Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 28


Summer is finally here, at least according to the thermometers. Salem’s been enjoying a range of 90 degree weather, reminding me of home and filling me with a desperate need to find a swimming pool.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Finish tumblr prompt
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
  • Submit Lifelike
  • Review Madhu’s pages

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 7 of The Steel Armada
    • *drum roll* YES!!!! I wrote over 2,700 words on the book last week and it feels so. damn. good.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Yes! I managed to squeeze in another 700ish words last night after our Gloomhaven session.
  • Finish tumblr prompt
    • Nope. Though, I did look at it, so better than last week, haha.
  • Finish a Dresden audiobook
    • Yep! Brief Cases is done and off to the next person.
  • Submit Lifelike
    • Yep! It’s been out for a few days and haven’t heard anything yet. I probably won’t hear more about it until next week.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Of course.

Weekly Word Count: 3,464

When I wrote this list down last week, I felt daunted. That was a lot of bullet points, a lot of hope on a whiteboard. But, looking at it now, I feel really good seeing so much of it in black. Six out of seven ain’t bad, in fact, I’d say that’s a win.

I didn’t get the book review up like I wanted to, but this is a new week, with plenty of time to talk about all the reading I’ve been doing! I finally sat down and really hashed out what the hell needed to come next for Val. The chapter went mostly where I expected, although the stakes did get a bit more dire for her, which is always a good thing in your writing. The stakes are high in Sanctuary as well, as my couple finally has a major discussion about their actions and what’s to come.

My shipwreck tumblr prompt is languishing in my google drive. I might bounce over to a different prompt, simple because this one isn’t shaping up the way I want it to. It’s supposed to be funny, and so far it definitely is not.

I’ve got two audiobooks on deck right now, Side Jobs on disc for car listening and Bloodlist on my phone for any other chances I get to listen to a book. I’m also almost done with Moon Over Soho, the second Peter Grant book, with the third one patiently waiting on my library book shelf.

Lifelike and The Cost of Rain are both out. I received word that the latter is being held for further consideration, so my fingers are crossed that the editor likes it enough to take it. Wish me luck!

Madhu’s pages continue to show great improvement and are a testament to all her hard work. We’re almost done with this read through, and then it’s just editing and then sharing the full manuscripts for a finally proofread before we ship them off to Tim the Agent™.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write chapter 8 of The Steel Armada
  • Finish chapter 6 of Sanctuary
  • Post a tumblr prompt
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Finish an audiobook
  • Review Madhu’s pages

This week I have two book reviews to share. First, the review for Midnight Riot, and then the review for Brief Cases. If my reading keeps on at this pace July will have a lot of reviews posted on the blog.

The next chapter in The Steel Armada is a bit of a blank spot in my mind. I know it needs to slow down for a minute and then things are gonna go crazy again, because we’re pretty much at the end. I expect the bulk of my week to be spent working this out. But, I’m about halfway through this chapter of Sanctuary and I’d really love to finish it. The same goes for recording the next episode of Santa Sarita.

I have ever confidence that I’ll finish listening to an audiobook this week, probably Bloodlist, simply because it’s portable so I have more opportunities to listen to it. And of course, there’s Madhu’s pages, which I always complete. But, I actually have pages to share with her this week! Whaaaaaaattttttt??????

So, yeah. That’s my week. Just trucking on, basking in last week’s successes and trying to keep the momentum going.

Wish me luck!




Editing Check-In #3

Hey Blogland,

I didn’t expect this post to take so long to get to. The last time I talked about this project was at the end of May; that’s how long it took me to write less than five thousand words on The Steel Armada. Yikes.

So, what’s the state of the book?

As of right now, The Steel Armada sits at 20,042 words. That includes the first two chapters, which will not be in the final cut of this story. Those chapters were really me finding my feet in this new world I’d built. So, I know right now that I’ll cut about 5,500 words when I get to editing.

I’ve started chapter 7, as of yet untitled, but I’ve got at least another 2k words to write for it.  Then there will be at least one more chapter, maybe two. So, that should put the final word count somewhere around 26k. Then subtract the two starting chapters… and it’s definitely a novella.

