Looking Sharp

Hey Bloggos,

Maybe it’s premature. Maybe I’m counting chickens before they’re hatched, or whatever other idiom you’d like to apply to this situation. But today I took professional Author Headshots. 

My thinking was this: I am a writer seeking professional publication. I’ve worked on my craft for almost ten years, and I’ve grown in leaps and bounds over the last five years in particular. I ought to have photographs on my site and my social media that reflect who I am now, not who I was almost a decade ago. Plus, let’s be real. Writing isn’t just the art side of sitting down and birthing words into stories. It’s also a business, and this is one aspect of it that I was hesitant to do.

I’m not a fan of having my picture taken. I don’t photograph particularly well, and I’m really good at nitpicking my appearance in pictures. But, this was something I felt needed to be done. I wanted to have professional photographs on hand for when I might need them.

So, I contacted a friend who had recently launched her own photography business. I’ve followed her progress online, had seen her work and been wildly impressed by the skill she’d shown so early in her career.

And today we spent about an hour traipsing around downtown Salem, visiting my favorite businesses and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee. We caught up on life, talked about tattoos, my writing, her photography, and our mutual experiences working for Starbucks.

It was fun, casual, and totally worth it. But I’ll let you decide that for yourselves.

Photo credit to M.L. Photography

There are more photos, but these three are my favorite. They make me feel very pretty, and incredibly author-like. So, I’m gonna bask in this self-love for the rest of the day, and let it help me get past the fact that I’ve barely written this week.

I’ll see you all tomorrow to talk about this week, as usual.

Until then Blogland,

 

BZ

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Book Review – The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant #6) by Ben Aaronovitch

Blogland,

This is my first post written in the new WordPress editor. If you have tried it already and have any hints or suggestions, please let me know, because this is a trip. I think I like it. Image result for uncertain gifIt’s very clean, with less clutter to distract the eye. But that means I have to relearn how to navigate a system I’ve used religiously for like… seven years.

A/N: 108 words into the new editor and I already had to revert back to the Classic Editor. The new format handles content in blocks, which doesn’t really allow me to embed gifs and pictures the way I like to. Or at least, I wasn’t able to figure out how to do in a timely fashion. I’ll keep poking at it for awhile and see if I like it. As of this moment, it’s getting a thumbs down from me.

Additional A/N: Turns out, reverting back to the Classic Editor part way through royally screws with the formatting. I was unable to resolve it no matter how much I tried until I went back into the new editor and manually fixed every single error. I officially hate this “update” and I doubt I will be using it in the future.

After bouncing around the entire library consortium, I finally got my hands on the only copy of The Hanging Tree available in the whole Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service. It’s been a very popular book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Peter Grant and company are back at it, this time investigating what seems to be a routine drug overdose. Except, the deceased shows evidence of thaumaturgical degradation (aka her brain was a bit gooey from exposure to magic). And, Lady Tyburn’s daughter was at the scene.

As if that isn’t a big enough pain in Peter’s backside, there’s a member of the demi-monde, known unironically as Reynard Fossman (etymologically speaking, Fox Foxman), has come to the Folly to offer Nightingale something he can’t refuse: Newton’s Third Scientific text, the Principia Chemica.

Alchemy. It was rumored that the genius had worked out the laws that governed transmutation and the like, but that the text was lost to mankind. Until Reynard waltzes in and tries to sell it to the highest bidder. Because, why would he only offer it to Nightingale?

And guess who else has his metaphorical eye on the prize? Yep! None other than the dastardly Faceless Man himself.

Which, it’s about stinking time! My biggest gripe about the last Peter Grant story I read was that there wasn’t enough substance in regards to the Faceless Man and Lesley. I wanted MORE! Well, this book delivered, let me tell you.

All the things I’ve come to expect from a Peter Grant book remained true for this one. Fantastic dialogue that begs to be read aloud, a wide and dynamic cast of characters, an intricate and compelling plot told in a voice that is self-deprecating, fun, and clever as hell.

All that being said, it took me longer to read than I would have expected, mainly because I’ve just been too tired to stay up and read lately. Which, as I’ve discussed, is really shit timing. Every book under the sun seems to have a release date this month, and here I am too swamped and too sleepy to do a darn thing about it.

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One of those November releases is the next book in this series, the long anticipated Lies Sleeping. But, DO NOT read the synopsis for this book before you’ve read The Hanging Tree, otherwise you’re in for a giant spoiler.

