Ramping Up for Fall

The air is different now. Even though it’s hot, and the sun is shining, the air doesn’t feel like summer anymore. There’s a crispness to mornings, and chill to evenings now. And though we’re all clinging desperately to our summer tans and tank tops, there’s no denying that fall is at hand.

Also, my Starbucks has Pumpkin Spice behind the counter (not available for purchase yet; calm the eff down). Fall is here.

With fall comes school. This online program is rigorous. Summer term ended on the 11th, and Fall term begins tomorrow. I just got to the point where I could relax. I’d come to terms with my sudden lack of responsibility, and was even enjoying it a little. And now it’s all back.

And though both of my classes are very interesting to me, they’re going to require a lot of my time. But, it’ll make the time go by that much faster.

My writing life has slowed, although I did get the opening paragraph of a new Caladria story down. I’m hoping to find time to finish it in the next couple weeks. But, I’m not going to beat myself up if it takes awhile.

I’m still reading, though starting A Game of Thrones right before school was probably a mistake. But, Trevor and I have been watching the show, and I couldn’t just stare at the books on my shelf anymore.

But, I’m here, plugging away. One more year of this, and I can finally devote substantial time to all the projects I want.

One more year…

It’s all worth it. Right?

BZ

The Comedown from the Perfect Trip

Blogland!

Vacation was quite possibly the best four days ever! We ate all the delicious food, drank a ton of beer, and spent nearly every waking moment outdoors, soaking in the unlikely sunshine and warm weather. We both rocked sunburns, though mine turned to tan well before Trevor’s. My Alaskan man is by far the whitest person I know.

whaleface

That look? I’d just spotted my first whale in the wild. A juvenile Gray Whale. I was completely mystified, and a tad emotional here.

As promised, have some pictures sprinkled throughout this post!

But now we’re back, and life is settling back into that all too familiar sprint. Work, eat + read, homework, sleep. Work, work, eat + read, homework, sleep. Somewhere in there I squeeze in a social life, but usually it’s just playing Magic The Gathering with our circle of friends. Or maybe staying up far too late to watch a couple episodes of Game of Thrones while we snuggle on the couch.

I like those nights.

lighthouse

Trevor caught this as we made our way down the 114 steps of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

I’m still reading, and a lot. Summer school has kept me dashing from novel to novel, and this Noir Literature and Film class has been awesome. Probably my favorite class so far at ASU, and I have this professor again in the fall, for a Science Fiction class. I’m excited.

I’m still reading for fun, though I’ve kept that to novellas and short fiction since I finished The Gentleman Bastards. And, of course, there’s Book Club. We’re meeting next week to discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I started it tonight, and so far, I actually enjoy it. We’ll see what everyone has to say Wednesday night.

After this we’re reading The Princess Bride, which will be fun. And my next pleasure read? I want to do something brand new. Something I know nothing about. But, also something fairly manageable in size. I only have a week off from school before I’m write back at it.

The Rogue Brewery Tour Train! So much fun!

The Rogue Brewery Tour Train! So much fun!

Maybe something different. Like, I, Robot. Or Lord Valentine’s Castle. Or maybe the newest Veronica Mars book, because why not?

Who knows? Certainly not I.

And writing? How’s that going?

Well, it’s not. And it’s slowly eating away at me. But, edits for Vessels are coming along, with only three (?) more chapters before the changes can be made in the computer. That’s going to take forever, but it’ll be worth it to see just how drastic the change is.

Tidepools during low tide at Cobbles Beach at Yaquina Head.

Tidepools during low tide at Cobbles Beach at Yaquina Head.

Plus, round two edits will go much faster, since the first round deal with a lot of the cohesion problems. I’m looking forward to it, kind of.

I haven’t dug up Cards yet, true to my word. But, after a bit of silence, Mal poked his head in, wondering just when he’d get to tell the rest of his story. And of course, Whit, Cora, and Jacob had to chime in as well. So, looks like there will be a sequel! I always thought so, but it’s nice to know that almost a year later, those characters still waiting around.

And what of Jordinn and Ellesaire? Of Joanna and Troy? Well, they’re still there. But, they’ve waited a long time as it is. What’s another year of school? And that story is still very much alive in my mind. I’m eager to get back to it. I won’t start the Cards sequel until the first draft of Jordinn’s Story is finished.

