Remote

I’m feeling it today.

So far, my isolation hasn’t been so bad. I’m an introvert, a much bigger one than many people realize. I’ve worked 10+ years in Customer Service, I can be bubbly and outgoing, upbeat and go-getting. But that’s Work Brittany. When I’m just me, things are much quieter and calmer. And I like it that way.

I’ve left the house maybe four times in almost three weeks. I’m reading more than ever, playing piano again, focusing on improving my writing craft, working out, and trying new things with these book review videos. I’ve focused on using this time to relax and engage myself in a lot of different ways. Gotta follow that intention: REPLENISH.

But, today is the first day back at work. And being at home, glued to my laptop, waiting for a notification that I’m required for SOMETHING has me suddenly melancholy. I miss my library. I miss the kids who can hardly wait for me to turn on the lights and boot up my computer before they come in to talk to me. I wonder how they’re doing and hope they’re okay and not too scared.

And I’m sorry I can’t be there for them.

I woke this morning and, for the first time in two weeks, followed my usual routine: Alarm scares the shit out of me, I grumble and get dressed. Brush hair and teeth, necklace, four rings, bracelet, two pairs of earrings. Quick check: is yesterday’s makeup presentable? Yes? Gucci. Then I shuffle my way out to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee.

It’s supposed to give me a sense of normalcy, but the little differences are more than enough to remind me that there is no normal right now.

Instead of my black tumbler with the district logo, I’m drinking my coffee out of a small Eeyore mug that I got at an outlet mall for two dollars. It’s my favorite mug, but I’ve only ever used it at home.

I’m not wearing shoes. I know that’s easily remedied — just go put some shoes on, dork! — But it also seems weird to wear shoes when I’m just going to sit at my desk.

Outside, the sun decided to make an appearance, but it’s still so cold out that opening a window isn’t really an option. I’m feeling cooped up, as I’m sure we all are. Hubs goes to work each day (turns out, banks are essential) and I stay behind. This last week was all rain, all the time (“it can’t rain all the time”) and I haven’t been outdoors other than a trip across the cul-de-sac to check the mail. State and National Parks are closed in Oregon, so I can’t go hiking. And I’m just sitting here trying not to spiral out into thoughts of being trapped.

Because, when I don’t let myself get too philosophical, I’m actually doing all right. Reading, writing, editing, making videos. I’m keeping busy, but all of that has felt like an interim, the stuff I do while I wait to see what I’ll actually be doing when I get back to work.

I guess what I’m saying is, although I feel more connected to myself and my creativity than I have in a long time, I’m feeling cutoff from everything else. I feel like the world outside my house is unreachable, a pretty panorama to look at through the windowpanes. And no amount of FaceTime and phone calls seem to help.

I am remote.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2020 – Wk #13

Hey Blogland,

It was a busy week of Staying Home, and Staying Safe. I’m starting to get restless, and really want the sun to come out so I can at least take the dog for a walk. But, there’s a lot of writerly things happening, so let’s get to it!

Last Week

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Finish listening to Tunnel of Bones
  • Write 800+ words

How’d I do?

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
    • Yep. This round was a bit more productive as I recognized some superfluous lines and tightened things up a bit.
  • Finish listening to Tunnel of BonesTunnel of bones
    • Yep! I didn’t expect to have so many feelings about a poltergeist, but I sure did.
  • Write 800+ words
    • Oh, yes. Without even really meaning to.

Weekly Word Count: 2,314 

This was a very bookish, writerly week. I worked on some fanfic, edited my short story, read a bunch of Ashlords and finished listening to Tunnel of Bones. I released two episodes of Mrs. Harlow’s Quarantine Reads! I discovered and listened to all of the Ask the Bards podcast. It’s Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne talking all things writing and publishing, which is rad. I started Wonderbook, which I’m treating as a sort of class. I’m reading a chapter or two each week and doing the associated Writing Challenges. It’s fun, challenging, and is really kicking my brain into “Craft” gear. Which is good because, well, I did a thing.

I finally read the Tavi rough draft. You know, that Urban Fantasy novel I finished last spring? I’ve been avoiding it because revising novels has been a highly unpleasant experience so far. I was terrified that it would be even worse than I imagined and so just kept glancing at the printed manuscript on my desk like it might reach out and bite me.

