Goals Summary 2019 – Wk 32

Bloggos,

Yesterday was my first day at my new job. Permit me a moment to gush.

I am now a high school Library Media Assistant. I’m the only library staff in the school, which means when it comes to the library, I’m in charge. It’s a big job, like, a really big job. And I couldn’t be more excited!

Over the month of July I had a lot of time to think about what the library might look like and what my priorities would be once I was in the building. Today I spent the bulk of my time working in the front office answering phones and directing families to the gym to get registered for the school year. BUT, I was able to sneak away and poke around the library a little bit.

Here’s what I’m working with:

Honestly, I was prepared for a lot worse. The bones of the space are fantastic, and there are some details that I really enjoy. There’s also a lot of really old books and a woefully unbalanced collection. There’s a lot of work to be done, but I can see it. I have a vision and the beginnings of a plan are forming. I’m ready to get to work!

Speaking of…

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Work on Whales

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
    • Nope. Whoops.
  • Work on Whales
    • YES! I got some great quality work in and I couldn’t be happier.

Weekly Word Count: 1,234

I was much more productive this last week than I expected to be. I started the week off with a cold, so it was slow going for a while, but I rallied at the end of the week and managed to get a healthy writing session in. I also deep cleaned and organized most of the house, which feels really nice going into a whole new job this week.

Outside of writing, blogging, and cleaning, I did a whole lot of nothing. I watched the new season of Veronica Mars, a passed out watching Duck Tales, and watched more Great British Baking Show. So, yeah. Media consumed.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Work on The Lament of Kivu Lacus

I think this must be getting boring by now. It’s the same shit every week. But you know, don’t fix what ain’t broke. Or some such.

I don’t have super high hopes, mainly because it’s my first week at work and all my thoughts are absorbed with all things library. Which I think is fair. Also my best friend just moved back to town, so I’m sure there will be social expenditures this week as well.

There is a hike coming up this weekend to Mount Hebo. I don’t know much about it other than, once at the top, you’re supposed to be able to see all the way to the ocean if it’s a clear day. Sounds like the exact thing I want to do with my Saturday morning.

So, yeah. There’s the plan. We’ll see what I make of it. I don’t have much blogging planned for this week, but hopefully I come up with a good reason to come back before next Monday.

‘Til then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

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Reading Round Up – July 2019

With a sudden net gain in free-time in July, I read a healthy amount. Most of it nonfiction, so most of these titles will be new to you and sadly the “thoughts” aren’t as effusive as they are when I read more fiction. I didn’t read as many short stories as I would have liked this month, but hey. I’m still good with how much time I spent reading this month.

Title: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1)vm thousand dollar tan line
Author(s): Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A quick and satisfying plunge back into the witty and gritty noir world of Veronica Mars. This book reads exactly like an arc of episodes from the original show. There’s plenty to like here, especially if you’ve watched the movie recently. For a more detailed breakdown, check out my full review.
Recommend: Absolutely! Especially if you’ve watched the movie but haven’t started the new season yet. There are some things you might want to know.

Title: The Weeding Handbook: a Shelf-by-Shelf Guidethe weeding handbook
Author: Rebecca Vnuk
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: A really easy read, full of good tips and knowledge but shared in approachable language. I plan on buying a copy for my personal collection. I’m sure I’ll have occasion to use it in the coming years.
Recommend: If you’re in the library field, absolutely. It breaks down weeding collections shelf-by-shelf, making a humongous task that much easier.

Title: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2)vm kiss and tell
Author(s): Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: Another solid contribution to the Veronica Mars canon. Characters, setting, and tone come together to make up for the inconsistent pacing and competing plot lines. Veronica is her usual self, and honestly, it’s starting to get old. Get my full thoughts in my review.
Recommend: Sure. Again, if you’re a fan of the show you’re still going to enjoy this. If you have no idea what the hell Veronica Mars even is, you may want to pass.