Now, here are my thoughts on this:

I’m focusing on one character’s specific storyline. There are more stories to be told, and who knows? They could all come together and form a novel, but as of right now there is no larger, over-arcing plot that connects them. But, I have the world and I have the people and the more I get to know both, the more stories will come. But, for right now? I’m just focusing on Val and her experiences in this relatively small arc.

There are some nebulous ideas swirling in my brain that take place in Exodus (the world I’ve built). I have a slew of characters (Val, Ethan, Mac, Reema, Marcus, Dorver, Mickey, Dean, Richard Elder, Mei, Cleric Richings, Moira… I think that’s everyone so far) and they all have the potential to have stories of their own. I think I will end up spending a lot of time in Exodus over the next few years, really getting to know them all.

This is the part where I feel the need to hammer out a plan, mainly because that’s my nature. I really like lists and plans. I want to have an executable course of action for any and every possible scenario. Type A personality, right here. But, writing doesn’t always fit the plan, and I don’t want to hedge myself in too much with my own desperate need to set expectations.

The (tentative) Plan

  • Finish Val’s Story
    • Madhu and I set a deadline of August 1st, to have our manuscripts complete and sent to one another for feedback. Once we’ve edited and incorporated each other’s thoughts, we’ll send them to Tim the Agent™.procrastinator
  • Figure out Exodus
    • This is a vague bullet point that really umbrellas a lot of stuff. This will be creating the organization for the project as a whole, outlining future story ideas, fleshing out characters and the world, etc. This also includes deciding if there is a novel in there somewhere, or just collections of novellas and short stories.
  • Prioritize
    • Once the above is done, it’s time to figure out what comes next. Do I continue in Exodus? Do I move on to my second novel, another giant rewrite project? Do I finish From the Quorum? Do I start something new? That’s a lot of question marks, which makes me nervous, but ultimately I’m excited. The Steel Armada has dogged my steps for five years; I’m ready to move on.

And that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve got just over two weeks to get these last few chapters done and get to the end of this story. I’d like to get it done sooner so I can do a few edits before I send it to Madhu, so… two weeks. Which means I really need to get writing.

The next time you hear from me about this project will be after I write “The End” on it. I’ll come back to do a sort of Project Wrap Up post, hopefully by the end of the month.

Until then, Bloggos,




Book Review – Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne


Welcome to the first book review of July! I am super excited about this review, mainly because it is my first time writing about my thoughts on an Advanced Reader Copy, known colloquially as an ARC. Thanks to working in a library and being homies with the Collection Development Librarian, I can raid her ARC shelf anytime I’d like, and finally one caught my eye.

Now, if you follow me on Goodreads or Twitter then you probably saw all kinds of weird comments from me about this book as I slowly worked my way through it. I did my best to keep my posts and thoughts spoiler-free, and I will endeavor to do the same here.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kill the Farm Boy


Kill the Farm Boy releases in the US on July 17, 2018! You can still preorder a copy from Amazon or through your local, preferred retailer. Thanks to Edelweiss and Emily Byers for access to this ARC.

*A/N: I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars, but the Goodreads rating system does not allow for it. So, I decided to round up because I liked the book more than I didn’t.

I have not read any of Dawson’s or Hearne’s books before, and after reading this book I think that’s a mistake I need to rectify. If you haven’t gathered from the title, cover, and tagline on the book, Kill the Farm Boy is a comedy. And I think it’s a pretty successful one at that. Humor is such a tricky thing to write well, because what an audience finds funny is so incredibly subjective.

The look of a goat with a desperate craving for old boot leather.

I personally love puns and wordplay. I chuckle at the occasional dick joke. A talking goat calling his human companion “Pooboy” is funny to me. An aspiring Dark Lord who really just wants to be a food critic and whose magic always results in some sort of unexpected bread product is delightful. A rogue who trips over her own feet and blames the chickens is hilarious. Judge me as you will, but I make no apologies.