I found that out the hard way while I conducted research to recommend the library purchase a copy of the newest book in the series. Whoops!

Also, my library doesn’t own any of the Peter Grant books, but several of the smaller libraries in our consortium own copies. But, none of them had purchased Lies Sleeping yet. Two weeks before the book is out and no one had bought it yet?Not acceptable. So, I recommended the purchase, and now I’m first in line on the hold list.

Image result for napoleon dynamite yes gif

So, in summary, this book was another solid entry in the Peter Grant series and the perfect book to read just a week or so before the newest installment is released here in the US. It’s nice to be caught up.

I’ve got a slew of books queued up for the rest of the year, which I mentioned in yesterday’s goals summary post. I’ll be a busy reading bee all the way through the new year.

Just the way I like it.

I’ll see you all again on Monday, maybe sooner if I have something to talk about. But we have a friendsgiving celebration on Saturday, so don’t expect much from me the rest of this week.

Until later, Bloggos.

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 45

Oi, Bloggos!

This past week was oddly eventful, which of course means I didn’t get all that much done. At least, in my estimation. Let’s see what the blog has to say about it.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • Finish reading The Hanging Tree
  • WRITE!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Not for the first time this year, but it has been a much rarer occasion than in previous years, so this is still a bummer.
  • Barker line edits
    • …No. BUT, I’ve got them downloaded and should be able to dedicate some serious reading time to them this week.
  • Finish reading The Hanging Treethe hanging tree.jpg
    • Yes! Finished it on Saturday.
  • WRITE!
    • YES! I’m writing pretty consistently, and while it isn’t happening every day, my word count average for November so far is 922. My goal is 800, so that’s rocking steady.

Weekly Word Count: 4,566

So, this last week was a bit of a wash. I got the “important” things done, but at the expense of the other goals. I’m pleased with my word count, although it is about 1k words shy of where I should be. Thank goodness for that 1,100 word cushion I came into Nano with, hehe.

As expected, my reading has slowed, which is unfortunate since there are so many good books out this month. I’ve got a copy of A Map of Days on my nightstand, a copy of Sanderson’s Skyward on the hold shelf waiting for me at the library, plus the next Peter Grant book is out this week and N.K. Jemisin’s short story collection comes out soon!

Yikes. That’s a lot of reading to get done before the end of the year. But, I only need to read three more titles in order to reach my goal of 65 books this year. I’m confident that I’ll pull it off.  Especially since I read The Hanging Tree, WicDiv vol. 7, and Saga vol. 9 this week.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • WRITE!

So, all in all, a pretty straightforward week. I’ve got the review for The Hanging Tree to post this week, so I should have no problem with that goal, and with nothing else but writing, I should FINALLY be able to get those line edits done for Obadiah. Then I can get back to reading The Audient Void submissions.

This is a good opportunity to remind you all that The A.V. is open for submissions through the 15th of November! There’s just a few days left to send your Weird/Dark Fantasy poems and short stories to us!

a map of days

I’d love to say I could finish reading A Map of Days this week, but it’s almost 500 pages long, and with my work schedule and Nano there’s just no way I can get it done in a week. But, if it’s anything like its predecessors, it will go fast for its size. Fingers crossed.

Until later Blogland,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 44

Bloggos!

Fall has finally arrived in Salem. The clouds and rain and the wind have all showed up today, greeting Monday with a pleasant dreariness.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Continue editing The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Barker line edits
  • Continue Research/Outlining
  • WRITE!!!!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. The Nano prep post is up now!
  • Finish That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yes! I am super proud of this story and have sent it out for submission!
  • Continue editing The Charlatan and the Coinshot16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)
    • Yep. Got these edits all done, and the first chapter is up now!
  • Barker line edits
    • No. Sad to say, but I’ll have to work on them this week.
  • Continue Research/Outlining
    • Yes. I got more research on the catholic church and demons in general done.
  • WRITE!!!!
    • Oh man. Did I ever? My goal was 800 words a day, and I made it!

Weekly Word Count: 4,446

In four days I wrote more than I did in the entire month of October. I’d say that’s a win. It’s been an interesting NaNo already, mainly because I’m not used to writing an original novel for the month. Last year I wrote fanfic, and the words came much easier then than they do now. It’s also been years since I set out to write a new novel so I’m trying hard not to let my mind overthink and stymie my own work. Easier said than done.