Title: Library Management Tips That Worklibrary management tips.jpg
Author: Carol Smallwood
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book was a little disappointing. I don’t think it was the book’s fault, but it didn’t actually have much content I could put to use in my new job. It’s a very broad look at library management aimed more specifically at sizable Public Libraries. I’m working in a high school media center, so a lot of the content did not translate. I still read it, because it’s stuff I find interesting and I may have need of the knowledge someday. Also, the language of the book was… dry. Made it a bit difficult to get through.
Recommend: Meh. If you’re really into best practices for library management and operations, go HAM.

Title: Leading from the Library: Help Your School Community Thrive in the Digital Ageleading from the library
Author(s): Shannon McClintock Miller and William Bass
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: I found the writing really prohibitive in this book. It’s chock-a-block full of lingo and different educational standards and I was a bit adrift through the whole thing. I think there’s valuable information in here, but it may require a reread once I’m settled into my role.
Recommend: Meh. Not so much. Again, only if you’re really interested in the details of how libraries work.

Title: Hacking School Libraries: 10 Ways to Incorporate Library Media Centers into Your Learning Community (Hack Learning Series, volume 20)hacking school libraries
Author(s): Kristina A. Holzweiss and Stony Evans
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Oh man! This book! I LOVED it. Each chapter was really well laid out, with a ton of information, followed by action steps for the reader to take as soon as they’re ready. There were a ton of pictures and diagrams and a huge list of resources in the back. I’m going to buy a copy, for sure.
Recommend: Yes. But again, only if you really want to know more about working in a school library.

Title: “Skerry-Bride”sonya taaffe.jpg
Author: Sonya Taaffe
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent 2: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): Bogi Takács
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It’s short but languid, twisting and turning through the language. Grim with longing, poignant and tragic but lined with hope. It reads like a fairy tale, but it’s in second person which is always fascinating to me.
Recommend: Yes.

Title: “The L7 Gene”jeanne thornton.jpg
Author: Jeanne Thornton
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent 2: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): Bogi Takács
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: Man. I’m still not sure about this story. I… liked it? It’s as far from “Skerry-Bride” as it could be. Straightforward prose, anger in every line, it works for the tale. But, reading it right after something so elegant and artful as “Skerry-Bride” probably did it a disservice. The plot is very intriguing, but the ending is open and a little unsatisfying.
Recommend: Sure. Another short tale with punch, worth the half-hour or so to take it in.

Reading Round Up – June 2019

June was a tumultuous month for me. My reading, much like my writing, came and went. I was distracted and had trouble committing to much of anything. That being said, I read more than I thought I did! Hurray!

Title: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)in an absent dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Trade Paperback ARC
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I had low expectations for this book, since I wasn’t overly fond of the third one, but I LOVED this book. It tells Lundy’s story, of how her door opened and her time in the Goblin Market. I found it to be a perfect blend of cynicism and whimsy that really captured my attention.
Recommend: Yes, though you’ll want to have read at least the first book, preferably all of them first.

Title: Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2)knight's shadow
Author: Sebastien De Castell
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator(s): Joe Jameson
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This story is much darker than the first, and let’s be real the first book had five days of torture and a weeklong Purge scenario. I really liked this book, but less for the actual plot and more because I love the Greatcoats (especially Kest and Brasti) and Joe Jameson’s narration is fantastic. I love listening to Falcio talk, which is fitting, seeing as he does so damn much of it. See my full review for more details.
Recommend: Yes. Just buckle up and prepare yourself for some discomfort and some irritation.

Title: Revenger (Revenger #1)revenger
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A – Did Not Finish
Thoughts: This book struggled from page one. I’m hesitant anytime I read a story with a teenage girl protagonist written by a middle-aged man, but I also like to give it a fair shot. I made it about 80 pages before I finally had to call it. The plot was slow to build, the characters were either unlikable or pretty cliched. There were a lot of cool concepts, but the writing and characters weren’t compelling enough to convince me to do the work to read it. When I have a TBR that’s literally overflowing I don’t have time for bad books. Sorry, not sorry.
Recommend: No.

Title: The October Man (Rivers of London 7.5)the october man
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I’m usually pretty ambivalent about the Rivers of London novellas, but this one was really good! It was fast paced, introduced all new and likable characters, and had a really intriguing plot. It also made me want to visit Trier really badly. I liked Tobias, although his narration wasn’t super different from Peter’s, just with a lot less humor and geekery.
Recommend: If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll like this installment.