But, on Friday, I decided to dive in. And, you know what? I loved it! It’s fun, and there are a lot of elements that I’m incredibly proud of. The pacing is generally good, I kept reading, not out of a sense of duty, but because I was genuinely enjoying my story. In fact, I couldn’t put it down. I read the entire thing in basically one sitting. From about 9am to 7pm, and was absolutely thrilled with it.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. There is definitely work to be done, but nothing so daunting that I’m hesitant to get started. I’m actually looking forward to spending time in this world and with these characters again. Crazy, right?

What’s Next?

  • Edit The Lament of Kivu Lacus
  • Finish reading Ashlordsashlords
  • Write 800+ words

This looks familiar on purpose. It’s worked for the last two weeks, so why mess with it? Especially when polishing and submitting Lament is my top priority right now. Finishing the rough draft of The Shadowboxer is priority number two. Once both of those are done I’ll start revising Tavi. I’m hoping to have it “done” before July. We’ll see how that goes.

And then I have a new novel idea. Which is a dangerous thing, but also a very motivating one. I can’t work on the new idea until all of the above is complete. And I really want to write the new thing, so I’d best get to work.

Speaking of work, I start working remotely this week. I still have no idea what that’s going to look like, so who knows if I’ll be able to keep this routine I’ve just established. I’m trying not to think about that too much just yet.

Be on the lookout for a couple more Quarantine Reads this week. I’ll have Ep. 5 up either this evening or tomorrow and then Ep. 6 later this week.

Until later, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #46

Ah geez, here we are again, late on a Tuesday. But, we’re here and we’re ready to talk about the week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Circecirce book cover
  • Write 5000 words

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Reading Round Up is out now!
  • Finish reading Circe
    • Not technically. But I did just finish it before writing this so… hurray?
  • Write 5000 words
    • Hahaha no. Writing ground to a halt over the long weekend. Whoops.

Weekly Word Count: 3,414

That’s not a bad word count. At least if it wasn’t non-Nano season.  But it is Nano season so, uh, that’s not so great. I needed at least 5k to stay on track, but I’m feeling really unmotivated with this story. I don’t know if it’s all the distracting video games right now (Uncharted 4, Beyond Two Souls, Jedi: Fallen Order) or if I’m really just not ready to tell this story.

There’s also the fact that my weekends are pretty full this month. November is always a struggle for me, creatively, because it’s the holiday season and there are birthdays to boot. My social life doesn’t mellow out until the late winter and that’s when I can really start pumping out words. Which means I really have to hunker down and focus if I want to hit 25k this month.

In personal news, I’ve started a new medication to potentially help prevent my migraines. I’m skeptical, mainly because I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’ll know in the next couple of weeks if it helps or not. Fingers crossed.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Gideon the Ninth
  • Write 5000 words

Well, here we are. Reading. Writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. The two blog posts will be a cinch this week because I’ll have the book review for Circe. If Gideon the Ninth is as gripping as it sounds, I might even have that review to write too. And I’ve only got two hours left in the City of Ghosts audiobook. Reviews could abound.

I’m not too optimistic about the writing, but I won’t give up. I can come back to it and keep going out of sheer force of will. That’s my usual m.o. anyways.

I don’t have much by way of plans this weekend, other than cleaning and prepping for holiday visitors. Writing and reading should definitely happen.

I’ll be back soon Bloggarts with the Circe book review!

‘Til then,

 

BZ

 

2019 Status Update – Something, Something ABBA lyrics…

As ever, the year is flying by, slipping through our fingers all the time. There’s your dose of ABBA. Although that’s a damn sad song to be the anthem of the first six months. Moving on!

Yearly Goals Completed

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • I finished this back in May, which somehow feels like FOREVER ago, and I’m doing everything in my power to ignore it. I need that distance before I begin editing it in September.

2019 Word Count (so far): 80,744

That’s it so far. Granted, that’s a big one. I wrote a book y’all. That’s a task and a half. Blog-wise, here are some numbers:

  • This is the 64th post on the blog this year, making for an average of 2.2 posts per week. That’s on track for my goal of publishing two posts/week for the year. Hurray!
  • As of this writing, the blog has seen just over 45k words, which is in addition to the almost 81k of fiction I’ve written this year.
  • The blog currently has 562 followers, which continues to amaze me. Thanks for reading!

