Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 39

Blogland!

It’s Monday, and man does it feel like it. Between 13 hours of travel on Saturday and working two jobs again as of today, I am exhausted, so let’s get this show on the road!

Last Week

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

How’d I Do?

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

Yeah. This vacation was insane! And exhausting. There was so much to see, and there’s still so much left that we hope to return to Bavaria in a few years, hopefully at Christmastime.

I could go on and on and on about how delicious every meal was, or how picturesque and idyllic the alps are, but I’ll let the photos do the work for once.

What’s next? 

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

I think this is a good start to the month. I do want to keep writing, but nothing taxing and without any strict goals. This will be a good month to sprint for fun with my longfic or work on that tumblr prompt. Gotta get that sprinting muscle ready for November!

As always, reading is still a priority, with science fiction short stories and urban fantasy novels being the focus this month. I’ve also been listening to The Adventure Zone podcast, which has really eaten into my audiobook time, but it’s amazeballs so I have no regrets.

I actually have two full days off this week, and have a bit more free time than I really expected to, so I’m looking forward to getting some quality work done. Right at this moment I am so tired that this list looks awful ambitious, but hopefully I can manage some sleep tonight and wake up ready to take on my goals with renewed vigor.

I’m not one hundred percent what else I’ll have to share this week, but I’m sure something will come up.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

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The Recap – September 2018

Bloggos,

Everyone call Green Day because September is ending! I’m back from vacation and pleased to find Oregon well on its way into fall. The leaves are falling, pumpkins beg for carving, and the weather is wonderfully dreary. A very nice change from Munich’s humidity and warmth. There’s a lot from my vacation to talk about, but I’ll get into that more tomorrow. Today, we talk about:

September Goals

  • Tumblr prompts
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!
  • Continue short story submissions

How’d I Do?

  • Tumblr prompts
    • No… I didn’t get that research done that I needed to, so this prompt moves on into October.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • Hahaha nope! I wrote like… a paragraph?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. I read four titles this month, with two book reviews, and a handful of short stories.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes! I received another rejection while on vacation and just sent The Cost of Rain off to the next place.

Total Word Count: 265

Well. I knew September would be incredibly unproductive, I just didn’t imagine it would be that bad. Like… zoinks Scoob, that’s really bad. But, I planned for this. I planned for a lax September and an editing/research heavy October because November is National Novel Writing Month! I won last year, and I aim on doing it again. The difference this time is that this project isn’t fanfic, the plot isn’t preordained and the world doesn’t already exist (well, it’s an Urban Fantasy, so yes, actually it does, but you get my point!). This year it’s going to take a lot more work to get to that 50k mark, and then a few more months of dedicated effort to finish it off.

But I’m excited for this story. I’m ready to do the research and spend the time outlining so that I at least have some idea of where the hell this novel is headed. That way, when I get stuck, I have some kind of map to help guide me out.

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

This is going to be an ambitious month. July and August were busy months with very high output for me, but September saw a decrease in all reading and writing. I want to spend October really revving back up so I can put my best writerly foot forward for NaNoWriMo and to get back into the swing of things.

I hate to admit it, but I think I’m going to shelve The Mechanical. I like it, but it’s a slow book, with a very atmospheric narrative style that is the exact opposite of what I need to read right now. So, instead, I’m going to focus on Urban Fantasy novels for the month of October, starting with Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks.

I’m always open to recommendations, so please let me know if there’s any Urban Fantasy out there that I absolutely must read! I’ve read all the Dresden Files books, all but the most recent Peter Grant book (it’s on hold at the library), and have the first books of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye novels, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, and Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series on hold at the library.

Please tell me what I’m missing!

So that’s October! Probably another low word count month as I edit, research, and read my butt off in preparation for NaNoWriMo! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about last week and share a bunch of pictures from my vacation in Germany, and then it’s back to the grindstone. Don’t expect any book reviews this week, since I’ll be starting fresh this month with a new book, but hopefully I can get a few out later this month.

Talk soon, Blogland.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 38

Blogland!

After last night’s adventures, today has been very slow to start. Slept in later than I have the entire trip (traveling really messed with my internal clock), and then a trip to the local supermarket leads us to lunch.

Last Week

  • VACATION!
    • Eat a pretzel every day
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Visit at least one castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Oktoberfest!!!!
      • Pics or it didn’t happen

How’d I do?

  • VACATION!
    • Eat a pretzel every day
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Visit at least one castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
        • Have not yet visited Neuschwanstein Castle, but just booked the tour for Thursday!
  • VACATION!
    • Oktoberfest!!!!
      • Pics or it didn’t happen

We also took a bus tour up to Kehlsteinhaus, aka Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. It was the single most beautiful place I have ever been, and it felt like being on top of the world. What’s even better, I had a beer there!

So yeah. Vacation has been a wild success so far. We’re still here for a few more days, but we’re both wearing down and almost ready to be home. I miss my bed, my stuff, and most of all, my dog. Thank goodness for my best friend who is watching Simon for us; she keeps sending me pictures and I love them!

