The Recap – May 2019

May was a weird month, yo. It started out with this mad dash to get the book done, and then screeched to a crawl as I relaxed and struggled to find my writing legs again in the aftermath.

May Goals

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read a short story each week
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • YES!!!!!!! It took a concerted effort to get it done on schedule, but I did!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. I received a few rejections this month, but everything is back out and waiting for evaluation.
  • Read a short story each week
    • Not quite. I read four short stories, but there was an extra week in May and I didn’t squeeze one in during that week.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! Since I finished Tavi I’ve read/listened to 10 titles! Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Reading Round Up to learn more.

Monthly Word Count: 20,205

The last leg of writing Tavi was… exhausting. I was a woman possessed, the final chapters gripping me by the collar and dragging me along with them. Words came faster than I could rightly keep up, until the very last few scenes, where they slowed and demanded I pay strict attention to what came before so I could shore up any loose ends. I haven’t gone back to read it yet, but I felt really good about everything came together at the end. If you want to read more about the whole “writing a book” thing, I have a post for that.

Short story submissions continue to continue. This month was a little bit tough because I had a story out for 120 days and received a form rejection on it. I raged a bit at that and I’m still salty whenever I think about it. I’m not convinced I’ll submit to that market again, especially since I bought an issue of their magazine and wasn’t super impressed with what they were publishing. But, I also know that if I have a story that fits their call for submission, I won’t self-reject or hold that story back just because I’m a bit miffed at the magazine. That’s just childish.

I’m (still) waiting to hear back about my story that was held for further consideration. There was a bit of movement at that market recently, with a slew of rejections and a couple of acceptances, but mine is still waiting. I’m trying not to get my hopes up which I’m obviously failing at since I’m talking about it here. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m slowly finishing up Transcendent, with only three short stories left to read. I should have read one more this month, but I just didn’t get it in. Probably because my hike utterly destroyed me this weekend.

lava tube cave 2
Lava Tube Cave, 20 minutes south of Bend, Oregon

Speaking of, I did a lot of hiking this month! A trip out to Central Oregon, an extremely muddy (and fun) hike at Cape Falcon, and then a long, sunny hike to the picturesque Marion Lake made May a wonderful, surprisingly outdoorsy month. I hiked a total of 15.7 miles this month! Ok, Marion Lake was technically June, but whatever. It was gorgeous and I have lots of pictures to share.

I’m also beginning to see the effects of these weekly hikes. Calf muscles are making themselves known, my thighs are getting slimmer, and my cardio is already greatly improved. There’s also the sunburns turning to tans and a remarkable mental clarity and reduced migraine intensity I hadn’t anticipated. Aside from the sunburns, all good things.

June Goals

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Keep reading!

Right now, I’m not so sure the new short story will be done by the end of the month. It’s been very slow going, and I don’t know if it’s because my brain hasn’t quite recovered from finishing Tavi or if this story’s challenging prose is slowing me down. It’s one of the most craft-forward stories I’ve ever tried to tell, and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s just very very slow so far. 

Marion Lake
Marion Lake, Willamette National Forest

As usual, submissions will continue and continue and continue until something sticks.

I still love reading short stories and have no desire to cut them from my reading. I’ve got a handful of collections checked out from the library right now, so I should be able to get this one done no problem.

I also have a huge TBR stack from the library on my entryway table so there should be plenty of reading and reviews this month. When I’m not reading or writing, I’ll be outdoors. I’m pretty much living for my Saturday hikes, so expect more pictures in the weeks to come.

Sorry this post was a little late, but the good news for you is that you get double the posts from me today! I’ll be back real soon with my weekly goals summary!

 

BZ

 

For a Midwest Minute

I mentioned in my weekly update that the trip to Cincinnati was… interesting to say the least. Now, I want to be honest. The Husbando and I had scoped out Cincinnati as a potential contender for relocation. We looked into best places to live for the cost and looked at the housing market and were pretty impressed. The next step was to visit and see how the city felt. Because on paper, things looked promising.

Well, I can tell you, after four days spent in the city, promising is not the word for it. Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a bunch, let me caveat this with the following: These are my feelings about Cincinnati. Mine. And mine alone. I know that I visited in early March, when winter still has much of the country in its frigid, deathly grip. This was intentional; I wanted to see the city at its worst, because if I still liked it, then I knew it would only get better with nicer weather. I stacked the odds against Cincinnati on purpose and kept that decision in my mind as we explored the city.

Guys. It didn’t do well.

