Busy Season

It’s that time of year. The lackadaisical whimsy of summer is gone replaced by the urgency of fall. Suddenly my carefree days are filled with To-Do lists; find costume pieces, carve a pumpkin, plan and prep for Friendsgiving, coordinate family holiday plans, school, busy season at Sbux, NaNoWriMo, buy gifts for Christmas.

It goes on and on.

Luckily my costume for Friday is complete. I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but I’m part of a five member group costume, that’s going to be amazing! I promise loads of pictures.

Trevor’s birthday is Monday, and he just bought himself Shadow of Mordor, so now I have no clue what to get him… That brat buys everything he wants, leaving me struggling to come up with a good gift, year after year. But, it kind of adds to the fun of hunting down the perfect gift.

Today is Tip Tuesday.
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If you’ve ever worked for Starbucks, you know that this is the day when the last week’s tips are divvied out. This week’s tips are going toward laundry money, Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane, and Patrick Rothfuss’s new book. I want to buy Prince Lestat, but it’s going to be pricey in hardback, so it’ll have to wait.

NaNoWriMo starts Saturday. For those of you new to this business, that’s Nation Novel Writer’s Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words by December 1st. I’ve yet to complete it, and I’m not going to this year either. I simply have way too much on my plate, which is a shame, because the Salem Chapter is active and full of awesome people.

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School’s plugging along, and my English class continues to entertain me. My French class has become a source of frustration thanks to technical difficulties during my chapter exam last night, but my grade should survive.

I still entertain thoughts of working on Jordinn’s Story, but I’m starting to think it’ll have to wait until the holiday break from school. Even if that’s the case, it’s an entire month of free time, so I should get a lot done.

I finally spent about an hour adventuring through Caladria last night, and feel comfortable sharing a few details with you guys. So, here’s the concept: Caladria is a collaborative world of fiction. Some awesome people got together to create a living world, using software I’ve never seen before. So, in this fictional world, there are different species and continents, and oceans. It has a living timeline, that grows and changes based on the fiction we write. Last night’s wanderings found me exploring the interactive world map, that allows me to scroll across oceans and mountains and villages. Some have names, some are as yet undiscovered.

You’re wondering how this works, right?

The lovely folks who thought up this radical idea have invited volunteers, of which I am one. They send us info via newsletters, and invite us and guide us through exploring and learning the world. When they’re ready for content, they email story outlines. So, the story has a title, there’s a brief synopsis, followed by the desired genre and word count. They don’t demand a certain ending, or even limit characters. We are allowed to create as much as we deem necessary for the story.

As volunteers, we pick our top three story choices, and they email us back when they’ve doled out the outlines. Then, we get about two months to plug away at the story. We submit to them by the due date, there’s back and forth about any necessary editing, and then it’s out of the writer’s hands.

Where does it go?

The lovely folks working behind the scenes will be formatting and prepping the stories for an E-Zine, currently titled Fab Fables, which will be available for purchase through Amazon. I don’t know when it will be available, but I believe sometime after the New Year.

And why am I doing this?

Well, aside from the completely incredible opportunity to work on something I’ve never seen done before, I could potentially see income from my endeavors. If one of my stories makes the cut for the issue of the E-Zine, I will see a portion of the sales. I have no idea how it gets doled out, or what the percentage is, and it doesn’t really matter to me. The fact that any income is possible is exciting enough.

Plus, if this thing takes off, I will be able to say I was there from the get go. Another feather in my proverbial cap. And, I imagine working on Caladria will be quite similar to working on a large scale video game. I’ve always thought writing video games would be amazing, and I want any sort of experience that can help me toward that goal.

BioWare, here I come! <————- That’s dream status right there.

On another note, a reader messaged me via my Facebook page last night. Surprised the hell out of me. He read my post from yesterday, and noticed my interest in editing. He wondered if I might be willing to work with him in editing his fantasy novel. And he asked how much I would charge.

Now, I’m flattered, really. But, I have zero editing experience outside of my own work and school papers. I would feel like a real schmuck if I took this guy’s money. But, I offered to take a look at his book anyway, and give him feedback. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes will make all the difference.

And hey, maybe I’ll be in the Acknowledgements!

And, you know, I’d still like to edit Vessels some time this year.

So, in addition to all the stuff I have with school and work I have some really cool writerly things happening too. Anyway, I have Spring classes to register for! See you later, Blogland!