I sent That Which Illuminates Heaven out on Friday, but I won’t hear anything back on it until the first week of December. It’s kind of nice to know to expect silence. It keeps me from obsessively checking The Submission Grinder as much. Of course, Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are both still out, so I’m never far from clicking the bookmark in my browser.

The Charlatan and the Coinshot is off to a decent start. Chapter two posts tomorrow, so hopefully there will be more interest as the month wears on.

It was my husband’s birthday this weekend, and we had a great time playing boardgames with friends and watching the Blizzcon keynote and live performances. We also spent a good chunk of time watching season two of Castlevania, which I highly recommend. And I managed to make some time for reading!

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Whew. That was a lot of work. Now it’s time to do it all over again.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Barker line edits
  • Finish reading The Hanging Tree
  • WRITE!

A little more straightforward this week, mainly because all of my personal editing projects are done. I just need to get the line edits for Obadiah done, and then it’s just reading and writing this week! I do have some social engagements this weekend, so I need to be sure to pad my word count earlier in the week to give myself some wiggle room.

I think I’ll have a book review up this week, simply because The Hanging Tree is so good so far, that I doubt I’ll be able to keep away from it.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

The Recap – October 2018

Bloggos!

It’s November! Whaaaaaaaat? How can that be? It’s NaNoWriMo season already?

whaaaat

What in tarnation did I even do with October?

October Goals

  • Tumblr prompt
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

How’d I Do?

  • Tumblr prompt
    • Yes. Although, it’s been so long now that I hardly remember doing it.
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yes! It took six drafts, but the final proofread is done and ready to be put into the computer. I plan to submit it tomorrow.
  • Research/Outline for NaNo project
    • Yep! Over 4,000 words of research and not a whole lot of outlining. Which is still more than I’d normally do.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read three books, all of which have been reviewed here.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Both Lifelike and The Cost of Rain received rejections this month, although Lifelike did get a really wonderful personal rejection. They have both since been submitted to the next magazine on the list.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • YES! It took an age, but I finally made this happen.

Total Monthly Word Count: 2,628

This month was a strange one. It was extremely productive, as you can see from the above list of successes, but I didn’t really feel like I accomplished much in the day-to-day. Writing was minimal, which sucks, but was also the plan.

Editing was in full swing this month, with That Which Illuminates Heaven seeing multiple revisions, a full proofread of The Charlatan and the Coinshot, and reading submissions for The Audient Void (still ongoing).

Reading was slow but consistent. Three novels in a month is nothing to sneeze at and is probably better than the reading that will happen in November.

Submissions are still rolling along. I was just telling my husband how now I’m less anxious about them and increasingly becoming more and more impatient. I’m getting so close, getting wonderful feedback and reaching high levels of consideration. I’m ready for someone to finally say “yes”. Sadly, I know this feeling to be premature. I’ve only submitted 22 times this year, both stories combined, and many stories have to go out to more magazines than that before they’re published. I have a long road ahead of me yet.

Sanctuary is still hanging in there. I’m feeling pretty far away from the project right now, which is logical since I won’t be working on it at all this month. Maybe after two months of posting The Charlatan and the Coinshot I’ll feel a little more energized about this longfic.

November Goals

  • Write 800 words/day Logo_of_National_Novel_Writing_Month
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep Reading!

I don’t think there’s really much more to put here. National Novel Writing Month pretty much monopolizes all my time in November. If I can read a couple books and keep up with my short story submissions this month, I’ll be happy.

And, yeah, that’s what’s up. That’s where I’m at on this first day of November. Feeling pretty great about October, even if I didn’t at the time, and looking to ride that momentum and success into and through NaNoWriMo.

Unless I read an entire novel in the next two days, you won’t hear from me again until Monday. You know, weekly goals and whatnot.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

NaNoWriMo 2018 – Prep

Bloggos,

I “won” National Novel Writing Month for the very first time last year thanks to The Charlatan and the Coinshot, my forthcoming fanart collaboration project. I went in with no plan, no outlines or ambitions other than to write as much as I could.

But this year, I’m taking steps to prepare myself for a hectic month of working full time (sometimes more) and writing a whole new, original novel. What does that preparation look like?

  • Research. Lots and lots of research. My Scrivener project for this novel is the most informed and resource heavy of any I’ve made so far.

