If I’m Being Honest

Okay. I’m here. I’m back in my office and I’ve updated my whiteboard for the first time in over a month. And I have to say, it feels really good. I’ve been out of sorts for months now, really since March. I have learned that I am a creature of habit, more so than I already acknowledged, and this summer has put forth a concerted effort to keep me from doing anything in any semblance of routine.

Week-long video game binges, my husband lost his job, two of my biggest music icons took their own lives, my best friend almost died, and then we had extended house guests for the first time in my life. Coupled with applying, interviewing, and being denied two full time positions at my work and really I’m just a ball of rubber-bands stretched too tight: one has got to snap eventually.

I think the only thing that kept me from snapping was all the fanfic I wrote, and the friends I made on tumblr because of it. Since mid-April, I’ve written 168,799 words of fanfiction. Just… let that number sink in. 168 THOUSAND 799 words.

Of fanfiction.

I’m still trying to convince myself that’s okay. Anyone I talk to in my personal life or online seems to find it incredible and awesome. Thanks guys! But, my writer brain is still royally pissed that all that effort and output went to fanfiction.

But, if I’m 100% honest, I really LOVED writing it, and I fully intend to finish it before the end of the year. Also, I’m going to continue to write small prompts and drabbles, because they are fun, and I need writing to be fun still. Also, this year has shown me that I am absolutely capable of writing a novel in a month (if it’s a short one).

I’m not good at being honest with others when it comes to my mental health. I internalize everything, and I am usually the “solid” person in my circle of friends. I give advice and keep my shit together. So, when I start to break under pressure, or when my mind is trying to sabotage me, I don’t feel like I have anyone to tell, other than my husband. And even then, he had just as tough a summer as I did so it was easy to convince myself not to make things harder on him by being completely honest. So, I drop hints that I’m not feeling myself, to which he’s receptive, and we commiserate about our mild depression.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling isolated, raw, and like a useless piece of shit. And it’s all my own fault. I know it is. I could just talk to someone, and feel one hundred times better. I KNOW this. And now I understand why so many people never suspect the depths of their loved ones’ depression, why so many suicides are so shocking. Because, you can KNOW what you need to do to fix things, to make yourself feel better, and it doesn’t matter. You can know it, but you’re powerless to either find the right words, or time, or simply the energy to bring it up.

I want to note that, the fact that I’m here, talking about this means I’m feeling much better and am confident that I am on the path to getting back to my old self. I also want to state that at no point this summer did I contemplate any sort of self-harm. I was/am depressed, for the first time in a way that was recognizable to me, and that has shone a light on what it must be like to battle these feelings constantly. I understand now, in my own small way, how exhausting it must be and how incredibly lonely, even if you’re good at putting on a brave face and doing things to convince others you’re okay.

I understand, and I’m so sorry anyone has to put up with these constant feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing, and loneliness. And I know that, for many people, it doesn’t end. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, where someday you’ll feel good again and actually want to do something productive with your time.

And I’m so sorry, I wish I knew better how to help.

But, I’m seeing that light now, and I’m gifted days of incredible output and energy. I fully intend to make good on them.

So, later this week I will be back to talk about Proven Guilty. I’ve made some goals for the rest of the week, and if they go well, I’ll be back on Monday to do a goals summary for the first time in over six months!

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

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Book Review – The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Blogland!

I finally have a calm moment to try and write this book review.

Oregon is… in a weird place right now. A vast majority of the state is in flames as forest fires ravage my green home. Salem is nestled in the Willamette Valley, and is safe (so far) from the wildfires, but the Columbia River Gorge, Central Cascades, and Southern Oregon are all on fire. Ash is falling from the sky in Salem, coating cars and outdoor furniture, and tainting the air in a grayish-brown haze that makes breathing uncomfortable for many.

It’s pretty tragic, and terrifying.

But, that’s just another disastrous event I can tack on to this summer. I worry for the forests and natural beauty of Oregon, and my thoughts go to the people these fires have displaced. I heard it might rain on Thursday, and I sincerely hope it helps.

But, let’s talk about The Glass Magician!

Theglassmagician

Blah blah Spoilers Ahead blah blah

In this sequel to the very enjoyable The Paper Magician, Ceony must face the consequences of the first book.

It’s been three months since the events of the first book, and life has gone back to normal for Ceony and Emery Thane, much to Ceony’s dismay. You see, she saw her future with Emery in the fortuity box, and she’s eager to get their romance rolling. But, though she now calls him by his first name, and they’ve fallen into comfortable domestic routines, they have carefully danced around their feelings for one another.

