Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #14

Oh, Blogland, what a week it was. Busy, quick and seemingly never-ending all at once.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish The City in the Middle of the Night

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Between the weekly post, the Monthly Recap, and the Reading Round Up, there was no shortage of blog activity last week.
  • city in the middle of the nightWrite 500 words/day on Tavi
    • *grumble, grumble*… no…
  • Finish The City in the Middle of the Night
    • … No… But I did finish an audiobook over the weekend!

Weekly Word Count: 3,410

So, I was all on track to have this amazing, productive week, only 90 words shy of my goal, when, BOOM! Migraine. I cannot tell you how much that pissed me off. That something as arbitrary and absolutely uncontrollable as a migraine ground my work to a halt. I’m real salty about it.

It’s also the reason why, instead of finishing The City in the Middle of the Night, I listened to all fourteen hours of A Darker Shade of Magic instead. The good news is, I am obsessed with this series now and am gobbling up the second one. I wish I’d read them sooner! The bad news is, I’m still struggling with the Anders book. But, I’m almost there. Just another 60 pages or so.

The only other good thing about migraines is that I completely forget about tracking my submissions. It’s been three days since I’ve obsessively checked The Submission Grinder to see that beautiful, terrifying graph that holds all my publishing dreams in its grip.

While I wasn’t assuming the fetal position and trying not to puke, I was hiking! Blogland, it was an absolute perfect trip out to the Oregon Coast. It poured down monsoon quality rain the whole drive out there, Laurel and I talked about all kinds of things (including some story fodder), and then, right as we arrived, the rain stopped. The clouds moved inland and we have clear skies and the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen. By the time we reached the Cape, there were no clouds.

No whales, either. But, there were plenty of birds and plenty of mud. It was a perfect first hike of the season.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night

Another straightforward week, with the same straightforward goals. The good news is I ought to be able to meet them all this time! Heck, you might even get two book reviews this week if I keep to my reading goals.

I’ll need to make up for Monday’s word count, and the 90 words I missed on Sunday if I want to stay on track for the month. Luckily, the book hit a bit of a stride last time I was in front of it, so hopefully that momentum will continue into tonight’s session.

It’s a busy week, work-wise, and there’s a Walk ‘n’ Talk on Thursday. I’d like to have something substantive to talk about while we walk so I’ll need to get some quality work in before then. Thanks to the migraine, I already feel behind.

No time like the present to catch up!

See you all real soon with the review for A Darker Shade of Magic, and then again later in the week to review The City in the Middle of the Night.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

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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