Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 32

Blogland!

We’re buckling up for another hot week here in the Pacific Northwest. The fans are blasting, with ample water in supply. Although, my yard is definitely worse for the wear. But, the writing den is cool and comfortable today, which means it’s time to get to work.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write/share one tumblr prompt
  • Write 1k of The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read Broken Homes
  • Read through The Steel Armada/send to Madhu
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write/share one tumblr prompt
    • Yep! Early in the week I finished and posted a Dragon Age tumblr prompt to a few notes and comments.
  • Write 1k of The Fall of Ezra Clarke
    broken homes
    • Nope. Only wrote 88 words on this project this week.
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Nope. Not even a little bit.
  • Read Broken HomesYes! I didn’t think I’d make this one, but I finished it in the wee hours last night.
  • Read through Exodus:Descent/send to Madhu
    • Yep! This was a bigger task than I anticipated, which warranted labeling the file “Draft 2.5”. So now it’s sitting somewhere between drafts two and three.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yarp. Madhu’s been struggling a little bit as she’s slogging through the last pages of her rewrite. But, I’m diligent in getting her pages back to her in a timely manner.

Weekly Word Count: 2,927

So, not a crazy good week, but not a bad one either. Revising Exodus is really my top priority, so I don’t feel so bad about neglecting Ezra this week. The reading and blogging continue to be consistent. I’ve got tumblr prompts to keep my mind engaged and working on new content. Work on Ezra has slowed, mainly because I’m not really sure where the story is going, and I have a feeling a rewrite is on the way. But, we’ll see.

Saturday evening I received word that, yet again, The Cost of Rain made it to the final round but did not get selected for publication. However, the magazine offered feedback which, though brief, was actually quite good. I made the subsequent changes and sent it off to the next place.

I also finally got my hands on The Audient Void short stories for issue #6. Doing the line edits took up one of my evenings, and I can’t wait for you all to see it! These stories are really good!

the audient void no 5
Or buy a copy here!

If you’re at WorldCon this weekend you can pick up a copy of The Audient Void Issue #5 at The Book Bin’s booth as well as get your books signed by a slew of wonderful authors!

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Send Exodus: Descent to Tim the Agent™
  • Sort out The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Read Foxglove Summer
  • Review Madhu’s pages

That’s it. I need to keep it simple this week. Submitting Exodus is my biggest priority. And the most complicated. In order to send it this week I need to finish the revision (currently adding some extras and honing the ending) and write and perfect the query letter. So, yeah. That’s a big job on its own.

Once that’s done I need to sit down and decide if I try to slog through Ezra as it is, or start fresh with that new take on it that’s bouncing around my brain. I’m increasingly thinking that it’s time to start over. But, that can wait until Exodus is done.

I am running out of time with these Peter Grant books. I have until the 21st to read them all, and I only have two left! That means, if I’m not writing, I’m reading.

And of course there will be time to review Madhu’s pages. I’ll probably even send her some snippets of the changes I’ve made to Exodus, just to be sure they’re working before I send it off.

So, yeah. There’s a lot of work ahead of me this week. I’ll be back, probably on Thursday, to share my review of Broken Homes, and then you probably won’t see much of me. I gotta get this biz done!

So until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

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Book Review – Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant #3) by Ben Aaronovitch

Bloggoroonies!

It’s midnight, I just received another personal rejection on The Cost of Rain, so while let’s talk about Whispers Under Ground so I can ignore this damn unpleasant feeling in my chest for a few more minutes.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Whispers_Under_Ground

The third book in the Peter Grant series continues the tradition of sharp wit and dialogue with another twisty-turny plot that leads Peter and Co., throughout London. This time it’s a US Senator’s son that’s been murdered in the underground. There doesn’t seem to be anything too magical about it, except that the murder weapon appears to be a shard of some sort of ceramic. A shard with an incredible strong vestigia (magical odor/signature of sorts).

