Reading Round Up – February 2019

Blogland,

I really liked last month’s Round Up. It was  nice to write up smaller thoughts and impressions of books I’d read, and it really streamlines my search for “what the heck I read last month” when I’m writing other posts or want to look at my reading to look for book recommendations at the library. Useful and convenient? Yes, please!

Title: Rivers of London vol. 4: Black Mould
black mould.jpgAuthor: Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, and Lee Sullivan
Format: Graphic Novel
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This is a fun side story in the Rivers of London universe, following Peter and Guleed as they chase down a sentient, malicious, magical mold (mould if you’re British). What I really like about all of the graphic novels is that they give side characters a chance to shine. Guleed, Molly, and even Toby the Terrier get their time in the spotlight. The only reason I didn’t give this a 5 star rating is because they tend to be so fluffy. This are fun spin-offs and nothing more. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Recommend: Absolutely, for fans of the novels.

Title: Rivers of London vol. 5: Cry Foxcry fox.jpg
Author: Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, and Lee Sullivan
Format: Graphic Novel
My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: Another good installment, although this one bummed me out a little. The character Renard was introduced in one of the later novels of the series, and I found his true neutral personality to be very intriguing. but in this story, Renard firmly plants himself in the realm of the baddies. *sigh* But, this was another example of side characters getting their time to shine. This issue featured Abigail and Guleed as unwilling players in a modern-day version of The Most Dangerous Game.
Recommend: Absolutely, if you liked the novels.

Title: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killeri'll be gone in the dark
Author: Michelle McNamara
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator(s): Gabra Zackman, Gillian Flynn – Introduction, Patton Oswalt – Afterword
My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Oh my god, where do I even start with this book? I loved everything about it. The prose, the narration, the details. McNamara did an amazing job of not shying away from the horror the Golden State Killer wrought across California, but painting it in an incredibly human light. She focused on the victims and how it felt to be one, or to know one, or to fear you might become one. She also did an incredible job of humanizing herself without making the book about her. She acknowledged the insanity of her obsession and the toll it had on her life and her relationships, without coming across as whiny or unaware of her own privilege. She was thoughtful and that showed in her narrative. The narrator did a fantastic job of bringing this book to life for me, and her voice could be so soft and quiet, and then so gravelly and terrifying. Her range astounded me. I even liked the introduction, afterword, and extras included at the end. A really wonderful book if you have even the slightest interest in true crime or serial killers.
Recommend: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Title: Firefly: Big Damn Herobig damn hero
Author: James Lovegrove (original idea by Nancy Holder)
Format: Hardback
My Goodreads Rating: 2/5 Stars
Thoughts:
 You know I hate giving low reviews, but this was an underwhelming and trope-filled adventure through the ‘Verse. There’s better fanfic available for free on the internet. See my full review for more details.
Recommend: Nah. There are better media tie-ins out there. Or better yet, just go back and watch the show. If you really have a hankering, you could always find some high quality fanfic to scratch that itch.

Title: Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London #7) 
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Format: Hardbacklies sleeping
My Goodreads Rating:
5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Aaronovitch is a really consistent author. I have a great time reading the Rivers of London series no matter which installment is currently in my hands. This latest novel is no exception. It was a little slow to start, but that is likely more my fault than the book’s. This book really picked up in the second half and even brought me to tears once. It’s at once fun, harrowing, and emotional. I really enjoyed my time with it. See my full review for more details.
Recommend:
Yep! But you’ll need to read all the others first. Oh no… more books to read!

Not too shabby for the shortest month of the year, and one with a major video game release. I’ll count this as a win, for sure. In March I’m reading a short story a day on top of my normal reading, so keep an eye on the What I’m Reading page for updates!

