SFWA Reading in Portland!

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Last night’s  reading was wonderful! I always have so much anxiety leading up to any sort of writing event that my brain convinces me that I will have a terrible time. Surely, I will embarrass myself beyond any hope of repair. I will somehow literally drool on someone. I will trip and/or fall, breaking something (inanimate or otherwise) and drawing every eye in the building. I will, once face to face with the author I like, be suddenly incapable of forming a coherent sentence as simple as “Hi, I really like your book. Will you sign it for me?” That, in my nervousness, I will gulp alcohol and get tipsy and then be forever remembered as “That drunk chick at the reading.”

I am proud to report that I did not drool on anyone. I did not get drunk, although I did enjoy three very delicious beers from Lucky Labrador Brewing, where the reading took place. Though my hands were basically made of lava thanks to how anxious I was, I was able to introduce myself to all three readers (and Caitlin Starling who was in attendance as a fan!), and shake their hands. I said my name to all of them, I complimented their readings, spoke about their work and thanked them for coming to see us in Portland.

I had normal human interactions with four writers I respect very much!

SFWA swagAnd, I won a bag of ARCs via the SFWA’s raffle! I maybe hit a pretty high pitch when I raised my hand and said, “That’s ME!” But I NEVER win anything and I’d had such a wonderful time that I was understandably pumped.

Sam J. Miller, author of The Art of Starving and Blackfish City, read first. He read his short story “Kenneth: A User’s Manual” and an excerpt from Blackfish City. He did a wonderful job, and the short story was pretty funny. It was nice to hear one of his stories I hadn’t read yet. I bought a copy of Blackfish City while we were there and got Sam to sign the book! And guys, I’m striving for transparency here, mortifying as it is, and I really love Sam’s writing. So, when he asked my name I told him to just write BZ, and then he looked up at me and said, “do we interact on twitter?”Sam J Miller autograph.jpg

Y’all. I about died. While every cell in my body screamed with joy, I smiled and said, “Yeah!” Cool as as a cucumber you left out on the counter. He shook my hand and said it was nice to meet me, and then finished signing the book. I walked back to my seat ready to just float away. It was such a brief, delightful interaction. AND I WASN’T A WEIRDO!

Kari Maaren went next and she gave an outstanding reading from her YA novel Weave a Circle Round. Her performance was really wonderful, so vibrant and real. I felt those characters, from an entire beer hall away. I made a point to tell her how much I loved her reading, and she confessed she has a background in performance, so that’s why she was so delightful!

Note to self: start practicing reading now! If I wait until I actually have one booked, I’ll be a complete doofus in front of a crowd.

Last came Rebecca Roanhorse. If you don’t know, she wrote Trail of Lightning, which has been nominated for this year’s Hugo for best novela slew of short stories, and her sequel Storm of Locusts just released this week! GO BUY IT! I’d planned to buy her books at the event, but they were already sold out once we got there. Wah-wah.

She read the first half of her story “Harvest” which is in the new anthology New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl, and an excerpt from her multiple award winning story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience”. Her voice is fantastic. I don’t know how to describe it. She speaks with clarity and strength, her voice carried through the room and commanded attention, even when it was soft and whispering of the Deer Woman. She has range when she reads, her voice moving up and down, hitting the beats of her stories with precision.

Contents from my bag of swag! See anything you like?

It was spectacular. Even Trevor, my notoriously non-reader husband was blown away by her reading. He closed his eyes and absorbed her words, let them wash over and through him, and I was blessed with being able to watch him experience her work in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I maybe teared up a little. Shhhhhusssssh. Don’t tell him. He’ll never go to a reading with me again.

When she was done, he turned to me and said, “we need to buy her books. If we buy them, I’ll read them.” So yeah, I’d say he was impressed.

Next was a Q&A session which I always loathe. I never have a question. I can never think of anything I want to know badly enough to single myself out and ask someone I admire to talk to me. I don’t want the attention. I don’t want the focus of not only the authors, but the whole crowd. So, I sit and I listen and generally smile a lot because I’m happy to be surrounded by book people.

But, last night I asked a question. It was a meaty one, about how to twist and mold existing places into dystopian or post-apocalyptic settings. I apologized afterward because it was a large ask, but they all did such a great job answering! And Sam even said it was a “great question”! So there, self-conscious, anxiety-ridden self! You asked a question and you didn’t die!

After the reading, Trev and I stayed to have dinner with Kat and Obadiah (of The Audient Void) who were also in attendance. It was a really nice evening, one that I’m eager to repeat. Hopefully I won’t be a nervous wreck next time.

Or, at least less of one.

Until Monday, Bloggos!

 

BZ

 

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Goals Summary Wk of 10/17

Hi Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything crazy, but they weren’t overly simplistic either.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Publish the Hollow City book review
  • Finish chapter 7 of FtQ

So, I wrote three blog posts last week! So that’s awesome. And one of them was the Hollow City book review. There’s two down. Now, no huge shock, but I didn’t finish chapter 7 of From the Quorum.

