Looking Sharp

Hey Bloggos,

Maybe it’s premature. Maybe I’m counting chickens before they’re hatched, or whatever other idiom you’d like to apply to this situation. But today I took professional Author Headshots. 

My thinking was this: I am a writer seeking professional publication. I’ve worked on my craft for almost ten years, and I’ve grown in leaps and bounds over the last five years in particular. I ought to have photographs on my site and my social media that reflect who I am now, not who I was almost a decade ago. Plus, let’s be real. Writing isn’t just the art side of sitting down and birthing words into stories. It’s also a business, and this is one aspect of it that I was hesitant to do.

I’m not a fan of having my picture taken. I don’t photograph particularly well, and I’m really good at nitpicking my appearance in pictures. But, this was something I felt needed to be done. I wanted to have professional photographs on hand for when I might need them.

So, I contacted a friend who had recently launched her own photography business. I’ve followed her progress online, had seen her work and been wildly impressed by the skill she’d shown so early in her career.

And today we spent about an hour traipsing around downtown Salem, visiting my favorite businesses and drinking inordinate amounts of coffee. We caught up on life, talked about tattoos, my writing, her photography, and our mutual experiences working for Starbucks.

It was fun, casual, and totally worth it. But I’ll let you decide that for yourselves.

Photo credit to M.L. Photography

There are more photos, but these three are my favorite. They make me feel very pretty, and incredibly author-like. So, I’m gonna bask in this self-love for the rest of the day, and let it help me get past the fact that I’ve barely written this week.

I’ll see you all tomorrow to talk about this week, as usual.

Until then Blogland,

 

BZ

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Book Review – The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant #6) by Ben Aaronovitch

Blogland,

This is my first post written in the new WordPress editor. If you have tried it already and have any hints or suggestions, please let me know, because this is a trip. I think I like it. Image result for uncertain gifIt’s very clean, with less clutter to distract the eye. But that means I have to relearn how to navigate a system I’ve used religiously for like… seven years.

A/N: 108 words into the new editor and I already had to revert back to the Classic Editor. The new format handles content in blocks, which doesn’t really allow me to embed gifs and pictures the way I like to. Or at least, I wasn’t able to figure out how to do in a timely fashion. I’ll keep poking at it for awhile and see if I like it. As of this moment, it’s getting a thumbs down from me.

Additional A/N: Turns out, reverting back to the Classic Editor part way through royally screws with the formatting. I was unable to resolve it no matter how much I tried until I went back into the new editor and manually fixed every single error. I officially hate this “update” and I doubt I will be using it in the future.

After bouncing around the entire library consortium, I finally got my hands on the only copy of The Hanging Tree available in the whole Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service. It’s been a very popular book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Peter Grant and company are back at it, this time investigating what seems to be a routine drug overdose. Except, the deceased shows evidence of thaumaturgical degradation (aka her brain was a bit gooey from exposure to magic). And, Lady Tyburn’s daughter was at the scene.

As if that isn’t a big enough pain in Peter’s backside, there’s a member of the demi-monde, known unironically as Reynard Fossman (etymologically speaking, Fox Foxman), has come to the Folly to offer Nightingale something he can’t refuse: Newton’s Third Scientific text, the Principia Chemica.

Alchemy. It was rumored that the genius had worked out the laws that governed transmutation and the like, but that the text was lost to mankind. Until Reynard waltzes in and tries to sell it to the highest bidder. Because, why would he only offer it to Nightingale?

And guess who else has his metaphorical eye on the prize? Yep! None other than the dastardly Faceless Man himself.

Which, it’s about stinking time! My biggest gripe about the last Peter Grant story I read was that there wasn’t enough substance in regards to the Faceless Man and Lesley. I wanted MORE! Well, this book delivered, let me tell you.

All the things I’ve come to expect from a Peter Grant book remained true for this one. Fantastic dialogue that begs to be read aloud, a wide and dynamic cast of characters, an intricate and compelling plot told in a voice that is self-deprecating, fun, and clever as hell.