Talk soon, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #1

Bloggos,

I hope you all had an awesome first week of the year! I know it felt incredibly long to me and especially exhausting. I spent yesterday doing some shopping and meeting friends at the local board game cafe to play some really interesting new table top games. I wanted my weekend to be focused on turning my brain off and recharging for the week ahead.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Although that’s easy to do during the first week of the year. There’s a lot to talk about.
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whales
    • Yes!
  • Write 1k on Tavi
    • Yes! I wasn’t sure this would happen, but I ended up writing about 1300 words and finishing chapter 8!
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita
    • Yes… and no. So, it turns out, I had already done some brainstorming and outlining back in October. I have no memory of this, but that’s cool since I no longer agree with the route I had planned. I’ve made some new plans, but nothing concrete. But, I did do a tiny bit of writing on this so I’m counting it a win!

Weekly Word Count: 1,477

The first week of the year is always a busy one on the blog. Goals Summaries, Monthly Recaps, and the blog overhaul and Yearly Review. Lots of writing about writing, collating the stats and accomplishments of the year and analyzing my failures and successes so I can make the most of the year to come. Honestly? It’s one of my favorite times of year, when I can really dig deep into my process and figure out how to tweak for even more efficiency and output. It’s like giving my mind a tune-up!

When it came to listening to Spying on Whales, I didn’t know if I’d really be able to finish it. The book is great, and Pyenson’s passion really shines through the narrative and his narration, but I am not great at reading/listening to nonfiction. Even something as interesting to me as the past, present, and future of whales (I freaking LOVE whales) still had me zoning out for large chunks of text. I frequently had to rewind a segment and figure out where my brain had turned to white noise.

But, I still finished it last night, and really enjoyed it. I don’t think the problem was the book, but more my short attention span. If you like nonfiction, or want a broad overview of the history and lives of whales, I highly recommend it!

I jumped back into writing my urban fantasy novel this week after ignoring its existence during the whole month of December. As expected it, it was sort of slow going. It’d been long enough away from the text that I didn’t really remember where I’d left and felt pretty distant from my narrator’s voice. So, I spent a lot of my “writing” time reading the manuscript over from the beginning. writing gif

Now, that’s always dangerous with a rough draft because it makes me want to edit. I see the repetitious sentences and the clunky passages and I cringe. But, that’s not the point of this readthrough. I needed to get back in Tavi’s head, so I could tag along with her on the crazy journey of this utterly pantster novel. And it worked! In fact, it not only worked, but got me excited about this project again. With rough drafts I’m always terrified that I’m going to hate them when I read them again for the first time. I fear that I’ll read the first few pages and wonder what the hell I was thinking, writing this garbage? But Tavi really surprised me! I think it’s really good. In a few places I even managed to forget I wrote it, I was so enthralled with the dialogue and the narrator’s voice.

So, that’s good.

Santa Sarita is percolating. The characters are taking up space in brain again and I’m almost ready to sit down and really hash out some words on this fic. I think it’s going to be much different than I originally planned, and that’s probably for the best. There’s a reason my first attempt at this story flopped, after all. In the meantime I’m going to write some small tumblr prompts and get used to writing these two once again.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related

This looks really thin to me, but jumping up from 1,000 words to 3,000 is going to take some serious effort. And even then, I’ll still be about four thousand words behind my monthly writing goal. Which is okay. The point is just to write consistently again after so much time off. The words will come.

knight's shadowI have a backlog of tumblr prompts to work on, the majority of them for Santa Sarita, so that should be an easy one to knock out this week. I also have a nebulous idea for a blog post, but we’ll see if I go with that or something else I’ve been sitting on for a while. Don’t expect a book review this week. Sadly I have zero interest in writing reviews for nonfiction, and my time with Knight’s Shadow has been really limited lately. Honestly, all of my time is limited lately, so if I’m going to make my writing goals expect my reading to slow down.

Thank goodness for audiobooks! I just downloaded Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and though it’s pretty far over my head, I figure I’ll still know more about astrophysics by the end than I do now.

In other news, I received my rejection letter from Oregon Literary Arts. I was not a recipient of a fellowship this year, but better luck next time! I also received a rejection on my horror short story Lifelike last night, and it’s already off and onto the next magazine. Getting two rejections in one week feels bad and it feels kinda good. It means I’m working hard and eventually one of these emails will be an acceptance!

Talk to you soon, Blogland!