Just a few more days of adventure in Bavaria and then it’s back on a plane and up, up, and away, back to the Pacific Northwest.

So, What’s Next?

  • VACATION
    • Neuschwanstein Castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen!

There isn’t really much else to accomplish this week. We’re going back to Oktoberfest tonight, though I highly doubt it will be half so rambunctious as yesterday’s visit, and we have a dinner date with my best friend’s brother, who is basically my baby brother. We’re looking into visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp tomorrow, but aren’t quite sure just yet. And then Thursday is the castle tour day, then Friday we’re keeping things close to the apartment so we can prep for our travel day on Saturday.

And then it’ll be over. A whirlwind 10 days in Bavaria. A dream vacation for my husband and a damn good time for me.

As you can imagine, I’m not doing any reading while we’re here. I’m too busy taking in the sights and talking to the wonderful people we meet. But I’ll be back to the usual programming next week.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 37

Bloggos,

It’s late. I should be sleeping. But tomorrow’s the big travel day and there’s just too much to think about, too many variables, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. So, here I am, doing the one thing that tends to turn off all the superfluous thoughts.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Borne and The Strange Birdthe strange bird
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep.
  • Finish reading Borne and The Strange Bird
    • Yep. Reviews for both are up now.
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary
    • Nope. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.

Weekly Word Count: 0

I think that’s a first. Zero words this week. I’m sure it’s happened before, but I didn’t write the goals summary to prove it. But, I’m not mad. This is my month to unwind and get a blank slate prepared for NaNoWriMo.

That was the official list, the work I wanted to focus on as the vacation drew ever nearer. But the unofficial list was much bigger. I won’t get into the details again, however I do honestly believe we’re as ready as we can be for such a big trip. I’m wound tight right now, but as soon as we’re on the plane it’s out of my hands and I can finally relax.

I just have to get through tonight.

What’s Next?

  • VACATION!
    • Eat a pretzel every day
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Visit at least one castle
      • Pics or it didn’t happen
  • VACATION!
    • Oktoberfest!!!!
      • Pics or it didn’t happen

mechanical

You get the idea. I am still reading The Mechanical. It’s slow so far, the language is very dense and my attention wanders frequently. I’m hoping hours on an airplane will help me get through it.

I make no promises about posting next week. We’re away until the 29th, and while I’ll have the laptop in tow, I don’t want to promise any posts until we’re back. I might squeak out time to do a mid-trip update, but if I do it’s a bonus.

Regardless, it’s back to work on October 1st, so you’ll find me here, gushing all about our trip.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

Book Review – The Strange Bird by Jeff VanderMeer

Hey Bloggos,

The Strange Bird is a short and bittersweet, and entirely dependent on Borne. You’ll understand little if you haven’t read VanderMeer’s novel set in the same world (you can read my review of Borne here).

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

the strange bird

This novella is very meandering. You’re meant to take it slow and absorb the Strange Bird’s observations on life beyond her laboratory. She relishes her freedom, but it is a lonely existence, because the other animals know that she isn’t quite natural. She was created in a lab, with biotech from birds, humans, and even squids. She was an experiment, and as civilization failed, she escaped into the wild.

Her journey, though slow, is purposeful. She has a homing beacon, demanding she fly in a very particular direction, and since she doesn’t have any other desires, she follows it.

Of course, she encounters several obstacles along the way. A lonely old man whose guilt has leeched at his mind. A cannibal, whose interest in the bird lies no further than selling her. And the Magician, who takes her and reforges her into the invisibility cloak we see used in Borne.

It’s this part of the story that requires that you read the novel. If you haven’t, you won’t understand who the Magician is and why her cloak is important. You won’t feel the mounting anticipation as you know what comes next, as you realize who the Strange Bird is about to encounter.

And you won’t enjoy the emotions and relief in seeing and hearing Rachel in Wick in the aftermath. You’ll miss out on a lot of nuance if you haven’t read Borne. But, the ending will still strike home. It is soft and sweet and rife with resignation. It isn’t what the Strange Bird wanted, but it is more than she thought she would ever have.

It is enough. And you learn what the story is really about, underneath all the layers of language and exploration, and the Strange Bird’s life of suffering.

I was surprised at how much this book affected me. I cried at the end, just a little, and felt satisfied, much more so than I did at the end of Borne.  I think the novella could be reread, that I could actually glean more by spending more time in the language, whereas I felt the prose in Borne was a barrier to understanding.

The Strange Bird snuck up on me, in a delightful, heartbreaking way. If you read Borne, and enjoyed it even a little, I recommend giving the novella a try.

Image result for the mechanical tregillis

In my usual fashion, I am on to the next book, The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis. I’m only 44 pages in and it is already much different than I anticipated and not much like my typical reads at all. But, this is my vacation read so I’m taking a chance on it!

I’ll be back on Monday for the usual Goals Summary, and then it’s off to Germany!

