Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 20

Bloggos,

This last week just flew by! Reading, writing, and helping a friend tackle some major yard projects while the weather was nice helped my time go real quick. We also finished a campaign of Arcadia Quest, which was a lot of fun.

But enough talk about fun, there was work to be done!

Last Week:

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • YES! This has been going very well so far. I’m not technically writing every day, but I’m crossing the 3500 word mark each week, so I’d say that counts.
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
    • Yes! Finally! This took longer than I liked, but it’s done and I’m ready to move on to the next one.
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
    • No. But, I did finish listening to Skin Game, so I feel like that’s a win.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course! She’s making a lot of quality changes and working hard on her novel. It’s good to have someone to work in tandem with; it’s inspirational!

Weekly Word Count: 4,803

I don’t have a whole lot to reflect on today. Rewriting The Steel Armada is going well, and I have some very nebulous thoughts and ideas about where the story is going and what format will let me tell the story best. It’s beginning to look like I might be taking a very roundabout route to getting to the real story, which is somewhat disappointing. But this is also a huge learning experience for me. This is my first novel, so there’s is a lot to learn.

But, I’m not going to commit to any further changes until I get more words down. I just crossed the 12k mark, which is good, but not quite enough to start making big decisions.

Sanctuary is coming along slowly. It’s the project I work on when I’ve reached my goals everywhere else and I still have some creative juice left. That’s not often the case, so sadly Sara and Reyes are taking a back burner.

I also opened up my NaNoWriMo project from last year and proofread it this week. It’s a crossover fic of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Mistborn: Second Era, just over 52k words. A tumblr friend is doing illustrations for each chapter, and then we’ll post it as a weekly serial, starting in November. Since we’ve got the time, I’m going to start doing some simple edits and fleshing out certain scenes.

wayne and wax triptych
Mistborn Era 2 triptych by Marc Simonetti

… You know, in my downtime.

I did receive my form rejection from the magazine I sent The Cost of Rain to, so there’s that. However, I console myself that the story “reached the highest level of consideration” before being declined. It’s a professional level magazine that accepts about 2% of the submissions it receives. I’d say this rejection isn’t all that bad.

I still haven’t heard back about Lifelike. It’s been 30 days. I’m trying very, very hard not to get my hopes up. Very, very hard.

That was my week. Lots of writing, reading/listening, and nail-biting as I awaited submission news.

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Start Sanctuary chapter 4
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Thoughts

I’ve got a couple different posts lined up for this week. The Skin Game review and Editing Check In #2. If I get any news on the submission front I’ll share that too. And you know, I might just have some personal rant or observation that might eke its way onto the blog.

The Steel Armada continues! Just writing away, trying to figure out where this story is headed and how I can help it be the best version of itself. I’ll have more on this subject later this week.

Oh, Sanctuary. I want to spend more time with you. I do. Maybe I’ll finally make some headway in this department. I’ve got a pretty good outline of events, I know what scenes come next, but the plot has (yet again) grown out of my control. The whole point of this fic was to wrap up the Santa Sarita series completely, not keep it alive forever.

The Master Magician is going kinda slow. If it doesn’t pick up and end on a high note, I might not bother with The Plastic Magician. It’s all feeling a bit underwhelming, so far. But, it’s quick and easy reading at least.

I haven’t received Madhu’s pages yet, but I’ve been promised some new scenes with one of my favorite characters, so I’m looking forward to that.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and my best friend will be in town! We’re going wine tasting on Saturday and I cannot wait! Other, non-writing things I need to do include figuring out where the heck my birth certificate is, applying for my passport, and enjoying the weekend with friends and family.

I’ll be back this week to talk about The Steel Armada rewrites, and to share my review of Skin Game.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

 

 

 

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 19

Bloggos!

I apologize for the silent weekend. I’ll get into the details of what happened, but for now let’s talk about gooooooooaaaaaaalllllllllsssssssss!

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes! The Cold Days book review is up now! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the Blackfish City review thanks to a god-awful migraine.cold days cover
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • YES! I absolutely killed it this week writing-wise.
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
    • Nope. Not even at all.
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
    • Yep! It was a ton of fun to write, and it got a decent amount of praise after it was posted. Always good.
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
    • Yes! Look for the review this week!
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yeppers. Madhu’s making good progress on her rewrites and i’m excited to see where this process takes her.

