The Recap – February 2019

February, as per usual, came and went without hardly pausing to say hello. It’s always a mercurial month here in Oregon, bringing rain, snow, ice, and sunshine in unpredictable turns. You learn to take a coat with you everywhere pretty quick in the Pacific Northwest. And maybe gloves, if you’ve got the nice water resistant kind.

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The Homestead looking Wondrously Wintry.

February Goals

  • Write 8k on Tavi
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
  • Keep reading!

How’d I Do?

  • Write 8k on Tavi
    • Nope. I wrote a total of 3,628 words on the novel this month. Much less than I wanted, but I’m not wholly unhappy with it.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Sure did. The stories sat in queue for the majority of the month. I’m still waiting to hear about two of them, though That Which Illuminates Heaven received a rejection yesterday. It went out to the next market before I sat down to write this.
  • Write 1k on Sanctuary
    • Narp. Not even a little bit. I think I read a little bit of Sanctuary, but that’s it.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yes! I read five titles this month, which is a little insane when I think about it. It’s the shortest month of the year, but I put the time to good use, despite my Anthem addiction.

Total Monthly Word Count: 8,273

I wrote about 4500 words for a Valentine’s Day fanfic exchange. Not pertinent to my goals, but still incredibly fun and it allowed me to flex my writing muscles a little as I explored a very complex character from the Mass Effect universe. I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and I wrote it in two days, so I’m not going to feel bad about it.

Anthem continues to be absolutely addicting, but I’m almost done with the main story and so my time spent playing should slow a bit soon. Another hurdle to this month was a head cold that walloped me this week. This whole working-two-jobs thing has left me tired and vulnerable to illness and stress, which really puts a damper on my personal and writing goals.

My reading is progressing nicely, though I’m barely keeping up with the Reading Challenge goal I set for myself. This may be the first year I don’t reach my goal, but I love the challenge! Which is the whole point, so yeah.

What else happened in February? I attended an author event at the library, spent way too much time on twitter, and rollercoastered along my work weeks with more emotions than I knew what to do with. I won’t be able to do this for much longer. I need to find a better solution to the library’s unreliable hours.

But, that’s a conversation for another day. For now, let’s talk about what’s to come. Let’s talk about MARCH!

March Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Read one short story/day
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

Here’s the deal. I love video games, but they are HIGHLY addictive for me. I get trapped in them for months. In the case of Dragon Age, sometimes even years. I cannot let that happen with Anthem; I have too much that needs to get done. I need to get this habit under control and set firm boundaries. Which is something I am good at. So, here goes:

I CANNOT PLAY ANTHEM UNTIL THE FOLLOWING HAS OCCURRED:

  1. I have written at least 500 words on my novel
  2. I have read one (1) short story

This is a deal I’ve made with myself. I’ve thought on it a bit and I think it’s not only doable, but necessary. This is a contract, a binding agreement between my gamer self and my writer self. The gamer self will recede to the background until the above is completed, at which point the writer self will cease guilting the gamer self and allow unshackled joy to commence.

That’s the rule. So it is written, shared on social media, and so it will be done.

Why short stories you ask? Well, I’m writing a Library Picks column about Speculative Fiction Anthologies, and I want to at least be able to recommend a story or two out of each one. Plus, I like short stories. I like writing them and reading them, and I’ve been neglecting that part of the market for too long. So I’m taking inspiration from Sam J. Miller, who is reading a short story a day in 2019, and reading a story a day in March.  I am a little worried that this might impact my reading goal for the year, but I still have some titles queued up and waiting, and with travel plans in March I should have some extra reading time.

As always, the short story submissions continue until something sticks. I had a moment at the beginning of the month where I began to feel claustrophobic about the whole process. You know, that feeling where the stress churns in your chest and you’re compelled to pace the room or fiddle with your hair or your nails just can’t seem to avoid the magnetic pull of your teeth. Or some combination of all three. That was me on February first.

wasteland babyToday I’m listening to the new Hozier album, the snow has almost all been washed away by a steady drizzle, and my head cold seems to be on its way out. I feel alert and peaceful, with a mug of hot coffee and the promise of some breakfast after this. February was a big breath that stemmed the tide of burnout, and no I’m ready to move on and get some work done.