Title: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)this savage song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Format: Trade Paperback, Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This book surprised me, which is silly since it’s by Victoria (aka V.E.) Schwab. She absolutely blew my mind with the Shades of Magic books, and after this book I think I’ll trust her with just about any book she wants to give me. Verity is a post-apocalyptic (sorta) version of the Midwest. In this world, literal monsters are born from violence. There’s the Corsai, made of shadows and teeth, the Malchai, which seem to be even creepier vampires, and the Sunai, which eat the souls of sinners with a song. It’s incredibly imaginative with wonderful characters yet again. I did give it four stars because it was a little slow to start and felt a little bit… tropey. Like, it very much felt like a typical YA book until about page 100. Not that that’s inherently bad, but it’s not my fave. Pretty much everything after that was spectacular though! Find out more in my full review!
Recommend: Yep! Treat it with patience until around page 100 though.

Title: “Where Monsters Dance”A. Merc Rustad
Author: A. Merc Rustad (now Merc Fenn Wolfmoor)
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is… weird. In a really good way. An imaginary friend turns out not to be so imaginary, and the main character has to save them in a hidden dimension of benevolent monsters. I really liked the blend of reality and imagination.
Recommend: Yep. This is a visceral and whimsical tale well worth the read.

Title: “Be Not Unequally Yoked”Alexis A. Hunter
Author: Alexis A. Hunter
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It was so unbelievably up my alley. A young Amish man lives with a terrible secret: sometimes, he turns into a horse. The lines are blurring between him and the mare he becomes, until finally they are no longer separate identities. This story accomplishes so much. It’s a trans story, it’s a coming out story, it’s a first love story, it’s a story about religion and family and finding your place in a world you don’t really fit into. It does all of that with beauty and grace and ethereal quality that kept me hooked.
Recommend: Yes! I think there’s something here for just about anyone.

Title: “The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad”molly tanzer
Author: Molly Tanzer
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I liked this. It’s more straightforward than a lot of the other stories in this collection, and it’s Weird Fiction, which I read a lot of. The plot was a little predictable, but I liked it nonetheless. A tale of body-snatching, dark rituals, and how fear and hate can have unexpected consequences.
Recommend: Sure! It was a fun story.

Title: “Kin, Painted”benjanun
Author: Penny Stirling
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I had to take some time to really marinate on this story. It’s very quiet, with not much action at all. A nameless character struggles to find their “paint” in a family full of artists. The art in this story is more than expression, it is identity. What I really liked was that, while the character struggled and experimented, the family members never once judged or condemned. They support the main character and treat them with kindness and patience. I loved that. It was a lovely and hopeful note to end the collection on.
Recommend: Yes. Honestly, I recommend the entire collection.

 

The Recap – June 2019

What a rollercoaster month June was. Full of writing, editing, hiking, sudden and utterly unexpected unemployment, reading, and binge-watching uplifting television to turn off my brain.

ting
There’s nothing that Aziraphale and Crowley can’t fix! Well, besides Armageddon, that is.

June Goals

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Sorta. It’s close. I thought it was done, sent it a couple places, but now think it still needs some tweaks. So, I don’t know. It came a super long way and I’m proud of my output on this project during the month, but the story isn’t quite there yet. Also, it’s now called A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. Three stories are still out. These markets all have longer average wait times, so it’ll probably be awhile before I hear anything back from them.
  • Read one short story a week
    • Yes? I read them all in like, a week. But I read four of them, so that still counts. Right?
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes. Though not as much as I would have liked. I read five titles this month, counting Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, which I really read over the course of the first half of the year, but finally finished in June. I’m still two book ahead on my Goodreads Challenge, which is a pleasant surprise since I feel like I haven’t been reading nearly enough lately.

Monthly Word Count: 6,298

I should feel pretty good. My monthly goals on my whiteboard are all in black. That means they’re done. I should get a cookie or something. I also finally got that last trophy in Detroit: Become Human, so I am obviously super cool and not a nerd at all.