 

BZ

The Recap – December 2018

Hey Blogland!

So, I’ve done things a bit backward this week, but I really wanted to get the blog updated and share my successes and challenges of 2018. With that done, I can finally share how my December went, and what I want to do in the first month of 2019!

December Goals

  • Write 10k
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read three more titles!

How’d I do?

  • Write 10k
    • Nope. I did write some though, mostly fanfic oneshots that intrigued me and actually spurred my writing muscle into limited action.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes… technically. The holidays are a rough time to have submissions pending. Everything slows down and I’m still waiting to hear back on each of my stories.
  • Read three more titles!
    • Yes! I finished four titles in December, sending me just past my reading goal for the year!

Total Monthly Word Count: 3,902

This month was really a month of rest. I underestimated just how much juice Nanowrimo took. My brain felt wrung out. Numb. Capable of nothing more than the autopilot routines that ensured I navigated my day-to-day with moderate success. I didn’t pressure myself into anything. I read when I felt like it and wrote when inspiration struck. It was slow and meandering, until it wasn’t.

A migraine, complete with nausea, gave me the opportunity to listen to a couple audiobooks I’d forgotten about on my Audible app, and Skyward was good enough that I had to buy it so I could finish it before the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 9.23.00 PM
I’m dying… 

All three stories are still out, waiting to hear back. It’s tough to be patient, but it IS the holidays, and I don’t want to be THAT guy. You know, the nagging harper that irritates an editor into a rejection. I am not that person.

Yet.

January Goals

  • Write 12k words on Tavi
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Okay… That’s a lot of writing. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know if I’ll be able to write that much on my Urban Fantasy novel. I want to. Very much so. But it’s going to take some serious discipline to carve out the time necessary to do so. And, really, I’ll be happy if I even get close.

I did the math on my goal of finishing Tavi by April and that means I have to write about 16k words a month on it. I don’t think that’s going to happen, so I shaved off a few thousand and told myself that would have to do.

Sanctuary will come along in its own time. I need to read through what I have so far and spend some time brainstorming and outlining, figuring out what I want and need this story to accomplish. Once I have a map, I’ll know what to do. I’m confident that 1k will be the minimum I write on this project this month.

The beatings will continue until morale improves. Wait… Submissions. I mean, submissions will continue until these stories find homes. Yeah. That’s it.

knight's shadowAnd I’m reading. I’ve got an audiobook about whales and the second Greatcoats book in my bag, following me along each day. Reading will probably slow down a little as I focus back on writing this month.

So, yeah. That’s January. I’m optimistic, but a little daunted by the high expectations I’ve set for the first month of 2019. We’ll see how it goes!

This should be the last post of the week, barring anything that demands sharing. I’m trying not to think too much about the fact that I will hear from Oregon Literary Arts sometime soon about whether or not I was selected to receive a grant. Because, as if waiting for short story responses wasn’t stressful enough, I’m also waiting for a letter to find out if I’m getting a check to write for 2019.

Yep. I’m going crazy over here. And it’s only the first week of January…

 

BZ

 

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 52

Can you believe it, Blogland? 2018 has come and gone, and that means there’s a lot to talk about. However, this post isn’t meant for that. I have to talk about the last week of 2018 before I can start making plans for 2019!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish any last minute reading
  • Write something

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Nothing too important or dense, but I made an effort to show up!
  • Finish any last minute reading
    • Yes! I finished reading Dragon Age: The World of Thedas vol. 1, just like I planned!
  • Write something
    • Yes! I wrote a little oneshot for a tumblr prompt! Hurray!

Weekly Word Count: 592

This week was really just a matter of tying up loose ends. I finished my lingering tumblr prompts, caught up on some reading, and made an effort to relax. I also picked up some stray hours between both jobs, so I worked a little more than I originally intended.

The really big question mark is, what the hell comes next?

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Spying on Whalesspying on whales
  • Write 1k on Tavi
  • Outline/Brainstorm for Santa Sarita

I’ll be honest, I haven’t really nailed down my yearly goals for 2019, which means I don’t have any idea of what my monthly goals should be, which in turn means… I have NO CLUE what I’m supposed to do this week. I’m gonna fake it ’til I make it!