But, I did write 532 words, creating the segue between scenes that was so intimidating to me!

That feels like success.

Also this last week was the release party for The Audient Void #2. Despite the looming threat of a migraine and the 12 hour work day that preceded it, I went to the after party that the Publisher, Obadaiah, hosted. And I had an awesome time! I may have drank a little too much, but I didn’t make a fool of myself and I needed it to calm the fuck down.

As previously discussed, anxiety is a bitch, and I don’t handle new social situations very well. I knew a few people there, but only insomuch as I’ve been in contact with them for The Audient Void. Plus, let me be honest in saying that my depth of knowledge in Weird Fiction is pretty topical in comparison to this crowd.

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Myself, William F. Nolan, and Dan Clore

But, the highlight of the evening was spending a quality 30 minutes, possibly more, talking one-on-one with William F. Nolan, of Logan’s Run fame. He was eager to talk about all kinds of experiences, from poetry, fiction, to screenwriting and navigating the film industry. And he was just really kind and genuine. I’m really honored that I had the opportunity to chat with him.

Other notable guests included Dan Clore, Jason Brock, and Adam Bolivar, the last of whom introduced me to his handmade H.P Lovecraft marionette. Undeniably weird, but also incredibly cute and charming, as he walked H.P. over and allowed me to shake his hand, and agreed to pose for a photograph.20161022_234936

It was an odd, pretty surreal evening that was topped off with a Manhattan that threatened to knock me out cold from the fumes alone. Thanks a lot, Obadaiah!

After a shaky morning after, we played DnD until 11pm with a new group. It was awesome, and I’m really excited for this campaign! In case you’re wondering, I play a Halfling Rogue, named Renna. She’s charming and diplomatic as fuck, and pretty fierce with a spindle-disc. At least, so far.

Anyway, now that you’ve had a recap of my weekend, let’s take a look at what’s ahead!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Library of Souls book review
  • Write 750 words of FtQ

I think that’s fair. I’d like to get another book review in, if possible, but I’ve got my reading stacked pretty high, plus upping the word count goal, and Halloween festivities this weekend. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

And after that comes NaNo! Yikes!!

Until next time Blogland!

 

BZ

Take the Advice You’re Given

So, this might come as a shock to some of you, but I’m pretty hard on myself. I know over the last two months I’ve come across as patient, honest, and forgiving when it comes to my constantly slipping achievements.

Except I’m not any of those things.

I can say all the right things, tell everyone how it’s just not reasonable to expect so much of myself, and my brain knows it’s all right. All true. But, that doesn’t keep the disappointment and irritation out of my heart. I’m angry. Frustrated. I have high standards for myself and when I fall short, there’s no forgiveness.

It’s buck up and do better.

And I’ve failed at that too.

I’ve been battling some major anxiety over how rusty I am when it comes to writing fiction. I know the only way to get better is to write more. The only way to shake off the rust is to get moving. But, I’m stuck. It’s like I’m asphyxiating every time I look at Scrivener.

And I’m really pissed off about it.

But, I’ve made an attempt to talk to others about it, since it seems that I am out of my element. My own counsel has brooked no progress. It’s time to talk to someone. Luckily I have a really amazing support system.

My husband, who’s just as driven as I am, though we have very different methods in chasing our dreams, said that I need to get writing. Even if it’s just a sentence at a time. He’s not wrong. When it comes to my writing he knows it’s all I’ve ever truly wanted to do, and he knows that every day that passes without words added to the page is killing me. So, he’s harsh in his delivery. Suck it up and sit down to write. Yeah, he’s not wrong.

But I’ve been telling myself that for months.

A friend of mine had some insight that really helped me though. He said, “How long have you been done with school?” I finished school August 9th. “It’s been two months.” He stared at me. “That’s not even a summer break!” I shrugged it off. I haven’t had a summer break in over two years, since I took classes each summer term. “If you’re not writing again by January 9th, be concerned,” he said.

When I asked why he basically spoke some logic at me. I’ve been giving 150% for the last two years. 45+ hour work weeks, school full time, reading constantly, and editing for The Audient Void. I even managed to do some writing projects, and graduate Magna Cum Laude. I’ve been hurtling through space and time, and suddenly I’ve stopped.

The adjustment is awful, but his point is that I need to establish a new normal. One where I sleep again. One where two venti iced coffees isn’t required to make me feel “normal”. One where sitting on the sofa reading isn’t a chore. And where playing video games isn’t a sin.

When Trevor and I spoke about my anxiety and frustration again, after absorbing my friend’s advice, it seemed Trevor had been thinking about it too.

He told me that my energy isn’t the same as his. It’s not this driven, powerhouse of determination and sheer will. I balked at first, but he continued. My energy, he said, is creative. It’s a well that has to be full and siphoned off of. And when it’s ready, I’ll crave it again. I’ll crave sitting for hours in front of screen, chasing the blinking cursor that promises something new with each letter.

And I knew he was right. Because I’ve felt the hints of it already. When I worked on my Novel Announcement for NaNo, I felt really excited for this book for the first time in years. Instead of just trepidation. Instead of intimidation. Instead of fear. When I listen to songs and hear characters in them, instead of just words.