When Ceony is at the center of a series of attacks from the Lira’s cohorts (Emery’s ex-wife, and Excisioner baddie from the first book) things begin to heat up between the Magician and his apprentice. One scene that stood out was when Emery asked Ceony why she did all she did to save his heart. Her response was quiet and almost hurt, “don’t ask me that. You know why.”

Cue that painful disgusted sound that is synonymous with getting your heart twisted and wrung out to dry.

Her answer didn’t make Emery deny her words or even deny his own feelings, but he did share his doubts about the morality of such a relationship, between a Magician and his apprentice. That was enough of an admission for Ceony. But, the subtle change in their relationship doesn’t go unnoticed.

Magician Aviosky, the Glass Magician that mentored Ceony before she graduated from Pragis Taff, has suspicions that the relationship between Ceony and Thane may not be purely professional or scholarly, and she greatly disapproves.

So, not only are they trying to avoid death at the hands of crazy Excisioners (Magicians who have Bonded to blood), but they’re trying to keep nosy busy-bodies out of their private business. Even if those busy-bodies might have a point.

The best part of the book, for me, was when Emery was headed to the train station to hunt down Saraj (Bad Guy #2), leaving Ceony behind in London. She gets out of the cab, and fearing that she may never see Mg. Thane again, calls across the courtyard, “If you’re going to get yourself killed, the least you could do is kiss me goodbye!”

And he DOES IT! I definitely squealed, chock-a-block full of that ridiculous giddy feeling when two characters FINALLY get together.

foamingfan

Me when Emery actually KISSED Ceony!

But, that was one shining bright moment that was quickly snuffed by the end of the book. Not story-wise, though that does get dark very quickly. But, writing-wise. Ceony is left on her own, dropped off at Mg.  Aviosky’s house in London. When she arrives she finds that Grath Cobalt (Bad Guy #1), who is actually a Glass Magician, not an Excisioner, has killed Aviosky’s apprentice and tortured Mg. Aviosky herself.

Some epic shit goes down, and Ceony does some quick thinking to save the day before she passes out and the point of view shifts to Emery…

WHAT? Like… WHAT THE WHAT? You can’t just do that! You can’t just knock your main character unconscious and then swap POV when you have literally NEVER SWAPPED POV BEFORE!

It felt cheap. The easy way out from a writing perspective. We watch Emery deal with Saraj, for a short chapter, and then go back to Ceony’s POV in which she awakes and Emery is already back and everything is said and done. WHAT?!

I’m still pretty worked up about it, and I think the only thing that could fix it for me is if the next book, The Master Magician, alternates point of view consistently. Otherwise I will continue to feel a bit put out over this.

Another thing I was less than satisfied with is the ending itself. The book sort of just… ends. The bad guys are handled, Ceony will be okay, and Emery is there. But, she broke her Bond to paper in order to Bond with glass and defeat Grath. She tells Emery this, and how she needs sand to break her Bond with glass so she can go back to paper, and he is confused but so relieved she’s all right that he just sort of nods and promises to get her some.

the paper magician

That’s it. That’s the end. No demand for an explanation of how she somehow managed to break the main tenet of their magic system, no in scene moment of performing the ritual and re-Bonding with paper. Nothing.

I really enjoyed the majority of this book, but the last 20 pages or so left me feeling gypped (I really don’t like this word but it is the right one in this scenario). When your book is only 213 pages long, you can’t have a reader upset at 10% of them. Just saying.

Anyway, I have all my hopes pinned on the last book in the series. Hopefully it will redeem this one for me. Either way, I love the characters enough to keep reading. It’ll be a little while before I get to that one though, since I’m still reading The Stone Sky, and about a million other things at once.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it feels like it. Check out my Goodreads to keep tabs on my ridiculous reading schedule as I try to make up for lost time to get to 65 books this year.

And until next time, Blogland,

 

BZ

Help?

Hiya Blogland,

I don’t have time to write a full book review today, but I’m feeling antsy about things so here I am.

I’ve been re-familiarizing myself with The Steel Armada before I send the first chapter off to my writing friend, and… woof. I didn’t realize I hadn’t actually done any physical edits for draft #3 on that chapter yet. There’s a lot of description and pacing issues, things that need fleshed out or better explained that I just haven’t managed to do yet.

So now the question is, do I hammer that out this weekend before I send it to her, or do I send it as is and wait to get her feedback before I make further changes?