I spent December decompressing my the marathon of November’s Nanowrimo. I won’t lie, I’d followed my story pretty much blindly until it took me to a scene I didn’t know how to get out of. I’d started to think I’d written myself into a corner, and then on my drive home last night my brain decided to notify me that we could proceed with the novel at my earliest convenience.

So, that’s nice.

For now I’m really marinating on what really worked in 2018. What were my successes? What were my obstacles? How can I learn from each of these in order to make the most out of 2019?

Tune in on Tuesday to find out, and for the traditional blog renovation!

 

BZ

Book Review – Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell

I didn’t plan on reading this book this year. I got it for free on Audible months ago, almost as an afterthought. It was a moment of, “I have an extra credit, what the hell do I get?” Browse, browse, browse… “Ooooooh! I keep meaning to read that!”

Well, courtesy of a powerfully nauseating migraine on Monday and Tuesday, I finally listened to it. Yep, all thirteen hours in two days. Mainly because I was confined to my bed thanks to unabating queasiness, but also because I enjoyed it that much.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

traitor

This story is strongly reminiscent of The Three Musketeers, but less the book and more the Disney adaptation. You know, the one with Oliver Platt as Porthos, but if it had an R rating. Actually, now that I think about it, can I get that remake? Please?Image result for porthos gif oliver platt

But, really, there are a lot of similarities here. Falcio val Mond, the disgraced First Cantor of the now disbanded Greatcoats, has seen worse days. Though, by any accounts, failing to prevent the murder of the man you’re supposed to be guarding is hardly a good day. Especially when he hasn’t paid you yet. That’s how the former Greatcoats, the dead King’s judiciary force, start this adventure: on the run from a murder they didn’t commit.

Kest and Brasti follow Falcio because, well, honestly, what else would they do? The whole country hates the Greatcoats, has branded them traitors, so they might as well stick with their best friend and eke out a living. But that all changes as they rush to escape the city and take a job guarding the first caravan that would take them. And like any good story, the Greatcoats flee one sort of trouble only to tumble into trouble of another kind. Namely, foiling the plot of the evil and greedy Duchies to unite the kingdom under a false monarch.

What really impressed me about this book was the relationship between Falcio, Kest, and Brasti. They are brothers, well and truly. They care for one another, they tease each other, and they fight with and for one another. Their dynamic was everything to me as I listened to this book.

It didn’t hurt that the plot and world-building were pretty great too.

So, why not five stars? Well, I figured out the big twist really quick. Like, before it was even actually hinted at. But, the narrator (Falcio) kept on not realizing it until the very last chapter of the book. He’s supposed to be smart y’all, and he couldn’t figure it out, while everyone else around him (myself included) did.

That loses a star at minimum. Thank goodness I liked the characters, setting, and the narrator so much! This is the part where I mention how wonderful Joe Jameson’s narration was and how sad I am to have to read physical copies of the rest of the series, since the library doesn’t own the audiobooks. He’s apparently quite the prolific narrator, so I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for other projects of his.

Image result for falcio val mond

I’m just now tucking into the next book, Knight’s Shadow, but hopefully I can make good progress on it. I’m sure it won’t take too long, but with the holidays expect an early 2019 review on this one.

I’ll be back on Christmas Eve with the usually Goals Summary!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 50

Hey, Blogland.

I’m battling a migraine right now, as well as… well, I’ll be honest: a powerful wave of depression. Don’t know why, but I have so little energy to do just about anything these days that getting off the couch has been a very real struggle. I showered yesterday, so there’s that.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Lies Sleeping
  • Write 2k words

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! Check out my review for Skyward now.
  • Read Lies Sleeping
    • Nope. But I did listen to the Peter Grant novella A Rare Book of Cunning Device.a rare book of cunning device
  • Write 2k words
    • Haha. Nope. Not even a little bit.

