Goals Summary Wk 1/16

It’s been a really wonderful weekend. In fact, looking back, it’s been a great week.

Yesterday we cleaned house and finally took down all the Christmas decorations. We would have done it sooner, but since there was snow and ice everywhere, we decided to wait. This weekend saw some balmier temperatures (it hit 36 degrees today!), so we finally froze our asses off and officially said good bye to the holidays.

Then we played DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) which is always a good time.

Today we were both off for MLK day. We spent it primarily with each other, which was blissful. Trevor creates YouTube content for Heroes of the Storm (a Blizzard free to play MOBA- Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). With his commitment to his channel, and my commitment to writing and blogging, we can both squirrel away to our offices without seeing much of the other.keto-dinner

Today we went grocery shopping, made a ridiculously delicious (and extravagant) dinner, and then played Overwatch together for a few hours.

But, despite the holiday, it is Monday, which means we both have work to do.

So, how did last week go? Fan-fucking-tastic. Pardon my French.

Last week’s goals were:

  • Finish Chapter 11 of From the Quorum
  • Read A Borrowed Man
  • Publish 2 blog posts

It doesn’t seem like much, now that I look at it, but I accomplished it all and I feel damn good about it!

I wrote a total of 2,822 words plus four handwritten pages of world building. I published three blog posts. And I not only read and reviewed A Borrowed Man, but started and finished Dark Run. The book review will be out later this week, so keep an eye out.

So, with such a productive week behind me, what’s on the docket for this week?jackaby

  • Write Chapter 12 of From the Quorum
  • Finish reading Jackaby
  • Publish 2 blogposts

Basically, I’m not going to mess with a good thing. This formula worked last week, and it will most likely be my formula through the end of the month. February is when things will look a bit different, as that’s when I’ll be diving back into editing The Steel Armada.

So, that’s the plan. Small, doable steps each week. At this rate the novel will be done sometime in June or July, with edits on The Steel Armada done in either July or August. It sounds far away, but it’s much closer than it seems.

And I can’t wait.

Later Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

Book Review – A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe

We meet again, Mr. Blog…

Obviously, I’m in a strange mood today. Yesterday was a refreshing success on many accounts, and I’m feeling relaxed and ready to get some work done today. The Husband came home sick from work, so he’s in the next room napping, and I’ve got the Writing Room door closed for the first time since I’ve started using it for its intended purpose.

It feels so… solitary. Isolated. Deliciously mine. Surrounded by my favorite things (my Garrus Vakarian figurine, my framed Elantris maps, coffee, my diplomas, and of course the books!) I finally feel like I can get down to business.

garrus-vakarian

“Can it wait a minute? I’m in the middle of some calibrations.”

So, yesterday. I wrote a book review for Blood Rites, outlined four chapters and an interlude of From the Quorum, and then wrote 1,113 words of chapter 11.

I also read Saga vol. 6, and finished reading A Borrowed Man. FINALLY. This book took multiple attempts, each time maxing out the possible renewals from the library. I had to return it and read something else at one point, but I finally came back to it.

I was damn near ready to execute my “200” rule. This is a relatively new thing I’ve implemented, in an effort to keep me reading as I work on completing my annual reading challenges. I found that, occasionally, there are books that I just can’t get through. I’ll spend weeks trudging through them, or avoiding them, instead of moving on and reading something else.

In an effort to curb this habit, I created a “rule” for myself. If I can get to page 200, roughly the 50k word mark of most books (which is a generally accepted minimum length of a novel), and I still am not interested in finishing the book, I get to count it toward my reading challenge. At that time I can decide, based on how much I understand of the book, whether or not to write a review.

Obviously, any review written about an unfinished book would be proclaimed as such, and would be a generally vague “I liked it and why” or “I didn’t like it and why” sort of review. I have yet to actually do this, but I am open to it. And who knows, maybe I’ll make another attempt to finish it somewhere down the road, as I’ve done in the past. In which case I could then do a full and proper review.

Anyway, a comment of mine basically stating the concept of the “200” rule on John Guillen’s blog led to this response blog post on his site. It’s worth a read and comment if you’re so inclined.

But, A Borrowed Man was nearly my first “200” book of 2017. I was all set and ready to return it unfinished. And then I hit page 200 and things actually started happening. Literally 2/3 through the book and something interesting finally happened.