But, its more sophomoric tendencies aside, Kill the Farm Boy actually touches on some bigger themes and topics, like what constitutes ‘family’ and who your herd is, and pokes fun at the failings of crony capitalism and corporate governance. I think the commentary, though slim, is fitting and pertinent to American readers today.

In all of these ways, I think Kill the Farm Boy is very successful. I loved all of the characters, and the world of Pell is very well thought out and often tragically (read: hilariously) named.

Where it struggles is in the pacing. It took over a month to read this book, and while that was not all the book’s fault (mental health can be a bitch), the meandering plot didn’t exactly compel me to pick it up, either. I think there were some jokes that the story could have sacrificed to tighten up the plot a bit more, but at the same time, I enjoyed those side plots and jokes quite a bit.

Big takeaway #1: When I opened this book, I always enjoyed myself. I just didn’t feel the urge to open it very often.

I do think that the next book, for Kill the Farm Boy is the first in a planned series, may suffer less from the plodding sensation, since there’s less character introduction and “personal quests” to be done. I’m thinking this was the big introduction, and that from here things may streamline.

Big Takeaway #2: I will read the second book. I liked this one enough to give a sequel a shot.

So, I’d say, if you’re up for a laugh, and don’t want to take anything too seriously, give this book a try. But, I’d recommend giving yourself plenty of time, maybe whilst vacationing on a nice sandy beach, surrounded by glittering crabs and mai tais? Because this book is definitely a leisure read.

Speaking of leisure, I spent my entire day off sitting on the couch reading Midnight Riot from cover to cover. It was lovely. I’ll be back later in the week to tell you all about it!

Until then,




Book Review – The Master Magician (The Paper Magician #3) by Charlie N. Holmberg


I embarked on this journey with Ceony Twill and Emery Thane over a year ago. I found The Paper Magician to be a cute, lighthearted read that appealed to me for a multitude of reasons. A young, determined heroine embarks on a chilling journey through her mentor’s heart in order to save his life. Also, the mentor just so happens to be handsome, kind, and a bit of an enigma.

dot dot dot yes

But, while I enjoyed the first story immensely, the second one seemed to be a bit fumbling. There were a lot of characters that simply didn’t get enough screen time, Ceony’s decisions were almost indefensible, and the ending was… terrible. I had to take a break from the series, it was that bad.

But, here we are, finally ready to talk about my stalwart slog through what was supposed to be the final book in The Paper Magician series, The Master Magician. Beware some spoilers below.

Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars

master magician

This book was… frustrating. Ceony was foolish, childish, and often downright manipulative throughout the book. She was obsessed with Saraj, and unwilling to trust the people around her to do their jobs, putting herself at risk and allowing others to jeopardize their lives and livelihoods to help her.

I did not like Ceony in this book. I waited and waited for her to get her comeuppance, her karmic just desserts, or face some kind of consequences for her reckless and hurtful behavior.

… nope. She has a complete tantrum with her testing Magician, and though he’s snippy with her, that’s it. In fact, he sort of respects her more after she “stands up for herself” by screaming at him. She passes her test with only the slightest of hiccups. And all her snooping into Saraj’s whereabouts pay off when she finds Emery doing the same and they join forces to nearly get murdered, but end up saving the day.

Ceony’s ability to break her bond to paper and rebond to any magic is told to one person and then swept under the rug, never to be addressed again. And her completely pointless falling out with her sister is resolved by another stern talking to and the promise of hooking said sister up with her surly testing Magician.

Yes. You read that correctly.

So, Ceony gets everything she ever wanted, despite the fact she was a terrible person throughout this book. What really pissed me off about it was that her actions and obsession with Saraj are attributed to her PTSD over the events in the second book. I think Holmberg meant for it to come across as her seeking closure, that Ceony couldn’t take the next step in her life (passing her Magician’s exam, marrying Emery, etc.,) until she put Saraj and the Excisioners behind her.

What better way to do that than hunt down a known murderer yourself?

I also had problems with Ceony’s methods. She tracked down Saraj multiple times using her magic, which was cool to see, I guess. But Criminal Affairs, you know, the freaking magic police, couldn’t find him? Give me a break!