Also, I was really confused about some discrepancies between copies of my manuscript, and so booted up the old Mac to look at the originals… So I’m typing away at Starbucks on my old computer. It’s sort of nostalgic. I have to say I do like this keyboard more; it feels better and more responsive against my fingertips. But, it’s also got about 10 years of wear to make it so… cozy.

Anyway, what should I do? A part of me just wants to dive in and make the changes. But, the rest of me figures I ought to let her see it the way it is and make sure that her feedback matches my own concerns, else I could be making changes for the wrong reasons, or just making the wrong changes.

Let me know what you suggest!

 

BZ

Emergency

Hi Blogland.

This summer has been a very trying one. My husband lost his State job in June, I was passed over for a full-time position at the library yet again, my aunts came to stay with us, and then my best friend was hospitalized this week after a nearly fatal car crash.

She was extremely lucky and suffered no broken bones, but a concussion, seven staples on the left side of her head, a small puncture in her lung, and a large liver laceration found her in the ICU. She’s home now, and resting, but it could have gone the other way so easily. I’ve been pretty shaken up over it all, and I’m still reeling if I give myself too much down time.

But, it’s getting better. I’m just exhausted.

I made a writing friend, and we’re going to exchange chapters to workshop for one another. I’m nervous, but really excited to have someone in my town that I can share writing experiences with. Wish us both luck!

Anyway, I’m exhausted and battling some sciatic nerve pain right now. My plan is to do some laundry, play Dragon Age, and get lots of sleep.

I’ll see you soon with a book review of The Glass Magician because I am flying through it, it’s so good!

Until then Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review – Dead Beat (Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher

Well. Here I am. Writing a book review for the first time in months. Huh.

Gotta say, this is weird. But it feels damn good. If you’re keeping up on my Goodreads page, then you know that I’ve been reading up a storm the last few days. I don’t plan on slowing down, either.

Also, I had a bit of a breakthrough on the fanfic while I was in the shower today (of course), so I should make some serious progress on it over the next week or so.

My aunts have been staying with us this whole week, camped out in my writing room, so things have been a bit out of sorts for me. Even now  I’m typing this from the kitchen table, listening to Incubus in my headphones while Trevor plays his video games in his office. I didn’t realize how used to my routine I’d become, but man, this week has put it into perspective.

I started a new short story, and it’s really rough right now. I’m not sure if it’ll ever turn into more than some weird little tale, but I had a really great time writing it, so that seems good enough for now. I’ve also been doing a bit of research on the requirements for membership with the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association) which then spiraled out into all kinds of interesting searches about publishers, agents, and magazines with open submissions.

So, long story short, my brain is kicking back into writing mode, and I couldn’t be happier.

Now that you’ve got the short version of my thoughts these last few days, have a book review! This is the part where I tell you that there are spoilers below…

Dead_Beat
This book took me entirely too long to read. I started it as a digital audiobook on loan from the library back at the beginning of April. I was in the height of my Mass Effect playing then, so the poor recording was left neglected except for when I had a migraine. The digital loans aren’t renewable, and of course there were a bunch of holds on it, so I couldn’t get the audiobook again. I told myself that, since I owned the paperback, I’d just commit to finishing it the old-fashioned way.

Four months later I finally cracked it open and finished it in a couple of days. Because it was good! I know there’s no point in being upset with myself or trying to feel guilty about my sabbatical, but damn. I could have been so much farther in the series by now!

In this installment, Dresden is tasked with fighting off the Disciples of Kemmler, a notoriously evil necromancer whose acolytes are all vying for Godhood on a particularly stormy  Halloween. To make matters worse, Mavra, of the Black Court Vampires, also wants the “Word of Kemmler”, the necromancer’s book that all the Disciples are after. Within the book lies a ritual for calling forth the Erlking, lord of the Wild Hunt, and unlocks power that would bequeath enough power to make one a God.

So, a typical Thursday night for Harry.

big_dead_beat

Cover art for Wizard at Large, an omnibus of Blood Rites and Dead Beat, by Dan dos Santos.

 

But, shit gets pretty intense, pretty freaking fast. There’s necromancy galore, with zombies and spirits and ghouls running rampant. Butters, the coroner, tags along with Harry the whole time, and Thomas and Mouse are large players as well; a full cast of my favorite people.

Murphy is conveniently elsewhere for the duration of the novel, and I’m excited to see how her Hawaiian vacation with Kincaid went. It was obvious in the beginning of the novel that she wanted Harry to be jealous or to try and stop her, but he’s Dresden. He didn’t do any of that even though he really wanted to. He respects Murph way too much to audibly question her romantic entanglements.