As for hikes, there were only two this month because of various goings on in my life as well as a trip out of town for my hiking buddy. But, we still managed to hike both Marion Lake and Cape Meares this month, which were both stunning and quite challenging. I can tell that my cardio is improving (easily done seeing as my cardio is notoriously bad) and my legs are building up muscle. I’ve also found that hiking really helps settle my mind and get me focused for the week ahead. I’m still loving these Pacific Northwest adventures. Marion Lake

We also spent a healthy amount of time clearing out our horribly overgrown backyard. It was nice to be out in the warm weather, but man I super-di-duper hate yard work. But, the hard part is all done now, and we can spend the month of July getting it perfected. We’re even considering building in a fire pit! Fancy.

Writing-wise this was a very straightforward month. I worked on A Lullaby for Mattie Barker pretty much exclusively, except for a couple of tumblr fanfic prompts. I wish I had more enthusiastic news about the writing process, but this story is a weird one. It’s hard to classify and I took some narrative risks with it that were relatively new to me. I don’t know if it’s successful, or if it even can be successful. But I like it. I’m proud of what it is so far. I just think there’s still something not quite right about it.

Pretty sure it’s the ending. I just don’t know how to fix it. Yet.Three Arch Rock

I did start working on a new short story, though I feel a little disingenuous saying so. This story is incredibly vague for me still. I know so little about the plot and the characters that really I’m just writing to get to know them all, and eventually I’ll have enough to shape it into something like a story. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Oh yeah, there was a migraine in there too. And an eye appointment (I’m getting prescription sunglasses!) and a massage. Self-care and all that.

July Goals

  • Polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Finish Whale Song rough draft
  • Keep reading!

A little more ambitious this month, but I’m also not working right now. I have more time, even as I’m applying for jobs and catching up on housework. I ought to get as much writing work done as possible, right?

I have a couple hikes lined up for this month, three I think. But, I also have a lot of socializing this month what with a good friend’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. That’s all stuff to look forward to, though. It’s going to be a really good, really weird month.

I’ll keep saying that until it comes true.

Talk soon, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #26

Blogland. I don’t have much to say this morning. No quip about the weather or complaints about how fast last week went by. There’s just me, a laptop, and you. Let’s just get to it.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Read something!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Not a lot of substance, because it’s been a hard week, but they’re there.
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghoststhis savage song
    • Yes? I thought I did, and sent it out. Got rejected. Then I got some feedback from a friend and made some changes last night. And by some changes, I mean largely rewrote it. So… Yeah. I’m not really sure where it is at this moment. Also, it’s been retitled A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Read something!
    • Yes! I finally finished This Savage Song.

Weekly Word Count: 1,111

Man. This has been a week. I did some errands on Wednesday and felt great most of the day, but Thursday, Friday, and particularly yesterday were all very hard for me. But, I feel like a broken record about this. So, let me say it for the last time.

LOSING A JOB YOU LOVE IS FUCKING HARD.

There. I’m done with that now. Moving on.

Writing-wise this week was pretty non-eventful. I edited and tweaked Lullaby, wrote a little bit for a new short story that’s still very nebulous, and then feverishly made a bunch of changes to Lullaby. I haven’t looked at them yet to see if they make sense or are in anyway better, but I felt inspired last night, so hopefully it was the right decision.

I didn’t go hiking last weekend, but spent the day with family and had some really good food at a new New Orleans inspired place in town. I finally earned the last trophy for Detroit: Become Human, so I can finally say I beat that game! And we watched lots of The Great British Bake Off.

Basically, I tried my best to do things that were mind-numbing/relaxing. If I thought too much then I felt wildly out of control which is a 100% guaranteed way to spike my anxiety. So I did things to feel in control. Yard work. Paint my nails. Clean my office. Play video games. It would have been nice if it weren’t for the need for literal escapism.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
  • Read a short story

I actually have quite a bit of blogging to do this week. The monthly update, a book review, and maybe even a six month review of the blog and my writing in 2019 so far. There’s also the reading round up for June, but I wouldn’t expect that until next week at least. So, lots of action on the blog in the coming weeks.