So in come Peter and Lesley, searching out the elusive origins of the pottery. But between the unofficial interference from the FBI and the erratic behavior of the victim’s fae roommate, Zach, things aren’t quite as easy as they could be.

railway lines
Turns out even ghosts aren’t safe from trains.

The pottery leads them all over the city, until they finally find a secret passage down into the underground. That means that the BTP (British Transport Police) have to be brought in, which really means that their one-man X-Files agent assists Peter on the case. And they have to dodge the over-eager, religious FBI agent that’s so keen to solve the murder that she (illegally) carries a firearm through the city. And, as always the Rivers have a role to play.

Peter had his hands full in this book. Poor guy.

This book was a lot of fun. I really liked Lesley’s added role as she’s become Nightingale’s second apprentice and Zach was an unexpected delight. He’s half fairy which makes him, well, a bit of a shit, but I found it endearing. He eventually proves to be very integral to the investigation, and I was glad to have him around as much as he was.

As I’ve come to expect from this series, London is vibrant and almost shockingly real on the page. I feel like, even though it’s been thirteen years since I’ve been there, that I have a familiarity with the city thanks to these books. To clarify, I know I don’t. It’s a monstrous metropolis and reading a few books will not help me navigate it should I ever return, but at least I’ll remember some points of interest!

So, if I liked the plot overall, liked the characters and the setting, why only four stars? Well, I guessed the ending AGAIN! Though, this time I think I just happened to be very perceptive. It wasn’t as obvious and really hinged on my being suspicious of a certain detail early on in the book. But still, I called it two books in a row!

Another factor in my rating was that, after the intense end of Moon Over Soho and the revelation of the existence of The Faceless Man, this book had very little to do with him. There’s some legwork to be done, some old school policing in researching who went to the right school at the right time to have been a rogue Magician’s apprentice and so on. There’s more character development and we get to see the full breadth of the Folly’s network and resources, including the Bodleian library at Oxford!bodleain library.jpg

I will admit, as a library worker, that bit made me really happy.

But, there’s still surprisingly little about the biggest threat in the series so far. So, four stars it is.

I’m about one hundred pages short of finishing Broken Homes. I’m looking to finish it tonight or tomorrow. I’m running out of time to get all these books read before the due dates, and they aren’t eligible for renewal. I need to step up my reading game!

I’ll be back on Monday to talk about my week and complain about writing my query letter, which is my main goal for the day. Wish me luck y’all, because it’s gonna suck.

Until then,

 

BZ

Editing Check-In #4

Hey Blogland. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my progress on The Steel Armada, almost a month actually. There’s been a lot of development, and I’m really excited to tell you all about it!

First and foremost: I finished the rough draft!

celebration

That’s a huge relief right there. I sent the final chapter to Madhu on August 1st, and could have sent the entire manuscript, but we both agreed that since she wasn’t ready send me hers, I should take the time to revise and edit the rough draft first.

Which was a good idea, because the ending was terrible. No, seriously. It was bad. It focused too much on a side character and didn’t wrap up the main character’s arc really at all. I knew it when I wrote it, but I was so relieved to be able to call it done that I just sent it off to her without fixing it first.

But, I’ve since spent a huge amount of time going through the manuscript and making the changes the story really needed. Namely, the ending, but there were some small lines that needed added or cut to make sure character motivations made sense to the reader.

Exodus Descent progress

So, that was $8.10 worth of printing at the library and 16+ hours of editing. I spent about 2 hours on each chapter, doing a minimum of three read throughs of each one. I’ll get into what that entailed in a minute.

I also came up with a new title for the project! Now, I haven’t really referred to it as The Steel Armada for months now, at least, not in my head. That title never fit the story I was telling, and it especially did not fit the story I have on paper now. So, I give to you, Exodus: Descent, my new novella.