BZ

Monday Check-In

Though the temperature has dropped, currently at a chilly 57 degrees, the sun has yet to forfeit to the Pacific Northwest winter. Today, though chilly, is crisp, with a gentle breeze rolling fallen leaves across sidewalks. The sun is shining in a bright blue sky, and though my nose and fingers are in a prolonged state of freezing, I’m enjoying the gradual transition from summer freedom to fall romance.

Summer finds me scantily clad, absorbing as much UV as my sun freckled shoulders can stand. The windows are always down, the wind ripping at me with hot fingers. And unlike most, I find it comforting. Natural even. An echo of the desert life I was born into. But, as the sun gives way to clouds and rain, my thoughts turn to the holidays, and all that I’m so grateful for.

We went to a pumpkin patch with friends, we’re doing a themed group costume (pictures promised) for Halloween night, and we’re having a Friendsgiving this year. Our little apartment will be filled with warmth and laughter this holiday season, and I can’t wait.

But, before any of this fun can happen, I have to keep myself on track. Last night was a whirlwind of French exercises and short stories. Then I was up until three in the morning reading Dragon Prince. So, today I have my review, a French Chapter exam, a readings quiz and discussion post to do.

But after all of that I want to explore the world of Caladria. And, if I’m really good at time management, I’d like to work on Chapter 5 a bit today. I had some ideas about this scene that’s kicking my butt, and they came totally unexpectedly. I take that as a good sign. Because, even as my brain is awhirl with all sorts of things, my writer subconscious is stewing on fiction.

I’ve been thinking about what to do after I finish school. I love Starbucks, and have no plans to leave the company in the next three or four years, but I also know that I don’t want to be a Store Manager. And I know that moving further up than that is evening less appealing to me.

So, after some consideration, I’ve reaffirmed what I’ve known for a long time. I want to pursue editing. I’ve always loved editing, though I’ll admit, I prefer tearing apart others’s work to my own. I know that means spending a lot of time as a line editor, correcting small grammar and spelling mistakes, but I enjoy that. I always have.

Anyway, i just wanted to pop in and say that I’m here. I’ll be updating the reading page again today, and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to post some details about the general awesomeness that is Caladria.

Have a good Monday, Blogland!

BZ

Keeping Track

The first week and a half of school is over, and I gotta say, I’m kicking ass. So far I’m ahead of due dates and deadlines. My Discussion Posts in my Short Story class are earning 100%, and my French class is challenging and entertaining. I’m loving this online learning environment.

If you happen to pop over to the “What I’m Reading” page, you’ll see some changes. With school and the book club started up, I’m reading quite a bit, so I decided to update the list. I still have my pleasure reading list, which comes first, then there’s the “Literary” list, which will include my assigned reading from school. Under that you’ll see the “Book Club” list, which is self-explanatory.

Speaking of the book club, we had our first meeting on Wednesday. Two people couldn’t make it, but the rest of us picked our first book, our time frame and meeting dates, and where we’ll be meeting. We’re starting with Caprice Crane’s Stupid and Contagious, a book I’ve read before, that I love.
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It’s a good start, especially since we’ve got a non-reader in our midst. It’s funny, entertaining, and it involves Starbucks, so we’ll all get a kick out of it. Plus, it’s fairly short. Lily, who volunteered to host our first real meeting, is going to set up an awesome baked potato bar, and there’ll be wine and beer. I’ll make sure to take pictures and show off our general awesomeness.

My writing is still nonexistent, but I’m going to finally log on to Caladria and start looking around! I planned on spending a good chunk of the afternoon familiarizing myself with the project, since I’m caught up on homework for the week, but I got called in to work early. Of course.

But, I still have an hour before I have to clock on, so at least I’ll get to log in and take a peek at this cool project.

In my personal reading life, I started reading Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince. It’s not my typical reading, in that it’s a bit tawdry. You know, 80s Fantasy/Romance. A little sexual for my usual reading, but so far I’m loving it. The politics are pretty good so far, the world is intriguing, and this connection between Rohan and Sioned is undeniable. Plus, watching Rohan put his foot in his mouth over and over with her is just plain funny.
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I don’t know if I mentioned it, but Trevor read the entire Maze Runner series in about two weeks. Now, he’s not a reader. In fact, he claims to hate reading. But, he loved that series, and was so jazzed up by it, that he’s picked up Mistborn! He’s making progress, though slowly. Mistborn is totally different than Maze Runner, and I warned him that it took a while to really get going, but he’s sticking with it. And I couldn’t be happier.

I’ll make a reader out of him yet.

Anyway, I’m off to check out Caladria for a half hour or so, and then I’m Starbucks bound until Midnight. Have a great day Blogland!