Which… come on! Just kiss already!

Anyway, nothing is ever easy for Harry, and this book in particular put the wizard through the wringer. The Red Court did some dirty fighting to deliver a crippling blow to the White Council, almost completely decimating the Wardens. It was really cool to see the Wardens in action, and one in particular, Ramirez, was a new favorite character. Of course, that means his life is in immediate danger, because I like him way more than I should. Sorry, Ramirez.

Also, Butters gets ragged on by Thomas the whole book for being a coward, and then does some insanely badass shit in order to save Harry, including riding on the back of a resurrected Tyrannosaurus Rex whilst using his one-man polka suit to keep a drum beat.

 

Because Polka will never die.

And behind all of this is the longer arc of the war between the White Council and the Red Court, and the even longer arc of Dresden and Lasciel, the fallen angel he thought he’d locked away beneath two feet of cement in his basement. Yeah, she makes an appearance or three, and it’s some weird shit.

Anyway, I feel really rusty at this whole book review thing, but I needed to do this before  I got too deep into the next  Dresden book and couldn’t keep the details separate. Despite how long it took for me to finish this book, I really loved it. If you’ve made it this far through Dresden, are you really gonna give up on it now?

A sincere thanks to all of you that continued to visit the blog, even though I was gone for so long. I knew it’d be a while,but I didn’t think it’d be almost five months… But, I’m back now, and looking forward to balancing projects and getting back into my more productive routines.

books

Me, twirling through my TBR list.

I’m reading about five things right now, so I have no idea what the next book review will be. Probably The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7) by Eoin Colfer, because I just finished it. I’m also listening to Alan Cumming’s autobiography, Not My Father’s Son, which is phenomenal so far. I’m also listening to Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt’s first book, and enjoying myself. And I’m reading Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman.

Good gravy. I really am trying to make up for lost time. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. So, stick around for more blog posts as my reading and writing reestablishes a working rhythm.

Until then, Blogland!

 

BZ

I’m Back?

I think. It feels like it. I’m reading again, which is reflected on Goodreads and on my “What I’m  Reading” page.  I wrote the majority of an original short story the other day, and I’m still plugging away at my fanfiction. I’m ready to bring the plot points together and wrap it up.

I think.

There’s still a lot do for that story, but I feel good about it. Plus, my brain actually wants to start working on other projects again, so I need to finish this one.

Several books I’ve been waiting for come out in the coming months, and I can’t wait to read them all!  I’ll post book reviews when relevant.

So, don’t expect me to post with quite the frequency I did before, but suspect that I will be around. Hopefully I’ll finish Dead Beat this week, and can have a book review up for it some time next week!

Thank you to everyone that still reads this blog, even though I went AWOL for four months. I appreciate you.

Talk at you all soon!

 

BZ

Wave Goodbye

I’m sitting at my laptop shaking. I’m in tears. I am debilitated with a sudden, horrible, all-consuming grief. I’m trying to sob quietly, because it’s almost 2:30 in the morning and Trevor has to work in the morning.

But there’s nothing quiet about this. My heart is screaming.  My mind is wailing and reeling, grasping for a reality that can’t possibly be this.

I’m sitting here, in the relative dark, sobbing my eyes out, in my Chris Cornell concert t-shirt, listening to every song the man ever had a hand in.

Because he’s gone. Chris Cornell, aged 52 (younger than my dad!) has died.

I don’t really have any more words than that. I just… I loved him so much. His music saw me through so many stages of my life. My aunt’s death, my move to Oregon, my wedding. All my favorite shirts are from his concerts. So many memories attached to this glorious, creative, and immensely talented man and his music. All my favorite karaoke songs!

So much of his music, of his art and wonder, has coiled itself up into my life and I didn’t realize it until now. Now, so many cherished moments are so, so, sad.

And I’m in disbelief. I just saw him in November! He just tweeted 8 hours ago about how excited he was to play his next show! He was so alive…

This blog is named after a lyric in Say Hello 2 Heaven! It’s tattooed on my skin!  I carry him with me, everywhere I go.

And now every single song aches…

I know that eventually, I’ll be able to listen to his music and it will help me through all these emotions, but right now every note of his voice, every guitar solo, is just pure pain. Pure Mourning. No Euphoria in it yet…

 

And then I scroll through tumblr and facebook, and I see all these people who feel the same as me. They grew up listening to his music. First Soundgarden, singing all the words to Black Hole Sun, before I could ever hope to understand them or appreciate their grace.