Weekly Word Count: 5,103

Tuesday and Wednesday were both very productive days, and Thursday I got a wonderful surprise in the mail that I will tell you all about, probably tomorrow. Sadly, Thursday evening led to a migraine that completely derailed my weekend. Friday I had to call out of work, and I spent the day sprawled in bed, half-asleep listening to Skin Game. Then we celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday, which was fun, but I didn’t get any quality writing time until Sunday evening.

That didn’t stop me from writing over 2,500 words Sunday night! The rewrites on The Steel Armada are going well. It’s a totally different animal than the first draft and I’m still having a great time. There are some new characters, more backstory, and SO MUCH MORE worldbuilding. I think I’m in love.

Sanctuary was sadly neglected in the face of all this rewriting. I’m hopeful that I can get back to it this week. I did write a 1,300 word tumblr prompt this week, for the Dragon Age fandom that was entirely too much fun. I imagine it won’t be my last time writing those characters.blackfish city

Blackfish City is done and already returned to the library. I’ll have the review up this week. I pinky promise!

Exchanging pages with Madhu is still going well. We’ve become each other’s cheerleaders and have planned another Walk ‘n’ Talk for later this week. It’s nice to get out in the nice weather and discuss our ideas and concerns for our writing.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3
  • Finish reading The Master Magician
  • Review Madhu’s pages

This week should be pretty straightforward. Read and write. That’s it. I can do that. Basically all I do with my life anyway. I’ve got the Blackfish City review to post and a personal announcement to share this week as well. If I’m disciplined I should get The Master Magician finished up this week, just in time to read the new book, The Plastic Magician.the plastic magician

Otherwise I’ll just be working on The Steel Armada and Sanctuary. And avoiding my email inbox as I eagerly await news of my short story submissions. It’s been a few weeks and I’m getting anxious. I should hear back soon, so please wish me luck!

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 18

Blogland!

It finally feels like spring here in the Pacific Northwest, which is to say that you never know that the hell you’ll step out and into. This weekend was mostly sunshine with temperatures in the high 60s, low 70s. This morning? 55 degrees, cloudy as heck and threatening rain. Keep a jacket with you folks, and if you live somewhere sunny, keep me in your thoughts.

Now then, what was I on about today? Ah, yes. Goals!

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish chapter 3 of Sanctuary
  • Finish ma-sulevin Tumblr prompt
  • Get halfway through Blackfish City

Aaaaaand?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
    • Holy Moley, YES! More on that in a second.
  • Finish chapter 3 of Sanctuary
    • Nope. I got close, but am still about 500 words short of ending this chapter.
  • Finish ma-sulevin Tumblr prompt
    • Yep! Just a little fluffy drabble, 500 words or so. Which was the point.
  • Get halfway through Blackfish Cityblackfish city
    • Yes! I’m hopeful that I will finish it this week, it’s that good.

Weekly Word Count: 5,341

This week just flew by. This year is flying by! How is it May already? My blogging has been more consistent than ever, largely thanks to these weekly goals updates. At the beginning of the year I set a goal of 52 posts for the year. That meant I would post at least once a week.

With today’s post I am at 42 blog posts for the year. I’d say it’s very likely that I’ll be able to check off that goal very soon.

The rewrites on The Steel Armada are chugging right along. I wrote 4,474 words last week, which totals out to about 745 words a day. Now, it was Cinco de Mayo weekend, and there’s a local microbrew festival that weekend which we always go to. And Sundays are our tabletop board game day, so really, I only wrote 4/6 days.

It was a very productive four days. I’m hoping to keep that momentum up for the whole month, but we’ll see.

Sanctuary chapter three is well on its way. It’s lagging a little as I flounder to find a good cliffhanger ending, but it’s also the last chapter before the two main characters are reunited again, so things are about to heat up.

I had a tumblr prompt to see to this week, which was a nice little distraction from the bigger projects. Prompts are nice because I can usually write them in one sitting, they don’t require much editing, and then I share them to immediate fan responses. Basically, they’re little ego boosts.

Blackfish City is very good so far. It’s also very similar to how I want The Steel Armada to feel, so depending on how it ends I think I’ll buy it. I plan on having it done this week, so keep an eye out for that.

What Comes Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctuary chapter 3, start chapter 4
  • Write joufancyhuh tumblr prompt
  • Finish reading Blackfish City
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I’ve got the Cold Days book review left to write and depending on how quickly I finish Blackfish City, I could have that one up this week as well.

The Steel Armada has been going well, and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. I’ve got a really exciting chapter to write this week, with danger and intrigue galore!

