The Recap – April 2019

Now, Blogland, I knew working two jobs was a pretty big time suck. I knew it affected my productivity. But I thought I’d need a ramp up period after quitting Starbucks to get back to the levels of output I’d once had. Turns out, not so much.

April Goals

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Read 1 short story/week
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • YES! And more! I wrote an average of over 600 words a day on this project in April.
  • Read 1 short story/week
    • Yep. I read/listened to five short stories this month, so once again I went above and beyond.
  • Continue short story submissions
    • Yes. The three stories are still waiting, but I also wrote a (very) short piece for a contest, which I’ll talk more about once I can. It’s all very hush, hush for now.
  • Keep reading!
    • Yep! I read so much this past month. I think something like nine titles, not counting the short stories. There were five book reviews posted to the blog in April.

Monthly Word Count: 21,140

April was a test of endurance and distraction. Endurance in that I came at writing the manuscript as a daily practice, doing a little bit each day. Now that all is said and done, I wrote an average of 639 words each day on Tavi. Now, I didn’t actually write every single day. There were days where I wrote nothing, but the next day wrote over 1500 words. But I kept coming back and kept track of where I was at on the way to my goal. And it worked.

For once, I mean distraction as a good thing. Usually distraction comes as video games or a tv binge session, both of which tend to seep into my writing time. But in April, I knew I needed a distraction from my pending submissions or I would go nuts with the anxiety. So, I threw myself into my writing, into reading, and into writing/author events. Which meant it was a really busy month.

Things I did:

  • Went on two hikes, one to Cape Lookout and another to Opal Creek. Total mileage: 12.6, with elevation gains of 810 feet and 652 feet, respectively.
  • Went on one Walk ‘n’ Talk with Madhu. Total Mileage: 2.8 miles, with only a 16 foot elevation gain.
  • Three neighborhood walks with Simon, totaling 2.5 miles, with negligible elevation gain. My neighborhood is pretty flat.
  • Went to the SFWA Reading in Portland where I met four authors and networked a little. Also got to try a new brewery and spend time with Husbando.
  • Celebrated Independent Bookstore Day by going to two bookstores. Met up with Ken Scholes and shot the shit, made more writer contacts in the area. Also celebrated the release of The Audient Void‘s seventh issue (buy your copy here).
  • Attended the Willamette Writers meeting on April 17th. Listened to Ken Coomes talk about all kinds of stuff, from Self-publishing to the benefits of public speaking on your writing. I don’t feel like I got very much out of it, but I did like the presenter himself. Seemed like a nice guy.
  • Launched my Patreon! This will eventually have an announcement post all its own. Right now it’s a bit of a fledgling thing while I figure out what sort of content to share with patrons. So far there will be a Newsletter, a short story each month, and some freebie writing tips. If you’d like to support me, or just check out the free stuff, you should swing on by.

And that doesn’t include all the quality reading and writing time! What a busy month! And from the look of things, May is set to be the same.

May Goals

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

I’m sticking with the adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Last month went really well, so let’s keep that momentum going!

May is already looking like a busy month, so I want to get Tavi done by Monday May 13th. Which means I have just under two weeks to write about 11,000 words. Luckily there’s the Willamette Writers Write Here, Write Now event this weekend, so it should be a good opportunity to really hash out some words and get the jump on the final chapters of this book.

The week of the 13th is a big one for non-writing reasons. The 14th is the Snow Patrol concert. I can’t believe it’s almost here! Any time I think about it I just get this giddy glowy feeling because I love them so much and I one hundred percent thought I would never get to see them perform again.

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I love them so very very very much. 

So there’s that. But there’s also a girls’ weekend in central Oregon right after that, visiting a friend and hiking all the things. We’re going to the Painted Hills and probably Smith Rock. It’s gonna be warm and sunny and I’m going to be a very happy Desert Rat. And probably sunburned. There will be photos.

So, I NEED to finish Tavi before that week because it’s my vacation week. My week to turn off my writing brain and have fun! My celebration week, to congratulate myself on a job well done. A six month long project finally finished.

Because after that comes a whole new slew of projects and goals. I have a lot of things waiting on the end of May so it’s going to be a stressful last half of the month. I want to work hard and play hard in the first half.