 

BZ

Book Review – Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Blogland,

I went into reading this book with very mixed expectations. I’d heard multiple firsthand accounts of how brilliant it is, but actually knew absolutely nothing about it. I’ve never read anything by VanderMeer before, and all I knew about Borne was what I could glean from inside the jacket flap.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

borne

Rachel is a scavenger, eking out a living in the City for herself and her partner Wick. Tensions are high, with resources in the ruined city scarce and the giant, hyper-intelligent bear, Mord, wreaking havoc wherever he pleases. Wick and Rachel are distrustful lovers and partners, helping one another and keeping more than their fair share of secrets to boot.

One of those secrets is Borne, a sentient blob of biotech that grows and grows and grows. Rachel tries to raise him in secret, just another topic to avoid with Wick, but Borne quickly proves too curious and clever to be satisfied with Rachel’s small apartment.

With the secret out, Borne explores their domain of the Balcony Cliffs while Rachel and Wick let their secrets drive a wedge between them. When all the lizards have disappeared from their ruined halls, when all the small critters that scampered in the walls have vanished, and when raiders attack their home only to mysteriously abandon the Cliffs, Rachel refuses to entertain Wick’s accusation.

“Borne eats and eats,” says Wick. “But nothing comes out.”

And so begins the battle between Rachel and Wick about Borne. The decisions in which will shape the rest of their lives.

I have some pretty conflicted thoughts about this book. On the one hand, I very much enjoyed the story and the characters. Rachel, Wick, and Borne are delightfully complex and I often found myself disappointed in them as often as I was pleased. The world is developed extremely well, and I’d be happy to spend more time to learn about the City and the Company that deteriorated it so.

But…

VanderMeer’s writing was a struggle for me. Don’t misunderstand, it is beautiful. But it’s also strange. Just like the book itself. I had a hard time, not because the prose is overly Image result for borne vandermeercomplex or wordy, but because the sentence structures were often bizarre. There were entire paragraphs, large chunks of the page that were only a sentence or two. Those were immediately followed with sentence fragments and sentences that played with word order. You have to scavenge the story from the page. And while I can appreciate the mastery of craft behind such a novel, it frequently pulled me from the story, jarred me from the world, and allowed my mind to wander when all I really wanted was to know what happened to Rachel and her makeshift family.

 

See? I’m conflicted. It is a beautiful book. It’s a book that makes the reader work. And I’m not opposed to doing the work, but I felt that Borne could have balanced storytelling and readability a little bit better.

I can’t say if this is true for all of VanderMeer’s stories. I’ve only read Borne, and I’m only a third of the way through the Borne novella, The Strange Bird. So far, I don’t feel like it suffers as much from the jarring language as the novel did. Or maybe I’m just acclimated and notice it less. Either way, I’m struggling less so far. Which is a good thing.

I should be back this weekend to write up my review for The Strange Bird and probably to vent about how stressed I am about this trip. I’ll be fine once we’re on the plane, but each passing day my anxiety grows and grows. Just like Borne.

I need a beer.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 36

Bloggos!

This is my last full week before Germany! There is a ton to do this week, but before I can tear into that, we have to talk about last week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctuary
  • Finish reading Borne
  • Read two short stories
  • Review Madhu’s query letter

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. No book reviews, just some goals discussions and a general monologue.
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctuary
    • Ha. Ha. No. A whoppin’ 265 words written this week.
  • Finish reading Borne
    • No. But, I read a ton. I’m really close to finishing it.
  • Read two short stories
    • Yes! Three of them actually.
  • Review Madhu’s query letter
    • Yep. She’s probably not happy with me. I was pretty rough on that query, but it’s a crucial step in getting her novel published. We gotta get it right.

Weekly Word Count: 265

So, yeah. You can tell I didn’t get much done this week. I blogged, I read a bit, and I played Detroit: Become Human until I had to hide the game from myself in order to disentangle from the PS4. Thankfully the game is now out of my hands and off to the next lucky person who gets to play it.

In my reading I finally got around to Sam J. Miller’s Things with Beards and Calved, set in the same city as his amazing novel Blackfish City. I also read City of Ash by Paolo Bacigalupi, which is set in a post-climate change Phoenix so I found that pretty darn interesting.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Borne and The Strange Birdthe strange bird
  • Finish chapter 7 of Sanctuary

As you can see, I’m striving to keep things simple this week. Because these are the official goals, but there is a mountain of unofficial tasks that have to happen before Tuesday. Such as:

  • Clean the entire house
  • Pack luggage
  • Stock up on dog treats (so sad poocher won’t be quite so sad)
  • Organize travel documents/foreign currency
  • Book shuttle to airport
  • Refill prescriptions
  • And probably a million other things I’m forgetting

(This is my anxiety trying to get out of control. I cope with list-making, so just bear with me.)

And I’m working more hours this week than I’ve worked in two years… Keep me in your thoughts, y’all. It’s gonna be one hell of a week.

I’ll be around this week with at least one book review, and then back on Monday for the goals summary and farewells before vacation.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