By page 130 I was prepared to give up on this book. Truly. I rarely give up, but I was so frustrated and disappointed that I wasn’t sure I could get through another 70 pages. But, I buckled down, got cozy in bed with a bunch of pillows, and made it happen.

And… I’m glad I did. This was not a good book. It was not a good way to end this series. I, obviously, have a lot of issues with it. But, those last 70 pages were fun and easily the best part of the whole book. Seeing Emery and Ceony work together to take out Saraj was really awesome, and it was written surprisingly well. I’m happy that Emery gets his happy ending.

I just wish Ceony could have suffered more consequences and had a growth arc of some kind. Because she was a petulant child through this whole series, and that was never addressed.

the plastic magician

There is now a fourth book in the series, The Plastic Magician. It follows another newly graduated student as she becomes a Polymaker. I am not going to read it. To me, it sounds like The Paper Magician all over again, but with a ‘different’ character. A young woman come from America to study under a mentor in her field. There’s romance, intrigue, and magic. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Reviews on Goodreads are mixed, with most folks stating they like the main character more than they liked Ceony, which is understandable. But that the plot was just meh. Which, I also find likely.

Ultimately, I have so many other books queued up, waiting for my attention, that I can’t waste time on more Holmberg books. At least, not for a long, long time. Maybe in a year or two I’ll come around and decide to give it a chance. Maybe.

Ugh. I hate writing critical reviews. I know how much effort and work goes into writing a novel. I know that Charlie N. Holmberg loves her characters like they’re children, little pieces of herself that she put out into the world. I’m sorry. I really did love the first book. I just… didn’t love the other two.

I’m chipping away at Kill the Farm Boy and Side Jobs, and Brief Cases showed up on the hold shelf yesterday. I’ve got Nightflyers chilling on my entry table, along with Midnight Riot, and the digital audio for Bloodlist downloaded and waiting.

I have a lot of reading/listening ahead of me!

Until then, Bloggos,



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!



Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 11

Well, this is awkward.

Last week’s goals were ambitious, and I apparently was not up to the task.

What did I want to do?

  • Publish 2 book reviews
  • Edit Lifelike
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 34
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Review Madhu’s pages


  • Publish two book reviews
  • Edit Lifelike
    • Nope. still haven’t received feedback from my friend, though that’s no excuse.
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 34
    • YES! That fic is now done and posted! I’ll just be over here, doing happy dances by myself.
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
    • Nope. Getting really close though. Should finish it tomorrow at the latest.
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Nope. Not even a little bit. Which is terrible.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yes. I’m still really enjoying her book so far.

Weekly Word Count: 2,392

Anything else I should mention?

Well, St. Paddy’s Day was a ton of fun. Also, apparently Irish Car Bombs are now called Dublin Drop Shots. The change in name did little to deter me from doing three of them in a row Saturday night, followed by impromptu karaoke.

The Oregon Writers Colony reached out to say they were still looking over the scholarship applications and that I should hear back from them sometime this week. That was promising. General rule of thumb is, the longer someone has your app, the better you’re doing. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

On that note, I still haven’t heard back about The Seasons, so that’s good. It hasn’t been rejected out of hand, at least. The submission period doesn’t end until 3/31, so I expect I won’t hear back until sometime after that.

I also spent some much needed time with my best friend, and spent down time at the house watching movies with the husbando. So, I didn’t focus so much on my writing goals this week as I did make time for my personal relationships. That’s going to happen from time to time, but now I’m ready to get back to work!

So, what now?

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

I’m reining the goals in for this week to try and get myself back on track. Just reading and editing. I’ve got another fanfic queued up to start writing so I can finish this huge series and call it good. Then I can get back to writing original fiction.

I’ve had a few new story ideas, which is nice. I’ve been stewing on the same handful of stories for a while and I was starting to think I’d somehow tapped all my creative energy. That’s silly of course, but it’s good to know that’s not the case, regardless.