But, let me go back and actually do this review right.

a-borrowed-manA Borrowed Man is a Sci-Fi novel by Gene Wolfe. He is widely accepted as one of the most prominent literary voices in the genre, and seems to be generally well-loved. Apparently, my mistake was introducing myself to him via this particular book. Based on a number of reviews, I should have started somewhere else.

I would consider this book to be literary Sci-Fi. The science fiction elements are definitely there. The whole premise is that E.A. Smithe is the property of the Spice Grove Public Library, because he is the clone of a popular 21st Century crime novelist. A woman checks him out to help her solve the mystery of her father’s and brother’s deaths, not just because of his expertise in understanding and writing murder-mysteries, but because their deaths seem tied to a physical copy of one of his books, Murder on Mars.

Add to it that the setting is a futuristic Earth that lost 2/3 of the population to some sort of war, and a very intriguing bit of astrophysics later in the book, and I staunchly agree that this is a Science Fiction novel.

But, it’s also a Noir. And it’s also very literary in its approach to character development and the narrator’s voice.

This combination of genre elements could have been very interesting and attention grabbing, but instead it plodded along, and bits and pieces fell together in ways that just weren’t very satisfying for me.

That could be a problem with me and not the book. Perhaps I missed a lot of cues early on (most likely due to bored inattention) that prevented me from anticipating the finished result. Apparently, with Gene Wolfe, that’s not unlikely. The book is very cerebral, without giving me anything to latch on to and get my brain in gear. dark-run

In short, I was bored. Only the last 50 pages or so were decent, but by then I was just frustrated with the previous 250, and not open to thinking too kindly of E.A. Smithe and his associates.

Anyway, it all comes together in the end, so if you don’t hate the first half of the book, its worth finishing. But, I’m glad I can put this one in the rear-view mirror. Now on to Dark Run by Mike Brooks! Nothing like a jaunt with space pirates to captivate my attention!

Until next time, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Blood Rites, Dresden Files #6 by Jim Butcher

Hello Blogland!

Welcome to the first book review of 2017! I am NOT used to typing that. Really I’m just not used to typing anymore, it seems. This whole “not biting my nails” thing has been an adjustment. But, for the first time in my life I have pretty, feminine hands that aren’t likely to chip, break, or be covered in Frappuccino Roast or Mocha.

It’s so liberating!

Anyway, a little of the backstory of me and this book.

I’ve been reading Dresden for a while now, and was even a fan of the doomed Sci-Fi Channel (back when it was still spelled that way) series based on the books. Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden will always be my accepted Canon.

dresden-files-1-6

Notice the hat? He wears one on every cover, but never wears on in the books…

So, I’ve read the first five books multiple times, mainly because I keep telling myself that I should reread them in order to get back into the series and finally catch up. Spoiler Alert- that never works. Inevitably I get to book six, Blood Rites, get to about page 60, and then get bored, distracted, or just plain old give up.

 

It’s been a real problem.

And then, I discovered the magic of Overdrive, and my library’s Libray2Go service. You see, we have a downloadable program, where cardholders can download ebooks and digital audiobooks in addition to the items they check out in person. And that service had Blood Rites as audio.

On a whim, I put it on hold, and waited for it to show up. Honestly, it’d been so long that I actually forgot I was waiting for it until my email notice reminded me that it was now available for download.

At about that time, I was struck with a persistent and angry migraine, and it snowed. Now, snow here in Salem is a big deal. We’ve had four or five snow days here this winter all ready, and that is not typical, so basically the whole town shuts down when frozen water falls from the sky.

So, stuck indoors, in pain and unable to sleep through it, I turned to my audiobook for some sort of entertainment that wouldn’t make me want to vomit. And it was heaven. If heaven can be so painful.

I listened to the bulk of the book in just two days, and promptly put book seven on hold. It’ll be another long wait, but it’ll be worth it.

Now, on to the story!

I think what really made this experience so wonderful was James Marsters’ narration. That’s right, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the voice of Harry Dresden, and he is phenomenal!

dresden-martsters

Everyone’s favorite Vamp Bad-Boy lends his voice to our favorite Wizard for Hire.

He has Harry’s tone and humor down perfectly, and he does all these different voices for the various characters so that you know at any given time who is speaking. He even yawned part way through a line of dialogue, which made me stop mid-dish scrubbing to say, “did he just yawn?” And then the dialogue tag followed, “I said with a yawn.”