Exodus Descent RD

After my laborious editing efforts last Thursday and Friday I promptly “shelved” the manuscript and did my best to put it out of my mind. I closed the Scrivener document, I didn’t look at the pages, I read for fun and played video games. Anything to keep my mind off of the project. I needed to manufacture distance without having much time to do so organically.

Normally, after completing a draft, I’ll put it aside for weeks or even months. But, I don’t have that luxury this time; I have a self-imposed deadline. I want to send the novella to Tim the Agent™ by August fifteenth. So, I had to distract myself.

I have to admit, it’s been very interesting to work with a deadline in mind. Having a firm date in mind has really increased my focus and drive for the completion of this project.

Then, today, I sat down and slowly worked my way through the manuscript again (this time on the computer) and made tedious changes to word choice, sentence structure, with an eye out for repetition or any vague lines. It was slow work that took up my entire evening, but I got the entire manuscript done. I’m calling it Draft 2.5. And that’s what I sent to Madhu tonight.

That’s the general update, but I also want to share a little about what this process has looked like over the last week. I’ve talked about my time rewriting the novella so far, including my internal struggle with the idea that the story is a novella in the first place. But what the heck did I do for 16 hours?

Well, I started by printing out the manuscript, including the cover page. Then, on the cover I wrote a legend for the meanings of the various ink colors I would use and a spot where I could count up the total tally of -ly, as, and was instances in the manuscript.

This is something I learned to do in college. Adverbs detract from your writing. Remember that Stephen King quote: The road to hell is paved with adverbs. As and was are both indicators of potentially weak or passive writing. Find them and you can hone in on where your writing is lacking and address the issue.

So, I read through the manuscript the first time just to read through it. If something is really jarring I’ll underline it so that I know to do something with it on a later read, but I don’t change anything otherwise.

On the second read through I go through and circle each and every instance of -ly, as, and was that I can. Obviously, out of 23k words, I miss some of them. And, I don’t fix all of them. That’s how you get boring, repetitive writing. But, it draws my attention to spots that I might want to change and helps me decide which sentences are a priority and which aren’t.

IMG_20180808_233725

That’s the second read through. On the third is when I finally whip out the red pen and put it to good use. And the green pen, for when I see something I really like or am proud of. Positive reenforcement is important, people! This is the stage that takes the longest time. I’m going through the entire manuscript, line by line, and making it the best I can this round. I’m cutting, rewriting, adding new material, anything it takes to iron out the wrinkles and get to the next stage of the manuscript.

And after that, I go back through and make those changes in the computer. Usually even more, smaller, tweaks happen in this stage simply because I’m seeing the words in a different setting. That’s why I do the bulk of my editing on printed pages in the first place, because getting a physical version of the manuscript changes how my brain perceives it and lets me see it in a more objective way.

work work work

And then I put it aside and do anything but think about the project. In this case, I read for fun and played Dragon Age: Inquisition for the bazillionth time. I let my mind wander away from the novella and relax.

Then, I came back to it today to make more small changes, this time on only in the computer. This is the honing phase, where I really implement elements of craft (what is this, college?) and make much more conscious decisions in my writing than I do in the initial writing process.

Once I got to the end I made sure both my Scrivener document and my .docx version were identical, and then sent it to Madhu for her feedback. Once I get it back, depending on how extensive the revisions need to be, I’ll probably print out another hard copy and start the whole process over again.

But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I’m hoping that there won’t be much new critique and that I can spend the last week just sharpening the writing before I query Tim the Agent™.

So, that’s the state of things right now. Once I consider it “done” I’ll post a Project Wrap Up and talk about the entire project from start (back in 2013) to finish. And then it’ll be goodbye to Val, at least for the time being, while I work on something new.

How exciting!

Talk at you all soon,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 31

Blogland!