Sanctuary is trucking along at a steady pace. Once I get chapter 5 done I’ll start posting it again, probably with an every-other week update schedule. It’ll be nice to get this out to the people waiting for it, and to finally get closer to “done” on this series.

I’ve got one more tumblr prompt for this week, which I am excited to write. The last piece this person requested was quite angsty and sad, so I’m looking forward to writing something humorous and light for her.

the plastic magician

Madhu and I are both knee deep in rewrites, but we’ve agreed to share our pages nonetheless. I look forward to reading what she’s got so far, and I am anxious as all get out to send her mine. I usually keep early drafts cloistered away for my eyes only, but I really want to get an impression on the changes I’ve made. So, I’m taking the plunge and sharing it with her before it’s all said and done. Yikes!

This week on the blog might be a touch quiet and book review oriented. Both reviews for Cold Days and Blackfish City will be up if I keep reading so quickly. Then I’ve got The Master Magician cued up just in time for the newest Charlie N. Holmberg book, The Plastic Magician which comes out next week! Only after both of those can I finally dig back into Quietus and then once that’s done I can read my first ARC (Advanced Reader Copy)!

Good grief. I’ve got a lot of books to get through.

Until later, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Bloggos,

The third and final Binti novel is the largest, coming in at a whopping 203 pages. That being said, I think it was the fastest read of the three.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

binti the night maquerade

This novella is the direct conclusion to Binti: Home, resolving the mysteries of the Night Masquerade, Okwu’s fate, and the effects of the Zinariya. Binti struggles with her identity as she copes with the news of the Khoush attack on her family’s ancestral home while she was in the desert with her grandmother’s people.

How much of her is actually Himba? Not only is she part Meduse after the events of the first novella, but now she knows that her DNA is partially Zinariyan, allowing her to use an almost telepathic instant messaging system with fellow Enyi Zinariyans (formerly known as Desert People). If so much of her has changed, is she even Himba? Where does she belong?

And where does she want to belong?

This book is very visceral. Okorafor’s handling of anxiety and representation of panic attacks are wonderfully done. Her description of grief is extremely realistic and yet poetic. I understood Binti so much in those moments, I understood the people around her, trying to interact with her amid her grief. Poignant, powerful, heartbreaking. It was all of these things.

My only criticism, if you can call it that, is that this story doesn’t really feel done. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m not ready for it to be done. I want more, especially now that Mwinyi has joined the front of the cast. I enjoyed him quite a bit.

Really, I enjoyed this whole series. I loved Okwu and his world of black and white. I loved Mwinyi and his patience and understanding. I loved Binti, with all her doubts and fears. I loved Third Fish and her wisdom.

Binti-Trilogy-nnedi-okorafor-e1511508509714

If you’re looking for an imaginative, quick read PLEASE give the Binti series a try. I doubt you’ll regret it.

I’ll be back early next week with the Goals Summary. Have a great weekend Blogland!

 

BZ

The Recap – March 2018

Oh, Blogland! Where has this month gone? How is it April already? It most definitely still feels like winter here in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s getting old. You’d think with all this time indoors, I’d get some quality work done. You’d think…

What were My March Goals?

  • Edit 5 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Submit The Seasons
  • Prep Lifelike for submission
  • Keep reading

Drumroll, please…

  • Edit 5 chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Sigh. I didn’t make this goal. Barely. I did edit 4.5 chapters, but lacked the discipline to get it done this week in the face of other, more “interesting” projects. Literally everything is more interesting than editing to me at the moment. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the worst outcome. I still edited more than I really thought I would. Huzzah!
  • Finish Sanctfied
    • YES! I spent the better part of nine months, NINE MONTHS, writing that fic and to finally write the end of it and move on mentally was completely overwhelming. I got some really wonderful feedback from readers and I am looking forward to what comes next.
  • Submit The Seasons
    • Yep. Still waiting to hear back about it. I forgot how long the submission process can be. If it gets rejected, I’ll most likely find out in the next few days, if The Submission Grinder can be trusted. I’ll be sure to share the results here, regardless.
  • Prep Lifelike for submission
    • Sure did! This is the strongest this story has ever been, and I’m feeling good about it. I want to say it’s ‘done’, but I’m not 100% sure yet. I’m going to let it stew a bit more and revisit it. But, it’s really close.
  • Keep reading
    • Yarp. I read seven titles in March and posted four book reviews. I’ve read 19 titles this year so far, and am three books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads reading challenge. Feels good, man.