All that being said, it took me longer to read than I would have expected, mainly because I’ve just been too tired to stay up and read lately. Which, as I’ve discussed, is really shit timing. Every book under the sun seems to have a release date this month, and here I am too swamped and too sleepy to do a darn thing about it.

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One of those November releases is the next book in this series, the long anticipated Lies Sleeping. But, DO NOT read the synopsis for this book before you’ve read The Hanging Tree, otherwise you’re in for a giant spoiler.

I found that out the hard way while I conducted research to recommend the library purchase a copy of the newest book in the series. Whoops!

Also, my library doesn’t own any of the Peter Grant books, but several of the smaller libraries in our consortium own copies. But, none of them had purchased Lies Sleeping yet. Two weeks before the book is out and no one had bought it yet?Not acceptable. So, I recommended the purchase, and now I’m first in line on the hold list.

Image result for napoleon dynamite yes gif

So, in summary, this book was another solid entry in the Peter Grant series and the perfect book to read just a week or so before the newest installment is released here in the US. It’s nice to be caught up.

I’ve got a slew of books queued up for the rest of the year, which I mentioned in yesterday’s goals summary post. I’ll be a busy reading bee all the way through the new year.

Just the way I like it.

I’ll see you all again on Monday, maybe sooner if I have something to talk about. But we have a friendsgiving celebration on Saturday, so don’t expect much from me the rest of this week.

Until later, Bloggos.

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 43

Blogland,

The weekend was too short, with social engagements and a migraine. But now it’s Monday, which means it’s time to talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)
  • Research and outline NaNo project
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yep. I think it’s very close, I just need to perfect the last few sentences and really drive home the ending.
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot
    • Yes? I edited 7 chapters, out of 17. That’s a couple week’s worth of posts so it feels like success, but I’ll need to get considerably more done tonight and tomorrow before Nanowrimo starts.
  • Research and outline NaNo project
    • Yes! Got a big chunk of research done this week, and have some books waiting at the library to help me over the next two days.
  • Read A.V. submissions
    • Yep! Submissions are impressive this round and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this issue.
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue
    • Yes! I didn’t expect this to be the case, but the last half of the book was pretty compelling.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Another week of no writing, which again was the plan. I hate it. It feels wrong. Luckily, this is the last week where that will be the case. I start writing again on Thursday! Really this week was all about reading and editing. I read eight short story submissions for The Audient Void, I finished reading Rosemary and Rue, I read/edited That Which Illuminates Heaven, and I read the the first third of The Charlatan and the Coinshot.

This week will be much of the same.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Continue editing The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Barker line edits
  • Continue Research/Outlining
  • WRITE!!!!

There will be no shortage of blog posts this week, with this post, a NaNoWriMo prep post, and the monthly recap all scheduled. I have a couple sentences to tweak and perfect in That Which Illuminates Heaven, and then I think it’ll be ready to submit. I’ve already made a list of potential markets and can’t wait to share this story with the world! I’ve got 10 chapters left to edit for The Charlatan and the Coinshot, which will go quickly. I’m really just proofreading and making sure that there aren’t any glaring errors or inconsistencies. It’s a pretty clean draft, so I’m mostly just enjoying the story as I read through it one last time.

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Now through November 15th

Obadiah gave me an extra project on top of reading submissions for The Audient Void, so I’m doing line edits for him this week. I need to keep researching as much as I can before I dig into writing my new novel, and with only a few days left I am feeling the pressure.

And of course, the big goal is writing in the last half of this week! I’ll have a post up soon about what my NaNo goals are and what to expect from me over the course of November.

I have a few writing related events later this week as well, so hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to talk about them soon.

Talk to you soon, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 40

Hi Blogland!