This week was extremely productive. Like, the most productive week I’ve had in a long time. It was also exhausting, and then suddenly very relaxing. Apparently I was all over the place this week!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit The Steel Armada
  • Write 1k words for The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Read Whispers Under GroundWhispers_Under_Ground
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I Do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • Yep. The first of the month saw the upload of The Recap and the review for Bloodlist is up now!
  • Edit The Steel Armada
    • Good Lordy bajornies, YES! It took about 16+ hours of work, but yes. It’s done!
  • Write 1k words for The Fall of Ezra Clarke
    • Yep! Still have no idea where this story is going but I’m happy to spend time with these characters.
  • Read Whispers Under Ground
    • Yarp. I think I finished it on Tuesday?
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • You know it!

Weekly Word Count: 4,163

Y’all. Holy Crow what a week! There was lots of reading (Whispers Under Ground, The Productive Writer, and Here There be Gerblins), a ton of editing that rendered my brain into gray pudding and brought about a level of crankiness I hadn’t experienced in years. Also, there was a stupid amount of iced coffee just to keep me functional and even that still felt like running on fumes come Friday afternoon.

Exodus Descent RD
Notice the title? More details on that later this week!

Thursday and Friday were days off for me. I printed out the rough draft on Wednesday (all 81 pages), and then woke up on Thursday with one goal in mind: I would sit down and edit as much as my brain could possibly handle. I knew the ending needed rewriting, and I wanted to get that done on Friday if I could. Which meant I needed to get more than half way through the manuscript on Thursday.

That was… taxing. I’ll share an Editing Check-In this week where I’ll talk about the entire process (how I start, how I know when to call a draft done and move on to the next stage, what problem areas I focus on when, etc), but let’s just say that it was a freaking gauntlet.

work work work

After that, I was pretty much useless. A migraine and a completely wrecked sleep schedule later, I sank some hours into one of my Dragon Age: Inquisition playthroughs, read a little fanfic, and played Gloomhaven over the weekend. Which only worked out because I had finished all of my other goals by Friday night.

I’m beginning to think that the writing I’m doing for The Fall of Ezra Clarke is actually just background/foundation work. Right now its too passive, too high school drama. But if I can understand their pasts I can write their futures into something much more compelling. So, I’m just going to keep on until I hit on the actual story. I’ll hone it in from there.

There’s a sudden sense of freedom having The Steel Armada deep in its editing stages. I can work on… anything! I still have short stories out for submission, I’m working on a new sci-fi story (Ezra), I have ideas for a new novel series and a new short story. I have Cards to revise, and the rough draft of From the Quorum to finish. For the first time since 2014, I finally fee like I have options.

I'm free

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write/share one tumblr prompt
  • Write 1k of The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read Broken Homes
  • Read through The Steel Armada/send to Madhu
  • Review Madhu’s pages

That’s a busy week. Lots of bullet points. But it’s mostly reading, some editing, and a little bit of writing. Lucky for me, I (mostly) enjoy all of those things! I’m still a little tired, my mind not quite as sharp as I’m used to, but that could just be because I haven’t had my coffee yet.

So, I’m off to remedy that, and probably snag some breakfast while I’m at it. I’ll be back this week with the review for Whispers Under Ground and an Editing Check-In. So, until then, I hope you all had a good weekend, and that the week ahead treats you right.

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Bloodlist (Vampire Files #1) by P.N. Elrod

Bloggos,

My brain is all melty from the 16+ hours I worked on editing The Steel Armada over the last two days. It was a wild time, where each chapter got about two hours worth of work, including three separate read throughs. I added a total of 68 words to the manuscript, and that’s after counting all the stuff I cut.

My brain is pudding dribbling out of one ear right about now.

So, let’s talk about Bloodlist!

Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars

vampire files #1

You’re probably looking at that rating and cringing. You’re used to my other three star reviews, which are usually pretty negative. I’m not one to give a low rating lightly, and giving anything under a four usually brings me physical pain.