BZ

Reading, Writing, and Good Old-Fashioned Book Learning

School is hard. Ok, not necessarily hard, but definitely time consuming. I’ve spent the better part of two hours doing French homework today. I still have about another hour’s worth to finish before work tomorrow. But, I enjoy it. At least so far. I have 15 pages to read for my English class, and then an introductory post, also due before I leave for work tomorrow.

But, I still found time to finish ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’, and you’ll see that my “What I’m Reading” page has been updated. The ending was WAY more of a cliff hanger than I was anticipating. Rothfuss basically threw a nugget of information at us, with no real explanation, and then ended the book. Now I have to wait for the third book to release, which hasn’t even been announced yet.

I finished reading the book about an hour ago, and I’m already antsy to decide on what to read next. So, in a fit of anxiety, I finally put together a list for the No-Name Book Club. I’m starting low, and with shorter titles.

  • Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg

We have our preliminary meeting this Wednesday, where we’ll discuss the book list, meeting dates, and decide which book we should start with. I’m pretty excited, and thanks to my English class, there’s no shortage of reading material in my future.

My writing, on the other hand, hasn’t fared too well. Chapter 5 is putting up a fight, and I’m not putting up much effort. But, I figured that school starting up would be a road block, just like any other change in my routine. And as important as my fiction is, I need to be focused on school. So, I’m going to take it easy on myself and get used to this new schedule, and then I’ll start peppering writing time back in.

Which reminds me. I volunteered to be a part of a really cool project called Caladria. It’s a fictional world with a group of writers telling its tales. That’s about all I know for now, but once I have more details, I’ll be chatting it up here.

Anyway, I need to get cracking on this remaining French homework before I crash for the night.

I’ll see you around, Blogland.

BZ

Home, Sweet Home.

I missed this. I missed sitting, staring at my computer, building worlds in my head and bringing them to life on paper. I missed the smell of coffee brewing, and the screech of milk steaming. I missed the smiling faces that greet me when I walk in, laptop bag hoisted on one shoulder.

And I missed the Pacific Northwest. I missed crisp, fresh air. I missed tap water that actually tastes good. I missed friendly and genuine people, who stop four lanes of traffic to let a jaywalker cross the street. I missed craft beer made by people who have become our friends.

While we were in the land of palm trees and littered freeways, the scenery in Salem changed. Trees that only hinted at the change in seasons are now vibrant shades of orange and red. They sky is still blue, but the color isn’t as saturated as it was during the summer. It’s paling, preparing to give way to the clouds and rain that cast every thing in shades of grey.

And I love it.

Disneyland was wonderful. And exhausting. We had a wonderful time, but by Saturday we were desperate to be back. To be home. Our trip to the Happiest Place on Earth showed us just how much we love our state, city, and home.
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Being home means that finally, life can go back to normal. No wedding to plan, no looming vacations. I can finally say I have free time. Although, we have no money to spend, thanks to an awesome vacation.

So, Tuesday found me sitting at Starbucks, and working. I wasn’t sure what to blog about, and actually felt good about writing, so I skipped my typical warm up and dove straight into fiction. I didn’t go crazy, but still wrote about 920 words. I’ll be finishing the chapter today.

I’m still reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’. It’s kind of slow towards the end, and I’m afraid to finish it, since there’s no word on the third installment. Trevor, who is an adamant non-reader, picked up a copy of the Mazerunner, and didn’t set it down until he finished it. He even stayed up into the wee hours on a work night in order to do so. We just went to Escape Fiction last night to get the next book in the series for him. Needless to say, I am thrilled.

Speaking of series, Sanderson sent his newsletter subscribers a sample chapter from the 3rd Stormlight Archive novel. It was AWESOME! And now I’m desperate for more, which is going to take forever! Drat.

There’s been progress with the Nameless Book Club, since I’ve come back. We’ve agreed on Wednesday evenings as our meeting time, and we’ll probably only meet once a month. I’m going to finalize the booklist, and then I’ll set a date for our first meeting.

School starts next week, which is nerve wracking. I’m feeling good about French, though I’m concerned about the amount of homework there’ll be. But, that’s to be expected from a 7 week online course. What I’m really excited about is my Short Story class. The text is amazing, filled with hundreds of stories from every imaginable author. I’m curious to see how the course is formatted. Will it be purely read, analyze, report? Or will there be discussion elements? I’ll find out soon enough.

I haven’t done much editing lately. I’ve got several people asking after the second draft of ‘Vessels’, and I’m starting to feel bad. I haven’t devoted nearly enough time to it. Pending my progress on ‘Jordinn’s Story’ today, tomorrow I’ll edit a couple chapters.