I’m sure I’ll have some more ups and downs this month, that I’ll find something new to stress about in the weeks to come. But right now? Right now I am chill as fuck. And I’m going to ride that feeling for as long as I can.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the book review for Lies Sleeping, and then next week will have the usual Goals Summary and the Reading Round Up for February.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 42

Hey Bloggos,

This week was a bit of a blur. I worked over 40 hours this week and went to see Hozier on Saturday night. It was amazing, everything I’d hoped and dreamed it to be, and I’m still sort of floating along in an daze whenever one of his songs shuffles on in my Spotify playlists. But, now it’s time to come back to earth and get back to work.

Photo credit: fireeh.tumblr.com

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research, round 2
  • Read Rosemary and Rue

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
    • Yep! I got some really great feedback from Madhu on it already, and look forward to taking the next steps in this story’s journey to publication.
  • Research, round 2
    • Yes. Though, I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped to.
  • Read Rosemary and Rue
    • Yes? I didn’t finish it, but I made some solid progress this week, reading about 100 pages.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Writing that my word count for the week was zero never feels good. But writing was not on the list of goals this week. I’ll make up for it in November.

That Which Illuminates Heaven is going well. I’ve got some changes to make to the first page, and maybe some more streamlining in the first five pages, then I’ll do a polishing draft to make sure each word is perfect. Then it’ll be time to send it out and see what happens. That’ll be three stories out at the same time, so thank goodness for The Submission Grinder helping me keep everything straight.

Research is going a bit slower than I anticipated, but there’s a lot more to wade through than I expected, so that’s why. I’ve moved on from angels to the devil and I’m getting some good info and ideas as I do. Next up will be fallen angels and Catholicism, and some more setting resources. And before you know it, research time will be over and writing time will be here.

I didn’t read Rosemary and Rue as much this week as I really wanted to. I’d say it’s my limited schedule that’s to blame, but honestly, this book just hasn’t grabbed me yet. I rosemary and ruewant it to! I’m intrigued. But I’m not interested. I have to remind myself to pick it up and give it a shot, and once I do I’m happy enough to keep reading. It’s just picking it up in the first place that’s proving difficult.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Edit The Charlatan and the Coinshot
  • Research and outline NaNo project
  • Read A.V. submissions
  • Finish reading Rosemary and Rue

Another busy week with little to no writing. I’d like to get That Which Illuminates Heaven “finished” before NaNoWrimo starts, so that I don’t have any lingering projects looming in my mind when I’m supposed to be writing.

Also, November marks a year since I started writing last year’s NaNoWriMo project, my Mass Effect: Andromeda/Mistborn Era 2 crossover fanfic The Charlatan and the Coinshot. And that means I can finally talk about this giant collaboration project my lovely friend Kit and I have been working on this past year! The story will go live on the 1st, with updates every Tuesday and Thursday through the end of the year. 16f84a70-8aac-4b1c-8a3d-58061c8b2146 (1)

There’s still a lot of research I want to do before NaNo kicks off, so I’ve put even more books on hold at the library in hopes that I’ll be able to squeeze in some quality study time before all my time is devoted to writing.

I put out a post about The Audient Void‘s call for submissions last week, and you guys did not delay! In our first four days of accepting submissions we’ve received over 75 short stories and poems! So now I’ve got an inbox full of stories to consider, and I couldn’t be happier! I love reading your guys’ work.

And of course, there’s the Urban Fantasy novels to read. Rosemary and Rue is going slowly, but not so slowly that I’m willing to give up. Reading just might have to slow down for the time being to make way for the other projects going on right now. I’m four books ahead of schedule to meet my reading goal for the year, so I’m comfortable taking a breather in this regard for now. There will still be reading and reviews, so don’t worry! They’ll just be a bit slower to show up than normal.

If I can finish Rosemary and Rue this week, you’ll see me again here at the blog. If not, next week has a lot of posts planned thanks to the end of the month and the start of National Novel Writing Month.

Until then, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Book Review – War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Blogland,

First stop on my Urban Fantasy tour is the book that’s credited with spearheading the genre. The War for the Oaks won the Locus Magazine award for Best First Novel in 1988, and I can definitely see why.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

war for the oaks

Eddi McCandry is sick of her boyfriend and frontman Stuart. He’s a mess. Too drunk to play his parts, and too busy pissing off bar managers to get their shitty band another gig. So she leaves the band, and him, taking the drummer with her.

Breaking up is hard to do, so it was already a rough night. But a terrifying encounter with fairy tale creatures on the midnight streets of Minneapolis leaves Eddi caught up in a war she knew nothing about.