Weekly Word Count: 0

It’s been a pretty dull week here. I accomplished almost nothing, had the will to accomplish almost nothing, and worked 45 hours between each job. I’ll be doing the same this week.

The one good thing about this week was that I met my Goodreads reading challenge! The Peter Grant novella just tipped me over the edge, and anything else completed from here is just gravy on the mashed potatoes. I also, thanks to this migraine, started listening to Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. It’s been on my TBR list for an age it seems, and I’m happy to report that, so far, it’s fantastic.

Unfortunately I’ll have to return Lies Sleeping tomorrow, unfinished since I left it at Starbucks on Saturday. I meant to retrieve it today and read it during the day, but, you know, migraine and all of that.

traitor

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish listening to Traitor’s Blade
  • Write something

Just gotta get through these next two weeks. Get through this year, take stock, and start over. I can do that. Totally. Just reading, and writing, and trying to muster up some damn energy.

Eventually.

Until then,

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 30

Blogland,

This week absolutely flew by, and with a heatwave in Salem I had a good excuse to stay indoors and get some work done.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish The Steel Armada
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Finish reading Whispers Under Ground
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish The Steel Armada
    • YES! The story is done! The ending needs tweaking, but more on that in a bit.
  • Finish an audiobook
    • Yep. Bloodlist is done, thanks to yet another migraine.vampire files #1
  • Finish reading Whispers Under Ground
    • Nope. Sadly, I just didn’t manage to make time for this.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Duh-doy. I always do.

Weekly Word Count: 3,729

I may not have done the reading I really wanted to this week, but gosh darn it, I finished my novella and that’s way more important! The ending isn’t quite right, but I don’t really know why. I’m stewing on it for now, and hope that, as I edit this week, it’ll sort itself out.

This is really all I did this week. I wrote a tumblr prompt once The Steel Armada was done, and have since started working on a new original project, thanks to a poll from my friends in my writer’s discord.

So, What’s next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit The Steel Armada
  • Write 1k words for The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Read Whispers Under GroundWhispers_Under_Ground
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I could probably add “record an episode of Santa Sarita“, but I think I’ll do that as a bonus if everything else pans out. This week is all about reading, editing, and a little bit of writing. I’m gonna try and make a tumblr prompt happen tomorrow night, that way I can cross that off my July Goals list, but we’ll see. I’ve already got 600ish words of Ezra done thanks to a good sprint session on the writer’s discord this afternoon, so that’s awesome. And of course, if I’m writing a new story, that means I’ve made a new playlist.

And I absolutely love it!

So yeah, that’s it. Gonna keep things simple for the first week of August. I’ve got at least one book review for this week, Bloodlist, and hopefully another if I can really buckle down and get this Peter Grant book done. And let’s not forget the Monthly Recap, due out on Wednesday!

Lifelike got a rejection, which I think I mentioned recently. It’s already back out, and The Cost of Rain is still being held. I’ll probably hear back about it in the next week or so, so cross those fingers and toes y’all.

I’ll be back soon with a book review. Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 28

Bloggos!

Summer is finally here, at least according to the thermometers. Salem’s been enjoying a range of 90 degree weather, reminding me of home and filling me with a desperate need to find a swimming pool.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Finish tumblr prompt
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
  • Submit Lifelike
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
    • *drum roll* YES!!!! I wrote over 2,700 words on the book last week and it feels so. damn. good.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Yes! I managed to squeeze in another 700ish words last night after our Gloomhaven session.
  • Finish tumblr prompt
    • Nope. Though, I did look at it, so better than last week, haha.
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
    • Yep! Brief Cases is done and off to the next person.
  • Submit Lifelike
    • Yep! It’s been out for a few days and haven’t heard anything yet. I probably won’t hear more about it until next week.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course.

Weekly Word Count: 3,464

When I wrote this list down last week, I felt daunted. That was a lot of bullet points, a lot of hope on a whiteboard. But, looking at it now, I feel really good seeing so much of it in black. Six out of seven ain’t bad, in fact, I’d say that’s a win.