So, tentative plan:

I’d like to have Vessels ready for round two edits before Christmas. I’d like to continue editing through numerous drafts until I’m done with school. Any writing on Jordinn’s Story, or various short pieces for Caladria in the meantime is great! Once school is done, I’ll go back to normal human work hours. And if I can swing it, maybe even a little less. Like 30-ish. From there it’ll be all about polishing Vessels and finishing the rough draft of Jordinn’s Story. Once that’s done, I’ll start editing Cards and begin writing its sequel.

Me after nearly falling face first into the fragile ecosystem, and slippery by nature areas known as tidepools.

Me after nearly falling face first into the fragile ecosystem, and slippery by nature areas known as tidepools.

And of course, I’ll be reading constantly throughout.

School and the second job definitely threw a wrench in my writing spokes, but I think the lessons in time management and prioritization are worth it. I have accomplished a lot with very limited time. So when life calms down, I’ll have room to work on all the projects I want, and the skills to prioritize them and actually finish them on a set schedule.

And that’s invaluable to a writer.

Anyway, I have to go watch a movie for my noir class. Then to bed, so I can start my final paper in the morning before work. And then Saturday morning, I’m off to pick up my childhood best friend from Portland! I can’t wait!

Trevor took this postcard worthy shot from the walking path up from the lighthouse. It was a perfect trip.

Trevor took this postcard worthy shot from the walking path up from the lighthouse. It was a perfect trip.

Have a great night Blogland, as ever, thanks for reading this far!

BZ

Feeling Chatty

Hello again, Blogland!

I find myself with spare time, and all I can think of is talking to you.

I’m finally getting my life back together. It was a much longer adjustment period than I anticipated, but it’s coming together.

The other day I actually edited two chapters of Vessels, meaning I only have five left before it’s in the Second Draft! Whaaaat? Is that a thing? It’ll still take a lot of time, because the edits are all physical. Nothing has been changed in the computer yet, which means there’s a lot of work to do yet. But, a milestone is in sight!

I’m keeping up on my Caladria responsibilities, which is good. There’s a lot of projects upcoming, but I’m feeling good about it.

I’ve read The Maltese Falcon and watched the film with Trevor last night, while we listened to fireworks outside. I liked the film, but the book was just so incredible. I’ve liked both my forays into the Noir genre, so now I’m really looking forward to the rest of this course.

What else?

I’ve only got 120 pages left of The Republic of Thieves, which has me happy. Especially since the fourth installment is set to release in September! And, I’ve got some books on hold at the Library ready to pick up, so that’s good timing.

Anyway, I should be winding down for bed. Tomorrow’s my first day running the show at the Library, so I need to be on my A game. Wish me luck!

See you all soon, Blogland!

BZ

Somehow, Progress

Well, hello again!

This hasn’t happened in a while. Back to back posts? Is that even a thing anymore?

Well, it is today.

I finished reading The Maltese Falcon today. I loved it. So much so, that I placed a hold on Dashiell Hammett’s short stories, so I can read more of Sam Spade.

Today has been relaxing. I mean, I worked earlier, but I have most of the day off. Reading, eating Mexican food, catching up on homework and Caladria stuff. These are the kinds of things I find relaxing…

I seriously need a vacation.

In case you weren’t aware, Fab Fables #6 is out now! As usual, there’s some great stories waiting for you.

What else?

Oh! I actually edited a chapter of Vessels the other day. I know right? Who saw that one coming? And, I think I’m going to do another one today. I’m over halfway through with the first round of edits. Then I retype it all up, and have at it again.

If I don’t get my ass in gear, this novel is going to take years to edit. That is not acceptable. Granted, if we took just the actual time I spent on it, it’d be maybe a month or two…

Which is still not OK. I should never have neglected it so badly. But, I kept my promise. I haven’t looked at Cards at all. And I won’t, until I’m satisfied with Vessels.

Man, I’m going to be editing these manuscripts forever.

I got a B in my first Summer Class. Better than I anticipated, since I really didn’t try very much. Bummer that it’ll drop my GPA, but I figure I can bounce back. Especially since I’m loving this Noir class so far.

If you’re keeping tabs on me via Goodreads, you’ll see that I’m 70% done with my reading goal this year. Really, 30 books wasn’t enough of a challenge, not with school bolstering my TBR list. But, I don’t think I’ll be able to hit 52. I’m 6 books behind, and I just don’t have the free time to make up the gap. So maybe 45 will be a good place to aim for.