 

Talk about attention to detail. It’s true when someone says that the narrator can make or break an audiobook. One. Hundred. Percent. True. And Marsters brings this series to life.

As for the actual guts of the tale, without some serious background, it won’t make much sense. The gist is this: Harry takes on a case helping a Porno director fend of an Entropy Curse, all while planning to attack Mavra, a Black Court vampire that’s trying to kill him.

But, the best thing about this book is that it centers around one of my favorite characters in the series, Thomas. He’s a White Court vampire, which means he’s a sexual energy vampire, more or less.

dresden thomas.jpg

Fanart (artist unknown) of Thomas Raith

Still basically immortal, still unnaturally strong, but otherwise incredibly human seeming. Which makes him, and his kin, even more dangerous. They don’t mind daylight, and religious artifacts and talismans mean nothing to them. They’re alluring, charming, and undeniably attractive.

 

But they can kill you just as quick as any Red Court or Black Court vamp (think Dracula).

Anyway, Harry and Thomas have a tense, but hilarious working relationship that fills the majority of the book. Also in this installment, Harry has the first flickering of non-platonic thoughts for Karin Murphy, his Cop friend/occasional partner. While I don’t know yet if this ever comes to fruition, and honestly don’t think it will because Harry and Karin are stupid and stubborn, I was glad to hear Harry at least admit the thoughts were there before he banished them.

And of course, this book is full of mystery, death, magic, and Harry getting hurt. Really, by the end of every book Dresden is lucky to be alive, and is usually in immense amounts of pain and in need of medical attention.dresden-what-i-do

In this respect Blood Rites does not disappoint.

In character development, I found Blood Rites to be wonderful. We learn so much about Harry, Karin, and Thomas that I found the Mavra plotline to be almost distracting from the characters. Don’t get me wrong, those scenes are great and important, but I just wanted to get back to learning about these people!

So in short (too late!), only read this book if you’re reading through the series. You can’t just pick this one up and expect to understand anything. You won’t. But, if you’re a fan of Dresden, this is a very good installment.

And I highly recommend giving this series a try on audiobook! It was so good that, despite owning a print copy, I’d rather wait for my audio hold than just read it.

Who knows when that will be, but be sure that once I’ve listened to Dead Beat, I’ll be right here with another review!

Talk at you soon, Blogland.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 1/9

Hello Blogland!

First and foremost, what does everyone think of the new appearance? It’s sort of a tradition of mine that the blog gets a new look each year, and though I was quite partial to the 2016 edition, I have a lot of love in my heart for 2017’s new look.

Hopefully you all feel the same.

So, last week, I’m calling a mulligan. It snowed, I had a migraine, and there was a SERIOUS New Year’s Eve hangover in there somewhere. Basically, I was useless all week, aside from listening to audiobooks while my migraine kept me awake.

In non-writing news, Trevor and I changed our diet to be back on Keto. It was something we’d discussed at length, and decided to enact after the holidays. The lack of grains and sugar is just so much better for him. He sleeps through the night, isn’t gaggy every morning, and it helps his digestion.

I don’t experience much of these changes, or at least not as drastically, but I like the food so I don’t mind committing to the diet to help him.

I’ve taken up a fairly vigorous (for me) yoga routine, and have stopped biting my nails. Typing now is very strange, and it’s going to take time to get used to where to place my fingers all over again.

Otherwise, I spent a good portion of my day today planning out my writing and editing schedules, and I’m feeling good about where the year is heading. But, let’s break it down for this week.

Week of January 9th:

  • Finish writing chapter 11 of From the Quorum
  • Finish reading A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolf
  • Publish two blog posts

That’s all for now. I’m gunning for 12k words a month, when I’m not editing, and I’m already a week behind. Hopefully FtQ will continue to flow as it has in the past. I should have the first book review of 2017 up on Thursday, Blood Rites by Jim Butcher. It was the aforementioned audiobook, so keep your eyes peeled for that one.

In non-weekly goals, part of my outlining this morning included penciling in time to start reworking The Steel Armada into its third draft. I’ve told myself that I can’t edit Cards until The Steel Armada is done, and I have a feeling that the third draft will be close enough to count. There’s no point putting it off any further. So, the month of February will start my dive into the hard rewriting and problem-solving I’ve been avoiding.

While all that heavy lifting happens, I’ll cut my word count goal for FtQ down to 500 words/day, meaning “writing day” which is roughly three days a week. Anything beyond that is gravy.