And then my Junior High and High School years, worshiping the funky, grungy vibes of Audioslave, to the point that I still consider them my all-time favorite band. The shirt I stole from my mom in the seventh grade is one I still wear on a weekly basis, and it shows. It’s grey, instead of black, the logo is faded and cracked, and the collar is fraying. But it’s my favorite shirt that I own.

And then my early college days, trying to connect to something I’d thought I’d lost, so I found the Temple of the Dog CD used, and played it on repeat. And then my aunt died unexpectedly and Say Hello 2 Heaven was the song that helped me through. It’s the song I named this blog from. It’s the song I have inked in my skin.

And then, my wedding. We danced to his cover of Led Zeppelin’s Thank You. It’s been one of my favorite songs, and hearing Chris perform it just brought it from the otherworldly realms of Robert Plant and gave it this humanity that just suited starting your life with your best friend.

I first saw Chris in Arizona, with my mom as a joint birthday present. It was the original Songbook tour, the one I got this shirt at, and it was this magical evening of time travel via an acoustic guitar and his voice.

Then, I saw Soundgarden in Portland the first winter I moved to Oregon. My mom flew up and we went together. And it was… mind-blowing. I danced. I sang. I screamed.  For a little while, I was certain I had transcended, especially when they played Tighter & Tighter. Hearing that song live, singing and dancing to it,  I was more than what lives in this skin. And it sounds crazy but I don’t know how else to describe how Chris Cornell at his best makes me feel.

Shadow face
Blowing smoke and talking wind
Lost my grip
Fell too far to start again
A sudden snake
Found my shape and tells the world
Remember this
Remember everything is just black
Or burning sun
And I hope it’s a sweet ride
Sleep tight for me
Sleep tight for me I’m gone
Warm and sweet
Swinging from a windows ledge
Tight and deep
One last sin before I’m dead
A sucking holy wind
Will take me from this bed tonight
And bloody wits
Another hits me and I have to say goodbye
And I hope it’s a sweet ride
Here for me tonight
‘Cause I feel I’m going
Feel I’m slowing down

And then,  just in November, we went and saw Temple of the Dog in Seattle, on their final night of their tour. It was an amazing experience, one we almost didn’t do because it was so expensive. And while I thought it was worth it on the drive home at 4 in the morning, now I KNOW it was worth it. It was the last time I’d ever hear him sing live again…

And every single song just takes on new meaning now. My world view has shifted. As ridiculous as it might seem, as much as I’m trying to tell myself to calm down, he’s “just a celebrity” I know that’s bullshit.

He’s not just a celebrity. He was Chris fucking Cornell, and he was my all time favorite artist. He was the soundtrack of my life 50% of the time. He’s on every playlist, at every karaoke jam session. He is the artist I turn to when I don’t know how to feel.

The others, I know what I’m looking for, I know what they offer. Snow Patrol is love. AFI is angst. Night Riots is a little of both. Halsey is there for a good time, but you might want to forget about it later. Linkin Park, System of a Down, Korn, they’re all there for anger.

But, Chris Cornell is there for when I’m not sure who I am at the moment. When I need some words that go beyond their purest meaning and have this symbiotic relationship with the music that surrounds them to become something more.

Even one of my favorite holidays is connected to him! Every year I try and “light a roman candle and hold it in my hand,” just in honor of that song!

Because Chris Cornell, in every iteration, has interwoven himself into the fabric of who I am. Temple of the Dog. Soundgarden. Audioslave. Chris Cornell. Forever.

I am so heartbroken. And I know that this grief is nothing in comparison to that of his family and bandmates. I know. And I know that I am not unique in my loss. It has been expressed by thousands already, and as the morning creeps up on us, more and more will know.

I guess… It’s time for me to go to bed. Or lay on the floor of my office in the dark, listening to his entire catalog until I can figure out how the hell I’m supposed to function tomorrow.

Chris Cornell

How do I say goodbye to this man in a way that can ever actually express what a HUGE impact he’s had on my life? How could I ever pay homage to someone so unarguably beautiful and talented? How do I cope with the fact that the vast majority of the music I love and live by is now dripping in tangible grief?

fell on black days.gif

I don’t think I can ever write words I will find acceptable. They don’t exist. But, until they do:

Goodbye Chris. You were my rock n’ roll soulmate. I felt like your words and your music were part of my soul. I promise, some day I will lay a dozen white roses on your grave.

Love,

The girl sobbing in her oldest Concert T-shirt, listening to your voice, no matter how much it hurts.