There’s a lot to like in Cincinnati, don’t mistake me. The Newport Aquarium was a ton of fun and really well maintained. The Zoo was amazeballs (and yes, we got to see Fiona!), and the Cincinnati Museum Center is absolutely gorgeous. At all three locations there were field trips out for a day of learning and exploration and that was really cool to see.SAve Ferris

Cincinnati also has a thriving craft beer scene. We had low expectations for this, since Oregon is sort of the Mecca for the US Craft Beer movement (seriously, throw a rock in Salem and you’ll hit a brewery or taphouse). The beers didn’t need to be better than home, just on par, which they definitely were. Also, oddly enough, sour beers seem to be very popular in Cincinnati, of which I had zero complaints. I love a good Berliner Weisse, and Nine Giants’ Save Ferris was probably the best I’ve ever had.

We also went to a crazy store called Jungle Jim’s, which my husband described as, “an international themed fever dream where you can buy some fresh fish, giant paella pan, scotch, and durian fruit in the same store while passing by a talking Campbell’s soup can that haunts you until you die.” We followed that up with a visit to the biggest fucking antique mall I have ever been blessed to visit. I bought an unconventional souvenir for my office and have zero regrets.

campbells nightmare
Talk about nightmare fuel…

The Findlay Market was cool, though with it being the off season it was just a fraction of how awesome it undoubtedly is in the spring and summer. That being said, we have farmer’s markets here in Salem, and Portland has a huge one. And Pike’s is only four hours away in Seattle.

And ultimately, that’s what it kept coming down to. Yeah, Cincinnati has cool stuff, but not anything that can’t be equalled by the Pacific Northwest.  So, when the cities are neck and neck, what breaks the tie?

People.

Now, PNW folks are notorious for being ridiculously, obnoxiously, frustratingly nice. They will stop six lanes of traffic to let you jaywalk. They will stop an entire interstate to save a lost dog. “Please” and “Thank You” have nearly lost all meaning because we all say them so automatically that half the time I can’t remember if I even said it. Sort of like flushing the toilet or locking the door, but for politeness.

I thought I was sick of it. I thought I was fed up with false kindness and the West Coast notion that customer service must infiltrate every aspect of your life. I thought I was done with it. And then I went to a bar in Cincinnati.

burgoo
WTF is Burgoo and why was it so good?

Across the city, from restaurants to breweries to fast food chains to grocery stores, gruff and efficient is the rule. They don’t want to chit-chat, which I am fine with, but they also don’t want to smile or tell you to have a nice day or thank you for coming in. They do not want to acknowledge you beyond, “What do you want?” and “Do you want to start a tab?” or “Receipt?”

It shocked me. It disgruntled me. I felt immediately defensive and closed off. For the first time, I wasn’t so sure we’d be able to make friends in Cincinnati and I wasn’t sure that I would even want to. I already have great friends, and almost all of them live in Salem (Bolt, I’m looking at you, so hurry it up already and move back!).

Ultimately, nothing about Cincinnati made me want to dig up the roots we’ve grown here in Oregon and start all over again. Which we agreed on after only two days, which left us with another two days to explore and just enjoy the vacation!

Now, of course, not every person we interacted with was so closed off and unfriendly. There was a fabulous server at the Moerlein Lager House named Mikey, and another great server at 50 West Brewing (I can’t remember her name, sorry!). And the sweet guy at the counter of the Taste of Belgium stand at Findlay Market that forgot to give Trev his coffee and was amazed at how unworried we were about it. But the majority was… brusque to say the least.

We spent a day in Kentucky, meeting up with my husband’s aunt, which was a blast, and then we went to the Kentucky Derby Museum for a walk down memory lane for me, and a first time visit for Trevor. I was pretty emotional the whole time. The last time I was there was in 1995 when I went on a cross country road trip with my grandparents. My papa has since passed away, and though I don’t have many distinct memories from our visit to Churchill Downs there were just enough to keep my eyes moist at sharing this visit with my husband, whom my papa never got the chance to meet.

And while the people in Kentucky are beyond nice, come Wednesday, Trev and I were so so so ready to be home. So of course, that’s the day the Boeing 737 Max’s were grounded. And of course, that was the plane we were supposed to be on. What was supposed to be an arrival time of 10pm in Portland turned into 11am, with us spending 22 hours either in an airport or on a plane. My advice? Skip Chicago Midway if you can, and DEFINITELY don’t spend the night there. The only silver-lining on that was the hilarious native Chicagoan that sat at the bar drinking a Budweiser while we ate breakfast and shot the shit with us. He was hilarious and a delight. There will be inside jokes involving that guy for the rest of our lives, I’m sure.