As long as I finish the rough draft of FtQ this year, I’ll be happy. Getting The Steel Armada into draft #3 by July is my goal, followed by getting Cards into draft #2 by the New Year. Somewhere in there I’ll rewrite and perfect The Portrait of Sterling Madison.

2017 is going to be busy! Mainly with projects and writing. I cannot wait to see what I can accomplish.

Until Thursday Blogland,

 

BZ

It’s That Time of Year…

Oh, Blogland.

I’ve abandoned you. Yet again. But, it wasn’t just you. I’ve played hermit from so much of my life this last month, and only now do I appear to survey the damage.

Aside from a missing email from The Audient Void that I need to address, things seem to have held up all right in my absence. I’m ready to get back into it.

I mean, after New Years. Because, let’s be honest, I’m not getting shit done until the holidays have come and gone.

But, last thing you all knew I was halfway through NaNoWriMo. Let’s bring everyone up to speed.

NaNo was…. a success. I wrote a total of 11,444 words. That’s just over 3k short of my goal of 15k, and I have no doubt that I could have done much more if I’d been more disciplined. That word count reflects only two weeks of writing. Not too shabby for someone who thinks she’s so rusty.

It gives me hope for the coming year. I have the words, and the stories. I just have to get the muscle toned again. I can do thaperseust. As long as I keep to a schedule.

In the meantime, the writing room has really come together. A new sofa now graces the wall across from the window, and I’ve got some new organizational items that were dirt cheap at Goodwill. All that’s left is a nice arched lamp over the sofa, a tiny side table, and a rug.

You know, to tie the room together.

But, it’ll get there.

Since this will most likely be my last post of 2016, let’s talk about goals.

Next year I want to do the following:

  • The Steel Armada draft #3
  • Submit The Portrait of Sterling Madison to The Audient Void
  • From the Quorum rough draft
  • Cards draft #2
  • Publish 104 blog posts — 2/week
  • Read 60 books

That’s a lot of stuff, I know. But, I’m only working 30 hours a week right now, and I’m not going to school. I need to pick things up and get to work.

Now, the year in review. What the hell happened to 2016?

Well, for starters, we bought a house. For years that seemed like some far off dream, a foolish mirage we were chasing through the desert of our twenties. And then suddenly we had the keys and so much more responsibility than we could have ever prepared for. I’ve loved every single moment. And it’s been an admitted time-sink.

bookshelf

I mean, we built that…

We got a dog! Another, adorable, totally worth it time-sink.

I finished my Bachelor Degree! Over half the year was spent busting my ass to get those three words on my degree: Magna Cum Laude. It feels good every time I glance up at the degree hanging on my wall. Damn good.

I wrote over 16k words of From the Quorum, and got The Steel Armada into its second draft. I also completely gutted The Portrait of Sterling Madison, priming it for a rewrite in 2017. Plus acting as an Editorial Consultant for The Audient Void.

I worked an average of 48 hours a week until mid-November. Usually more than that.

And I’m on track to read 61 books this year.

Tack on a couple weekend getaways, friends with life changing events, and beginning a DnD campaign. I’ve been really busy this year… Here’s hoping that 2017 mellows out so I can shut the real world out and get back to fiction.desk

From where I’m sitting now, in my very nearly finished “writing room”, things are looking good.

I hope your holiday season is full of warm, tasty food, shared with the people your care for most. Thanks, as usual Blogland, for getting this far.

I’ll see you all in 2017.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary Wk 11/14

Hello Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything too intense. But, it was a busy weekend, and a very stressful week for me in general, so let’s discuss.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Read Mass Effect Revelation
  • Write 4k words

Overall, nothing too taxing. However, the only one I completed was the writing. Which, overall, is the best one, I suppose. I only published one post last week, and my reading fell off pretty sharply. But, I wrote 7,109 words last week!

That puts my total word count for NaNo at 11,444 words. Since my goal is 15k for the month, I’m doing really well!

Want to know why this week was so stressful?

Welllllll, I put my two week notice in at Starbucks. That part has mostly been relieving. It’s been oddly blissful at Starbucks for me every since, and I only have one shift left before bringing my time as a Partner to an end. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll have the reaction everyone is expecting me to. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time with Starbucks. I have learned so much, and met so many wonderful people who have become like family to me, but it’s time to move on.