This last week really hit me hard. Between the jet lag and two jobs, I spent way more of my time sleeping than I really anticipated. Or, at least, it felt that way. In reality, I went from working 20ish hours a week to over 40 this week, so that’s where the majority of my time went.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Goals Summary and The Audient Void release announcement are both up.
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
    • Yep! More on this in a moment.
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the libraryImage result for legion lies of the beholder
    • Eh… Kinda? I’m inclined to give this one to myself. I got several books from the library, and even bookmarked several passages to start with. I also brainstormed some of the back story. But, nothing new made it into the Scrivener project, so it’s sort of a wash.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Nope. But I did write a tumblr prompt!
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Haha. Nope. As ever. Some day I’ll get this story done.
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human
    • No. BUT, I did read Lies of the Beholder, the last Legion novella by Brandon Sanderson.

Weekly Word Count: 648

So, obviously, not much in the way of writing this week. But that’s okay, because editing was the priority. And That Which Illuminates Heaven is officially in its second draft! Hooray!

confetti

Normally I would print out another copy at this stage and edit again, but I’m not gonna lie, I really like it the way it is. I’ve sent it to a couple friends to get feedback and that all important fresh perspective. Hopefully once I hear back from them I can approach it with new eyes and make some more changes.

Another reason why I haven’t been getting as much work done is because I am binge-listening to The Adventure Zone podcast and loving every minute of it! I’ll be done with it soon, so I should be able to refocus on the matters at hand.

What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read War for the Oakswar for the oaks

This is another ambitious week, which is silly given that I didn’t get that much done last week (bullet-points-wise). But, I am ever the optimist, so maybe I’ll get it all done! Who knows?

I have a Walk ‘n’ Talk™ scheduled with Madhu for tomorrow morning, then work. Then work all day on Wednesday. An easy day Thursday, which is probably when I’ll get the most work done. Then work all day Friday, work hella early on Saturday, then off the rest of the weekend. Not as much time to read and write, but I’ll do my best. That’s all I can ever do.

I’m going to write up a review for Legion: Lies of the Beholder, so there will definitely be two blog posts this week. I’ve got a pile of books ready for the research to commence, and enough down time that I should be able to join in on a sprint or two with my writer’s discord and get those 500 words done. Recording an episode of Santa Sarita is always a maybe, but I think it’d be nice to return to it this week and get back into the swing of the series.

And maybe I’ll finish another book this week. I’m about 7 pages into War for the Oaks; far too early to make a judgement on it yet. We’ll see how it goes as the week rolls on.

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

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 34

Blogland,

This has been a weird week. My hours have been scaled back at the library, which adds a new layer of stress, but also allows me to really work on my writing. Silver linings, and all that. I’ve also been visiting the library just as a patron more, and it reminds me just how magical they are when you’re not on the working side of the desk. Add in a very long day of socializing for our best friend’s birthday (we went to a board game cafe and played all kinds of games for hours) and it was actually a nice week.

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This is a “Vision Card” from the board game Mysterium.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Finish The Fall of Ezra Clarke rough draft
  • Finish reading Foxglove Summer
  • Write/share one tumblr prompt
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Finish The Fall of Ezra Clarke rough draft
    furthest station
    • YES! There’s a bit of a story here, but yes!
  • Finish reading Foxglove Summer
    • Yep. Finished it Tuesday night as I expected. I also finished reading The Furthest Station.
  • Write/share one tumblr prompt
    • Yep! Practically wrote itself.
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Nope. Didn’t get there.

Weekly Word Count: 8,079

Let me tell you all about this freaking short story. I got the idea for it back in January, but didn’t want to actively work on it until Exodus was “done”. And since it’s as done as I can make it right now, I figured this month was the perfect time to finish the rough draft of the tentatively named The Fall of Ezra Clarke.

I wrote 3700 words in a frenzy and then it flopped. All forward momentum crashed to a halt. But, I wasn’t upset. I figured this was really just the foundation, me exploring these characters, learning who they are, who they were, and who they might one day become. Not time wasted at all.

A couple days later I had a new beginning and another feverish 2500 words. And then the story ran out of gas and just… stopped. There was no where to go. Huh. All right, I thought. That’s disappointing, but let’s try something else.

So, while bouncing ideas off a friend in the writer’s discord I’m in (thanks neolith!), I restarted The Fall of Ezra Clarke five times. And though each initial paragraph felt good, the juice eventually gave out and left me perplexed.