Speaking of reading, how’s that going this year? My goal is 70 titles, which is the highest goal I’ve ever had. I’ve read 36 titles this year, which Goodreads says is “On Track!”, so there’s that! I really don’t know if I’ll eke out this goal, and I’m not even sure I want to. My policy is, if I surpass my goal I have to up the next year’s goal. My dudes, I don’t think I can read more than 70 books in a year.

What about publishing? How’s that going in 2019? Well, I’ve submitted stories 19 times. I’ve had 4 personal rejections, the rest were form. That’s not as much as I’d hope, but the response times were VERY slow through the spring. This is a tough category to quantify because so much of it is out of my hands. The only true metric for my productivity is my own doggedness. The turnaround time between rejections and submitting again. Those are things I’m in control of. And in those areas, I’d say I’m doing well. The rejections hurt less, even the personal ones, and my turnaround times are almost immediate. Stories don’t languish in my files, waiting for me to feel up to submitting them again. They go out right away. So that’s good.

Unrelated to reading and writing, I have gone on eight hikes so far this year! I’ve really loved getting outdoors and being more active. It’s motivated me to walk more during the week and to even hit the gym on occasion when I’m feeling restless. So I’d call that a major benefit.

2019 – Remaining Priorities

  • Finish Santa Sarita
  • Revise Cards
  • Publish SOMETHING!
  • Publish two blog posts/week
  • Read 70 titles.

So… that’s a lot of stuff. The last two, as discussed, I’m on track for. Thank goodness. But the rest? Well, let’s break it down.

Santa Sarita is my giant Mass Effect Andromeda fanfic series, which I started back in April of 2017. It was supposed to be single oneshot, which then turned into several multi-chapter fics and a oneshot collection. Well over 250k words later, I’m working(?) on the last fic in the series. I wanted to finish it this year. Honestly? I have no idea if that will happen. I’ve barely looked at it and am currently utterly uninspired and lack motivation to work on it at all.

Cards is my second novel ever, inspired by the blend of a Wild West setting with magic that I’d read in Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. Still one of my favorite books, by the way. I finished it in the spring of 2014, right before I got married. I have never gone back to read it, and at this point I’m sort of afraid to do so. Because I know it will be a complete rewrite, just like The Steel Armada was. It deals with some really heavy themes of racism and oppression and while my intentions were good, I WAS NOT equipped to handle them back in 2014. I am afraid of what waits for me in those pages. And, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m really equipped to handle those themes today either. I don’t know. The story I set out to tell may not be mine to tell. There’s a lot of rethinking and attention required for this book and I’m not sure I’ll have the time or skills to devote to it in the last half of this year.

Publish something… I knew when I made this a goal that it was risky. It’s something I have absolutely no control over. All I can do is submit, submit, submit until something sticks. I’ve had some really close calls this year, but so far, nothing’s landed. I can’t really do anything about that, except carry on. Good thing I am one stubborn chick.

Other Things To Do

  • Revise Exodus: Descent
    • There aren’t a lot of paying markets for novellas, but a few of them are open this fall and I want Exodus ready to go when the time comes.
  • Decide on a NaNoWriMo project
    • I have no idea what the hell I’ll be working on come November. Maybe finishing Santa Sarita? It’s a possibility. I’ll have family in town from out of state for the holiday, so I need to take that into consideration as well.
  • Keep writing
    • I have plenty of short story ideas, and who knows when a novel idea will pop up? Or you know, I could finish my giant fantasy series. That’s always an option.
  • More hikes
    • I’ve loved my outdoor time this year and hope to continue as long as weather permits.

That’s the year so far and the months yet to come. I don’t have much of a vision for the last half of the year, mainly because I have no idea what my daily life will look like in the coming months. Being unemployed has really thrown a wrench in my routines and my goals. Who knew?