I’ll be back on Friday with the review for The Light Brigade. Then probably quiet here over the weekend while I focus on finishing this book.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

 

The Weirdest Weekend of My Life

Bloggos,

“Oregon Writers Colony 31st Annual Writers Conference”. It has a very serious ring to it. It sounds old and distinguished and… important.  It’s hosted in this remodeled 1900s boarding house that’s completely author-themed and overlooks Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon. The conference is always held in April, a stormy and tumultuous time on the coast.

I came prepared to do work. I brought my MacBook, a notebook, and a collection of vibrant pens for color-coded notes. I was prepared to learn from someone who wrote a large, five book fantasy series about injecting my fictional worlds and characters with life.

What I did not prepare for was Ken Scholes’ boundless energy and his enthusiasm for folk music. Particularly Simon & Garfunkel.

KEn at OWC

What I did not prepare for was late night karaoke with Tim Travaglini, the Literary Agent™, in a dive bar whose moniker we decided to interpret as “literary”.

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What I did not prepare for was making new friendships and cementing old ones.

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Admittedly, the conference was more like a retreat. There were about 40 people in attendance, maybe five of which were not of retirement age. None of which were male. The three men present who were not the guests of honor were the husbands attached to writers in attendance. These writers have gone to the conference for years, some even decades! They all knew each other and spent a majority of their meals and free time reminiscing about conferences past.

As a newbie, and the youngest person by about a decade, it was a bit alienating. But, there was just enough Cabernet Sauvignon to fortify me, and when that ran out, the Pinot Noir made up the difference.

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Dousing my fears in blood red wine, repping The A.V.

My biggest goal for the conference was to “Network”. You know. Meet people in your field, make an impression, develop contacts. This is not a natural activity for me. I tend to avoid new people and social situations that are likely to demand I interact with anyone I don’t already know. If I hadn’t known Madhu ahead of time, I honestly don’t know if I would have kept it together over the weekend.

But, I did know her, and where before we were “Writing Buddies” I now consider her my friend. It’s about an hour and a half to the Sylvia Beach Hotel from Salem, a long enough drive to be really awkward if it turned out we didn’t get along. Instead we talked about all kinds of things, from our personal lives to our writing, to our hopes for the weekend.

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Me and Ken being dorks.

Ken’s lectures were mad dashes through his writing process, and though some found his methods hard to follow, I found I had a lot in common with him. We both write “straight through”, from beginning to end. Then we go back and develop the plot lines and characters in our revisions. We can also, when at peak writing performance, write about 1-2k words an hour.

It was really nice to discover that my personal strategy for writing has been successful with someone else.

Beyond discussing Ken’s process and general lack of structured organization (no outlines, no storyboards, no corkboards or color-coding) we did a pretty fun idea building exercise with post-it notes. I didn’t personally find this exercise all that useful, since I have no shortage of story ideas, but useful and fun don’t have to coincide.

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Did I mention it was stormy on the beach?

Then there was the Pitch with the Agent™. Each of us had a ten minute window where we met with Tim to talk about basically whatever we wanted. I pitched The Steel Armada to him, he asked a bunch of questions about it, then said, “feel free to send it to me.”

I, of course, assumed he said that to everyone. He did not. He did clarify the next day that, though he’s technically closed to queries, we are all able to query him because we went to the conference.

(An email sent later in the week further expanded on how to do so, per our conversation with him in the pitch.)

I treated the pitch like an interview. I kept the conversation professional, spoke about my other projects, and really talked about The Steel Armada with the most enthusiasm I’ve felt for the project in a long time.

This was all before the karaoke, by the way.

We went to dinner, managed to sit with Tim (the Agent™), and that set the course for the evening. Lots of laughter and conversation led to more wine in the library while Ken played guitar. After some cajoling Tim agreed to get up and sing with Ken, which led him to suggest karaoke.

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They sang America by Simon & Garfunkel, Tim tousled his hair just for the occasion.

Now, you may not know this about me, but karaoke is literally my jam. Naturally, I had to go. A group of us was all excited at the prospect of singing the night away until everyone bailed but me and Tim.