The last time I had this much trouble with a short story was in the early days, when I wanted Lifelike to be an unreliable female narrator and I didn’t have the chops to make it happen.

That experience taught me that, when the story is balking, it usually means the perspective is wrong. I need to find the right person to tell the story. But, I’d already switched between the two main characters! It still didn’t work.

And then that weird part of my brain that only functions in the wee hours or after LOTS of caffeine said, “tell it from the space ship’s perspective.”Evil Kermit 27082018121756

Say what?

“You heard me.”

And so I did. I thought it was a crazy idea, something fun to write and experiment with but would ultimately fizzle out just like everything else.

Then I wrote it through, beginning to end. 6000 words in two days. I had a wonderful whirlwind of a time, following this voice wherever it would take me. I renamed the story, since it wasn’t about Ezra’s fall from grace anymore, and it’s now called That Which Illuminates Heaven. I know that the story’s too big right now, that it has some pacing issues and areas that could be honed in on. Points I want to drive home.But, hey, it’s just a rough draft!

I haven’t looked at it since. I want distance from it, at least a couple week’s worth, and will probably start revising it in October, once we’re back from Germany. In the meantime I’m going read Science Fiction short stories featuring non-human characters, specifically androids, robots, and mechs, so that I can get a feel for what’s already out there, and where my story fits in with the traditions already established. Then I’ll be ready to edit it into something wonderful.

See all this hope? That’s called the post-rough draft high and I am riding it for all it’s worth.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog postsmore human than human.jpg
  • Write/share a tumblr prompt
  • Record/share 2 episodes of Santa Sarita
  • Read two stories from More Human Than Human
  • Write chapter 7 of Sanctuary

That doesn’t look like much, does it? I’m hoping to do a bit of reading this week and catch up on my fandom content that I’ve been neglecting for original projects. Also, since I’m barely working, I’m trying to get more housework done, since it’s something neither of us are particularly gifted with.

Also, my best friend is in town from Sioux City this weekend, so that’s going to take a chunk of my time. Best to keep things straightforward.

So, lots of reading, a bit of fanfic writing, and some recording of my older fics. A laid back week ahead, but still likely to get some quality work in. I like it!

Submissions continue. They’ll probably do so for a while, because I’ve already submitted to most of the open magazines, which means I’ll soon be lurking around, impatiently waiting for other markets to open their calls for submissions.

I remind myself that this is par for the course. This is the real test of writerdom, perseverance. And so I shall persist, nevertheless.

Talk soon, Bloggos, when I come back to talk about The Furthest Station.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 33

Blogland!

It’s been a rollercoaster week, mostly with some work drama that I am so over. But, writing is chugging along, slowly but surely. It’s hot and smoky here, so it’s a good excuse to stay indoors and get work done.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Send Exodus: Descent to Tim the Agent™
  • Sort out The Fall of Ezra Clarke
  • Read Foxglove Summerfoxglove summer
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Send Exodus: Descent to Tim the Agent™
    • Yes! I almost backed out, and then I slammed that send button.
  • Sort out The Fall of Ezra Clarke
    • Yes? I started it over, but I think there are more changes to come.
  • Read Foxglove Summer
    • Nope. I’m really close though.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course! I always do.

Weekly Word Count: 2,616

This week had a few bursts of energy and productivity, and yet I felt like I just didn’t really accomplish all that much. There was a definite vibe of “taking a break”. I’d worked my butt off the week before getting Exodus into shape, and I think I needed a low key week to let my brain recuperate.

I have no idea what Tim’s turnaround time will be. Or if he’ll even respond. I imagine he will, because ignoring someone you requested materials from would be rude. Right? But, I’ve never really corresponded with an agent before, so what do I know? I’ve got Exodus out to him and a few reader/editor friends. I’ll wait for their feedback before I dive back in to really hone the novella into publication shape. Then I’ve got a list of markets that will accept novellas.

As if submitting short stories isn’t stressful enough.