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #27

Week one of unemployment in the books. What did I do with all this free time? Let’s find out!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
  • Read a short story

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Actually three last week, including a book review!
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
    • Eh… Kinda? I started reading chapter one, and have it all printed out and ready to go. But, there’s no quantifiable progress yet.
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
    • Yes! It’s another risky story for me. I’m trying really hard to push my boundaries and see what I’m capable of. We’ll see how it goes.
  • Read a short story
    • No… I meant to, but I got a little carried away with my rewatch of Veronica Mars.

Weekly Word Count: 1,387

This week was… long? I’ll admit I spent the majority of my time doing housework and bingeing Veronica Mars. I’ve been a huge fan of the show since I was about 16, so the revival coming later this month has me pretty hyped. I didn’t do much reading because I was either watching the show or reading fanfic. So, yeah, I’m back on my old shit. Like, my really old shit.

But, when I wasn’t taking a trip down nostalgia lane, I did get a bit done. There was a bit of activity on the blog and a healthy amount of writing. There was also a bit of unemployment stuff that took up a chunk of time.

Also, I went on a hike on Saturday to Cape Perpetua where we explored tide pools and saw Thor’s Well. Over all, aside from the joblessness, it was a good week.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus: Descent
  • Read two short stories
  • Write 1k on Whales

There should be a bit of activity on the blog this week. Including the Reading Recap and the Six Month update. The revision process on Exodus shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a clean draft, I just need to tighten some language and change one plot/character element. It’s more a matter of sitting down to do it.

I have Transcendent 2 from the library and need to get reading, so I’ll be spending some time with it this week. I’ll also be reading the Veronica Mars book over the next couple of weeks to get all caught up on the canon before the new season launches on Hulu.

The new short story is… weird. It came from a SUPER nebulous concept. I knew I had a married couple in an isolated SF setting trying to resolve their marital issues. That’s it. That’s all I knew. So when I set out writing it was truly exploratory. Who are these people? What do they want? What’s keeping them from it? I wrote over 1k words just exploring character and narration before I landed on what I think will be the final version. I’ll talk about it a bit more when I think it’s done.

There should be another hike this weekend, though I don’t have any idea where yet. Keep an eye out for photos.

Until next time, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

The Recap – June 2019

What a rollercoaster month June was. Full of writing, editing, hiking, sudden and utterly unexpected unemployment, reading, and binge-watching uplifting television to turn off my brain.

ting
There’s nothing that Aziraphale and Crowley can’t fix! Well, besides Armageddon, that is.

June Goals

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

How’d I do?

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Sorta. It’s close. I thought it was done, sent it a couple places, but now think it still needs some tweaks. So, I don’t know. It came a super long way and I’m proud of my output on this project during the month, but the story isn’t quite there yet. Also, it’s now called A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Three stories are still out. These markets all have longer average wait times, so it’ll probably be awhile before I hear anything back from them.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Yes? I read them all in like, a week. But I read four of them, so that still counts. Right?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. Though not as much as I would have liked. I read five titles this month, counting Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, which I really read over the course of the first half of the year, but finally finished in June. I’m still two book ahead on my Goodreads Challenge, which is a pleasant surprise since I feel like I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately.

Monthly Word Count: 6,298

I should feel pretty good. My monthly goals on my whiteboard are all in black. That means they’re done. I should get a cookie or something. I also finally got that last trophy in Detroit: Become Human, so I am obviously super cool and not a nerd at all.

As for hikes, there were only two this month because of various goings on in my life as well as a trip out of town for my hiking buddy. But, we still managed to hike both Marion Lake and Cape Meares this month, which were both stunning and quite challenging. I can tell that my cardio is improving (easily done seeing as my cardio is notoriously bad) and my legs are building up muscle. I’ve also found that hiking really helps settle my mind and get me focused for the week ahead. I’m still loving these Pacific Northwest adventures. Marion Lake

We also spent a healthy amount of time clearing out our horribly overgrown backyard. It was nice to be out in the warm weather, but man I super-di-duper hate yard work. But, the hard part is all done now, and we can spend the month of July getting it perfected. We’re even considering building in a fire pit! Fancy.

Writing-wise this was a very straightforward month. I worked on A Lullaby for Mattie Barker pretty much exclusively, except for a couple of tumblr fanfic prompts. I wish I had more enthusiastic news about the writing process, but this story is a weird one. It’s hard to classify and I took some narrative risks with it that were relatively new to me. I don’t know if it’s successful, or if it even can be successful. But I like it. I’m proud of what it is so far. I just think there’s still something not quite right about it.