A five minute car ride and a u-turn later, we enter Moby Dick’s to find Newport’s finest wailing (heh, get it?) away at the mic. It’s 11:45pm on a Saturday, but there were maybe 20 people in the building, and only a handful of them were there for the singing. So, Tim and I had a couple of beers, I sang a couple songs while he lamented the KJ’s lack of Pork ‘n’ Beans by Weezer and then we argued about the hotel’s staunch “no WiFi” policy the whole drive back.

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The view from our room, the Agatha Christie.

(Turns out, there IS WiFi and Tim was special enough to get the code. Which he then gave to me to prove his point. Joke’s on you Sylvia Beach Hotel! I know your secrets!)

We were both worse for wear the next morning at breakfast, but I think it was totally worth it. Hopefully he does too.

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Nothing a little caffeine, beach view, and solitude can’t fix.

The last day was wrap up with Ken, where I made a great Arrested Development joke no one heard (there’s always money in the Apple Stand!), and then a Q+A session with Tim.

He had some really great answers to questions like “what are your options when the rights revert to you?” (aka, your book is no longer in print) and “How does (he) cope with the multitude of queries he gets?” (over 1k/month, he had to close to submissions to catch up), and “does self-publishing affect an author’s chance of traditionally publishing?” (Not really. It’s definitely not a negative, though you’re unlikely to sell self-published work, he’s more interested in what the current project is).

Et cetera, et cetera.

And then it was lunch, where my people engine officially ran out of gas. We beat a hasty retreat back to the car and drove back to Salem through some of the angriest weather I’ve seen on the coast. It was kind of nice.

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Who knew so many shades of grey could be so beautiful?

Ultimately, the OWC 31st Annual Writers Conference wasn’t what I expected. But, I put my best foot (and voice) forward, met a bunch of people, and for the first time really felt like I was doing the right thing by writing fiction. I was in my element, I was the ultimate version of myself, and I came away feeling inspired and excited to finish these revisions and finally get this book done.

I’d say that makes the weekend a major success.

Now if I can just hide away for about a month, I might be able to get all that energy back.

 

BZ

 

 

 

Finally, the Announcement!

Blogland,

I finally got the green light to share this awesome news with you all! If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or even Tumblr, then you might already be privy to this, so bear with me.

Remember that scholarship I applied for back in February? I talked about it a couple of times, but tried to keep my excitement level to a minimum to avoid dashed hopes. I applied at the end of February, submitting a writing sample and a small bio to the Oregon Writers Colony.

Well, I found out two weeks ago that I won! I’m going to the conference for free, with the room and my meals paid for!

The conference is held at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, which is a “hotel for book lovers”. Every sylvia-beach-hotel-newport-oregonroom is themed for a different author and the hotel sits on a bluff looking out onto Nye Beach. Many of the rooms have ocean views, and even if they don’t, they have a view out onto the little garden. The hotel is a blast from the past. It’s an old boarding house, completely rebuilt in 1909, so the rooms all have their own sinks but most share bathrooms. Technology is at a minimum there. No phones, radios, or televisions in the rooms, and no wifi on the premises.

It’s a place for reading, writing, and contemplation. And, when the contemplating becomes too tedious, there’s shopping and dining just a block up in the historic Nye Beach district.

There’s also a fancy restaurant, the Tables of Content, where dinner is served family style. You sit in a group and eat and talk, making a point to mingle and make friends. I’m nervous about this aspect, since I’m terrible in new social circumstances, but I am bound and determined to be sociable!

So, as if the hotel wasn’t cool enough, I’ll be there with other writers to learn from author Ken Scholes (Psalm of Isaak series) and agent Timothy Travaglini. A whole weekend devoted to learning about and working on my writing in an environment especially designed for just such purposes.

Sounds like heaven.

There’s still a bit of mystery surrounding the event for me. I don’t know which room I’ll be assigned, and there is a chance I’ll be in one of the shared rooms. So, I don’t know who I might be bunking with either. I know that check-in is at 4pm and that wine and snacks will be in the third floor library that evening so that everyone can meet and mingle.

I’m pretty sure the promise of wine is the only thing that will give me the strength to go. That and I really want to see this library that looks out onto the Pacific ocean!

So, yeah. That’s my news. I’m really excited, and I can’t believe I only have to wait one more week! I’m going to take so many pictures and notes, so I’ll be back with a full update after the conference!

I’ll be back this weekend with the Binti review and then this week will be over before you know it!

Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