Total March Word Count: 15,985

Honorable Mentions?

Unrelated to official March goals, I read/edited the proofs for The Audient Void #5 this month, so keep an eye out for release announcements sometime in April. I also started writing the final installment of my giant Mass Effect Andromeda fanfiction series, Santa Sarita: The Patron Saint of a Third-Rate Smuggler. This last story, titled Sanctuary, will wrap up larger plot points I left dangling in Sanctified and hopefully give us all that happy ending we’re all craving for ME:A.

My word count for the month is pretty high, mostly because of about 7k words on Sanctuary in the last two weeks and finishing Sanctified earlier this month, but also because the rewrites on The Steel Armada are so extensive. I’ve been adding about 500 words per chapter, and that’s accounting for what’s been cut.

In other news, I still have awesome, wonderful, exciting news to share! However, I’m uncertain if I’m allowed to just yet. If I don’t get word by Wednesday, I’ll contact the powers that be and see what the deal is. I am bursting at the seems about this you guys! The silence is killing me!

The submission process is a lot less stressful than I remember. I mean, I’m anxious as all hell if I let myself think about it too much, but ultimately, once the story is sent, it’s out of my hands. No point wearing myself ragged over it. Hopefully April can just be full of all kinds of good news!

So, What’s Next?

  • Edit 4 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Continue submitting short stories
  • Build a backlog of 5 chapters of Sanctuary
  • Keep reading

I don’t want to set any stricter goals than that this month. I want to get back into my reading stride, because it’s a little rocky at the moment. I started another playthrough of Andromeda, as research for my next fic. It’s a dumb excuse to play again, but I’m enjoying it, so I don’t want to guilt trip myself too much.

The writing on Sanctuary is… tumultuous. Some days it’s easy and it practically writes itself. Other days every single character seems bound and determined to fight me about every damn thing. Until I get deeper in and really get a grasp on the moving pieces, I think it’s going to be that way. So, I need to just buckle in and write when I feel like it, and see where this story takes me. Plus, I won’t start posting it until I have a healthy stack of chapters to share.

It is very likely that The Seasons will get rejected in the next few days. I need to start planning where I’m submitting it to next. I also need to appraise Lifelike later in the month, and start planning its submission journey. Exciting times, slow, but exciting!

I will edit four chapters this month. Four. One each week. That is not hard and I WILL do it.

See you all soon with a Weekly Goals Summary!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 12

Hi Blogland!

It’s that time again, let’s talk about goals! Last week’s goals were fairly straightforward, and mostly editing.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 4 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
    • Technically, no. I published last week’s goal summary, but the Gunpowder Moon review didn’t post until yesterday morning. However, it did post, so I’m calling it a win.
  • Edit 4 Chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Ha ha ha. No. I did manage to get one and half chapters done! But there’s so much rewriting that this project is going to take longer than I originally anticipated. Plus, it takes a lot of energy just to get myself to sit down to work on this. It’s an uphill battle on all fronts.
  • Finish reading Gunpowder MoonGunpowder moon
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yep. It’s the one thing I am at least somewhat diligent about.

Weekly Word Count: 4,130

Thoughts

This last week managed to feel productive, even if I didn’t do all the editing I wanted to. I went back and looked at how many chapters I’ve edited this month, and I’m on track to meet my goal for March. So, I’m going to chill out on the whole “beat myself up for not editing more” thing and maybe I’ll actually manage to get some work done.

Last week I talked about finishing Sanctified. That fic is posted and done, though I’m still getting comments on it that I need to reply to. As you can probably guess from my word count for this week, I am hard at work writing the sequel, and FINAL installment of the Santa Sarita series. This is one of my goals for the year, so I’m excited to work on it and get it done.

That being said, Sanctuary is not one of my main priorities right now. I’ll continue to write and outline, getting a sense for where I want to take these characters in my last adventure with them, but editing The Steel Armada and Lifelike are my biggest concerns right now.

I also finished proofreading the mock up of The Audient Void #5. There is some fantastic fiction and artwork in this issue folks, and I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out. Keep an eye out for release details!

And, I got some very exciting news that I am not currently able to share. Hopefully by next week’s Goals Summary I can tell you all about it!

What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Edit 1 chapter of The Steel Armada
  • Edit Lifelike
  • Read Binti
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I’m feeling good about this week’s goals. I can get one chapter edited, as much work as that one chapter will be. I melded two characters into one, so there is a TON of reworking and rewriting that has to get done. But I can do it.