I’m pretty stoked about things in general right now. Life is calming down, and giving way to new adventures and lots of writing. Always a good thing.

It’s good to be back, Blogland. Now, enjoy these photos from our trip!
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My Handsome Man

My Handsome Man

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A Selfie with the 3D glasses, as is tradition.

A Selfie with the 3D glasses, as is tradition.

The Brent Weeks Book Signing

So, yesterday was a writing bust. But, I did get a bit of work done on the Book Club, which is good. Also, I read a ton yesterday. Over 100 pages, while I munched on a burrito from Chipotle. Today, I’ve left the book behind, in the hope that I’ll get some work done if Kvothe isn’t taunting me.

Also, I have to admit that I hit a wall. I wasn’t sure what Jordinn was really going to do next, or how to get him through the scene to move on to the point of the chapter. But, last night, at work, I had an epiphany. I’m ready today. I know what happens next. And I’m pretty excited to write.

I realized, as I thought about what I would blog about today, that I never mentioned how the Brent Weeks signing went.

I very nearly talked myself out of it.

I had time to kill, so I ate Five Guys and read on their patio, the bookstore looming over my shoulder. I’d planned on buying the second book in the Lightbringer series, in show of support for both the author and the Indie bookstore that brought him to Salem. So, I walked the familiar shelves, hunting for the right copy.
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Which they didn’t have. The only copy they had was a $17 trade paperback, and since I have the first book in Mass Paperback, I can’t buy a different printing. It’s wrong.

That was the moment that I walked back out to my car, and put the key in the ignition. I didn’t know anyone who was going to the signing, and no one was going with me. I was alone in a bookstore, waiting anxiously for someone to be friendly, or acknowledge me.

Instead, I’d made small talk with a girl, and found her a very haughty cosplayer. This is the hard part about book signings. There are two types of people that go to Fantasy book signings. There are your average readers, who are quiet and keep to themselves. They wear plain clothes, t-shirts, cargo shorts, and blend in.

And then there are the weird ones. The ones who are completely immersed in the ‘nerd’ counter-culture. They’re typically chatty, to the point of obnoxiousness. They engage others of their kind, and they usually partake in pretentious conversation and debates about Fantasy authors and how much they’ve read, or who they’ve seen.

One of these types boasted that he drove to Seattle to see Patrick Rothfuss. He drove up, attended the signing, and then drove back to Salem. That’s an eight hour round trip.

Now, Rothfuss is awesome. No doubt. But, to me, it’s a little unreasonable to go to all that trouble, when he’ll probably make a stop in Portland anyway.

Anyway, before any of this happened, I was sitting in my car, planning to go home and save myself the misery of batting off these ‘nerds’ with a stick. But, as I texted Trevor to see what his plans were, he already had his evening booked with a friend. And he encouraged me to stay, promising that I would have a good time.

So, I stayed. And you know what? I had a really great time.

Yes, I met the cosplay girl, and, while friendly, she was a bit uppity. We chatted briefly, but I was relieved when we sat a row apart. I nodded a ‘hello’ to a familiar face from Escape Fiction. I think she’s one of the owners, but she’s usually behind the counter, and always chatty about what book I’ve bought. But, she also is a touch weird, and looks like she’s probably done a little too much meth.

Not an uncommon look in Salem.

There were a few friendly faces. The quiet, ‘normal’ ones. We acknowledge each other, but we don’t engage. I’m good with that. And so I sat, with my lap-full of Brent’s books, waiting for the show to get on the proverbial road.
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I didn’t know what to expect. I’d only read half of Week’s first book, ‘The Way of Shadows’. I’d liked it, but I was reading it when we moved to Oregon, and life was a bit hectic then. I never finished it, but I purchased the rest of the Night Angel Trilogy, and the first book of the Lightbringer series, ‘The Black Prism’.

What I didn’t expect was Brent’s great sense of humor. He’s a large guy, in a teddy bear kind of way, and he reminds me a lot of my first Starbucks manager. And that’s a really good thing. Now, this is an author who creates concrete magic systems in completely new worlds, like Sanderson, but his writing style is very different. Weeks comes off as almost irreverent. His writing is quick paced, the learning curve for his magic is extreme, and his characters are bold and mouthy.

I like it.

And now that I’ve met him, I get it.

So, he introduces himself, the book he’s promoting, and overall is very warm, genuine, and happy to be there. He mentions that, most authors do a reading, usually from the book they’re promoting. But, he wasn’t going to do that. He’d come up with something better.