But, I’m not angry at this book. I’m not upset or even all that disappointed. I listened to it. It was interesting enough to ensure I kept coming back to it, although I didn’t think the narration was anything mind blowing. It’s hard to compete with James Marsters though, let’s be honest.

So, why the low rating then? Because I have no strong feelings about this book. I am neither disappointed by it nor would I recommend it. I read it. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t necessarily good either. It just was.

The book is set in post-Prohibition Chicago, and the lead character has just become a vampire. It has a lot of noir storytelling elements, which I appreciated, but it also featured a lot of mobsters being the 1930s equivalent of dudebros.

The man character, whose name literally just escaped me for two whole minutes, Jack Fleming was all right, but I didn’t really root for him. I liked the side character, his Private Investigator buddy… Escott? Yeah, that guy. He was intriguing.

But, there was little to no explanation of what the rules of Elrod’s brand of Vampirism were. I mean, I think Jack didn’t really know and we’re learning along with him, but… still. It was a little boring. It took awhile to get going and actually get to the plot. Which is a really common problem with the first book in a series.

I would say Bloodlist definitely suffers from that. My Goodreads rating said, “I feel neither glad to have read it, nor upset that I took the time.” I think about this book and my reaction is… *shrug*.

That being said, I’m open to giving the second book a try, if I ever find myself with a lull in my audiobooks. It wasn’t bad it just wasn’t good either. I do wonder if I would have liked it more reading a hard copy. Sometimes the audiobook leaves something to be desired.

However, I did enjoy listening to it when that migraine struck. Always gotta have a audiobook queued up, just in case.

I just went to read the synopsis for the second book in this series, and it really didn’t pique my interest either. Maybe someday, when I’m real bored, I’ll come back to it. But for now I’m going to stick to the Peter Grant books.

I am glad I gave this series a shot though! You never know what you might like if you don’t give new books a try!

I don’t think I’ll be back again this weekend. I’m going to take some quality time to decompress from my editing marathon and just enjoy my time off with a good book. I’ll be back to talk at you all on Monday!

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

The Recap – July 2018

Blogland!

We’re over the hill this summer. Can you believe it? It’s August. Before you know it, it’ll be September, and then I’ll be in Germany, and then it’ll be rainy and fall all over again. But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about July.

July Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Write chapters 6 and 7 of Sanctuary
  • Complete tumblr prompts
  • Santa Sarita recordings
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Well? How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Yes! Wait, well, no. I wrote an average of 307 words a day. HOWEVER, I did finish it. So, I’m calling that a big ol’ win.
  • Write chapters 6 and 7 of Sanctuary
    • Nope. But I did finish chapter six! Hurray!
  • Complete tumblr prompts
    • Yes! And when I announced such on my writer’s discord I was immediately inundated with a brand new batch of tumblr prompts. Oy vey.
  • Santa Sarita recordings
    • No? I did one this month. So at least they’re ongoing, but I wanted to do finish the first part of Santa Sarita this month and that did not happen.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep! The Cost of Rain has been out for a while. I’m likely to hear back about it early this month. Lifelike had a rejection, and is back out.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yarp. So much reading! I posted four book reviews in July, and I still have two more reviews to write  for books I read this month. So, six books down in July!

Total July Word Count: 19,256

Overall, I think July was a very successful month. I mean, look at that word count! That’s the highest word count I’ve had this year so far! I wrote a tumblr prompt each week, wrote a chapter of Sanctuary, and wrote three chapters of The Steel Armada. That’s a lot of writing. Like, a lot a lot. I’m pretty stoked about it. Feels good, man.

And I read so much! So many books! Kill the Farm Boy, Brief Cases, three Peter Grant books, and Bloodlist. So. Many. Books.

Submissions continue, as you do. I’ve actually managed to forget about it for a little bit, which has been nice. There’s a sort of fatigue that comes with submitting fiction. There’s a constant buzzing worry in the back of my head, but I’ve been so busy this month that I was able to ignore it for a while.