I’ll talk more about my goals for Exodus: Descent in tonight’s Monthly Recap, but I need to include it in this week’s goals if I want to get started on that project.

IMG_20180825_171815 (1)The new short story is… weird. It doesn’t know what it is yet, or what it wants to accomplish. I’m just writing until things gel together, and then I’ll see what I can make out of it. It’s SF and very character driven, at least so far. It was inspired by a card from a board(?) game called Mysterium. The story has grown since then and the card doesn’t really reflect it anymore, but that’s where the kernel came from.

I haven’t read a short story in a while, so I wanted to make a point of it this week. That will be in addition to the reading and listening I’ll be doing anyway. I’m still (slowly) listening to Saint’s Blood and just started reading Our Dark Duet, the sequel to This Savage Song, last night. I expect my reading will be much improved this month, what with my sudden free time.

But, that’s all the blog and writing goals. I don’t have answers for what comes next beyond those. I have a list of jobs to apply for, have just applied for unemployment (that’s a first!), and have a list of chores to get done each day.

I don’t sit still well and I don’t want to wallow, so I’m keeping myself busy. Which reminds me, I think it’s time to talk the dog for a walk.

Later, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

Reading Round Up – May 2019

I feel like I didn’t read much this month, but that’s mostly because the first two weeks of the month were spent non-stop writing. With that in mind, I suppose I didn’t do half bad. Actually, now that I have it all gathered in one place, turns out I read quite a bit!

Title: Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1)every heart a doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: I didn’t know anything about this series beyond the cover copy, so my expectations were basically non-existent. I really liked the characters, especially Jack and Christopher. I think it was a fun story that’s really inventive. Worth the afternoon to read it.
Recommend: Sure. It’s a fun, quick story that leaves you wanting more.

Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2)down among the sticks and bones
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This is the story of Jack and Jill and their time in the Moors! Yes! I loved it. I ached for the twins when they were forced into roles and thoughts that were never their own. I really enjoy how McGuire can narrate such mundane moments with fairytale words. It weaves a spell over the whole story and I desperately want to emulate it.
Recommend: If you liked the first one, absolutely! There’s even more to love in this one.

Title: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)beneath a sugar sky
Author: Seanan McGuire
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: This was my least favorite of the three so far. I wasn’t very attached to Sumi and I didn’t much care for her daughter. I also didn’t feel much for Cora either, even though we share a lot of similarities. But, Kade and Christopher are back and I LOVE them, so it worked out. The Wayward Children venture into Confection to bring Sumi back to life so that her daughter can be born and the world saved from the false Queen. A really interesting plot, but I found Confection really frustrating. Nonesense worlds are not for me.
Recommend: Yep. Still totally worth an afternoon to read, and makes you a little warm and fuzzy inside at parts.

Title: Deadpool: Secret Agent Deadpoolsecret agent deadpool
Author(s): Chris Hastings and Salva Espin
Format: Graphic Novel
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This comic book is absolutely ridiculous, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s basically Archer, but with Deadpool playing the title role after he mistakenly kills a secret agent and takes his place in the agency. The Merc with a Mouth gets to put his very specific set of skills to good use for once in this wild ride of a comic series.
Recommend: It’s Deadpool. If you like vulgarity, blood and gore, and absolutely insane plots, then you’re gonna love this volume.

Title: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)all systems red
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This is another novella series that I knew nothing about before I dove into it. I just read the blurb that said “anti-social AI” and knew I should give it a try. Turns out, I too love Murderbot. I inhaled this novella and would happily read it again. The first person perspective is witty, casual, and hilarious. I laughed out loud frequently. The action sequences are incredibly well done and often awesome. Seriously, this is a great little book.
Recommend: Yes! I promise, if you don’t mind some F bombs here and there, you will love Murderbot too!

Title: Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2)artificial condition
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thoughts: I loved this, and the only reason it didn’t get five stars is because I thought it could have been longer and a little more fleshed out. I also felt that Murderbot’s quest to figure out what happened before it had its memory purged was over too quickly, though I liked that it wasn’t a neat resolution. I also loved ART and hope it makes a comeback soon.
Recommend: Yep. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.