That being said, I thought I was moving on. Even from the library. I had put my notice in there too, but I quickly realized that was a mistake. This new position that was offered to me would have been a wonderful opportunity to learn something entirely new, and to work for two people I respect and admire immensely. But, leaving the library just felt wrong. I thought I could do it, and I was wrong.

So, I backed out of the new job, and genuinely felt awful about it. Nauseous, shaking, on the verge of a panic attack. But, they say the hardest decisions are usually the right ones. And I know that staying at the library is the right choice.

So, I’ve been an anxious wreck all week, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life. Now that it’s all sorted, I feel I can get back to some normalcy.

temple-of-the-dog

Lighting was very well done.

Except we went to Seattle on Sunday to see Temple of the Dog perform on Monday night. We had an awesome little two day trip, and we explored and ate and drank, like we like to do. And the concert was just amazing. A once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of my all time favorite records performed in its entirety. I have zero regrets.

temple-of-the-dog-2

And we had pretty nice seats!

Even if we had to drive four hours back home last night, and then get up to go to work today.

And so here we are, a day late. Again. What do I want to do this week? Well, it is the holiday week, so things are bound to be a bit lax on the writing and reading front. But, I also have more time off this week than usual, so maybe I’ll prove disciplined.

Here’s hoping!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Mass Effect Revelation
  • Start reading Arcanum Unbounded (I’m bound to tell you all about it as soon as I can)
  • Write 3k words

A little ambitious, what with hosting Thanksgiving in our house for the first time, but the writing has been going really well this month. At least, when I sit down to write.

That’s the plan, Stans. We’ll see how it ends up. If I finish my current book, I should be here to write a review. It’ll be my first tie-in review, so that will be interesting. I hope you’re looking forward to it.

And, I hope you all have wonderful afternoons with your families. Share some food, love, and thanks with the people that matter most. That’s what Thursday is about.

Until then, have so more pictures from our trip!

 

BZ

 

 

Goals Summary Wk…?

Hi Blogland.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, I skipped last week. And I’m posting late this week.

Last week was one of immense upheaval. Trevor and I went to Bend to celebrate his birthday, and we had an awesome time. Some life altering stuff went down, which I can speak more about later.

The main reason I didn’t post at all last week is because of the following:

  1. N7 Day. This is the glorious day, November the seventh, in which Mass Effect nerds rejoice and celebrate the most wonderful game franchise ever created. This year’s N7 Day was bursting with new info about Mass Effect Andromeda, which is set to release sometime this coming Spring. Basically, I was freaking out every 10 minutes as stills, videos, and screenshots were released. Then, in a frenzy, I proceeded to start the entire franchise over again. Sorry, not sorry.
  2. Election Day. This was a horrible evening for my husband and I, and we spent it alternating panic attacks and inexplicable rage. While we’re not Hillary fans, we are Progressives, and we’re very concerned about the country right now.
  3. Promo Set at Starbucks. Wednesday I worked from 10am until after midnight, all so customers could enjoy the spirit of the holidays at their local chain coffee shop. Gag.
  4. I was off, and exhausted. I considered writing, briefly, and then opted to play more Mass Effect instead.
  5. Migraine. The whole weekend.

Basically, last week was hell, but kinda sorta good.

So, two Mondays ago, my goals were:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Beacon 23 Book Review
  • Read A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe
  • Write 500 words a day, 3k total.

So, how’d I do?

Not too shabby! I published my two posts, one of which was the Beacon 23 book review. I didn’t get around to A Borrowed Man, and instead started to read The Vagrant. It was super boring, and I gave up on it, instead reading 6 volumes of the Avatar the Last Airbender graphic novel series. I feel I should mention here that I am open to giving The Vagrant another shot, just not right now.

But, the most important thing is the word counts. I did it, guys. I wrote a total of 4,335 words that week. And only over four of the six days. So, I didn’t write every day, but I pumped out words HARD when I did write. And damn it felt good.

Then I ruined it by being a complete hermit last week. But, I maintain that my work/life turmoil makes it somewhat understandable.

Hopefully I can avoid real life by building my own world instead of indulging in BioWare’s. I’ve started reading fanfiction, and the official tie-in novels, so it’s looking grim…

But! Goals!

This week I want to:

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Mass Effect Revelation
  • Write a total of 4k words

So, a pretty simple jump back in. Bummed that I screwed the pooch last week, but I can only make up for it by moving forward. It’s time to put some words on the page!

Thanks for reading along, Blogland.

 

BZ