Pretty sure it’s the ending. I just don’t know how to fix it. Yet.Three Arch Rock

I did start working on a new short story, though I feel a little disingenuous saying so. This story is incredibly vague for me still. I know so little about the plot and the characters that really I’m just writing to get to know them all, and eventually I’ll have enough to shape it into something like a story. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Oh yeah, there was a migraine in there too. And an eye appointment (I’m getting prescription sunglasses!) and a massage. Self-care and all that.

July Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
  • Keep reading!

A little more ambitious this month, but I’m also not working right now. I have more time, even as I’m applying for jobs and catching up on housework. I ought to get as much writing work done as possible, right?

I have a couple hikes lined up for this month, three I think. But, I also have a lot of socializing this month what with a good friend’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. That’s all stuff to look forward to, though. It’s going to be a really good, really weird month.

I’ll keep saying that until it comes true.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #26

Blogland. I don’t have much to say this morning. No quip about the weather or complaints about how fast last week went by. There’s just me, a laptop, and you. Let’s just get to it.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Read something!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Not a lot of substance, because it’s been a hard week, but they’re there.
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghoststhis savage song
    • Yes? I thought I did, and sent it out. Got rejected. Then I got some feedback from a friend and made some changes last night. And by some changes, I mean largely rewrote it. So… Yeah. I’m not really sure where it is at this moment. Also, it’s been retitled A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Read something!
    • Yes! I finally finished This Savage Song.

Weekly Word Count: 1,111

Man. This has been a week. I did some errands on Wednesday and felt great most of the day, but Thursday, Friday, and particularly yesterday were all very hard for me. But, I feel like a broken record about this. So, let me say it for the last time.

LOSING A JOB YOU LOVE IS FUCKING HARD.

There. I’m done with that now. Moving on.

Writing-wise this week was pretty non-eventful. I edited and tweaked Lullaby, wrote a little bit for a new short story that’s still very nebulous, and then feverishly made a bunch of changes to Lullaby. I haven’t looked at them yet to see if they make sense or are in anyway better, but I felt inspired last night, so hopefully it was the right decision.

I didn’t go hiking last weekend, but spent the day with family and had some really good food at a new New Orleans inspired place in town. I finally earned the last trophy for Detroit: Become Human, so I can finally say I beat that game! And we watched lots of The Great British Bake Off.

Basically, I tried my best to do things that were mind-numbing/relaxing. If I thought too much then I felt wildly out of control which is a 100% guaranteed way to spike my anxiety. So I did things to feel in control. Yard work. Paint my nails. Clean my office. Play video games. It would have been nice if it weren’t for the need for literal escapism.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
  • Read a short story

I actually have quite a bit of blogging to do this week. The monthly update, a book review, and maybe even a six month review of the blog and my writing in 2019 so far. There’s also the reading round up for June, but I wouldn’t expect that until next week at least. So, lots of action on the blog in the coming weeks.

I’ll talk more about my goals for Exodus: Descent in tonight’s Monthly Recap, but I need to include it in this week’s goals if I want to get started on that project.

IMG_20180825_171815 (1)The new short story is… weird. It doesn’t know what it is yet, or what it wants to accomplish. I’m just writing until things gel together, and then I’ll see what I can make out of it. It’s SF and very character driven, at least so far. It was inspired by a card from a board(?) game called Mysterium. The story has grown since then and the card doesn’t really reflect it anymore, but that’s where the kernel came from.

I haven’t read a short story in a while, so I wanted to make a point of it this week. That will be in addition to the reading and listening I’ll be doing anyway. I’m still (slowly) listening to Saint’s Blood and just started reading Our Dark Duet, the sequel to This Savage Song, last night. I expect my reading will be much improved this month, what with my sudden free time.

But, that’s all the blog and writing goals. I don’t have answers for what comes next beyond those. I have a list of jobs to apply for, have just applied for unemployment (that’s a first!), and have a list of chores to get done each day.

I don’t sit still well and I don’t want to wallow, so I’m keeping myself busy. Which reminds me, I think it’s time to talk the dog for a walk.

Later, Bloggos.

 

BZ