Title: Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)rogue protocol
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I think this is the story where Murderbot really hits its stride. This was a gripping action story with way more emotion than I was prepared for. I still laughed a bunch, don’t you worry, but I also cried a little too. Yet again, it’s Murderbot’s connections with other AI that really standout, this time with Miki, a “pet robot” that surprises Murderbot with how deeply it cares for the people around it. And how much those people care for it.
Recommend: Absolutely. Even if you weren’t in love with Artificial Condition, give this one a shot because it’s a return to form.

Title: The Wicked + the Divine vol. 8wicdiv 8
Author(s): Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson
Format: Graphic Novel
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: While this isn’t a continuation of the story so far, it is a super fun collection of side stories and prequels that give a little more context for the world and story. There are some really funny spoofs included as well, such as the Scooby Doo AU (that’s “Alternate Universe”) that had me cackling in bed and waking my husband repeatedly.
Recommend: If you’ve read the rest of the series so far, you should absolutely read this.

Title: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4)exit strategy
Author: Martha Wells
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: Holy hell. This book was tense. Nonstop action throughout and a return to Dr. Mensah and her team. I loved every moment of this story, though my fingernails probably hated it since they were chewed to the point of bleeding I was so stressed. Also, yes, I did cry at the end.
Recommend: Yes. You have to read this book, and if you haven’t yet, please read this series!

Title: Evil Eyeevil eye
Author: Madhuri Shekar
Format: Digital Audiobook
Narrator(s): Harsh Nayyar, Annapurna Sriram, Bernard White, Nick Choski, and Rita Wolf
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: This wasn’t on my radar at all but I was a little listless after finishing Murderbot and wanted to listen to something while I did chores. Since it was only a couple hours long I thought, why not? Turns out, this was a really impressive story I would have never tried without my Audible subscription. I loved the narrations, and though the story was a might predictable, I still really enjoyed it. The climax scene was incredibly intense to listen to and it definitely had me sweating.
Recommend: Yes! If you have an Audible subscription, this was one of the Audible Originals for May. I think you can still get it though. It’s only a couple hours long and totally worth it. It was a great way to power through some chores.

Title: “Splitskin”E. Catherine Tobler
Author: E. Catherine Tobler
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor: K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I won’t lie, I don’t think I understood half of what happened in this story, but it was so beautiful, so lyrical and poetic and utterly fascinating that I didn’t really care. I just wanted to languish in the language for a little bit longer. This is definitely one I would reread, in hopes of better comprehension and because the words were just that wonderful.
Recommend: Yes, but only if you can enjoy a story for the craft alone. I won’t guarantee that you like what it has to say, or even understand what it has to say. But if you likes words and how people string them together, you’ll like this story.

Title: “A Salt and Sterling Tongue”Emma Osborne
Author: Emma Osborne
Collection: N/A
Editor(s): N/A
Original Publication: Uncanny Magazine, Issue 28
Format: Digital Publication
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I loved this story. It’s very poetic with a rhythm that hints to the sea. It’s a heartbreaking story, so be prepared for that, but it’s really quite beautiful too. I think it’s worth a re-read sometime soon.
Recommend: Yes. It’s a little bit longer than I normally like, but it shouldn’t take long to actually read. It’s worth every moment.

Title: “The Need for Overwhelming Sensation”bogi takacs
Author: Bogi Takács
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is wild. A lot happens very quickly and I was left wondering what the hell was going on. I felt disoriented through it, but I’m not sure that wasn’t the point. There’s a very steep learning curve and you have to trust the story to give you context as you go. But, I ultimately liked the world building and the magic/science used to power lightspeed jumps. It was an extremely intriguing blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy that I admittedly loved. The plot was a little vague, even as so much was happening. I was never very certain about what the point of it all was. I still liked it.
Recommend: Sure! If nothing else, take a chance on it and see what you think.

