Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #2

Bloggos,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! The husband and I have been binge-watching Letterkenny on Hulu and laughing way too hard because of it. That show has no business being as good as it is, and I cannot get enough of it.

wayne baby
Yes, that’s a grown man imitating a baby to illustrate how dumb they are. You seriously need to watch Letterkenny.

Aside from an unusual uptick in my television time, I also had a change in my schedule this week. After years of having Sundays off, I have now switched to Saturdays off and working Sundays at the library. I think it was a really good change for me, and it actually helped me achieve a better work/life balance. Such as it is. I look forward to adjusting to a little extra me time.

Last Week

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

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3k on Tavi
    • Holy smokes yes! More on this in a bit.
  • Work on something Santa Sarita related
    • Yes! More than I anticipated, really.

Weekly Word Count: 7,693

Holy crow. That was a lot of writing last week. I don’t even necessarily feel like it either. I just sat down and did a couple sprints, and the words just kept coming, especially in the case of my novel. I crossed the 30k word mark on the manuscript and I’m still so excited about the project. It’s the first novel I’ve ever written that I truly felt led by the characters. Normally I have some vague idea or conceptualization fo the plot when I write a book or short story, but this time Tavi has control and I just go where she does.

For instance, last night she careened headfirst into feelings I didn’t think she was ready to handle, and we had a good cry about it. So that was fun, and I’m not being sarcastic. I love it when a project runs away with me. It’s exhilarating!

I also wrote a Santa Sarita related tumblr prompt, made a new playlist for the longfic I”m working on, and wrote over one thousand words on the newest chapter of Sanctuary.  It was a wildly successful writing week and I feel amazing because of it!

amy santiago.gif
Amy Santiago is my spirit animal.

I’m also awarding myself bonus points because I finished reading Zen in the Art of Writing. I’ll admit now that I wasn’t blown away by it. I enjoy Bradbury as much as the next guy, and maybe even a little bit more, but ultimately didn’t find too many revelations in the pages of this book. Either that means I’m learning my craft well and the nuggets of gold information are fewer and farther between, or it just wasn’t that great of a book. Guess I’ll find out with the next writing book on my docket: The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman.

I have unintentionally set up a lot of nonfiction books in my TBR pile for January. It wasn’t my goal to read/listen to a lot of writing and science books, but here we are. I’m still making slow progress on Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, and even though it’s written with the layman in mind, I am still woefully unprepared to understand this book. But, I’m trying. And Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s voice makes the audiobook bearable.

I also sent off an application for a scholarship to a writing conference this summer, and was notified that they received my app. I won’t hear back until late May, but at least that’s another thing done.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 3,500 words on Tavi
  • Work on Santa Sarita

Last week was such a success, I’m hesitant to change the formula. I plan on finishing the Tyson audiobook this week, and hopefully will make a dent on Knight’s Shadow as well, though with such writing productivity it only tracks that the reading slows down. I’ve got a lot of writing books queued up the first part of the year, with a few standout novels sprinkled in.

I’m on track to meet my writing goal for the month, which feels great. I just have to keep this momentum going. Which isn’t always an easy thing, especially with some very long-awaited video game releases on the horizon.

Submissions continue to continue. I’m being patient. I repeat to myself, endlessly. I think I have a new short story in the wings, but it isn’t ready to write just yet. The nonfiction I’ve been listening to is actually related to this story idea I had last year, but I didn’t choose to read them as research or anything, it’s just where my interests led me. Which means this story is percolating and slowly forming into something like clay I can form into something like a story. But not right now. Tavi comes first, at least until the rough draft is done.

Which, let’s be honest, is probably how much time this story will need to climb out of the muck of my mind and proclaim itself writeable. Funny how these things work themselves out.

So, that’s the week. Write, write some more, and when I can’t write anymore, read about writing. Or maybe science. Whichever calls the loudest.

Until later Blogland,

 

BZ

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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 51

Oh Blogland,

It’s Christmas Eve! I’m looking forward to a quiet and cozy holiday spent with the husbando and the pooch, curled up on the couch with cocoa and a slew of Christmas movies. There will be the traditional (at least in our household) Mexican food tonight, and probably leftovers tomorrow.  What’s not to love?

Last Week

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

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog poststraitor
    • Yarp.
  • Finish listening to Traitor’s BladeYes! The review is up now!
  • Write something
    • Yep, another little Dragon Age oneshot. So there’s that.

Weekly Word Count: 1,724

This was another calm week. There’s nothing quite like a migraine to get me invested in an audiobook, let me tell you. And, thankfully, I really enjoyed Traitor’s Blade.

Writing so far this month has really just been whatever strikes my fancy. I’m letting my creative muscle relax after the marathon of Nanowrimo, and just doing the occasional fanfic sprint when I feel up to it. I think it’s a successful approach, because over the weekend I had my first itch to get back to my novel. I think I’m going to take this next week off as well, and come back refreshed and ready to work in January.

So, What’s Next?

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

Again, keeping things low-key this week. I’m not sure what else I’ll have to talk about on the blog this week, but if I think of anything, I’ll be sure to let you know. I plan on finishing World of Thedas vol. 1 as a sort of fun, “I-read-this-over-the-course-of-the-whole-year” kind of thing. That’ll put me at 67 books this year! And if my hunch is right, I might unwrap vol. 2 tomorrow and continue the tradition.