I didn’t get the book review up like I wanted to, but this is a new week, with plenty of time to talk about all the reading I’ve been doing! I finally sat down and really hashed out what the hell needed to come next for Val. The chapter went mostly where I expected, although the stakes did get a bit more dire for her, which is always a good thing in your writing. The stakes are high in Sanctuary as well, as my couple finally has a major discussion about their actions and what’s to come.

My shipwreck tumblr prompt is languishing in my google drive. I might bounce over to a different prompt, simple because this one isn’t shaping up the way I want it to. It’s supposed to be funny, and so far it definitely is not.

I’ve got two audiobooks on deck right now, Side Jobs on disc for car listening and Bloodlist on my phone for any other chances I get to listen to a book. I’m also almost done with Moon Over Soho, the second Peter Grant book, with the third one patiently waiting on my library book shelf.

Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are both out. I received word that the latter is being held for further consideration, so my fingers are crossed that the editor likes it enough to take it. Wish me luck!

Madhu’s pages continue to show great improvement and are a testament to all her hard work. We’re almost done with this read through, and then it’s just editing and then sharing the full manuscripts for a finally proofread before we ship them off to Tim the Agent™.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 8 of The Steel Armada
  • Finish chapter 6 of Sanctuary
  • Post a tumblr prompt
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Review Madhu’s pages

This week I have two book reviews to share. First, the review for Midnight Riot, and then the review for Brief Cases. If my reading keeps on at this pace July will have a lot of reviews posted on the blog.

The next chapter in The Steel Armada is a bit of a blank spot in my mind. I know it needs to slow down for a minute and then things are gonna go crazy again, because we’re pretty much at the end. I expect the bulk of my week to be spent working this out. But, I’m about halfway through this chapter of Sanctuary and I’d really love to finish it. The same goes for recording the next episode of Santa Sarita.

I have ever confidence that I’ll finish listening to an audiobook this week, probably Bloodlist, simply because it’s portable so I have more opportunities to listen to it. And of course, there’s Madhu’s pages, which I always complete. But, I actually have pages to share with her this week! Whaaaaaaattttttt??????

So, yeah. That’s my week. Just trucking on, basking in last week’s successes and trying to keep the momentum going.

Wish me luck!

 

BZ

The Recap – June 2018

Hey Bloggos,

It’s a little late in the evening for this, but I reckon late is better than missing the day entirely, right? So, let’s get to it. What the hell happened to June?

June Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Write chapters 4 and 5 of Sanctuary
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I Do?

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Not even close. I wrote a total of 2,247 words on this project this month.
  • Write chapters 4 and 5 of Sanctuary
    • Unexpectedly, yes! I wrote a total of 6,057 words on Sanctuary this month! I’m a little worried about where the story is going, and I think that’s why it was so hard to work on there for a while. But, I think I can write it through and see what happens.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep! Both Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are out now. I’ve received some personal rejections and feedback on each of them, made the changes I thought they needed, and now it’s out of my hands. Again.
  • Keep reading!
    • … Yes? I read a lot of fanfic this month, which you’ll see added on my “What I’m Reading” page. But, I did not make much progress on Kill the Farm Boy or Side Jobs this month.

Total June Word Count: 16,938

This was a really hard month for me, which you probably recognized from the tone of the few posts I made. I’m actually proud of myself for checking in each week despite the lack of productivity.

All right, that’s not the right word. I was productive, just not on the project I should have been. I mean, this was my second best word count month of the year so far. The output was there, just on fanfic and tumblr prompts. And honestly, I don’t feel as guilty about that as I thought I would.

What I do feel guilty about was the obsessive video game playing that happened this month. I finished playing Horizon Zero Dawn and am almost done with a new playthrough of the original Kingdom Hearts. I’m going to work harder to balance my gaming and writing time this month. I really want to play through all of the Kingdom Hearts games in time for the launch of Kingdom Hearts 3 in January, but I also really want to get this novel done, no matter what my June activities might suggest.

Short stories are submitted, just riding these waves of rising and dashed hopes. Eventually I’ll find the shore and get paid. Just keep swimming and all that.