The Seelie Court has selected her to be their bound mortal. With her on the battlefield the Fae will be rendered mortal, and their wounds will be deadly. And she will be a target, no matter her opinions on the matter. So, the Seelie Court sends a literal guard dog.

The Phouka is a Fae who looks like Prince by day and can turn to a dog at will. He’s a trickster, adorable, witty as all get out, and posted up at Eddi’s apartment until further notice to protect her from their enemies, the Unseelie Court.

prince phouka

He’s silver-tongued and devious. She’s stubborn and pissed off. Hilarity ensues.

I was worried about this book holding up over the years. Released in 1987, it’s older than I am, and you can definitely tell. The lack of cell phones really stood out to me, because there were a few situations Eddi found herself in that only happened because she couldn’t contact someone unless she was home or used a payphone. There was a slightly racially insensitive moment in which Eddi “pulls at the corners of her eyes to see what she’d look like if she were Chinese” that was mostly jarring because why did that line make it through editing? And dear lord the clothes.

Yes. This book lives solidly in the 80s. But, it was no less engrossing because of it. I loved every minute with this story and felt that the setting development of Minneapolis was very well done. Dialogue was solid throughout, and though the ending was a little cliched, it probably wasn’t in 1987.

I also appreciate that The War for the Oaks isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. It’s a fun, pretty indulgent, fairy tale come to life. It set the expectations of Urban Fantasy pretty high when it comes to entertainment value, but kept the literary pretensions out of the mix. Sometimes, you really need to turn your brain off and just have a good time. This book is very good at that.

It was also nice to see a different take on the Fae. I’ve only really experienced them through the Dresden novels, and while they’re very similar, I don’t think Jim Butcher has ever featured a Phouka. Also, the Fae aren’t as malignant in this book as they often are in Butcher’s series.

Now I’m seeing another view of the Fae as I read the first October Daye novel, Rosemary and Rue. Goodreads has recommended this book to me for years, probably because of all the Dresden books in my “Read” list. We’ll see how it goes.

I don’t think I’ll be back this week. I’ve got the next two days off and they are going to be busy with catching up on my weekly goals and house chores. Then it’s the Hozier concert on Saturday night!

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If ever there was a Fae among us, it would be Andrew Hozier-Byrne. I can’t wait to be thoroughly enchanted by him once again.

Until next week, Bloggos,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 41

Blogland,

Mondays are loooong for me now. Morning shifts at Starbucks followed immediately by a shift at the library. Then home for a quick dinner and off to my movie night with my library friends. I’m squeezing this post in between.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read War for the Oaks

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
    • Yes! So much research. I have more to go, but I did share a little blog post with my progress so far.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Yes! 858 words and finished chapter 7!
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Nope. Thought about it last night, but we played Gloomhaven later than usual, and I was too tired to go through with it.
  • Read War for the Oaks
    • Yes! I’ll have the review up sometime this week.

Weekly Word Count: 1,980

You might notice that the word count for this week is considerably more than the 858 words I wrote for Sanctuary. That’s because I was researching for my Urban Fantasy and stumbled into the opening sequence. It was right there, demanding attention. I couldn’t tell it no.

I’m reading quite a bit already this month. Both Legion and War for the Oaks, and now I’m about 50 pages into Rosemary and Rue. I don’t think I’ll have it done this week, but maybe early next week.

Fanfic is a slow but steady sort of thing, right now, and I’m realizing that I don’t think i’ll be able to cross that goal off the yearly list. There’s just too much story to be told there and not enough motivation on my part to only work on it. I’ve got other projects I want to spend time on, and sadly that means Santa Sarita is a back burner task. I’ll work on it when the inspiration strikes or I have extra time.

I spent the majority of this week reading and researching. I finally finished listening to The Adventure Zone and that’s freed up a lot of my time, thank goodness. Granted there isn’t a whole lot of time at my disposal anymore. I’ve got to make the best of what I have.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research, round 2
  • Read Rosemary and Rue

That’s it. Straightforward and to the point this week. I need to get some quality work done on this Nano project, and I want to get That Which Illuminates Heaven ready to submit by the end of this month.

So, work work work. Read, edit, outline, lather rinse repeat. I have a few things to talk about this week on the blog, so expect to see me around a bit.

And, we have the Hozier concert on Saturday night, so that will cut into my time a bit. Oh! And I work Sunday…

Ugh.