And then we were home and I snuggled my dog and vowed not to leave the PNW for as long as I possibly could. Which is roughly a year since Southwest gave us two $100 vouchers for the whole 737 snafu.

So, the trip served its purpose. We went to Cincinnati to see if we’d want to live there. We very quickly decided no, and got a chance to relax and just enjoy ourselves for a few days. Other than the awful travel on the way home, I’d say that was worth it. Plus, I wouldn’t have found Melvin if we hadn’t gone!

Melvin.jpg
There is no Tavern, and Moby Dick was published in 1851, but the inaccuracies only make me love it more. Hence the name, Melvin. 

Knowing that a cross-country move isn’t in our future has reinvigorated our enthusiasm for the house we do have. Old projects are resurfacing, especially as the weather improves, and I hope we’ll actually have our entertainment center built up by the summer and my built-in desk finished by fall.

Home is where you make it, after all. So maybe it’s high time we showed this house some love and focused on turning it into our home. This trip really helped me appreciate where I am and what I have, and the city I share with so many people I care about. It led to a reaffirmation for both of us, and I couldn’t be happier with that.

Because, let’s face it. I’m a West Coast kid, through and through. And that’s how it’s going to stay. At least for the foreseeable future.

 

BZ

Up in Arms for Banned Books Week

Hello Humans and Spam-bots!

It’s been a beautiful first week-ish of fall. Highs in the low 70s, and a delicious crispness to the evenings and mornings. A seasonal chill that, unfortunately, wheedles its way into our apartment.

I’m sitting in my second favorite Starbucks in town crunching through a chonga bagel and making quick work of my ritual iced coffee.

I’ve been thinking a lot. About all kinds of things. For the first time in a long time my mind is rife with possibilities. I think it’s the realization that, while I do want to be a writer when I grow up, that usually means I need another career simultaneously.

I don’t know what that’s going to be. Until recently, I never really thought about it. A day job. Staying on at the Library seems the logical choice, but it’s also the easiest.

What about teaching? What about politics? What about moving to Japan to teach English?

That last one is my favorite. I always told Trevor I wanted to live in a big city for a year. Why not a big, foreign city? A real adventure!

The world is big. It’s full of billions of people, all with their own unique stories. I don’t want to tell those stories, but I want the experiences they can afford me, so I can spin them into new, original stories.

Experiencing the world is the only way to learn how to build a convincing one.

Also, I’ve decided that I want to science better.

Seriously though, I loved Geology, and reading all this Colonial Mars fiction has me missing the stories rocks can tell us.

So, I want to travel, I want to spend more time in nature, and I want the knowledge required to appreciate them both.

How do I do that?

Well, finish school. Trevor and I both want to finish our degrees, though I am much closer to my goal at the moment. Then, we want to buy a house here in Salem. We love Salem, and we want to call it home base.

So buy a house, live in it, make it ours and nice, and then rent it out so we can disappear into the wilderness of the world. At least for a year.

I don’t know how long it will take to do this, or how long we’ll adventure before we decide it really is time to settle. But, right now, I am restless.

(Side note, someone in Starbucks uttered that most-hated sentence, “Been thinkin’ about writing a book”. Because it’s that easy…)

I’ve just been feeling very passionate about a lot of things lately. It’s almost like a spiritual reawakening. I’m not sure why it’s happening now, or what to do with all of the energy, but I like it.

I want to change things. I want to share my passion and ignite it in others. I want to show the world that indifference is a cancer. And the only way I know to do that is to talk about it, write about it. Share.

So, what am I riled up about today?

Banned Books Week!

I even have a cute button that reads, “I read banned books” inside the outline of the state of Oregon.

See?
See?

The book I’m reading currently, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, was never challenged as far as I know, but our next book club read, The Perks of Being a Wallflower sure has been! I just put it on hold today, so hopefully I’ll get it before the end of the week.

Also, I’m still waiting for one of the four (FOUR?) copies of The Aeronaut’s Windlass to find its way to the hold shelf, with my name poking out of it. I fear it’s going to be a long wait.
The Aeronaut's Windlass

But, next Saturday I’m going to see Brandon Sanderson and will spend HOURS nose deep in Shadows of Self. I absolutely. Can. Not. Wait.
Shadows-of-Self_Mistborn_Sanderson

Anyway, I’m running out of time to read, and I am already about 100 pages behind where I need to be. Dragon Age, and my lack of discipline, keeps getting in the way.

As usual, thanks for listening to me ramble. Much Love, Blogland.

BZ