I’ve reworked Ezra, moving it forward in time. I’ve got a couple thousand words down for it, but I think it needs to jump ahead again. It’s languishing, which is fine while I’m writing and learning these characters, but I need to tighten things up and get to the plot. I’ve got the characters, I have their struggles and dynamic with each other sorted. Now I need to throw them into the mess of this story and figure out what happens.

I think I’ll finish Foxglove Summer tonight, which is good because I need to read these graphic novels and novella as fast as I can. I am out of time.

I gave Madhu my feedback on her manuscript, which means there won’t be any pages to read this week. What a weird concept. No peer review? No line edits for The Audient Void? No novella to write or edit?

What the hell am I doing this week?

So, What’s Next?

  •  Publish 2 blog posts
  • Finish The Fall of Ezra Clarke rough draft
  • Finish reading Foxglove Summer
  • Write/share one tumblr prompt
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita

That’s it. I really want to focus on finding the direction for this short story and hammering it out. If I could get it ready for submission before we leave for Germany I would be ecstatic.

I think I’ll finish Foxglove Summer as well as the Peter Grant graphic novels tonight. I’ve spent a really long time in this world and I am just about ready to move on. Just some graphic novels, a novella and one more novel to go. furthest station

I still have a handful of tumblr prompts (3 to be exact), so I’ll get some work on those done this week as well. And then record an episode of Santa Sarita. So, really, there’s not much going on this week, just a lot of time to sink into my writing.

Hopefully the weather will break soon. I’ve got a hankering for a chai latte and oversized sweaters. So if it could dip below 70 degrees sometime soon, that’d be nice.

I have the review for Foxglove Summer on deck, since it’s almost done, and then a Submission Update planned for later this week as well. I’ll be around, so keep an eye out.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

Book Review – Broken Homes (Peter Grant #4) by Ben Aaronovitch

Hi Blogland,

This week got off to a slow start with a migraine that refused to respond to medication. Yesterday was my first day without pain, and I had some obligations in the morning and then work in the evening. So, now it’s Friday and I’m finally here with the review for the next Peter Grant book! Beware some minor spoilers below.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

broken homes

I think this was my favorite of the books so far. As I’ve come to expect, Peter takes the reader through an all new area of London, furthering my mental image of the city with each flip of the page.

A string of suspicious but seemingly unrelated murders have piqued Nightingale’s interest, which means Peter and Lesley are on the job. From the car accident that revealed a murder in progress to the Housing Authority worker that committed suicide on the Underground. It all links back to a stolen book, a German tome on the industrial uses of magic and an architect from the 60s.

You see, the Faceless Man wants that book, and he wants the building the architect used to mine magical energy.

So, Peter and Lesley move into a vacant flat in the rundown Skygarden Tower. It’s a low income area with passionate tenants that have called the tower home for decades. They have monthly meetings to discuss how to combat the city council and keep the building protected.

Which is unfortunate, because the Faceless Man intends to blow it up.

This book takes its time setting up the history and lore, including how Skygarden Tower was designed, the purpose it serves, and the lives of those who call it home. Including a wood nymph named Sky who may be the spirit of the land the tower is built on. The Rivers are present, including the return of Peter’s almost lover Beverly Brook, and Zach the half-fae even makes a comeback!

But, once you reach the last 70 pages or so, things really take off. I felt like there were more action sequences in this book than in the previous one, and we get to see Nightingale really take off the gloves and unleash some monstrous power on the Faceless Man’s flunkies.

And, you know, Peter throws himself into danger in order to save civilians, like the proper copper he is.

There’s a lot more going on in this book, including some very interesting character developments, but I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice it to say I really liked this book and it launched me into Foxglove Summer the very next morning. foxglove summer

I’m hoping to get a ton of reading done over the weekend. I’m running out of time on these Interlibrary loans!

I should have another book review out next week, and I think it’s just about time to have a big Submission discussion, where I talk about my submissions so far and then share what my submission process looks like and what resources I use.

So, keep an eye out for both of those sometime next week.

 

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