I got feedback from my friend Matt on Lifelike, and his comments were very encouraging. I haven’t looked at the story since I sent it to him, so my eyes will be fresh and ready to finally call this story done. It’s haunted me for the better part of seven years. It will be strange not to have it lurking in my brain anymore.

I had to return Quietus because it’s over 500 pages and there was a hold on it. But, I’m going to put it back on hold and get it again soon. I definitely want to finish it. So, in the meantime I have five graphic novels to read by tomorrow (they’re due back to the library) and I’m starting Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti novellas. Binti.jpg

As for Madhu’s pages, I’m still very much enjoying her story so far. I need to buckle down and be a little more critical, but I don’t really see much “wrong” with it. At least not until I know how everything ends!

OH! I also will spend the bulk of Thursday working on a super secret project for my husband. Our 10 year anniversary is next Tuesday and I’m making his gift.

So, that’s what I’ve got going on this week. Since Binti is only 90 pages long, I’m hopeful I’ll have the review for you this week. Also, April 1st is Sunday, so I’ll be back with the March Recap and April goals.

Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

Book Review – The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Blogland,

I’m coming out the gate strong with this one. I loved this book! It was such a fun read/listen and I wish I could go back and feel all the anticipation and curiosity all over again!

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Scorpio races

Minor spoilers ahead!

The Scorpio Races is a YA Fantasy, though I’d use the term lightly. Set on a fictional island in the UK during the early 1920s, the only thing out of the ordinary is the existence of the Capaill Uisce (pronounced: kappol ish-kuh, roughly) . These are mythical Celtic Water Horses, but Maggie Stiefvater has taken them beyond their legendary origins and brought them to life on the island of Thisby.

The Capaill Uisce are wild sea creatures capable of shifting from aquatic bodies to large and athletic horses on land. They are carnivorous, portrayed as blood-thirsty and obsessed with the sea when kept on shore. Each autumn the men of Thisby try to catch one to ride in the Scorpio races. And each autumn people die beneath hooves and between teeth.

Secretariat
This is Secretariat, but that’s pretty much how I picture Corr.

Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. At 19, he’s won four out of the last six races on his chestnut stallion Corr. The horse was his father’s, who was killed during the race by the stallion when Sean was 10. Corr escaped that day, only for Sean to catch him a few years later. They’ve since forged a strong bond, but Sean keeps on his toes around the stallion all the same. It’s in the nature of the Capaill Uisce to attack, especially as November approaches.

Kate Connolly, aka Puck, is the middle child and the only girl in her house. Her older brother Gabe works constantly, and her younger brother Finn can’t seem to stop fiddling with things long enough to be a proper person. So, Puck spends all her time maintaining their old house in the wilds of Thisby and taking care of her island horse, Dove. The Connolly kids’ parents were killed in a Capaill Uisce attack an unspecified amount of time in the past, but the wound is still very much open in their house.

Dove
I imagine Dove looked this sweet in her little paddock.

And Puck’s about to pour salt in the wound: she’s decided to ride in the Scorpio races.

Her decision shocks the entire island. Though there’s no rule against it, no woman has ever participated in the race, and the men of Thisby are determined to keep it that way.

The Scorpio Races is a thrilling ride, pun intended. It has all the ingredients for a satisfying YA read: First person narrative, simmering first love, and family conflicts. But, it goes above and beyond by adding heavy doses of feminism and ‘a boy and his horse’. As a huge fan of The Black Stallion books as a kid, the appearance of this trope pretty much guaranteed my enthusiasm for this book.

 

IMG_20180314_223420
True love never dies…

I should also mention that the narration for the audiobook was very well done. Steve West as Sean was gruff and very internalized, and listening to him read Puck’s dialogue in Sean’s chapters was initially hilarious. Fiona Hardingham read for Puck and she was delightful! All fiery obstinance and strong opinions. Her voice for Sean’s dialogue was equally humorous, and it really gave a sense of what the characters thought of each other. They both have strong British accents, which wasn’t a problem to me, though my personal internal monologue was suddenly British for a few days.

If you want a gripping, standalone book with interesting and well-developed characters  and setting, I can’t recommend The Scorpio Races enough.

I’m still working through Gunpowder Moon. I got a bit distracted with listening to Snow Patrol after they announced their new album, so my reading has slowed down in general. but, I’m getting back on track and should have another review for y’all sometime this weekend.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