    Screen Shot 2018-10-30 at 12.07.50 PM.png
    My research files in Scrivener…
  • Outlining. Now, I’m not usually one to outline with any sort of detail, I’ll be the first to tell you that. And it’s still true. My outlines are purposefully vague, because I don’t really know what’s going to happen in any given scene, chapter, or story until it’s written. But, I made an effort to at least have a general idea of the first few chapters so that I’m not going in completely blind come November 1st.
  • Music. Each story I write has its own playlist in Spotify, and that’s what I listen to while I write. I made sure to spend some quality time building a diverse but thematically close playlist for this novel.
  • Pre-Writing. This goes along with research, but I sat down and sketched characters and settings. I gathered resources and images to refer to while writing so that I won’t have to leave the Scrivener project if I get stuck on something. And, I let myself write if the urge hit. I wrote about 1100 words of the prologue/opening scene, and I refuse to feel bad about it. And yes, I will count it toward my nano total word count, so there 😛

Typically, the goal for Nanowrimo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year I wrote just over 52k, which was no easy feat and I was working part time! Now I’m working full time, and sometimes more. I need to be realistic about my goals and my time this year. Otherwise I’ll only set myself up for failure.

NaNo 2018 Goal:

  • 800 words/day – 24k words for the month

I actually think I’ll be able to hit 25,000 words, maybe even more, but thought 800 words a day sounded doable. 1,000 seemed a little daunting, but 500 is basically nothing, so 800 it is. I also intend to go to a majority of my Nano Chapter’s events and write-ins, and I’m always game for a good Facebook sprint. With all the activity, 24k shouldn’t be a problem.

But, I really don’t believe I have the time to write 50,000 words this year. With two jobs, the Thanksgiving holiday and the various social obligations it comes with it, I just don’t see 50k happening. And I don’t want to set an unrealistic goal only to guilt trip myself into freezing up.

So that’s it. I still have a bit of research to do, and my outlines can always be more detailed, so I’ll be prepping right through to the start of National Novel Writing Month. If you want to be my Buddy on the Nanowrimo site, my username is HIMluv and I’ll be happy to add you!

I’ll talk to you all soon when I come back to talk about the month of October in the Monthly Recap.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 43

Blogland,

The weekend was too short, with social engagements and a migraine. But now it’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)
  • Research and outline NaNo project
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yep. I think it’s very close, I just need to perfect the last few sentences and really drive home the ending.
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot
    • Yes? I edited 7 chapters, out of 17. That’s a couple week’s worth of posts so it feels like success, but I’ll need to get considerably more done tonight and tomorrow before Nanowrimo starts.
  • Research and outline NaNo project
    • Yes! Got a big chunk of research done this week, and have some books waiting at the library to help me over the next two days.
  • Read A.V. submissions
    • Yep! Submissions are impressive this round and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this issue.
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue
    • Yes! I didn’t expect this to be the case, but the last half of the book was pretty compelling.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Another week of no writing, which again was the plan. I hate it. It feels wrong. Luckily, this is the last week where that will be the case. I start writing again on Thursday! Really this week was all about reading and editing. I read eight short story submissions for The Audient Void, I finished reading Rosemary and Rue, I read/edited That Which Illuminates Heaven, and I read the the first third of The Charlatan and the Coinshot.

This week will be much of the same.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Continue editing The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Barker line edits
  • Continue Research/Outlining
  • WRITE!!!!

There will be no shortage of blog posts this week, with this post, a NaNoWriMo prep post, and the monthly recap all scheduled. I have a couple sentences to tweak and perfect in That Which Illuminates Heaven, and then I think it’ll be ready to submit. I’ve already made a list of potential markets and can’t wait to share this story with the world! I’ve got 10 chapters left to edit for The Charlatan and the Coinshot, which will go quickly. I’m really just proofreading and making sure that there aren’t any glaring errors or inconsistencies. It’s a pretty clean draft, so I’m mostly just enjoying the story as I read through it one last time.

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Now through November 15th

Obadiah gave me an extra project on top of reading submissions for The Audient Void, so I’m doing line edits for him this week. I need to keep researching as much as I can before I dig into writing my new novel, and with only a few days left I am feeling the pressure.

And of course, the big goal is writing in the last half of this week! I’ll have a post up soon about what my NaNo goals are and what to expect from me over the course of November.

I have a few writing related events later this week as well, so hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to talk about them soon.

Talk to you soon, Bloggos!

 

BZ