Title: “The Librarian’s Dilemma”E. Saxey
Author: E. Saxey
Collection: Transcendent: the Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction
Editor(s): K.M. Szpara
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: A very interesting story about a person who’s trying to modernize and digitize an academic library and encountering resistance from the head librarian. It’s shockingly pertinent to today’s slowly evolving libraries, but also asks a really important question: are there some writings that aren’t worth saving?
Recommend: Sure. If you have any experience with libraries I think this will be much more effective. I know I related to it because of that.

 

The Recap – May 2019

May was a weird month, yo. It started out with this mad dash to get the book done, and then screeched to a crawl as I relaxed and struggled to find my writing legs again in the aftermath.

May Goals

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read a short story each week
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish Tavi rough draft
    • YES!!!!!!! It took a concerted effort to get it done on schedule, but I did!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yep. I received a few rejections this month, but everything is back out and waiting for evaluation.
  • Read a short story each week
    • Not quite. I read four short stories, but there was an extra week in May and I didn’t squeeze one in during that week.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! Since I finished Tavi I’ve read/listened to 10 titles! Keep an eye out for the forthcoming Reading Round Up to learn more.

Monthly Word Count: 20,205

The last leg of writing Tavi was… exhausting. I was a woman possessed, the final chapters gripping me by the collar and dragging me along with them. Words came faster than I could rightly keep up, until the very last few scenes, where they slowed and demanded I pay strict attention to what came before so I could shore up any loose ends. I haven’t gone back to read it yet, but I felt really good about everything came together at the end. If you want to read more about the whole “writing a book” thing, I have a post for that.

Short story submissions continue to continue. This month was a little bit tough because I had a story out for 120 days and received a form rejection on it. I raged a bit at that and I’m still salty whenever I think about it. I’m not convinced I’ll submit to that market again, especially since I bought an issue of their magazine and wasn’t super impressed with what they were publishing. But, I also know that if I have a story that fits their call for submission, I won’t self-reject or hold that story back just because I’m a bit miffed at the magazine. That’s just childish.

I’m (still) waiting to hear back about my story that was held for further consideration. There was a bit of movement at that market recently, with a slew of rejections and a couple of acceptances, but mine is still waiting. I’m trying not to get my hopes up which I’m obviously failing at since I’m talking about it here. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m slowly finishing up Transcendent, with only three short stories left to read. I should have read one more this month, but I just didn’t get it in. Probably because my hike utterly destroyed me this weekend.

lava tube cave 2
Lava Tube Cave, 20 minutes south of Bend, Oregon

Speaking of, I did a lot of hiking this month! A trip out to Central Oregon, an extremely muddy (and fun) hike at Cape Falcon, and then a long, sunny hike to the picturesque Marion Lake made May a wonderful, surprisingly outdoorsy month. I hiked a total of 15.7 miles this month! Ok, Marion Lake was technically June, but whatever. It was gorgeous and I have lots of pictures to share.

I’m also beginning to see the effects of these weekly hikes. Calf muscles are making themselves known, my thighs are getting slimmer, and my cardio is already greatly improved. There’s also the sunburns turning to tans and a remarkable mental clarity and reduced migraine intensity I hadn’t anticipated. Aside from the sunburns, all good things.

June Goals

  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Read one short story a week
  • Keep reading!

Right now, I’m not so sure the new short story will be done by the end of the month. It’s been very slow going, and I don’t know if it’s because my brain hasn’t quite recovered from finishing Tavi or if this story’s challenging prose is slowing me down. It’s one of the most craft-forward stories I’ve ever tried to tell, and I’m loving every minute of it. It’s just very very slow so far. 

Marion Lake
Marion Lake, Willamette National Forest

As usual, submissions will continue and continue and continue until something sticks.

I still love reading short stories and have no desire to cut them from my reading. I’ve got a handful of collections checked out from the library right now, so I should be able to get this one done no problem.

I also have a huge TBR stack from the library on my entryway table so there should be plenty of reading and reviews this month. When I’m not reading or writing, I’ll be outdoors. I’m pretty much living for my Saturday hikes, so expect more pictures in the weeks to come.

Sorry this post was a little late, but the good news for you is that you get double the posts from me today! I’ll be back real soon with my weekly goals summary!

 

BZ