He took the characters from the Night Angel Trilogy, created a basic plot, and wrote his own Choose Your Own Adventure story. And by show of hands, the thirty or so of us present, decided our fate.

It was brilliant! It was engaging. He did voices for the characters, and mocked us when our decisions had less than ideal consequences, which was often. He even made a great joke at Salem’s expense, and we all booed him, good-naturedly, of course.

By the end of his ‘reading’ I was all smiles. If the event had ended there, if he’d packed up and said, “Smell ya later Salem!’, I would still be glad I went. But, there was a raffle for t-shirts, and then a Q&A. And then he sat down to get to signing.
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A friend of his manned photo duty, while his wife, who is lovely, took the books, and set them on the table for him. As seems to be the book signing custom, I sat, we said hello, and I introduced myself. He asked if I had any questions, and I said ‘no’.

In my defense, I hadn’t read enough of his work to have a good question, so I opted for no question at all. The ‘photographer’ was baffled at this. He looked at me and said, “I’ve got like five, if you want to ask him one. He won’t answer them for me!”

We laughed, and I said, “Well he won’t answer them now! He knows they’re from you.” Brent laughed. “Seriously, dude,” I continued. “Talk about missed opportunity. I was standing right over there!” I pointed to the line. Brent laughed more, and I smiled big.

And the above photo is the result. So, imagine my smile when I tweeted these photos, and he favorited them.

So, yes, I had a great time. And yes, I want to read more of his books. Author events attract a weird mix of people, but generally, we’re all well-intentioned. We just want our two minutes of exposure. Our small moment with someone we admire.

Now, if only I can be half as witty the next time Brandon Sanderson comes through…

All right, I’m off to get some work done. Wish me luck!

BZ

Progress for the Nameless Book Club

Starting a book club is a lot harder than I thought it’d be.

Of the five of us that have agreed to participate, only two have given me a list. And they’re not all that comforting. They couldn’t be farther from my own.

Emily’s List:

  • The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Anything written by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
  • Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Now, Emily was the first to get back to me, and her list is large and varied. But, it’s still worlds away from what I’d initially had in mind. It’s a bit more… Literary than I’d imagined. Also, I’ve read a lot of them already. The Silmarillion, The Catcher in the Rye, The Colour Purple. But, it’s a starting point, something to help me pick books she would like, even if they aren’t on her list.

Lily’s List:

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

That’s it. That’s all she gave me. And she’s read it before! Although a long time ago. When I asked her for any other books, anything else she might want to read, she was blank. She’s open to reading other stuff, but that’s the only book she really wants to add to the list.

Now, I’ve never read it, but pretty much every other female our age has. I don’t want to make people reread things, but I also don’t want to exclude Lily’s only contribution to the Book List. Oy vey…

Bfree‘s list is non-existent so far, but I’m holding out hope. She’s just started a new job, and her sister just had a baby, so she’s a busy lady. But, she still wants to be a part of the book club, and I am waiting to see what she brings to the group. Because these lists so far aren’t very hopeful.

Then there’s Kayla. She’s a self-professed non-reader. But, she’s seen the movie! She’s always wanted to be a part of a book club, and when I mentioned it, her eyes lit up. I asked about what she has read, and suddenly she was naming multiple series, and what she likes and doesn’t like.

She’s a closet reader. She reads a lot of Paranormal Teen Romance, and YA, but she does read! And so she’s in the club, but refuses to craft a list. Now it’s on me to pick books she’ll find interesting enough to power through. So be it.

There’s John, who wants to join, but claims to be an incredibly slow reader. He likes the idea of books, but has a hard time finishing them. I told him that we’ll have to go slow. Bfree has two jobs, I’m going to school, and still writing. And still plan on reading something for my own pleasure. He seemed to warm up to the idea after that, but I don’t think he’ll actually join.

Then there’s My List:

  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Prestige by Christopher Priest
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Year Zero by Rob Reid
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I really like my list, but it is mine, so I’m bound to be biased. But, it’s a list of books that I’ve always wanted to read, but are fairly popular titles. Almost all of them have been, or will be, movies/TV shows. But, not super popular movies that might have been widely ingested by the Book Club.

And, we need a name for our Book Club. Any ideas?

Anyway, I’ve got about five hours to get some serious words into the computer. I’m not feeling terribly focused, but I’m hoping a little read through of the chapter before, and I’ll be settled and ready to finish chapter 5.

I’m going to leave you with this gem, that a friend texted first thing this morning.
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What do you think? Is it true?

BZ