My reading this month was appalling. Let’s be honest. I read 200k+ words of fanfic in days, but an actual paper book? That ARC I am so excited about? HA! I read about 50 pages of it this month. But, luckily Kill the Farm Boy doesn’t release until the 17th, so I have time to get it done and post the review. As for the Dresden audiobook… it’s still in my CD player, but the new Mike Shinoda album is out and it has consumed all my listening time.

Post Traumatic cover

I’m not even sorry about it, the album is that good.

I did score some bonus points for this month! I recorded the first “episode” of my fanfic series! I’ve never used GarageBand before, and let me tell you, that was a trip. But, I’ve got Chapter 1 of The Fall of Santa Sarita recorded and posted. See my tumblr for more details on that project for the time being.

So, what about July?

  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Write chapters 6 and 7 of Sanctuary
  • Complete tumblr prompts
  • Santa Sarita recordings
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

So, you’re probably thinking, “dang, B., that’s a lot!” Trust me, I know. This is me trying to kick my ass into gear and get back to work. I’ll confess, I don’t actually think I’ll get all this writing done, but I also know that I perform best when the odds are stacked against me. I’m competitive, especially against myself. So, this is me taunting myself. We’ll see how it pans out.

I’ve got three tumblr prompts chilling in my inbox right now, and I’m pretty excited about all of them. Hopefully I can knock those out quickly and get down the the gritty work of rewriting this novel. I’m feeling good about Sanctuary right now, mainly because I’ve finally got the two main characters back in scene together. The writing is always better when they’re together. I don’t know how long they’ll stay that way, but I’ll take what I can get.

My plan for the audiobook narrations of my monstrous fanfic series (seriously, monstrous. Over 200k words!) is to post a chapter each week. It took about an hour to record the very first chapter, and that went slow since I was learning how to use the recording software as I went. I figure it’ll go faster as I get used to the process.

Short stories are out and I’m twiddling my thumbs over here, trying not to get swept up in writing something new. I’ve got ideas swirling. I always have ideas swirling, but these ones are persistent. But, for now, The Steel Armada is my priority project. No new original content until it’s done.

As for reading, I have so many titles queued up in my mind! I want to finish Kill the Farm Boy this week (about 100 pages to go), wrap up Side Jobs sometime next week, and then dive into something new! Midnight Riot and Death Comes to Pemberley are my top contenders, since they’re sitting on my entry table right now. But I’ve also got the Brief Cases audiobook on hold as well as the audiobook of the first Walt Longmire book, The Cold Dish.

So you see, lots of things just waiting for me to give them my attention. Now we’ll see just how much I can juggle.

Not literally. I can’t juggle for shit. My hand-eye coordination is atrocious.

I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the week in detail and lay out the plans for the new one.

Until then Blogland,

 

BZ

Book Review – Cold Days (Dresden Files #14) by Jim Butcher

Blogland,

Sorry this book review is so late. It’s been a while since I finished the audiobook, so there are only minor spoilers below. Beware that I am a bit Dresden critical in this review

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

cold days cover

Harry’s back in Chicago for less than six hours and he almost dies at least twice. The stakes are high in this book, as they always are whenever Mab is involved. There’s a lot of tension and fallout between Harry and his friends/family over what he did in the last couple books. It’s been a long year, and everyone in Chicago has felt Dresden’s absence.

So what’s he up to? Oh, you know, the usual stuff. Preventing a horde of spiritual inmates from escaping into the world and rending it asunder. All while coping with a power grab from Maeve and dodging the Summer Lady and her Knight. Oh, and it’s Halloween, so all kinds of weirdness is afoot.

Blessedly, this book is full of characters I want to spend time with. Thomas, Murphy, Butters, Molly, Mouse, and Bob all play major roles. Which is for the best, because Harry is on a slippery slope and it won’t take much for him to be on the fast track to unlikable.

I think that’s good tension, story-wise, but as a reader it is exhausting to read book after book of Harry internalizing all this supposed temptation. Dude. Molly has been your apprentice for years. You’ve known her for more than a decade. We get it, she’s hot. But you shouldn’t still be distracted by the fact. Move on.