It’s coming back to me. Trickle by trickle. Remember the Leaky Faucet Theory? Well, I’ve used every lost drop of myself these last two years. And to much success. I’m proud of my achievements, but it’s time I took the advice of the people around me. The people who are watching from the outside, and are starting to see the cracks in the mud. I’m drying out, and punishing myself for not writing will only make things worse.

So, I’m going to work really hard to ease up on myself. I’m still going to work on From the Quorum, and I can already feel the wheels turning in preparation for NaNo. There’s been a change in me, and it feels right. Here’s hoping it’s a flood gate. But, I will not hate myself for falling short. As I tried to reason to myself, writing is a muscle. Mine has atrophied over the last two years. It’s going to take time to get back to my dizzying pace from before school. I was writing 2k+ a day, sometimes five days a week! That’s insane for someone with a full time job. And I can’t get back to that overnight.

It’s time to take the advice around me, and treat myself with respect, patience, and understanding. I’ve worked hard, and if I hope to continue to do so, I need to take a breather without fear of retribution from anyone. Let alone myself.

Anyway, I really wanted to express my thanks to the people who keep me grounded in reality, but offer me solutions for chasing my dreams. You’re awesome. Thank you for always helping me, even when you don’t think you do. And because of you I’m really going to try and be kinder to myself. I’m not perfect, and I’ll probably have bad days, but I hear you.

I’m listening.

 

BZ

Book Review- Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Hi Blogland.

I’ve had a bit of a rough week. I’m exhausted. Overworked. I haven’t been reading as much as I should, and I didn’t write a single thing. And finally I knew I had to admit something to myself.

I have anxiety. Legitimately. There are behaviors that I’m used to, that I’ve always considered a part of me, that aren’t “normal”. My mind never stops, and I’m constantly second guessing myself in every action and thought. Simple interactions become critique sessions, usually ending with the conclusion that I am “weird” or “dumb” or some other adjective that isn’t very kind. I’d like to say that I know my anxiety could be worse. I don’t have it as bad as others I know, and I am so incredibly thankful for that.

But lately these thoughts have been out of control.

Every week that I don’t meet my goals adds to the weight on my mind. Every book that I don’t read. I’m being too hard on myself, and yet, these are simple goals. Why can’t I achieve them?

I don’t know what the next step is. I’m reading up on anxiety. What it looks like, how to combat it. I’ve also looked into how anxiety and ADHD interact, because I have both. But short of medication, which I’m not currently open to, there doesn’t seem to be many options.

Exercise and eat better. Ok, yeah. I could do that. But when? I already don’t have time or drive to do the things I really love, let alone something I hate. Like jogging. And for the most part I don’t eat terribly. I eat at home mostly. Fruits and veggies, homemade meals, and I don’t crave carbs as much as I used to. I don’t eat many sweets, and I drink water more than anything else… well, besides coffee.

I think I just need a vacation. But there’s no free time in sight.

Anyway, before I let this post spiral out into some depressing lament of my current state of mind, let’s talk about Morning Star.morning-star

I loved this book. Seriously. Every single page upped the ante in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Brown does a wonderful job of tying up all the pieces, leaving no story arc unfinished.

Roque? Dealt with. Cassius? Dealt with. Aja? Dealt with. The Sovereign and the Jackal? Oh, fucking dealt with. And every single one was unique and powerful. They all fit their characters. Darrow’s interactions and decisions were believable, and often poignant. Darrow, and in turn the reader, held so much love for these Golds, despite their betrayals. And in Aja, the Sovereign, and Jackal’s cases, so much hate. Brown did a really wonderful job of treating them all.break-the-chains

I will say that the ending was a little conflicting for me. On one hand, my critical reading/writing mind thought the ending was too tidy. Everything wraps up in this tidy, damn-near pleasant bow. But as a fan, and someone completely obsessed and madly in love with the world and the characters, it was perfect. I cried and cried afterward, because I was sad and happy all at once.

This book, this whole series has everything you could ever want. Intense one on one combat. Seiges, large scale battles, and space battles galore. There’s awesome technology that is at once fantastic and yet understandable and believable. It’s fast-paced, intricately plotted, and character driven. It’s brutal, gritty, and yet sometimes damn poetic.

I would call Morning Star a triumph. I consider it the best of the three, but each book really stood out and earned a place in my heart separately.

I still find myself in a bit of a Red Rising hangover. I’m listening to playlists constantly. Thinking about Sevro and Darrow and Mustang still. I was so immersed. So enraptured in the world and the relationships. It’s proving to be difficult to move on, which is making the next book on my list so much more difficult to get through.

Poor thing never stood a chance.

Anyway, I recommend the series to anyone with an interest in Science Fiction. It’s a fantastic series that never quite twists in the ways you’d expect, and hits hard in all the feels, all the time. A great series.red-rising-trilogy-by-pierce-brown.jpg

Until next time Blogland,

 

BZ