Anyway, I’m gonna go do things. I’m feeling motivated, and this migraine is finally fading.

Have a happy 4th Blogland!

BZ

Drowning

Hi.

I’m sorry for the gap in posts. It’s been a crazy month, and I’m barely managing to keep my head above the tide.

There’s been a lot of stress in my life in the last couple months. I’m surviving, but there’s been a lot of changes. I transferred from my Starbucks, where I worked for over three years, and am adjusting to my new store. A lot of names to learn, and new procedures and customers too.

I’m still killing it over at the library, and I’m still working an average of 52 hours a week. Tomorrow is my first day off this month. Tonight is the first Book Club meeting of the second list. We’re discussing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Devan is slaving away at homemade barbecue as we speak. I’m looking forward to it.

My personal reading has ground to a halt. I think I’ve read about 30 pages in the last two weeks, which is why I’m grateful for Book Club, because I absolutely devoured Miss Peregrine’s. I’m still working my way through The Republic of Thieves, and it’s so good! It kills me that I don’t have the time for it.

Summer school was a mistake. Everyone I talk to tells me I’m smart for doing it, that it was the right decision. But, I’m skating by in this class, bound for a mid-range B instead of my typical A+. It’s going to hurt my GPA. And that Dean’s List recognition for last term? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen again.

I will say that the books we’ve been assigned are generally dreadful. The Great Gatsby? I’ve read it twice before this class. I’m over it. The Old Man and the Sea? I read this my Junior year of high school, and wrote an AP essay on it that earned a 7. You AP veterans know what I’m talking about. Then we read Ceremony, which I really wanted to like. But, the delivery just wasn’t working. I loved the more poetic, chant-like moments, but the actual narrative was needlessly complex. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison was nice, but could have been such a shorter story. I ended up skimming a lot of it. And then Cat’s Cradle, by Vonnegut. The only book that actually captured my imagination and managed to entertain me.

We had a week to read and discuss each book. With my time stretched between the two jobs, this was difficult for me to do. And next term is going to be more of the same. Although it’s a class on Noir Literature, so the book list is already much more entertaining. Hopefully that will help.

Then there’s Caladria. I feel pretty bad. I took on more responsibility than I can handle. And I’ve been slacking with them, which is the last thing I want. But, my new Starbucks is promising to keep me around 20-25 hours a week, so I should have more time to devote to writing and editing. I don’t want to slack in this, it’s the only side project I have, and to give it up feels like surrendering a part of myself.

I haven’t written any fiction that isn’t Caladria related, and I tell myself that’s OK. Doesn’t really feel that way though. I’d write about trying to finally finish those Vessels edits, but let’s be honest, I don’t have the time.

So, I’m here, treading water. Every blog post is like my mouth breaking the surface and gulping in a lungful of air, before the tide swallows me up again.

We’ll see how long I can hold my breath.

BZ

White Lightning vs. Illusion

So…

I think I just wrote a comic book.

I guess you need a little more to go on.

I may have mentioned a while ago that I was participating in a free online course offered by the Smithsonian Institute called, The Rise of the Superheroes. Michael Uslan and Stan Lee are the teachers, and thousands of students from all over the world have signed up.

Me, Crazybull, and our friend Flash have all joined. If you can’t tell, my world is big on nicknames.

Anyway, the major assignment is to write your own comic book. Or, at least a few panels. Flash and I decided to team up. He created his super hero, White Lightning. White Lightning is a dorky, awkward, and completely loveable speedster who’s desperate for truth.

And in our inaugural issue, he meets Illusion, an enigmatic shape shifter, who’s also a computer wizard, hell bent on stealing, and selling, all the information he can get his hacker hands on.

Now, I can’t draw to save my life. And Flash is only a trifle better. So he’s drawing, I’m writing. I created Illusion, and I can’t wait for this cocky trickster to get some time on the page.

Anyway, Flash and I sat at our favorite brewery and outlined the entire issue. It’s about 30 panels, so maybe six pages. As it sits now. I know myself, and I’m likely to flesh things out a bit in the writing. The only problem is that I have to write a script.

As in, a script. That same form I swore off 2+ years ago. I’ve never written a comic book before, and have no idea what I’m doing. I know that the script has to come first, which means I have to be thorough. We won’t have the art to go off of… the art needs to go off my script. Blegh.