I don’t know if they’re will be any writing this week. I have more free time in the next few days than I’ve had in months, and I fully expect Red Dead Redemption to make a comeback and keep me glued to the couch in my spare time. But, if I get any ideas for a oneshot, or figure out where the heck this scene in my novel is going, I’ll be sure to write it down.

Image result for spying on whales

I’m still in the early stages of Knight’s Shadow, and I’m listening to a nonfiction book in short bursts. I don’t expect either of them to be complete before the end of the year, but at least my 2019 reading list is off to a good start! I’ll have more on that subject next week, when I break down 2018 and lay down the foundations for 2019.

Until later, Bloggos,

 

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

Book Review – Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Hey Bloggos,

I wasn’t able to finish reading Skyward before the book was due back to the library. The thing about Sanderson books is that they’re very popular, and holds abound. And if there are holds, you can’t renew. So, instead of accruing fines on a book I intended to buy anyway, I just went and bought the dumb thing. Which, it turns out, was a sound decision.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

skyward

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been slowing down on my mad dash of consuming Sanderson content lately. I don’t know. I think that last signing I went to (for Oathbringer) really turned me off to his books, through no fault of his own. There’s just such a cultish fervor surrounding Sanderson and his books, and I am definitely guilty of such behavior. So, I took a step back. I still haven’t read Oathbringer. And I wasn’t even all that excited to read Skyward.

That is, until I actually got a few pages into it.

Image result for skyward m-bot

This book reminded me why so many readers love Brandon’s books. Why I love Brandon’s books. It’s full of amazing characters, hilarious dialogue, and a plot that absolutely held me captive. I loved Spensa and the world she lives in, which I should have expected; Sanderson does world-building better than just about anybody else in the genre right now.

Spensa is the sixteen year old girl who just passed her pilot’s exam. But it doesn’t matter, because the Defiant Defense Force has zero interest in letting her fly. You see, Spensa, aka Spin, is the daughter of the DDF’s only coward. Her father abandoned his Flight during the Battle of Alta, and was subsequently shot down for his cowardice. Spensa has trained and studied her whole life to get into the DDF and prove them wrong about her dad, but Admiral Ironsides won’t give her the chance. They sabotaged Spensa’s test, and suggested she take a job elsewhere.

That is, until Captain Cobb, callsign: Mongrel, accepts Spensa into his classroom. It’s her one chance at redemption and she refuses to let it pass her by, no matter how difficult the Admiral makes her life.

Spensa is allowed to take her Flight class, and nothing else. She can’t join her Flight in the mess hall, she can’t bunk in the academy, and she can’t use the learning resources beyond her classroom. So, she lives in a cave she found by chance, sleeping in the cockpit of a crashed ancient starfighter.

Image result for skyward m-bot

In her spare time, because why not, she repairs the ship in hopes that she’ll be able to fly it when she graduates, since Ironsides is unlikely to let her fly no matter how well she does in her training. And, naturally, she’s out to find out the truth about her father, and what really happened that day at the Battle of Alta.

I’m not going to go into more details from here, because it would be spoiler-y and I really don’t want to ruin this book for anyone. There were quite a few zigs and zags that I didn’t anticipate and really enjoyed. I would prefer to preserve those for readers.

Know that this book did make me tear up a couple of times, and made me cheer out loud at least twice. My husband laughed at me as I read the last fifty or so pages on the couch, because I was yelling at the book quite a bit. In true Sanderson fashion, things do not end how I thought they would.

Thank goodness this is the first of a planned four book series, with the next book set to release in Fall 2019. I do not want to wait long to spend more time with Spensa and her Flight, callsign: Skyward.

I’m still reading Lies Sleeping. I’m having difficulty adjusting to my utter lack of free time lately. That and Red Dead Redemption 2 and a renewed fervor for all things Dragon Age is really putting a damper on my reading. But, it’s less than 300 pages and due back on Tuesday.

I’ll get it done.

Until later, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 49

Hi Blogland,

Last week felt unreasonably long. Like, each day just took forever and was needlessly complicated. I slept a lot of cope with it, which made achieving my goals a little tricky.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
  • Read Lies Sleeping
  • Write 2k words

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading A.V. submissions
    • Yes? I just did them this morning before I opened WordPress. I’m counting it.
  • Read Lies Sleeping
    • No. But, I did finish Skyward!skyward
  • Write 2k words
    • No, but I got real close.

Weekly Word Count: 1,586

I don’t really feel like I accomplished much this week. I wrote some overdue blog posts, and spent a lot of my free-time (such as it is) binge reading the newest Sanderson book. I did play some Red Dead Redemption 2, and on Sunday we made a fancy dinner, bought a Christmas tree, and assembled our new coat rack!

I was way too excited about that coat rack, by the way.

What’s Next?

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

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got going on right now. The blog posts should be easy since I’ll have the Skyward review to write. The new Peter Grant book isn’t very long and they always read fast, so I’m sure I’ll get that done as well. Really, the only question mark on this list is the writing. I’m feeling a bit mentally checked out right now, which is pretty typical post-Nano. We’ll see if I can pull out of this funk.

If not, that’s what video games are for.

So yeah.  I’m feeling good about my odds of meeting my reading goal for the year, and I’ve done a lot of writing this year. Just gotta stay productive and coast on into the new year.

Talk at y’all soon.

 

BZ