Now if I can just keep this momentum going…

August Goals

  • Submit The Steel Armada to Tim the Agent™
  • Finish The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Santa Sarita recordings
  • Keep reading!
  • Tumblr prompts
  • Write chapters 7+8 of Sanctuary

So, another full month. I’m aiming high for this summer and with our big trip coming up I need to make the most of the time I do have. My biggest priority is editing The Steel Armada and getting out to the agent I met at the writing conference back in April. My mental deadline for that is August 15th, four months since the conference. I’ve got a couple weeks to polish up this novella and then I can develop an ulcer in peace.

Ezra is going okay. It’s a little wandering right now, but I’m just writing it through and seeing where it goes. I think there’s a lot that will get cut, but that can’t happen until I know what the entire story looks like. This is my second priority for the month and will become the top priority once The Steel Armada is off into the ether of an agent’s inbox.

Santa Sarita recordings continue to be a fun side project, something I can do when I have energy but little writing gas in the tank. Plus, reading over the older stories in my fanfic series motivates me to work on the current story. It’s like a see-saw, and each time I work on one, I get bounced back into the other.

Reading will continue. There’s still Side Jobs, Here There be Gerblins, Yes Please, and four more Peter Grant books, plus the graphic novels. So, yeah. Lots and lots of reading ahead. I’m looking forward to it.TAZ Here There be Gerblins

I’ve got a mountain of tumblr prompts thanks to my friends in the writer’s discord. If I continue writing one a week, I should be able to get them all done before I go to Germany. Should. We’ll see how that pans out.

And that’s August. Hopefully. There’s a lot of work to be done, starting with getting the ending of The Steel Armada tweaked and ready to send to Madhu for review.

I’ll be back later this week with a couple of book reviews, since I finished both Bloodlist and Whispers Under Ground.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 30

Blogland,

This week absolutely flew by, and with a heatwave in Salem I had a good excuse to stay indoors and get some work done.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish The Steel Armada
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Finish reading Whispers Under Ground
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish The Steel Armada
    • YES! The story is done! The ending needs tweaking, but more on that in a bit.
  • Finish an audiobook
    • Yep. Bloodlist is done, thanks to yet another migraine.vampire files #1
  • Finish reading Whispers Under Ground
    • Nope. Sadly, I just didn’t manage to make time for this.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Duh-doy. I always do.

Weekly Word Count: 3,729

I may not have done the reading I really wanted to this week, but gosh darn it, I finished my novella and that’s way more important! The ending isn’t quite right, but I don’t really know why. I’m stewing on it for now, and hope that, as I edit this week, it’ll sort itself out.

This is really all I did this week. I wrote a tumblr prompt once The Steel Armada was done, and have since started working on a new original project, thanks to a poll from my friends in my writer’s discord.

So, What’s next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit The Steel Armada
  • Write 1k words for The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Read Whispers Under GroundWhispers_Under_Ground
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I could probably add “record an episode of Santa Sarita“, but I think I’ll do that as a bonus if everything else pans out. This week is all about reading, editing, and a little bit of writing. I’m gonna try and make a tumblr prompt happen tomorrow night, that way I can cross that off my July Goals list, but we’ll see. I’ve already got 600ish words of Ezra done thanks to a good sprint session on the writer’s discord this afternoon, so that’s awesome. And of course, if I’m writing a new story, that means I’ve made a new playlist.

And I absolutely love it!

So yeah, that’s it. Gonna keep things simple for the first week of August. I’ve got at least one book review for this week, Bloodlist, and hopefully another if I can really buckle down and get this Peter Grant book done. And let’s not forget the Monthly Recap, due out on Wednesday!

Lifelike got a rejection, which I think I mentioned recently. It’s already back out, and The Cost of Rain is still being held. I’ll probably hear back about it in the next week or so, so cross those fingers and toes y’all.

I’ll be back soon with a book review. Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