had Beta access and pre-ordered Overwatch
  • Granted media access for Calgary Expo
  • I have been doing an everyday for the last few weeks

And there are some things coming up still:

  • Marathon training
  • Trip to Florida
  • Calgary Expo coverage at the end of the month
  • Working on a series for May

Its going to be a bit, but I will probably post some of my everyday on here too.