Gunpowder moon
I expect it will be another quiet week on the blog as I buckle down and try to get all caught up. I should have the review for Gunpowder Moon up this week, and I’m going to start Quietus by Tristan Palmgren after that.

Until then, Blogland,




Book Review – The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin

Finally, after months and months of trying to make time for this book, I’ve finished it.

Don’t let that be a reflection on the book; it’s not its fault. I wasn’t reading much of anything when I first checked out The Stone Sky. It’d been over a year since I read The Obelisk Gate, and though my reviews helped me remember what had happened, picking up the pieces and jumping back in was a bigger job than I was prepared to do.

But, I kept trying.

And finally, almost six months later, it’s done.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Stone Sky

The Stone Sky is the final book in the Hugo award-winning Broken Earth trilogy. You can read my reviews of both The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate, but do beware of spoilers.

As in the previous two novels, Jemisin does some really interesting things with point of view, bouncing between three characters and their various timelines to tell the story of struggle and survival as Essun and her daughter unknowingly work against each other. The author spent the last two books developing the world, magic system, and characters, while delicately weaving the thread of plot through each of them, much like the silver threads of magic in the books.

By the time we get to The Stone Sky, things are getting dire. Nassun and Schaffa follow the mysterious grey Stoneater to the opposite side of the world, while Essun and the Castrima comm travel the dangerous road to the now abandoned city of Renanis.

But, it was the third point of view that was my favorite. For the first time in the series, there is a First Person narrator. It’s vague and set far back in the past, but as the story goes on you slowly put the pieces together and realize who’s been telling this story all along.

Honestly, we really should have known.

I don’t want to get too spoiler-y here, but I do need to talk a bit about this series from a writer’s perspective. This series is one that, with every book, had me constantly in awe. N.K. Jemisin is an artist. She told a story from a multitude of perspectives, many of which I could not readily relate to, and had me invested in each and every possible outcome.

N.K. Jemisin

She is an author who is purposeful and methodical. Nothing came across as superfluous or unnecessary, and I often had to stop and marvel at what I’d just read, especially when I realized how it connected with something I’d read in a previous book.

I will never tell a story the way N.K. Jemisin does. That’s okay. But, she has most definitely inspired me and reminded me that writing doesn’t have to be unadorned to be clear, and that genre fiction doesn’t have to be mainstream to be popular.

I cried at the end; because it was sad, yes, but also because it was perfect. How else could it have possibly ended? Ending a story, especially one as complex as The Broken Earth, is never easy. Rarely do I come to the end of a beloved series and feel satisfied with the outcome.

But, by the time I finally closed The Stone Sky for the last time, I felt… whole. There was a warmth in my chest at finally having all the pieces, and knowing how Essun, Nassun, Hoa, and all the rest ended the Fifth Season and set the world right.

It was powerful and poignant, and the series addressed such universal themes as birth, motherhood, death, and what makes a family. And it did so in a way that was indisputably natural for the world and its characters.

I still think The Fifth Season was the best book in the trilogy, in terms of enjoyment, but it was also the most straightforward of the tales. It developed the world and, really, a single character, while setting the tone and expectation of the narrative. The Obelisk Gate handled two new characters, and the bulk of the action and plot. The Stone Sky had the daunting task of bringing all of that together in a way that was effective and satisfying.

No easy task, and yet, it did so with apparent ease.

I really hope The Stone Sky wins the Hugo for Best Novel this year. I really think it and N.K. Jemisin deserve it. It’s worth mentioning here (and pretty much anywhere else) that Jemisin was the first black author to win the Hugo for Best Novel in 2016 for The Fifth Season. She did it again in 2017 for The Obelisk Gate.

I recently purchased another of her books, The Dreamblood Duology, of which I know nothing about. I bought it purely because she wrote it, and I adore her thanks to the Broken Earth trilogy. Her name on the book was all the coercion I needed.

Sadly, I won’t be reading anything from her again anytime soon. My reading list is pretty stacked at the moment. Hopefully the last half of the year will have some room to spread out and try something new.

Until then, I highly recommend The Broken Earth trilogy. Read it. You won’t be sorry.