But, the story we hashed out is pretty damn good. I’m excited to get working on it. And the two Caladria stories that I’m waiting to get the green light for.

I’m beginning to think of myself as an Elf expert for Caladria. I’m in charge of 4 stories all revolving around Elves, or Allaf’dari, as they call themselves. And I love it. I have a lot of influences, including Tolkien and Dragon Age, but the ‘dari are growing into their own.

I’m supposed to be doing English homework right now, but instead I’m daydreaming somewhere between fanfiction, my fiction, The Gentlemen Bastards, and beer.

I’ve got to pull myself together…

Anywho, I have to at least attempt my homework tonight, before Trevor meets me at the brewery.

I’ll see you soon Blogland.

BZ

Book Review- Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Summer is finally making its appearance here in Salem. It was a comfortable 80ish degrees today, with a smattering of clouds and a light, cool breeze. Pretty idyllic. I spent the vast majority of the day sipping beer on the patio of my favorite brewery in the company of good friends.

Days off don’t get much better than that.

Last week was the final meeting of the first round of books for my Booze & Books book club. That’s what we’re calling it these days. And Wednesday’s meeting lived up to its name.

I made a white sangria, with kiwis, raspberries, and nectarines. It was delicious, and I drank a large portion of it. Then I ate the fruit out of it. It was a dangerous thing. And Thursday morning’s hangover was the proof.
sangria

Anyway, we talked a bit about Stardust, and most everybody thoroughly enjoyed it. A couple people said that the language was initially a bit difficult to understand, which I don’t agree with, but I do read a lot more fantasy than most of the other members.

A couple members also mentioned that the movie was quite good as well. I’m terrible at watching movies, but I’ve still added it to my list of films I claim I’ll watch some day.

What I really loved about Stardust was the narration. Straightforward and simple, it felt like I was being told a fairytale, instead of just reading one. The foreshadowing is nicely done, subtle, but noticeable enough to keep your brain guessing.

I was surprised at how little world building there was. The world beyond the wall isn’t really described at all. Gaiman allows the reader’s previous knowledge of fairy tales and bedtime stories to fill in any gaps in the setting, but also uses that knowledge to develop characters very quickly.
Stardust

I would say that Stardust is a magical little book. It reads effortlessly, mainly because it doesn’t feel like reading, and the plot twists and turns in fresh, yet familiar ways. It’s a satisfying adventure filled with magic, mystery, and romance.

The story will stay with me, and when I recently considered trading the book in to make more space on my shelves, I was appalled at myself. It’s not that kind of book. Not the kind you can read once and be done with. It’s a read, time and again, book. And one I’m likely to share with my children as bedtime stories, should I ever have any.

I also want to point out that this was my first experience with Gaiman. I follow him on twitter, and I love how active he is, but I’d never read anything of his before. Now, I’m quite likely to read anything with his name printed on it.

I suggest you do the same.

I’m sorry for the short review. My brain is a bit mushy, and I have to be up early in the morning. So, just a few updates, and then it’s off to bed with me.

fabfables5
I finished the rough draft of my next Caladria story, Fight of the Best. That’s a working title, and knowing us, we’ll come up with something better in editing. If you haven’t been keeping track, issue #5 of Fab Fables released earlier this week! We’ve dropped the price to £1.25 for each issue, so now is the perfect time to get caught up!

My next story is slated for issue #7, which will also see me editing, so I’m looking forward to a busy couple of months!

I’m still reading The Republic of Thieves, and it’s really good so far. I think a like it better than Red Seas Under Red Skies so far, but I’ll know better when review time comes along.

Summer school was a mistake, but I’m not giving up now. It’s much too late for those kinds of thoughts. We’re reading The Old Man and the Sea this week, and though I hated it in high school, I think it deserves a second chance now that I’m older. Next week is Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages, ever since I attended a lecture of hers back in Community College. So I’m looking forward to that.

And of course, with the first round of books completed, that means book club has a new list! This time, we’ve got six titles, since we now have six members.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

We’re starting with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. A couple members began reading already, and the feedback is good so far. I’m hoping that this list will be more entertaining for everyone.

Anyway, bed is calling to me, and I am not one to keep it waiting. I’ll see you soon Blogland!

BZ