The sexualization of every single female character is a big part of why I’ve stepped away from this series for a moment. I get that the White Court Vampires are inhumanly gorgeous. They are succubi, they are literally supposed to preternaturally sexy and tempting. And I have zero beef with Dresden spending a paragraph or two describing and coping with the Raith sisters’ insane sex appeal.

molly stupid stance
She’s looking at something slightly to her left. So of course she angles her body toward the right…

But Molly? Dresden has known her since she “was in a training bra” (which is his super cringe-y way to say he’s known her since she was a kid, btw), she’s the daughter of his BEST FRIEND, and yet every single book we get a paragraph or more to see just how incredibly hot she is and how Harry constantly has impure thoughts about her that he has to beat back with a mental baseball bat.

There’s a word for that…. Oh. Right. Gross.

And it’s not just Molly. Murphy is starting to get this treatment too. Now, she gets a lot more respect from Dresden’s narration, mainly because Karrin would kick his ass if it was ever otherwise, but now that they’re addressing the sexual tension between them and talking through the idea of the two of them dating, suddenly Murph is reduced to physical descriptions and lips that “taste like strawberries”.

Yep. Strawberries. After a crazy midnight ride through Chicago with the Wild Hunt and an even longer day coordinating movement against bad guys and helping Dresden, Murphy’s mouth tasted like strawberries.

I call bullshit. What did she do, pop an altoid right beforehand? Does she have a secret strawberry stash in her Harley’s saddlebags for just this exact reason? Please.

molly_wildcard
The most modestly dressed Molly is ever portrayed, but it’s all skintight. Because sitting criss-cross applesauce in jeans that tight is even possible.

This is a little bit of a tirade on my part, and I apologize, but this really took me out of the story. I was walking through a parking lot, listening to the audiobook in my headphones, and I went from cheering that they kissed to screeching at how preposterous that was. It made me so mad. It was a stupid little superfluous line and it ripped me from the book completely.

But, there are some really good elements in this book. Thomas is in peak form, giving Harry the patience, care, and good sense of humor he probably doesn’t fully deserve. Murphy is realistic and a total badass when it comes to standing up to Harry when he’s wrong and holding her own once she’s made a decision.  Molly has truly come into her own, and seems to have coped well from her time as the Rag Lady. And even Butters has grown into a character with some semblance of spine.

Queen Mab
She changes her appearance at will, but pale and icy blonde tend to be the favorite interpretations.

And, surprisingly, Mab was fantastic. I have never once liked Mab, in all fourteen books. I still can’t really say that I like her, even now. But by the end of this book I saw Mab as more than a force of cold devastating power, as more than just a mad, tyrannical queen. For the very first time, I saw Mab for what else she is; a mother, a woman, a person.

And man, that was a powerful moment.

Mab
Mab concept

I’ll be frank, this was my least favorite Dresden book. It dragged. It was fifteen discs, and only the last six were actually fun or enjoyable. Everything before that felt like needless preamble. Another big problem is that Harry isn’t as likable to me as he used to be. I struggle with him. He says, thinks, and does things that make me sigh and roll my eyes.

Increasingly, my enjoyment of this series is reliant on the side characters. And that is a dangerous thing for a series. I shouldn’t like the secondary characters more than I like the main character, especially in a first person narrative. I guess I just have very little patience for Harry right now.

Which is why I’ve taken a bit of a break from the series. I keep meaning to start Side Jobs, but I can’t seem to muster the will to do so. With Brief Cases coming out in less than a month, I really need to finish Skin Game so I can read the book when it comes in at the library. So, I’ll be changing my reading page once more to reflect my decision to listen to the fifteenth book in the series, and then the first short story collection.

I’ll be back this weekend with the review for Blackfish City. I’m excited to talk about it with you all!

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

 

P.S. It should be noted that, once again, James Marsters narration was fantastic! I absolutely love his voice and his efforts to give each character something unique in their tone or cadence. I always know who’s speaking, even before the narration explains it to me. It’s the main reason I keep coming back to this books. So thanks for that, James.