Ok. That’s it for this Monday Blogland. I’ll be back soon!

 

BZ

Coping with Non-Writing

Hello, Blogland!

I found some spare time and thought I’d come talk at ya!

It’s an iconically cloudy day here in Salem, and it’s frigid. I’m sitting inside Starbucks with my coat on, because my thin desert blood can’t even.

I’ve been nose deep in homework the last two days, and the days before that were two magical ones spent in Portland with my husband, watching two mind-blowing performances. We saw Hozier (of “Take Me to Church” fame) and MS MR (best known for their single “Hurricane”).

But, Trevor and I were more than happy to be home these last two days. Portland is exhausting. It’s frantic and stressed. My poor introverted sensibilities were frayed by the time we came home Wednesday night.

Let’s see, I finished Moving Mars finally. I’m sad that it took me so long, especially since it was so enjoyable. I’m on to rereading the Wayne and Wax books, which is always a welcome diversion. Also, look out for an Alloy book review this time, since I haven’t read it since I’ve started reviewing!

Registration for spring is on Tuesday, and I’ve got my classes all lined up. One of them is a “Writing Science Fiction” course, and I am absolutely giddy about it. I haven’t had a creative writing course since 2012, and I miss it. A lot.

I’m in the final push for meeting my reading goal this year. My original goal was 30, which I passed about 8 books ago. I upped the goal to 45, and should hit 47 or 48 by the New Year. But, if I slack off at all, I could miss it, so I must keep vigilant. Mad-Eye Moody style.

I’ve got Cards on the brain, which is bad. It’s not time yet. Vessels is so close to being in the second draft that I can’t give up now. I still want to have the second draft ready to print by the New Year, but I acknowledge that I might fall a bit behind schedule there. I will not start Cards edits until Vessels is in the third draft. Which means it could be another year before I look at Cards again…

School really got in the way of my writing plans. But, it’s worth it. I know that, and I have to repeat it like the mantra it is. Because it is oh, so tempting to put classwork aside and start editing and writing again.

Which is why this writing class is going to be so perfect. Because all this literary analysis is making me crazy. I can feel the writing itch, like a fuzzy scraping on the edges of my brain. And my nerves are worn. I’m not as close to burnout as I was a few months ago, and this week especially was rather healing, but I’m still not right. Without writing, a part of me feels like I’m on hold. Forever doomed to listen to elevator music in my mind.
nonwriting

But, the end is in sight. This time next year I will be back into the writing swing. I’ll have free time to pursue all my writing and editing dreams, with a shiny new degree hanging on my wall.

Because, remember, it’s worth it.

Anyway, I’ve got to grab a small lunch and head to work. I should see you in a couple of days with a new book review! Until then, have a great weekend Blogland!

BZ

Momentum and Blues

I’m off to a late start today. I’ve been staying up later and later, and getting up at the same time. But, when I wake up, to “Troy and Abed in the Morning!”, I tend to lay in bed for about an hour. I’ll check email, which is almost always junk that’s accumulated through the night, then I’ll scroll through my Facebook news feed, get lost in a buzzfeed list or a linked fanfiction, and then check out WordPress. Only once all that’s done to I actually get up.
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I took my sweet time today. I’m lagging. Or as my mother would say, “dragging ass”. But, now I’m here, I’ve slurped down my venti iced coffee, and I’ve downloaded some iTunes purchases. Currently I’m listening to Hozier. And so far, I am beyond impressed. If you like blues-y, moody, and soulful rock music, you should check it out.
Hozier

Yesterday was an incredible writing day. I wrote just under 2,000 words, setting up chapter 6 for completion today. The only reason it didn’t get wrapped up yesterday is because I had to go to work. It’s been a long time since Starbucks felt like an interruption.

I mostly just want to take advantage of the time I have before school takes all my free time.

But, my brain isn’t quite ready to finish the chapter. I think I’m going to add some songs to the Jordinn’s Story playlist to give it some thematic variety. When I built the playlist I only really knew Jordinn and Ellesaire, and their problems. But, I have five characters who have viewpoints and plot arcs, and they need to be represented too. So, I’m going to add songs with Joanna, Troy, and Runella in mind.

Hopefully by the time that’s done, I’ll be ready to finish Ellesaire’s chapter. I think food will help too. I’m gonna go do that now.

See you next week Blogland!

BZ